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The King and Queen had produced no children of their own, and so a proclamation was made throughout the kingdom and all the surrounding kingdoms. Anyone who wished to try and prove themselves worthy could come and apply to be the heir.

Naturally there were many, many applications—the potential princes and princesses travelling from far and wide. Each applicant came before their Royal Majesties and stated their case, extolling their own virtues and qualifications for the role. Some were dismissed almost immediately; others were allowed to reach the end of their speech before being rejected. But eventually all the applicants were whittled down to just two possibles:  Plain-and-Mousy and Tall-and-Lovely.




The two young women stood before the King and Queen on their thrones. Plain-and-Mousy was quivering with excitement and enthusiasm. Tall-and-Lovely was calm and self-assured.

The Queen addressed them.

“We will assign you both three tasks. After they are completed we will decide who will become our heir.”

Then The King spoke.

“This is your first task. You must clear the forest behind the palace, so we can expand and build there. You will each be assigned half the forest and you have one day and one night to complete the challenge.”

And so Plain-and-Mousy changed into her lumberjack gear and bought an axe. She was surprised to see that Tall-and-Lovely remained in her elegant frock, and did not appear to be making any preparations at all.

“I’ll see you at the forest,” said Plain-and-Mousy.

“Mm,” said Tall-and-Lovely.





Plain-and-Mousy arrived at her side of the forest. She began swinging the axe with enthusiasm but it soon became clear that she would not be able to complete the task in the allotted time. She sank to the ground in frustration and exhaustion, and quickly fell fast asleep.

Suddenly she was awoken by the sound of many tiny bells pealing simultaneously. She opened her eyes and there was an elderly woman standing before her. An elderly woman with wings and a wand.

Plain-and-Mousy jumped to her feet in surprise.

“Don’t be afraid, Plain-and-Mousy!” said the elderly lady, waving the wand around rather vigorously. Plain-and-Mousy ducked. “I am your fairy godmother!”

Plain-and-Mousy straightened up and beamed. This was a bit of good timing.

“O fairy godmother,” said Plain-and-Mousy politely. “I have to cut down half the forest in one day and one night but I’m so tired. Have you a spell that could do it for me?”

The fairy godmother shook her head. “There is no magic strong enough, but I can make a spell to assist you in your task.”

She waved her wand and a mug full of a dark, steaming liquid appeared in Plain-and-Mousy’s hand.

“Drink it down, my child!” the fairy cried.

Plain-and-Mousy gulped it down. It tasted revolting—horribly bitter. But once the mug was drained, she felt as though she were buzzing, and she wasn’t tired at all. She grabbed the axe and started swinging with a will.

She worked her way steadily through the forest all day and all night, and it was only when she was admiring her handiwork at daybreak that she realised she had cleared the entire forest on her own. There had been no sign of Tall-and-Lovely.

“Oh, well,” thought Plain-and-Mousy. “It just means that I’ve definitely won this round.”

There wasn’t time to get changed. She headed straight back to the palace to find out what the second task was.





The two young women were once again in front of the King and Queen. Plain-and-Mousy glanced across at Tall-and-Lovely but she seemed unconcerned that she had failed the first task.

The Queen spoke.

“The second task is to go to our neighbour’s kingdom and persuade all of his knights to come and be loyal to us. You have one day and one night to accomplish this.”

Plain-and-Mousy and Tall-and-Lovely curtseyed and left the palace.

“Do you want to travel together?” asked Plain-and-Mousy. “Just till we reach the neighbouring kingdom?”

“No, it’s fine,” said Tall-and-Lovely, and she headed back to her hotel.

Plain-and-Mousy shrugged and set off on her long journey.





She found the twelve knights at their training camp.

“Will you come and be loyal to the neighbouring monarchs?” she asked.

They all guffawed.

“If you want us to change sides, you will have to demonstrate your might, little girl,” said one. “Fight our champion.”

A knight in red armour came forward and Plain-and-Mousy gulped. He was a big lad, and armed to the teeth. Luckily at this point there was the sound of little bells and the fairy godmother reappeared.

“Can you help me, fairy godmother?!” said Plain-and-Mousy. “I need a weapon.”

The fairy waved a wand, and a huge storybook on a stand appeared, the spine of the book oddly at the top.

“Er, …thanks?” said Plain-and-Mousy. “But I was hoping for a sword or something.” She lifted the cover of the book. “And these pages are all blank!”

The fairy godmother wagged her wand at her and Plain-and-Mousy ducked again.

“You could not hope to win in a physical fight, foolish child. You must use your intelligence and powers of persuasion.”

The fairy solemnly handed over a marker pen, and suddenly Plain-and-Mousy knew what she had to do. She flipped over the cover of the blank storybook, and then with many keywords and many diagrams, she explained why working for the other kingdom would have greater health benefits, would give a higher level of job satisfaction, and would lead to higher wages after two years.

By the end of her speech the knights were all cheering, and she was carried back to the neighbouring kingdom shoulder high.





Yet again, Plain-and-Mousy and Tall-and-Lovely were in the presence of the King and Queen.

Plain-and-Mousy was finding it hard to stand upright, after the long walk to the other kingdom and the long ride back. (Being carried shoulder high by knights wasn’t as much fun as it sounded; in fact it was damn well uncomfortable after the first hour and a half.) But her heart was warmed by the thought that she had completed the second task. Tall-and-Lovely hadn’t even left her hotel, as far as she could make out.

The King spoke.

“Here is the final task. You must go to the troll who lives on the edge of the kingdom, take all his gold from him and bring it back to us. You have one day and one night.”

Plain-and-Mousy and Tall-and-Lovely curtseyed and left the King and Queen. This time Plain-and-Mousy didn’t even bother to wonder what Tall-and-Lovely was up to, as her rival strolled off to get her nails done. All she could think of was how to get the gold.





Plain-and-Mousy arrived at the troll’s home. He lived in a hole in the riverbank, and the walls, floor and furniture of his dwelling were covered in mud. Plain-and-Mousy shuddered. But the troll seemed happy enough. He was shaping mud into bricks and pots and leaving them in the sun to dry, all the while humming to himself. Plain-and-Mousy sat on the grassy bank watching him and felt guilty. Why should she steal the troll’s gold or trick him out of it? He’d obviously worked hard for it, and the King and Queen didn’t need any more money.

There was a familiar tinkling and the fairy godmother appeared. Plain-and-Mousy looked up at her.

“You don’t have to take the gold by deception or by theft,” declared the fairy. “You can offer something in exchange.”

She held out a mop.

Plain-and-Mousy looked at the mop, looked across at the troll’s muddy home, and then looked back at the mop.

“Is this a magic mop?” she asked. “Cleans all on its own..?”

“No,” said her fairy godmother.

Plain-and-Mousy sighed and rolled up her sleeves.





The troll was thrilled with his gleaming home and pressed all the gold he had on Plain-and-Mousy. Though even now she still felt a bit guilty.

“But I can’t take it all,” she said.

The troll laughed. “This is just today’s takings. I don’t keep it in the riverbank. I deposit it in the town’s building society.” He leaned forward and whispered. “There are a lot of dodgy people about.”

Plain-and-Mousy smiled weakly.





She really, really wished she’d had time to get changed this time. There was mud in every orifice. But their Majesties could not be kept waiting. Plain-and-Mousy strode into the throne room, head held high. She had completed all the tasks. All that was left was for her to be formally declared the heir.

The King and Queen entered and Plain-and-Mousy and Tall-and-Lovely curtseyed low. Plain-and-Mousy couldn’t stop a smile coming. This was it—she was about to be made heir to the kingdom. She wasn’t sure why Tall-and-Lovely had bothered to turn up.

The King and Queen looked at each other and then the Queen addressed them.

“It has been a hard decision,” she began.

Like hell, it was, thought Plain-and-Mousy. But she supposed it was nice they were considering the feelings of the unsuccessful candidate.

“However, after much thought, we have chosen… Tall-and-Lovely.”

Plain-and-Mousy had taken a step forward before she realised what the Queen had said.

“What?!”

“We thought she was the best candidate,” said the Queen.

“Made a better first impression,” added the King. He looked Plain-and-Mousy up and down. “And she’s better turned out.”

Tall-and-Lovely glided forward to stand between her new adoptive parents.

“But you have done so well,” she smiled. “I’m sure I can speak for their Majesties when I say we’d like you to stay on and continue serving the kingdom.”

Plain-and-Mousy stared at her for a moment.

“So,” she said finally, “to clarify: I would continue doing these difficult tasks but would remain a commoner and you would be the next Queen and be in charge?”

“That’s right,” beamed Tall-and-Lovely.

“Sod this for a lark,” said Plain-and-Mousy. She whistled and the fairy godmother appeared.

“Come on,” said Plain-and-Mousy. “We’re leaving.”





And she and the fairy godmother went off and founded their own small independent kingdom: offering quests and magic, made to measure.

And you know what, they did OK—because their hearts were pure and their rates were reasonable.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconmister-scarab:
mister-scarab Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2015
A nice read. After the first task, I had an inkling that Tall and Lovely might have something to do with the fairy. Tricking Small and Mousy into doing her part.
I was convinced on that towards the end. But, the twist was quite surprising and a bit disappointing, sorry :( .
Then again, Plain and Mousy never did any of the tasks by her own ability, did she?
Reply
:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
...Plain and Mousy never did any of the tasks by her own ability, did she?

Definitely don't agree with you there. The fairy godmother gave her coffee to keep her awake - but Plain-and-Mousy did the hard work of cutting down all the trees. The fairy godmother gave her the "weapon" of a flipchart and marker pen - but Plain-and-Mousy came up with the argument that convinced the knights. The fairy godmother gave her a mop - Plain-and-Mousy had to do the actual cleaning.

...the twist was quite surprising and a bit disappointing...

Fair enough ^^ All I can say is that the ending worked for me, and it fitted the story I wanted to tell. (And I must admit I don't think of a twist being "surprising" as a bad thing :giggle:)

A nice read.

Thank you ^_^
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:iconmister-scarab:
mister-scarab Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2015
Fair enough :)
Reply
:iconchasingbutterfly:
chasingbutterfly Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2014
I started to get a feeling they were going to pick Tall-and-Lovely but I figured she was going to take credit for Plain-and-Mousey's hard work, not just show up and look the part.  Nice twist!
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:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks so much :aww: I'm pleased it came across as a twist, to be honest. I had wondered if the ending was perhaps rather obvious ^^
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:iconchasingbutterfly:
chasingbutterfly Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014
You're welcome! :sun:
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:iconhopeburnsblue:
hopeburnsblue Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2014  Professional Writer
 Hahaha man, that's fucked up! For a while I thought maybe Tall and Lovely was the Fairy Godmother in disguise ... then the ending surprised me. Still, though, you are one hell of a storyteller! Props! I love this!
Reply
:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks so much ^___^ I love being called a storyteller :D

And what an interesting thought - it hadn't occurred to me that someone would think Tall-and-Lovely was the fairy :giggle:
Reply
:iconhopeburnsblue:
hopeburnsblue Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2014  Professional Writer
Yeah, that'd've posed an entirely different issue, wouldn't it?
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:iconhazel-thorne:
hazel-thorne Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This was original, unexpected and cute! The moral was great - you made it clear that she was capable of creating her own kingdom. I imagine she probably convinced those knights to serve her, instead. I also liked the side morals from Tall-and-Lovely - present yourself well and you can fudge through anything, and from the King and Queen - don't give a useful, talented person a crappy deal or they'll leave you to do their own thing. All pretty accurate representations of the world.

Congrats on winning the competition (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧
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:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much for all your kind words ^_^ I'm pleased you thought the moral was clear - and that you found more than one moral ^^ And I think you're right - Plain-and-Mousy would probably be able to pull out her flip chart again and convince the knights to come to her kingdom :D
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:iconanapests-and-ink:
anapests-and-ink Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
This made me giggle a number of times, and left me with a great big smile on my face.  I love every step of the story.  You take the classic "plain girl works hard and it always pays off" thing and made it infinitely more realistic.  how many times have I seen this happen in real life?  And something as shallow as a kingdom just couldn't appreciate a woman named "Plain-and-Mousy."

That last line is perfect, too.  Realism, with a twist of humor.  And a perfect way to wrap up the moral (work hard and someone prettier than you will still get the paydirt--but maybe you can do alright for yourself anyways).

Congratulations on the win!  It was quite well-deserved.
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:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks - I'm so pleased you enjoyed it :D

This one was so, so easy to write. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, and planned out the story in my head for about 5 minutes. And then I simply charged through the first draft without stopping. Wish it was always like that ^^"

And I'm pleased you thought it was realistic ^^ (In a sense ^^") Life is more complex than "if you work hard, you'll do well". I was very happy with that last line, btw - it just came naturally ^^
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:icondamonwakes:
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2014  Student Writer
This didn't pan out quite how I expected--I thought Tall-and-Lovely would consistently take credit for half Plain-and-Mousey's work--but that ending is fantastic.

Also, I've gotta get me some of that marvellous magic potion. I don't mean "What is this stuff and where do I find it?" I mean I'm literally going to get some right now. Mmmmm, potion...

Congratulations on the contest win! :D
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:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
As if the King and Queen would pick someone because they were good at the work... (I'm now well into my cynical old age ^^) I'm rather pleased you noticed the magic potion, btw - nobody else has mentioned it and I wondered if I'd been too obscure... :giggle:

Thank you for all your kind words, and thank you for the fave too ^^
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:icondamonwakes:
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2014  Student Writer
I thought the potion thing worked perfectly. In general it's pretty clear that this isn't a straightforward fairy tale, so I was already kind of expecting something along those lines. In the same way that the storybook is actually a flipchart (though obviously that comes later). It's actually the most Dilbertesque fairy tale I've ever seen.
Reply
:icondragoeniex:
dragoeniex Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014
I think you did fine on meeting requirements. Satire can be a type of allegory, and you are getting a strong theme across. Good to see you entering!

Onto the actual story, it's quite enjoyable. :) I'm a sucker for plain girl protagonists when they're used well. More than that, though, I admire that you worked very modern situations into a fairy tale setting so well. There's just enough explained for me to be satisfied with it as a story. And yet, there's enough left unexplained for me to get that fairy how-does-this-happen tale feel. All the best ones have that.

While I certainly liked the scene with the knights, my favorite part is the section with the troll. The "Is this a magic mop?" part made me laugh. Poor girl.

The ending punctuates your work/employment themes; it feels like an appropriate closing. I had fun reading your story, and I got your point. You must be doing something right!
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:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Well, thank you so much for encouraging me to enter :D And thank you for such a charming (and thorough ^^) comment ^_^

You've picked up, actually, on pretty much everything I was hoping to achieve. Though it's a modern style of fairy tale, I was hoping to suggest the traditional form - where things just matter-of-factly happen. There's no great psychological depth to them.

And the part with the mop is another of my favourite bits :giggle: Poor Plain-and-Mousy - she remained hopeful to the end ^_^ (And I was very pleased with that ending ^^)

I had fun reading your story, and I got your point. When writing a humorous allegory you can't really ask for a better review than that :D
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:iconsleyf:
Sleyf Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great work! I love the humour injected throughout, and the way it stays true to all fairytales - I kind of had a feeling Tall-And-Lovely was going to win (aint that life?) but I would have been disappointed if it had been otherwise - even though I really did want Mousy to win (though yeah it wouldn't be as fulfilling)
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:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much :D I'm glad the humour worked for you ^^

And, yes, I don't think it's a surprise for anyone that Plain-and-Mousy doesn't become heir ^^" But she does end up with her own kingdom, and the moral high ground :giggle:
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:iconsleyf:
Sleyf Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
If I was her, I'd have taken all the knights I won over, to my kingdom! In your face, Tall-and-Lovely, try winning a war with your charm!

because I'm not bitter at all.
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:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
:cheerup:  (:giggle:)
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:iconsodacat:
sodacat Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014
This is easily the most entertaining out of all the contest entries.
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:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
What a lovely thing to say ^^" Thank you so much! :tighthug:
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:iconsodacat:
sodacat Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2014
Now that I've had some time to digest the story, I do want to add this: You came in way under budget on your word count, and you could have used a little bit of that to flesh out the jokes a bit. Each of the tasks follows a pattern of set-up then pay off, one per situation. I would have liked to see more happening in each of the tasks. No idea what that would do to the flow, but simply put I want to see more.
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:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Well, the form is to a certain extent deliberate - you know how traditional fairy tales tend to be very straightforward and a little repetitive. There isn't a lot of depth to them. But, yes, I see your point. Hans Christian Andersen came immediately to mind. He took the traditional fairy tale and turned it into something richer and more complex.

I have to admit I'm happy with my story as it is but I might come back to it after the contest - see if I can develop it in any way. I do so like Plain-and-Mousy :D
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:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Well, it is a good bit :P Thank you ^^

And, yes, I have really got to grips with the humorous fairy tale as an art form :giggle:
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:iconblakecurran:
BlakeCurran Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014  Student Writer
I see a collection of humorous fairy tales in your future! :P
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:icongoldennocturna:
GoldenNocturna Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014  Student Writer
This is a pretty clever story that rings very true! Often, the hardest working people are pushed aside for eye candy, and from the start, I had a feeling that Plain-and-Mousy wasn't going to become heir. Oh, well, at least she has a pretty decent kingdom (and I'm sure that the King and Queen's kingdom will burn to ashes soon enough, and Tall-and-Lovely probably won't even give a damnfiery evil laugh ). I enjoyed the part about the knights getting better health benefits if they switched sides, too. :XD:

And there's absolutely nothing wrong with satire! :)
Reply
:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I'm really glad it rang true for you :giggle: I'm getting cynical in my old age, but I think the end to the phrase "If you work hard..." is "...you'll be given more hard work to do." If you're working in a company for someone else that is ^^"

And I greatly enjoyed the bit with the knights myself ^_^ Walking Knight - NaNoEmo 2  Thanks for the fave too, btw ^^
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:icongoldennocturna:
GoldenNocturna Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014  Student Writer
No problem! Keep writing!
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:iconleyghan:
leyghan Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
'Cause it's been a long day and I'm having trouble articulating at the mo - What ChesherCat said.

Adore this story. Adore it. :clap:
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:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much ^^ :yayay: - NaNoEmo 24/30 + Plz  I'm always happy when you praise my work, because then I know it must be good :D Thanks for the fave too ^^
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:iconthecheshercat:
TheChesherCat Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Well, that was just rude of them.

"The fairy solemnly handed over a marker pen, and suddenly Plain-and-Mousy knew what she had to do. She flipped over the cover of the blank storybook, and then with many keywords and many diagrams, she explained why working for the other kingdom would have greater health benefits, would give a higher level of job satisfaction, and would lead to higher wages after two years.'

^My favorite part :giggle:^
Reply
:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
(Look - I've submitted something that isn't to do with fanfiction ^^)

I'm rather fond of that part too :happybounce: Thanks for taking the time to read my story, kitten ^_^
Reply
:iconthecheshercat:
TheChesherCat Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I love your fantasy stories. They're very... creative. :D
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Admittedly, it's clear enough what the two are stand-ins for that I think you're okay on the allegory front ;p
Reply
:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I'm not one for subtlety it has to be said :P I'm pretty pleased with this story though ^^
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:giggle: I enjoyed it.
Reply
:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
:faint:
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