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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/117

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A PRACTICAL DUTCH CHARITY.

the family meals be palatable though simple. It is believed that the result of such teaching will make many homes more attractive, and keep the men from seeking outside of the house conditions which they should find within.

The clubs also serve as valuable adjuncts to the work in hand. They are usually groups of persons of the same sex and near the same age who meet under the guidance of some experienced man or woman for social intercourse, for practice in debate, playing of chess, the reading of some standard author, or the discussion of places and peoples. In all of these meetings, as well as under all circumstances, the people in attendance are taught polite behavior by example rather than precept, and every precaution is taken to avoid any reflection or invidious comparisons that might tend to keep away the people whom Our House is intended to benefit.

A word might be said about the travel club. Early in each autumn a proposition is made that during the following summer a trip will be taken to such and such places, usually naming one near by, within the kingdom, and another farther away, as Brussels or the upper Rhine. Persons desiring to visit either of the places named unite in forming a club. They meet at stated times to listen to accounts of the place selected, its historical associations, and the points of interest en route, and also to pay into the treasury an amount agreed upon. For example, last summer one club, upon the saving of a cent a week by each member, was able to go to Haarlem and spend the day in seeing the city and the many places of interest in the neighborhood. In another, each member contributed ten cents a week, and the club was able to make a two days' trip to Brussels. By this simple means persons otherwise unable to go beyond the confines of their native city have the opportunity to get at least a glimpse of the outside world, and under such conditions and with such special preparations as to obtain from the trip the maximum interest and profit.

The only thing that is free in Our House is legal advice and the writing of legal documents. In Amsterdam, as elsewhere, the poorer people have too frequently an exaggerated idea as to their rights, and rush into "law" for fatuous protection. Such persons are liable to fall into the hands of unprincipled lawyers who help to nurse the fancied wrong and encourage a suit for damages, or put up an idle defense for the sole purpose of winning a fee. To protect this class by giving them the most unselfish advice possible, a number of the best lawyers of the city have cheerfully offered their services, and every Thursday evening from eight to twelve o'clock one or two stand ready to give gratuitously the best advice they can upon such legal points as may be presented. That this service is appre-