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to this in Real Audio read by Peter D Wright
"Never again, Jean," said Jock McCurdie
as he lay in bed on the Sunday morning with a wet towel round his
head, "never again !" And he waved his hand to Jean to take away the
breakfast of ham and egg. Jean went away smilng.
"Jist gettin' what ye deserve," she
soliloquised, "spendin' five shillin's on drink times like this
when we're o' ready tae hand tae the rag man. Aye, it's time ye were
sayin' never again, and stickin' tae yir word this time."
Jock must have read her thought for he
lay and groaned. He was a mug - had aye been a mug. Five bob ! and
naething tae show for it but a sair heid ! And the bairns a' barefit
! He groaned and prayed to God to forgive him. Then he fell asleep.
And while he slept he dreamt that he stood before the saint the name
of Peter, and the day was the dreaded one of judgment.
" Name !" thundered the bearded one.
" Jock McCurdie, sir."
"You boosed and let yir bairns gang barefit?"
Jock hung his head.
" Tae Hell wi' him !" And a host of wee,
black, grinning devils lifted him by the hair of the head and
dropped him down one of the lums of Dixon's Blazes.
He awoke with the beer sweating out of
He rose and went down the street for a
walk, or rather a crawl. He leaned his weary body against a
lamp-post at the cross as the Salvations took up their stand. Flamin'
idiots. That's what he had called them the night before when they
drowned his song in the pub with their trombones and tambourines. "
But wha's the idiot the day ?" he asked himself. And he hit the
lamp-post with his head when no one was looking.He listened to the
message and recalled his dream. " It is never too late to be saved,"
ran the sermon. And " Now's the day and now's the hour !" said Jock.
He went home and began a mad search
through the dresser drawers.
" What hae ye lost ?" asked Jean.
" Where's the Bible ?"
" The what !" she gasped.
" The blood ... the Bible ?"
"What are ye wantin' wi' a Bible ?"
" D'ye ken it is ? that's what I'm askin'."
"God kens where it is : ye had it yirsel'
the last time I saw it, strappin' yir razor on it. But what in the
name o' Heaven dae ye want wi' a Bible ? A guid stiff gless o'
whusky wad dae ye mair guid by the look o' ye."
" Don't mention drink tae me wumman !"
he snarled. " And the swearin' in this hoose had got tae stop."
" It's yirsel' for that, Jock," said
Jean. " you're the only ane that swears in the hoose. But what's
cam' ower ye ?"
" I've been saved, that's a'."
" Saved !"
"Yes, I hae been a sinner ower lang.
We'e gaun tae the kirk every Sunday efter this, tae."
" We're gaun ? Ye shairly think I'll mak'
a fule o' mysel' gaun tae a kirk ; I hae nae need tae be saved."
" And ye're sayin' grace before and
efter every meal."
" Dinna be daft, Jock, you'll never keep
Jock turned and just glowered at her.
" Did you see the Bible, Lizzie ?" he
asked one of his poor neglected bairns.
"The Bible. Did ye no' pit it in alow
the dresser yon time the fit was broken aff."
Jock groaned, for it was only too true.
Oh ! and it was all cobwebs, and dirt, and the leaves were stuck
together as if it had been a thousand years in a hydraulic press.
He began at the beginning. And for a
solid hour he never once lifted his eyes from it, except to tell
Jean to make " less bloody noise," and for penance he began at the
beginning again. He read it while he was at his tea, and said " Amen
" when he was finished.
" What are ye gaun to play ?" asked Jean
with a smile, " the big drum ?" But he only growled, and bade Satan
get behind him. He was singing a hymn when Quoiter, his pal in joy
and sorrow, rntered.
" This is no' you singin' hymns, Jock ?"
" He's converted, Quoiter," answered
Jean with a wink. " He's been readin' the Bible a' nicht."
Quoiter could only stare. Yet Jock did
not even blush. " Yes, friend," he said, " I've turned over a new
leaf and you'll need tae look for some ither mug noo tae spend the
Seturday nichts wi ye. Five shillin's I spent on drink last nicht,
five shillin's ! and my bairns......" He could not finish : he
buried his head in his hands and groaned.
" Aw here !" said Quoiter, " this has
went far enough ; it's that beer ye got last nicht. I tellt ye it
was rotten, I had a heid like tae split this mornin'."
" My mind's made up, Quoiter, and you
can look for anither pal. Onything micht happen the morn, the rope
micht break, the roof micht come doon, and it wad be Hell for me as
shair as fate. But apairt frae that, this spendin' a' yir pocket
money on the Seturday nicht on rotten beer is a mug's game."
" Ye've been lang in findin' it oot,
shairly. I've kent that a' my days !"
" And the only cure for it," said Jock,
" is tae get saved."
" Don't haver, man. Ye'll hae everybody
laughin' at ye. Here !" and he withdrew a gill of whisky from his
The pains tore through Jock's head, Yes
- no - yes - no -
" It's whusky, no pooshun. I won the
sweepstakes this mornin' and hae been bona-fidin'," and Quoiter took
the cork from the bottle and let the evil fumes escape.
Yes - no - yes - no. " I'll tak' it,
Quoiter, but it's only tae cure my heid ; never again !"
But after the second glass the bible was
slipped under the dresser again, and the warning of Saint Peter
dismissed as a nightmare.
Still the seed had been sown, and some
day we may have the pleasure of hearing Jock McCurdie give his
testimony at the cross - Some day.