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Sophia de la Cerda

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About Sophia de la Cerda

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    Lady Toledo

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  • Title
    Countess

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  1. Sophia de la Cerda

    EASTER 1678 | Good Friday Service (8th all day)

    Francis and Sophia Sophia was afraid that Francis would not wish to speak to her again after what she had said earlier. The breath she had not realized she was holding whooshed out of her when he turned to her and smiled. “Very well,” she replied with a charming smile of her own. “If I do not hear from you, I will be at the fountain on Wednesday afternoon.” She nodded when he mentioned her dilemma. “Yes, of course.” The blonde Countess certainly didn’t wish to discuss converting to Catholicism with the Duke. “What about the day after, on Thursday? Maybe we can go riding together if you do not have to serve His Majesty then?"
  2. Sophia de la Cerda

    EASTER 1678 | A rousing evening with Her Royal Majesty (8th)

    Athenry and Sophia Lord Athenry was cute when he blushed, though Sophia felt guilty about embarrassing him by her impromptu choice of words. English was a complicated language, but at least they didn’t have as many articles as German. Her native language was probably harder to learn. As for Spanish, Cadell admitted he was by no means fluent, but his simple answer was easy to understand. “Just try your best,” she suggested. “My lord husband is accustomed to my imperfect Spanish. I think he will appreciate your effort, though will most likely switch to English before long.” A good Ambassador respected the country in which he served, which meant conversing in its native language most of the time. She laughed when he promised not to restart the Franco-Spanish war. “Thank you, my friend.” Her voice held a teasing tone. “A war would completely decimate my drawing room and then I would have to redecorate it all over again.” The young Countess adored discussing books with Cadell. Most gentlemen, she suspected, would be appalled at the diversity of her reading material, which went above and beyond what ladies were supposed to be interested in. They had bonded over their love of reading and had recommended books to each other, the way he was doing now. Sophia clapped her hands, heedless as to whether looks would be cast in her direction. “I promise I will take good care of it and return it to you when I am done,” she said about the chapbook he offered her. He didn’t seem thrilled with his wife’s expensive tastes. Luckily for Sophia, her own husband didn’t mind hers. Or perhaps he did, but Juan had ordered him to deny her nothing. The recitation began. She was a bit surprised that Lord Kingston went first. He had never struck her as the kind of man who craved attention. Was he changing now that he was being guided by the Duke of Buckingham? His style had certainly improved. She hoped he wouldn’t become as arrogant as His Grace. Lord Chichester followed with a verse of his own, and Sophia smiled in his direction. He was sitting with Mistress Wellsley. She’d seen the two of them together before in previous seasons. Were they sweethearts? She glanced over at Davina. She’s Catholic too. Maybe she can give me advice from a woman’s point of view. Mistress Wellsley would be getting a letter from her too. Cadell spoke up next and she nodded as he explained his choice of verse. She could tell that he was a bit uncomfortable. When he sat back down, she smiled reassuringly. “Very true,” she agreed, “and something that people need reminding of.” She fervently believed that God loved everyone equally, no matter their gender, faith, or nationality. A vaguely feminine voice spoke against Catholics. Lady Oakham? She was allowed back at court after stabbing poor Master Killigrew last spring? Beside her was the utterly fascinating Lord Chatham. Sophia reached up and touched her cheek, the secret sign that meant she was thinking of him. Lady Oakham, rather predictably, quoted Song of Solomon. Lord Chichester reprimanded her with another verse. Davina went next followed by Sophia’s new friend Mistress Dundas and Lord Beverly’s wife. The blonde Countess could identify with the last verse, as she, too, was with child. Short but sweet “And here we go,” she whispered to Cadell as she stood, her gaze moving theatrically around the circle. Utilizing the acoustics in the presence chamber as only a highly trained musician could, she projected her voice so that it seemed to echo from all corners of the room. "Psalm 104:33. This is why I sing. God gifted me with a beautiful voice so that I could use it to praise him. Every time, I lift my voice in song, I sing for his glory.” With a cute little curtsy, Sophia sat back down. “I hope I didn’t mess that up,” she murmured to Cadell.
  3. Sophia de la Cerda

    EASTER 1678 | Good Friday Service (8th all day)

    Sophia Intercepting Francis Sophia had eaten enthusiastically during the break. The baby growing inside her was always hungry. During the second half of the service, her beautiful voice twirled around the chapel as she sang the hymns. She tried to keep her voice quiet enough that it didn’t drown out the rest of the congregation, but it was hard. The young Countess loved singing for the glory of God. Nobody might believe it when watching her performances, but every time she sang was for God. Some people worshiped Him with words; she worshiped Him with her voice. That was, after all, the reason He had gifted her with it. She placed her sketching supplies back in her bag when the service was finally over. Maybe Lord Buckingham would speak with her now that was no longer early. Spotting him across the room, she sighed. He was speaking with the King. Interrupting them would be a social faux pas she had known not to make when she had first arrived in England. Noticing Francis leaving him and heading off with a purposeful stride, she hurried to catch up with her former guardian. “Lord Kingston, may I have a brief word with you? You, I, and His Grace had arranged a meeting for this afternoon, but instead we attended Church all day. Would the two of you be willing to meet with me on Wednesday afternoon instead?”
  4. Sophia de la Cerda

    EASTER 1678 | A rousing evening with Her Royal Majesty (8th)

    Athenry and Sophia “Look for my note in a day or two. We can introduce our spouses at a court event. I would rather be alone with you to discuss my dilemma.” Realizing how that sounded, Sophia blushed, just as prettily as she had always done. “Not like that, of course. And there will be servants in the room serving us refreshments so we will not truly be alone together.” She sighed softly. “My lord husband is quite possessive.” She had almost said ‘jealous,’ but ‘possessive’ was a more accurate description of Esteban's attitude toward her. As he had never shown any romantic interest in he, he probably didn’t care personally whether or not other gentlemen fancied her. He was protecting her from the advances of amorous men because that was what Juan had asked him to do. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t working very well. She had two lovers and yet she still loved her Prince with all her heart. Cadell was different. He was a very dear friend and she had spoken of him often enough that her husband should know what kind of relationship the two of them shared. Still, it was always better to be safe than sorry. “¿Tu hablas español?”* Sophia grinned. “I will not tell him, so that he will be surprised. I think he will be pleased that you are willing to converse in his native language. We speak it at home a lot, mainly because I need the practice. I have been studying Spanish since we wed, and I have learned more from my trips to Madrid than from my tutors.” She tilted her head to the side. “Maybe you should not mention St. Omer, though. The French took Artois from the Spanish, did they not? It might be a sore point with him.” Sometimes the young Countess wondered why Juan (and Esteban, whose opinions were the same as his master’s) hated France when his half-sister was its Queen. She had considered that part of the reason was that Maria Theresa was legitimate and had enjoyed the privileges of growing up royal. But no, Juan would never be so petty. Had Cadell met her lover’s half-sister while he was in France? “I know of both Molière and Racine. I believe they both worked with Lully and you know how much I admire the French composer. When I was in Venice, I watched one of Molière’s plays, but it was performed in French and at the time, I didn’t understand a word of it. I was able to follow the story through the actions of the actors, much like one does at an opera. Madame de la Fayette does sound interesting. Can you obtain some of her books for me? My French is improving, mostly be reading, and I would love to practice with stories like those you describe.” What did Her Majesty have in store for them? Sophia smiled and shrugged. “I am not sure. I came hoping I would get the chance to sing a hymn or two for her, but ... oh, I think it's starting." The Bishop began with a prayer and then asked everyone to recite Bible verses. "Well, now we know," she whispered to Cadell. Sophia was aware that she was considered by some as vainglorious and probably shouldn't go first, no matter how much she wanted to. *You speak Spanish?
  5. Sophia de la Cerda

    EASTER 1678 | A rousing evening with Her Royal Majesty (8th)

    Athenry and Sophia Sophia noticed Cadell’s arched eyebrow. So he had no idea that I knew Erasmus was not just his cat. The element of surprise was something that she was beginning to use to show courtiers that she was much more than just a silly teenage girl. Dropping tidbits of tantalizing information also made her seem more mysterious and interesting, or so she believed. Everyone at court now knew that she had a beautiful voice that had been recognized by both the King and Queen, but they knew little more than that. Her heart went out to her friend when he admitted that he shared her feeling of not belonging. His situation was not so different to her own. He was a Catholic Welshman married to a Frenchwoman, and she was a German married to a Spaniard who was presumed to be Catholic. They were both out of place here, attempting to make their home in the English court. “There is nothing to forgive,” she said with a smile. “Being foreign doesn’t bother me anymore. In fact, I’m rather proud that I am now foreign twice. I may be the only lady at court with that distinction. Oh, there are still those who tell me to go back where they came from, but they are not worth my time.” Sophia was pleased that Lord Athenry agreed to listen to her concerns. “I shall send you a note, so we can work out a date and time that is convenient for both of us. Perhaps you can visit my residence. It belonged to the last Ambassador and he made quite a mess of it. During recess it was redecorated to suit its new owners. I would love for you to see it.” Cadell seemed as unhappy with his marriage as she was with hers. Yet another thing they had in common. Did he still wish he was a bachelor? Marriage was much different for a gentleman than it was for a lady. A gentleman lost some of his freedom when he was wed, while a lady simply went from being under the rule of her parents or guardian to that of her husband. Sophia hoped his wife was not a complete shrew and that she didn’t resent him for taking her away from the King. She wasn’t the first of his monarch’s mistresses to be be married to a courtier. “I hope that she and I will become friends. We foreigners should stick together.” What would Esteban think if she made yet another French acquaintance? He had never warned her against associating with Nicolette or Caroline so perhaps he didn’t care, despite the long-running animosity between the Spanish and the French. “Oh definitely,” she assured Cadell. “He likes to read, and I told him that you and I had some interesting discussions about books. Mostly he reads in Spanish, but I’m sure he reads English books as well. There are some on our bookshelves that are definitely not mine. I wonder how many other households have books in four different languages.” A servant stopped before them with a tray of drinks, and Sophia took a glass of wine. “Did you read any good French books while you were in Versailles?”
  6. Sophia de la Cerda

    EASTER 1678 | A rousing evening with Her Royal Majesty (8th)

    Athenry and Sophia “Truer words your cat has never spoken,” Sophia jested. Would Lord Athenry be surprised that she was familiar with Erasmus? Her stepmother had introduced her to his works and she had found them quite enlightening. “The English consider me Spanish and the Spanish consider me German. I have never felt as if I truly belonged anywhere.” Except in the arms of my beloved Juan. My place will always be with him. She grinned when Cadell addressed her as his friend. They had not seen each other in a year and both of them had married and risen in status, but their friendship had remained strong and sure. “Even if you can give me nothing by a sympathetic ear, I will be grateful. Lord Kingston has agreed to discuss the dilemma with me as well. It is a life-changing decision and once made, it cannot be undone." Actually, it probably could, but not without angering her husband and her lover. “So how are you finding married life? I hope I will get to meet your lady wife and I promise to introduce you to my lord husband at the first opportunity. He has heard me speak of you a time or two. I think the two of you will get along well.”
  7. Sophia de la Cerda

    EASTER 1678 | A rousing evening with Her Royal Majesty (8th)

    Athenry and Sophia Sophia felt a bit guilty for asking about Cadell’s adventures when he called attention to his cane. However, one could still do many interesting things with limited mobility. She could not remember his affliction hindering him before. Had it worsened since he had left court? She certainly hoped not. She only wished the best for him. How long had been gone anyway? Since last spring, she believed. An entire year! He had likely heard that she was married and to whom, just as she had heard that he had been wed to one of the King’s mistresses and been given lands and a title or two. He looked quite well and content, she thought. His time away from court had been good for him. Perhaps his marriage was a happy one, too. Maybe he even knew about the nearly impossible feat she had accomplished at the concert. If she had known he was returning to court, she would have postponed it so that he could attend. Cadell had supported her during her very first concert at Windsor shortly after she arrived in England. That one had actually been inspired by her wish to sing for him. “Sometimes mental adventures are the best kind,” she smiled. “and certainly the least likely to go awry.“ So he had been on His Majesty's business in France? Had he been a spy? How exciting that would be! He was the type of gentleman that nobody would expect of nefarious intent and so the perfect choice for that kind of work. Sophia thought that she made a good spy too, though since Ronquillo’s departure, she’d had no chance to practice her fledgling skills at covertly gathering information. Cadell had obviously enjoyed Paris. “I envy you for spending so much time there. I have heard the most fascinating things about Versailles and wish I could visit myself.” The young Countess sighed. “I fear it is impossible now, not because of the tensions between England and France but because I am married to a Spaniard, and the French and the Spanish get along worse than cats and dogs. I doubt my reception would be as warm as yours, no matter that I am not truly Spanish at all." The Queen arrived. Sophia glanced briefly at her swollen belly, wondering how it felt to be so large with child. Well, she would find out soon enough. The Queen was taller than she was and carried her temporary bulk with dignity, something the blonde Countess would probably not be able to pull off. After the obligatory curtsy, she sat back down and turned back to Cadell. “Thank you,” she said, a soft smile curving her lips. “My lord husband is very happy.” And my royal lover even more so, she added silently to herself. “Lord Toledo is the Spanish Ambassador now and he recently was awarded the title of Count. I am now a Countess, which was my dream when I first came to court. I just got there in a rather roundabout way.” Her smile faded at the mention of her predicament. Considering that he was Catholic and a close friend ... “May I discuss it with you, my lord? You may be able to help me make a decision. It is a delicate situation and I cannot mention it here." Her former guardian's scolding had not been forgotten. "If you gave time, perhaps we can get together sometime next week?”
  8. Sophia de la Cerda

    EASTER 1678 | A rousing evening with Her Royal Majesty (8th)

    Cadell and Sophia I should do it, Sophia thought. It will better for my child in the long run. Left to her own devices, her mind turned to the decision she faced … whether or not to convert to Catholicism. She had never been very religious and could change faiths as easily and as frequently as she changed shoes. Growing up with a Protestant father and a Catholic stepmother, she had attended both church and mass as a child, mainly for the singing. The decision should be simple. Her royal lover and her husband were Catholic, therefore why not become one herself? Most courtiers thought she already was, as she had married an Ambassador from a Catholic kingdom. But would they think less of her for it? Would she lose friends, her tentative connection to the Queen, and any chance of helping Esteban achieve his goals? It was still dangerous for Catholics in London and she didn’t need another target on her back. One was more than enough, thank you very much. One obstacle in her path had been her aversion to confession. Now Sophia realized that she could make a game of it, by inventing ‘sins’ that made her look good ... such as having uncharitable thoughts about libertines, wishing her husband would spend more time with her even though she knew he was busy, and failing to reprimand servants when they did something wrong. Her real transgressions would remain a secret. As a consummate actress, she would have no trouble pulling it off. With that hindrance gone, what was truly stopping her? She needed advice before she committed to it, though. Maybe there were disadvantages that she had not yet considered. A familiar voice brought her out of her thoughts. A genuine smile turned up Sophia’s lips as she beheld the form of Sir Cadell … no, he was a lord now. Hadn't she heard that somewhere? A Viscount, she believed. He looked bit different and she had to admit she liked the change. His voice sounded different too. Was that a hint of a French accent in his voice? Had he gone to France after he left court? She had missed him dreadfully. He was one of the first friends she had made after she had moved to England a little more than a year ago and she was quite fond of him. “Thank you, my lord,” she said, pleased that he had sat down beside her. “I am so glad you have returned to court.” The young Countess chuckled when he mentioned Erasmus. Without that cantankerous cat, she would not have experienced the joy and heartbreak of loving Lucas Cole. She had long since moved on, but a young lady never forgot her first romance. “Give him my regards as well. I still have the nightingale you gave me last year. She is thriving and sings sweetly to me every day. Whenever I listen to her, I think of you.” Was she being ignored? Lost in her conundrum, she had not noticed. “I do not think so. The fault is likely mine. I have yet made no attempt to socialize. There is a matter that weighs heavily on my mind now that I am with child, and I am afraid that it has disturbed me once again. “Thank you for distracting me. Your company is much appreciated. So how have you been? You have been away from court so long. Did you have any intriguing adventures?"
  9. Sophia de la Cerda

    EASTER 1678 | Good Friday Service (8th all day)

    Francis and Sophia parting Sophia was so surprised at Francis’ scolding that she instinctively took a step back. She understood the reasoning behind it. This was, perhaps, an inappropriate subject to discuss in a Protestant church, but she really needed his advice and knew how busy he was. When she had seen him, she had acted without thinking of the consequences first, a common mistake for one who was only seventeen. At least he agreed to meet with her later. “I’m sorry. Please forgive my presumptuousness. I will send you a note and we can decide when to meet next week. This is a very important decision and I would appreciate your ruidance.” She smiled mischievously. “Enjoy the service, my lord.” Unless he had turned pious after she had married, he would be as bored as she. The King and Queen had arrived, which meant the service was about to begin. Sophia sat down in the same pew that she had used while sketching the flowers and as the Bishop droned on, she hid her sketchbook in her Bible and continued to draw.
  10. Sophia de la Cerda

    Rhapsody In Rose | 5th April Evening. public event, open to all

    As she basked in the audience’s applause and approval, Sophia was happier than she had been since Juan had told her he loved her. She noticed Esteban’s pleased expression before her eyes swept over the audience. Her gaze landed briefly on Lord Arundel. She had hoped to speak to him tonight, but she was tired and didn’t want to linger overly long. Their paths would cross soon, she had no doubt. She glanced at Lord Chatham and lifted one hand to her cheek, one of the secret gestures they had agreed upon. After two servants swept up the shards of the vase, she picked up the flowers and held them to her chest as she stepped to the center of the makeshift stage. “Thank you all for coming. Lady Kendishall, Master Staggins, and I hope you enjoyed our concert as much as we enjoyed performing for you.”
  11. Sophia de la Cerda

    EASTER 1678 | Good Friday Service (8th all day)

    Francis and Sophia leaving Buckingham The Duke wasn’t in a witty mood this morning and did not reply to her jest. Sometimes Sophia forgot that not everyone woke up before the break of dawn eager to begin the day. At least he agreed to let her borrow Lord Kingston, and she flashed him a disarming smile and curtsied again in gratitude. In a few short months, she would probably not be able to curtsy at all without falling over. “Thank you,” she replied to Francis' compliment as she led him over to the stained glass window that she had recently been sketching. “You look quite dashing yourself. Those colors compliment the color of your hair.” The sunlight dancing through the window and casting its colorful hues upon the pure white flowers contrasted starkly with Sophia’s pensive mood. When she looked up at Francis, her ice-blue eyes were troubled. “I would like your advice on a serious matter, my lord. I trust you more than anyone else at court. I’ve been pondering this ever since I discovered that I am with child.” The young Countess took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I am thinking of converting to the Catholic faith.”
  12. “Yes, I’ll be all right now,” Sophia assured Agnes. She really did feel better, and not as frightened as she usually was when she even came close to large bodies of water. It surrounded her on all sides now and she didn’t feel as if she would faint or throw up, which were her normal reactions in this situation. Maybe she would be able to endure the next journey to Spain without any ill effects if she remembered to sing whenever she was scared. She knew that Esteban wouldn’t mind, and the sailors would probably enjoy her music too. The next journey was most likely a few years away. Juan’s baby would be born in England. Esteban had already decided that it was too dangerous for her to make such a long trip. Her Prince would visit her when the child was born. When he was old enough to travel, she would take him to his father’s homeland. She wasn’t certain how long it would be before she set foot on a ship again. Agnes downplayed her role, but Sophia gave her the credit she deserved. “If not for Mistress Dundas, I wouldn’t be here now. She knew just what I needed. Your cousin is a treasure, Your Grace.” She was pleased that the Duchess had enjoyed the lullaby. Looking out at the river, she shivered. Maybe she needed to sing a bit more. “I wonder how far my voice will carry over the water,” she said, grinning at her two friends. “Would you like to find out?” (OOC: Yay! Thanks for allowing that big step in overcoming her fear. I'm fine with ending the thread any time you are.)
  13. Sophia de la Cerda

    EASTER 1678 | Good Friday Service (8th all day)

    Sophia approaching Francis and Buckingham After outlining the flowers, Sophia paused, placing the red pastel she had been using back in its box and her sketchbook upon her lap. Stretching her fingers, she looked around the chapel, smiling when she saw Lord Kingston’s blonde curls. He was with Lord Buckingham. It seemed that the Duke's fashion sense was rubbing off on him. He looked quite fetching in a green brocade ensemble. There was something she wanted his opinion on that concerned her future and the future of her child. Did he even know she was pregnant? She hadn’t told him yet, but if he did know, then there were rumors circulating about her that might reach the ears of Spanish spies who were plotting against Juan. The young Countess had planned to tell him the next time she saw. He would probably be happy for her and he would definitely not spread the news around. In another month, her condition would be impossible to hide, but she was only telling her close friends now, of which he was one. Standing up, she placed her sketching supplies back in her bag and walked over to him, curtsying prettily to the Duke. She greeted him first, of course. “Good morning, Your Grace. Do you mind if I borrow Lord Kingston for a few minutes? I promise you that it won’t take long.” With an impish grin, she added: “I also promise that I won’t break any glass today with my voice.” She smiled over at Francis, hoping that her former guardian would not mind giving her a few moments of his time.
  14. Sophia de la Cerda

    EASTER 1678 | A rousing evening with Her Royal Majesty (8th)

    Sophia enters Sophia felt eyes upon her as she entered the Queen’s presence chamber, though it might have been her imagination coupled with a bit of insecurity. Those who were aware of her identity but did not know her personally probably thought that it was audacious of the Spanish Ambassador’s wife to swan into Her Majesty’s first event. Hopefully, she would not be thrown out. She had been here before, but there had been only a few people present. Tonight the room would likely be full. The Queen would allow her to stay, but she had not yet arrived. The young Countess still wished to befriend the Queen. They had something in common now besides their nationality … they were both pregnant … and if she found a moment to speak to her, perhaps Her Majesty could give her advice on how to handle the later months. Sophia was not even showing yet at only three months along. Unless she told her, the Queen would never know. If nothing else, she would enjoy the evening, Perhaps she would be able to offer an Easter hymn to Her Majesty. She knew that the Queen appreciated her voice. She liked it enough that she had presented it to the King as his birthday gift last year. Maybe she had heard about the nearly impossible feat that Sophia had performed at the opera. Not many singers could break glass with their voices. Still dressed in the spring green, pink, and yellow ensemble she had worn to church, she wandered over to an empty chair close to the middle of the circle, hoping that she would be welcome here in spite of her Spanish connections.
  15. Sophia de la Cerda

    EASTER 1678 | Good Friday Service (8th all day)

    Sophia arrives With a bag containing her sketching supplies swinging from one hand, Sophia stepped into the chapel, her eyes widening in delight at the sight of so many lovely decorations. There were flowers everywhere and their heady scent was quite pleasant. I don’t have to worry about what to sketch, she thought as she looked around her. She had no idea what the day would bring, but she doubted the courtiers would be required to listen to a sermon the entire time. Maybe there would be a lot of singing. She hoped that there would be breaks to eat and perhaps to mingle. Or were they supposed to fast? Despite living in England for over a year, this would be her first Easter weekend spent at court and she wasn’t certain what to expect. Her attire was nearly as bright as the flowers she was admiring. She was dressed in a spring green gown embroidered abundantly with pink beaded roses over a pale yellow underskirt sprinkled with pink beads in a lattice pattern. White Venetian lace framed her modestly cut neckline and served as ruffles around each puff of her elbow-length sleeves. She wore a yellow stomacher embroidered with pink beaded flowers and green beaded leaves. The bottom came to an elongated point at the front and was also trimmed with white Venetian lace.Her pale blonde hair was woven with green and pink ribbons, held in a pretty updo with pearl combs. A few curls were left loose to cascade over her shoulders. She wore a pearl necklace around her neck from which hung the cameo Juan had given her. Pearl earrings accented with green, pink, and yellow beads glittered in her earlobes. Her lips were turned up in the typical serene smile that accompanied early pregnancy. Though she had meant to scan the room for people she knew, her attention was caught by a beautiful display of white flowers in front of a stained glass window. The sun streaming through the panes bathed the blooms in myriad sparkling hues. Inspired, she found a seat nearby, took out her sketchbook and oil pastels, and began to draw.
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