National Geographic : 1938 Jan
MAGYAR MIRTH AND MELANCHOLY Photograph by John Patric SCHOOLGIRLS SEW, READ, AND PRAY FOR RESTORATION OF OLD FRONTIERS In the country, where mother works all winter on one Sunday outfit, and grandma's girlhood gowns are stylish still, daughter learns needlework. Boys in back seats of this Irsekcsanad schoolroom practice whittling, that their craftsmanship may supply handles for their wives' hayforks and cradles for their first-born. Leaning against the sewing basket, and used to help balance it when it is carried to school on the head, is a tekercs, or soft cloth ring (page 14). Against the wall is the U-shaped pipe of a small stove and the coat of arms of Hungary, held between two angels. expensive rug. At passing friends Lajos waved the hand that held it. Thinking to please the boy, I started down the main road toward the paved Budapest-Miskolc highway, where we might ride fast. Lajos demurred, insisting on repeating circuits of the same side streets. One house seemed to interest him. It was big. It had a tile roof. More geese than usual waddled in the muddy lane be side it. A girl waved as we approached it the fourth time. We halted. She minced gingerly through the mud to her front gate. Lajos alighted like a cavalier. Three could not ride in Topolino. He motioned her to his place. She hesitated. The girl's stout, determined mother in terrupted his ardent persuasion. Disre garding mud, startling geese, she marched toward us. Ignoring us, she led her daugh ter firmly into the house again. Lajos tossed his cigar at a fat goose. I drove Rudy back toward the capi tal. Our work was over. I should soon leave Hungary, and miss his gentle irony. A few evenings later I left Budapest. An English-speaking Hungarian sat with me as my train halted at the frontier and for eign customs men entered to examine us. "Twenty years ago," he sighed, "you might have traveled onward all night from this frontier town, and still have been in Hungary at breakfast time. "In Geneva a few years ago," he con tinued, "we sought certain modifications of the Treaty of Trianon. Neighbor na tions, in denying them, said we would never be permitted to regain our power. "Count Albert Apponyi, our League of Nations delegate, stood up. " 'I'm past 80,' he said. 'I've seen the rise and fall of the German Empire. I've seen the rise and fall of the Second Empire in France. I've seen the rise and fall of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. I've seen the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the fall of the Russian Empire, and the rise of Italy. " 'Gentlemen, the word never means noth ing to me.' "