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All lovers swear more performance than they are able, and yet reserve an ability that they never perform; vowing more than the perfection of ten, and discharging less than the tenth part of one.

      — Troilus and Cressida, Act III Scene 2

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Act I

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Scene 1. A desert place.

Scene 2. A camp near Forres.

Scene 3. A heath near Forres.

Scene 4. Forres. The palace.

Scene 5. Inverness. Macbeth’s castle.

Scene 6. Before Macbeth’s castle.

Scene 7. Macbeth’s castle.

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Act I, Scene 1

A desert place.

      next scene .
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[Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches]

  • First Witch. When shall we three meet again
    In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
  • Second Witch. When the hurlyburly's done,
    When the battle's lost and won. 5
  • All. Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
    Hover through the fog and filthy air.

[Exeunt]

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Act I, Scene 2

A camp near Forres.

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[Alarum within. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN,] [p]LENNOX, with Attendants, meeting a bleeding Sergeant]

  • Duncan. What bloody man is that? He can report,
    As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt
    The newest state. 20
  • Malcolm. This is the sergeant
    Who like a good and hardy soldier fought
    'Gainst my captivity. Hail, brave friend!
    Say to the king the knowledge of the broil
    As thou didst leave it. 25
  • Sergeant. Doubtful it stood;
    As two spent swimmers, that do cling together
    And choke their art. The merciless Macdonwald—
    Worthy to be a rebel, for to that
    The multiplying villanies of nature 30
    Do swarm upon him—from the western isles
    Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied;
    And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,
    Show'd like a rebel's whore: but all's too weak:
    For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name— 35
    Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,
    Which smoked with bloody execution,
    Like valour's minion carved out his passage
    Till he faced the slave;
    Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, 40
    Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps,
    And fix'd his head upon our battlements.
  • Duncan. O valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!
  • Sergeant. As whence the sun 'gins his reflection
    Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break, 45
    So from that spring whence comfort seem'd to come
    Discomfort swells. Mark, king of Scotland, mark:
    No sooner justice had with valour arm'd
    Compell'd these skipping kerns to trust their heels,
    But the Norweyan lord surveying vantage, 50
    With furbish'd arms and new supplies of men
    Began a fresh assault.
  • Duncan. Dismay'd not this
    Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?
  • Sergeant. Yes; 55
    As sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion.
    If I say sooth, I must report they were
    As cannons overcharged with double cracks, so they
    Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe:
    Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds, 60
    Or memorise another Golgotha,
    I cannot tell.
    But I am faint, my gashes cry for help.
  • Duncan. So well thy words become thee as thy wounds;
    They smack of honour both. Go get him surgeons. 65
    [Exit Sergeant, attended]
    Who comes here?

[Enter ROSS]

  • Malcolm. The worthy thane of Ross.
  • Lennox. What a haste looks through his eyes! So should he look 70
    That seems to speak things strange.
  • Ross. God save the king!
  • Duncan. Whence camest thou, worthy thane?
  • Ross. From Fife, great king;
    Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky 75
    And fan our people cold. Norway himself,
    With terrible numbers,
    Assisted by that most disloyal traitor
    The thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict;
    Till that Bellona's bridegroom, lapp'd in proof, 80
    Confronted him with self-comparisons,
    Point against point rebellious, arm 'gainst arm.
    Curbing his lavish spirit: and, to conclude,
    The victory fell on us.
  • Ross. That now
    Sweno, the Norways' king, craves composition:
    Nor would we deign him burial of his men
    Till he disbursed at Saint Colme's inch
    Ten thousand dollars to our general use. 90
  • Duncan. No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceive
    Our bosom interest: go pronounce his present death,
    And with his former title greet Macbeth.
  • Ross. I'll see it done.
  • Duncan. What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath won. 95

[Exeunt]

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Act I, Scene 3

A heath near Forres.

      next scene .
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[Thunder. Enter the three Witches]

  • First Witch. A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap,
    And munch'd, and munch'd, and munch'd:—
    'Give me,' quoth I:
    'Aroint thee, witch!' the rump-fed ronyon cries.
    Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' the Tiger: 105
    But in a sieve I'll thither sail,
    And, like a rat without a tail,
    I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.
  • First Witch. I myself have all the other,
    And the very ports they blow,
    All the quarters that they know
    I' the shipman's card. 115
    I will drain him dry as hay:
    Sleep shall neither night nor day
    Hang upon his pent-house lid;
    He shall live a man forbid:
    Weary se'nnights nine times nine 120
    Shall he dwindle, peak and pine:
    Though his bark cannot be lost,
    Yet it shall be tempest-tost.
    Look what I have.
  • First Witch. Here I have a pilot's thumb,
    Wreck'd as homeward he did come.

[Drum within]

  • All. The weird sisters, hand in hand,
    Posters of the sea and land,
    Thus do go about, about:
    Thrice to thine and thrice to mine
    And thrice again, to make up nine. 135
    Peace! the charm's wound up.

[Enter MACBETH and BANQUO]

  • Macbeth. So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
  • Banquo. How far is't call'd to Forres? What are these
    So wither'd and so wild in their attire, 140
    That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,
    And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught
    That man may question? You seem to understand me,
    By each at once her chappy finger laying
    Upon her skinny lips: you should be women, 145
    And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
    That you are so.
  • Macbeth. Speak, if you can: what are you?
  • First Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!
  • Second Witch. All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor! 150
  • Third Witch. All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!
  • Banquo. Good sir, why do you start; and seem to fear
    Things that do sound so fair? I' the name of truth,
    Are ye fantastical, or that indeed
    Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner 155
    You greet with present grace and great prediction
    Of noble having and of royal hope,
    That he seems rapt withal: to me you speak not.
    If you can look into the seeds of time,
    And say which grain will grow and which will not, 160
    Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear
    Your favours nor your hate.
  • Third Witch. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none:
    So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!
  • Macbeth. Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more:
    By Sinel's death I know I am thane of Glamis;
    But how of Cawdor? the thane of Cawdor lives,
    A prosperous gentleman; and to be king
    Stands not within the prospect of belief, 175
    No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence
    You owe this strange intelligence? or why
    Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
    With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you.

[Witches vanish]

  • Banquo. The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
    And these are of them. Whither are they vanish'd?
  • Macbeth. Into the air; and what seem'd corporal melted
    As breath into the wind. Would they had stay'd!
  • Banquo. Were such things here as we do speak about? 185
    Or have we eaten on the insane root
    That takes the reason prisoner?
  • Macbeth. Your children shall be kings.
  • Macbeth. And thane of Cawdor too: went it not so? 190
  • Banquo. To the selfsame tune and words. Who's here?

[Enter ROSS and ANGUS]

  • Ross. The king hath happily received, Macbeth,
    The news of thy success; and when he reads
    Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight, 195
    His wonders and his praises do contend
    Which should be thine or his: silenced with that,
    In viewing o'er the rest o' the selfsame day,
    He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks,
    Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make, 200
    Strange images of death. As thick as hail
    Came post with post; and every one did bear
    Thy praises in his kingdom's great defence,
    And pour'd them down before him.
  • Angus. We are sent 205
    To give thee from our royal master thanks;
    Only to herald thee into his sight,
    Not pay thee.
  • Ross. And, for an earnest of a greater honour,
    He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor: 210
    In which addition, hail, most worthy thane!
    For it is thine.
  • Banquo. What, can the devil speak true?
  • Macbeth. The thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me
    In borrow'd robes? 215
  • Angus. Who was the thane lives yet;
    But under heavy judgment bears that life
    Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was combined
    With those of Norway, or did line the rebel
    With hidden help and vantage, or that with both 220
    He labour'd in his country's wreck, I know not;
    But treasons capital, confess'd and proved,
    Have overthrown him.
  • Macbeth. [Aside] Glamis, and thane of Cawdor!
    The greatest is behind. 225
    [To ROSS and ANGUS]
    Thanks for your pains.
    [To BANQUO]
    Do you not hope your children shall be kings,
    When those that gave the thane of Cawdor to me 230
    Promised no less to them?
  • Banquo. That trusted home
    Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,
    Besides the thane of Cawdor. But 'tis strange:
    And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, 235
    The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
    Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
    In deepest consequence.
    Cousins, a word, I pray you.
  • Macbeth. [Aside]. Two truths are told, 240
    As happy prologues to the swelling act
    Of the imperial theme.—I thank you, gentlemen.
    [Aside] This supernatural soliciting]
    Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,
    Why hath it given me earnest of success, 245
    Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:
    If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
    Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
    And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
    Against the use of nature? Present fears 250
    Are less than horrible imaginings:
    My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
    Shakes so my single state of man that function
    Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is
    But what is not. 255
  • Banquo. Look, how our partner's rapt.
  • Macbeth. [Aside] If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me,
    Without my stir.
  • Banquo. New horrors come upon him,
    Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould 260
    But with the aid of use.
  • Macbeth. [Aside] Come what come may,
    Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.
  • Banquo. Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.
  • Macbeth. Give me your favour: my dull brain was wrought 265
    With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains
    Are register'd where every day I turn
    The leaf to read them. Let us toward the king.
    Think upon what hath chanced, and, at more time,
    The interim having weigh'd it, let us speak 270
    Our free hearts each to other.
  • Macbeth. Till then, enough. Come, friends.

[Exeunt]

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Act I, Scene 4

Forres. The palace.

      next scene .
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[Flourish. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENNOX, and Attendants]

  • Duncan. Is execution done on Cawdor? Are not
    Those in commission yet return'd?
  • Malcolm. My liege,
    They are not yet come back. But I have spoke
    With one that saw him die: who did report 280
    That very frankly he confess'd his treasons,
    Implored your highness' pardon and set forth
    A deep repentance: nothing in his life
    Became him like the leaving it; he died
    As one that had been studied in his death 285
    To throw away the dearest thing he owed,
    As 'twere a careless trifle.
  • Duncan. There's no art
    To find the mind's construction in the face:
    He was a gentleman on whom I built 290
    An absolute trust.
    [Enter MACBETH, BANQUO, ROSS, and ANGUS]
    O worthiest cousin!
    The sin of my ingratitude even now
    Was heavy on me: thou art so far before 295
    That swiftest wing of recompense is slow
    To overtake thee. Would thou hadst less deserved,
    That the proportion both of thanks and payment
    Might have been mine! only I have left to say,
    More is thy due than more than all can pay. 300
  • Macbeth. The service and the loyalty I owe,
    In doing it, pays itself. Your highness' part
    Is to receive our duties; and our duties
    Are to your throne and state children and servants,
    Which do but what they should, by doing every thing 305
    Safe toward your love and honour.
  • Duncan. Welcome hither:
    I have begun to plant thee, and will labour
    To make thee full of growing. Noble Banquo,
    That hast no less deserved, nor must be known 310
    No less to have done so, let me enfold thee
    And hold thee to my heart.
  • Banquo. There if I grow,
    The harvest is your own.
  • Duncan. My plenteous joys, 315
    Wanton in fulness, seek to hide themselves
    In drops of sorrow. Sons, kinsmen, thanes,
    And you whose places are the nearest, know
    We will establish our estate upon
    Our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter 320
    The Prince of Cumberland; which honour must
    Not unaccompanied invest him only,
    But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine
    On all deservers. From hence to Inverness,
    And bind us further to you. 325
  • Macbeth. The rest is labour, which is not used for you:
    I'll be myself the harbinger and make joyful
    The hearing of my wife with your approach;
    So humbly take my leave.
  • Macbeth. [Aside] The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step
    On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,
    For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
    Let not light see my black and deep desires:
    The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be, 335
    Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.

[Exit]

  • Duncan. True, worthy Banquo; he is full so valiant,
    And in his commendations I am fed;
    It is a banquet to me. Let's after him, 340
    Whose care is gone before to bid us welcome:
    It is a peerless kinsman.

[Flourish. Exeunt]

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Act I, Scene 5

Inverness. Macbeth’s castle.

      next scene .
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[Enter LADY MACBETH, reading a letter]

  • Lady Macbeth. 'They met me in the day of success: and I have 345
    learned by the perfectest report, they have more in
    them than mortal knowledge. When I burned in desire
    to question them further, they made themselves air,
    into which they vanished. Whiles I stood rapt in
    the wonder of it, came missives from the king, who 350
    all-hailed me 'Thane of Cawdor;' by which title,
    before, these weird sisters saluted me, and referred
    me to the coming on of time, with 'Hail, king that
    shalt be!' This have I thought good to deliver
    thee, my dearest partner of greatness, that thou 355
    mightst not lose the dues of rejoicing, by being
    ignorant of what greatness is promised thee. Lay it
    to thy heart, and farewell.'
    Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be
    What thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature; 360
    It is too full o' the milk of human kindness
    To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great;
    Art not without ambition, but without
    The illness should attend it: what thou wouldst highly,
    That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false, 365
    And yet wouldst wrongly win: thou'ldst have, great Glamis,
    That which cries 'Thus thou must do, if thou have it;
    And that which rather thou dost fear to do
    Than wishest should be undone.' Hie thee hither,
    That I may pour my spirits in thine ear; 370
    And chastise with the valour of my tongue
    All that impedes thee from the golden round,
    Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem
    To have thee crown'd withal.
    [Enter a Messenger] 375
    What is your tidings?
  • Lady Macbeth. Thou'rt mad to say it:
    Is not thy master with him? who, were't so,
    Would have inform'd for preparation. 380
  • Messenger. So please you, it is true: our thane is coming:
    One of my fellows had the speed of him,
    Who, almost dead for breath, had scarcely more
    Than would make up his message.
  • Lady Macbeth. Give him tending; 385
    He brings great news.
    [Exit Messenger]
    The raven himself is hoarse
    That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
    Under my battlements. Come, you spirits 390
    That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
    And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
    Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
    Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
    That no compunctious visitings of nature 395
    Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
    The effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts,
    And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
    Wherever in your sightless substances
    You wait on nature's mischief! Come, thick night, 400
    And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
    That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
    Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
    To cry 'Hold, hold!'
    [Enter MACBETH] 405
    Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor!
    Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter!
    Thy letters have transported me beyond
    This ignorant present, and I feel now
    The future in the instant. 410
  • Macbeth. My dearest love,
    Duncan comes here to-night.
  • Macbeth. To-morrow, as he purposes.
  • Lady Macbeth. O, never 415
    Shall sun that morrow see!
    Your face, my thane, is as a book where men
    May read strange matters. To beguile the time,
    Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,
    Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower, 420
    But be the serpent under't. He that's coming
    Must be provided for: and you shall put
    This night's great business into my dispatch;
    Which shall to all our nights and days to come
    Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom. 425
  • Lady Macbeth. Only look up clear;
    To alter favour ever is to fear:
    Leave all the rest to me.

[Exeunt]

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Act I, Scene 6

Before Macbeth’s castle.

      next scene .
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[Hautboys and torches. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM,] [p]DONALBAIN, BANQUO, LENNOX, MACDUFF, ROSS, ANGUS, and Attendants]

  • Duncan. This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
    Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
    Unto our gentle senses. 435
  • Banquo. This guest of summer,
    The temple-haunting martlet, does approve,
    By his loved mansionry, that the heaven's breath
    Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze,
    Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird 440
    Hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle:
    Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed,
    The air is delicate.

[Enter LADY MACBETH]

  • Duncan. See, see, our honour'd hostess! 445
    The love that follows us sometime is our trouble,
    Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you
    How you shall bid God 'ild us for your pains,
    And thank us for your trouble.
  • Lady Macbeth. All our service 450
    In every point twice done and then done double
    Were poor and single business to contend
    Against those honours deep and broad wherewith
    Your majesty loads our house: for those of old,
    And the late dignities heap'd up to them, 455
    We rest your hermits.
  • Duncan. Where's the thane of Cawdor?
    We coursed him at the heels, and had a purpose
    To be his purveyor: but he rides well;
    And his great love, sharp as his spur, hath holp him 460
    To his home before us. Fair and noble hostess,
    We are your guest to-night.
  • Lady Macbeth. Your servants ever
    Have theirs, themselves and what is theirs, in compt,
    To make their audit at your highness' pleasure, 465
    Still to return your own.
  • Duncan. Give me your hand;
    Conduct me to mine host: we love him highly,
    And shall continue our graces towards him.
    By your leave, hostess. 470

[Exeunt]

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Act I, Scene 7

Macbeth’s castle.

       
---

[Hautboys and torches. Enter a Sewer, and divers] [p]Servants with dishes and service, and pass over the stage. Then enter MACBETH]

  • Macbeth. If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
    It were done quickly: if the assassination 475
    Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
    With his surcease success; that but this blow
    Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
    But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
    We'ld jump the life to come. But in these cases 480
    We still have judgment here; that we but teach
    Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
    To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice
    Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice
    To our own lips. He's here in double trust; 485
    First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
    Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
    Who should against his murderer shut the door,
    Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
    Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been 490
    So clear in his great office, that his virtues
    Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
    The deep damnation of his taking-off;
    And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
    Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, horsed 495
    Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
    Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
    That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
    To prick the sides of my intent, but only
    Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself 500
    And falls on the other.
    [Enter LADY MACBETH]
    How now! what news?
  • Lady Macbeth. He has almost supp'd: why have you left the chamber?
  • Macbeth. We will proceed no further in this business:
    He hath honour'd me of late; and I have bought
    Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
    Which would be worn now in their newest gloss, 510
    Not cast aside so soon.
  • Lady Macbeth. Was the hope drunk
    Wherein you dress'd yourself? hath it slept since?
    And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
    At what it did so freely? From this time 515
    Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
    To be the same in thine own act and valour
    As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
    Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
    And live a coward in thine own esteem, 520
    Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would,'
    Like the poor cat i' the adage?
  • Macbeth. Prithee, peace:
    I dare do all that may become a man;
    Who dares do more is none. 525
  • Lady Macbeth. What beast was't, then,
    That made you break this enterprise to me?
    When you durst do it, then you were a man;
    And, to be more than what you were, you would
    Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place 530
    Did then adhere, and yet you would make both:
    They have made themselves, and that their fitness now
    Does unmake you. I have given suck, and know
    How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
    I would, while it was smiling in my face, 535
    Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
    And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
    Have done to this.
  • Lady Macbeth. We fail! 540
    But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
    And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep—
    Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey
    Soundly invite him—his two chamberlains
    Will I with wine and wassail so convince 545
    That memory, the warder of the brain,
    Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason
    A limbeck only: when in swinish sleep
    Their drenched natures lie as in a death,
    What cannot you and I perform upon 550
    The unguarded Duncan? what not put upon
    His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt
    Of our great quell?
  • Macbeth. Bring forth men-children only;
    For thy undaunted mettle should compose 555
    Nothing but males. Will it not be received,
    When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two
    Of his own chamber and used their very daggers,
    That they have done't?
  • Lady Macbeth. Who dares receive it other, 560
    As we shall make our griefs and clamour roar
    Upon his death?
  • Macbeth. I am settled, and bend up
    Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
    Away, and mock the time with fairest show: 565
    False face must hide what the false heart doth know.

[Exeunt]

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