Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/51

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45
A CHAMBERMAID'S DIARY.

abuses of confidence, thefts, and crimes of all sorts, that he had committed, was deemed a very light sentence. While he was serving his time at Gaillon, he died. But he had taken care to put aside, and in a safe place, it seems, four hundred and fifty thousand francs, which, artfully withheld from the ruined creditors, constitute Monsieur's entire personal fortune. Ah! you see, it is no trick at all to be rich.

Madame's father was much worse, although he was never sentenced to imprisonment, and departed this life respected by all the respectable people. He was a dealer in men. The haberdasher explained to me that, under Napoleon III, when everybody was not obliged to serve in the army, as is the case to-day, the rich young men who were drawn by lot for service had the right to send a substitute. They applied to an agency or to a Monsieur who, in consideration of a premium varying from one to two thousand francs, according to the risks at the time, found them a poor devil, who consented to take their place in the regiment for seven years, and, in case of war, to die for them. Thus was carried on in France the trade in whites, as in Africa the trade in blacks. There were men-markets, like cattle-markets, but for a more horrible butchery. That does not greatly astonish me. Are there, then, none to-day? What, I should like to know, are the employment-bureaus and the public