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    • "Ain't hardly nothin' to do but hunker down till she blows herself out." The man squatted, "Rance, is the name. Been watchin' you, doin' a fine job. You'll do Wheeler, you'll do. Try and get some rest, might end up bein' a long night. Least you won't be ridin' drag come daylight, there's a plus for ya."   He stood and made his way to his shelter to await the grub that was coming.   @Bongo
    • Meanwhile, in the main house, Reb Culverson was visiting with his old friend Fightin' Joe Hooker, who was the ramrod for the fledgling Montana Territory Stockgrowers Association, Northern District. He was there to convince ranchers to join and support the organization, hoping it would take root.   "And just what good is this here association ya got started?" Reb asked.   "It'll give us a voice in the territorial government, Reb, that's what it'll do. Once that happens we'll be able to git us some sortta range police to protect the herds, and the ranchers." Hooker responded. "Rustlin' might not be the threat it was, but you know as well as me, it can come back."   "You get anywhere with Lost Lake, 'er that cow thief on the Evergreen?" Reb asked.   "Can't say as I have, startin' with the smaller spreads an' workin' my way up to them two. I'm well aware of both spreads, and the men that own 'em."   -------------0------------   They swept down out of the trees whooping and hollering and firing off a couple of shots as they closed on both sides of a big group of cattle, just as they had planned. The  lone night hawk knew he had no chance of stopping the raiders, or of saving the cattle while he watched the chunk of the herd moving toward and then into the trees at a run.  He emptied his Colt at the raiders, the whipped out his Winchester  and levered several shots in the area where they had disappeared.   He could not know that one of his shots had found its mark. A man that had just joined took a slug in his back and toppled from his horse. Toole and the men continued to drive the cattle toward the dry riverbed as planned. It was an acceptable loss.   The sound of the shots, mere pops at the distance to the main house and the bunk house alerted everyone, and men boiled out of the bunk house guns in hand, only to watch the night man shooting after the rustlers.
    • Out on the boardwalk they stopped, "So we managed ta git a deal right off, thet's good, it is. Now all we gotta do is convince ol' Wentworth to free up the money so's ya don't have ta use yers right off." Amos commented, "Seems a fair deal but like you say, minin's not no sure thing."   "John and Mary are good folks. It's not a sure thing, but you saw the vein, went to the floor and it looks rich," Speed responded. "And it looks to be wider where they stopped digging. I can't wait to get it assayed to see what we've really got our hands on."   "And it should assay out pretty good from the looks of it, though I know so little about copper ore." Alice admitted.   "Well, you saw the copper ore, which is clearly distinguishable from the surrounding rock due to its reddish, mottled appearance. And that surrounding rock is granite which is not easy to work, but it can be done, and, if we have hit it, the veins could be as much as a mile long, a mile wide, and a mile deep!" Speed explained with a grin. "With that equipment we'll be able to not only dig deeper, we'll be able to tunnel, and we have the property to do just that."   "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!" Amos exclaimed. Might oughtta buy up what ground ya can aound 'er, jest ta be certain!"   "First things first, let get on up to the bank." Speed suggested.
    • Justus was more than happy to have a chance to get out of the bulk of the wind, although he knew this was far from over.  And he knew they'd be hacking up dirt for days.     With the picket lines set, he moved over to help put up the shelters for the night, pretty quickly deciding that it was a fool's errand...they were all going to be miserable until this let up.   Squinting, he looked out toward the herd, not able to see but a few in the dust, it looked like they had been swallowed by the big, dirty cloud, and weren't even there.  In fact, he had the eerie sensation that all that was left in the world was this small circle of men and horses.   "Ya need me ta do anythin' else?" he called over the din of the wind.   @Flip
    • Doc Gilcrest walked into the bunck house to see Carson on his feet, dressed. "I may not be able to ride, but I can darn sure walk some. Tired of layin' in that bed."   "I reckon you kin do thet, sure 'nough. No body said ya had ta lie there if'n ya didn't want to. Yer stitched up plenty good. Jest leave thet hog leg where she's hangin' fer now, don't need the weight in thet wound."   "So anybody come sniffin' around?" He asked.   "Not so's you'd notice. There's four men down there keepin' watch, but it don't look like Lost Lake's lost any sleep over their man, that is if'n they even know he's gone." Gilcrest offered.   "He seen that brand an' went ta shootin'!" Carson reflected. "I jest shot straighter. Had no choice in the matter. Fool could'a rode on, but, well, that just ain't what happened. Hell of a mess."   "Oh I dunno. So far nobodies come huntin', the boss ain't upset over it, neither's Granger, so you got nothin' ta worry on 'cept gettin' better."   "I should'a been more careful, but maybe there just wasn't no way to be more careful. Up on the side of that mountain is the purdiest view a man could look at. You can see fer miles, see right where they got them cows of theirs. Now that ain't gonna be no easy matter to get to any of 'em. They're deep on Lost Lake range. Gonna be hard to get at, an' worse to get out. We'll lose some men tryin' this one, that's for sure!'   Gilcrest rubbed his chin. It wasn't like Carson to go on about the prospects of a job.

A Little Touch Of Larceny


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Mature Content: No

With: Marshal Guyer, Leah Steelgrave
Location: Marshal's Office
When: December 1875
Time of Day: Afternoon

 

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The office was a place where plans for the business could be made. It was furnished, ready for the spring thaw. Speed needed some employees, mining men, secretary, and all of that would come in time. Right now they were blanketed in white and there was no mining to speak of but there would be, and hopefully plenty of it.

 

Not that he considered Kalispell to be a wealth of mining properties, but his people would fan out to other areas, that’s where they would uncover prospects in not just mining, but minerals, timber and the like. As he sat back with a cup of coffee, he was comfortable in the thought that his business would take off.

 

That was the very moment Leah Steelgrave walked in.

 

“Marshal Guyer, can I have a word with you?” She asked in a pleasant tone. He had not had a great deal of interaction with the woman, and seemed about to change. If it was about her brother, he was not being held on any charges, he was free to go whenever he wanted.

 

“Of course, I don’t believe I’ve had the opportunity or the pleasure Miss Steelgrave. Please, have a seat. How can I help you?” He asked.

 

She moved a chair closer, “I have some projects that I need to discuss with you. I have spoken to Mister Pike about this, so I’ll be direct. Doctor Danforth and myself are in the early stages of planning for the construction of a hospital here in town, well a ways out. After which we are hoping to build an orphanage.” She paused to let him digest that. “There is a problem, we building the hospital with my fathers money, which has already been appropriated, not entirely his, please understand. Rightfully, it will be mine after his demise.” Again she paused.

 

“If you know anything about my father I suppose you already know the type of man he is. I have two men, Bannister and Santee from his employ, he has a goodly number of riders, and they are the problem. They are the reason I spoke with Mister Pike, and the reason I am speaking to you.”

 

“You realize you have just confessed to a crime, Miss Steelgrave.” Speed informed her.

.

“I have. So what I am asking you is this, since Elias Steelgrave has gained his fortune by murder and theft, and I am simply investing stolen money into the town, if there was a chance that the railroad would come through Kalispell, and...that the right of way would cost this town and the county not one red cent, could your legal action on my confession be postponed until Mister Steelgrave came forward with a complaint?”

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TBC

 

Edited by Flip (see edit history)
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“So what you are saying to me is, can I withhold your admission to stealing money from your father to build a hospital, and, that there would be no cost to Flathead County or the Town of Kalispell for the railroad right of way.” Speed asked. “Seriously?”

 

She reached into the inside pocket of her coat and withdrew a sheaf of papers. “You may want to call a meeting of the town council after you look over those papers. I’m sure they will be interested.” Then she added, “Marshal, I’m not asking that you forget what I admitted to, but even I know that until there’s a complaint technically I’ve done nothing illegal, and certainly nothing I’m ashamed of. Those papers you’re holding are made out to the Township of Kalispell Montana, they are not some sort of bargaining chip. I merely signed the agreements in the name of the town.” She waited while he read the agreements, sifted through the property deeds and grants with the railroad, and with the Governor’s office.


He dropped the hand with the papers in his lap maintaining a firm grip. Then with a sigh handed them toward her.


“Not my problem anymore, I got them here, now, it’s the Town Councils problem.” She said with a smile.


“So Miss Steelgrave, what is it you want after all this?” Was he question.


“Marshal, it’s quite simple. Let’s call it a trade. I’ve provided the town with the right of way, perhaps the town could see their way clear, in writing, to donate the land of our choosing for the Hospital and for the orphanage.” Leah offered.


“Of your choosing?”


“Yes, we’ll select the plots, and as soon as the thaw, we’ll begin construction.” Then she uncharacteristically laughed. Uncharacteristic because business was a serious matter with any of the Steelgraves. “Pardon me, I just find it amusing our back and forth.  But we’ll see what the Town Council has to say about this. Have no doubt Marshall, I'll not run should this work against me. I'll be right there, standing next to you."

 

TBC

 

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It was at this point in time that Judge Ben Robertson walked into the marshal's office.  Even though he was semi-retired from the bench, he still had a hand in various councils and boards within Kalispell and the surrounding area.  Today, he was coming to see the marshal to notify him of the date that the mayoral and county sheriff elections were going to be held.  He had just received the approval of the territorial governor to hold them and he wanted to get it started as soon as possible.

 

Seeing that marshal already had a visitor, he took off his hat and acknowledged the both of them, "Miss Steelgrave.  Marshal.  I hope I haven't come at an inconvenient time."

 

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@Flip

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 "Miss Steelgrave.  Marshal.  I hope I haven't come at an inconvenient time."

 

“Judge Robertson.” Leah said cordially.

 

“What bring you out in this weather, Judge?” Speed asked as he rose and extended his hand. “Must be important. And no, actually Miss Steelgrave has some information she’d like the Town Council to consider.

 

“That can wait for you to conduct your business with the Marshal here.” Leah deferred, her presentation would like take a bit longer than anything Judge Robertson had to convey. And of course, she was a bit nosy as well.

 

Tag @JulieS
 

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Ben smiled, "No, what I have can wait.  What is it that you would like to discuss with the town council?"

 

The last thing he wanted was a Steelgrave to be the first one to know when the elections were going to be held.  He was determined that Elias would have as little influence as possible.  What Kalispell didn't need was a Steelgrave or someone they could control in charge.

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Ben smiled, "No, what I have can wait.  What is it that you would like to discuss with the town council?"

 

 “Well then, Ben, best you take a seat, the lady has quite a proposition for you.” Speed said.

 

“Judge,” She began, I do have a proposition I believe will benefit everyone concerned. You know that the railroad had plans to cross the state, but no one knows where. I know where, but not exactly when. Now before the questions begin, perhaps you best have a look at these.” With that she looked to Speed who handed the sheaf of papers over to the Judge.

 

She gave him a few minutes to look over the papers. “As I had mentioned to Marshal Guyer, Doctor Danforth and I are planning to build a hospital, and later, an orphanage. Both will be privately funded. Then, what we need from the Town Council is the land to build them on. So, in exchange for the work done on the right of way, we would like to select some sites for the Council’s consideration to grant us for that purpose.” She cocked her head and smiled. “No strings attached.”

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Tag @JulieS

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After Ben had looked through the papers, he frowned, "There's a lot to take in.  It will me some time to go through it all and then I'm sure the other council members will probably want to take a look at it as well."

 

Facing at Leah, he smiled apologetically, "A plan this big also deserves to be discussed by the citizens of Kalispell as well.  We will probably need to hold a town meeting, at the earliest in spring to make sure there are no objections.  After all the land, the council has at its disposal is for all intent and purposes owned by the town.  We just can't go putting up any building, no matter how beneficial it may be to the community.  Then there's also federal and territorial laws to be checked on.  I can use the winter to start get the ball rolling on that."

 

He sighed, "I'm sorry, Miss Steelgrave, but putting up any new building can a long and drawn out process especially if you want to do it right."

 

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@Flip

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After Ben had looked through the papers, he frowned, "There's a lot to take in.  It will me some time to go through it all and then I'm sure the other council members will probably want to take a look at it as well."


Leah smiled politely as the Judge spoke, knowing what was coming, so she said, “Of course, Judge. A great deal of information is there and needs to be presented to the rest of the Town Council, probably sooner than later."
 

Facing at Leah, he smiled apologetically, "A plan this big also deserves to be discussed by the citizens of Kalispell as well.  We will probably need to hold a town meeting, at the earliest in spring to make sure there are no objections.  After all the land, the council has at its disposal is for all intent and purposes owned by the town.  We just can't go putting up any building, no matter how beneficial it may be to the community.  Then there's also federal and territorial laws to be checked on.  I can use the winter to start get the ball rolling on that."


Now he was getting to the crux of the matter. This was not about presenting Kalispell with the right of way for the future railroad, it was not about the requested land, it was about her last name. It was anti-Steelgrave, not the idea of the hospital or the orphanage, the idea that a Steelgrave had done what the Town Council had not, taken the bull by the horns and done what was necessary for the idea, and for the town. She was neither surprised nor upset.
 

He sighed, "I'm sorry, Miss Steelgrave, but putting up any new building can a long and drawn out process especially if you want to do it right."


“Oh, I agree Judge. Doing it right is most important, so I will leave this gift in your most capable hands.” She concurred.

 

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11 hours ago, Leah Steelgrave said:

“Oh, I agree Judge. Doing it right is most important, so I will leave this gift in your most capable hands.” She concurred.

Ben was getting the impression, that she was not happy with the delay, "I hope you understand, Miss Steelgrave, that this is a big undertaking and all voices need to be heard.  We have to wait until the spring thaw to allow all interested parties to come into town and have their say.  There will likely be objections and we will hear them out just like we do with anything we vote on.  It would be better if we had a town mayor who could preside over this but if we wait until the elections, it may take even longer.  From what I understand so far, this is something you would like to see happen as soon as possible."

 

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@Flip

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“Judge Robertson, we can’t possibly consider construction before the spring thaw, that’s a given.” She stated. “However, realizing that there will be objections to a hospital and an orphanage in Kalispell, and that there might well be interested parties that would come to a town hall meeting in opposition, I suppose that we can delay plans to begin building as long as is deemed necessary.”

 

It was to be expected, that her name would overshadow anything she might attempt. However, they would happily take the granted right of way. “When considering a hospital for a town with a small clinic, I’m sure there will be a great deal of objections, perhaps Judge, we should abandon the project altogether, until someone not a Steelgrave comes forward with such a proposal.” Her anger simmered just below the surface.

 

“You have the right of way for the railroad that is coming, I’m sure that even though it was given to the town by a Steelgrave, and a woman on top of that, that you’ll come up with a way to have it seem completely different that the facts dictate.” She was on her feet now. “Perhaps what this town needs is a mayor. Someone like Shade Thornton, or Quentin Cantrell. I suppose until that happens we’ll just wait on the hospital. Good day gentlemen!” And out the door she went.

 

“Dang!” Speed exclaimed. “That set her off, Ben. Imagine she could be a real wildcat when she gets going, and she's pert-near there!”

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Ben sighed heavily as he watched Leah leave.  Turning back to Speed, he just shook his head.  "Unfortunately, I had no choice. Even if her intentions are honourable, there's a lot of people who are very wary of anything that has the Steelgrave name behind it, including myself."

 

"Her mentioning the town needing a mayor is one of the reasons why I came by today.  We've been giving permission to hold both a mayoral and county sheriff election. I wanted to let you know before I make the announcement that nominations are open since you will have to work with both men."

 

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@Flip

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Ben sighed heavily as he watched Leah leave.  Turning back to Speed, he just shook his head.  "Unfortunately, I had no choice. Even if her intentions are honourable, there's a lot of people who are very wary of anything that has the Steelgrave name behind it, including myself."


“I understand Ben.” Speed said. “But you have to admit that she went to a lot of trouble to get the right of way sign sealed and delivered. Instead of by passing Kalispell they’ll have a depot here. Pretty impressive.”
 

"Her mentioning the town needing a mayor is one of the reasons why I came by today.  We've been giving permission to hold both a mayoral and county sheriff election. I wanted to let you know before I make the announcement that nominations are open since you will have to work with both men."


“Well, that won’t be a problem, lord knows this town’s big enough to need a Mayor, and having a Mayor will take a lot of the burden off of the council.” Speed informed him. “Any idea who’ll run for either office as yet?” Speed knew that the town needed a guiding hand from a Mayor, working with the Town Council. And he recognized two things, yes there were those, like Ben, that had no liking for any Steelgrave, nor would they readily accept anything from anyone of them without doubt. Then too, Leah was a woman.

 

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16 hours ago, Henry S. Guyer II said:

“Well, that won’t be a problem, lord knows this town’s big enough to need a Mayor, and having a Mayor will take a lot of the burden off of the council.” Speed informed him. “Any idea who’ll run for either office as yet?”

"Well, Scott Cory, your predecessor, said he was going to run for mayor.  He knew he was getting too old to be a lawman but he still wants to help the town in some way. As for county sheriff we have no idea," Ben replied.

 

"We have to be careful as Elias Steelgrave will do what he can get someone he can control into either position.  Hopefully, the good people of this town will not make that happen. However there is a now a large contingent of ex-Whitefish residents who will probably make their homes here and some of them owe the Steelgraves in one way or another."

 

@Flip

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“Scott would be a good choice, that’s for sure. He knows the town and it’s people which is important.” Speed observed. “I would vote for him, doubting anyone else would have his qualifications. Oh, and you can forget about me for County Sheriff, not with my own business launching come the thaw.”

 

“Elias Steelgrave, he could be a real problem, I agree on that. And yes, I would imagine that there are those that owe him in one way or another, that we must be careful of, as you say in both positions.”

 

As for Miss Steelgrave and her proposition, I fail to see any veiled threat in her plan. From what I know, she and her father are not on the best of terms, and her mother? Left the country as far as anyone knows. Could be somewhere in Montana, but who’s to say. Quite a mess, that family.”


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Ben nodded, "Yes, the family is a mess and as for Mrs. Steelgrave, I have been hearing rumours about town as to why she left.  Some of them are very nasty and in my opinion, no woman should be talked about in that way, even if she is a Steelgrave."

 

He paused before continuing, "As for Miss Steelgrave, you may not see a threat but there are others that will.  It goes hand in hand with being a Steelgrave.  There are people in this town who have been or know someone who was the victim of Elias Steelgrave's brand of justice or business tactics.  Miss Steelgrave will have to prove that she is not her father's daughter and that is a battle I do not envy her."

 

@Flip

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Ben nodded, "Yes the family is a mess and has for Mrs. Steelgrave, I have been hearing rumour about town as to why she left.  Some of them are very nasty and in my opinion, no woman should be talked about in that way, even if she is a Steelgrave."


“Rumors are ugly things, I agree. Of course, anything about Elias Steelgrave, well, it’s not to be taken with a grain of salt, that’s for sure.” Speed agreed. “I’ve heard some of the same things here and there. What concerns me most is the loss of Whitefish and how he deals with that. Then to find out wh

He paused before continuing, "As for Miss Steelgrave, you may not see a threat but there are others that will.  It goes hand in hand with being a Steelgrave.  There are people in this town who have been or know someone who was the victim of Elias Steelgrave's brand of justice or business tactics.  Miss Steelgrave will have to prove that she is not her father's daughter and that is a battle I do not envy her."


“I’d agree Judge, I surely would, was she anyone else. But what I’m seeing of her, she’ll not back down for any man, and that includes her father and the entire town if need be.” Speed added. “I see the threat, but it’s not to Kalispell, Ben, not one bit.”

 

 

The door opened and Pronto Pike walked in, shaking off the snow. “Marshal, Judge. If this is a bad time I kin come back.”T

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Ben turned to look at the newcomer.  He had met Pike a while back and found him to an amiable sort of fellow.  "No, you're fine.  I only dropped by for a brief visit as I have to go and see the other members of the town council to decide on a date for this election. Hopefully, we should have it worked out by the end of the week.  It will be no later than mid-April."

 

He held out his hand to Speed, "Thanks for your time, marshal.  I'll drop by later in the week."

 

On his way out, Ben acknowledged Pike, "Nice to see you again.  We can have a chat the next time I go over to the Lick Skillet for one of Mrs. Blakesley pies."

 

As he opened the door, he gave a quick wave, "Have a good day, gentlemen."

 

@Flip

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Ben turned to look at the newcomer.  He had met Pike a while back and found him to an amiable sort of fellow.  "No, you're fine.  I only dropped by for a brief visit as I have to go and see the other members of the town council to decide on a date for this election. Hopefully, we should have it worked out by the end of the week.  It will be no later than mid-April."


Pronto stepped aside to wait his turn with the Marshal.


“That sounds good, people should be getting around more in spite of the spring chores.” Speed stated. And I’d wager we’ll have a slate of candidates by then. Appreciate you stopping in, Judge.”
 

He held out his hand to Speed, "Thanks for your time, marshal.  I'll drop by later in the week."


“Look forward to it.” Speed acknowledged.
 

On his way out, Ben acknowledged Pike, "Nice to see you again.  We can have a chat the next time I go over to the Lick Skillet for one of Mrs. Blakesley pies."


“Yes sir, that’d be fine, so long as she lets me outta the kitchen.” Pike said with a grin

 

As he opened the door, he gave a quick wave, "Have a good day, gentlemen."
 

Both men responded in kind. Then Speed looked to Pronto. “What brings you in, as if I didn’t have an idea already. Leah Steelgrave?"


“That’d be it, fer shore. Wants me as part of her security with a couple Evergreen hands that sided with her. Bein’s I’d be yer depity about then I figgered we oughtta palaver on it a bit afore it’s time ta act.” Pronto explained.

 

Speed thought a moment, “Be a good idea that at least one of us was there.” He gave that a second to register. “I full well intend to help protect this project, just as I figure you do. Question is, how does Mrs. Blakesly feel about it?”  


Pike gave him a curious look. “Really Pike? Hell son, half the town knows about you an’ her, and the rest’ll know before night fall.” Speed added. “Something to consider.”


“Yeah, been thinkin’ on thet, bein’s she’s already lost one husband, not that I proposed ‘er anythin’, just sayin’, yeah, we been keepin’ comp’nee. I see the risk, but I see what’s at stake too.” Pike replied. “She told me I oughtta do what’s right. Backin’ clean out might it, standing an’ fightin’ surely seems whot’s right. I figger I’m good as any of ‘em, maybe better’n some. Long’s I don’t git back shot.”

“Well then, I guess we throw our hats in the ring.” Speed allowed.

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TBC

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