The Verger – W. Somerset Maugham
In ‘The Verger’, Maugham describes how a verger gets success after his dismissal from the church.
Albert Edward Foreman had been a Verger of St. Peter’s, Neville squarefor sixteen years. He was so devoted in his profession that he never throws away any of his worn out gowns.
Albert started his career as a page-boy in the house of a merchant prince. He had risen by due degrees from the position of a footman to a single handed butler to a widowed peeress. Later, he joined as a Verger at St. Peter’s Neville square.
A new vicar from the east end was appointed in St. Peter’s. Albert found the new vicar very different from the predecessor. One day christening ceremony was conducted by the new vicar. After that, the new vicar called the verger to the vestry. There were two elder church wardens waiting already in the vestry. The vicar praised Albert for his sincerity and capability of doing the work. He also pointed out the illiteracy of the verger. Albert was shocked but he defended himself by saying that the previous vicar did not mind it. He said that he could manage everything well without education. The vicar did not like his reply. He told the verger that he would give three months time to learn how to read and write. The verger was not ready to do that. So he decided to resign his job as a verger.
After giving his resignation, the verger locked the church. He was sad. He did not know what to do next. He took a wrong road out of his sadness. He wanted to smoke a cigarette. He searched for a shop to buy a cigarette. He could not find a shop to buy a cigarette. He stopped and looked reflectively up and down. Then he decided to start a tobacco shop.
Albert explained his wife about starting a business. Within twenty four hours, he took a shop in the street and started the business as a tobacconist and news Agent. Later he took up a second shop and put a manager in. Within ten years, he had acquired no less than ten shops. He earned much and deposited in a bank.
Oneday the manager at the bank told Albert that Albert had thirty thousand pounds in his account. The manager added that his money would be deposited in various schemes and would set better rates of interest. The manager asked him to read and sign the bond. Albert replied that he couldn’t read and write. The manager was stunned and asked with wonder what he would have become if he had been able to read and write. Albert replaced that he would be the Verger of St. Peter’s Neville square.