The old log school house—My studies and discontent—My first drink of liquor—The companion of my first debauch—One drink always fatal—A horrible slavery—A horseback ride on Sunday—Raleigh—Return home—“Dead drunk”—My parents’ shame and sorrow—My own remorse—An unhappy and silent breakfast—The anguish of my mother—Gradual recovery—Resolves and promises—No pleasure in drinking—The system’s final craving for liquor—The hopelessness of the drunkard’s condition—The resistless power of appetite—Possible escape—The courage required—The three laws—Their violation and man’s atonement.
When I first started to school, log school houses were not yet things of the past, and well do I remember the one which stood near the little stream known as Hood’s creek, and Sam Munger, from whom I first received instruction. The next school I attended was in a log house near where Ammon’s mill now stands. I attended one or two summer terms at each of these places. There is nothing remarkable connected with my early school-days. They glided onward rapidly enough, but I saw and felt differently, it seemed to me, from those around me; but this may be the experience of others, only I think the melancholy, the fear, the unhappiness which hung over me were not as marked in any one else. I studied but little, because of my discontented and uneasy feeling, but I kept up with my lessons, and have yet one or two prizes bestowed on me twenty years ago for being at the head of my class the greater number of times.
I recollect with painful clearness the first drink of liquor that ever passed my lips. It has been more than twenty-four years since then, but my memory calls it up as if it were only yesterday, with all the circumstances under which I took it. It was in the time of threshing wheat, and then, as in harvesting, log-rolling, and everything that required the cooperation of neighbors, whisky was always more or less used. I was little more than six years of age. A bottle containing liquor was set in the shadow of some sheaves of wheat which stood near a wagon, and taking it I crawled under the wagon with a neighbor now living in Raleigh. We began drinking from this bottle and did not stop until we were both pitiably drunk. The boy who took that first drink with me has since had some experience with the effects of alcohol, but at this time he is bravely fighting the good battle of sobriety and may God always give him the victory. I never could taste liquor without getting drunk. When one drop passed my lips I became wild for another, and another, until my sole thought was how to get enough to satisfy the unquenchable thirst. To-day if I were to dip the point of a needle into whisky and then touch my tongue with that needle, I would be unable to resist the burning desire to drink which that infinitesimal atom would awaken. I would get drunk if hell burst up out of the earth around