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n 1833, when the fledgling Belgian kingdom still fears a Dutch invasion, recruits were selected annually from an age cohort by a draw of lots in each locality. In this grim, then contemporary drama by the 'father of Flemish literature', Hendrik Conscience, Jan Braems, a poor and naive farmers-boy, accepts the not uncommon offer by a rich family to sell his lucky ticket (out) to their son for a hefty sum compared to the miserable labor wages at the time. Army life is even harsher then a farmhand's, especially for a Dutch-speaking an-alphabet who simply can't understand his francophone superiors, and Jan's nature is not complacent enough for military discipline even by todays standards, so he soon gets into all kinds of trouble, including gambling his capital away and a venereal disease. When his girlfriend back home goes looking for him, her life is doomed as well.

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