The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe


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Post October 13, 2004, 08:43:58 PM

The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

After two days of effort, I managed to recover and format this one for the October issue. Bill's Mare submission had long been trapped in e-mail limbo- until last night. Rob Wynne showed me a few new sins, wherein I can now access my account's server inbox to see what has heretofore been undeliverable. I managed to save Bill's story from the moras during the wee hours of last night, and did the formating this afternoon. I hope no one minds that I snuck this one in after the bell.<br>I think you'll agree it was worth the wait.<br>Dan<br><br>
Last edited by Vila on October 13, 2004, 08:51:38 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post October 15, 2004, 03:36:25 PM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

Hey Dan,<br><br>Love the fact that you put The Customer in the October issue. <br><br>But the one in there as of 10/15/04 is one of two early drafts that I sent you. . .with questions. This is the version that you said you couldn't find. . .so I sent you others.<br><br>I recommend that anyone who hasn't read this thing yet, wait just a little while. <br><br>The ending is even changed a little.<br><br>I'll post here if and when the REAL final version gets in.<br><br><br>Bill Wolfe
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Post October 15, 2004, 05:25:58 PM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

Bill, <br>This one was the only one in the inbox. I guess limbo is bigger than I thought. I'll check again, but that inbox was totally empty last night when I checked it.<br>OK, the new version was there today, still trapped in the inbox. I don't know why it doesn't download with the rest of my e-mail, but I've got a copy of the new version now. I'll have it online before I go to bed tonight.<br>Dan<br>
Last edited by Vila on October 15, 2004, 05:31:17 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post October 15, 2004, 10:43:56 PM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

The new version has just gone online. <br>Dan<br>
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Post October 16, 2004, 11:48:14 PM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

I'm not a big fan of the undead, but it appears they have their uses.<br><br><br>This story is split into two separate parts, in the Mare and on the Scoutship.<br><br>The scoutship part is much better, in my opinion, largely because of the world-building efforts there. The Pack is interesting, and it clearly took considerable effort to develop that civilization for the story's backdrop. Even so, there aren't enough physical descriptions of the characters or the ship for my taste.<br><br>I had problems with the name, Tse-Pesh. Wouldn't that be like "Sheepish" with a lisp? I don't know how good this particular criticism is, but it bothered me every time I saw it.<br><br>The Mare section was most likely meant to rely on all the previous stories to give it detail and a sense of concrete solidity--except I haven't read all that many of them, so it didn't seem very real to me. For example, I could not picture what the crystal repository thing looked like.<br><br>There were also some punctuation and formatting problems which detracted from the professionalism of the story, most notably the changing from roman to bold text:<br>Assuming, of course, that she also knew your true age and experience. Her people have many talents but above all they share an aptitude and love of all things theatrical. It was just part of the show, as they say. But I digress. . .<br><br>Also, the terms habile, trousseau, and rictus may not have been used in the correct way. Trousseau generally refers to a bride's clothes and linen acquired during the period of her engagement, not to the garb of a male nightstalker. Rictus was not in my dictionary.<br><br>The Pack members were really good characters; inventive and well done. The canine hierarchy of alpha males and subservient betas was represented with skill, and the characters fit.<br><br>Vlad, on the other hand, came off somewhat flat. I didn't feel the "hunger", or his inner sorrow. I couldn't really say that he grew as a character, whereas Max made a choice to give part of his soul. He grew from the exchange, but his visitor didn't, and even now the Prince of the Undead may be stalking the unwary corners of Bethdish.<br><br>[As a side note, I happen to know a former exchange student who, in fact, comes from what was Transylvania (Moldova). Vlad is still a national hero there for saving them from the wrath of the Ottoman Empire, and they hate the Western concept of the vampire (and were shocked at the thought of it, having only learned of it after the Soviet Union fell), and that it supposedly comes from their hero adds insult to injury.]<br><br>The concept of an invading alien horde thwarted because the person they first chose to abduct was a vampire was really brilliant. Predator becomes prey--this plot was steeped in a good sense of irony. Good show.<br><br>In terms of dialogue, I just didn't buy Vlad's speech. I thought he was too wordy to be the ultimate nightstalker. If anything, I would think that he would be a brilliant conversationalist:<br>"They were unfortunate, indeed, Max. Did you know that there was a resort on Holodise where the very rich from countless worlds went to play? Where every whim, every fantasy, every wish could be granted by the clever, sentient holograms who populated that world and who are—as you can imagine—the very finest holoreality programmers in the known universe? "<br><br>I'm sorry, but that just doesn't sound like Dracula to me. Dracula, in my opinion, would get to the point forthwith.<br><br>In summary, I thought there were some marvelous things in this story, but others that were in need of improvement.<br><br>Nate
Last edited by kailhofer on October 16, 2004, 11:50:22 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post October 19, 2004, 12:58:55 PM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

Nate,<br><br>I'm glad that some of what I attempted to do with this story seems to have worked. Building the canoid culture was actually a lot of fun. But when you boil the whole thing down, it was still Dracula versus the Wolf Man.<br><br>I also appreciate the fact that perhaps the Mare portions of the story might need to be filled-out, a bit. This venue has been remarkably well fleshed by numerous stories and, in many ways, this one wasn't meant to stand alone. Mare stories only appear here and if they ever do make an anthology. . .well, it will be one in a series and still needn't be a stand alone. The Mare is a creation of Aphelion's senior editor and to do the job properly, would have required doubling the length of the story without really adding anything new for most readers. <br><br>Nate Wrote: There were also some punctuation and formatting problems which detracted from the professionalism of the story, most notably the changing from roman to bold text: <br>Assuming, of course, that she also knew your true age and experience. Her people have many talents but above all they share an aptitude and love of all things theatrical. It was just part of the show, as they say. But I digress. . . <br><br>My only answer to this is that I have yet to have a story appear on screen exactly the way it did when I sent it in. My fonts are always Arial—which I find easier to read—and considerably larger. I separate all my paragraphs with at least two lines and I almost never single space. <br><br>I think one of the problems is that I use only the latest versions—with all the updates—of the word processor and some of the commands don't translate well when formatted to HTML. On my screen, the magenta "NO TRANSLATION AVAILABLE" actually blinked on and off as soon as you scrolled down to it. Annoying if overused, but I thought the effect was worthwhile. I even put in a graduated grey background which seems to have disappeared completely online. I think this may have been part of the problem that the editors had when I emailed the story in. Some versions seemed to disappear into netlimbo.<br><br>In an earlier Mare Inebrium story, I wrote the dialogue of a Demon/Devil character entirely in bold, blue, italicized font and it seemed to work fine.<br><br>I always send in a .doc and a single-file, editable web page (.mht) when I submit a story. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. To me, one of the true advantages of Webzines is the ability to set different characters apart using odd fonts, colors and effects. I had intended for all of Vlad's dialogue to be in bold, to set a different tone for the quality of his voice.<br><br><br>Nate Wrote: I had problems with the name, Tse-Pesh. Wouldn't that be like "Sheepish" with a lisp? I don't know how good this particular criticism is, but it bothered me every time I saw it. <br><br>It's usually written as 'Vlad Tepes,' which I suppose is the 'English' version. And it's also fairly well known to anyone who reads fantasy or history. The whole point with Max mispronouncing the name, slightly, was to try and hide Dracula's identity to the reader until it became apparent. According to a Romanian colleague (who also says 'Budapesht'), the actual pronunciation is closer to Tse-Pesh with a sharp, unvoiced 'T' right before the 'S' sound. When the vampire was speaking to Max, he would have been enunciating it a little more carefully. <br><br>Whether it bothered you, or not, as long as you weren't thinking 'Dracula' when you read it, it did its job. Of course, I couldn't resist giving little hints. . .after all, his first words are: "Good evening, Max." (think Bela Lugosi)<br><br><br>(. . . . . . . .My reply was too long, see the next one for the continuation of this fascinating defense of ego. . .)
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Post October 19, 2004, 01:01:07 PM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

. . . . . .(being a continuation of my previous post, cut short by the character limit imposed by the Lilliputians). . . . . <br><br><br>Nate Wrote: Also, the terms habile, trousseau, and rictus may not have been used in the correct way. Trousseau generally refers to a bride's clothes and linen acquired during the period of her engagement, not to the garb of a male nightstalker. Rictus was not in my dictionary. <br><br>To address these in order:<br><br>Soot Habile is a play on words from the French (but fairly commonly used): sut habile, from sut-, pp. stem of suere "to sew" and habillement, from abiller "prepare or fit out, sense of clothing, dress". Of course, since our antihero was clothed all in black. . .it became a 'soot habile'.<br><br>Trousseau, on the other hand, does indeed mean the inorganic portions of the bridal package. It's everything she takes with her into the marriage in olden times. Basically, you got me. I have misused this word for years to mean very formal—usually complicated—attire and have never been 'called out' on it. For which I cannot thank you enough. No kidding. I am embarrassed that one of my lexicographic blunders made it into print.<br><br>But the word rictus is in every online and offline dictionary I can find. <br><br>1. strange grin or grimace: a fixed open-mouthed grin or grimace, especially an expression of horror<br><br><br>Nate Wrote: I'm sorry, but that just doesn't sound like Dracula to me. Dracula, in my opinion, would get to the point forthwith. <br><br>Seems to me that the Dracula of myth and legend tends to be downright chatty. <br><br>Some Vlad quotes from Bram Stoker seem relevant:<br><br> "You will need, after your journey, to refresh yourself by making your toilet. I trust you will find all you wish. When you are ready, come into the other room, where you will find your supper prepared."<br><br>. . . .and the ever famous. . . .<br><br><br>"Listen to them, the children of the nyght. What music they make!" Seeing, I suppose, some expression in my face strange to him, he added, "Ah, sir, you dwellers in the city cannot enter into the feelings of the hunter." <br><br>"But you must be tired. Your bedroom is all ready, and tomorrow you shall sleep as late as you will. I have to be away till the afternoon, so sleep well and dream well!" <br><br><br>So all in all, Nate, I appreciate your review. It's my job, as the writer, to try to tell the tale well enough that the reader is surprised to come to the end. . .because for just a moment, he forgot that he was only reading a story.<br><br>Bill<br>
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Post October 19, 2004, 08:34:11 PM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

The formating problems were all caused by me. In a rush to get the story HTMLed a second time, I missed some of the touches Bill included in his submission. The blinking text didn't blink in the copy that I got, but I had never seen a .mht format before and didn't know what was the proper program to open it with. The graduated gray background didn't appear in either version of the story that I saw. And the double-spaced paragraphs got compressed to single spaces in very odd places in the manuscript.<br>In short: blame me for any problems not related to the actual content of the text.<br>Still, the story was fun to read.<br>Dan<br>
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Post October 19, 2004, 09:20:08 PM

If IRe: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

If I had paid a few bucks for this story in a bookstore, looking for nothing more than an enjoyable read and a few minutes of escape from reality, then I certainly wouldn’t have been disappointed.  I’ll agree with Nate that the best part of the story was the scoutship part.  <br><br>The only part of the story that I had a problem with was the vampire’s super powers.  Dracula is a pretty potent creature to be sure, but I think he was a tad too powerful in this tale.  Members of The Pack were big, fast,  super powerful, and armed with powerful weapons--but against Dracula they might as well been a legion of Elmer Fudds armed with popguns.<br><br>Dracula versus The Wolfman?  More like Frankenstein versus Barney Fife.<br><br>But that wasn’t enough to keep me from being riveted to the story.  I’ll give it an A.<br><br>Bill Writes:<br><br>>>It's my job, as the writer, to try to tell the tale well enough that the reader is surprised to come to the end. . .because for just a moment, he forgot that he was only reading a story.<<<br><br>IMO that’s a bit hard to do with critics, editors, and fellow writers.  But a story like this would probably have that effect on many average readers--and by that I mean the guy who picks up the story that someone left on a subway seat, the girl who comes across the story while browsing a magazine, or the GI who finds the story in his company dayroom.<br><br>Not that critters, editors, and writers can’t enjoy a story--they certainly can--it’s just that they tend to become a little jaded.  And there are exceptions to that like there are exceptions to everything (and I like to think of myself as one of those exceptions!).<br><br>Donald <br><br><br><br>
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Post October 20, 2004, 12:42:14 PM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

Thank you, Donald, for the kind words. <br><br>I appreciate the apparent disparity between the powers of the vampire and the plots we usually associate with the genre. . .but (and to coin a completely original phrase). . .consider, if you will:. . .<br><br><br><br>All the vampires have one truly nasty habit: They like to play with their food. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's Vlad, or Lestat, or any in the Forever Knight series, the stupid vampire has to show up in a blur of motion or a puff of smoke and then all he seems to do is to walk around expostulating, moving the plot along and usually giving our intrepid hero time to plant a stake in his heart.<br><br>But a vampire doesn't really have to bite you on the neck to kill you. Imagine, if you will, (another totally original phrase, I might add) a vampire in full battle mode. He isn't trying to 'seduce' each victim, he is using his abilities to merely snap necks and rip out appendages. <br><br>Though many fictional theories have been promulgated as to the causality of vampirism, for the most part, we can simply call it 'magic.' His vulnerability to a wooden stake but not a metal spike reeks of physical laws violated. Holy water & crosses (for those vampires written that way) and maybe even garlic, all point to the fact that the vampire's invulnerability—and the exceptions thereto—are based in the metaphysical. <br><br>And though the Hunters are pretty tough, the Mare Inebrium's own Reever—another Immortal and a true humanoid BA (Bad Ass)—could certainly take one of them in hand-to-hand combat. Give The Reever his short sword (you have to read some of Dan's other stuff to fully appreciate this) and he could take a few of these Pack Hunters out without suffering so much as a scratch. <br><br>So, Donald, The Pack is still flesh and blood, but no Elmer Fudd (love that imagery, by the way) and unless they got lucky, they wouldn't stand a chance against our own homegrown Creature Of The Night. I think one of the true morals of this story is that no matter how well you plan and how many precautions you take, bad luck can still kick your ass.<br><br>Thanks, again, for the comments,<br><br><br>Bill wolfe<br>
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Post October 20, 2004, 01:09:34 PM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

"bad luck can still kick your ass"<br><br>I am stealing that!!!!!!<br><br>Kate
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Post October 20, 2004, 01:47:36 PM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

And though the Hunters are pretty tough, the Mare Inebrium's own Reever—another Immortal and a true humanoid BA (Bad Ass)—could certainly take one of them in hand-to-hand combat. Give The Reever his short sword (you have to read some of Dan's other stuff to fully appreciate this) and he could take a few of these Pack Hunters out without suffering so much as a scratch.

Bill wolfe
<br><br>That was a revealing statement, Bill. LOL! Obviously I need to finish more of my Bethdish stories if people think the Reever is mostly a Mare character. Maybe after my Nightwatch is done...<br>Dan<br><br>
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Post October 20, 2004, 01:48:05 PM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

"...The Pack is still flesh and blood, but no Elmer Fudd..."<br><br>Now *that's* poetry.<br><br>Donald<br><br>
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Post October 20, 2004, 03:32:39 PM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

I loved this one. I'm a fan of Dracula stories -- I recommend Fred Saberhagen's novels for a bloody good read featuring Vlad in contemporary America, or Tanya Huff's shorter series featuring a vampire who is the bastard son of Henry VIII in Toronto -- so Bill started out with an advantage as far as getting me hooked. (Yes, I twigged to the visitor being a vampire, and probably Vlad Tepes, pretty early on. See other threads for remarks about the curse of having seen / read godawful amounts of genre material.)<br><br>The Pack seemed like a cross between the Klingons, the Kzinti, and evolved versions of Whitley Strieber's superwolves from the novel (not the movie, which didn't do them justice) Wolfen. As Bill said, the Pack were superbly adapted predators, with high tech weaponry supplementing their already formidable natural attributes. But they were, in the end, flesh and blood, while Vlad Tepes is ... not.<br><br>The relationship between Vlad and Max, two immortals of very different kinds, was an interesting one. Immortals living in a society of immortals would become bored; immortals living among mortals may be engaged by the constantly changing population and culture around them, but must be lonely beyond imagining.<br><br>On the copyright problem should this ever go to a paying market -- you might have to change the Kzinti reference to some euphemism (like the 'felinoid' description I used in Helen in Wonderland). Also, was 'Farengi' meant to refer to the ST:TNG big-eared carpetbaggers, or was it just an accident of similar spelling?<br><br>(Speaking of spelling -- there's an occurrence of 'gate' where I'm sure you meant 'gait' in there, in the description of how Vlad moves. Probably others odds and ends in there, but I was having too much fun to notice.)<br><br>Robert M.
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Post October 20, 2004, 05:06:53 PM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

Let's address some of the points above in the order in which they were offered.<br><br>When Dan wrote: ". . . .but I had never seen a .mht format before and didn't know what was the proper program to open it with. '<br><br>Well, .mht is actually just a Microsoft Word® option on the newer stuff. It is a fully editable html file but unlike most 'Save as Web Page' stuff, it saves as a single file. I love it for writing web pages because it looks the same when you write it as it will on the screen. But I save the document both ways 'cause I'm a throwback.<br><br><br>When he later wrote: "Obviously I need to finish more of my Bethdish stories if people think the Reever is mostly a Mare character."<br><br><br>Yes, Dan, you do. You also need to finish more of them because the election is nigh, or because the space monkeys who speak to us all from our toasters tell us that you need to put more out there. Any reason at all that gets you back to Bethdish, is precisely the reason you should do so.<br><br><br>When Kate wrote:" bad luck can still kick your ass" I am stealing that!!!!!!" <br><br><br>Well Kate, you can steal it if you want. But I would rather make a present of it to you. You have run into this little truism more recently than we, but it awaits us all in one permutation or another. <br><br><br>And when Sir Robert the Magnificent wrote: " On the copyright problem should this ever go to a paying market -- you might have to change the Kzinti reference to some euphemism (like the 'felinoid' description I used in Helen in Wonderland). Also, was 'Farengi' meant to refer to the ST:TNG big-eared carpetbaggers, or was it just an accident of similar spelling? "<br><br>Nope. Weren't no accident. Dan likes oblique references to other fictional characters floating in and out of the bar. Turns him on, or something. I also had references to Peacekeepers et. al. which is a F@rscape reference (in case the copyright police are googling) and even—at the end—Star's Tears. <br><br>. . .and please tell me that you—of all people—got that one. I haven't read Tiptree in a decade but I still shudder just thinking about that particular beverage. Perhaps I should write something for our friendly spaceport bar and grille around it. Nah, too scary. I'd hate to live with the nightmares it would take just to do the research for it. <br><br>As for the paying market? Well, I might be too busy dancing around and throwing confetti made of my many rejection slips into the air to get to it right away. But I would be willing to make some subtle changes to my masterpieces to actually see the things in print. But I doubt it would be necessary. My (limited) understanding of the whole situation is that just mentioning a fictional race or culture ain't the same as writing a story about it.<br><br>I'm not worried about the Big Boys. . .Paramount, Microsoft et. al. But in one of my stories I talked about a certain Moose and Squirrel. . .and I tell 'ya that little guy really gives me the creeps!<br><br>Thanks to all,<br><br>Bill Wolfe<br>
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Post October 21, 2004, 12:59:10 AM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

... I also had references to Peacekeepers et. al. which is a F@rscape reference (in case the copyright police are googling) and even—at the end—Star's Tears.

. . .and please tell me that you—of all people—got that one. I haven't read Tiptree in a decade but I still shudder just thinking about that particular beverage. Perhaps I should write something for our friendly spaceport bar and grille around it. Nah, too scary. I'd hate to live with the nightmares it would take just to do the research for it.
<br>Alas, I missed the Peacekeepers as a Farscape reference, as I've only seen a few episodes of Farscape. Now, if you'd mentioned the Green Lantern Corps, or the Lensmen (who were sort of the inspiration for the Corps, if I remember correctly), that I would have understood. And I'm not sure if I've ever read the Tiptree (a.k.a. Alice (or was it Raccoona?) Sheldon) story featuring Star's Tears. There went my rep for having seen / read everything and remembering / recognizing it when it pops up.<br><br>
As for the paying market? Well, I might be too busy dancing around and throwing confetti made of my many rejection slips into the air to get to it right away. But I would be willing to make some subtle changes to my masterpieces to actually see the things in print. But I doubt it would be necessary. My (limited) understanding of the whole situation is that just mentioning a fictional race or culture ain't the same as writing a story about it.

I'm not worried about the Big Boys. . .Paramount, Microsoft et. al. But in one of my stories I talked about a certain Moose and Squirrel. . .and I tell 'ya that little guy really gives me the creeps!

Thanks to all,

Bill Wolfe
<br>You're afraid of Rocky? Okay, the image that comes to mind is the monkey returning to its point of origin in 'Bruce Almighty' -- but at supersonic speed. Yowch!<br><br>But it's more like the former demon Anya's odd and never entirely explained fear of rabbits in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I mean, Rocky is small and cute and lacking in any protruding pointy bits. Now, having Bullwinkle 'return to point of origin' at any speed would REALLY hurt.<br><br>Robert (frightened at birth by the shadow of a proctologist?) M.
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Post December 05, 2004, 10:00:43 AM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

Robert_Moriyama wrote:<br>But it's more like the former demon Anya's odd and never entirely explained fear of rabbits in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
<br><br>I've been puzzled by that as well. My only guess is that she watched to many Monty Python movies.<br><br>Kevin<br><br><br>

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Post December 05, 2004, 10:01:38 AM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe

Everything that I had planned to say about this story as already been said, so I will just say.. excellent story Bill.<br><br>Kevin
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Post December 06, 2004, 12:31:40 AM

Re: The Customer is Always Right by Bill Wolfe


I've been puzzled by that as well. My only guess is that she watched to many Monty Python movies.

Kevin


<br>Actually, in the flashback episode showing her and her mate Olaf (before she cursed him into being a troll), she mentions something about raising rabbits. We can only guess that Things Did Not Go Well.<br><br>Robert M.<br>
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Jack London (1876-1916)

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