THE GREAT DARLIN’ AN’ LITTLE DARLIN’
wur a weet, an’ dreary, an’ dirty day wur th’ day o’ th’ Accrin’ton
Conference. I almost wish’d a time or two ’at I hadn’t promised eawr
guild ’at aw’d goo. But then, aw couldn’t refuse so weel, becose aw’ve
had one or two nice eawts before, an’ aw must admit ’at aw thowt ‘at
this met be one, too. But as aw’ve said, it wur not. What wi’ th’
slutchy roads, an’ tryin’ to screw my dress reawnd me like these y’ung
women do, an’ havin’ to howd my umbrell up, on acceawnt o’ th’ rain,
besides carryin’ my satchel, yo’ may know awd my honds full.
Aw dunnot remember ever bein’ i’ Accrin’ton before, but aw’d yerd a good deeol abeawt it. It isn’t a very big place, but it has a very big reputation. Aw don’t know what it would do beawt it. See yo’! aw dunnot know heaw aw felt when aw see’d that little, pittiful steam tram pufﬁn’ an’ cowﬁn’ through th’ slutch. Aw’ve getten so used lately to see th’ electric cars dart up an’ deawn, like Will o’ th’ Wisps, that aw began o’ wonderin’ if aw wur in a dreeom, an’ wur livin’ o’er again the days o’ my childhood. An’ yet, yo’ see, steam trams are not so very owd, tho’ they look like a relic of a bygone age. It shows heaw fast we’re livin’. But happy Accrin’ton wants to live a good while.
Co-operatively, Accrin’ton reckons to be up to date, an’ aw dar’say it is. At leeost it did well at th’ conference. We had th’ meetin’ in a Sunday Schoo’, an’ p’rhaps that had summat to do wi’ th’ sober, an’ serious, an’ religious speeches which were made. It’s surprisin’, after o’, heaw we’re inﬂuenced by surreawndin’s. Aw dar’say if we’d had th’ conference in a music hall there’d ha’ been moore naggin’ at one another an’ noane one hauve o’ th’ good accomplish’d. But it wur a good conference. Th’ speeches wur short, an’ crisp, an’ to the p’int. Aw couldn’t help thinkin’ ’at Miss Davies had put on her most charmin’ dress an’ winsome smile for th’ occasion. There wur others, besides me, ’at thowt so, judgin’ fro’ what they said. One felley wur so ta’en up wi’ her ’at he couldn’t help sayin’ ’at he wish’d ’at ther’ wur a theausand moore like her. An’ aw believe he meant it, too.
Aw’ve postponed my report o’ this conference to eawr guild, becose, as aw towd ’em, it wur a subject ’at we needn’t rush. It wur a matter, aw said, as had been under consideration for mony a hundert yer, an’ it wouldn’t do mich harm to let it wait another week. Nearly everybody had tried, or propeawnded, a remedy. Aw wanted time to think abeawt th’ guild remedy. An’ aw’ve thowt abeawt it. Aw think ’at these women who are devotin’ their time, an’ their leisure, an’ their energy on this Sunderland experiment are doin’ a noble work, an’ if they dunnot succeed it winnot be through ony fault o’ their own. Aw’ve read a good deeol i’ th’ News abeawt this Sunderland scheme, an’ aw’ve often wonder’d heaw it would go on when thoose come away ’at are tryin’ to put o they con into th’ movement, an’ their places are ta’en by thoose ’at want to get o they con eawt o’ th’ movement. Heawever, that remains to be seen.’
Aw wur particularly struck by one or two things ’at Miss Davies said. It appears ‘at this Sattlement is situated in a regular slum locality, wheer th’ folks are dirty, poor, ignorant, an’ often wicked. This isn’t very good material to start wi’, but they’ve started. There’s a public heause theer coed the “Great Darlin’,” an’ it’s been the people’s darlin’ for a good while. They’ve fed it, an’ nursed it, an’ kept it wi’ sich a paternal care, that they con hardly leeov it. Well, these guild women have set up a “Little Darlin’,” i’ th’ shape of a new store, wheer everythin’s breet, an’ cheerful, an’ attractive.
We’re towd ’at, in this age, the ﬁttest survive. Aw wonder which’ll survive, the Great or the Little Darlin’. We’re o’ talkin’ abeawt “The Open Door.” I understond ’at that meeons doin’ away wi’ entrance fees an’ o that sort o’ thing. Well, aw dunnot think ’at it would hurt mony societies to do away wi’ that; but, aw wonder, would it be wise? Yo’ con sometimes mak’ a good thing too chep. Education’s been made so chep an’ common that nobody cares for it. Even a good thing won without effort or sacriﬁce is very little valued.
Aw judged, fro’ what Miss Davies said, that a good deeol o’ th’ poverty i’ th’ Sattlement wur not due to little or no wages. Hoo towd abeawt people drinkin’, an’ gamblin’, an’ heaw even little lads an’ wenches had odd brass which they spent i’ “bulletts” an’ cigarettes. Yet we’re towd ’at these are th’ folks ’at would become members o’ th’ store, but they connot afford to pay a shillin’ entrance fee.
It’ll be a big struggle between th’ Great Darlin’ an’ th’ Little Darlin’; but my sympathies are generally wi’ th’ little ones, an’ they are i’ this case. Aw’m glad to see th’ guild takkin’ up this question so enthusiastically, becose aw’m satisﬁed that us women con do far moore good i’ this direction than ever we could by feightin’ for seeots on a store committee.
Aw’m just thinkin’ o’ that touchin’ story o’ Miss Davies’, wheer hoo described the visits o’ th’ childer to th’ Sattlement, an’ heaw they knock’d at th’ dur, though they didn’t want owt, nobbut to be by th’ side o’ th’ “guild ladies.” Just fancy th’ men wieldin’ sich a peawer as that! But, as aw’ve said, it wur a good conference, an’ I hope it will do good.