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A Mother Of Monsters
by [?]

“She has at this moment eleven alive, and they bring in, on an average, counting good and bad years, from five to six thousand francs a year. One, alone, is not placed, the one she was unwilling to show us. But she will not keep it long, for she is known to all the showmen in the world, who come from time to time to see if she has anything new.

“She even gets bids from them when the monster is valuable.”

My friend was silent. A profound disgust stirred my heart, and a feeling of rage, of regret, to think that I had not strangled this brute when I had the opportunity.

I had forgotten this story, when I saw on the beach of a fashionable resort the other day, an elegant, charming, dainty woman, surrounded by men who paid her respect as well as admiration.

I was walking along the beach, arm in arm with a friend, the resident physician. Ten minutes later, I saw a nursemaid with three children, who were rolling in the sand. A pair of little crutches lay on the ground, and touched my sympathy. I then noticed that these three children were all deformed, humpbacked, or crooked; and hideous.

“Those are the offspring of that charming woman you saw just now,” said the doctor.

I was filled with pity for her, as well as for them, and exclaimed: “Oh, the poor mother! How can she ever laugh!”

“Do not pity her, my friend. Pity the poor children,” replied the doctor. “This is the consequence of preserving a slender figure up to the last. These little deformities were made by the corset. She knows very well that she is risking her life at this game. But what does she care, as long as lie can be beautiful and have admirers!”

And then I recalled that other woman, the peasant, the “Devil,” who sold her children, her monsters.