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 The Convert
Joe Corrie

Joe Corrie

Click here to listen 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 him.
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 it up."
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 pocket.
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.

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