Needles and Tongues
The Sewing Circle meets at our house this P.M. This is in your line, so do come and help me through. I shall depend on you.
Bad news, my dear? asked Miss Mills, who had just handed the note to Polly as she came in one noon, a few weeks after Jennys arrival.
Polly told her what it was, adding, I suppose I ought to go and help Fanny, but I cant say I want to. The girls talk about things I have nothing to do with, and I dont find their gossip very amusing. Im an outsider, and they only accept me on Fans account; so I sit in a corner and sew while they chatter and laugh.
Wouldnt it be a good chance to say a word for Jenny? She wants work, and these young ladies probably have quantities done somewhere. Jenny does fine work exquisitely, and begins to feel anxious to be earning something. I dont want her to feel dependent and unhappy, and a little well-paid sewing would be all she needs to do nicely.
I can get it for her by running round to my friends, but I really havent the time, till I get the Mullers off. They are paupers here, but out West they can take care of themselves, so Ive begged the money to send them, and as soon as I can get them some clothes, off they go. Thats the way to help people help themselves, and Miss Mills clashed her bit scissors energetically, as she cut out a little red flannel shirt.
I know it is, and I want to help, but I dont know where to begin, said Polly, feeling quite oppressed with the immensity of the work.
We cant any of us do all we would like, but we can do our best for every case that comes to us, and that helps amazingly. Begin with Jenny, my dear; tell those girls about her, and if Im not much mistaken, you will find them ready to help, for half the time it isnt hardness of heart, but ignorance or thoughtlessness on the part of the rich, that makes them seem so careless of the poor.
To tell the truth, Im afraid of being laughed at, if I try to talk seriously about such things to the girls, said Polly, frankly.
You believe that such things are true? you are sincere in your wish to help better them, and you respect those who work for that end?
Yes, I do.
Then, my dear, cant you bear a little ridicule for the sake of a good cause? You said yesterday that you were going to make it a principle of your life, to help up your sex as far and as fast as you could. It did my heart good to hear you say it, for I was sure that in time you would keep your word. But, Polly, a principle that cant bear being laughed at, frowned on, and cold-shouldered, isnt worthy of the name.
I want to be strong-minded in the real sense of the word, but I dont like to be called so by people who dont understand my meaning; and I shall be if I try to make the girls think soberly about anything sensible or philanthropic. They call me old-fashioned now, and Id rather be thought that, though it isnt pleasant, than be set down as a rampant womans rights reformer, said Polly, in whose memory many laughs, and snubs, and sarcasms still lingered, forgiven but not forgotten.
This love and thought and care for those weaker, poorer or worse than ourselves, which we call Christian charity, is a very old fashion, my dear. It began eighteen hundred years ago, and only those who honestly follow the beautiful example set us then, learn how to get genuine happiness out of life. Im not a rampant womans rights reformer, added Miss Mills, with a smile at Pollys sober face; but I think that women
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