Thursday, November 26, 2009

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Once upon a time in the most delightfully enchanted of all kingdoms lived the most beautiful of all princesses, Princess Audrey.

She wore her long brown hair in two braids. The yellow ribbons of which seemed to hold up her smile that reached from one ear to the other. She had a touchable tiny nose that she liked to wiggle. Her eyes welcomed everyone who walked by her to be her friend. No one could refuse the charm of this stunning child.

Her castle was the size of any two ordinary castles combined. It had 50 elaborate towers where she could stare out at the most plush green countryside of her kingdom. The shiniest of marble was laid for the floors. Bright, rainbow-like curtains spanned from floor to ceiling, swinging across each window. Each room had its own theme. There was the Spanish kitchen with reds and greens. The French living room was painted in royal French blues and ivory. Circus colors, big top red and yellow and orange flew through the playroom as if in constant motion.

Audrey's bedroom was, of course, the loveliest of all princess bedrooms. She had an enormous canopy bed with pink draperies flowing down from all sides. Numerous pastel rugs spotted her floor in patterns of tulips, roses, and daffodils. Stuffed animals of all races and breeds lined her walls. What's more, enormous French doors opened onto a pearl white balcony bordered by a fence of shiny, white cast iron. On this balcony, she would have tea parties with her favorite teddy bears, puppies, and kitties.

Princess Audrey did not need a closet of make-believe dress up clothes because she got to choose from her own wardrobe which was just that: frilly, fancy dresses that most children would only ever dream of wearing for the most special occasions.
Each day for Princess Audrey was special. She started her day with her favorite breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, butter and chocolate milk. From there, she would run out to her garden where several small forest animals greeted her, squirrels, rabbits, foxes, joined by many varieties of birds singing to her. The animals were always so gentle with Princess Audrey because she did not have a mean bone in her body. She only laughed and smiled and petted her animal friends with the softest caresses. Princess Audrey loved the creatures as these creatures each loved her back.

At lunch time, Princess Audrey would come back up to her castle and sit on the patio to await her meal. Her favorite dish was grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches and carrot sticks. She loved to let the melting cheese drip into her mouth. In the afternoon, Princess Audrey would take deep, peaceful naps in the hammock between two favorite oak trees. She rocked herself to dreamland from the wind's lullaby.
After nap, Princess Audrey enjoyed playing card games and checkers, reading books, coloring and playing with her dolls. Her favorite friends lived next door. Seeing that her gardens stretched acres, her friends lived quite a walk away. She met them one day when she went off exploring in her own garden.

Audrey had loved to survey her flowers. She had all sorts in her garden. However, her favorite flowers were always the wild flowers. These flowers grow where and when they like. This suited Audrey's personality because she most appreciated doing what she wanted when she wanted.

The day she met her neighbors, she had gone off exploring past the flowers the gardener had arranged so diligently for her. She started to tire after about an hour's walk so she sat down in a small clearing. She did not mind that her dress was getting dirty. She had others. She started to glance around under bushes and trees just to see what might be living there. That is where she saw her.

At first, she thought it was just a bit of dust blowing from a breeze. But, the air seemed to sparkle. Tiny glitters of light swept under a fallen tree trunk. Princess Audrey crept up on one knee and then the other, still staying low to the ground. Her nose was just about touching the damp old bark when she saw her.

At first, Audrey wondered if she was catching sight of a peculiar butterfly, but no. This flying creature had legs and arms, the daintiest of fingers. Wings, yes. Also, she was wearing a rose petal dress. Princess Audrey had spotted a fairy!

What do you think?
*Have you ever spotted a fairy? What was he or she like?
*If not, what do you think a fairy would look like? How do you think he or she would act?

Chapter 2

The princess was about to crawl back and stand up in amazement, but a deep feeling inside her said to stay. So, she did. She kept crouching down until the fairy finally turned and got a glimpse of her.

When the fairy saw Princess Audrey looking at her with her wide smile and welcoming eyes, she blushed. Fairies tend to be rather shy little creatures, but this fairy knew that Audrey was kind and there was nothing to fear. So, she fluttered towards her.

The princess was amazed that the fairy was not fluttering off to hide. Instead, she introduced herself.

“Hello. My name is Dewdrop.”

“Hello. My name is Audrey. I am happy to meet you.”

“Likewise,” said Dewdrop. “You know what this means now, don't you?”

“I don't think so,” replied Princess Audrey, a bit embarrassed by her ignorance.

“When a human catches a glimpse of a fairy and the fairy feels confident enough to introduce herself, she must be forever faithful to that person.”

“What do you mean by faithful?” inquired Audrey.

“If ever there is anything you wish for which is good and kind, I must help you achieve it.”

“That is very kind of you,” remarked the princess. “But I already have everything I could ever hope for. Do you know where I live?”

“Yes, I do. I have seen your house and your servants and your toys. I have also seen you when no one is watching.”

“Really?” asked Audrey looking away.

“Yes, and your smile is not as grand and your eyes are not as glimmering as they are when you are in the presence of others. What is it you long for?”

“Hmm. That's a good question. It's true that I turn off my happy face when I walk off alone or when it is time to go to my bedroom or playroom. I have so many things, but these things fill up space...,”she started to say.

“Ah, but they do not fill up your heart,” the fairy interrupted.

Princess Audrey's smile turned down as she admitted, “Yes, I suppose you are right. But how can I change that? How could you give objects the power to fill my heart?”

“They never can. What you need is a friend. Besides your family, only a friend will care if you are sad or happy and understand truly the reason for it. A friend will not only play with you, but will play so that you are having just as much fun as she or he.”

“I have never thought of friends before. My father the King and my mummy the Queen are always willing to hire someone to entertain me but they have never thought of getting me a true friend.”

“You do not get friends,” Dewdrop warned, “you earn them by being a friend yourself.”

“But, you said you could get me whatever I wanted,” reminded Princess Audrey.

“I said I must help you achieve what you desire, not hand it to you,” corrected Dewdrop.

“All right. Please, tell me what I need to do,” requested Princess Audrey looking around expecting something, anything to happen.

“Just past your wood, there is a house. A brother and a sister live there who are very kind.”

“When can I meet them?” asked the princess eagerly.

“As soon as you like, but this is also where I come in,” Dewdrop acknowledged. “You have never been so far from your house without your parents and it is too far for you to walk alone. So, you must fly over the trees to land in their garden.”

“Will they not be alarmed to see a flying girl appear?” worried Audrey.

“Absolutely, that is why I could only suggest you be friends with these particular children. They are kind and good and know how to keep a secret. You will introduce yourself to them, apologize for dropping by unannounced,” Dewdrop specified. “You then explain who you are and what brought you to them.”

“And just like that, they will be my friends?” questioned the princess.

“Of course not, but this will be your chance to invite them to your house for tea, to meet your parents, and to play. As they will see who you are with your family and in your own home, they will begin to trust you. They will then invite you to their home to play and meet their parents.”

“So, how will I know they are really my friends?” questioned again the princess.
Dewdrop now flew into the palm of Princess Audrey's hand to say very clearly. “You will know they are your friends as soon as they realize you are their friend. Be yourself, your naturally kind, happy, cheerful and generous self. You will feel their friendship in your heart.”

With that good advice, the fairy sprinkled some fairy dust over Princess Audrey.

“And, how will I know how to fly?” She quickly asked.
Dewdrop snickered, “You just have to lift up your toes and feel ready.”

“All right,” replied Audrey as she scurried quickly through the wood in the direction of the neighbor's house. As her breath became harder to catch, she remembered what Dewdrop said by lifting up her toes and reassuring herself, “I am ready.”

Slowly but surely, she felt more and more air underneath her. She stretched out her arms in joy and instantly shot over the trees. Before she could blink, she spotted a house beneath her. “Oh geesh, I forgot to ask how to get down,” the princess worried. But as quickly as her thought came to her, her pace slowed and she started to descend into the backyard.

What do you think?
*Think about what is really good in your life, at home and at school. 
*Now, what is it you long for? Do you need help achieving it? How could you do it on your own?

Chapter 3

Princess Audrey spotted two children a year older or younger than herself. In fact, she spotted them spotting her! A tall boy with brown hair dropped his trucks in the sandbox beside him and stood silently like a toy soldier. At the same time, a rather small blond girl lost grip of her baby doll's pushchair. The edge of the pond stopped it in its tracks with a blunt thud. This thud woke all three children out of their stupor.

Again, Princess Audrey had to remember what Fairy Dewdrop had told her. So, Audrey took a few steps towards the children holding out her hand.

“Hello. My name is Audrey. Excuse me for dropping in like this,” grinned Audrey at the unintentional joke. “I would like to be your friend.”

“What makes you think we want to be your friend?” asked the boy under his breath, although not realizing just how loud he was talking.

“I hear you are very kind children who can keep a secret.”

“I can!” replied the blond girl, giving into the excitement of the moment.
Princess Audrey told them about her afternoon spotting Dewdrop. “And so, I would really like it if you could come to my home tomorrow for tea.”

More out of curiosity than needing another friend, the children accepted. Princess Audrey flitted away as the neighbors walked back into their house for dinner.
Princess Audrey flew down to her garden with pure joy at the thought of new friends coming to play just the next day. She was just thinking of what cakes to ask the chef to make when...

“Oh my dear!” shouted her mother. “Where have you been? We were so worried! All the guards have been going around in circles looking for you. Your father has rung the police!”

The princess gracefully apologized for her absence and explained that she had made some friends. She only spoke of the neighbor children. She knew her parents would never believe the fairy part of her day.

The King just then came out and gave her a big hug. “Please, do always tell us where you are,” he begged.

“I will, Father. I am sorry to have worried you.” She was truthful but also so happy with what her day had brought her.

“Audrey has invited new friends to tea tomorrow,” the Queen chimed in.

“New friends? Who could that be?” her father wondered.

“They live in the house next door, Father. I saw them today. There's a girl and a boy. They seem very nice.”

“All right then,” agreed the King. “We'll need to tell the maids to tidy your playroom in the morning.”

“And lay out your favorite dresses,” added the Queen. “You want to make a good impression.”

“Oh, I'll do all that! By myself! I want to!” exclaimed the Princess. “And I'll ask the pastry chef to make cream puffs with chocolate sauce.”

Princess Audrey kissed her parents in appreciation. She was so looking forward to her play date, she could hardly stop smiling to brush her teeth that night at bedtime. As promised, she arranged her toys in the playroom, just the way she wanted to present them. She positioned her preferred dolls towards the backs of the shelves, board games on lower, more reachable shelves. Her least favorite toys were placed closest to the floor: trains, soldiers, marbles, and a few stuffed animals. With any luck, she thought, no one will touch her china dolls or tea sets.

What do you think?
*How do you feel when you invite new friends to play at your house?
*Why do you think Audrey arranged her toys in such a way? Is that really acting like a friend?

Chapter 4

The next morning, Princess Audrey bounced down the stairs. “Will they be here soon, Mummy?” inquired the Princess.

“No dear, we haven't even had breakfast yet. You said they were coming for tea.”

Audrey spent the next couple of hours trying on her favorite dresses. Stripes or polka dots? Colorful or solid? Short or long? She finally decided to don her long, soft denim skirt with the embroidered flowers and a white lacy short-sleeved blouse. She requested her nanny to do her hair in two braids, one on each side and a ribbon at the ends. Finally slipping on her blue Mary Jane shoes, she skipped down the front hall to her mother's library.

She peeked her nose in just past the door knob, “Are they coming soon, now?”

“No dear. We will just be having lunch soon. You said they were coming for tea,” her mother reminded.

Princess Audrey ate her pasta quicker than her parents had ever seen. She wiped the sauce off her face, jumped off her chair, smoothed out her skirt and looked up.

“Now then?”

“Go take a nap, Love,” both of her parents sang out. “We'll call you before they arrive”

Dutifully, the princess marched up the stairs to her bedroom with a wide grin. In no time at all, her very first friends would be here in her very own house. This thought followed her to sleep.

A couple hours later, the gentle caress of her mother's hand on her back awoke her. “What are their names?” she whispered.

Audrey could not yet tell if she was dreaming or waking. She repeated back, “Their names?”

“Yes, dear. What are your friends' names?”

“I forgot to ask,” admitted Princess Audrey, embarrassed. The Princess was just then realizing she had lots to learn about being a friend herself. She had been so eager to tell the story of how she met Fairy Dewdrop, plus the children were so marveled at her tale, that she forgot to ask their names. And, they forgot to tell her.

The doorbell rang at 3:30. Audrey was already sitting on the plush, red velvet pillow of the gold armchair that sat in the hallway. Before the butler was ten paces down the hall, Princess Audrey jumped up and reached for the doorknob. She prudently smoothed her skirt, took a breath, and opened the door.


The children jumped back a bit, looked at each other, then smiled. They then turned back to Audrey and smiled a gracious, “Hello. Thank you for having us.”

“Please, come in.” Audrey invited as she stepped aside. The King and the Queen were standing just behind their daughter.

“Hello, children. Welcome to our home,” said her father.

“We are happy you came,” said her mother.

“Mummy, Daddy, these are, the children I told you about,” Audrey introduced them shyly as she still forgot to ask their names.

“My name is Thomas,” said the young boy offering his hand to shake. “And this is my little sister, Alice.”

“We are delighted to meet you,” grinned the Queen. “Please do join us in the garden. Tea will be served shortly.”

“You can follow me!” said Audrey proudly.

The three children followed the parents down the marble entry way, through the French blue and ivory living room, out the French doors and onto the patio. The sunshine reflected brightly off the crystal tumblers and the crystal pitcher of lemonade. On the same round, glass table sat a bowl of yellow pears, red apples, purple plums and kiwis. Once the children were seated, a servant set a plate of cream puffs with chocolate sauce at each place.

“Oh wow! I love chocolate!” Alice exclaimed.

“The cream is delicious,” complimented Thomas barely waiting to swallow his first bite.

Audrey simply sat and smiled, relishing this moment of pure joy.

“We will leave you to your friends now, dear. Have a nice time,” said the King and then followed his wife into the house.

At first, the children did not say much more than the occasional “Mmmm” from the tasty treats. Then Audrey remembered Dewdrop. Just by thinking of her, she appeared right beside her. Audrey looked down puzzled and the fairy knew just what she needed, a conversation starter. So, she flew up to her ear and whispered a suggestion.

“It's a nice day for riding. Do you like horses?” asked Audrey.

“Oh yes!” her guests replied.

“Do you know how? We could go for a ride in the pasture once we are finished, if you'd like.”

“We would very much. Thank you,” accepted Alice.

So, after the last of the chocolate sauce was wiped from their lips and the last ice cube melted in the lemonade glasses, Audrey took the brother and the sister to her stables. Inside were several purebred horses of different coats. Alice immediately walked over to the white horse. “Vanilla” was carved out on her stall door. Thomas walked straight to the brown horse and started stroking her mane. The name on her door was “Pudding”. That left “Chipper” for Audrey. She actually preferred to ride Pudding but her instinct told her she should let her guest ride her.

“You can try those boots on over there. They should do for now.” Audrey pointed across the stable. “Don't forget a helmet, either,” she cautioned.

Once geared up for the ride, they each walked their horses out the stable door and jumped high into their saddles. At first, they rode up towards the house, just close enough for the King and the Queen to see them from their study. After a wave, Princess Audrey led the group down by the lake.

“Could we go for a ride in your rowboat one day?” asked Thomas.

“Sure, you can.” After a pause, Audrey added, “Do you want to come back tomorrow?”

“Yeah!” sang the siblings as the horses were directed up a tree-lined lane back to the stables.

The sun was quite visibly lower than when they arrived. Remembering his mother had asked them to be home before dinner, Thomas sadly said, “I am sorry but we need to start heading home. If we're not back by dinner, Mother and Father will worry...and maybe not let us come back!” he feared.

“Just leave the boots there then. I'll have them cleaned and ready for you another day,” Audrey offered.

“Thank you, Audrey. We had a wonderful time,” said Alice as the three children walked towards the house to say goodbye to the King and Queen.

“See you tomorrow!” they chimed all together. Audrey stood at the front door several minutes watching walk down the path towards their home her new friends. At the same time, she wondered if she could yet call them her friends.

“In any case, you acted like a good friend today, Audrey,” assured Dewdrop, landing on her shoulder. “You showed Thomas and Alice a fun afternoon and they enjoyed your company. Remember this as you plan for tomorrow's visit.”

The princess smiled, shutting the door. Her eyes shown like glitter. She could not wait until the following afternoon.

What do you think?

*Think about a day when a friend came to your house to play or a day when you went to a friend’s house. What made it so memorable? Is there anything you would change about that day?
*Imagine new friends were coming to play. What would you do or play with? How would you show them you were a true friend?

Chapter 5

Princess Audrey had just finished the last of her yogurt dessert after lunch when the doorbell rang. It was Thomas and Alice! She thanked the housekeeper for taking her dishes to the kitchen and ran from the table, grabbing a pink napkin to wipe her face.

“Here you are,” said Alice once Audrey opened the front door. “My mum made some brownies to share in case we get hungry on our boat ride.”

Audrey slipped the basket handle up to her elbow and led her friends into the house. “Thank you very much. That was really nice of her... Mum, Dad, look what Alice and Thomas brought!”

“Those look delicious,” said her father.

“I'll leave a few on the kitchen table for you,” their daughter replied kindly.
The three children were about to shut the side door when they heard the Queen caution, “Don't forget your life jackets! They are lying on the seats of the boat.”

“Thank you, M'am.”

“Thank you, Mum.”

The door shut.

The day was full of sunshine. Thomas, Alice and Audrey shadowed their eyes with the palm of their hands. “The pond is shaded by lots of trees. It will feel cooler as we go,” reassured the young hostess.

They found the boat sitting up on the edge of the pond.

“How do we get in?” worried Alice.

“You and Audrey get in first. Then, I'll push off a bit, then jump in.”

“Great idea, Thomas! That's just what I was going to suggest,” said Audrey.

After each arm was in a life vest and each belt tightened, they boarded their little vessel as planned.

“Weeee!” The gardener overheard loudly from up in the orchards.

Audrey was the first to row. She loved rowing. She rowed and rowed and rowed. At first, everyone was giggling with delight but then faces turned down from boredom. Audrey wondered what was wrong. She wondered what her fairy would say. Thomas and Alice did not look as happy as yesterday. Just then, Fairy Dewdrop tickled the back of her neck.

“You will want to give the children a turn to row, also,” she hinted.

“Oh, ok,” thought Audrey. “Who would like to row next?”

“I would,” the other boaters chimed.

“Go ahead, Alice,” said Thomas. “I'll pass out the brownies and then we'll switch.”

“Yeah! Thanks, Thomas,” replied his sister.

The sunshine sprinkled through the tree branches leaving a shadowy collage of light on the rowboat and atop the youngsters. Gulping the last chocolaty morsel, Thomas spoke up.

“May I have a turn rowing, Alice?”

“Sure, here you are.” Alice handed over the oars.

“Alice, Thomas, these brownies are fabulous. Your mother made them?”

“Yes,” they echoed proudly.

“Would like to come over to our house tomorrow for tea, Audrey? Mum makes lots of good treats,” invited Alice.

“Really? I would like that,” blushed the Princess. She was starting to feel like they really did like her, that maybe they could be her true friends.

“Please come early so we can play more. I want to show you my dollhouse! It's my favorite toy,” said Alice.

Likewise, Thomas stopped rowing for a moment to think. “Do you like puzzles? I have a huge collection. We could all do one together.”

“Absolutely, I would be delighted!” assured Audrey, trying modestly to contain the enormous grin growing on her face. She looked over to Dewdrop who was now trying to climb into the basket of brownies. She winked a smile to thank her.

The sun was descending little by little behind the trees now. Thomas, Alice and Audrey looked at each other with regretful eyes. It was time to get back to shore. Thomas graciously passed the oars back to Audrey who was used to rowing really fast when it was getting late.

“I'll get out first,” said Thomas, taking charge, “when we're just about to shore. I'll then pull the boat all the way up so you two can get out with dry feet.”

Sure enough, that is just what Thomas did. Audrey was the last to get out. But, as she was picking up her left foot, her right foot, which was unsteady on a muddy patch, slipped. She fell right on her bum. Splotch! Her rosy cheeks turned beet red. She wanted to cry. But then, she heard Thomas and Alice laughing, not a mean laugh, just a genuine funny laugh at the sight. Audrey looked around her and imagined what she must have indeed looked like, a muddy-bummed girl with one leg still bent over the side of a rowboat. She started to laugh as well. In a second of time all three friends were giggling heartily at the silly scene. It was at this precise moment that Alice and Thomas held out their hands to pull their new friend out of the slitchy, slotchy mess.

Audrey waddled in her damp pants, returning up the path to the house. On either side of her were her new friends in a link of elbows.

Once at the the side door, Audrey whispered, “I better slip off these trousers here then sneak up and take a bath.”

“Right you are,” agreed Alice.

“See you tomorrow at our house!” Thomas reminded her.

They all waved goodbye. The neighbors had just turned down the driveway when Fairy Dewdrop landed on the window sill where Audrey was balancing herself, carefully sliding one leg out of her pants.

“Great job being a friend today, Audrey...You never knew it would be such dirty work!” laughed the fairy.

“I had a really fun time and I think they did, too.”

“Good. Now, you should get cleaned up before dinner is ready. Then, try to think of a little something to take to them as a friendly gift.”

“But, I can't bake and the stores are closed by now!” worried the princess.

“All that counts is that it's something that you put some thought into, some of yourself into.”

Audrey thought about it on her way up the back steps. She thought about it in the bubbly bathtub. She thought about it while tying the belt of her terry-cloth bathrobe. A great big smile came over her face while snuggling her toes into her matching slippers.

What do you think?
*Audrey was rowing the boat for a really long time. Do you ever get so involved in playing that you forget to share or take turns?
*Do you or your friends ever give little gifts when you have play dates? How does it make you feel? How does it make your friend feel?
*How do you think Audrey felt when she fell in the mud? Have you ever had an embarrassing moment? What happened? Is it more funny now when you think about it?

Chapter 6

“Dinner's ready!” she heard the housekeeper sing.

Princess Audrey's plan would have to wait until later.

The peas on Audrey's plate had never disappeared faster. The lamb chops vanished. Not a drop of mint sauce was to be seen but at the corner of her mouth. As for her potatoes, the butter hardly had time to melt.

“Slow down!” the Queen cautioned. “You're going to choke.”

“Oh, Mummy. I had the most fabulous day! We took turns rowing. We ate chocolate brownies...I fell in the mud....”

“You did what?” questioned the King.

“We laughed so hard! I am invited next door tomorrow for tea. But first, I have a present I would like to make my new friends.”

“Don't you want some fruit for dessert? We have blueberries tonight.” The housekeeper informed her in passing.

“I am really not hungry any more. Besides, I don't want to get to bed too late,” explained Audrey pushing back her mahogany chair from the dining room table.
Her parents looked at each other questionably, then her mother said, “Alright. You may be excused. I'll be up shortly to tuck you in, though.”

“Thank you, Mum. Goodnight, Father.” Princess Audrey kissed her parents and ran upstairs, almost stepping out of her slippers.

In the playroom, Audrey sat at her red art table with a caddy of markers and crayons in front of her and a paint box beside her. She pushed the crumpled sleeves of her smock up to her elbows and started to draw. She drew. She colored. She drew some more. Finally, she painted.

Waiting to see her final product dry, Audrey gazed around the playroom. At first, she felt like her toys and games were misplaced. Then, she remembered. A few days ago, she rearranged her belongings so that if these neighbor children had come into the playroom, they would not have been drawn to her favorite toys. She suddenly felt sad, even ashamed of herself.

In her head echoed these words. “I want to show you my dollhouse! It's my favorite toy” and “Do you like puzzles? I have a huge collection. We could all do one together.”

She knew her mother would be there soon to tell her to go off to bed. So, quickly, while the painting dried, Audrey rushed to her shelves. She rearranged once more her favorite dolls and toys to be the most reachable. The Queen walked in the room atop a pile of stuffed jungle animals.

“I thought you were going to their house tomorrow? Why are you rearranging so much?”

“It needs to be know, in case Thomas and Alice come over another day to play here.”

“That's very thoughtful of you,” acknowledged the Queen. “Let me hang this picture up so it can dry better.”

Her mother clipped the last clothespin, turned and walked into the hallway leading Audrey to her bedroom. But, before Audrey could shut the door, she glanced back at her work of art. To her, it was her first work of friendship. Atop a blue background, she had painted three horses between a pond and a rowboat with a little fairy sitting in the mud beside the oar.

What do you think?

*Think of a favorite memory of playing with some special friends. How would you draw or paint it? Could you make a sculpture or a collage to remember it?

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