What to feed baby molly fry

Molly Fry Care Guide (3 Main Things to Do)

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Molly fish

As in the previous post, you all know molly fish is a very productive fish. The mother fish is capable of producing 20-60 fries in a single spawning.

However, if we just leave the fries in the tank with the other adults, there isn’t much hope that the fries have a chance of surviving to grow up to adulthood. The reason for this is because adult fish, even the mother, will eat the fries before they can grow up.

You want to save the fries and give them the best environment for growth. This article is for you. So how do you take care of baby molly fish?

The care for baby molly fish can be summarized in the following three main things:

  • Isolate the mother fish from other fish before giving birth
  • Create a suitable environment for the fries
  • Feed the fries

Also, this article answers questions that are often asked by molly fish owners.

Let’s get started.


  • Molly fry care guide
    • 1-Isolate the mother fish
    • 2-Create a suitable environment for the fries
    • Feeding the fries
  • FAQs
    • How fast does Molly Fry grow?
    • What color will my Molly Fry be?
    • Does Molly fry need an air pump?
    • When can I put my Molly Fry in the tank?
    • What fish will eat Molly Fry?
    • Can I keep molly fries in a bowl?
    • How big is molly fish fry at birth
    • How to tell male and female molly fry apart
  • Conclusion

Molly fry care guide

In order for you to ensure that your molly fries are staying alive and growing to adulthood, these are the most important three things for your molly fry care guide.

1-Isolate the mother fish

It is important to know that you need to isolate the mother from the other fish before she is giving birth.

Our previous post did give you advice on how to know that your molly fish is about to give birth. When you aren’t going to isolate the mother, the other fish is going to eat the fries as they are born.

By isolating the mother, you will also make sure that the mother isn’t stressed during birth, which can cause you to lose fries as well.

There are three ways to isolate her so that she can give birth to the fries, and that you can rescue as many of the fries as possible. With the three different ways, you can choose the one that is best for you.

  • Adding plants and hideaways in the main tank.

The first option is to add more plants, artificial plants, and hideaways in the main tank. Giving the fries hiding spots when they are born and for the first couple of weeks. This might be the easiest solution, but not the most recommended one.

With this method, you are going to lose fries. Sometimes you might just lose one or two. But, most of the time you can lose more than half of your fries. This isn’t the most effective way to care and raise your molly fries. Especially if you have lots of adult fish in the tank.

  • Placing the pregnant molly in a separated tank

This is an option that many are considering. Having a completely separated tank for the pregnant molly fish. Giving her, her own tank where she can give birth safely.

The fries will also be safer than with the first option. However, you need to remove the mother molly the moment that she is done giving birth. She will still eat her babies if you don’t remove her quickly.

You should also make sure that the water in the birth tank is the same as in the main tank. Otherwise, the pregnant molly might get sick and lose the fries even before she can give birth.

It’s a better option but you need to spend money on a separated tank and other things like filter, heater, and air pump.

>> Learn more about how to choose filter for your tank.

  • Installing a breeding box in the main tank.

This is the most affordable option to ensure that you don’t lose any of your molly fries. To install a box into the main tank that is designed for the breeding.

It is normally a plastic mesh or container that is getting installed in the main tank. The water is still able to run through the breeding box, without any fish getting into the mesh. Protecting the mother’s molly and the fries.

After giving birth, you are removing the mother, placing her back into the main tank. Giving the fries some time to grow larger before replacing them in the tank as well.

View top rated breeding box on Amazon

2-Create a suitable environment for the fries

No matter how you isolate the mother fish, you should create the best environment for the fries to grow.

So, what are the factors that make up a suitable environment for fry growth? We will discuss these factors further. So, stay with us…

Tank and filter system setup

To care for your molly fish correctly, you need to have the perfect tank and filter system setup. The fries are delicate and need to have the right set up to grow to adult size. These are everything you need to make sure about when it comes to the tank and filter system setup for molly fries.

  • Find a tank that is large enough

You should look for a tank between 5 and 20 gallons to raise fries. When you intend to keep the mother with the fries, or when you have multiple broods going into the same tank, then you should consider getting a larger tank.

If your fry is going to be born alive, then you need to make sure that the nursery tank is ready. Before the mother is giving birth, to be able to put the fry in just after birth.

  • Setting up the filtration system

Having a good filtration system is important to any tank. But it is especially important for your molly fries. It’s recommended that you are setting up a simple foam filter, or any other similar filtration system for the size of your tank. You need to make sure that the filtration system is fry-safe and that it can’t get sucked up. You can purchase an attachment or fitting from your local aquarium store to make the filtration system safe.

Or, you can make your filtration modification to ensure the safety of your fish. You can cover the filter with a sponge or foam to make the filter safe for the fries.

>> Further Reading: If you’re looking for more great filters consider checking out our review and guide on the filter system series


With the water, the important thing to remember is that you need to know how to do a water change of molly fry tanks. Here is how to do water change:

  • Even if you have a filtration system, you need to change the water regularly to ensure the health of your fries. It is recommended that you are using some water from your standard tank to add to your fry’s water.  This is to acclimate them to their home eventually. To have the same water, will make it easier to add them to the main tank when they are ready.
  • You might want to consider a 20% water change every day to your fry tank. For example, if you have a 10-gallon tank, you might want to take 2 gallons out per day and replacing it with water from your main tank. Don’t use regular tap water for the replacement.

The right temperature for your mollies is essential. This is why you need to heat your tank because they are tropical fish. They will need to have a water temperature between 72 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit (23 to 28 C) to be as close to their natural habitat as normal. You can get this temperature by using an aquarium heater.

>> Explore the most affordable heater for mini tank on Amazon.

You should also make use of an aquarium thermometer to monitor the temperature to ensure that the water is at the right temperature, at all times.

>> Explore the top rated aquarium thermometer on Amazon for mini tank

Add plants to your tank

You can use artificial plants, or even live plants. But, it’s important to plant them into your tank before the fries arrive. The plants provide hiding spots for the fries in their first days of life, and it acts similarly to a breeding trap.

You should look for a mix of broad-leafed plants, like Java ferns and grass. This is the best way to create hideouts for your fries. Some float plants are also essential. This assists the newborns to have an area near the surface to hide immediately after being born.


You should make sure that there is a balance between light and darkness for the fries. It is recommended that you should offer only 8 hours of light each day. The rest of the day should be devoted to darkness for rest. The right lighting conditions will ensure that the fries are developing healthy and into adulthood.

Feeding the fries

The moment that the fries are born, you should feed them. There is food that is made especially for molly fries that you can find at your local aquarium shop.

If you don’t have any fried food, you can always use baby brine shrimp or high-quality flake that is ground into a fine powder. Remember they are small and need really small food.

What kind of foods should we feed them?

The normal flake food that you are giving your mollies is too large for the fries. To make it easier for them to consume, you can use a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle to grind up the fish food into a fine powder.

If you want to make sure that you are giving your fries the best, then you should consider Hikari Fish Food. This fish food is designed for feeding all tropical and marine fish. These are rich in protein to ensure rapid and healthy growth.

Live food is also a great food choice for small fries. You can go for baby brine shrimp, vinegar eels, daphnia, or micro worms. These foods can be frozen or free-dried as well if you can find live ones.

Something else that you can give your fries that is protein-rich is hard-boiled egg yolk. You should make it into a paste and can be stored in the fridge. This is a cheap option but gives the necessary protein to the molly fries.

How should we feed them?

It is important to keep a regular feeding schedule. You should feed your fries small amounts of food, several times a day. It should be about a pinch at a time. To remember the schedule, feed the fries before or after you have eaten a meal.

When you are keeping your fries in the same tank as the adults, you can give them the same food as the adults. You should just crush the food so that it will fit into their mouths. The finer the food for the fries, the better.

Remember that molly fries are tiny and their mouths aren’t much bigger. You will need to procure food that is appropriate for their size and that will fit into their mouths.

It is important to make sure that you don’t over-feeding them and that you scoop all the left-over food out.

Attention when feeding them

After the fries have eaten, you should clean out any uneaten food from the tank. To do this, you can use a net or skimmer to remove the powered food from the surface of the water. This can make the water filthy if you have uneaten food in the tank.

Just like any other fish, you can still overfeed fries. So, you should manage the amount of food you are giving at a time. And, you need to scoop out all the access food that the fries didn’t consume.

You should make sure that you consider the size of the fries, and their mouths when you are feeding them. This is why you should ground the flakes into a powder before feeding it to them.

Keeping a regular feeding schedule is important for the free to grow into healthy adults.


How fast does Molly Fry grow?

It takes about one to two months for your fry to grow large enough to go into your main tank. It is important to remember that the fries should be larger than the mouths of an adult molly fish before you add them to the main tank. You should not move them into the main tank until you are sure that they can handle it

What color will my Molly Fry be?

Molly fries can be any color they want to be. Normally, they are close to the colors of the parents. Fries are dark grey but as they are growing and getting older, they will start changing color. And, before you know it, you have a colorful tank full of mollies.

Does Molly fry need an air pump?

Yes, molly fry needs an air pump. They do need something that is breaking the water surface for gas exchange. This is so that they have the right oxygen levels required to stay alive. You just need to make sure that you are installing the right type of air pump and filter into the tank.

>> Related post:

How Long Can Fish Survive Without an Air Pump? | A Guide to Air Pumps

When can I put my Molly Fry in the tank?

You can put the fry in the tank for about 2 weeks. This is when molly fries are large enough to not be mistaken for food anymore. They can then be released in the main tank, or you can put them into their own, separated tank.

What fish will eat Molly Fry?

Molly adults are large enough to eat their fries. They can eat it for a couple of months. However, other livebearers can also eat molly fries. These fish are swordtails and Platies. Platies might be smaller, but they will be able to eat fries until they became too large to consume.

Can I keep molly fries in a bowl?

No, you can’t keep molly fries in a bowl. There isn’t enough filtration and hiding spots for fries. You will not be able to place a heater in a bowl, that is normally made from plastic. Molly fish are tropical fish and need warm water, generated by a thermometer.  

How big is molly fish fry at birth

Molly fries are smaller than the mouths of an adult molly. This is why you should keep them apart from the adults for the first couple of weeks. The smaller the female molly, the smaller the fry will be.

How to tell male and female molly fry apart

Male mollies are more torpedo-shaped and have longer fins than females. Their colors are also more intense than females. The females are wider than the males, her fins are shorter, and her anal fins are rectangular.


Now, you know everything about caring for your molly fries. From separating the mother fish from the rest of the fish to preparing the right environment for fries. The most important part of caring for fries is the feeding process. You need to know how often and how much food you need to give your mollie fries.

This is making sure that if you have molly fries, that you can take care of them, successfully.

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Molly Fish Fry Care - How to Care for Baby Mollies?

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Molly fish breed easily and frequently, but they aren’t fish that will continue caring for their fry after they’re born. In fact, adult mollies most often end up abandoning or even eating their fry.

If you want baby mollies to survive, you’ll need to care for them yourself by separating them from adult fish and feeding them foods suitable for small fry.

In this guide, I will teach you how to care for baby mollies including how to save them from adult fish, how to feed them and how to maintain a molly fry tank.

How Mollies Are Born?

As live-breeders, mollies spawn completely formed fry that skip the egg stage and are ready to swim and feed in just a couple of hours.

Molly males become reproductive at 12 months, while females reach reproductive age at 6 months. Female mollies carry the eggs for about 30-45 days.

There aren’t any special requirements for breeding, it’s enough to simply keep male and female mollies in the same aquarium and breeding will occur without any further intervention.

The female molly will have an enlarged abdomen and will start looking for shelter in a darker corner of the aquarium as she’s preparing to give birth to the fry.

Spawning usually takes place in the early hours of the morning and the fry of some molly breeds are rather large (e.g. black molly fry).

The fry will hide in the leaves of the aquarium plants and they’ll stay low for a couple of hours until they’re ready to feed and swim.

How to Save Molly Fry?

If your molly fish produced fry in a community aquarium, don’t expect the fry to survive. Adult mollies and other fish will certainly mistake them for a tasty snack.

If you want to avoid spawning to occur in a community tank, avoid keeping both male and female molly fish in the same aquarium.

However, in cases of misidentified gender, it may happen that even against your wishes, female and male molly fish may end up in a community aquarium and breed.

Below, I’ll discuss some of the ways you can salvage the fry when they’re born into a community aquarium.

Ideally, you should have a separate breeding tank for the female molly fish and the breeding tank should match the parameters of the origin tank.

After the female molly fish has dropped the fry, you should remove her, so you can continue caring for the fry yourself and prevent the female molly from eating the fry.

Now, even if you don’t have a separate breeding tank, there are ways to save at least some molly fry:

  1. Use a large plastic container or glass jar to extract the female as she’s about the give birth and keep her separated from the other adult fish in your tank. Once she has dropped the fry, you can remove her and continue caring for the fry.
  1. A second method to separate the female molly fish and the fry is to install a breeding box into the main tank, which is a plastic mesh or container that’s designed to allow water to flow through, without allowing other fish into the mesh.

This method is the easiest if you don’t want to worry about matching the water parameters of the main tank as you would have to do with other methods of separating the fry from the adults.

  1. The third option is less desirable and its success rate in saving the fry isn’t as high, but it can help if you’re caught off guard. Adding plants to the tank such as java moss, hornworts, guppy grass or roots of water lettuce can provide hiding spaces for the fry for a few weeks until they grow large enough to not be mistaken for food by the other fish.

The next step in caring for the fry will depend on which method you’ve chosen from the above. If you’ve chosen to use a glass jar or plastic container, depending on its size, you may need to transfer the fry in a nursing aquarium, where you can offer them the proper conditions for growing.

Likewise, you can’t keep them in the breeding box for too long either.

How Long Can You Keep Molly Fry in a Breeding Box?

Molly Fry in Breeding Box

Setting up a breeding box is probably the easiest way to save molly babies from being eaten by adult fish.

However, you shouldn’t keep them more than 2 weeks in the breeding box, because this will significantly stunt their growth, which is undesirable regardless of whether you’re raising mollies for commercial purposes or as a hobby.

Larger mollies can release as many as a hundred fry at once, therefore, it’s easy to understand how so many fry can quickly outgrow their breeding box.

At about 2 weeks, molly juveniles are large enough to not be mistaken for food anymore and you can release them into the main tank or you can set up their own aquarium.

Feeding Molly Fish Fry

For fast growth, molly fish fry need a diversified diet and require frequent feedings with small amounts of food. These fish are constantly hungry because of their fast digestion cycle.

Since molly babies are so small, their mouth opening is also very small, therefore, you’ll need to procure size-appropriate foods that will fit their mouths.

The digestion cycle of molly fry is short, therefore, they’ll be ready to eat as soon as every half hour. You shouldn’t feed them that often, of course, but you should aim for at least 5 feedings a day.

As with any fish or fry, overfeeding can be a problem. Also, scoop out any uneaten food so as not to foul the aquarium.

If you’re keeping molly juveniles in the same tank with the adults, you can feed them whatever you’re feeding the adults, just remember to crush the flake foods or larger foods, so it will fit their mouths.

There are flakes like First Bites designed for feeding small fry, so you can opt for those instead, especially that they’re rich in protein to sustain rapid growth.

Live foods are another excellent food choice for small molly fry, and you can opt for baby brine shrimp, vinegar eels, daphnia, micro worms. If live food is not available, frozen or freeze-dried can be a good alternative.

Another protein-rich food source that I like to use when feeding small fry is hard-boiled egg yolk made into a paste. It’s easy to prepare, readily available in your fridge, and not to mention very cheap. I add small amounts of the paste once or twice a day.

A varied diet will strengthen the fry and will stimulate their growth.

Molly Fry Tank Maintenance

If you haven’t set up a separate tank for your mollies and you continue to keep them in the same aquarium with the other fish, tank parameters should be kept stable and water changes should be regular as molly fry are more sensitive to high toxin levels.

If you decide to set up a nursery tank for the fry, here’s what you should aim for:

1. Tank Size & Filtration

Depending on the number of molly babies, set up a tank between 10 and 20 gallons. Add a fry-safe filter system to keep the water clean in addition to performing regular water changes.

Add some plants to the tank too such as java ferns and grasses.

2. Temperature

Aim for a temperature a little above the temperature in the main tank (80 °F maximum). Warmer water speeds up metabolism and encourages the fry to eat more. In turn, this will help them grow faster.

To keep the aquarium heated at the optimal water temperature, you’ll require a heater to ensure consistent temperature.

3. Water Changes

To keep toxin levels low and refresh the water, aim for frequent partial water changes. I recommend 50% water changes twice a week. This will also facilitate the growth of your fry.

Water changes, of course, also depend on the number of fry you have and the size of your tank. Depending on how you stock your tank, you may get away with fewer water changes or you may need to perform more frequent water changes.

4. Lighting

Offer your fry 12-16 hours of light each day and 6-8 hours of darkness for rest. Good light conditions will ensure the healthy development of your fish.


Now that you know more about breeding mollies and caring for baby mollies, you can look forward to breeding your molly fish.

As you can see, raising molly fish fry isn’t particularly difficult, but you do need to take some precautions to save the fry and to maintain optimal tank conditions.

Unlike adult molly fish that are hardier, the fry is more sensible to high toxin levels or sudden changes in water temperature.

I encourage you to familiarize yourself with their requirements before attempting to breed molly fish. Feed them a varied diet, keep their water clean and tidy, and you’ll be rewarded with healthy and active fish.

Molly Fish

Molly Fish Care and Birth

Mollies are one of the most popular aquarium fish. They are a good choice for beginners, are easy to care for, and come in a variety of beautiful colors and patterns.

All About Molly

Mollies are related to another popular fish, guppies, and have similar needs and care requirements. The name Molly comes from their scientific name poecilia mollienesia. Mollys are peaceful fish that get along well with other peaceful tank mates.

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  • How do guppies give birth?

Types of mollies

There are several types of mollies commonly found in aquariums. Most mollies have been crossbred, so it can be difficult to tell what their original appearance was. Types found include:

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  • Shortfin molly of which there are two types: Poecilia mexicana and Poecilia shenops. Poecilia sphenops is also known as black mollies and is one of the most commonly seen mollies.
  • Mollie, which also comes in two species: Poecilia latipinna and Poecilia velifera. The velifera, or Mexican sailboat molly, is much rarer, while the latipinna is a very popular fish.
  • Other less common mollies include:
    • Molly Freedom (Poecilia Salvatoris)
    • Solopovodnovo -Water short -opera Molly (Poecilia Gillii)
    • Swearing sailboat Molly (Poecilia Petenensis)

    Molly. Males are often referred to as the torpedo form. Black mollies are completely black, as their name suggests. Sailfish mollies come in a variety of colors and patterns and are known for their prominent dorsal fin. Molly can also be found in colors such as red, white, gold, orange, platinum and green, as well as marbled and dalmatian patterns. Mollies can also have different tail shapes like guppies like the round, lyre and moon tail as well as the short body known as the balloon molly.

    Molly Size

    Mollies are generally small fish. Black mollies grow from three to five inches. The shortfin molly grows up to four inches while the sailfish grows up to six inches. Females are always larger than males.

    Mollies life expectancy and health

    Mollies live on average three to five years. They are known for getting shimmy or molly disease. This is caused by stress and the water is too cold for them. Mollies can also be infected with other common fish diseases such as velvet, fin rot, swim bladder disease, etc. i .

    Molly Tank Environment

    Although you can keep a flock of mollies in a tank of about 29 gallons, if you are going to breed, you must have one aquarium of at least 45 gallons to accommodate separate areas for growing and rearing fry . Mollins prefer an aquarium with lots of plants, especially live ones. Mollies are also freshwater fish, so you can add salt to their aquarium, although this is not necessary for them to thrive. They can thrive in a fresh or brackish water tank and generally prefer "hard" water with a pH of 7.5 to 8.2. Their best temperature range is 72 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The filter is also important for mollies and you should change the water by 25-30% at least once a week.

    Molly Sex Ratio

    Since males can be aggressive towards other males rather than compete for females, it is important to always have two to three females per male in the tank. This can reduce male aggression as well as female stress because males will always want to mate.

    Shellfish Feeding

    Mollies can be fed fish flakes, ideally in place of live and frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, tubifex, bloodworms and black worms. They can also eat vegetables such as peas, zucchini, cucumbers, zucchini, and lettuce. Fresh vegetables should be blanched and diced for easier digestion. If you don't feed your vegetables, give them other plant foods like seaweed waffles. Molly should be fed two to three times a day in small amounts. A good rule of thumb is to give them what they can eat in less than five minutes.

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    Molly tankmates

    Mollies can live happily with other fish species that are also peaceful. Some good ordinary tank comrades include mollies:

    • Angel Fish
    • Bettas
    • Black skirts
    • Cherry
    • Corridor SOM
    • Golota 0003

      Molly Pregnancy

      You can tell when your women are pregnant because of a swollen belly and a small blackened outline near the anal area. They will also appear lethargic and less social with their tank mates and may hover around the tank heater.

      Pregnancy and birth

      Female mollies will carry their young for about 60 days. They can give birth to 40 to 100 fry. Mollies that are young or have one of their first few pregnancies will tend to produce fewer than more fry. When Molly Feminine Time approaches Give birth, you will need to separate her from the rest of the tank. This can be done in the same tank using a breeding net or box, or you can place it in a completely separate storage tank.

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      Caring for Molly Fry

      Once a female has given birth, she should be immediately returned to the main tank. Otherwise, there is a high probability that she will start to eat her young. Baby clams should be kept separate from the main tank until they are large enough to be eaten by other fish. A suitable baby tank will be about 10 gallons in size. They should be fed young brine shrimp, microworms and crushed flakes. You should also provide plenty of floating plants in their tank for them to hide in as they grow. The heater is also important for the growth of the fry.

      Adding mollies to your hobby aquarium

      Mollies are an excellent fish choice for beginners and experienced aquarists alike. They are colorful, easy to care for, and breeding them can be a fun addition to your hobby. If you properly care for pregnant mothers and keep the fry safe, you can enjoy breeding and caring for this gentle fish.

      Prose: Modern Prose: II: Stephen Fry: read online

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      "Twelve people were supposed to sit at the table today," Annie announced as we flowed into the dining room. “But Jane never arrived, and David and Clara decided to go to bed early. So Max, Oliver, Mary, and Simon sit on this side of the table, and Rebecca, Ted, and Patricia sit on that side.

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      - I'm not interested in what's in there. I'm wondering what's in here. And I thumped my chest.

      - Lord! Oliver dropped his fork. "Why do you have to say such things?" Why? We're not at a fucking sixth grade debate. No one here will award you an award for luxurious replicas.

      - I must say, - said Max, - it's a bit strange that it was the poet, and not anyone else, that everything that happened did not make any impression. What happened to your sense of the mysterious, to your imagination?

      - Oh no, - I answered, - there is absolutely nothing strange here. If I was interested in mysteries and imagination, I would move into physics. I became a poet precisely because I am a very earthly person. I am only good at what I can taste, see, hear, smell and feel.

      - Well, motherfucking, he's on his own again, again Pamela Fucking Paradox ...

      - This is not a paradox at all, Oliver.

      - So why are you here, in that case? Just to pour cold water on all of us? If you can't take it seriously, why try to destroy our happiness?

      - Of course, I take this seriously. More than that, I assure you. Jane is my goddaughter, Davy is my godson. You want, believe, you want, do not believe, but for me it is very serious. Very, very much.

      “But then why…” Rebecca began, but was interrupted by Ann.

      “I called Podmore,” she said. “And I would rather we didn’t say anything else in his presence.”

      While Podmor was collecting plates and serving us the main course, we all sat in forced silence. I drained two large glasses of wine. I was hot, uncomfortable. Oliver, who sat across from me, alternately cast angry glances at me, then shook his head sympathetically. I felt touched when he said he loved me.

      Michael frowned, twirling his wine glass in his fingers. From time to time he looked at me in surprise. Simon was purple, he clearly felt out of place. Bonded together, Max, Mary, Rebecca, and Patricia tweeted loudly about the weather and politics. Each of their stupid remarks seemed to be aimed at me, as if challenging me to battle with their united front. All this strongly looked like a school boycott.

      Finally Podmor left.

      "Time's up," Oliver announced. - Second round.

      “Tedward,” Michael began, cutting up a fried potato. - I do not understand. Do you really reject everything? Everything I told you?

      - That's not the point, Michael. I don't reject anything you said about your father, nothing that you...

      - Oh, oh! Oliver intervened. - Molly Wait a minute. About Michael's father?

      I looked at Michael, who shrugged and nodded in agreement. And I told about Albert Benenstock, about his horses and about Benko the batman. This was obviously not news to Ann or Rebecca, but others, even Simon, were struck by my story.

      - Well, you see! - Patricia said, nudged me with her elbow. - It's hereditary. Passed down through the generation. It's all hereditary.

      “Oh, I have no doubt about that,” I replied. More than that, I'm sure.

      - So what do you doubt, God forgive me? Oliver asked in utter desperation.

      - You know, let me at the same time explain the reason why I ended up here. I was asked about it.

      - Did you ask?

      - Jane. A couple of weeks ago I ran into her in London. And she told me... well, she didn't tell me much. She said that her leukemia was gone, that when she was in Swafford a month ago, something like a miracle happened here. That's all. She wanted me to figure out the rest myself.

      - What you did.

      - Which I did.

      - So what's the problem? Michael asked.

      - Nothing. There is no problem here.

      - And Davy? Oliver asked. What do you think of Devi?

      - Do you really want to know?

      - Yes! Oliver yelled.

      - Take it easy, Oliver, Michael said.

      I distinguished the note of hysteria in Oliver's voice well. And so I tried to speak as evenly and dispassionately as possible. I really had no idea how they would react to what I was about to say.

      - I think Davy... The door opened.

      - What is it, Podmor? Annie asked in a tone that was unmistakably harsh—for her, of course.

      - I beg your pardon, Lady Ann. Lord Logan is asked to answer the phone in his office.

      The annoyance that seized everyone who was sitting at the table was immeasurable. And I felt relieved. This interruption gave me a few minutes to collect my thoughts and somehow organize what I intended to say. If I had a piece of paper and a pencil, I would probably have sketched out a semblance of theses. Old anal Ted.

      Michael stood up.

      "Damn," he said. - Sorry. If they call the office, it means, most likely, from America and on urgent business. I'll try to get it done quickly. Please wait for me, Ted. I want to hear everything you have to say.

      We spent three depressing minutes in silence. I swallowed another glass of wine under everyone's disapproving looks.

      Michael returned, closed the door behind him.

      “I beg your pardon,” he said, sitting down. Please, Ted, continue.

      - What was I talking about?

      "God have mercy, I'm already drunk," Oliver said. “You were going to do us a favor, Teddy, with your expert opinion on Davy.

      - Yes, that's right. Well, I think the bottom line is this: David is a vulnerable and proud boy.

      Max laughed, and so did the others. Oliver snorted contemptuously:

      - Is that all? "David is a vulnerable and proud boy." End of analysis. I think you've said enough, dear. If there's anyone here hurt and proud, it's Ted Wallis. Too vulnerable and proud to believe in anything that contradicts his stupid theory, or to admit that he was wrong, even when he himself sees it.

      - Enough, Oliver! - with such fury that everyone jumped on their chairs, said Michael. I want to hear what Ted has to say. Now I want it more than ever. Why, you will soon find out. Until then, stay quiet.

      I looked at him in puzzlement. He answered me with a look full of great strength and - in my opinion, I realized it even then - fear. Now, in hindsight, I realize that it was definitely fear. At the time, I didn't understand his point of view.

      “Well, well,” I began slowly, “as I said, David is proud and vulnerable. He loves poetry, loves what he considers Nature - with a capital "P". He is not as smart as he would like, but, on the other hand, who among us is not? Not stupid, you see, smart enough to distinguish between valuable and serious ideas and go crazy because they are too tough for him. Since he cannot grasp so much of what he values ​​with his mind, he imagines that he is able to grasp the essence of things through intuition or with the help of some fundamental intermediary, something like a natural spirit. He cannot believe that God, having endowed him with a sensitivity to respond to ideas and beauty, has not given him either the mental equipment or the artistic talent to lead an active life in this area. I think we all know fifteen-year-old boys. It would be strange and even scary if David turned out to be as smart and mature as he wants to be. The mind develops like any other part of the soul or body. Davy, however, differs from most children in excessive vulnerability. Some vulnerable children suffer in silence. But Davy is also overly proud. And the fact that he is not able to satisfy his own requirements is hateful to him. He can't take it. Which brought him to a regrettable and dangerous hysteria. Some of the vulnerable and proud children, having fallen into such a situation, invent millionaire parents for themselves. However, Davy's father is already a millionaire, so this is not an option for him. Others indulge in fantasies that they are in fact foundlings, or aliens, or special agents, or have the ability to fly, or become invisible, or just some kind of supernatural ability. David chose the latter. Supernatural abilities. As a rule, this is not a problem, since under normal circumstances, everyone around such a child begins to tease him or directly explain to him that he is mistaken. You all play along with him, which is ridiculous, and irresponsible, and, in my opinion, extremely dangerous. Davy's hysteria grew and grew, eventually engulfing the entire house.

      I took a long sip from my claret glass.

      The first to break the silence was, of course, Oliver. He looked at me with disbelieving eyes.

      - How can you sit here and say that? We all know what we saw.

      "No, you don't," I said. “You have no idea what you saw. Trust me. David does not possess any extraordinary abilities. And there is no miracle in what he did or can do. He is a very, very, very ordinary child with far from ordinary, as I said, pride and vulnerability ...

      There was some noise behind the door, and we all became wary silent again. The door didn't move.

      - Enter! Michael shouted.

      No response. Clicking his tongue angrily, Michael went to the door and flung it open. The corridor was empty. Michael glanced left and right.

      - Oh, honey, - said Ann, - do you think Podmore was eavesdropping?

      “Probably just the wind,” Michael replied as he closed the door and returned to the table. “The storm is coming again.

      And it's true, the wind has already begun to howl outside the windows and in the chimneys.

      "Go on, Ted," Oliver growled furiously. “I think you were explaining to us how irresponsible and ridiculous we all are, and what a very, very, very ordinary Davy child.

      - A very ordinary child, who should be treated with great kindness and understanding, because otherwise hysterical chaos awaits him.

      - But you contradict yourself, - Max entered. “You just acknowledged that the abilities that Michael's father had could be inherited, and now you say that no such abilities exist.

      - I didn't say anything like that.

      "He's drunk," Rebecca said. “If anyone needs kindness and understanding, it's you, Ted.

      - I do not refuse my share, that's right, - I answered.

      - We can all pretend to be psychologists sitting in the living room, right, Ted? Rebecca continued. – We could, for example, try to understand the soul of an aging poet.

      - Exactly, - Oliver picked up, - a man who is sure that spirituality is in his and only his competence. A man who thinks art and infinity are nothing but hairy-assed, hard-drinking, Ezra Pound-savvy curmudgeons. A man who writhed so much over his poems that he even developed a theory that denies the very possibility of inspiration in others. “If I had to wallow in the mud, sweating and pushing, then so should everyone else.” That's your great "philosophy," isn't it? And at the sight of an innocent child bringing grace to people, like a free divine gift, you just start to suffocate, right?

      - You may consider me devoid of any grace whatsoever, I said, but you must...

      - Thank you, dear? Why should we think of her at all when we look at you? Your own inspiration dried up many years ago, since then you just live off it. And since you yourself are an ugly old swindler, everything that has any beauty and authenticity in it must certainly be ridiculed and rejected. Grace? Dear God, no.

      - Let's leave his character alone for a while, - Max said with such decisiveness, as if he were putting his board of directors in their place, - and focus on the facts. You don't deny, Ted, that Edward's life was saved?

      “No,” I replied. “I must admit that I cannot deny that.

      - And Lilac? Oliver said. - And Jane? And I? And Clara? Are you denying us? Look at what is right under your fat nose, my dear!

      "Okay, Oliver, calm down," Michael said. “Come on, Ted. Are you saying that my son has no powers?

      - No! I exclaimed. No, I don't say that! I think he is a wonderful, wonderful boy. I think he is a miracle in himself. Not a magician, but a person extraordinary enough to look like a miracle in this world. I think he has abilities that are as rare as they are wonderful.

      - I'm about to go crazy! Patricia said, tugging at her hair. - A minute ago you said: “David does not have any extraordinary abilities. He is a very, very, very ordinary child. " Your exact words. And half a minute later...

      "I do not retract any of the words I have said," I announced.

      The response to such evasiveness was a general yell of rage, followed by shocked silence when Ann took over.

      - Shut up all of you! she called. “You just didn’t understand anything! Nothing! Keep saying that Ted can't see the truth under his nose, but that's not Ted, it's you, yourself. Each of you. Ted is absolutely right. Everything he said is absolutely true and consistent, and you just don't hear him.

      - Annie! My love, I don't understand! Michael stared dumbfounded across the table at his wife.

      "I'm sorry, Michael," I said. - I played a little trick on you.

      - Played? Have you played us?

      - Well, not exactly played. Rather, I succumbed to the temptation to get even for the insults received from you. Letting you not understand what I'm talking about. You asked if your son had any powers, and I replied that he did. You just didn't understand, only Annie understood that I wasn't talking about Davy.

      But he still didn't get it. And to no one else.

      - Not about Davy?

      “No,” I said. I was talking about Simon.

      - What? Oliver spun around to face Simon, who was frozen in alarm and stunned, his fork not reaching his open mouth.

      “Oh, listen…” he said. - Don't, Uncle Ted... I mean...

      “Forgive me, Simon,” I replied, “but it is necessary to proclaim the truth.

      Ann leaned over and put her hand on Simon's arm.

      - Ted! Annie! Explain…please explain to me what's going on,” Michael pleaded.

      "You yourself saw, Michael, how it all began two years ago," I said. Let's call it the first miracle for now. You walked into the room where you lay panting, almost unconscious from asthma, Edward. Simon did what any normal person would do in his place. He gave Edward artificial respiration. Massaged his ribs. After a few seconds, sentimental, hysterical David, frightened by the violence committed by his brother and absolutely not understanding what it was for, pushed him away. He placed his hand on Edward's chest just as you and Ann entered, and at that moment Simon's commendable first aid paid off - Edward coughed and stammered. You see a hand placed on your chest and you immediately remember your father, who, despite his obvious common sense, almost fooled himself, almost believing that he had done something extraordinary with his batman's sore leg. After a while, you tell this story to Davy, and the stupid boy, who put his hand on his brother’s chest, most likely only to check if his heart is beating, or for the sake of something else equally useless, is imbued with faith that he inherited his grandfather's mystical abilities.

      “But… but anything can be explained that way,” said Patricia. However, there was some hesitation in her voice.

      - Explaining the sunset doesn't take away its beauty, I said. - Yes, it is not for that and is given. Simon is caring, practical, unsentimental and kind. And besides, completely devoid of selfishness. It never occurred to him to take credit for what he had done or demand gratitude. On the other hand, Davy... well, think for yourself. Just remember the sequence of events. Michael and Annie decided that Edward's miraculous cure should be kept a secret. Michael - because he did not want his son to be poisoned or feared, as was the case with Albert; Annie - realizing that Michael believed in a miracle and this belief appeases his sense of family pride. In addition, Annie was afraid that Michael might think that she was in some way jealous of Davy's undeniable gift. Which, of course, he thought. Right, Michael?

      Michael nodded.

      - And the following happened. Despite an agreement on secrecy and silence, information about Davy's abilities leaked out. How? This I will tell you. Davy himself made sure they leaked out, that's how. I recently received a letter from Jane. “When Davy first told me how he cured Edward…” she wrote. Davy did not want his magical talents to go unrecognized. Jane told Patricia and Rebecca about them, and they told Max, Mary, and Oliver. So Devi notified the whole damned world about his status as a healer and miracle worker.

      - If I may, I'd better go, okay? Simon said, getting up from the table. As I spoke, he became more and more confused and restless.

      “No, Simon…please,” Michael said. - I beg you, stay.

      Simon reluctantly flopped back into his chair. Everyone was looking at him, but he couldn't stand it.

      - So you are saying that in fact all these healings are the work of Simon? Patricia asked. - What did he inherit the gift of his grandfather?

      "Simon certainly inherited Albert Benenstock's abilities," I replied.

      - Simon. Healer…” Michael shook his head.

      Poor Simon just writhed in embarrassment.

      - Michael, are you unable to understand what I'm talking about? I asked. Simon's grandfather was not a healer. His abilities were limited to calm kindness, friendliness, dignity, selflessness, courage, honesty and common sense. You may think of all this as boring prose, but what is poetry but concentrated prose? The qualities that Albert Benenstock possessed may seem boring, like a piece of coal, but when they all come together, concentrating in one person, they ennoble each other and turn into a diamond. So Simon inherited them. What's not enough for you?

      It wasn't enough for them.

      "Forgive me for saying the same thing," said Patricia, "but, Ted, you're sidestepping one obvious point. But what about Jane, Lilac, Oliver, Clara?

      "Exactly," said Oliver. “If honesty and quiet kindness can cure leukemia and a broken liver, then I guess we should tell the world about it, right?”

      I poured myself another glass of wine. Already a gallon of it splashed in my stomach. The wine, along with the inexplicable nervousness and adrenaline pumped into my blood, caused my intestines to bubble and gasp.

      “Davi really believed that he could heal diseases,” I said, suppressing the urge to fart. “I think we can be sure of that. He concocted some fantastic nonsense about having to be pure in order to channel his mystical energy.

      - Clean? Michael asked.

      Now I'm going to have a really hard time.

      - I suspect he somehow discovered - perhaps while caring for injured animals - that the laying on of hands alone does not always achieve a cure. And then he developed a bizarre theory. Key words are: purity and naturalness. God knows what he meant by them. I think nothing is more consistent and convincing than what any writer of advertising texts means by them. Davy decided that he should be pure and natural, like an animal. Clean and natural - like a ladybug, certainly not like her cousin, the dung beetle. Clean and natural, like a gazelle, and not like a hyena that gnaws out the eyes of a gazelle and feasts on its intestines. His ideas of purity and naturalness seem to have more in common with a Victorian hymnal than with a real understanding of the physical world. Everything is filled with beauty and light, and nothing dark and dirty simply does not exist. But don't forget that Davy was going through puberty at the same time, and this phenomenon, darker and dirtier than you can imagine, is not mentioned in the Victorian hymns. In addition, Davy turned out to be an insatiably sensual boy. Those sitting here who belong to the male sex probably remember what our gonads and gametes did to us at the age of fifteen. As for me, they have not calmed down to this day, except that they have lost their former ability to go berserk at any provocation. Devi, discovering one morning that he could not resist an erotic dream, felt humiliated. He ran into a problem. Why did God and Nature fill his body with such a vile liquid? How can he remain pure, such a pretty buttercup, when a spurting nightmare has settled inside him? He reasoned thus. The seed is the life-giving spirit. If he avoids the lustful eruptions of this spirit, it will retain its purity, nay, it will turn into the purest, most potent substance imaginable. And Davy decided that his seed... I hope you're ready for it, Annie... is the perfect remedy. When his cousin Jane arrived at Swafford, Davy had the perfect opportunity to test his beliefs in the laboratory. He convinced Jane that the laying on of hands alone was not enough, that he must nourish her with his spirit. A method that many founders of religious cults have found invaluable. In the case of Devi, desire and passions were given a secondary place, I sincerely believe that he was guided only by the desire to heal and help.

      “Oh, Davy…” Annie whispered. She knew nothing about this feature of the filial mission, and when I publicly opened her eyes, I felt like a pig.

      "I'm sorry, but I must say that he most likely did the same trick with Lilac," I added.

      Everyone's lower jaws hit the plates, and Oliver started throwing mental daggers at me.

      - And only Oliver can tell you, - I said, thinking that he deserved it, - what method was used in his case.

      All faces turned to him. Poor Oliver, he's always been a bad pretender.

      “Listen,” he said, licking his lips. We all believed, didn't we? Some of us still believe. Everything Ted said is based on intolerance and side circumstances. He never proved anything.

      - Did you seduce my son? Michael inquired.

      - No, I'm dead, it was he who seduced me! He told me... Jesus, when you put it like this, it's completely absurd... Okay, if you want me to describe what happened in a language that Wallis can understand, then yes, Davy fucked me in the ass. And I got better, didn't I? And again, it was Davy. Simon didn't even come close to me. I have not exchanged two words with this okhlamomon for the whole week. All Davy! Of course, Davy. What the hell are you listening to this fat rogue? And what about Jane and Lilac?

      Mary and Max exchanged horrified looks. It was they who remembered Clara, poor things.

      “I can explain about Lilac,” I said. “I'm afraid I'm the only one to blame for this whole story.

      - You? Michael frowned.

      - Yes, the most stupid thing came out. I called the horseman, Nigel Ogden, this evening. I asked him to confirm that Lilac really suffered from ragwort poisoning. He said that her depression, bleeding from the mouth, spinning aimlessly, the need to lean against the wall, stomach pains, loss of appetite, diarrhea, terrible thirst - in general, everything - could not be explained by anything else. But you see, when I was taking a bath this evening, inspiration came. Like Archimedes. I may not be a veterinarian, but no one will refuse me that I am a drunkard. And what if, I asked him, what if Lilac got drunk? Cut in the real way? Hit all the hard and poured to the very mane? He thought and thought and said that he had not yet met a drunken horse, but the symptoms of intoxication may well be similar to those he observed in Lilacs. Drinking, in his opinion, is bad for horses also because it is very difficult for them to vomit. True, this does not explain the bleeding from the mouth. However, I had an answer for that as well. I won't tell you the reasons, but early in the morning, on my second day here, I threw a full bottle of ten-year-old malt whiskey into a tub in the western park where Lilac and her four-legged friends thereafter grazed.

      - What did you do? Patricia gasped.

      - Yes, I understand, it looks like the ravings of a madman, but at that moment this act seemed right to me. We can discuss it later. The bottom line is that while taking a bath, I suddenly remembered that morning, and everything fell into place. Before dinner, I secretly ran there and looked into the tub. The bottle broke, the whiskey leaked out. There are still traces of blood on the fragments. Lilac, with her impeccable taste, must have discovered an unexpected treasure the day before yesterday and spent the afternoon slurping, sucking and licking it. She had never eaten barley in such a pleasant form. I think you will be pleased to hear that she did not use the whole bottle, but she drank enough to have fun from the heart and get acquainted with a real cruel hangover. Everything is simple.

      Everyone looked at me silently for a while. Then Simon was overcome with laughter.

      - Got drunk! he squealed. - So, the Lilac got drunk. You know, I thought that the godson had nothing to do with it. Alec and I ransacked the field all day, because that's where he grows. Should have checked. It is useless to use a herbicide, because, oddly enough, this plant only begins to seem even tastier to horses. Drunk!

      Oliver slammed his fist on the table.

      - Okay! he barked, his face white with anger. - Maybe so. May be. But…

      “Clara,” Max interrupted him tragically. - What about Clara? Are you saying that the boy dared...

      You should have been careful here.

      - I'm glad to tell you that Davy didn't try to do to Clara what he did to Jane, Oliver and Lilac. He tried to feed her some kind of drug related to his spirit ... - I decided that this was close enough to the truth to be acceptable, and whether they understand what was said - literally or metaphorically - is their concern. “But Simon got in the way. What you were thinking when you sent the poor girl to Davy, I can't even imagine.

      "We wanted the best," Mary murmured helplessly. “It felt so right.

      “Listen, I’m not going to lecture you,” I said, “but I have never met a more bedraggled creature than Clara in my life. You make it clear to everyone that you are ashamed of her, you reproach her in public for her clumsiness, which naturally increases tenfold, and, in my opinion, you do not show her at all that you love her or enjoy her society.

      - How dare you? Max yelled. “How dare you, damn it?

      - Oh, Max, calm down, he's right, and you know it, - Mary said. – Of course, right. Clara doesn't fit your idea of ​​a perfect heiress, and it pisses you off.

      Max wanted to retort, but the public quarrel with his wife clearly did not correspond to his ideas about himself, and therefore he only shrugged his shoulders and again fell into silence.

      "Simon has done a miracle with Clara in the last week," I continued. - He hired her to help in the stable, feed the chickens, walk the puppies, he swam with her in the lake. He inspired the girl to believe in himself and showed that he loves her without any reservations.

      “No, really, I’m fine…” Simon muttered.

      “Today's incident with Davy has shaken her greatly,” I continued. “She told me about it when I looked into her room just before dinner.

      - Wow, what a troublesome evening we had, huh? Oliver said. – Perfect…

      – What did this “case” actually look like? Mary interrupted him.

      - Well, as I said, Devi can be very persistent. This frightened her. Yes, and humiliated, as far as I understand. You sent Clara to doctors, to psychiatrists, to special summer camps and religious asylums, as if she were sick and mad like a mad dog. And now they also ordered to go with Davy to the forest, so that he would treat her there, like a leper. Simon accidentally stumbled upon them and took Clara away. He told the girl that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her. That he adores her just the way she is, and that if she dares to change at least something in herself, he will never forgive her. Of course, she bows before Simon, for the first time in her life she felt loved, simply, humanly loved. And I think it's really a miracle.

      Mary looked at Simon.

      “Listen…” he said. Large tears flowed down his face. “You don’t…don’t be angry with Davy. He didn't think anything bad. Just trying to help. It's not corrupted or anything. Just confused, that's all.

      Ann stroked his arm. Oliver was shaking now.

      - What's the matter with you all? he cried. You still didn't explain the most important thing. Jane. And you can't explain, can't you?

      I shrugged conciliatoryly:

      - There are remissions, Oliver.

      - There are remissions! Sometimes loaves turn into fish. Sometimes there are dead people walking around. It happens that a pig flies. Garbage is your "there are remissions"!

      "Oh Jane, I can say," Michael said in a voice so heavy that all faces turned to him. “I'm sorry, Bex. That phone call. Jane is dead. In the hospital. Without waking up. I should have waited until I heard what Ted had to say.

      I stared into the wine glass. Probably, somewhere in the depths of my mind there was a hunch about something bad. Especially when I thought of the overjoyed words that ended her last letter. “Smile! We are loved. We are loved. Everything will be great. Everything shines. Everything is exactly as it can and should be. ” Silly girl.

      "Let's get out of here," Ann said. “I don't think we'll want to eat anything else.

      Silently we got up from the table and went into the living room. Michael was comforting Rebecca, who was crying on his shoulder, I was hugging Patricia by the shoulders.

      I felt strangely guilty, as if it was my breaking Davy's spell that caused Jane's death and suddenly plunged the whole house into grief. We sat on sofas around a large central ottoman, at which everyone stared sadly so as not to meet each other's eyes. The rain that lashed outside the walls of the house and the wind that beat on the windows gave our shaggy company a resemblance to a group of cavemen looking into the fire.

      "She had a relapse this morning," Michael finally said. She thought it was some kind of mistake. And she kept telling the doctors that she was feeling well, that she needed to go to Norfolk. And in the evening she died, at ten minutes past seven.

      Ten eighth. It was at that moment that the memory of a bottle of whiskey thrown into a tub flashed through my mind. Oh, shrink, Ted, I told myself. Control yourself, old man.

      - And all this time, - said Michael, - all this time she considered herself healthy. She never said goodbye to anyone because she thought she was healed.

      - And me! Oliver exclaimed, unable to contain himself any longer. - What about me? I'm cured, right?

      “Ah, Oliver,” I replied. “Did you really throw away the pills?”

      - I don't need them. I don't need no fucking pills. Can you understand this?

      – Why were you screaming in pain in your bedroom tonight?

      - I didn't cry out in pain, I... Poor old scoundrel.

      "I groaned in pain," he managed finally, trying to maintain what little dignity he had. - There is a difference.

      "I'll send someone to Norwich for the pills," Michael said.

      "It's just angina," Oliver said. - If I pour enough vodka into myself to numb the pain, the pills will wait until morning.

      Annie slipped out of the living room and Oliver looked up at me with reddened eyes.

      - Why, Ted? Why did you have to ruin everything for us? After all, it could be true. Why didn't you let it be true?

      - Oh, Oliver, I don't know. You are our priest, not me. Maybe it has something to do with the opportunity given to a person to manage his own affairs?

      – And what a wonderful thought it was. She gave us hope.

      - Just don't imagine, - I said, - that the impossibility of curing you by the laying on of hands or the injection of holy seed makes life and the world hopeless. If you want to chat about the effects of Grace, let's get on with Simon.

      “Oh, please…” Simon stood up. “Uncle Ted, don’t talk about me like that anymore. Please.

      I waved to him:

      - Sorry, old man. It was a test for you. But you will see - the older you get, the less you start to be afraid of sentimental speeches. I didn't mean to embarrass you.

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