Fifteen Years in Hell eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 147 pages of information about Fifteen Years in Hell.

CHAPTER VIII.

Wretchedness and degradation—­Clothes, credit, and reputation all lost—­The prodigal’s return to his father’s house—­Familiar scenes—­The beauty of nature—­My lack of feeling—­A wild horse—­I ride him to Raleigh and get drunk—­A mixture of vile poison—­My ride and fall—­The broken stirrups—­My father’s search—­I get home once more—­Depart the same day on the wild horse—­A week at Lewisville—­Sick—­Yearnings for sympathy.

My condition now grew worse from day to day.  I descended step by step to the lowest depths of wretchedness and degradation.  Often my only sleeping-place was the pavement, or a stairway, or a hall leading to some office.  I lost my clothes, pawning most of them to the rum-sellers, until I was unfit to be seen, so few and dirty and ragged were the garments which I could still call my own.  In ten years I have lost, given away, and pawned over fifty suits of clothes.  Within the three years just past I have had six overcoats that went the way of my reputation and peace of mind.

I left Rushville at the time of which I am writing, but not until it was out of my power to either buy or beg a drop of liquor—­not until my reputation was destroyed and everything else that a true man would prize—­and then, like the prodigal who had wallowed with swine, I returned to my father’s house—­the home of my childhood, around which lay the scenes which were imprinted on my mind with ineffaceable colors.  But I had destroyed the sense which should have made them comforting to me.  I have no doubt that nature is beautiful—­that there are fine souls to whom she is a glorious book, on whose divine pages they learn wisdom and find the highest and most exalting charms.  But I, alas, am dead to her subtle and sacred influences.  However, I might have been benefited by my stay at home, had it been difficult for me to find that which my appetite still craved; but it was not so.  Falmouth and Raleigh and Lewisville were still within easy reach, and not only at these, but at many other places could liquor be procured, and I got it.  The curse was on me.  My condition became such that it was unsafe to send me from home on any business.  I can recall times when I left horses hitched to the plow or wagon and went on a spree, forgetting all about them, for weeks.  I had left home firm in the resolve to not touch a drop of liquor under any circumstances, and so thoroughly did I believe that I would not, that I would have staked my soul on a wager that I would keep sober.  But the sight of a saloon, or of some person with whom I had been on a drunk, or even an empty beer keg, would rouse my appetite to such an extent that I gave up all thoughts of sobriety and wanted to get drunk.  I always allowed myself to be deceived with the idea that I would only get on a moderate drunk this time, and then quit forever.  But the first drink was sure to be followed by a hundred or a thousand more.

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Fifteen Years in Hell from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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