|Born at Blantyre, Scotland. (March 19th)
|At Kuruman in South Africa (600 miles from Cape Town).
|Discovered the Victoria Falls. (November)
|Left Quilimane for Mauritius, and his first furlough. (August 12th)
|Led Zambesi River Expedition. (March 10th)
|Discovered and named Lake Nyassa.
|Mrs. Livingstone died at Shupanga. (April 27th)
|Arrived at Zanzibar, and thence took Lady Nyassa to Bombay. (April 30th)
|Began third expedition to discover sources of the Nile. (April)
|Left Zanzibar. (March 19th)
|Discovered and named Lake Bangweolo. (July 18th)
|At Ujiji on Lake Tanganika. (March 14th)
|Stanley at Ujiji. (November 10th)
|Left Unyanyembe to explore the Lualaba, which he thought was the Nile, but which Stanley afterwards found to be the Congo. (August 23rd)
|Died at Chitambo's village, Ulala. (May 1st)
"Many a morning have I stood on the porch of my house, and looking northward, have seen the smoke arise from villages that have never heard of Jesus Christ. I have seen, at different times, the smoke of a thousand villages—villages whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world ... The smoke of a thousand villages ... The smoke of a thousand villages." Thus spoke the South African pioneer, Robert Moffat. The meeting closed, and out of the door of the hall went a young man—a young medical student, David Livingstone; but with him went the words of Moffat—"The smoke of a thousand villages whose people have never heard ... The smoke of a thousand villages."
He could not sleep that night. The lure of Africa had caught him—the lure of a work worth doing, the biggest work that a young man who strives to follow Christ can attempt. "The smoke of a thousand villages." Moffat's words sang on in his ears. Why should not he become the spiritual father of nations of the future? Dimly Livingstone saw Africa's millions waiting in the shadows—saw the smoke arising from their camp and hearth fires—"The smoke of a thousand villages."
He left England, and arrived unheralded in Africa—he who had few gifts but will-power to make his own future and the success of his life. How little did the Committee of the London Missionary Society realize when they accepted this young man as a missionary, that after forty-three years he would be buried in Westminster Abbey, and that "his tomb in the Abbey would be visited by more people from the ends of the earth than any other tomb in that mausoleum of the mighty!
Seven thousand miles away from where we saw him last, young David Livingstone stands on the stoop of his mission-house at Mabotsa. He has been at this mission post for eight years. Northward stretches the plain, up from the valley where he has lived and tasted the fruits and failures of a young missionary's married life. Northward stretches the plain into the great unknown, beckoning him, calling to him in the night watches. Up yonder lies his life's work, the work that shall make him great, the work worth doing; and worth dying for. Yonder must lie the gold mines of Sofala, yonder the Mountains of the Moon, yonder the weird mysteries of rivers, lakes, and virgin forests, yonder the smoking fires of unknown cities, towns and villages—beckoning the pathfinder of the missionaries of the Christ-faith!
"Mary, will you go with me to the north land? I want to open a way into the heart of Africa for the gospel?"
And Mary answered, "Whither thou goest there also will I go."
There are some whose lives, like painters' pictures, show delicate coloring and a smooth surface; and there are others whose lives are like pictures in which the paint is laid on heavily with the palette-knife—brilliant high lights and inky shadows. Livingstone's life was one of the latter. Great were his troubles: dark were the shadows of sorrow and pain, of trouble and distress, but bright was the light in which anon he basked—the praise of his fellow-men, and the knowledge that he was privileged to initiate great enterprises that would live through the ages to come.
David Livingstone was not a genius; that is to say, he had no extraordinary gift; he had, though, the gift without which no genius becomes great—the ability to do hard work with painstaking persistence. He was no giant physically; mentally and spiritually he was but a good average Christian man. That is to say, work similar to his would be possible for any young Christian with fair abilities, but—David Livingstone worked. When as a boy he stood behind the weaver's loom, it was not enough for him to do his weaving faithfully. He realized that his mind was capable of more work while he was watching the threads, and he invested in a Latin grammar.
What a stimulus the example of David Livingstone has been to many a youth who has been told by missionary boards and officials to go and do likewise! At least three times the writer has put the example of David Livingstone before young men who came to consult him as to how to fit themselves for foreign missions when they had not the money to go to college. "Save the money you earn. Buy the books you need, and do as David Livingstone did—study." One of these men is to-day a professor of engineering in one of the Chinese universities; another is a medical man on the West Coast of Africa in the work in which Mary Slessor did such splendid service; and the third is in charge of the Lucy Memorial Freed Slaves Home in Northern Nigeria.
Livingstone loved nature, but found no time for botany or zoology. There were greater things to be done in Africa in his day than collecting birds and butterflies. Before the microcosmos in Africa could be dealt with, the macrocosmos, the outlines, the outstanding landmarks of the interior of the continent, had to be investigated. To do this satisfactorily, survey instruments were needed, and as in the days of his boyhood he bought the Latin grammar with his savings, so now he invested in a sextant, a magnetic compass, an artificial horizon, and barometers. Diligently he perfected himself in the use of these instruments.
When travelling on steamers to and from Africa he always availed himself of the opportunity of comparing notes with ship's officers when, at noonday, as is the custom, they had to "shoot the sun" (take place observations).
It has been the writer's privilege to handle David Livingstone's scientific instruments, and though they are somewhat out-of-date, they are to this day quite good enough to fix any geographical position. On his journeys in South Central Africa he covered 28,000 miles. He crossed Africa from east to west, and travelled from the Cape to the sources of the Congo.
For many months the doctor, had heard native visitors speak with awe of the Mosi-oa-tunya (Smoke that Thunders). In November, 1855, he set out to find the "Smoke that Thunders"—to find this volcano and put it on the map. Enough was known already of the heart of Africa, through reports that were brought to the East Coast and to Egypt, to make it certain that there must be a great volcanic region beyond the unexplored parts of the interior. The coast line had been mapped, and some of the hinterland investigated by Mungo Park, Barth and Brown, by Gordon Cumming, Krapf and Rebman.
One morning at daybreak, looking out of his tent, Livingstone saw one of the strangest phenomena a white man has ever seen. Under a cloudless sky, on the northern horizon, there appeared a rainbow. Had any one ever seen a rainbow without clouds to bring the rain! Hurrying on the boys with the packing in order to get on the march, he travelled towards this strange sign, turning over in his mind the probable cause of such an incredible sight. The day wore on and still the rainbow stayed, growing brighter and clearer the nearer our missionary approached. Through the hot atmosphere of the noon-day, a distant thunder sounded on his ear—thunder without lightning, thunder without clouds. Then he noticed above the tree-tops a smoke. Had he been a Greek of olden days, in awe he would have hesitated to approach the workshop of Hephaestus. Louder the thunder roared. Livingstone was not superstitious or credulous. Long ago he had fought out his battle with fear. Some of his guides, who had shown him the way thus far, stepped up to him. "Kind Doctor, we dare go no further. The Great Spirit, who dwells yonder, would destroy us." So camp was formed, and alone the white pioneer set out to investigate. The forest became more dense; then, to his astonishment, rain began to fall out of a clear sky. Luxuriant vegetation surrounded him in the rain forest. Over a fallen tree he climbed, then forged his way through dense liana creeper vines and stood on the brink of the greatest waterfall in the world. He had sought for a volcano, and he found something far more wonderful. One of the two greatest sights in the world (the other being the Grand Canyon) lay before him. There are many beautiful waterfalls. There are two or three in the world that are awe-inspiring; but there is one, the view of which is overwhelming. One of the five great rivers of Africa, the Zambesi, forming a vast lagoon edged in on the east by a number of islands, flings itself between these islands into a chasm. This chasm is part of the rift valley of Africa, that begins in Abyssinia and ends in Cape Colony.
For a while the great man stood in silent wonder. It was hard to tear himself away; but physical weakness after a long day's march made itself felt to a mind awhirl with overwhelming impressions. Resolutely he turned his back upon the falls, and retraced his footsteps to the camp, and to his anxiously waiting people.
Next morning, armed with ropes and scientific instruments, he set out again to try and find the width and depth of the falls, which he had determined to name after the queen of his country, the "Victoria Falls." From island to island he stretched his line, crossing in a dug-out canoe, which had been secured from a village some distance up the river. When adding up the figures and finding that the width of the river at the falls was over a mile and the depth of the fall four hundred feet, he noted in his diary—
"It is impossible for me to send such figures home in my report to the Royal Geographical Society. I should be called 'a stranger to the truth,' and being a missionary I cannot afford to have this said of me."
So, to be conservative, he divided his figures by half, giving the width of the fall in his report as over half a mile, and the depth as over two hundred feet,— and with these figures the Zambesi falls were the greatest in the world.
When the writer visited Rhodesia six years ago, and found his way to the Victoria Falls, he was rowed across to Livingstone Island, and sitting on a projected rock within a few feet of the rushing water, with pencil and note-book sought for words to describe the indescribable.
The snow fog rises from the boiling caldron,
Eternal thunder roars from roaring deep,
Unutterable abandonment leaps gigantically solemn into
Nature's groaning abyss.
Black basalt, scintillating steam, and foam, and fury,
Show in cyclopean chaos one of Pluto's workshops;
While silver sunshine wreathes round the crags, the rainbow—
Life-giving water wed to ghastly death.
Above the falls a wide river, innumerable isles, hidden rocky shallows, pleasant bays, profound pools, herds of hippo, flocks of waterfowl, shoals of fishes, swift canoes, a superabundance of happy life, seem unconsciously to approach the knife-edged barrier to the brink. One can go quite close to the edge of the chasm, and all around it. The only dangerous place is the Devil's Cataract; at all other places the suction of the falling river is but little felt. The stream is two thousand yards wide at the falls, and this whole vast volume of water goes up in steam when, in the ghastly leap of four hundred feet, the torrents dash themselves against the gloomy cliffs. The river has disappeared, but, unseen from above, the waters gather themselves together again, and from the Boiling Pot, past the Palm Grove under the Rain forest, the deep swelling black waves slowly roll under the railway bridge, until, forty miles beyond the gorge, they emerge into the pleasant plains of the new wide valley.
The week before I visited the falls, two boys had quarreled in a canoe, when the current of the Devil's Cataract had caught hold of it. One jumped, and swimming and scrambling over the rocks, saved himself, but the other was carried over the edge and never seen again. When emerging from the Palm Grove close to the Boiling Pot, I came upon the last remnant of that boat—a small piece of its backbone, the center of its keel.
Words utterly fail to describe the unforgettable glory, the awesome sight, the mist clouds, the wild unbridled fury of the frothy falls, the river rainbow, the Aurora Victorialis.
"Master, I am coming!" cried Mebaline, the native teacher, as Livingstone lay under a lion, his arm bitten through, and in the jaws of the beast. But both barrels of Mebaline's gun missed fire, and as he was only ten yards away, the lion left our fallen hero, jumped on the native, threw him, and bit him through the side. Then another native, whose life David Livingstone had previously saved, came to the rescue. He also was attacked and bitten through the shoulder, and then—the lion died. All this was enacted near Livingstone's station in much less time than it takes to tell.
Lions had become very troublesome, one of them killing nine sheep opposite the missionary's house in broad daylight. The Bechuanas had tried to deal with them but were unable to kill them, and, like his namesake of old, the new David had to become a lion killer and deal with the marauders. He had gone after them, shot one sitting on a rock behind a bush, and fired both barrels into him. Both shots took effect, but did not put an instantaneous end to the lion's life, and there followed the incident above related. The bone of Livingstone's arm was splintered, and the eleven tooth-marks never disappeared, though the wound healed. The arm never was as strong again as the other, and when his body was brought home to England many years later, it was recognized by the broken bone and the tooth-marks left by the lion.
During the winter of 1860-61, Livingstone had some of his most terrible experiences in Africa. On his return from the discovery of Lake Nyassa, he found that Mr. and Mrs. Hillmore (whom he had left in the Makololo country) had died of fever, and the natives of that district had lost all interest in the mission. Discouraged, Livingstone returned to Lake Nyassa, built a boat, and for six months sailed the waters of the lake, making a chart of it. Then a storm wrecked his vessel, and Livingstone lost nearly all he had with him. He had to return to the Rovula River early in 1861, where the Pioneer had been sent with new supplies for him. Fever broke out among his people, and the lack of proper medicines had a good deal to do with the death of Mrs. Livingstone.
It was the 27th day of April, 1861, at Shupanga. The deep hanging branches of a mighty baobob tree shaded a procession that approached an open grave. Mary Moffat, the wife of David who was named Livingstone, had ended her earthly journeyings, and was to be buried far from home, in God's wilderness in Central Africa. Reverently the boys lowered the body into the grave, while the great pioneer, his lips tightly closed, his hands over his eyes, murmured to himself, "'The Lord gave: the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!'"
"Oh, Mary, why did I lead you to this Valley of the Shadow! I would love to lie down here would our Father but take me. Mary, my Mary, wait for me over there!" A lonely man left the closed grave, but a man determined to use the days of his life to the full, and, should God permit him, carry through the plan of his life's work, and open the lands of Africa wide for the message of the Son of God—the Great Pioneer through the Valley of the Shadow to the lands where there is no shadow and no night.
It was a sultry summer afternoon when at Nyangwe on the Lualaba, in the market of the village, some fifteen hundred women, besides the men, had come together from across the river to trade and traffic with the foreign people. An Arab chieftain's caravan had settled down and formed camp, and David Livingstone after many weeks of travel, was resting now here on the Upper Congo. The river which the natives call the "Lualaba" was, though unknown to Livingstone, the head branch of the Zaire, which Stanley later called the Congo.
Through the hot air of the afternoon a rifle shot rang out, then other shots, a fusilade, and down the dusty path came flying women, screaming, and after them the Arabs, firing as they ran, shooting the men down right and left. The Arabs explained that some little squabble over barter had caused the trouble, but Livingstone, who knew the Arabs, knew also full well that the attack had been premeditated and prepared for. Into canoes and dug-outs the natives scrambled. Some of the boats capsized with their frightened freight, and into this mass of struggling humanity, the Arabs fired steadily. Some of the natives tried to swim the river, while the Moslems laughingly shot at them. Those that were not killed by bullets were swept away by the strong current, and hardly any of them were left alive.
It was when writing of this incident that, in his notes, the doctor said, "I felt like pistolling those Arabs, but the dead I could not bring to life again. What good should I have done? Indeed I should have sacrificed my followers, and to do this I had no right." It was then also that he wrote, "May God bless every one, American, British, or Turk, who will help to heal this open sore of the world."
Next morning as he started eastward he counted seventeen villages in flames. This was the only period in his life in which he was fired upon by the natives, being mistaken for a slave-raider. It was indeed shortly after he had left the Lualaba, that, when passing through the country of the Manjuema, he was for five hours, exposed to shots by archers and by spearmen. One spear grazed his back, another was hurled into the ground close to his feet. Then a great tree crashed down in front of him, almost striking him to the earth. Three times, on that day, he narrowly escaped death.
Livingstone had been honored by great societies, had been lauded by the press, yet his pocket-book was empty when in April, 1864, he arrived at Zanzibar. All he possessed was a little launch called Lady Nyassa, and for the Lady Nyassa there was no market in Zanzibar. He needed money and needed it badly; then, accompanied by seven of his faithful natives and two Europeans, he set sail for Bombay across the Indian Ocean, in the hope that he might there he able to realize, if not as much as the boat had cost him, at least enough to pay what he owed his followers, his other debts, and his passage home.
He was no sailor, his native boys had never been to sea before, and his boat was little more than a cockle-shell on the stormy ocean he proposed to navigate; but he had been in tight places before. In a letter written on February 23rd, 1859, to Miss Whately (the daughter of the Archbishop of Dublin), from the Upper Zambesi, he says—"We were unfortunate enough to be misled in the vessel we now use, and rejected another which we now find would have suited us admirably. The naval officer who misled us suffered from sea-sickness and irritability so much that he resigned when he imagined we could not help ourselves. But I took the task of navigating on myself, and have conducted the steamer over 1,600 miles, though as far as my likings go I would as soon drive a cab in November fogs in London as be 'skipper' in this hot sun—but I shall go through with it as a duty."
The word "duty" is a favorite word of David Livingstone's, and appears again and again in his letters. In a letter written on the 9th of September, 1857, he closed an eight-page epistle by saying, "It is in the way of duty, and we shall try not to be craven-hearted." The word "duty" is a good word and effective. Nelson used it. In the Battle of Trafalgar, when he finally established the British dominance on the sea and safeguarded the British realm and its dominions, he signaled to his captains—"England expects every man to do his duty."
Livingstone's native followers had served him well. He owed them payment and it was his duty to meet his liabilities: so across the wide expanse of tropical seas he steered his little vessel, to sell her and then pay his debts. His own country had treated him shabbily, as twenty-five years later Gordon was treated at Khartum, and though Livingstone had been appointed British consul and representative of the greatest empire, and though he had been lauded to the skies, not enough was given to him to pay his few native boys. It was an American who, on Livingstone's last journey in Africa, sent him supplies—and when our hero died he was in abject poverty. Let him perish of neglect, and then bury him in Westminster Abbey! Let Gordon first be murdered (when so easily he might have been saved) and then build him a mausoleum in St. Paul's cathedral! To this day the British Government is afraid to show the correspondence of David Livingstone that is hidden in the Government archives. One wonders why. Indeed, one does not need to wonder why! The governments of the world are not over generous in their payment of the men whom God has chosen to do the great work in this world of His, whether their names be Columbus, Raleigh, Holland, or Livingstone. At the hundredth anniversary celebration of David Livingstone's birth, in the Albert Hall in London, under the chairmanship of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir Harry Johnston in his address bitterly complained that the British Government denied him access to the letters of David Livingstone.
At a time of life when many a man looks robust and vigorous, preparing for maybe another twenty years of work, our hero was a bent old man, though only fifty-eight. Surging sorrows had gone over his gray head. Deep lines and grooves were graven into his strong face. Misunderstandings and malicious slanders from those he had thought his fastest friends had, if not embittered, saddened him. He might look back, upon a record of achievements in the service of God and of his fellow-men equaled by few. This was encouraging. But, on the other hand, his experiences with the slave-raiders (and their work still continued), with the Government, yea, and with the missionary societies, were, to say the least of it, discouraging.
He was at Ujiji on the north eastern shore of Lake Tanganika. His food and medical supplies were exhausted. Financially he was in straits, and his arm (broken by the teeth of the lion) gave him a good deal of trouble. His neighbors were Arab slave-traders. They were friendly enough. They respected this brave man, though they knew how he disapproved of their business operations.
Brooding alone, he sat under a grass mat thrown over rough wooden posts to protect him from the sun. One of his faithful native boys ran up to him.
"Doctor, many people are coming down the path, many—many!"
Slowly Livingstone raised his eyes from the ground, where he had been drawing figures on the sand, in time to see around the corner of yonder field of Kaffir corn, a flag—the first of its kind he had seen in Africa. It was not the "Four Color" of the Orange and the Transvaal, nor the Portuguese, nor the Union Jack. It was a flag that now, for the first time, appeared in the interior of the Dark Continent—a flag that only seven years before had for ever settled the liberty of Africa's black children in the United States of North America—
"The Stars and Stripes."
What did they want with that flag here in Africa among the slave-raiders? Was it some quixotic expedition from afar to proclaim liberty to the slaves of Africa? Laboriously he rose, stood on his feet, and with his left hand shading his eyes, looked at the flag that was approaching. Now he could see the boy who carried it and then—a white man in a khaki cap—and then—a whole host of carriers—crowds of them! Nearer they came. The white man saw him, and with outstretched hands marched up.
"Dr. Livingstone, I presume? My name is Stanley." And they shook hands.
"Well?" said Livingstone.
"I have been sent by Mr. Bennett of the New York Herald to find you, and to bring you new supplies, and, if you like, escort you to the coast."
"You've come from America to help me?"
"No, I have come from Paris. I was in France, and received instructions to go and find you."
"From Paris? But why?"
Forgotten by his missionary friends, and by his Government, alone and almost helpless, the Doctor needed time to understand the meaning of the surprising, sudden, unexpected succor. But when at last he understood, he turned away abruptly, went into his hut to hide his deep emotions, and thanked God for answering his prayers. He realized that his life's work was not for nought: he was remembered and thought much of throughout the world—so much so, that from a land he had never seen, from a man he did not know, and through a man he had never heard of, supplies had come that might enable him—perhaps—to accomplish the work he had still in mind to do, namely to find the sources of the Nile.
One wonders sometimes whether, when he died there in far Ulala less than two years later, it was not with a deep sigh of relief, believing that he had found what he had sought, the Lualaba's source at Bangweolo (and the Lualaba was, in his mind of course, the Nile).
For days the two great pioneers, the "Dr. David" and the one who later was known as "Sir Henry," conferred and planned. It was then that Stanley, through the influence of Livingstone, determined to give his life to the amelioration of the people in Darkest Africa.
This is Livingstone's hundredth birthday (March the 19th, 1913), and in Westminster Abbey, led by Bishop Riley, the Dean, are gathered the delegates of the great missionary and scientific organizations with which our hero had been connected during his life time, or that had grown out of his life work. This circle, though it may be small, is one of the most remarkable gatherings that the ancient abbey has ever seen. Presbyterians and Plymouth Brethren, Methodists and Baptists, Congregationalists and Friends, High and Low Church of England, men of little faith in God, and some of less, men of much faith in God and some of more, have come to honor the memory of a man who was a Christian. (Note: It was the privilege of the writer to arrange this memorial service with Bishop Riley.)
Slowly and silently the procession moves from the chancel to the center of the Abbey. A thousand years of Christian worship look down upon a unique service. Stately statues stand around; fluted columns soar upward to the domed arches of the lofty roof; battle flags, bronze tablets, marble monuments of illustrious leaders of the minds of men are around us. Our feet tread on the tombstones of the nobles of the nation. We move in an atmosphere of mighty memories.
The procession halts before an unadorned flat slab of stone—the grave of the greatest Britain of the last century.
When they buried him here the poet of the merry paper, Punch, left his levity and wrote:
"Open the Abbey doors and bear him in
To sleep with king and statesman, chief and sage—
The missionary, born of weaver kin,
But great by work that brooks no lower wage."
"Let marble crumble. Here lies Living-Stone."
They brought him here after long wanderings in the wilderness to rest among the great ones of his race—
David Livingstone—the prince of missionaries, the pioneer, the modern pathfinder in the Dark Continent, a philanthropist living beyond the limits of the little island soil on which he was born. His mother-country and his fatherland were God's own world, and those who needed him most he served most, not counting his life dear unto himself, but freely spending it that he might lead the dark-skinned children of the Dark Continent to the light—the Light of Life.
From the lips of the Bishop come the ancient prayers of the Church. A few minutes, and the Service is drawing to a close, when the Dean introduces an innovation. "Let us now," he says, "in silence think of the work which the man whose earthly remains lie here began, and left for us to carry on. Let us seek from God the strength and wisdom needed to carry through this work until the tribes of Africa have found their way into the light of our Lord Jesus Christ."
There is silence—a silence that can be felt. There is spiritual communion of souls ready for service and sacrifice, and as the rays of sunlight filtering through stained-glass windows play with the flowers placed there before us, in many a heart takes place a solemn sacrament of consecration.
"We will see to it that the door he has opened to the heart of Africa shall not be closed. We will see to it that the message he carried to the Children of the Shadows shall be taken further until all have heard. We will see to it that the outstretched hands of Ethiopia shall be linked with the outstretched hands of the Son of God."
Then came the Benediction.
Inscription on the tomb of David Livingstone in Westminster Abbey:
|BROUGHT BY FAITHFUL HANDS
OVER LAND AND SEA
Born March 19, 1813,
At Blantyre, Lanarkshire.
Died May 1, 1873,
At Chitambo's Village, Ulala.
For 30 years his life was spent
in an unwearied effort
To evangelize the native races
To explore the undiscovered secrets
To abolish the desolating slave trade
OF CENTRAL AFRICA
where with his last words he wrote
"All I can add in my solitude is
May Heaven's rich blessing come down
On every one, American, English or Turk
who will help to heal
This open sore of the world."
On the left border of the stone is written:
"Other sheep I have which are not of this fold."
"Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice."
And on the right border of the stone is written in Latin:
"Tantus amor veri, nihil est quod noscere malim
Quam fluvii causas per sæcula tanta latentes."
[The Latin verses are from Lucan the Roman poet, who, in his Pharsalia, describes the aspiration of Julius Caesar to solve the problem, even then before the world, of the causes and source of the Nile River, and may be translated, "So great is my love of truth that there is nothing I would rather know than the sources of the river that have lain hidden through so many centuries..."]
From African Missionary Heroes and Heroines by H. K. W. Kumm. New York: MacMillan Company, 1917.
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