§ 606.The lady in ember, duchess of Berry

19th century:
§606. The lady in ember, duchess of Berry revolted in Vendée (June 1832 - August 1833): V-65.

A sudden visitor being, the fright shall be great,
The principals of the affair hidden:
And the lady in ember shall be no more seen in public,
The authorities shall be no more offended with her by little and little.

(Subit venu l'effrayeur sera grande,
Des principaulx de laffaire cachés:
Et dame en braise plus ne sera en veue,
De peu à peu seront les grands faschés.)

Keys to the reading:
The affair: Legitimist insurrection in Vendée in June 1832, initiated by the duchess of Berry;

The principals of the affair hidden: Four persons hidden in the hiding-place of a refuge in Nantes; i.e., Madame, the Comte de Mesnard (a member of a Vendéen family devoted to the cause of the Bourbons. Mesnard was a tall, distinguished-looking man, whose charming manners and witty and interesting conversation made him a great favourite in Society, notwithstanding that he was somewhat haughty and self-opinionated. Both the Duc and Duchesse de Berry held him in the highest esteem, and were accustomed to consult him in all matters of importance. After the tragic death of the duke, it will be Mesnard to whom the young princess will turn for counsel (Williams, 1911, p.107-108)), Achille Guibourg (a young advocate of Nantes, whom Madame had appointed her civil commissioner in Brittany (Williams, id.,p.316)) and Mlle. Stylite de Kersabiec (a young Breton lady serving Madame as femme de chambre (Williams, id.,p.325; 334));

«Their house, which was to become so celebrated, was situated in the Rue Haute-du-Château (No.3), in the highest part of the town. It was a modest three-storied dwelling, the rooms on the third floor being merely attics. Two of these attics were prepared for Madame, and the reason for their selection was as follows : - Behind the open fire-place of the inner room, which was placed in an angle of the apartment, was a mysterious hiding- place, access to which was obtained by pressing a spring in the iron plate which formed the back of the chimney-place. This hiding-place, which had been constructed during the Terror, and had doubtless on several occasions given shelter to proscribed Royalists in the days when the infamous Carrier was deluging Nantes with blood, was very small ; "about 18 inches wide at one of the extremities, and 8 to 10 inches at the other, and from 3 feet to 3 feet 6 inches long." The height diminished also towards the narrower extremity, in such a way as scarcely to permit a man to stand upright, even by passing his head between the rafters." However, at a pinch, it could give shelter to four persons» (Williams, id.,p.333-334).

« Charles X., who believed that where an old man of his experience had failed, a young woman with no knowledge of politics or the difficulties of government could not possibly succeed, was very far from approving of the bellicose projects of his daughter-in-law, and endeavoured to persuade her to renounce them, pointing out that her chance of success was extremely remote, and that she would be incurring the gravest risks to very little purpose. But to Madame the prospect of danger in France was infinitely preferable to that of ennui at Holyrood, and the more he sought to discourage her, the more resolute did she become. Finally, the old King ended by giving a kind of half- consent. He could, indeed, do nothing else, for, since he and the Dauphin had renounced their rights in favour of the Duc de Bordeaux, it was to the mother of the little prince that the majority of Royalists looked for direction. Even in his little court at Holyrood, the party which favoured energetic action - that is to say the party of Madame - was much more numerous than his own, and, if his pessimistic views were shared by the Dauphin and Dauphine and his now favourite counsellor, the Duc de Blacas, the princess numbered among her supporters the Marshal de Bourmont - the conqueror of Algiers - three other ex-Ministers in the Baron d'Haussez, the Comte de Montbel, and the Baron Capelle ; the Duc Armand de Polignac, Damas, Mesnard, and Brissac. And so he made a virtue of necessity, and on January 27, 1831 conferred conditionally on the princess the title of Regent, in the event of her re-entering France.On June 18, accompanied by the Duc de Blacas, the Comtes de Mesnard and de Rosambo, and five servants, she sailed for Rotterdam, en route for Italy, where she had decided to organise the expedition from which she anticipated such great results» (Williams, id., p.292-294).

« The princess had agents at nearly every Court in Europe ; at St. Petersburg, at Vienna, at Madrid, at Lisbon, at Turin, and, in particular, at The Hague, where the Count Lucchesi- Palli, now Neapolitan Minister, was exceptionally well placed to aid her. With these agents, and with the Royalist leaders in different parts of France, she maintained a ceaseless correspondence, and during her residence at Nantes she is said to have despatched over nine hundred letters, nearly all written with her own hand. She wrote in white ink and in cipher, which necessitated so great a strain to her eyes that sometimes they " seemed ready to burst from their sockets."

Meanwhile, the French Government was making every effort to discover the whereabouts of the elusive princess, but all to no purpose. The police had, it is true, intercepted and deciphered several despatches between Madame and her partisans, from which they learned that at some time or other she had been at Nantes, but without ascertaining what house had served her as a refuge, or whether she was still in hiding there. At the beginning of October, a new Ministry came into office, with Thiers as Minister of the Interior. The cause of Legitimacy had no more determined enemy than this awkward, near-sighted little man, who, by sheer intellect and energy, was to rise to the highest position in the State. It was he who had organised the protest of the journalists against the Ordinances which had excited the populace to rise in arms; it was he who had been the first to offer the Crown to Louis- Philippe, and it was he who had overcome the last scruples of that prince and persuaded him to accept it. Thiers decided that it was matter of urgent importance that the Duchesse de Berry should be laid by the heels without delay. So long as she remained at large, the Government could not feel secure against another Legitimist rising, and, besides, her arrest and imprisonment were necessary to placate the Republican party, who had accused the late Ministers of knowing where Madame was and of being unwilling to have her arrested.

Notwithstanding the name of his portfolio, Thiers was less Minister of the Interior than Minister of Police, for the administrative duties had been transferred from his department to that of Commerce and Public Works. He was therefore able to devote himself exclusively to the supervision of the police ; and he determined to make this question his personal affair, to take none of his colleagues into his confidence, and to employ every possible means to discover the retreat of the princess.

A few days after Thiers had assumed his new duties, he received an unsigned letter, the writer of which offered to impart to him some important information in regard to an affair of State, if the Minister would come, alone, that night to a certain spot in the Champs-Élysées. Thiers kept the appointment, but since personal courage was not his strong point - he had kept carefully out of the way all through the fighting on the three days of July - and he feared an ambush, he came accompanied by several agents. No one addressed him, and, after waiting some time, he returned home.

Next morning, however, he received a second letter from the same person. It was as follows : " I told you to come alone ; you came accompanied ; and I did not address you. If you wish to know what I have to tell you, return this evening, and come alone." At the hour mentioned, the Minister returned to the rendez-vous, this time alone. He had not, however, neglected to take every precaution for the protection of his precious person. In each pocket of his coat he carried a pistol, and several policemen in plain clothes had preceded him, and concealed themselves in the vicinity, ready to rush to his assistance at the first alarm.

Presently, a man emerged from the shadow of the trees and approached the Minister, who inquired if he were the writer of the anonymous letters. The stranger replied in the affirmative, and said that he was prepared to render a great service to the Government, by giving Monsieur le Ministre the means to seize the person of the Duchesse de Berry. He added that it was necessary for him to proceed with the utmost caution, since, as he had been initiated into all the secrets of the Legitimist party, the leaders of that party in Paris kept him under close surveillance, and, if it were even suspected that he was in communication with a member of the Government, all would be useless. Thiers thereupon suggested that they should continue their conversation at the Ministry of the Interior, to which the other consented, on the understanding that he should be admitted by a private door.

Thiers then returned to the Rue de Rivoli, where the stranger presently rejoined him. He was a man of thirty years of age, and of somewhat unprepossessing appearance, a German Jew, converted to Catholicism, Hyacinthe Simon Deutz by name. Born, in 1802, at Cologne, of very respectable parents, Deutz had come when a boy to Paris, where his father had just been appointed rabbi. He himself, a few years later, entered Didot's printing-house, and appears to have been employed there for some time. In his youth, he was a very strict Jew indeed, and when his brother-in-law, a M. Drach, abandoned the faith of his fathers for Catholicism, he was so enraged as to threaten him with personal violence. Not long after this, however, his attitude completely changed, and he announced his intention of entering the Catholic fold also. Mgr. de Quelen, Archbishop of Paris, to whom he addressed himself, thinking that his conversion might be more promptly and more efficaciously accomplished at Rome, advised him to proceed thither ; and early in 1828 Deutz set out for Italy, furnished with the warmest recommendations from the archbishop to the Cardinal Capellari, then Prefect of the Propaganda, and afterwards Pope, under the name of Gregory XVI.

On his arrival in Rome, a pension of twenty-five piastres a month was allotted him from the funds of the Propaganda, and Leo XII. charged a distinguished ecclesiastic to instruct him in the Catholic faith. All who came in contact with the neophyte appear to have been much edified by his piety, and when he was received into the Church, he had the Baron Mortier, a Secretary of the French Embassy, for godfather, and an Italian princess for godmother. Shortly afterwards, he was presented to the Holy Father, who received him with great kindness and arranged for him to enter the Convent of the Holy Apostles. Here he remained for two years, and was then despatched on a mission to the Jews of the United States, though we are not told whether he was successful in persuading any of them to follow his example. In the autumn of 1831, he returned to Europe, landed in England, and succeeded in insinuating himself into the confidence of the French Legitimists whom he found there. For there can be no manner of doubt that M. Hyacinthe Simon Deutz was an amazingly plausible person ; and the exiles seem to have entertained as little suspicion of the sincerity of his political professions as did the ecclesiastics at Rome in regard to his religious convictions.

After a short stay in England, he set out for Italy, in charge of the two daughters of the Marechal de Bourmont, whom he escorted as far as Genoa, where he left them with their mother, and proceeded to Rome. Pope Gregory XVI., as Cardinal Capellari had now become, received him very cordially, and when the Duchesse de Berry visited Rome at the beginning of December 1831, on her way from Naples to Massa, learning that his protégé desired to enter her service, he recommended him to her as a person in whom she might place implicit reliance. The princess intimated her willingness to employ him, and towards the end of the following March Deutz proceeded to Massa.

Madame, like every one else with whom this specious scoundrel seems to have come in contact, was easily persuaded of his sincerity ; and, having provided him with ample funds, for her kind heart had been touched by his tale of poverty, sent him to Portugal, on a mission to Dom Miguel.

There can be very little doubt that Deutz was already meditating treason to his employer, and that he had entered Madame 's service for no other purpose than to betray the plans of the Legitimists to the Government of Louis-Philippe. Indeed, he confesses as much in an apology for his conduct which he published in 1835, though he takes up a high moral ground and declares that he was actuated by the loftiest motives. " France was my love," he writes, " Louis-Philippe my Utopia. I resolved to sacrifice myself for the first, in strengthening as far as was in my power the throne of the second. I was under no illusion as to the consequences of my action, but I was prepared to die a martyr for the cause " ; and so forth.

Any way, as soon as Deutz learned of the failure of the la Vendée insurrection and the unsuccessful efforts of the Government to discover the hiding-place of the Duchesse de Berry, he wrote from Lisbon to Montalivet, then Minister of the Interior, offering his services. As he received no reply, at the beginning of October he came to Paris, and had an interview with the Minister, who declared that he had never received any letter from him. Whether this was the truth, and whether, if he had remained in office, Montalivet would have consented to sully his hands with this very dirty business, is difficult to say. But, a few days later, he was replaced by Thiers, and " it was with this honourable Minister," writes Deutz, "that I really treated of the affair of Nantes."

Deutz told Thiers that Madame was concealed somewhere in Nantes, though he did not know at present her actual hiding-place. He did not, however, anticipate the least difficulty in discovering that, as he was entrusted with letters to deliver to her. And at a subsequent interview between them, which took place at a house in the Rue Richepense, and at which the commissary of police Joly was present, he showed the Minister a number of letters written in white ink, which had been confided to him by Jauge, the banker of the Legitimists in Paris.

Thiers was satisfied that the Jew was really in a position to perform what he promised, and he decided to send him to Nantes, accompanied by Joly and twelve of his most experienced men, who were charged to keep a vigilant watch on all his movements, for he was not without suspicion that Deutz might be deceiving him. "You have letters," said he, "which are a sure means of reaching the duchess. You will carry them to her, and my agents will follow you. Here, for the rest, are my conditions : If you deliver up the princess, your fortune is made ; and you shall receive 500,000 francs. In the contrary event, you are in our hands, and you are an agent of the conspiracy ; and you will learn to your cost that people do not jest with impunity with the Government in so grave a matter."

Deutz and Joly arrived at Nantes on October 22, the latter bringing with him orders from Thiers which placed both the civil and military authorities of the department of the Loire- Inferieure at his disposal. With the exception of the prefect of the department, Maurice Duval, no one, however, was admitted to the secret. On being introduced into the room where Madame was, Deutz immediately began to speak of the intense desire which he had to serve her. He was interrupted by the arrival of a letter, which the princess opened and handed to Mesnard. It was from the banker Jauge, and written in white ink. Mesnard moistened it with some liquid which he had prepared, and returned it to the duchess, who read its contents aloud : " It is advisable to neglect no precaution, since we are warned that Madame will be betrayed by a person in whom she has every confidence." " You hear that, Deutz," said she, smiling ; " perhaps it refers to you." And Deutz replied in the same tone : " It is possible." Then the scoundrel, not content with the money which he was to receive as the price of his treason, made an attempt to enrich himself at the expense of his victim, and demanded a large sum to defray the cost of his mission to Spain. Madame, however, replied that she had very little cash with her, and that he must be content with twenty-five louis and a letter of credit on a banking-house.

Soon afterwards, Deutz left the house. On his way out, he passed the door of the dining-room and saw a table laid for eight persons. Evidently, whether Madame lodged in this house or not, she intended to dine there. And he hurried off to inform his accomplices.» (Williams, id.,p.336- 343)

A sudden visitor being, the fright shall be great, the principals of the affair hidden: « At half-past five, Madame de Charette and Mlle. Céleste de Kersabiec, a younger sister of Eulalie and Stylite, whom Madame had invited to dinner, arrived ; and, while waiting for the meal to be served, they all assembled in Pauline du Guigny's room on the second floor, which looked on to the street. It was a beautiful night, and the moon, shining in a cloudless sky, made it possible to distinguish objects at a considerable distance. Suddenly Guibourg, who was standing at the window, perceived a battalion of soldiers advancing towards the house. " Save yourself, Madame ! " he cried. " Save yourself ! " And the princess, followed by Mesnard, Guibourg, and Stylite de Kersabiec, all three proscribed like herself, rushed up to her bedroom on the floor above, where, by chance, they found the plate at the back of the fire-place, which gave admission to the hiding-place, already open.
The order of entering and leaving it, in case of emergency, had been long arranged. As it would have been impossible for two tall men to make their way in the last, Madame had decided that Mesnard and Guibourg should enter first, and that she and Stylite de Kersabiec should follow. This arrangement was adhered to ; Mesnard threw himself flat on the ground and crawled in ; Guibourg followed ; then came Stylite de Kersabiec, and Madame brought up the rear. Mlle. de Kersabiec had entreated the princess to precede her, to which she replied, with her usual sang-froid, that " in good strategy, when a retreat took place, it was the commanding officer who marched last." Scarcely had the plate closed behind her, when the room she had just quitted was filled with soldiers and police.

The other occupants of the house behaved with admirable presence of mind. Before the invaders entered, the Mlles. du Guigny, Madame de Charette, and Céleste de Kersabiec had gone into the dining-room and taken their seats at the table, which the servants hastily rearranged for four persons only ; the first course had been served, and they were all eating with apparent appetite. When questioned, they emphatically protested that there was no one in the house, and the servants confirmed what they said. Madame de Charette, who had passed herself off as a Mlle. de Kersabiec, was conducted, with her supposed sister, to the latter's house ; a guard was posted over the Mlles. du Guigny and their femme de chambre, Charlotte Moreau ; while the cook, Marie Bossy, who had nobly resisted an attempt to bribe her to betray her mistresses' secrets, was taken to the château. Then began a systematic search of the house and of the two adjoining ones, with which the police believed that there might be some secret means of communication. Wardrobes and cupboards were forced open, boards and walls sounded, and chimneys explored. Joly mounted to the room where Madame had received Deutz, and the fugitives heard him call out : " Here is the audience chamber ! " Then they knew that it was the Jew who had betrayed them.

As no trace of the princess or her companions could be found, architects were sent for and questioned as to the likelihood of the house containing some secret hiding-place. After examining each of the rooms in turn, they declared that, having regard to the conformation of the walls, it was impossible for the house to contain one large enough to shelter even a single person, and particularly so in the attics. Nevertheless, the masons whom the police had brought with them were ordered to demolish the walls, and soon the proscribed heard the sound of the picks coming nearer and nearer. Just, however, when discovery seemed to be only a question of a few minutes, orders were given to suspend further operations until the morning ; and every one quitted the room, with the exception of two gendarmes, who were left there on guard. It was then past midnight, and the search had been in progress for nearly seven hours » (Williams, id.,p.343-345).

And the lady in ember : «But let us allow one of the captives - Guibourg - to describe in his own words what followed: " The night was damp, and the cold penetrated through the roof. To remedy this inconvenience, which they experienced also, the two gendarmes on guard in the room began to light a great fire. At first, it benefited six persons, but soon the heat became more insupportable than the cold. The plate of the fireplace became red-hot on both sides, and more than one of the prisoners still bears the marks which were made by the least contact with that fatal door. However, the day was still far off, and one did not foresee the end of this frightful situation. The captives, obliged to change their positions, turned with incredible difficulty, and Madame found herself in front of the plate. Soon her clothes became so hot that the hand was no longer able to clasp them. . . . "Thus the night passed in the midst of tortures that a thousand devices scarcely served to mitigate. The workmen did not await the return of the light to recommence their labours. It seemed as though they intended to pull down the Hôtel Duguigny and the adjoining houses. The walls resounded beneath their blows, and one did not know whether, after resisting the flames, Madame would not be crushed beneath the stone. . . . " Meanwhile, the gendarmes on guard had ceased to keep up the fire ; gradually, the air became fresher, and the plate cooled. On the other hand, the investigations appeared to be concentrating around the hiding-place. Returning to this place for the twentieth time, they broke a panel and examined the displaced slate, which allowed a little air to pass to the captives. They sounded the wall which sheltered them again, and the hiding-place resounded with the blows of the hammers which were striking the wall about the plate. The plaster was becoming loose, the hiding-place was almost revealed, when the workmen abandoned this spot which they had so minutely explored. . . , The workmen left the house a second time, as did the authorities. The guards were withdrawn to the rez-de-chaussée, and the third floor was guarded only by the two gendarmes who had remained in the room where the hiding-place was. " But this hope was not of long duration. The gendarmes had relighted the fire ; the plate, which had not had time to cool, became burning hot a second time ; the cracked wall let in the smoke ; the air of the hiding-place was no longer breathable ; it was necessary to put one's mouth against the slates to exchange a breath of fire for a breath of outside air. Nor was this all. To the danger of being asphyxiated had just been joined the fear of being burned alive. The bottom of their garments threatened to catch fire ; already this accident had happened to Madame 's dress, and they trembled at the sight of a danger so imminent. Hope became impossible, and was replaced by the conviction that they could not remain an hour longer in this furnace without endangering Madame's life. She recognised it also. . . . She gave orders to open very quietly the door of the hiding-place ; but the iron, dilated by the heat, resisted the efforts of Mlle. Stylite de Kersabiec, and only yielded to repeated kicks from the men. " At this unexpected noise, the astonished gendarmes cried out : ' Who's there ? ' ' Prisoners who surrender themselves' replied the voices of the women. They assisted each other to emerge from the hiding-place, beginning with Mlle. Stylite de Kersabiec. ' I am the Duchesse de Berry ! ' cried the princess, courageously, rising to her feet. ' You are Frenchmen and soldiers ; I trust myself to your honour.' " 1 It was half-past nine o'clock in the morning. They had been shut up for sixteen hours !
The two gendarmes - both former soldiers of the Royal Guards - were so touched by the sight of the princess, whom they had often seen in happier days, standing before them covered with dust and cinders, that they made no effort to detain her, and allowed her to pass into the adjoining room ; and possibly she might have succeeded in escaping by the roofs, had not some commissaries of police, who were in one of the rooms on the second floor, attracted by the noise above, mounted the stairs to ascertain what was going on. They made Madame enter the room where she had received Deutz the previous evening, and, at her request, sent to fetch General Dermoncourt, the author of that picturesque but somewhat imaginative work, la Vendée et Madame. The general arrived and saluted her with profound respect. " General," said she, " I surrender to you, and entrust myself to your loyalty." " Madame," was the reply, "your Highness is under the protection of French honour." " I have nothing with which to reproach myself," resumed the princess ; " I have fulfilled the duties of a mother in endeavouring to reconquer the heritage of my son"» (Williams, id.,p.345-347).

The authorities shall be no more offended with her by little and little: « If the Duchesse de Berry desired to be brought to trial, Louis-Philippe and his Ministers had not the least intention of gratifying her wish, for they were well aware that they had nothing to gain and a great deal to lose by such a step. "Members of royal families," observes Guizot, "always remain, morally and politically, very difficult and very dangerous persons to prosecute, particularly when the throne which they used to surround has fallen in a tempest, and they have the appearance of pursuing their rights in endeavouring to recover it. There is between their lofty position as princes, and their distress as fallen and accused persons, a contrast which inspires more sympathy on their behalf than their enterprises excite envy or alarm. Acquitted, they become almost victors ; condemned, they are the victims of their cause and their courage." If Madame were condemned, she would undoubtedly arouse an immense amount of sympathy at present withheld from her ; and, moreover, her condemnation would be very unfavourably viewed by certain foreign Courts, especially by Spain and Austria. If she were acquitted, she would not only become a popular heroine, but her acquittal would be a virtual condemnation of the July Monarchy, and an invitation to the subjects of Louis-Philippe to rebel against him. The Government, therefore, dared not prosecute the princess.

Why then did it not order her to be conducted to the frontier and set at liberty, with all the honours due to her rank and all the respect due to her misfortunes ? Such an action would have been at once chivalrous and politic. She was a woman, a princess, the niece of the Queen, the widow of a murdered prince of the Royal Family of France, the mother of the boy who, in happier circumstances, would have one day ascended the throne, the daughter-in-law of Charles X. Was it not the bounden duty of Louis-Philippe and his Ministers to conduct themselves as chivalrous gentlemen towards her ?
Moreover, from a legal point of view, her continued detention, now that the Government had no intention of bringing her to trial, was absolutely indefensible. Thiers attempted to justify it to the Chamber on the ground that the public safety required it. Well, it was the " public safety " which, under the old regime, had been the excuse for the issue of the lettres de cachet ; and even the English journals, which had so loudly acclaimed the Revolution, did not fail to comment on the startling inconsistency of such an attitude with those liberal principles for which the " best of republics " professed so much regard.

Nor was the plea even a valid one. The insurrection which the Duchesse de Berry had promoted had ended in the most complete fiasco, and had served only to demonstrate the utter lack of organisation and cohesion among the partisans of the exiled dynasty. It was obvious that some years at least must elapse before the disheartened Legitimists would venture to take up arms again, and that, when that time arrived - if it ever did - it would not be the Duchesse de Berry, but her son, who would be found at their head. No ; it was not consideration for the public safety ; it was not the fear that this redoubtable enemy would, if set at liberty, immediately proceed to organise a fresh enterprise ; it was not even the wish to throw a sop to the Cerberus of Republicanism, refusing to admit the principle of immunity for princes and declaring that every one was equal in the eyes of the Law, whatever their titles or their rank, which had decided Louis-Philippe and his advisers to keep the Duchesse de Berry under lock and key. It was because they had reason to suspect that, in a few months, an event would take place which they believed would dishonour the princess, and, in dishonouring her, dishonour her son, and deal a staggering blow to the Legitimist cause ; and they were determined that this event should be surrounded with all the publicity which it was possible to give to it. It was because they hoped to buttress the July Monarchy with the mud which would be thrown at a defenceless woman ! » (Williams, id.,p.353-355)

And the lady in ember shall be no more seen in public: Madame at last having convinced the Government in doubt and the public of her legitimate marriage in the second nuptials with Lucchesi-Palli, and her honorable delivery of a daughter, being acquitted de facto, « sailed for Palermo on June 8, 1833, on board a French corvette, the Agathe. At mid-day on July 5, the Agathe cast anchor in the harbour of Palermo. A boat, manned by ten rowers, in which sat a chamberlain of the Viceroy of Sicily, the Governor of Palermo, a Sicilian admiral, and the Count Lucchesi-Palli, came alongside. And Marie Caroline, Duchesse de Berry, passed for ever from the fierce glare of publicity into the calm shadows of private life.» (Williams, id.,p.375-376)
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Koji Nihei Daijyo

Author:Koji Nihei Daijyo
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