A Matter of Vocabulary
A Storyby James Alan McPherson
Thomas Brown stopped going to church at twelve after one Sunday morning when he had been caught playing behind the minister’s pulpit by several deacons who had come up into the room early to count the money they had collected from the other children in the Sunday school downstairs. Thomas had seen them putting some of the change in their pockets and they had seen him trying to hide behind the big worn brown pulpit with the several black Bibles and the pitcher of ice water and the glass used by the minister in the more passionate parts of his sermons. It was a Southern Baptist Church.
“Come on down off of that, little Brother Brown,” one of the fat, black-suited deacons had told him. “We see you tryin’ to hide. Ain’t no use tryin’ to hide in God’s House.”
Thomas had stood up and looked at them; all three of them, big-bellied, severe and religiously righteous. “I wasn’t tryin’ to hide,” he said in a low voice.
“Then what was you doin’ behind Reverend Stone’s pulpit?”
“I was praying,” Thomas had said coolly.