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BY THE BEST WRITERS
TTie Covote FICTION : ..te. . & ' ' ' ' ui. mil in ' - 'Yott sco. Miss Rodney. It Isn't a mall job -this blowing ui of a moun tain It's my Hi st 'coyote,' and I hopo It worhs. It means a lot to inc." " Philip Dalton, cloven months out of an engineering college, looked at hit wnu'li, aiul then across at the grim ugliness of the black mountain of rork vhich lay fn the path of tho new Trans continental. "We'll know in a little less than four hours, he fait, and from the moun tain, fired in the last slow of sunset, liis rycy turned to the girl. "Shu goes up a nin" o'clock sharp to-night. It tli he a beautiful piece of fireworks." Tin vice-president s daughter was Rt.ii i nig with lmr buck to him, her r-liti II c 1 1 vc profiled against tho crim son c'i 1, overaii; still over the, west- it in i in- imiii iih'l-.u tufts in i ntns witp? of her golden hair p'o Irr face and shoulders. Tho oih' r" had gone. tv,p ii,c first time since, she and Dal- ten I a ! mot each other a month be fore bey worn alone. The fact thrilled li i i, and he looked at her unob v ' V'd his face Hushing with the emo t oi s which she stirred within him, lii. ryes illled with tho love which ho v e n 1 u ' vcr have dar"d to let her see. TJj- bad ben together often during this- month, but there had always Icon seme one elr.o with them her father, s-rnir of his guests, or her fiance, the II1 tie Englishman who was giving her a f..le. They had never been alone, like (his, and Philip squared his strong young shoulders and drew in deep breaths of 1 li n l.pnn iii-pnliin- nlr nnd fnrp-nt thnt , ... i- ,i i. i ? .i i e was oniy one in uie nun uuxvu young engineers in camp, at a hundred and fllty a month. For a lillle longer Miss Rodney stood v it.1i her back to him, looking off into the thousand miles of peoplcless waste thiongh which the builders of the new Tranrf'omiuental wero driving their thin lines of steel. When she turned to him there was a wistful look in her eyes. "It's wonderful wonderful," she Fa id Oh. what can't you do you Kreat big strong men who WOIiK!" Her volie, her c.u'i, the flush in her cheeks were other than he, had ever known lli'-ni before. ' I iu sorry that I'm going away to morrow. ' she continued, and there ai a tone of bitterness in her words. "I've never seen this big, glorious world be fore. It's the first time l'e ever known real MEN!" He felt a throbbing joy in his breast that held him speechless. ' And you really believe that you can blow nil' that mountain?" "Tonight, at nine o'clock', Ml-ss Rod ilex " nd you -YOl' aie doing it!" I was not a question. Wonder, de light, admiration shone in her eyes. I'm only the engineer," he replied. "I e superintended the building of the coyote. See that other knob of the mountain off there? Billingor has had charge of that. His coyote goes up at ii-iit.fnvi v.tivc. mino at nine." r'"I wish 1 could see it," she ex rO'iimrwl ellllllonlv. ' Vim can'" The words shot from vhon with it suddenness that deepened ti-f tan of wind and sun in hi- face. -Iieie is still time. I will lake you ilin imw. If you will let me, Miss R rll " I wanted to go the other day, but .v.- ('helton said that it was no place, to .i v. oniun." Her ips tightened :i little. Chelton t" Hie man she was to marry. W ill you go?" lie asked. "Will you loil. at MY coyote?" Yes." , , Sho laughed at tho unconcealed 1 ensure in his face. Her blue eyes led him with the sudden mis . Ipvous excitement that leaped Into 'hem. , , We'll begin right hero," he ex el .lined. "You see these wires, Miss Rodney? One vuns a quarter of a mile over thorn to my coyote, tho other to I'illlngcr'P. At the other end of this wire -mine there are two hundred cases of dynamite and a hundred and 1 ftv sticks of powder. To-night wo will briiig an electric battery up to this -,,,.1. Mitiieii tho wire, and when you press tho button the mountain blows ' n ,.r.,i iinrlor.jtani1?" ... . . .-(Ml- Inn,,. ing close to him as he picked up tho ends of the wires. "I wonder" Shi looked at him with a sudden daring desire in her eyes, "I wonder If they d lei MK press tho button to your coy ote?" Ills hanrlr, trembled as ho roplaced the wires. "1-I'd ho tho happiest man in tho "amp if yu would," ho said. "i will, If they'll lot me." "They " , ,, , "I mean my father, and Mr. Chel- Again ho saw nor lips tighten. Ho led the way down tho ridge into 'he little valley that lay botweon thnm nn 1 tho mountain. Tito way was rough uul filled with masses of broken trap jnd boulders. In ono placo ho hold hack his hand to her, and sle gave him her own. laughing Into his eyes. ' What WOULD they say?" fHie de manded. , . . II" know whom sho meant by T'ilJY and he laughod back at her, wh a thrill of pleasure which Hhe could not fall to Hen. somber gloom had begun to shroud tho black wall of the mountain when Hiey came to tho mouth of tlip coyoto. ""ho opening waa about lour feet wiuare. Philip went In first, and the girl followed him. The blackness of nigh lay ahead of them. Tho Rln n hand clung suddenly to hla arm, and ho felt her shuddor. "Ugh! It's dark and cold!" James "There's a lantern here," he said. "I'll light it." In tho glow of the light the girl's face ahone pale and tonso. They had gone , twenty paces in the chamber. Suddenly ho stopped. "You're not afraid, are you?" he asked, "No-o-o-o not afraid. Only two hundred cases of dynamite " He laughod again, with a joyous ring in his voice, and in this moment, as they stood alone under the moun tain, with the faint glow of the lantern lighting up their faces, it seemed the most natural tiling in the world for him to take the little baud that still clung to his arm. "It can't hurt us," he said. "You could build a honfiro In bore and noth ing would happen. Look " He held the lantern high above his head, and she saw that tho rock wall of the chamber was four or five fect above them. "Tho dynamite and the pow der are under us," ho wont on, "with the exception of fifty cases which are piled up at the end of this chamber. There's ten fect of space here, and the chamber is twenty fect wide. It runs hack a hundred yards under the moun tain. Tlie dynamite and the powder are covered over witli six feet of ce ment and broken rods. The wire goes under ground just outside tho mouth of the chamber, and causes the explo sion from BENEATH. Now" lie v. as talking to her eagerly in his en thusiasm. "Now by leaving this air chamber wo will get more than one explosion. There will be three or four, where if there were no alr-chaniber, and no vent, there would be but ONE, and wo would lose three times the ox plosivo force wo will now get. The iirst or second explosion will explode the fifty cases of dynamite back there at the end of the chamber. By tieorge. It ought to rip thunder out of the mountain!" "By George, IT WILL!" she cried, and for an instant he felt her lingers lighten about his own. '1 -1 hog your pardon " be stam mered. "For what'.'" she deman.lod. "He cause you -i an work up enthusiasm enough in real work to FORGET YOURSELF? It's glorious! 1 wish I were a man. If I wero I'd I'd do something something big like blow ing up mountains, building rail roads " "You really think it's big?" he asked in a whisper. "I thought you kuow " "Yes, I know what you thought." Die girl interrupted, as he hesitated. "Everyone thinks the same. If I were a man I'd BE a man!" This time he could not see that curi ous tightening of her lips. "I'll show you the dynamite," he suggested. "You're not afraid'.''' "No." He led her deeper into the chamber. No sound came to them now. In the intensity of the silence he could hear the girl at his side breathing quickly, and when ho raised the lantern above his head he saw thnt her eyes wore wide open, and their pupils big nnd dark. A moment more nnd the lan tern glow b"gan to reveal row upon row of boes in their path. "That's the dynamite," he said, and his voice sounded hollow and unreal. "I'gh! shuddered his companion, and he felt her pressing closer to him. Almost in tho same breath sho clutched his arm with her free hand. "WHAT WAS THAT?" "Nothing," he began and slopped. ' He had heard the sound, faint at first, like a shovelful of gravel falling upon the rock floor behind them. It was followed now by a strange rush ing sound that seemed to send a throb through the mountain, and Philip whirled towaid tho mouth of tho coy oto. Back there he should still havo seen tho pale light of day filtering through the outlet. In place of that there was the blackness of night." lie held the lantern behind him, and looked hard, it was still black, and there rushed over him a reeling of horror. If he had been alone he would have cried out, and would have run like a madman to the placo where tho light should havo been. In a Hash ho knew what had happened. A rock had loosened over the mouth of tho chamber, letting down a slldo of rock and earth. They were shut in! Ho tried to speak calmly, but Miss Rod ney had felt thn thrill of horror thnt passed likn an electric shock through hlR body. "I guess It was a little dirt falling over the mouth of tho tunnel," bo said. "I'm afraid you'll havo to soil your dress getting out. Miss Rodney, and incidentally you'll have tho pleasure of seeing mo work for a few minutes." Miss Rodney did not reply as they retraced their steps. The lantorn light revealed the coyoto vent choked with earth and broken trap, aud when Phil ip saw tho trap, wedged and crushed In the hole, he placed the lantern on tho door, so that the girl could not seo his face. Ho dared not speak for a moment, nnd turned from her to strip off his coat. With a little cry Miss Rodney sprang to the lantern, and In nnoth'er moment she was holding it close to his face, staring Into his horror-filled eyes. His face was as whito as death, and his lips wero set in a hard, tense line. In the girl's facn Philip did not see what he had ex pected to ace. Sho said nothing. Her eyes wero almost black, Tho lantern shook in her hand. JIo knew that sho had seen In his face all that ho could have told her, and yet In her own there was none of tho weakness that he had feared. It was llko a white cameo In thn half gloom. Hq turned from her and began to work-, while she held the lantern at his back. At first he made easy prog toss into the loose trap. Then he came to the wedged chunks, nnd he knew that he was lighting against a wall almost as solid as tho mountain Itself. As an engineer he knew the force and weight that It had taken to choke the mouth of the coyote In this way. Outside there were hundreds, "1 WONDKIt IP 'IIIK' I.F.T ME PRESS Till! HUTTOX TO perhaps thousands, of tons of rod; and earth. Hut be did not quit. Some thing seemed to break in his head. Only the presence of Miss Rodney kepi him from shouting -from shrieking out in his drspair for human help, though his voice would have died in the heart of the mountain. He rolled and tossed back ton after ton of to - k. Ills bands wero torn and bleeding. The knifo-eilgod trap ripped the arms of his llannol shirt into shreds. Heads or water ran down his face -a sweat of horror more than of exertion. Ho worked because he did not want to face t lie girl, and because there always lingers a hope -one chance In ten thousand even in the face of death. Ho knew there was no more than that chance. A' little later he saw that there was no use of continuing the hopeless light. Hocks which ten men could not havo moved barred bis way. Ho straightened himself, and with his pocket handkerchief wiped tho sweat and dirt from his face. Hefoie lie had looked at hor, Miss Rodney put hor hand on his bruised and naked arm. When he turned she hold the lantern on a level with their faces, There was no need of words of explana tions. For three-quarters of au hour sho had watched him fight In the face of that wall of rock and earth with a strength which sho had never before seen in a man. "You've done splendidly," she said, "but I don't believe that you can go on." "No I can't go on." he' said, know ing that she was demanding the truth of him. "I can't go on. We're shut in. Oh, my God- " His panting breath sounded terrible in (he death like stillness of tho chamber, and sud denly he caught the hand that was on hiG arm aud crushed It almost fiercely to his breast. "It I had ten thousand lives I'd give them up every one if you wero out there and I was In here alone!" "I know you would," sho replied, and her voice was steadier than his. "I'vo boon watching you, anil I KNOW. Il's because you're of that sort that I'm I'm NOT AFRAID." "But you don't understand," he said. "A thousand men " "I do understand," she Interrupted, "What time Is it?" He took out his watdi. Her soft hair touched Ills cheek as they bent together over tho timepiece. It was a quarter after seven o'clock. "An hour and forty-flvo minutoH," said the girl. A shudder ran through her body. She placed tho lantern on tho door, and looked at him, her face a pale shadow in tho gloom. "We'll never know what happens," she went on, and ho wondered If horror and fenr had driven hor mad, "We'll never know what happens- and THEY'LL novor know what has hap pened. All their lives they'll wonder whore wo disappeared to. I've been thinking thinking thinking while you were at work there, and do you know, I'm not afraid. It's curious, hut I'm not. I guess It's because there's a lot of MAN in mo. I've always wanted to bo a man, to do things big things. Thin la the first time I'va cvor been glad that I'm a woman." Oliver Cur wo o d ne came close to her and placed the lantern at their feet. "If you had oniy boon a man If you only had!" bo exclaimed In a voice that was low and thrilling. If you had been a man 1 wouldn't havo brought you down here. If you had been any other woman on earth I wouldn't hnve brought you. I dldt ocean so- "Why?" she asked sortly. lie had taken her hands again, but be dropped them now. "Mihs Rodney, we're almost equals here now, aren't, wo? I'm no longer just a more engineer paid a salary that would just about buy your fa ther's cigars. I'm a MAN. And you're no longer a vice-president's daughter, a great heiress anil the finnce of a tilled man. You're just a WOMAN. Our world Is this little chamber under the mountain, the last little world we'll ever have. If It won't hurt you If yon don't enre I'd like to to tell you " He stopped, almost wishing that ho might recall his words. "Go on," she urged softly. "Go on--ploa.o." "I asked you to come down, Miss Rodney, because just once I wanted to be alone with you, to have you all to myelf. I knew it wouldn't happen again that you were going away to morrow and I was sure that It wouldn't do any harm, and that I would be happier afterward. I did It because 1 loved you." There was a silence. It seemed llko an eternity. And then, swiftly, in that terrible stillness, tho light began to fade away. It grew lower, flickered, and went out. "Tho oil 13 gono," he said. He heard a movement. Something gioped out to him In that stark black ness. It was the girl's hand. It touched his shoulder. Her other hand touched bis face. He fell her near -nearer. And then, suddenly, her arms were around bis neck. "And that that's Just whv this Is tho first time in my life I'M GLAD THAT I'M A WOMAN," '.ihe whispered. "It's the first time I've ever known a MAN, and I love him, If he is nothing; but a grout big god of a civil engi neer." In the silence of that moment's thrilling lov there sounded tho low, tinkling note of the little bell in Phil lii Dalton's watch. It was half past seven. In the sound there was some thing Indescribably more significant than tho more intonation of time. It was like the first tolling slroko of a church bell miles and miles away, soft ened by groat distance, nnd muffled by the walls of tho mountain until It came to them only In a whisper. Tho girl's arms tightened about Philip's neck, and ho felt her shudder, as though the note of the little bell had touched a vibrant chord In her body, and he drew her closer and closer In his own arms, until be was straining her to him with a strength which ho did not realize until a little cry of pain broke from her lips Ho loosened his arms, and in the darkness he turned up her face until (heir Hps mot, and then be heard her breath coino quickly and sobblngly, and In a mo ment she was crying with hor face against his breast, lie kissed her again and again, and In I lie cavernous Htlllness of (he mountain Ills low words rang with a strength and cour age that after a little' lifted hor face from his breast, and made her take his own face between1 her two hand'?. "I'm Eorry, Philip." she said, speak ing his name for (he first time, "but I Just couldn't help It. It it Isn't vi'-l. 'j'tih''?! $tiJ ;' !' -ttyl :;''.;; kS- ''-.: ?".'! ;"' &-'&-:Vt I'm afraM. I'm not afraid. I'm NOT!" She drew his face down to her "I can't be afraid with YOtV she said. Her courage, hor faith, her love tho warm throbbing of her body against him. filled him with a madness which he struggled to fight back. For a few moments ho dared not speak, YOUK COYOTE?" but stroked her hair and fondled her face while he bit his Hps until the blood came. She was his. She had given herself to him, and never had life called to him as it did now. She felt bis arms and his shoulders harden, sho felt the stiffening of his whole body, and suddenly he hold her back from him, and his madness found vent in words. "By God, you shall live you SHALL!" he cried. "There's another lantern on a ledgo near the vent. Wait until I find It." Sho stood alone, trembling in the blackness, while he struck a match and searched for the lantern. He found it half filled with oil, His face was not white now. His eyes almost frightened her. She stood near, hold ing the light, while he went, at the rocks again. Her presence put tho strength of live men in his arms and body, and he rolled back rock after rock that ho had not been able to move before. In the madness of his fight, in tho superhuman efforts he was putting in this last struggle, time ceased to ex ist for him. He did not hear his watch when it tinkled off the hour of eight. Only each time as he turned his eyes, ho saw Isobel Rodney's golden head shining lu the dim lantern glow, hor eyes fixed upon him with a love and faith that drove reason and judgment from him. But at last ho-came to the end. He came to rocks that ho could not move, and as ho strained until every muscle in ills body seemed to tear themselves asunder, his breath came In a groaning cry. The girl came to him. Her arms wore around him again, and he sank down, broken, bleeding, conquered. "You can't," she whispered, strok ing back his hair. "You can't do It, and and " The look In ills eyes flrghtened her again. "Philip you look so strange you frighten me. You're you're not " "I'm all right," he said, pulling him self togethor with an effort. "Little sweetheart, I guess we've lost." "What time is It?" she asked. He pulled out his wntcli. "Twenty-five minutes of nine," said tho girl. Thero was not. a tremor In her voice, Her fingers continued to fondle his hair "Yes, we've lost, but haven't wo won a LITTLE something, Philip?" She put her face down against his hot cheek. "I want to walk," she said. "Can't we walk bark and forth?" He placed th" lantern on one of the rocks, and with her hand In his they walked slowly out into the gloom. "Yes, I've won souu thing the great est thing in the world." ho said, and thero was the thrill of the old strength and fearlessness In ills nlce. "I wouldn't exchange what I've won for life noi lor ten lives. It's YOl'. You're losing everything. Hut after all It won't be so very bad " Sho Interrupted him. her fingers clasping his more firmly "No, It won't bo so very bad," she said bravely. "There are a good ninny worse tilings. Philip. I, loo, would not oxchango what I've found In this mountain for that OUT THEUR. Ho rou know, If I hid to keep that w&- because Ira tract money for a title and I had a choice, I'd stay here with yon." "God bless you," he whispered. "I would," she said, as though she thought ho doubted her. "And now, Philip, let's talk or what wo would have done If you had only told me that you loved mc up there on the rock where tho wires ate? Let's make it REAL. I'm going with you EVERY WHERE and I'm going to help you build railroads, and bridges, and blow up mountains. You'll let me, won't you?" He was choking. He drew her close in his arms, and held his face away from her so that she would not dis cover the hot tears that wore running down his cheeks. "Yes." he said, "we'll-go everywhere together. Nothing can part us even In death " "Nothing," she said. They both stood silent, and under their feet there came a sudden and ter rible throb, a throb that grew stronger even as (hey held their breath, until the mountain seemed to tremble over their heads and under their feet, and was followed by a dull and distant roar, like rumbling thunder smothered in the bowels of the earth. "Fifteen minutes more," she said, and the hand that stroked his face was like Ice. "Yes," he replied, "that's Billing ger's mountain." They went back into the circle of ghostly light, thrown out by the lan tern. She lifted her eyes straight to his face, and he marveled at tha strength which he saw in them. Her cheeks were like wax. Her Hps were pale. Against this white contrast her blue eyes shone deeper and darker. The colls of her golden hair had loos ened, and suddenly he reached up and shook them down, so that her shining tresses rippled about her shoulders, filling his nostrils with a sweet breath as he strained her close to him again, burying his face in thai golden glory. "My wife!" ho cried to her softly. He felt her arms tighten about him, and In their thrilling pressure there came to him an inspiration which made him loosen his arms, and hold her back from him, staring at her with eyes Into which there had come a strange and sudden radiance. "If you wero my wife." he whis pered. "If you were It would be easier a thousand times easier! My wife my wife " He repeated the words, looking into her eyes. His breath broke In some thing that was almost a sob. "Isobel sweetheart will you be my wifo?" For a moment, she did not seem to understand. "Your wife " Her hands stole iu the'r sweet, ca ressing way to his face. "Yes, my wife. 1 am an Episcopa lian. And here now In tho heart of this mountain withoul witnesses we can lie man and wife. It Is legal in tho eyes of the law and In (he eyes of God! My wife my wife " "Yes. yes, I know what, you mean " A glory of understanding leaped into her eyes. "1 know what you mean " "You will bo my wife?" "Yes." Philip Dalton straightened himself, lie raised a bruised and ragged arm above his head, and his pale face seemed suddenly to glow with the strength and triumph of a god as his words rang out clear and mighty agaiust the echoing walls of the moun tain. I. PHILIP DALTON. TAKE THEE. ISOBEL RODNEY, TO BE MY WED DED WIFE. TO HAVE AND TO HOLD FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, TILL DEATH DO I'S PART." And then, In the stillness, there rose the girl's oleo, firm and sweet, say ing after him: "AND I, ISOBEL RODNEY, TAKE THEE, PHILIP DALTON, TO BE MY WEDDED Dl'SHAND. TO HAVE AND TO HOLD FROM THIS DAY FOR WARD, TILL DEATH DO US PART." "My wife!" "My husband!" Their hearts ceased to beat. Clear and distinct the hell in Philip Dalton's watch began tinkling off the hour of nine. One two- tUico four. He crushed tho girl's head m ins arm, smothering tho sound from her. Five six seven. He pressed his lips to herX Eight nine "My wife my sweet Httle wlff -'V; Her face was growing cold. TTer lips were cold. Her arms slipped from his shoulders. She became a weight in his arms. "God In heaven be praised!" ho breathed. He looked into her white, still fae-j again, burled his face In the warm sweetness of her hair, and a3 he waited whispers of prayer formed themselves on his Hps. TICK TICK TICK TICK He could hear his watch. A clam my chill crept through him. The roar of the burstius mountain seemed al ready to fill his head. Slckneas weakness overcame him, and he sank; down upon the cold rock floor with his unconscious burden. TICK TICK TICK His watch was beating off the sec onds, faster and faster. He counted them, ten, twenty, forty, sixty and they raced so 3Wlftly that his brain could not follow. Something bad hap pened to the wire up on the rock. They were attaching the battery. A moment more The seconds grew Into minutes. Five ten he lifted his head. Good God, what did It mean? The girl moved, and he strained her to him. She was coming back to life. His fin gers touched her soft throat, and ho knew that God would have him choko back her life a little longer. His fin gers tightened, and he groaned aloud. The bell In his watch struck again. It was a quarter after nine. It would happen soon it MUST happen soon. There had been a delay they wero pressing the button now. A littlo longer just a little longer A sound came to him. It was not the ticking of his watch. It was not the little bell. He raised his head, his eyes shining madly. It was a voice a faint Bhout beyond the choked up mouth of the coyote. He dropped the girl and sprang to the rocks, and his voice rose in shrieks that were like those of a madman. Answering shouts came to him through the mass of earth and rock. They heard him! He heard the beat of metal picks on hard rodi! one, two, three, and then an army of them! Their CLICK CLICK CLICK camo to him faintly, swiftly, and he contin ued to shout until he staggered back exhausted. The girl had regained consciousness, and waa swaying on her feet, holding out her arms to him and murmuring incoherent things. Ho sprang to her and caught her In his arms. "We're saved!" ho shouted. "Some thing has happened! They're out thero they hear us I can hear them working!" Sho looked at him dumbly, Incom prehoudlngly, and her hands went to his face again, and In her eyes theri was a look as though she feared the strain had been too much for him. "Come listen!" he cried, and he drew hor to (ho choked mouth of tho coyote, holding her trembling form In his arms. For a moment they held their breath. In the sileuce (here came to them distinctly tho rapid beating of many picks upon rock. Au hour later a crumbling slide of earth and rock cleared the mouth of tho coyote. A Hood of warm, fresh air rushed iu upon Philip and tho girl he still held lu his arms. In a moment ho win carrying her over tho debris. A dozen lanterns flashed In their faces, a score of men had drawn back, lean ing on their picks and crowbars, sfar Ing at them white-faced and silent, as men will staro at those who havo come out of tho Jaws of death. Rut one sprang rnrwnrd, and caught the girl from Philip. It was her father, the vice-president, nnd from behind him Philip hoard thn voire of ono of the men, which told him what had happened. A rock had fallen upon tha wire leading to tho dynamite, and had f-evered II. The battery had failed to explode the mountain, and men had como down in investigate. He drew in great draughts of air, nnd looked at Isobel and her father. Tho girl hnd freed herself from his arms, and another man was standing near, holding out. Ills hands to her. It was the Englishman. And then lu. saw the girl draw herself erect turn and search for him: and when sh saw -him standing there in tho glow of many lnnterns, white, torn, nnd waiting, r.ho went to him with a great, sobbing cry, and all who stood ther bwMI the marvelous words which fell hor Hp. "MY HUSBAND MY HUSBAND!"