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"The Miller's Daughter"

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This article focuses on the Season Two episode, "The Miller's Daughter". For the character from the Rumpelstiltskin fairytale, see Cora.
"The Miller's Daughter"
Season Two
Season 02, Episode 16
Episode Information
Character backstory:
Premiere date: March 10, 2013
Viewers: 7.64 million[1]
Written by: Jane Espenson
Directed by: Ralph Hemecker
Episode Chronology
Previous Episode: "The Queen Is Dead"
Next Episode: "Welcome to Storybrooke"
Related Pages

King Xavier: You're just a miller's daughter.
Cora: I am so much more.

"The Miller's Daughter" is the sixteenth episode of Season Two of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Jane Espenson and directed by Ralph Hemecker. It is the thirty-eighth episode overall, and premiered on March 10, 2013.


Cora's desire to rid herself of Rumplestiltskin in order to take his place as The Dark One takes one step closer to becoming reality as she and Regina try to overpower a dying Mr. Gold, and Mary Margaret is once again tempted by dark magic. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, Rumplestiltskin agrees to offer his services to a younger Cora - for a price - when the king calls her bluff and orders her to actually follow through on her boast of being able to spin straw into gold.[2]


This section is a detailed recap of this episode. There are major spoilers. Click to expand.

On a mill in the Enchanted Forest, a miller is fast asleep. His daughter approaches to wake him up and berates him for not doing his share of the work, because she wants to be able to eat that week. She pulls a cart of flour along the road, and eventually into a palace. At the palace entrance, she sets down the cart and proceeds to haul the sacks of flour by hand. Nearby, a princess walks besides a prince and a king. When the princess notices the miller's daughter, an idea comes to mind. As the miller's daughter passes the princess, she is purposefully tripped and ends up spilling flour all over the floor. In annoyance, the miller's daughter shouts at the princess for causing the mess, though the king, Xavier, asks if she is alright. The miller's daughter thinks he is asking her, so she answers, but King Xavier states he is referring to the princess. Glancing down at her flour soiled shoes, the princess expresses unhappiness at how ruined they are. The prince believes the miller's daughter did not mean any harm, but the king thinks otherwise. The king tells her they will not pay her for the flour and she must apologize to the princess. When the girl calls the princess a wench, the king is infuriated, he introduces the princess as Eva. He asks the miller's daughter for her name, and she responds, "Cora." He makes her kneel before them and apologize to Eva, or he will not pay for the flour supplements. Cora is ordered to stay kneeling until they have passed and glares angrily at Eva as she walks away with the group of royals.

Far off in the ocean, Neal and Henry steer the Jolly Roger, while a severely injured Mr. Gold lies under the deck of the ship. Emma enters to check on Mr. Gold and says he does not look comfortable. He responds by saying poison rushing to his heart has that effect. Emma quickly changes the subject to his dagger. She asks Mr. Gold about the things Cora and Regina can do with it in their possession, specifically she asks if they can make him kill them all. He says yes, and asks Emma if she is hoping he bleeds to death now. Because they are family now, she says that she is going to save him, but Mr. Gold doubts this in a sarcastic manner.

In Storybrooke, David is on the phone with Mary Margaret. They discuss what Emma has told them about Mr. Gold's wound. What they do not know is that Cora and Regina are listening in on them with a phone tap device. Mary Margaret tells David to let Emma know that the dagger is with Cora, who she calls a "wicked woman". After hearing this Cora knocks the phone tap to the ground because she does not like "what the enchanted box was saying". Regina picks it up and tells her mother it is a phone tap. Cora does not seem to care, and is more concerned about their plans changing due to Mr. Gold being alerted about the dagger. Cora looks down at the dagger and notices letters disappearing from the name, "Rumplestiltskin." Although Regina thinks he is hurt, Cora knows that this means he is dying. She tells this to Regina, along with how his power will dissipate into the air when he dies, and the Dark One will cease to exist. Regina interprets this as using him to get Henry back before he dies, but Cora tells Regina that she must stab him with the dagger, to take the power for herself. Regina suspects her mother is just doing this to gain power, but Cora tells her it is to protect their family, and that if they do not they will spend the rest of their lives kneeling beneath them.

A masquerade ball ensues in the Enchanted Forest. Cora has changed from her rags to an expensive ball gown. She puts on a mask to disguise her identity, and places a rose into her hair. She walks up to a prince, and reveals that she knows this is a ball to vie for Prince Henry. He tells her she is frank. When Cora looks up at him, she recognizes him as the same man who defended her after she spilled her flour. He does not seem to recognize her, and invites her to dance. They dance, and she tells him that she does not want to get in the way of a woman purchasing him. He inquires about why she came then, and she admits for the free food. Prince Henry's father King Xavier interrupts them to dance with Cora. Clearly he recognizes Cora, because he tells her that a stolen dress cannot keep him from recognizing her. He notices straw on her gown, telling her she carries the mill with her. She tells him that he is no one to disparage her because he is selling off his own son. He tells her to leave, and that all she can offer them is straw. Cora tells him that she can turn straw into gold, but he will not reap the benefits now. Before she can leave, the king grabs her by the arm, and drags her in front of the ballroom. The audience laughs when he tells them about her claims of spinning straw into gold, and tells his servant to fetch a spinning wheel. The king offers her a deal, if she stays the night and spins straw into gold, she can marry prince Henry, if she fails she will die.

David and Mary Margaret help Mr. Gold onto David's truck, and David asks him if Cora is controlling him with the dagger. Mr. Gold tells him that if she was they would all be dead now. Mary Margaret tells David that they will stop Cora to protect their family, but David tells her that killing goes beyond that. She tells David that Cora is the reason he has never met her mother. David tells Mary Margaret that he hates what happened to Eva, but he does not want Cora to be killed by her hand. She asks him why, and he tells her that she would not be able to live with herself. Further adding that she has the purest heart of anyone he has ever known, and that is how she is going to stay. Emma asks Mr. Gold if he is alright. Mr. Gold tells them to take him back to his shop. Henry asks Emma if he is going to stay with Ruby, and Emma says yes. Before they leave, he assures that they will get Cora.

A young Cora is locked in the palace, and looks out the window and sees a moat. Rumplestiltskin appears seemingly out of thin air to tell her that she would escape through the window, but die in the process. Cora asks him his name, and the two exchange names. She asks him how he got in, so she can get out. He shows her the spinning wheel, telling her it is her way out. Rumplestiltskin tells her that it is a great coincidence, because he just so happens to be something he likes to do. Cora doubts this, but eats her words when she sees the straw spun directly into gold. Rumplestiltskin tells Cora that he wants something in return, and summons up a contract. Upon reading it she learns that he wants her first born child. Instead of him spinning it for her, she asks him to teach her. He magically changes the contract, and they begin.

Mr. Gold rests in his shop, and advises Emma to find a jar. When she shakes the jar something rattles, but she cannot see anything. When she dips her hand into the jar she grabs something invisible, and Mr. Gold unveils it as invisible chalk. He tells Emma to draw a line by the front of the door, while he tells Neal, David and Mary Margaret to prepare for battle. Mary Margaret begins to walk into another room, but Mr. Gold asks her to get him a warmer blanket. Inside a cabinet, she sees the candle she could have used to save her mother's life. Mr. Gold says he is "saving it for a rainy day", when Mary Margaret asks him why he has it. Meanwhile, Emma uses the invisible chalk outside to draw a line. Neal jokingly says she missed a spot. He says he did not know Emma was magical, and she tells him not to judge because he did not tell her he was the son of Rumplestiltskin. He then asks her if Tamara was a surprise. Emma asks him if he thinks she cares if a guy she dated ten years ago is engaged. David walks over and asks them if everything is okay, they both nod their heads. Focus shifts back to Mary Margaret, who asks Mr. Gold if he is getting better. He tells her that the candle can save him, but she asks him why she should use it on him, when she could not even use it to save her mother's life. He tells her that she is grown up, and for the first time their interests are alike. Mary Margaret figures out that he wants her to use the candle to save him and kill Cora. She tells him that there is no coming back from murder, to which he responds that there is no coming back from death either. Something she remembers about the candle is that it only works if you whisper the victims' name over them, and does not understand how she can do this to Cora. Mr. Gold tells her a heart will work too. He tells her that since Cora's heart is outside of her body, she can curse the heart, and put it inside her body, and Cora will be killed. Mary Margaret tells Mr. Gold that she can get Cora's heart, force her to do the right thing, while letting Mr. Gold die, effectively killing two birds with one stone. Mr. Gold tells her to imagine Henry's face when he hears that she killed his grandfather. Emma approaches them, telling Mr. Gold that she drew the line with invisible chalk. He tells Emma to cast a protection spell, and that he is relying on her. Emma tells him that she cannot cast a spell, but Mr. Gold tells her it is in her. She does not understand how, so Mr. Gold tells her to try. Emma closes her eyes to try, but Mr. Gold tells her that magic is not intellectual, but emotional. He tells her to ask herself why she is doing this and who is she protecting. It seems that she follows his instructions, because a protection shield forms outside of the shop. 

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Cora tries to spin the straw into gold, to no avail. He advises her to stop thinking about it, that magic is emotion. Rumplestiltskin tells Cora to summon up the moment in her life when she was so angry she could have killed. She asks him about his moment, and he responds with the time a man made him kiss his boots in front of his son. Further, he tells Cora that he goes back to that time in his mind, rips out the man's throat and crushes his veins with his teeth. He puts his hands on Cora's shoulders, as she tells him about the time King Xavier made her kneel before Princess Eva for doing nothing wrong. When asked about what she wants to do, she tells Rumplestiltskin that she wants them to kneel until their kneecaps break. She adds that she wants their necks to break, and soon she sees that the straw she has just spun turned into gold. He whispers into her ear to not stop until they are on their knees. He sniffs her hair and neck, and she continues to spin straw into gold. The next day she spins in front of the kind, offering him the gold. Rumplestiltskin, carefully covered in a cloak, looks anxiously with the other attendees. The king asks her how she could have done this, since she is only a miller's daughter, but she tells him she is so much more. King Xavier tells her that she earned the prince, and while she accepts the proposal, and her eyes meet Rumplestiltskin who is in the crowd watching.

David and Mary Margaret look through the window of Mr. Gold's shop, and David notices Mary Margaret is looking down, and asks her whats wrong. She tells him it is nothing, but he further inquires if Mr. Gold told her something. They both agree that Cora must be stopped, and Mary Margaret tells him that Mr. Gold told him she is determined to hurt them. Shaking disrupts them; soon David walks in to inform Neal, Emma and Mr. Gold that Cora and Regina are there. Cora and Regina stand outside the shop, and use their cumulative magic to break down the protection spell. The mother and daughter enter to find Neal, David, Emma and Mary Margaret standing at attention with a variety of weapons to defend themselves. Emma tells Regina to think about what she is doing, as she is entering the shop, but it has no bearing on Regina, who tells Emma not to talk to her. While a fight is about to break out, Mary Margaret manages to sneak out of the shop through the back door. Some of the first moves in the conflict are Regina summoning a fireball, and David managing to extinguish it with his sword. In an act of retaliation, Regina uses her magic to cast David out of the shop, slamming the door behind him. Emma strides towards the door, but is thwarted by Cora. Neal lunges forward with his sword, but Cora teleports away into purple smoke. Regina steps forward to choke Emma, and Cora reenters using purple smoke. Emma clutches a sharp object, and breaks free of Regina's grasp. She holds it against Regina's throat. The dagger of the Dark One lays on the floor between Neal and Cora. Neal tells Cora to choose wisely, using her magic she raises the dagger off the floor and into her hand. As a consequence of this, Emma shoves Regina into Cora, causing them to tumble into a glass display case. Yelling to Neal, Emma tells him to run to Mr. Gold in the back room, and she will create a barrier with the chalk. The barrier configures before Cora and Regina can stop them. Before they can further plan their attack, Cora feels her heart, sensing someone is in her daughter's vault. Cora sends her daughter to the vault, and tries to penetrate the barrier by herself. 

On the day before her marriage to Henry, Rumplestiltskin appears, reckoning he enjoys the view. The couple kiss passionately, Cora jokingly pulls away, telling him she is a married woman. Rumplestiltskin tells her the wedding has yet to come. He tells Cora that he loves the dress, she expresses that a bride must be snow white, and Rumplestiltskin laughs because of the irony in that statement, which he can see in the future will be important. Despite marrying into a royal family, Cora is still fifth in line to be queen. She begins to say that he can give her, but he cuts her off by saying he can give her nothing but darkness. Cora adds that he can give her love, to which Rumplestiltskin acknowledges. After Cora tells him that she wants to be queen, he subsequently offers to amend their contract. Instead of Cora owing him her own child, she now owes him his child. Both agree to this newer deal so they can be together, but Cora brings up a different matter—the king. Cora tells Rumplestiltskin that the king humiliated her, and now she wants to kill him by means of ripping out his heart and crushing it. Rumplestiltskin lets her know that that is why he loves her. He promises to teach, her and she promises to kill him that night. They seal this promise with a kiss. 

Mary Margaret walks into Regina's vault. An assortment of boxes fills the space, and she begins looking for Cora's heart. Meanwhile David wakes up from being thrown out of the shop and knocked unconscious. Using his cell phone, he contacts Emma from outside the shop. David asks Emma if she is alright, she says yes, informing him of the protection spell around the backroom. Emma and David become aware that Mary Margaret is not with either of them. Simultaneously, Mary Margaret finds Cora's heart in the vault. She lights the candle, whispering Cora's name, then blowing out the candle afterwards. 

King Xavier sits at his desk with piles of gold when Cora approaches him. The king asks how he can help her, Cora confesses that she does not love his son. He utters that his son is not much to love, and that their union is not about love, but alliances. Furthermore, he declares love is weakness. The king offers Cora a deal—she can run off with the evil imp she thinks no one knows about, or marry Henry and have the whole kingdom at her feet. Cora approximates if the choice is love or power, having a heart is a liability. She leaves the king's chambers holding a box with a human heart inside it.

Cora clenches her fingers in an effort to disintegrate the magical barrier protecting Mr. Gold. Behind the barrier, Neal sees that the barrier is beginning to give way. Mr. Gold than interjects that it might be for the best, citing the dark one's curse and the pain of death. Neal proclaims that he will not die. As a result of being on his death bed, Mr. Gold tells Emma that he wants to talk with Belle. Emma then clues Neal into the relationship between Mr. Gold and Belle. In the hospital, Belle answers the phone. Again, she tells Mr. Gold she does not remember who he is. Acknowledging this, Mr. Gold tells her he is dying. Belle says she is sorry, and Mr. Gold begins to impart on her the kind of person she was. He tells her that she is a hero who helped her people, a beautiful woman who loved an ugly man. Mr. Gold tells her that she sees the good in people, and if they have none, she creates it. In addition, he tells her that when she looks in the mirror, only to not recognize the face, that that is who she is. Belle starts crying before Mr. Gold hangs up the phone. Neal fills in that he did not know he had that kind of love in him; Mr. Gold says he is full of love, making this evident by telling Neal he searched for him for centuries. He expresses to Mr. Gold how he thought he would not go back on their deal. He responds to Neal by telling him he made the wrong decision. Mr. Gold reaches his hand out to Neal, who tells him he is still angry. Thereafter, Neal grabs his dad's hand. 

Regina walks into her vault, turning around to find Mary Margaret. Instantly, she asserts that she has no right to be in her vault, and no right to Cora's heart. Mary Margaret looks up from the heart to hand it over to Regina. A confused Regina is answered by Mary Margaret, who tells her that her mother cannot love her without a heart. She is doubtful of Mary Margaret's intentions, but she tells Regina that Cora will be better with her heart. Since Cora told her that she took it out to protect herself, Regina does not see what good it will do. Claiming that Cora wanted what was best for her, she says she did love her. Mary Margaret extends the box towards Regina, declaring that she can have a family Henry would want to be apart of, or Cora can become the dark one.

Standing near a tree in the Enchanted Forest, Rumplestiltskin waits for Cora's return. When she returns, she is carrying the box containing a human heart. The two share a kiss, but Rumplestiltskin soon senses that something is wrong. Cora tells him she was able to take the king's heart, but she chose not to. She says that she cannot run off with him, because she has a wedding to get to, her own. Growing curious, he asks her whose heart is in the box. According to Cora, her heart was getting in the way, so she ripped it from her chest. Rumplestiltskin grows angry with her, telling her that she never loved him, and that he will take her baby. She uses the altered contract to her advantage, telling him he gets his own child, and that any baby she has will not be his. 

Letters from Mr. Gold's dagger diminish one by one, and Cora continues to muster up magic to break apart the barrier spell. Meanwhile, outside Regina's vault, Mary Margaret sits outside in the graveyard, when David runs up to her. He finds her cradling her head in her hands, and asks her what she did. She shakes her head, telling him that this is not her. The scene cuts back to Cora, who finally manages to open the barrier and enter the backroom. She tells Neal and Emma to get out of the way and, when they do not listen, she sends them to some random road by the use of her magic. Cora sits by Mr. Gold, and he asks her what he really wants to know: if she ever loved him. She responds that she had to rip her own heart out—he was her weakness and the only man she truly loved. Lifting the dagger, which now only has one letter left on it, she braces herself to stab Mr. Gold with it but instead jolts forward, dropping it. Standing behind her is Regina, who has just inserted her mother's heart. The two smile at each other, ready to embrace. 

Cora is a new mother, she lifts the baby into the air, telling the court her name is Regina, the name of their future queen. As everyone in attendance bows, Cora's smile becomes a look of anger.

After her heart has been successfully restored, Cora walks toward Regina, but suddenly collapses. Mr. Gold sees his wounds have vanished as Cora collapses into Regina's arms. Mr. Gold picks up his dagger, just as Cora whispers her dying words to Regina. She falls apart as her mother dies in her arms. Mr. Gold tells her that her mother did her no favors. Regina snaps at him, blaming him for her mother's death and claiming he cast some spell. Mary Margaret runs in, urging Regina not to put Cora's heart back into her body. Rage fills Regina as she announces that Mary Margaret did this to her mother.

Deleted Scenes

"Smooth Sailing"

Sailing from New York to Storybrooke, Henry and Neal have some bonding time. When Henry references Peter Pan, Neal visibly tenses and remarks that Neverland isn't what Henry assumes it is. He then remarks that Mr. Gold won't die, as he's good at surviving and Emma walks away.



Guest Starring




Production Notes

  • The title card features Rumplestiltskin's spinning wheel.
  • This episode was rerun as an "enhanced" version on April 7, 2013. It included popups with extra tidbits about the show.
  • Gerry Rousseau, who plays the Miller, is also present in the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland episode "Trust Me", where he plays Townsperson #2.
  • For the scene with young Cora and her father, the top of both the windmill and the hut is CGI.[3]
  • The computer-generated set used for King Xavier's castle is recycled from the computer-generated imagery model for The King's castle in "The Price of Gold". This can be seen from the archways and the balcony outside, which have a very similar design.[4] It is recycled again for the digital set of the Maritime Castle in "Ariel", where the archways and the balcony have the same design as Xavier's castle, except for the different colors.[5] The stairs also have a very similar design.[6]
  • Rumplestiltskin says that Cora's name "sounds like something breaking". Fittingly enough, Cora's name is a reference to the Latin word for "heart".[7]
  • On the episode commentary, Jane Espenson clarifies that Cora's heart came with her on Hook's ship, and that Regina had it uploaded and placed within her vault.[3]
  • A sequence of Neal and Emma running after Cora magically teleports them, was cut from the episode.[3]
  • The wound on Cora's chest was created digitally. During filming, a plastic object was placed under Barbara Hershey's lapel for reference.[3]
  • Cora tells the court that her newborn daughter's name is "Regina, and then states, "for one day, she will be queen". Fittingly, Regina is Latin for "queen".[8]

Event Chronology

Episode Connections

  • The reason for Princess Eva's behavior toward Cora is explained in "Bleeding Through".
  • Eva's future as a queen and mother is explored in "The Queen Is Dead".
  • How Regina and Cora come to possess the dagger is revealed in "The Queen Is Dead".
  • Mr. Gold is poisoned by Hook in "The Queen Is Dead".
  • Emma refers to Mr. Gold as "family" due to an exposed secret in "Manhattan".
  • Mary Margaret's motivation for killing Cora is explained in "The Queen Is Dead".
  • David mentions Eva's death, which occurred in "The Queen Is Dead".
  • Rumplestiltskin alludes to being able to see the future, which he obtained in "Manhattan".
  • Rumplestiltskin attempts again in "The Price of Gold" to procure a woman's first-born child.
  • The identity of Cora's first-born is revealed in "Witch Hunt".
  • Mr. Gold's phrase, "saving it for a rainy day" is first used in "A Land Without Magic".
  • Emma is instructed by Mr. Gold to use magic for the first time in "The Cricket Game".
  • The enchanted candle was first seen in "The Queen Is Dead".
  • Mr. Gold refers to himself as Henry's grandfather due to the events of "Manhattan".
  • Emma initially met Tamara in "The Queen Is Dead".
  • Rumplestiltskin recounts an event in which a man made him kiss his boots, which occurred in "Desperate Souls".
  • Cora is taught by Rumplestiltskin to rip out hearts, and utilizes this skill in "The Stable Boy" and "Queen of Hearts".
  • King Xavier's phrase, "Love is weakness" is passed down from Cora to Regina in "The Stable Boy" and further used by Regina in "The Thing You Love Most" and "Queen of Hearts".
  • Belle's amnesiac state is a result of the events of "The Outsider".
  • Mr. Gold calls Belle "a hero who helped her people" and "a beautiful woman who loved an ugly man" that references the events of "Skin Deep".
  • Neal references the broken promise between himself and his father from "The Return".
  • The royal naming ceremony tradition is described by David (who mistakenly refers to the ceremony as a "coronation") in "Snow Drifts", and seen again in "There's No Place Like Home".
  • Cora proclaims her daughter Regina will be queen one day, and this plan is accomplished in "The Stable Boy".

Fairytales and Folklore

Popular Culture

Props Notes

  • When Mary Margaret is on the phone with Emma, she is nervously playing with a red apple.[9]
  • When Mary Margaret takes out the box with Cora's heart in it, you can see a piece of golden straw holding the latch closed.[10][3]
Knut Helmut Schmidt
1914 - 1945
Loving husband & father
Remembered forever


  • When Cora holds up the infant Regina during her announcement ceremony, the baby is wearing a modern diaper.

Original Script[3]

  • The part where Rumplestiltskin's name disappears from the dagger, was originally written differently. Originally, the viewers were not meant to see the letters fade; instead, one letter would be missing, then another, and the name would become shorter and shorter. It was changed because it was cheaper to digitally erase the letters on-screen, instead of creating a bunch of different prop knives with different letters.
  • King Xavier's line about Cora's stolen dress was not originally in the script. The production team asked where Cora got the dress, so the line was added to explain it.
  • The scene at the Storybrooke Dock was originally written differently. Cora and Regina would have searched Hook's ship to find Mr. Gold, only to find out that he was not there. The scene would then cut to Mr. Gold with the others in a row boat, in a boat house on the middle of the night. The scene was rewritten to save time and money.
  • The scene where Cora spins for the King, was originally longer. The scene originally opened with King Xavier announcing to his court that Cora was going to spin for them, and Cora trying to spin straw into gold, but it doesn't work. As Cora is sweating nervously, the episode would cut to the scene where Rumplestiltskin teaches Cora how to spin straw into gold. As Cora thinks about what he taught her, and finally manages to spin straw into gold in front of the audience.
  • Cora line to King Xavier, "They told me I'd find you counting your treasure", was originally meant to be "They told me I would find you in the counting house, counting out the money"; a reference to the famous nursery rhyme "Sing a Song of Sixpence". The line was changed during filming.
  • In the original script, Regina uses a sword in the fight in the pawnshop. This was changed when someone pointed out the error. Jane Espenson had forgotten that Regina has magic.

International Titles



Start a Discussion Discussions about The Miller's Daughter

  • Henry and Cora do not become King and Queen...

    119 messages
    • Also, Cora relied on what I would call stealth.  Yea, she could kill a bunch of people, but many times, she wanted things to happen that co...
    • Just like Rumple is addicted to magic, Cora is addicted to power. Power meant as much to Rumplestiltskin as it did to Cora. That's why he ...
  • 2x16: Something I Noticed

    60 messages
    • She doesn't look close to that far lol. four at the most, maybe. It's harder to tell such a thing since Ginny's had a baby, but Snow only e...
    • Wonderful timeline and Author questions! I love the debate, but this thread is about the Miller's daughter, Rumple, Cora, Zelena etc. Try to k...

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