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Sailing Adventures in the Antarctic Peninsula,
South Georgia, Cape Horn, Falklands
& Historic Tierra Del Fuego
On this tour you may see:
Majestic mountains dipped in snow...
Crystalline waterways...
Whales, seals, Soaring Andes condors...
Ice-blue Glaciers that shimmer like jewels...


New Historic Missions Route to Cape Horn
and Beagle Channel opens up in Tierra Del Fuego



This story about the Tierra Del Fuego Yagan Canoe
Indian, Jemy button, goes back to the year 1825.



As Spain monopolizes the Cartography, then existing,
in many regions of the globe, England resolves to do
their own. For this goal, in 1825 Captain Philip Parker King,
commanding the "HMS Beagle" and Pringle Stockes in
charge of the "Adventure" began to explore coasts, islands,
channels and bays.

King and Stockes, looking for an exit to the Pacific,
name the Beagle channel in honor of King's boat .
Pringle Stockes commits suicide on board, and is
buried in Port Hunger ( Port Hunger or Puerto Hambre
in Spanish is a tourist attraction now called Fort Bulnes,
a few miles South of Punta Arenas, Chile).

King asks that Lieutenant Skyring be designated his
replacement, but Admiral Ottway grants
the command to the young Robert FitzRoy.

Robert FitzRoy anchored in front of the island
Navarino, his first mate, Murray, disembarks in Cape
Desolation. During the night his whale boat disappears
and he has to construct a type of canoe with branches
which resembles a basket to be able to return to the "Beagle".

It was February of 1830. They start looking for the
whale boat, a task that consumes many days. They take
some Yagan Indians as hostages, many escape. But at
the end of the search, they are left with four fuegians
(from Tierra Del Fuego) on board, who captain FitzRoy
decides to take to England.

These four, were the first Yagan fuegian
Indians in Europe. One was a robust and sullen man
around 26 years old, called York Minster, named so by
the English at a rock near the site where he was
captured.


York Minister


Another one, about 20 years old, was called
Boat Memory because he could not remember where the
boat was that had been stolen, although there
was some bottles of beer in his canoe. A girl of about
9 years, was nicknamed Fuegia Basket by the sailors
because some of them had returned to the "Beagle"
floating on a structure of branches and cloth, that
appeared like a big basket.


Fuegia Basket

A boy was known as Jemy
Button, because FitzRoy paid for him by with buttons.

The idea of the captain is that, if these Indians
reside some years in " civilization ", on their return
they will transfer what they had learned to their
relatives, resulting in a great advance for this
uneducated people. On board, they were provided with
clothes, since those of their race live totally naked.

Jemy Button


Throughout the trip, all appeared very content with
their luck. When arriving at England, they are
vaccinated for the second time, because FitzRoy is
conscious of the vulnerability of the natives with the
diseases of the whites. He takes them to live in a
country house, where he hopes that the fresh air and
the isolation also will have the results of protecting
them. Despite the precautions, in November of 1830 Boat
Memory it presents symptoms of smallpox. He
receives the best attention, in the royal hospital of
Plymoth where the Dr. Armstrong lavishes loving care
on him, but he passes away.

After this loss, the captain puts a Missionary Society in
charge of the remaining three, taking on himself the
expenses of maintaining and educating "his "
Indians, who remain in Walthamstow until October of 1831.

During this period, they receive countless gifts from
missionaries along with occasional visitors. They are
taught the English language, the truths of
Christianity, and the handling of basic tools. During
the summer, they are invited to the court of Saint
James by Its Majesties. Queen Adelede gives the little
Fuegia Basket one of her own hats, one of her rings and
some money.

FitzRoy already wants to return to Patagonia and to take
the three Yagans back to their land.

The Admiralty says that there no longer exists
interest, so he contracts a boat, the "John of London"
to take them back. Finally, they assign him control of
the "Chanticleer", which not being fit, is replaced by
the "Beagle" which has been modified, and has a 242
ton displacement now. It is entrusted to him to
continue the charting work as initiated in the previous
expedition. To these aims, he buys 22 chronometers to
confirm longitudinal measurements of the Earth.

In October, they embark the 3 Indians. The boats must make
several trips to shore to transport so many gifts,
clothes, books, tools and supplies, which were given to
them during their stay in England. When FitzRoy asks for
a naturalist for the expedition, the job is granted to
Darwin. 

Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury
in 1809 and died in 1882. Author of the famous "The
origin of the species by Natural Selection", he wanted
to follow the course of his immediate predecessor
Alcides di Orbigny.

Darwin was a aristocrat who studied medicine without
finishing his career, and later wanted to be a clergyman.
As a student he had an inclination towards natural sciences.

Darwin suffered terrible sea sickness on board,
the reason why he disembarked at the least opportunity:

Because of this, he passed most of the trip on solid ground.
The other personality of the expedition is Richard
Matthews, enthusiastic young man and clergyman
catechist, whose mission was to preach to the Indians. 

The "Beagle" weighs anchor the 27 of December, 1831,
this time alone because a second boat for this expedition
is not authorized. Robert FitzRoy is 26 years of age,
Charles Darwin 22.

All the crew selected by FitzRoy are very young.
There are 74 people on board, the officials all are
around 20 years old, and some are barely 14
years old. In all the trip - that lasts five years - 25
men deserted, 38 were expelled and 611 whip lashes
were given as punishment.

The first officer, John Wickham, already had
participated in the first trip of the "Beagle" was to
be her captain in the third, and became Governor of
Queensland, Australia. The second officer, Sulivan,
amateur botanist, finishing this trip explores African
coasts and takes root for a time in the Falklands
with his family. The surgeon Benjamin Bynoe
participates in the third trip of the "Beagle" towards
Australia, where he writes the first description of the
birth of the marsupials. Philip Gidley King, 14 years
of age, son of captain of the first trip, also is part
of the team; the little boy accompanies his father to
the south seas when he was only 9. Of the young
officers of the "Beagle", 5 became admirals and
several other excellent positions. Without doubt,
FitzRoy elected a talented crew.

The artist on board is Conrad Martens, who signs on during
a stop at Montevideo. His function is to document the
trip, in a time when the photograph does not exist.
(His drawings illustrate this story). The 17th
of February of 1832, the "Beagle" crosses the equator, and
the habitual big party develops on board . The 4th of
March, Darwin, Wickham and Sulivan, dare to
disembark and wander about in the heat of the
carnival, in BahÌa. The main goal of the expedition is
with the work of charting throughout the Atlantic coast
of America. In Carmen de Patagones Jaime Harris rents
two shallow-draft vessels: "Paz" of 15 tons, in which
they embark Stoke and Roberts, and "Liebre" of 9 tons,
in which Wickham and Harris travel. While the "Beagle"
continues to the south, these two boats reconnoiter
areas which the bigger ship cannot accede due to it's
draft. The "Beagle" passes the length of the Strait of
Magellan to stop in front of Tierra Del. Fuego, at the
latitude of the Cape Pegas.

In the first disembarkation, in the middle of December of 1832,
FitzRoy meets with the Onas (His Yagans request that he
shoots them insisting that "Onas, men malos"). They
continue around Cape Horn looking for the western end
of the channel. Trying to find some Yagan families, the
echo of his shouts resound between thick woods, but as
no particular reactions take place, FitzRoy chooses an
accessible beach on Navarino island to disembark his
Indians, in Wulaia, on the Straits of Murray Channel.

Wulaia

by Conrad Martens

Here they construct 3 huts and they disembark the
Indians along with all the gifts that were received in
Europe. This task takes 5 days and Matthews also stays
(for this he had come). Matthews performs a marriage
of Fuegia and York, when she not more than 12 years old. 

FitzRoy starts off to carry out a brief exploration of the
channel, and in 9 days. he returns, finding the poor
clergyman hysteric: they had robbed him of everything
and left him alone, so he embarks again.

They offered Jemy on two occasions to keep going on the
trip also, both times he refuses, so that they leave without
him. On January of the 1833, Darwin and FitzRoy cross
the fuegian channels in open boats, getting 120 miles away
from the "Beagle" during 21 days.

In the Falklands (occupied by the English from 3 January),
FitzRoy buys the schooner " Unicorn " from the
legendary sealer William Low and renames it "Adventure".
The new boat, of 170 tons, is sent to Maldonado,
with Chaffers in charge, for its reconditioning.

Darwin takes advantage to explore the Eastern island
of the Falklands accompanied by two Argentine gauchos,
who introduce him to a barbecue with the hide still on.
In August, the "Beagle" is in front of the mouth of the
River Negro;

FitzRoy estimates the inhabitants of Fuerte Del Carmen
at 2.000, of them, 500 are black. Darwin, accompanied
by Jaime Harris (who participated in the combat of the
7 of March of 1827 against Brazil) walks to BahÌa
Blanca. He stays with general Rosas in his camp at
Fort Mercedes, on the edge of the Colorado. Days
afterward, the "Beagle" anchors opposite Bahia
Blanco and soon sails to Buenos Aires;

Darwin chooses to also make this passage by land,
and from Sierra de la Ventana, close to Punta Alta,
he takes a few dinosaur fossils. On passing through Buenos 
Aires territory, he notes a way to obtain good sheep dogs:
from puppies they are made to feed on milk from the same
sheep ewes, and then soon they are castrated. Wickham
starts off for Maldonado to assume the command of the
"Adventure".

FitzRoy is again at Southern Tierra Del Fuego.
He returns there in search of Jemy, finding him after
almost a year, again naked, in hiding, dirty and
hungry. He tells them that one night York and Fuegia
went away taking everything, including his part of the
gifts. Once more he offers Jemy the opportunity to
go on the trip with them, and he refuses. A young
nude Yagana was waiting for him... He had thrown out
his roots.

The expedition decides on Port Deseado to
spend Christmas, where crews of both boats celebrate on
shore. In January of 1834, FitzRoy disembarks a little
to the north of San Julian Soon they interview, in
Gregorio Bay, with all the people of Maria, the main
location of the Tehuelches, having a lot of luck with
bartering. The Tehuelches offer guanaco skins, nandu
feathers, and whatever is requested in return for
tobacco and firearms, putting them before knives or axes.

In February, the "Beagle" anchors again in Port Hunger
while "Adventure" goes to the Falklands, where Low,
who had bad luck, finally resolves to incorporate into
the expedition; His services are very appreciated
because he has about 30 years of experience sailing the
fuegian channels.

FitzRoy and Darwin sail the 47 leagues again to the
Santa Cruz river until they arrive at the Desilusion plains.
Without knowing it, they had gotten only 7 leagues from
Lake Argentino. Poor Darwin who walked half of Patagonia,
went without having seen nor to have suspected the existence
the huge and beautiful Perito Moreno glacier.

They return to the coast, after 18 days of terrestrial exploration
towards the west. The 18 of May they disembark in Cabo
Virgenes. In December of 1834, the "Beagle" anchors in
Port Low, in the Guaytecas islands, before sailing to
Chiloe, where FitzRoy sells "Adventure".

FitzRoy in January of 1835 is in Ancud, Chile where he
remains a few weeks, and then begins to sail towards
the north. He visits Valdivia and fort Corral
constructed by the Dutch in 1643, later enlarged and
improved by Spain and now in ruins, just as is fort
Niebla. Darwin crosses the large island of Chiloe by
land whose population he considers at 42,000
inhabitants, and writes down that three volcanoes are
in activity including the Osorno which was vomiting
smoke, registering the fact that the volcanoes Osorno
and Aconcagua erupted the same night 19 January 1836.

The "Beagle" finally anchors in Talcahuano, Chile just
in time for the great earthquake of the 20 of February.
From Santiago, Chile Darwin crosses the mountain range
of the Andes arriving at Mendoza, Argentina going by
Portillos and returning by Uspallata, 17 years after
San Martin did it. Soon, the expedition puts the bow
towards the Galapagos (here was where Darwin had his
ecstasy and conceived the theory that began to come to
being in Tierra Del Fuego and that revolutionized
world-wide science), following after towards Australia. 

Jemy, who had had the infrequent honor of
being invited to the British Court, who had twice
crossed the Atlantic on board of the " Beagle "
protected by FitzRoy, who had coexisted with a wise
person of the stature of Darwin, who had received
instruction in England, who had slept on soft beds
between sheets, returned to establish his home on board
a canoe, to live naked, to recover his Indian name
and to lose himself inside the mysterious fuegian
archipelagos, almost merged with the wild nature of one
of the most inclement regions of the globe.

During many years, nobody knew anything of him.
Were the three yagans forgotten? Somebody remembered
them in a newspaper...Especially Jemy.

From the tragic death of the Pastor Allen Gardiner
in Tierra Del Fuego in 1851, his successor of the Mission,
Reverend Despard, was set on continuing the work
of this martyr.

Gardiner had conceived the idea of a traveling-floating mission,
that roamed the coasts preaching to the Indians. During
these years, Despard continued getting donations and started
construction of his own boat. Jemy was the key to all the work,
because Despard trusted that he would be the nexus between the
missionaries and other Yagans, as had imagined Captain
FitzRoy when he took him to England.

In 1854 the well built 2 masted Schooner "Allen
Gardiner" was ready. She is loaded for the voyage
in the port of Bristol.

Reverend Despard had chosen the Island of Keppel
(VigÌa), a uninhabited territory of 2,500 hectares, in
a Northern bay of the Western Falkland Islands, far
from the capital, to establish an operational base.
The control of the ship is trusted to captain William
Parker Snow. In this initial trip, Snow transported a
group consisting of Garland Phillips, a Doctor Ellis,
a carpenter and a bricklayer.

Despard does not participate in this first trip;
He prefers to remain until the Patagonian Mission is
consolidated. The "Allen Gardiner" weighs anchor
finally in October of 1857 (first boat constructed
especially to serve this region), arriving at
Stanley Port after 3 months. The Falklands are in
charge of British governor Rennie, who does not like
anything that the Patagonian Mission sets out to do.

Snow goes to the Keppel island where he unloads all the
provisions. Phillips and Ellis remain there alone.

Snow does what they ordered to him to do: go to the
channel of Beagle in search of Jemy. He arrives at
Spaniard Harbor, where with his wife makes a tribute to
Pastor Gardiner.

Afterwards he sails towards the Picton island.
The name of Jemy, resounds from the forest, returns
from each slope, multiplied by the echo... finally the
first Indians appear.

They finally find Jemy on a small island near the Hoste Island;
he is dirty, timid and bent.

Snow invites him to go to the Falklands or to return
to England, but Jemy does not want to, so the captain
returns to Keppel. On board the "Hydaspes" the Reverend
George Pakenham Despard finally arrives with its wife,
bringing more provisions; everything and everyone is
transferred to Keppel.

Despard cannot believe that Jemy did not want to come,
and blames Snow for not having been more convincing.
As Captain Snow considers it madness to transfer 30
wild cows on the deck, he is dismissed and replaced by
Captain Robert Fell.

Despard sends Allen Weare Gardiner, son of the martyr,
in search of Jemy; he finds him, and this time he
simply accepts to be transferred to the mission. 
The 16th of June, the "Gardiner" maintains course to the
Falklands with Jemy on board, along with his wife and 3
children, disposed to remain for 6 months.

This time Jemy gets lazy, he does not see any advantage
in learning what the missionaries insist on teaching
him, although he understands the importance of knowing
the English language.

Inversely not one English speaker learns the Yagan language,
except for one... who is introduced into the family circle of Jemy:
He is an adoptive son of Despard, a boy of 13 or 14 years:
Thomas Bridges, who assimilates the Indian language rapidly
and very soon is the recognized translator.

Despard is satiated with the inconstantcy of Jemy.
He takes him back to his place of origin, where he
intercedes so that another 9 Yagans, that conform 3
families, among them one of their children to whom they
call Billy Button, are transferred to Keppel.

During this same trip, Despard chooses a place for
future missions, the place already known as Wulaia, on
the west shore of the Navarino island, on the Murray
channel in southern Tierra Del Fuego.

Despard returns to Keppel where he stays with the
second group of Yagans for 10 months.

We already are in 1859.

Phillips is designated to head up the new expedition
which is organized to construct the mission base and
captain Fell is put in charge of the ship with 7 crew,
among them carpenters.

Between the sailing from Keppel, the passage by Stanley
and the arrival to Navarino island, a conflictive
situation takes place because the Yagans that are being
returned, take some things and they are searched to
recover them. Because of this they are very displeased,
and when arriving, Jemy defends them and gets even
angrier because they did not bring him gifts.

However, the materials are unloaded and the
construction begins on the site indicated by Despard.

It is complicated because the Indians revolt trying to
seize even the nails, causing increasing annoyances. So
the constructors must take care of their materials,
tools, and be, furthermore, looking after their firearms.

Garland Phillips designs a red flag, with a cross
in white letters that says "Tierra Del Fuego", and
hoists it. Sunday 6 of November arrives in Wulaia.

According to the instructions of the Reverend Despard,
the mission should be inaugurated with a friendly
Sunday service.

So that Phillips and the others disembark disarmed,
only taking a Bible. On board is left only Coles the
cook.. The natives, many of which spoke some English,
had had contact with civilization and had been
baptized, attacked and massacred everyone.

Alfred Coles is the only survivor and witness.
From the scare, he flees in a boat;
He rambles alone through the forest for a few weeks
until he finds an Indian family that undresses and
robustly shaves him, but allows him to stay.

The time passes, and in Keppel they are worried.
Finally, Despard embarks in the "Perseverance" and
goes to Stanley Port, where they do not have any news
either.

He looks for captain Smiley, a North American of Rhode
Island, who has two boats.
His senior officer is an Argentine: the young Luis
Piedra Buena which bothers the British.

Smiley with his boat the "Nancy" and a crew of 6 men,
leave immediately directly to Wulaia where he finds
the "Allen Gardiner" adrift and obvious sacked.
Not an Indian in sight, so they go to shore and Coles
appears, naked and bruised.
Also appears Jemy, very smiling; as Coles accuses him
to have participated in the massacre, they take him.

From the investigation made by governor Moore, the
version of Coles is not clear nor the responsibility of
Jemy.
Despard, is completely discouraged; with this story he
totally crumbles and resigns from the Patagonian
Mission. He had put all his hopes in Jemy.

Before going away, he allows his adoptive son, Thomas
Bridges, to decide his own way, and Thomas remains.

Smiley sails the "Nancy", to recover the "Gardiner",
and takes Jemy back home.
He finds the other boat as it was.
Jemy says that he had buried the victims of the
massacre, but in spite of combing the area, they did not
find the graves.

Smiley leaves Jemy there again, on Navarino island, but
when he returns on board, he finds Okokko with his
family requesting to be admitted in Keppel.

Reverend Despard is replaced by Stirling, who assumes
the Patagonian Mission with fervent impetus.
The Mission house in Keppel is called "Sullivan House".
On the arrival of Stirling in 1863, William Bartlett
with its wife and children and Thomas Bridges, were
already there. Also Okokko and his family. They were,
furthermore, 8 horses, 83 cows, 200 ewes, 40 goats,
geese and rabbits.

On Keppel island coexist English residents (the
Stirlings and the Bartletts), a Swiss (the missionary
Rau), two Germans (Schmidt and Hunziker), with Indians
Yagans (the Okokkos, also a son of Jemy Button) and
tehuelches (Platero and children).

Rau is dedicated to teach the young Indians, Mrs.
Stirling gives seamstress classes to the women.
Okokko and his wife, Ganela teach their language to
young Bridges.

The following year, Jemy Button dies at an estimated
age of 47 years, during an epidemic that reduces the
Yagan population to half.

The seal hunters left a disease similar to measles
from which the Yagans did not have any immunity.
The loss of Jemy does not discourage Stirling nor
Bridges.

Young Thomas embraces the mission cause and, once
ordained and married, he takes root in Ushuaia, where
Pastor Stirling had lived for six months, coexisting
with the Indians, and living to tell it during the
year 1868. By 1871, things are stabilized. 

In 1869 Stirling is ordained bishop.
The year following Eleonora Britten Lewis arrives at
Ushuaia, with her husband Santiago and 2 small
children; the youngest born in Keppel, is called Frank
Ushuaia Lewis.
Also Guillermo Bartlett arrives.
Eleonora is the first white woman here.

Thomas Bridges, now returns, with his wife Mary Varder
and her daughter Maria, 9 months, who had been born in
the Falklands. He had been with Stirling in Montevideo.

Bridges settles in Ushuaia, at 28 years of age, sharing
the house with the Lewis. 
This establishment is made when it is still not known
as to what country its location belongs. A decade
later it is determined that this zone belongs to
Argentina.

Bridges does not speak Spanish, but does speak the
language Yagan.
As soon as the international limits are formalized,
Thomas adopts Argentine citizenship; on the other hand,
he concurs with its friend Brown Francisco in the
guidelines for delimitation. Thomas Bridges realized
the only dictionary English -Yagan, of about 30,000
expressions, plus 500 Haush terms.

Furthermore, he translated, into Yagan, the Gospels
according to Luke and John plus Acts.
As Stirling and the Lewis go away, the Bridges are the
first family who indeed take root in Tierra Del Fuego,
and the second one is the Lawrences:

Descendants of both families still live on the big
island of Tierra Del Fuego today.

The 5th of March, during a stay of Stirling, already
bishop, he performs 36 baptisms and 7 marriages in
Ushuaia.
A grandson of Jemy is baptized as Robert FitzRoy
Button on the occasion .
This multiple ceremony is the beginning of a
registry (the first of the people) that is conserved in
the Museum of that austral city today.

A couple of years later, none the less than Fuegia
Basket visits Bridges in Ushuaia,.
She is more than 50 years old and has a husband of 18,
a habitual custom between Yagans.
She still speaks some English. 

There were considered 6.000-10,000 yagan Indians in
all of Patagonia.
Bridges calculates that there are only 3,000 fuegians
are left in 1880.

Thomas Bridges returns to see Fuegia Basket near the
London island.
She is very old and sick, fearing that their relatives
will strangle her.

From the beginning of the mission of Bridges in
Ushuaia, sheep are taken to Navarino island, routines
are established for shearing and some Yagans learn how
to do it, others to cultivate plants, others are boat
crews. 

Bridges effects a census of Yagans in 1884:
There are left only 1,000 of which 273 are men, 314
women and 413 are children.

In 1907, in the large fuegian mission of "La Candelaria"
there were about 800 Onas left, the mission of Ushuaia
closes for lack of Yagans.
A little later, the Salesianos leave their mission on
Dawson island, transferring the last natives they had
to Candelaria: 4 men, 12 women, 2 young men and 3 baby
girls.

According to Pastor Lawrence, by 1913 there are 300
Onas left, 100 Yagans and 5 Haush.
La Candelaria had, towards 1930, only 30 Indians living
there.

In 1966, the Nation had a census of pure Indians.
In Tierra Del Fuego according to this census, only 8
pure native were alive, of which two were Yagans:
AgustÌn and Norberto Clemente.

There are two Yagans left, Ursula, 76 and Cristina,72
living in the Yagan Indian Village of Puerto Williams.

More history of Jemy Button and the Missionaries

A Yagan


References:

* "A Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S.
Beagle", by Robert FitzRoy. The Folio Society, 1977

* "The Voyage of the Beagle", by Charles Darwin. The
great writers library, 1987

* " Three men on board of the Beagle ", by Richard Lee
Marks. Javier Vergara, 1994


(Translated from Spanish 31 August 2001)


This story should be called " Crossed Destinies",
but... wasn't a romantic Hollywood movie so titled?

Two or three boats may be taken as players which united
different histories of lives and deaths, the Beagle,
Nancy, the Allen Gardiner.

If Pringle Stockes had not committed suicide, FitzRoy
would not have obtained control of the BEAGLE.
In such case, no Yagan would have been taken to England,
nor would have been enunciated the Theory of Evolution.

If so many well-meaning people had not stuffed Jemy,
Fuegia and York with gifts, the Yagans of Tierra Del
Fuego would have not developed that anxiety to have
the things which unchained the massacre of Wulaia.

If the intrepid Allen Gardiner had not been set on missions
in Tierra Del Fuego, neither Despard would have been
obsessed with Jemy and the Patagonian Mission would
have dissolved.

Then, Stirling would not have come, the first to coexist
with Yagans in their own medium , nor would have
Bridges been in Ushuaia.

Feel free then, dear reader, of titling this story as your
imagination leads you.



fifteen day combination tour of the Tierra Del Fuego
glaciers and fjords and of rounding Cape Horn is suggested,
if you have time, in order to maximize your visit here at the
"Uttermost Part of the Earth".
"All men dream: but not equally.
Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses
of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity,
but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
for they may act on their dream with open eyes,
to make it possible."

T. E. Lawrence



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