For some time past the City of London had amused itself by wondering mildly what could have happened to a dear old friend of theirs named Bevan. He was the head of several important concerns which, in fact, felt such dependence upon his gracious and intelligent guidance that they could hardly get on without him, especially as he had absent-mindedly packed in his portmanteau all their available assets. His absence aroused such anxiety and his speedy return was so desirable, that his friends had succeeded in interesting even Scotland Yard in the matter. Sympathetic friends all over Europe joined the rescue party and the Daily Mail lent its aid by publishing a photograph of the missing millionaire every day, week after week, and offered a prize of twenty-five thousand francs for information calculated to reassure the bereaved ones.
Excuse the digression. Both I and the Ape of Thoth strolled across the station to the Hotel Christol é Christol, proposing to dine and sleep, and go on to Hardelot in the morning. Tired by the journey we lay down for an hour and then came down to dinner. The restaurant opens out of the hall; to reach it from the staircase one inclines to the right. I was slightly surprised to find the whole staff of the hotel, from the manager to the porter, drawn up in a line between me and both the entrance and the restaurant. They all smiled and bowed obsequiously and awkwardly, like so many marionettes.
The manager stepped forward, louted him low, and motioned me towards a passage leading to the left. I supposed that, it being out of the season, the regular restaurant was shut and meals served elsewhere. He bowed me into a sort of smoking-room and suddenly shut the door behind me. I found myself, with no little surprise, in the presence of six men, dressed in black sprinkled about the room. Only one was seated; and he jumped up and asked my my name. I told him. He asked for my papers. By the merest chance I had left my passport, which I usually carry with me, in the bedroom. I told him I would go and get it. Two men sprang to the door. My inquisitive friend snapped out, "Apportez-moi le bagage!" which a couple of his satellites proceeded to do.
I was, by this time, completely bewildered, but he motioned me to a chair and sat down, asking various questions, especially about the Ape of Thoth. Had she come from London, and why, and so on, which only served to increase my wonder as to what it could all be about. From time to time he consulted a large thin sheet of paper as if to guide him in his queries. The
light fell on it and all of a sudden I saw from the back that its centre was occupied by a photograph which I instantly recognized.
"Mais, Monsieur," I said, breaking into laughter, "vous n'imaginez pas que je suis pour quelque chose dans cette affaire de M. Bevan." He retorted instantly, "Mais vous êtes M. Bevan!" I behaved very badly, I roared with laughter. Of course he was not put off by any such crude camouflage. "But this is absurd," I said, "I am perfectly well known as a poet and explorer. I don't know the difference between a joint stock company and a debenture." By this time my baggage had been brought. I found my passport which was, of course, in perfect order, but as evidence of identity produced no more effect on his mind that the initials of a shirt; we argued the matter for nearly an hour. One of his myrmidons after another stood at my side to be scrutinized for comparative height and width. One man thought my nose good enough to arrest me; another urged that my mouth cleared me of the crime. But the chief of police was tenacious. He had in his mind his step and the Legion of Honour and the "Daily Mail's" twenty-five thosand francs. Almost in despair I pulled out Guillamod's account of the 1902 expedition and showed him my photograph with my name printed under it. "Do you really wish", I said, "to maintain that I am a defaulting director?"
I don't know why, but this piece of evidence convinced him that I was not his man. He changed his tone, his men filed out, he bowed and apologized. I did not mean to be cruel, as no doubt I was. I told him that no excuse was necessary. I had not enjoyed myself so much in five years. What could a man want more --- official reception, and the rest? It was a bitter pill for him but it still is sweet in my mouth. One serious reflection only mars the music. Suppose I had happened to be an unknown man, unarmed with every possible proof, I might quite well have been a week or more in jail before establishing my identity.
I must not leave this subject without a few remarks on the tendency in recent years of the police to attempt to arrogate themselves a function of authority altogether beyond a theoretical limit. Even in England, in 1922, there were several cases in which magistrates had to rebuke the police for encroaching upon judicial functions. In the United States, of course, conditions are outrageous. The extreme case is that of Becker. But apart altogether from individual iniquity the police claim that they cannot control crime unless they are empowered to make an inquisition into every man's private affairs. They take every opportunity of exceeding their powers of bluffing and badgering anybody that seems to them objectionable in total absence of any evidence whatever to establish so much as a prima facie case against them. In England so far we have not reached the stage of regular frame-ups with deliberate perjury, but there are suspicious signs of movement in that direction.
Let me quote from my own experience. As early as 1907, I was warned by a friend, I cannot say with what truth, that the police were watching me. My conscience being clear, I replied, "Good, I shan't be burgled." In 1910 during "The Rites of Eleusis" in Caxton Hall, to which we purposely invited a police representative, they had other men in plain clothing outside the building, apparently hoping that something indictable would ooze through the brickwork.
In 1913-14 again, my studio near Onslow Square was a regular rendezvous for spies. I was always seeing them in the courtyard, skulking behind trees as I went to and fro from dinner. What they had hoped to find out I cannot imagine.
In Detroit, months after my return to Europe, they repeatedly raided poor half-crazed Ryerson's house in search of some evidence of the "Devil Worshipper's Mystic Love Cult" and of course found nothing; from which they concluded not my innocence, but that my pact with the devil contained a clause guaranteeing me against the discovery of my crimes. If any of those obstinate asses had possessed sufficient intelligence to study a single page of my writings, he would have seen at once what ridiculous rubbish were the accusations made against me by foul-minded and illiterate cheats whom I had never so much as met.
While I was in America, the London police not only disgraced themselves by the brutal raid on poor old Mrs Davies, described in "The Law Straw", but covered themselves with shame and ridicule by sending to prison a poor little bookseller who had sold for many years The Open Court, a well-known philosophical magazine of the highest character.
Again they sent round a man to Frank Hollings to frighten him out of selling The Equinox, though no complaint had ever been made about it. Even my personal friends were haunted by sinister spies who made mysterious inquiries and uttered oracular hints about the frightful things that might happen if they happened. They wrote to my lawyers, and called on them to inquire my address which they knew perfectly well, and on my complaining to them about the theft of some of my property, not only refused to take up the matter, but answered me through the local police of the place where I lived, saying that I was "well-known" in Scotland Yard. The fact is undeniable, but the insinuation cowardly and dirty.
The latest news from the front is that the special commissary in Tunis, having asked me to call with regard to an irregularity in my permis de séjour, amplified his remark with the cock-and-bull story intended to persuade me that I ran the risk of assassination by ferocious Fascisti. I asked the British consul to make inquiries and as with Hamlet --- the rest is silence.
What interests me is the perverse psychology in this case. What can be their object? I am not annoyed but amused. But why should they waste so
much energy and public money on watching a man year after year when one would have thought that the most elementary common sense would have told them anyhow, after the first few months, that I was no more likely to infringe the law than the Archbishop of Canterbury?
I vaguely assume some connection between this puerile policy of halfhearted pinpricks and the perennial flowering of the fantastic falsehoods about me. It suggests that I possess some quality which attracts the attention of the half-witted so that they cannot leave me alone. I have often wished to collect "The Thousand and One Nights of Nonsense", of which I am the hero. Seabrook's serial in 1923 is absurdly incomplete.
My arrest in mistake for Bevan, whom I resemble about as much and as little as I do any other featherless biped, is rather typical of the odd incidents that help to keep me young. But when people ask me to clear my character of the aspersions upon it, my mind runs back to that scene in the smoking-room. I say to myself, "My dear man, if it took you an hour to prove to a perfectly sensible Frenchman so simple and clear a case with all the trumps in your fist, how long would it take to persuade a prejudiced ignorant public, congenitally incapable of understanding your point of view, that you are innocent of crimes, the witnesses to which are unavailable, and whose very nature translates the court into a wonderland far more weird than anything in the adventures of Alice?"
My second stay in Paris was short. Everything pointed to my trying my luck in London. One of the most amusing results of the wholesale robbery of my money and effects was that I had no single suit of clothes fit to wear in London. I had worn out what I had taken with me to America and had never had enough spare cash to replenish my wardrobe.
All the clothes I had left in London had been stolen with this exception; that in the summer of 1914 I had sent my Highland dress to Scott Eadie to be overhauled. I now recalled this fact and wrote to them to send it to Paris. I had three kilts, a dress tunic and waistcoat, a tweed coat and vest and a green military tunic. Faute de mieux, I donned the garb of old Gaul which, if unusual, was dignified, and scrapping together very nearly ten pounds, I crossed the Channel in the first week of May.
The first problem was to find rooms. I was taking tea with my old friend Gwendolen Otter and asked if anyone knew a suitable place. The vague reply was that there were plenty round the King's Road, Chelsea. I went off, weary in body and spirit. I could hardly drag one foot after the other. I had alighted at a horrible hotel in Russell Square thronged with hustling hooligans of the middle classes. My heart sank at the thought of going back there. I wanted to save the fivepenny bus fare. I came to the corner of Wellington Square and was suddenly seized with a direct inspiration to try my luck. "Try the sacred numbers, especially the Secret Key of The Book of the Law --- 31!"
Fagged as I was, I obeyed. The first number connected with my work was this very "31" and in the window was a card "Apartments to Let". A van stood at the door, which was open. I went in. The landlady showed me a large front room on the first floor, with French windows opening upon a balcony which overlooked the spirit-soothing oasis of the square; the small green oblong with its ancient trees. It was clean and comfortable, the rent reasonable, and the people of the house sympathetic and intelligent. The bow drawn at venture had hit the ideal at the first twang of the string. The miracle was the more striking that the card had not been in the window till a few hours before; they had in fact not finished moving in.
I must flit back to Paris for a moment to mention that before starting I had asked the Yi for a general symbol of my visit to London. I had obtained the hexagram "Shih Ho", whose indications I may thus summarize. General Comment: It will be advantageous to use legal constraints.
I took this to mean that my proper course to restore my stolen property was to take legal action. The special comment on each of the six lines indicates the successive events of the period covered by the question. My campaign would clearly end disastrously through the enmity of others. I resolved not to be deterred by this forecast, since the previous lines absolved me from blame. I should make no error. "Hew to the line, let the chips fall where they may!"
In a second hexagram, asking for advice how to conduct myself, I received one emphatic warning: avoid getting mixed up with unworthy people.
I now propose to narrate the principal events of my sojourn in England and show how exactly they confirmed the Yi King.
My first objective was obviously to obtain possession of my published works which had been warehoused with the Chiswick Press. This press, under the auspices of Mr Charles T. Jacobi, had no rival, except Constable's, for excellence of printing. I had entrusted them with the production of the majority of my books. When I left England in 1914, I owed them some three hundred and fifty pounds; their security was the stock of the approximate value of twenty thousand pounds. In 1920 Jacobi wrote to inform me the firm was changing hands, and although he would remain as a director of the new company, it was essential that I square the account. I therefore sent them three hundred and fifty pounds. They had authority from me to sell any copies which might be asked for.
On my arrival in London the position was that after paying warehouse charges to date, they owed me a little over ten pounds. They had written several times to urge me to remove the stock, alleging lack of space in their warehouse. I called and renewed my friendly acquaintance with Jacobi who agreed to hold the books till the end of May, to give me time to arrange for their removal. He furnished me with a complete set of the books as samples.
I had approached Heinemann's with a scheme to dispose of the stock. They were to publish every month for a year a small volume of selections, lyrics, religious verses, essays, stories, plays, etc., with the idea that the readers would acquire the taste and buy the original editions. Heinemann's ultimately rejected this proposal --- very reluctantly, and I believe on account of the violent personal opposition of one of their staff, a man whom I had never met. I found a new warehouse in due course and called to arrange a convenient day to remove the books.
To my surprise a perfect stranger came into the outer office, a weird creature of nightmare, long, loose-jointed, shaking and tottering with palsy, with a head grotesque and ghastly, rocking upon narrow sloping shoulders that seemed to shrink from its weight. This fantastic horror announced itself as the managing director of the new company. I stated my business. To my amazement, he broke out into a spate of unmeaning insults. He refused point-blank to deliver the books on the ground that Scotland Yard would be down on him if he did. I said, "But this is ridiculous. What has Scotland Yard to do with the matter? If you really think they are concerned, ring them up at once. Ask them!" He went off saying he would telephone, and returned in a few minutes saying that they would make inquiries and let him know in a few days.
Of course the police had no interest in the matter at all. But this goblin still refused delivery. I could only suppose him a lunatic. He did not merely insult me but Mr Jacobi, the best of printers, by far the most eminent in England, a man who had spent his life in the service of the art and who had done more for it than any single man since Caxton.
Warner, for so my lunatic called himself, spoke of Jacobi in terms that would have been harsh applied to a dishonest office boy. I wrote to Jacobi personally. He replied as I anticipated, but admitted that the control had passed from his hands. Warner flew in even a more furious rage than ever at my having written, and his having replied. I had known Jacobi since '98, and our business relationship during the twenty-five years had been unbroken and uniformly pleasant. I found my friends scarcely able to believe the story. Such conduct as Warner's was incredible. It was obvious, however, even to him that some settlement was necessary. We had a final interview. He resorted to all kinds of absurd arguments quite impertinent to the business on hand and took an attitude in flat contradiction to that adopted by the firm. At the last moment, he suddenly shifted his ground. A furtive gleam of cunning came into his eyes and he suggested that it would be all right if I took the books away without his official knowledge. It was the first sensible thing he had said. It was arranged that he should consult the directors as a matter of form, and then arrange an hour for the removal over the telephone as it might be convenient for him to be out of the way at the time. We parted on this
understanding. But the next morning I got a letter that everything was off.
I reflected on the Yi's research: "It will be advantageous to use legal constraints" and went round to my lawyer. He advised me that they had no case. The one technical difficulty which related to some few volumes could be obviated easily enough. Correspondence ensued, and finally he interviewed the solicitors of the firm and came to a satisfactory arrangement. Warner was away on his holiday, but the business would go through directly he returned. Not at all! He went back on everything and defied me to obtain possession. And there the matter stands, as far as I know. I have never been able to collect sufficient funds to recover my property which constitutes my principal asset. If Warner is even partially sane the motive is beyond my wit to imagine. Can he possibly hope that I shall drop the matter, and let him get away with twenty thousand pounds of stolen property?
To keep a straight story, I have admitted that at Warner's suggestion two roundabout ways were tried. I was to make a fictitious sale of the stock to another man, and he, having taken them away, could transfer them to me. When he called he was assailed in the most intemperate language and the delivery refused. The second idea was to get my tailor to obtain judgment against me for the few hundreds I owed him, to be executed by seizing the stock. But the sheriff received the same treatment as everyone else. Warner started at once to heap insults upon, and hurl defiance at, the representatives of the law. What interests me most in all this is the problem of how such a man ever does any business. In my own case, part of my original plan involved the placing of large orders with his firm. When a stranger calls to bring him gold he is thrown out. It beats me altogether.
My next important business was to re-establish my connection with editors. I called on the English Review. Austin Harrison welcomed me as warmly as ever, and asked me to write the centenary article on Shelley and some minor work. I signed the Shelley essay "Prometheus". I created a furore in literary London. They were stupefied. Who the devil could have written it? There were not three men in England anywhere near that class. It was the best boost the English Review had had since Frank Harris and I had left England. Mond had withdrawn his support, turning over the Review, lock, stock and barrel, gratis, on his attention being called to the fact that Harrison possessed a letter from Lord Roberts denouncing Mond in such terms that its publication would have probably been followed by the wrecking of Mond's house in Lowndes Square, and, as likely as not, a lynching. Sir George Lewis called at the office (Harrison boasted to me that Lewis never went outside his lair for anyone less than a royal duke) and concluded the deal on the terms stated above on Harrison's giving his word not to make public the letter. It went through. But when Harrison looked for the lethal letter he failed to find it, and believes that Mond had arranged for someone
to pay an unauthorized visit to his sanctum and extract it. This hypothesis involves the assumption that Mond harboured doubts as to the value of Harrison's word of honour, which is too painful to think of.
Deprived of financial support, and of the guidance of Frank Harris and myself, he was left to plough his lonely furrow and a crooked furrow it was. The English Review lost interest for the educated classes whose taste it was designed to please. The circulation sagged lower every month. Its dullness became devastating. Harrison's own work is always amazing and sometimes first-rate. But other contributors fell off. They got tired of being asked to write at nominal rates, and at that to have to extract the cheque with a Big Bertha corkscrew. He paid me five pounds for my Shelley essay. Subsequent articles were even less adequately remunerated. And it was not only a task which Jove would have thrown up to get paid at all, but after prolonged humiliating haggling over the price, the ultimate cheque was more annoying than agreeable. He would argue for an hour that he had said pounds and not gunieas. I put up with the pest because it amused me. I can hardly explain why I enjoy watching such contemptible wrigglings. I suppose it is the same sort of fascination as makes one stop to watch a street squabble between two prostitutes.
A further unpleasantness was that he always wanted to mutilate what I wrote by removing the strongest passages or reshaping them so that my style was spoilt entirely and diluted with his journalistic commonplaces and clichs. I made the best of a bad job. My reply to Rabbi Joel Blau, "The Jewish Problem Re-Stated", for example, seemed to me so important that any sacrifice was worth making. I doubt my wisdom. His emendations reduced a masterpiece of reasoning and eloquence to a comparatively unremarkable pleading, and it fell almost flat.
My real plan was to put persistent pressure upon Harrison. I thought that in time my moral superiority and intelligence would convert him to a course by adopting which thoroughly and enthusiastically, the stone might be rolled away from the sephlchre, and the English Review regain its preeminence as the only organ in England with a soul of its own. In fact, so long as I stayed in London I made a good deal of headway. But the moment the cat was away, the mice began to play. I ran over to France for a fortnight in August, and when I got back he had broken his word on every point. My return restored order, but on leaving for Sicily, it was the same story. He had promised to publish something of mine every month and send me not less than eight pounds every time the first came round. He did not even send me the ten pounds he had promised when we parted, knowing well that I counted on him for this to stand between me and actual starvation.
I could have born with his treatment of myself, but he used me to injure
others. In our early conversations he had argued with perfect justice that the English market for the English Review was hopeless, at least for a long time, and that therefore the only chance of restoring solvency was to push it in America. It was obvious that I could do this with success. He agreed to my plan, and I wrote accordingly to several of my friends, first-class writers, far better than any in England --- bar Conrad and Hardy --- asking them to contribute. They one and all wrote charmingly and enthusiastically, and sent a number of admirable stories. They further promised to use their influence --- in two cases enormous --- they being editors of periodicals whose combined circulation must be in the millions, to introduce the English Review to the American public. The scheme prospered beyond my greatest expectation. H. L. Mencken himself came to see us, and he formulated a plan of action which would have certainly succeeded and put Harrison's circulation up to thirty thousand at the lowest estimate within a few months.
But this was not all. Hearing that my friend Otto Kahn, the famous financier and the admirably judicious appreciator of fine creative work, was in England, I asked him to lunch with me to meet Harrison. His agenda was full, but he proposed to call at the office. We talked matters over some two hours, and laid down the outlines of a scheme, the success of which was that a chronic invalid magazine called the Forum should be bought and amalgamated with the English Review. We were to publish two editions, I to be in charge of the English Review in New York. The bulk of the contents was to be identical, but a proportion to cover matters of local interest in the respective countries. Otto Kahn, while not pledging himself definitely to finance the proposal, gave us to understand that he would not be unwilling to support it.
The sequel is really too stupid. We discussed the details of the scheme and wrote to Mr Kahn accordingly. But when Harrison showed me the draft of his letter I could hardly believe my eyes. He wanted six thousand pounds for the paper which everyone knew was being literally hawked about London on the chance of finding a fool to pay two thirds that amount, and besides he to be guaranteed two thousand pounds a year for three years. And on top of all he was to have an interest in the company. I didn't tell him that Otto Kahn was not in the market to buy gold bricks and that nothing would disgust him so thoroughly as so obvious an attempt to pull his leg. I knew that moderation and --- well, hang it, common honesty would determine Kahn to do his utmost for us. To him twelve thousand pounds is of course a microscopic object, but he would resent any attempt to take advantage of that fact as strongly and rightly as a diner in a Soho gargote objects to mistakes in his bill. I was furious at the abuse of my introduction, but I kept my temper, put things as pleasantly as I could, and begged Harrison to moderate his grab. His conscience convicted him. He put up the feeblest arguments I ever
heard in my life about the great value of the property which he constantly declared a thankless burden and a financial loss. I knew it was hopeless, and of course Kahn wrote back briefly that he had inquired and found that the Forum was not for sale. We had discussed that point. It made little difference, but it saved Kahn from having to say what he thought about the try on.
Having enthusiastically accepted my plan about pushing the paper in America by publishing the work of their best men and a series of essays by myself to introduce them to English readers, a line of attack quite independent of the more wide-read big proposal, he suddenly broke away. "What would happen to the English market?" he wailed. "What do they care about American writers?"
"My dear man," I replied, "the whole point of the game is that you have told me again and again that the English market is hopeless. Whatever you do you cannot win out in England. And even if the American campaign does diminish your sale by a few hundred copies, what's that as against the splendid chance of building up a circulation in the States?" But he wouldn't see it. He dropped the whole thing.
I made one other suggestion --- to try to get readers among occult students. I arranged a scheme of co-operation with the Occult Review. Ralph Shirley was enthusiastic and willing to help in every possible way. But Harrison never liked the scheme. His ignorance of the importance of the occult public was not merely complete, but invulnerable to all information. I gave him the figures. I proved that for one person who cared for poetry, there were at least a thousand whose only form of reading was spiritualism, theosophy, psychical research, Magick, Yoga, mysticism, Christian Science, and its congeners, occult freemasonry, etc., etc., ad libitum. He flatly refused to admit the facts. I begged him to try it out, if only by asking a few dozen strangers what they themselves cared to read. His very secretaries rose up against him and confirmed my statement. It was useless. His own objection to the occult was so strong, that he deliberately shut his eyes to the facts; even the vogue of Conan Doyle's senile dementia did not move him. And that is the end of that.
I have not seen the English Review this year. I can only suppose that it has dropped back after the spurt of last summer into its regular ditch-water dullness, if indeed it has not passed away altogether by that kind of passing away which leaves nothing whatever behind.
My third string was to publish new books. Sullivan had suggested my trying Grant Richards, firstly with a plan for marketing the existing stock, and secondly with a proposal to write my memoirs. He promised to put in a good word for me as he knew Grant Richards well and was influential as being a man of sound business and literary judgment. I therefore called
and made my proposals. But after some consideration, Grant Richards could not see his way to accept my terms. I think we were both reluctant to part; and one night I was inspired to try him with a third artificial minnow. I would write a shocker on the subject which was catering to the hysteria and pururience of the sex-crazed public: the drug traffic insanity. It provided a much needed variation from the "white slave" traffic. I proposed as a title The Diary of a Drug Fiend and sketched out a synopsis of its contents on a sheet of notepaper. This was mostly bluff. I had not really any clear idea of my story. I took this round to Grant Richards, who said it was not in his line. I asked him to suggest a likely firm. He said Hutchinson or Collins. Neither name meant anything to me. I gave Collins the first chance simply because he was on my way home.
Invited to interview the responsible man, I found myself wondering who he was --- I had surely met him before. He shared my feeling and was the first to discover the source. Over fifteen years earlier he had been on the staff of a paper called What's On belonging to my old acquaintance Robert Haslam and at one time edited by poor crazy Dartnell.
The gods had certainly started a new drama. The accident of this man, J. D. Beresford his name is, being the literary advisor of Collins probably made all the difference to the fate of the book. The synopsis was accepted enthusiastically and I obtained the pledges of money and advances, as per the "Yi" forecast, to the extend of a sixty-pound advance and a contract on much better terms than a new author could have hoped.
I contracted to deliver the manuscript within a month. My idea was to rush the book through as a suitable for holiday reading. I wired to Paris for the Ape, who hurried over. We sat down at once to work. She takes my dictation in long hand, and it was therefore some "stunt" to have written the 121,000 words in 27 days, 12 3/4 hours. Mrs Marshall, the best typist I ever employed --- she had worked for me off and on since '98 --- could hardly believe her eyes as one stack of manuscript came tumbling on the top of another. It gave me a chance to boost the Law of Thelema. I was able to show how the application of the principles increases efficiency as the profane deem impossible.
Beresford was delighted with the manuscript and in high hopes of making a big hit. Unfortunately, my plan for publishing the book in August was not adopted. For various reasons they kept it hanging about till November. This annoyed me greatly. I expected its publication to arouse a tempest in the teapot around which the old women of criticism nod and talk scandal. I wanted to be on the spot when the fur began to fly, so as to give as good as I got. However, the gods have their own ideas.
I now put forward my scheme for publishing my memoirs --- my autohagiography I playfully called it --- before Collins. Beresford knew Sullivan
well, another lucky coincidence; and when I sent him a fairly full synopsis, they accepted my proposals gladly. I took a short holiday in Paris, chiefly to give the Ape a good time at the seaside, and on my return settled down to dictation.
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