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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bauer - Mr. Easter Hare - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This comes with wishes for the best possible
  for you!

I promised an Easter story in the Keeping the Public in Public Domain series and it comes from the tellable works of  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey (October 25, 1875 – December 23, 1961).  Six times before this I've posted stories from Bailey's anthologies because they are so easy to tell exactly as she writes it.

I'll say more after the story, along with suggesting a story that would partner well with it by yet another author, Madge Bigham, also mentioned here before with two stories from her Stories of Mother Goose Village.

O.k. I won't give away the rest of the story, but the title of this German legend gives a clue that the Easter Bunny might play a major role.

Before giving a bit of further information about the author and suggesting a story that might easily partner with it, I'd like to add a look at the symbolism of the Easter egg and possibly that rabbit.

While the egg was associated with new life in pagan festivals, Christian symbolism points to the resurrection and Christ's coming out of the tomb.  It's also said that the rabbit is a symbol of fertility, as in the phrase "breed like rabbits."  Having raised rabbits long ago I'd say that's not very accurate.  My Australian friends might disagree.  The introduction of rabbits long ago for hunting went drastically wrong and they became an ecological nightmare.  Instead Aussies point to a different long-eared beloved native creature, the endangered bilby, and have the Easter Bilby.  I remember my friend, the late Aussie storyteller, Mabel Kaplan, first made me aware of it.  There's one book already and now there's an Easter Bilby website hoping to make yet another.

Online I found offered this look at Easter Symbols and Traditions, which mentions the German origin of the Easter egg as well as egg hunts, egg rolling, candy, and Easter parades.

Returning to today's story, I recently learned a bit more about Carolyn Sherwin Bailey's long career from the language arts teacher's site, Book Rags. In their brief eight page study guide to Bailey's Newbery award winning, Miss Hickory, the author's biography points out her homeschooling for elementary school and how, even before she could write, she dictated stories to her mother.  She published all her long life beginning at age 19.  In earlier articles I attributed her background as a teacher, principal, and life-long writer to her dependably telling stories in a way that works with an audience.

To my surprise I was able to update her Wikipedia article which said:
She wrote For the Children's Hour (1906) in collaboration.[who?]
I was able to name Clara M. Lewis from the book's cover. That article also points out Bailey contributed to the Ladies' Home Journal and other magazines. Her writing career included volumes of stories for children, methods of storytelling, teaching children, and other related subjects

Another popular book of hers sometimes thought of at Easter is The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings.  Its publishing date is usually listed as 1945, but the current version from Viking's Penguin Group also lists a 1931 edition.  It was originally published by Grosset and Dunlap, founded in 1898.  Apparently either they or Ms. Bailey's heirs never renewed the copyright, letting it fall into Public Domain, unlike the 1946 Newbery medal winner Miss Hickory which was renewed in 1974 by Rebecca Davies Ryan.  Grosset and Dunlap was purchased by G. P. Putnam's Sons in 1982 and today is part of Penguin Random House through its subsidiary Penguin Group.  The text of her popular picture book, The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings, as published by Penguin can be found with new illustrations.  Because the text is now Public Domain, you can find translations into Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Italian, and Croatian through the Rosetta Project at Children's Books Online

You could pair "Mr. Easter Hare" with the final story from Madge Bigham's Stories of Mother Goose Village, "Cinderella's Egg Hunt."  Maybe some other year I'll give it, but the link above to the title at the Internet Archive, will let you read it now and decide for yourself.  Earlier I posted two of Bigham's tales from Stories of Mother Goose Village, but will hold off for now as I thought audiences would snicker at some of the character names.  She was welcome to name the children even if they didn't appear in a nursery rhyme, but I had reservations about Little Tee Wee, Curly Locks, Jumping Joan, Willy Boy, and Patchy Dolly.  Then I looked at the back of the book where she lists the Mother Goose rhymes that inspired her.  Didn't find any about the others, but I did find one I never knew about Little Tee Wee. Some of the characters are familiar names, like Jack-Be-Nimble and I love her inclusion of a young and slimmer child named Humpty Dumpty!  Beyond the children there's Cinderella and I confess I wasn't sure about how yet again, like many stories in the book, Bigham sneaks her into the story.  She gives a brief introduction to the princess, who in this story, with Mother Goose, sponsors the Egg Hunt.  I was overlooking Bigham's use of Cinderella as a recurring character in the book.  Earlier in the book her presence is explained as "Cinderella did not live in Mother Goose Village, though she often went there."  Still, unlike today's stand-alone legend, all of this makes for a certain amount of handling on the part of the storyteller.

I hope you often come here and even to my own storytelling, which is able to draw upon both folklore and history "as seen by the 'average' person."  Whether from the Public Domain or not, this little known Mother Goose rhyme about Little Tee Wee will close this Egg-stravaganza.  It's possibly sad, but good for concluding a session of Mother Goose rhymes. 
Little Tee Wee,
He went to sea
In an open boat;
And while afloat
The little boat bended --
My story's ended.
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.  

There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I recommended it earlier and want to continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so one can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression he likes by pressing one key.

He also loaded to his server the doctorate thesis of Prof. Dov Noy (Neunan) "Motif-index of Talmudic-Midrahic literature" Indiana University, 1954, as a PDF file.
in the hope that some of you would make use of it.

You can see why that is a site I recommend to you.

Have fun discovering even more stories!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Wi' Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm

An old British music hall song, "With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm" introduced me to the ghost of Anne Boleyn as sung (without the "th" in "With") by Stanley Holloway, best known nowadays for his delightful Alfie Doolittle in My Fair Lady.  Tonight (3/18/16) and tomorrow are the final performances of Anne of the Thousand Days by Pontiac Theatre IV and, while I really would love to have you come, I know many reading this aren't near enough.  For lovers of spooky stories I promised to tell about England's most frequently seen ghost, sometimes seen with and sometimes without her head since she was executed by beheading.

The play, Anne of the Thousand Days, brings to life what led up to that execution.

Local friends, I hope to see you at the Michigan School for the Arts at 819 Golf in Pontiac. All performances begin at 8:00 pm. Ticket prices are $10.00 for adults and $8.00 for seniors and students.

O.k. commercial message ended (although it is a lot of fun to get cast and audience together afterwards!) and on to the various "spook spottings."

For those of you who put down paranormal claims, in Britain it's been said that any ghostly vision in a period dress is credited as Anne.  Fine, but the ghost has been reported at sites important to the life of the dead queen.  On the anniversary of her beheading she was seen at her believed birthplace, Blickling Hall in Norfolk.  The most literary description of her ghostly appearances come from Norfolk author, Neil Storey, who has written roughly 30 books including the Grim Almanac series and, if you care to go and see for yourself, A Ghost Hunter's Guide to Norfolk.  I love his description of the anniversary haunting: Well on that driveway over there at twelve midnight, her carriage is said to clatter down there pulled by headless horses, driven by headless horsemen and sat on the back seat bathed in a violet light is Anne Boleyn, her neck a raw stump and her head rattling around on her lap.

Anne’s brother George is also said to return. He was executed a few days before Anne, on the charge of committing incest with his sister. He is said to return to the house being dragged by horses, whilst neatly cradling his head in his arms.  Another local variant has the driver be Anne's father, Thomas Boleyn, who let Henry have both his daughters, Anne and, before her, her sister, Mary.  Thomas supposedly wildly drives the carriage pulled by headless horses and it's pursued by the headless George and blue devils, because Thomas is cursed for a thousand years to make this drive.

Here's ITV News in Anglia's article and video from 2014 to give you a visual taste as people gather on the anniversary.

Did you catch that Anne hasn't been seen there in recent times, but the sound of those ghostly horses and the carriage has been heard in the 20th century?  Oh, Anne, are you losing your connection to earth?  Maybe you now begin to feel no further need to remain here with so many people paying attention?

On the same date she's also been seen at Salle (pronounced Saul) Church where legend says she was reburied under a plain unmarked black marble slab.  There are five such slabs and the church refuses to disinter those slabs.  The church does have a Boleyn family connection as it has 15th century brasses dedicated to its patrons, including Geoffrey Boleyn and his wife (1440) who were Anne Boleyn’s paternal great-grandparents. 

An interesting incident there happened to best-selling novelist, Norah Lofts, who is also Norfolk local and she wrote a great deal about the Tudors, including Anne.  The aged church sexton said he didn't believe in the haunting and even spent an anniversary night there without seeing her.  Then he went on to describe what did happen.  A black hare appeared.  Not wanting it to make a mess, he tried to catch it, falling on the corner of the baptismal font.  By the time he was up again, the hare was gone and, although he checked carefully, he could find no way in or out of the church.  One of the charges, besides adultery, incest, and conspiracy against the king was witchcraft.  I don't believe for a second Anne was a witch, but if you did, that black rabbit would be called her familiar.

In contrast to the Salle Church legend, when Queen Victoria ordered the Chapel Royal for the Tower of London be refurbished, 1500 corpses were found.  Among them, when the altar stone in St. Peter Ad Vincula was lifted, three female beheaded skeletons were found. Only three queens were buried there, Anne, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey.  Queen Victoria ordered the remains of all the royals executed at the Tower be exhumed and reburied under the altar. The skeletons were identified as a female in her mid twenties and two females in their teens. Catherine Howard was only nineteen and Jane Grey sixteen when executed. Anne was in her mid-thirties.  It's interesting to note that one of the people who supposedly moved Anne's body to Salle Church, Sir Thomas Wyatt, later wrote, "God provided for her corpse sacred burial, even in a place as it were consecrate to innocence"...hardly a description of the Tower of London.  Isn't it a pity DNA identification didn't exist in Victorian times?
The Mistletoe Bough
Bringing up Queen Victoria’s reign, I love telling about Victorian Christmas customs, including their telling of scary ghost stories including telling the spooky tale of the Mistletoe Bride.  Last December I gave the text of The Mistletoe Bough poem by Thomas Haynes Bayly.  It supposedly took place at yet another place, Marwell Hall, where Anne's ghost has been spotted as well as her rival and successor, Jane Seymour, who supposedly married king Henry there in secret after the hall was given to her brother, Henry Seymour.  Here's a webpage about Marwell Hall that even gives an early silent film inspired by Bayly's ballad.  Frankly I don't see a reason for Anne to want to visit Marwell Hall.  As a result I don't tell about Jane there.  Looking online, however, I have found claims she haunts the Yew Walk behind the hall, plotting her revenge on Jane.

In contrast, I do tell about Anne's ghost at Christmas returning to her family home of Hever Castle where she grew up and later Henry courted her.  Those courting spots where she's been seen as a ghostly figure in white include a great oak tree and in the rose garden.  Other locations there have her seen coming to the castle on a bridge over the River Eden, sometimes tossing a sprig of holly into the river.  Still nobody reported seeing her there when the castle was used in the filming of Anne of the Thousand Days with Genevieve Bujold and Richard Burton.  To visit the castle, you must cross the drawbridge over the moat and Christmas has the most frequently reported viewing.  She has been seen inside,too.   The online version of the British newspaper, The Daily Mail, gives a tourist's photo of what it calls a "ghoulish hand" pointing at the chimney of the ornate fireplace in the dimly lit living room.  The tourist had no prior belief in ghosts and only saw the hand when he later checked his photos.
The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London
There are other locations mentioned, but before ending the tour of where her ghost has been reported, we must return to that song mentioned in the opening.  It was probably inspired by an actual court martial in 1864.  A Tower guard was accused of falling asleep, but in his defense he reported seeing her headless ghost, charging at it with his rifle's bayonet, and, when he went right through the spectre, he fainted.  Fortunately there were two witnesses to verify his story, one was Major General J.D. Dundas who saw it from the window of his quarters.

To read a bit more about these and other places where Anne's ghost is claimed to have appeared try:
You might want a taste of some Tudor reading.  Try the Tudor book reviews from the Anne Boleyn Files including this one about a book by Norfolk historian turned storyteller, Dave Tongue.
I like that the reviewer catches his ability to stay entertaining while maintaining accuracy.  Among other things, Clair said:
Tudor Tales is a blend of history and stories: a blend of entertaining stories from the Tudor period – many of which had me chuckling to myself – and Dave’s explanation of the historical context, the historical sources and historical examples to tie in with the stories. For example, in his introduction to the tale “Of the gentlewoman who had the last word”, Dave explains about slander cases which were brought before the consistory courts and gives real life examples – fascinating!
You’ll be pleased to know that Dave has modernised the stories, changing the spellings and punctuation to make them easier to read and understand today, without losing their historical flavour or magic. Dave writes “Because many of the tales were drawn from oral culture and told aloud in Tudor times, I have attempted to give a feel of the telling in my versions” and I would say that his attempts have been successful. I just hope that the History Press turns this into an audio book with Dave narrating these wonderful tales, that would be perfect!

It also was favorably reviewed by Carl Merry for Storylines - the UK Society for Storytelling Magazine.  Fortunately for those of us not in the U.K., Amazon currently offers both Kindle and hardcover versions.

I confess to becoming interested in Anne and find curiosity for things Tudoriffic. (Yes, that's my own word creation.)  Will I ever get a chance to do more than tell about her Christmas returning to Hever Castle?  I don't know, but I agree with Maxwell Anderson putting these words in Henry's mouth when the ghost of Anne Boleyn appears to him.

No doubt I'll sometimes see you when I'm alone.
Pontiac Theatre IV cover by Tiffany Lamb

Whenever I'm weary
and the old ways and days come back to me,
and the things you said.
But it will wear out, will erase
like a path nobody walks on.--Why do you smile?
--I can hear you saying, "Nothing's ever forgiven,
nothing's ever forgotten or erased,--
nothing can ever be put back the way it was.
The limb that was cut from Rome won't graft
     to that trunk again."
What we were will be permanent in England; 
It may be then what we were will be permanent in me.
It may be all other women will be shadows
and I'll be angered ,
and turn from one white face to another,
striking left and right like an angry snake
spewing venom,
striking down,
till I'm old and drained of venom.
It may be I shall seek you forever down the long corridors of air,
finding them empty, hearing only echoes.
It would have been easier to forget you living
than to forget you dead. 

Next week I'll return at my usual Saturday time.  Right now I plan an Easter story here for my popular Keeping the Public in Public Domain series.  Whether chilling you with ghost stories or something for your holidays, I enjoy giving a taste of what's possible with my storytelling. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Those Terrible Tudor Times

PTIV cover by Tiffany Lamb
Tonight Anne of the Thousand Days opens at Pontiac Theatre IV --  my "Foolishness" I mentioned last week, but loaded with reasons for the Research part of this blog's title.  While my historical storytelling is about "History as seen by the average person", none of the Tudors and the Boleyns or others in their circle were "the average person." 

At the same time I'm enjoying working with a group dedicated to researching these historical people and their time.  It was a time continuing to influence the world even today.  Added to that it's loaded with many turning points when things could have changed history.  Maybe our own times will be viewed similarly sometime in the future.

One error in my previous article needs to be corrected.  I misspoke about Thomas Cromwell, who brought the temptation to Henry VIII that permitted not only marrying Anne, but seizing church property to enrich his royal treasury when he formed the Church of England.  He was indeed an ancestor of later ruler, Oliver Cromwell, but he was Oliver's great uncle not his uncle.  Thomas died in 1540, while Oliver was born in 1599 and was relatively obscure for the first 40 years of his life.  Still this American found her ears perk up at the mention of the name Cromwell in the play. 

With all the historical figures in Anne of the Thousand Days, each of us has had someone as our focus.  Mine is Anne's mother (and grandmother of Queen Elizabeth I), Elizabeth Boleyn with much of that Wikipedia article written by William Bjornstad on the Find a Grave website.  Elizabeth was raised to see how political fortunes can change and how to survive.  Her own time as lady-in-waiting to Henry VIII's mother and then his wife, Catherine of Aragon, brought her into early contact with him.  In the play her daughter, Mary, (the title character in the movie, The Other Boleyn Girl, because Henry first took her as his mistress) says, "This family seems to have a strange fascination for the King.  There was more than a little talk about you and him -- when you were young."  It's true.  Possibly this fascination with the Boleyn girls is due to Elizabeth being the first teacher for her daughters before sending each, like herself, for a time to the French court.  Elizabeth was well-suited to manage the household of the ambitious courtier, Thomas Boleyn, who rose to become Viscount Rochford and Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond, and ultimately Lord Privy Seal until the execution of his daughter, Anne, along with his son, George.  This end of two of her children devastated Elizabeth and she died two years later, followed by Thomas a year later.  Only Mary seemed to finish the rest of her life happily.  After her first husband died, she secretly remarried a second husband with little money and below her station leading all her family to disown her, although Anne relented slightly with some financial support.

It's a pity Henry couldn't look into the future and see the final Tudor monarch, Elizabeth I, would be far better than all the others following Henry.  First came his son, Edward, who "reigned" as a sickly boy, dying at age 15, followed by the nine day reign of Jane Grey, and then the five years of Mary, the daughter of Catherine (Katherine of Aragon has various spellings), until half sister, Elizabeth, took the throne at a time when it was bankrupt, in the grip of religious turmoil begun by Henry, and weaker than France or Spain.

There are two places I'd recommend as starting points to know more about this pivotal time in British history.  Wikipedia can be dry, but it's a thorough launching point giving many options to search.  Another source, a British source, English History, is sometimes worth considering because it also mentions the viewpoint of the Tudor times themselves.  It's definitely worth prowling the many options there under "Tudor."

In the meantime, I hope any local readers catch this history in action in the classic drama about King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Anne of the Thousand Days, by Maxwell Anderson. The production will be held on March 11, 12, 18, 19, 2016 at the Michigan School for the Arts at 819 Golf in Pontiac. All performances begin at 8:00 pm. Ticket prices are $10.00 for adults and $8.00 for seniors and students.

Next week, before leaving this "foolishness", I'll give a look at Anne Boleyn's reputation as Britain's most frequently seen ghost.  Nothing like a good ghost story for a storyteller!

Saturday, March 5, 2016


At first I called it my Annual Foolishness, then it became my Semi-Annual Foolishness, but now I guess it's just plain Foolishness.  Back when I left the rigidity of a library schedule for storytelling, I tentatively let myself be cast in a play during a time when storytelling was less likely.  My storytelling draws upon my undergraduate degree in Theatre Arts which included a sabbatical at a professional theatre, independent studies directing a touring children's theatre company, and another teaching acting.  I guess that foolishness includes telling myself going back into shows throughout the year helps my storytelling.  Truthfully it's really closer to letting myself become captivated by some shows and, in winter, locking myself into doing something without spending to go some place warm.

If you go to Pontiac Theatre IV's website, you will discover my current "foolishness" is Anne of the Thousand Days by Maxwell Anderson. The production opens next week and will be held on March 11, 12, 18, 19, 2016 at the Michigan School for the Arts at 819 Golf in Pontiac. All performances begin at 8:00 pm. Ticket prices are $10.00 for adults and $8.00 for seniors and students. Tickets also may be reserved by calling 248-499-2360.

Speaking earlier of being captivated, Maxwell Anderson was both a poet and dramatist with a love of history, especially Tudor history, writing three dramas about it in blank verse.  While the play version doesn't have the settings of the movie, the stage version of Anne of the Thousand Days gives both the history, passion and intrigue of Anne Boleyn's life and execution, and that poetry.  He doesn't do it in Shakespeare's iambic pentameter, but the imagery is definitely there.  All of this, plus an invitation from director, AmandaJane Schade, to play Anne's mother, Elizabeth, the grandmother and namesake of Queen Elizabeth the First proved irresistible to me.

In the process of getting my character developed I've discovered so much about the people involved.  As Americans we may have seen the movie about Anne's sister, Mary, in The Other Boleyn Girl or even the BBC television mini-series, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, but Anne of the Thousand Days continues to show how little we know and intrigue us with what might have been in oh so many ways.

Those Wikipedia articles linked in the previous paragraph give us a dry look at each of the shows complete with commentary on historical accuracy.  The BBC mini-series lacks that appraisal of accuracy, so it is presumed correct.  For my part, the lady Elizabeth Howard Boleyn, has plenty of interest even if in the play she tells her daughter, Mary, that being a mother is "as much as a woman ever has."  That's another interesting thing certain to draw audience reaction as attitudes about women are definitely different.  While many portraits exist of Anne and Mary and the many important men, the only one I could find of Elizabeth is always described as
Portrait believed to be of Elizabeth Howard Boleyn.
As publicity for the show, cast members were interviewed and I think my responses give more reasons to see the show and why I find it worthy of talking about in a blog devoted to research and storytelling. 
1) We've all heard of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, but many of us don't know the there anything in this play that you think will surprise audiences in regards to this story and the people involved?

People may know about the reign of Oliver Cromwell, but his uncle, Thomas Cromwell, was quite involved -- to say the least -- in Anne's marriage and later execution.    English history isn't something Americans are as knowledgeable about as we should be, so this play does a beautiful job of letting us see the humanity behind the story.

2) Do you relate to the character you play in Anne of the Thousand Days? Why or why not?

Elizabeth, Anne's mother, is a fascinating character in her own life and also as a woman who tried to be close to her children.  She came from a position of nobility, wealth, and influence and was well-suited to all that happened throughout her life, including seeing how positions can change with royal favor.  Since she's nothing like myself, except as a mother, I looked for someone who might help me portray her.  Followers of the t.v. show Castle can understand how I found Castle's mother, Martha, a Grande Dame of the theatre (played by Susan Sullivan) an excellent role model.  Don't know if my version will remind people of her, but she certainly gives me a target to attempt.

3) Tell me a little bit about your life outside of theatre.

I'm a professional storyteller, coming from a background of theatre and librarianship.  While I tell "stories from around the world and back through time", I confess that I especially love my historical "characters" I portray.  They're not famous people, in fact I call it "history as seen by the 'average' person", but they have fascinating lives.  I am currently developing the story of a woman from Marine City who was sent to France in World War I as a bi-lingual phone operator.  I frequently portray a woman from Shelby Township who grew up on an Underground Railroad Station run by her abolitionist parents, her brothers were active in the Civil War, and her own marriage and family give a view of this area 100 years ago.  In addition I have a "generic" one-room schoolteacher program and am sometimes "the Hired Girl" to tell about Victorian Christmas and other topics of the late 19th and early 20th century.

4) Why do you think people should people come see Anne of the Thousand Days?

Aside from the fact that it gives that view into history I mentioned, it's beautifully written, almost poetic while never bogging down.  Added to all of that, you will find yourself thinking about how history might have been very different.  Anne truly loved and was engaged to the Earl  of Northumberland, but King Henry broke it up; Henry and Anne had a tempestuous relationship, but it might have worked if they had produced a male heir; (love how gender is determined by the father and wish it had been known then!); what if Henry had only realized what a great monarch his daughter, Elizabeth, would become as many consider the greatest monarch in English history?  Those who enjoy alternate histories have plenty to enjoy in this story.

I'll leave the possibility of those alternate histories to the imagination of others and return to the research and how it might affect any storytelling about the Tudor era in my next two weeks.  Next week I'll give sources and portraits of the people so involved in the tale.  Then the following week will tell about the many ghostly places where Anne Boleyn has been seen.  She earned the title of the most famous ghost in England and seeing Anne of the Thousand Days it's easy to believe she would want to return.

Hope you come to the show, but even if you can't, I hope you enjoy looking into the history that inspired it.