A Child of the Jago, by Arthur Morrison

16

Josh Perrott was at church on Sunday morning, as Father Sturt had bid him. Not because of the bidding, but because the vicar overtook him and Kiddo Cook in Meakin Street, and hauled them in, professing to be much gratified at their punctuality, and charging them never to fall away from the habit. The two Jagos, with dubious grins, submitted as they must, and were in a little while surprised to find others arriving, friends and acquaintances never suspected of church-going. The fact was, that Father Sturt, by dint of long effort, had so often brought so many to his stable-church, as he had now brought Josh and Kiddo, that the terrors and embarrassments of the place had worn off, and many, finding nothing more attractive elsewhere, would make occasional attendances of their own motion. Wet Sundays, particularly, inclined them to church: where there might be a fire, where at least there was a clean room, with pictures on the wall, where there were often flowers, where there was always music, and where Father Sturt made an address of a quarter of an hour, which nobody ever suspected of being a sermon; an address which one might doze over or listen to, as one might be disposed; but which most listened to, more or less, partly because of an uneasy feeling that Father Sturt would know if they did not, and partly because it was very easy to understand, was not oppressively minatory, was spoken with an intimate knowledge of themselves, and was, indeed, something of a refreshing novelty, being the simple talk of a gentleman.

Josh Perrott and Kiddo Cook were not altogether sorry they had come. It was a rest. Stable though it had been, they had never sat in so pleasant a room before. There was nothing to do, no constant watch to be kept, no police to avoid, and their wits had a holiday. They forgot things. Their courage never rose so high as to build the thought; but in truth pipes would have made them happy.

The address being done, Father Sturt announced the purchase of the site for the new church, and briefly described his scheme. He would give tenants good notice, he said, before the houses were destroyed. Meantime, they must pay rent; though most of the amounts would be reduced.

And after the benediction, Father Sturt, from his window over the closed shop, saw Josh Perrott and Kiddo Cook guffawing and elbowing one another up Luck Row. Each was accusing the other of having tried to sing.

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Last updated Monday, March 17, 2014 at 17:11