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ever, and a swift succession of pictures Hashed before his mind's eye. pictures of Samson, Hercules, and other famous victims of female tyranny; he was just about to add himself to the gallery when by a blessed chance Henry the Eighth intervened, and the memory of that monarch's bluff, hearty methods came to him as a happy precedent for asserting the moral dignity of man.
"My dear," he said firmly, "the thing is impossible on the face of it. You might just as well ask me to go and tell his Majesty the King that Windsor Castle is too near Ealing, and that you would be glad if he would move it into Yorkshire." Mr. Lauriston was rather pleased with his loyal simile; he felt that he was in a sense repaying to the throne of England the debt of courage that he had just incurred. Perceiving that his words had had some small effect on Cicely he continued: "Besides, how do you know that these young men are at all undesirable? Martin said they looked very respectable."
"Only one of them," said Agatha; "and criminals very often look respectable."
"My dear child," retorted Mr. Lauriston, "what do you know about criminals?" Agatha's knowledge being limited to an ex-housemaid who had exchanged her aunt's silver spoons for whisky not destined for general use. he felt that he had marked a point.
"Whether they are criminals or not is quite beside the question," said Aunt Charlotte loftily; "and i don't care how respectable they are. But while i am in charge of these girls i am not going to run any risks. if you don't mind your nieces being insulted and pursued, you should remember that Miss Doris Yonge is our guest. She shall not be exposed to that sort of thing."
Aunt Charlotte's mind moved with such rapidity that Mr. Lauriston was
on the point of yielding and joining the
lamentable company of Samson and
Hercules, but the brave English monarch rescued him once more, and he spoke with the firmness of a man and
a householder. "My dear, it will be quite time to bring railing accusations of that sort when you perceive the slightest foundation for them. At present the insults have all been on one side. i have always made it an invariable rule in the City to treat every man as a gentleman unless he proves himself otherwise, and i shall not alter it now."
Mr. Lauriston's valor served him well: it gained him the ally for whom he had looked. Cicely added something more to the discussion. "i don't think disguised house-boats, i mean criminals would sit at a trestle-table and drink tea," she said with conviction.
"Of' course not," agreed Mr. Lauriston, though it is to be feared that be looked on Cicely's remark rather as a vote of confidence in himself than as a ponderable argument in his favor. He was encouraged to proceed. "Probably, Charlotte, these young men will not be the slightest inconvenience to us. indeed, i should not be surprised if they were just as determined to avoid us, as you are to avoid them. Why should they come to this deserted spot unless they wanted to be quiet?"
"Perhaps they'll come round and ask us to go away," said Agatha, her cheeks betraying a little glow of irritation apparently provoked by his words.
Mr. Lauriston laughed; he felt that he was winning. "So you see, my dear," he continued, "that it is a hundred to one against any trouble arising out of the situation."
Aunt Charlotte's face showed that her husband's logic had not been wasted. Moreover she felt that Cicely had deserted her and that the other*
were wavering. But she did not yield; about, if we found them in our tea
she moved back to her next trench. "Well, we will move then," she said, "as Agatha suggests."
"Oh, but i didn't," put in that young lady quickly. She thought that flight would be equal to a confession of inferiority, and said so.
Cicely, too, looked alarmed at her Aunt's suggestion. "Aunt Charlotte!" she said reproachfully. "They would laugh at us, to say nothing of all the packing."
"Couldn't we give it a day's trial," suggested Doris, "and see how we get on?"
"Yes," added Cicely, extracting a tiny insect from her pink sherbet with a spoon; "we could go away the next day if we met too many young men
(To be continued.)
cups or anything."
"One should never be in too great a hurry," said Mr. Lauriston.
Aunt Charlotte saw that she was now alone, so she gave way. "Very well," she conceded, "we will give it a trial. But if anything unpleasant happens. Henry, remember we move at once; and perhaps you had better tell Martin not to hold any communication with the people on the house-boat. it might put us in a false position if one of our party were friendly with them, even though it was only Martin."
Mr. Lauriston acquieseced in this: after all Charlotte had been brought round to a comparatively reasonable frame of mind, and he could afford to give way in trifles.
THE STATE CHiLDREN OF HUNGARY.
When in Vienna some little time ago. i paid a visit one day to the Foundling Hospital, where, in a room quite apart from the rest of the children, i found a handsome little fellow of about two years old installed in state. There was nothing of the forsaken about him, no sign of poverty; on the contrary, he looked the very picture of health and wealth. He was prettily dressed, well supplied with toys, too; evidently he had been tenderly cared for and kept out of harm's way his whole life long; for he smiled up into our faces cheerily, trustfully, as no child who knows the meaning of neglect or ill-treatment ever can smile.
"Oh! he is no foundling; he is a little Magyar," the doctor who was showing me over the institution exclaimed, in reply to an enquiry. "His father brought him here yesterday. He cannot take proper care of him, he says, as he is out of work and his wife is dead.
so he has handed him over to the State. This is the right thing to do now. it seems. We have communicated with the Hungarian Government, and they are sending a special messenger to fetch the boy. This is part of their new Children's Protection system. Now that is an interesting experiment from every point of view, one well worth watching carefully."
i was, as it chanced, on my way to Budapest at the time for the express purpose of seeing how this Children's Protection system was working; but when i heard what the doctor said, i was sorely tempted to change my plaus and pass the city by unvisited. For a system under which a father could rid himself of his son as easily as of his worn-out shoe did not appeal to me; it struck me indeed as being one that would entail not only much wasteful expenditure, but demoralization all round. There must be some mistake
somewhere, 1 thought, however; for It was not probable that the Hungarian Parliament would have passed the laws on which the system Is founded, were it really so detrimental, as it seemed, to all sense of paternal responsibility. Still, as my mind was not at rest on the point, my first care, on arriving in Budapest, was to appeal to the most distinguished of the Children's Department officials for an explanation of the whys and wherefores of this banding over of children to the State. I told him of the boy I had seen at the Foundling Hospital, and enquired whether his department was actually prepared to take charge of all the children whose parents chose to deposit them there or elsewhere.
"Certainly," he replied, without a moment's hesitation, "we must take charge of them; on that point the law is explicit."
I ventured to suggest that this readiness on the part of the State to relieve parents of their duties might lead to gross abuses; that, in fact, parents well able to provide for their children might place them in the keeping of the State simply to save themselves trouble and expense.
"Against that we take precautions, of course," he answered. "Parents able to maintain their children are forced to maintain them, or to pay for their maintenance. Still, even if cases of the kind you suggest do occur from time to time, they are arguments for, not against, our system, surely. Supposing the father of that child you saw in Vienna had the means of providing for him, and left him at the Foundling Hospital merely because he did not wish to do so; would it not prove that he was heartless and worthless, and therefore quite unfit to bring him up properly? We here in Hungary consider our children as the most precious of our national assets, the one which, above all others, it behooves us to keep from harm. Every' Hungarian child that is born is a potential addi
tion to our national wealth and strength; to allow, therefore, a single child who would live if properly cared for to die because it is not, Is to throw away what might be later a valuable possession. The first duty of the State, is, we hold, the preservation of the race; and to insure its preservation the chance must be secured to each of its members not only of living, but of developing, so far as in him or her lies, Into a useful citizen. A State which, by leaving its children In the hands of parents who neglect them, illtreat them, or half starve them, falls to secure to them this chance, Is guilty not only of cruelty but of treachery. It Is conniving at the weakening of the nation, conniving at its moral, physical and Intellectual debasement; for the children of to-day will be the nation in years to come, and will hold the fate of the country in their hands. Whatever we Hungarians may leave undone, this, at any rate, we are determined to do; we will take good care of our children let the cost be what it may. The Protection system was established for the express purpose of enabling us to take good care of them, and an excellent system it is."
This official is an enthusiastic patriot as well as a devoted lover of children; that he should talk in this strain is, therefore, perhaps not remarkable. What is remarkable, however, is that practically the whole Magyar nation talks as he does. Hard-hearted business men, merchants, bankers and lawyers approve just as warmly as poets, philanthropists and doctors, I found, of this experiment which the State is trying for its children's benefit. What is more remarkable still is that they, these business men, maintain that the experiment is economically sound, and will ultimately pay well even in the financial meaning of the term. According to them, in fact, the State, in spending its money on saving its babies" lives, is not only acting humanely, but is making a sound investment, one from which Hungary will derive a great increase both in wealth and strength. Besides, as they are never weary of insisting, it is not so very much that it does spend; for, whatever be the defects of the new system, it has one great merit: under it officialdom, the most expensive of all "doms," is reduced to a minimum.
in 1871 the Hungarian Parliament passed a law by which each town or commune in the kingdom was rendered
responsible for its own poor. Municipalities and Communal Councils were charged with the duty of providing for the destitute; and that they might have the means wherewith to provide, they were allowed to appropriate for their poor funds the fines levied in the local courts. Probably the local authorities did not find these means sufficient to enable them to do their work well; possibly they resented being called upon to do it at all; be this as it may, they certainly did it badly. The result was disastrous, especially for foundlings and all their youthful kindred, among whom the death-rate, which had always been high, became still higher. The Government tried to arouse the local authorities to a sense of the duty they owed to the State in the matter; but the said authorities turned a deaf ear alike to admonitions and threats, holding that their first duty was to the ratepayers. in 187U a law was passed to facilitate the boarding out of children; and in 1886 another law dealing indirectly with the same subject. it was all in vain, however; the old state of things continued, and babies that might have lived and thriven were allowed to die.
At length, as the number of deaths among children showed no signs of decreasing, the nation became alarmed: and in 1895 the Government announced their intention of organizing a special
department of the Home Office to
watch over foundlings and see that local authorities did their duty to them. By 1898, however, they seem to have arrived at the conclusion that if the State wished its children to be properly provided for, it would have to provide for them itself. For, when the law which secures for the hospital fund o per cent, of the yield of all direct taxes was before Parliament, the Home Minister proposed that the cost of the maintenance of all deserted children under seven should be made a charge on that fund. He proposed, in fact, that the cost of the maintenance of these children should be removed from the local rates to the national taxes; and that the children themselves should be taken out of the keeping of the local authorities and placed under the care of the State. He went further, for he insisted that an extended meaning should be given to the words "deserted children," so as to include among them not only children whose parents actually have deserted them, but also children who have no parents, or whose parents neglect them, ill-treat them, or are unable or unwilling to support them, and who therefore have been pronounced deserted by the civil authorities. Orphans who cannot be placed in orphanages; children temporarily under the care of the authorities owing to the iliness of their parents, or to their parents being in hospital, in prison, or in a lunatic asylum; and all children whose parents, or grandparents, cannot support them without depriving themselves of the necessaries of life, must rank with foundlings as deserted children, he declared.
The minister's proposals were greeted with enthusiasm and speedily became law. Already in 1898 the State assumed the guardianship of all its deserted boys and girls under seven years old, and undertook to provide for them. Then a difficulty arose: the Home Minister soon found himself with so mauy •children that be did not know what to do. As something had to be done at once, he decided to farm them out with two philanthropic associations, the Children's Refuge Society and the White Cross, the societies pledging themselves to take good care of them, the Government defraying the expense. Unfortunately, the White Cross, in its eagerness to fulfil its mission, waxed quite reckless in its expenditure; and M. Kolomau Szell, who was at the time Minister President as well as Home Minister, was not the man to tolerate havoc-playing with the nation's money. .He promptly made up his mind that for economy's sake the State must itself do what the societies were doing for it; and began devising ways and means. in February, 1901, be propounded a scheme under which the State was not merely to see that its children were properly taken care of, but was itself actually to take care of them, to bouse, feed, clothe and tend them. Parliament passed with acclamation his State Refuges Bill, and pro vided him with the money to defray the initial expenses of the experiment he proposed trying.
M. Szell then took a bold step. No sooner had the State Refuges Bill received the Royal assent, than he announced in Parliament that it was sheer folly to take care of children under seven, if when they were seven they were to be turned adrift; and that to hand them over to the local authorities at that age was to turn them adrift. So long as this was done, although the mortality among those under seven would decrease, among those over seven it would increase; and if children must die. better let them die as babies than later, he maintained. Besides, even if they lived, as the local authorities could not be trusted to bring them up properly, the chances were they would take to evil ways; and the State would have to spend money
on building reformatories for them which it might have spent more profitably on keeping them from needing reformation. From the national standpoint it was no good at all saving the babies, he argued, unless the babies could be made to grow up into useful citizens. He wound up by proposing that the State should take into its own keeping all deserted children under fifteeu, unless they were in orphanages or other institutions; and that it should continue to defray the cost of maintaining such of them as were under seven, while requiring the local authorities to defray the cost of maintaining such as were over that age. His Bill for the protection of deserted children over seven was passed at once, and the Szell experiment was started.
Under the Children's Protection system, now that it is in full working order, the State is the guardian-in-chief of all the children in Hungary, rich and poor alike. The kingdom is divided into eighteen districts, and in each district there is a State Children's Refuge, i.e., a refuge to which every child in the district who has no home has a legal right to go. Then in every district there is also at least one Guardianship Tribunal, or Children's Law Court, organized for the express purpose of safeguarding the interests of every child there by seeing that it is either under the care of a guardian who does his duty to it, or in the keeping of the State. This court must at once hold an enquiry if it receives notice from municipal or communal authorities, members of philanthropic societies, or other responsible persons that any one, no matter whether prince or beggar, is ill-treating or neglecting his children or wards; is not providing them with proper food, lodging and education; is setting them a bad example, or in any way exposing them to demoralizing influences. Then, if