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   The Twin Hells, by John R. ReynoldsTable of Contents



A KANSAS HELL.


CHAPTER XIII.

FREEDOM.

     TO all things earthly there comes an end. Sixteen long, dreary months of imprisonment finally passed away. The dark clouds of sadness and gloom that for so long hung above me now parted, and folding themselves together rolled away in the distance. The large iron doors swung upon their hinges, and once more I breathed the air of freedom. Drowsy Nature was just being aroused from her wintry slumber by the gentle touch of Spring, as I began life anew. On that, to me, eventful morning the sky appeared brighter than I had ever beheld it before. Oh liberty! No one can ever appreciate thy blessings save him upon whose limbs have pressed the cruel fetters of slavery. The sunlight of freedom falls with its greatest refulgence upon him who has been surrounded for months and years by the baleful mists and darkness of abject bondage. The air of liberty comes doubly surcharged with the fragrance of the rarest flowers to him who has inhaled the feted [sic] breath of serfdom. Grateful to God that

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my life had been spared; retaining all the ambition of former years; possessed of my manhood; conscious of no guilt, I felt that, under the guiding hand of Providence, there was for me a bright future. With a determination to succeed, that can never be satisfied short of success, I returned to my home. I concluded that instead of going to some distant place, among strangers, it was best for me to return to the locality where all knew of my misfortunes and the true causes that led to them. On my arrival at the depot I was met by a multitude of friends. By the reception that was given me no one, ignorant of the facts, would have for a moment imagined that I had but a few hours before vacated the cell of a criminal. I pen these lines three months from the day when I began life anew, and during that time I have met with no one so base as to "snub" a man, who, having met with misfortune, is honestly endeavoring to regain what he lost.

     Is there any hope for the ex-convict? Is it possible for him to be clothed in the garments of respectability who once has been attired in the habiliments of disgrace? Can he ever be a man among men who has for a time been num-

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bered with the debased of earth? To these questions, with all the powers of my being, I answer, YES! I do not know how the outlook may appear to others who have met a similar misfortune; but as for myself I can truthfully say I was never more hopeful in my life. There may be storms in the future, obstacles to meet and overcome, but self reliant, and trusting in Him who observes the struggles even of the worm, I hope to soon reach my proper place among men, and in the end reap the golden harvest of success. The world is full of kind-hearted people who are ready to help those who, though unfortunate, are willing to help themselves. Scores of men annually go out from the "Kansas Hell," having paid the penalties of their crimes, who are not so highly favored as myself, and whose struggles will have to be greater than mine if they ever secure a foothold of respectability in life. In behalf of these in their efforts to become better men I appeal to the great, loving heart of the true Kansan. Help the fallen in his struggles to rise again.

     Since my return home, several times have I visited the grave of my wife, and often on these occasions would the hot blood go surg-

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ing through my veins, and my baser nature would demand that I avenge the death of her who was so heartlessly sent to an untimely grave. A better judgment has prevailed, and as I drop the tear of affection upon the grave of her who is the other of my children, I leave the wrongs of the past in the hands of an avenging God. May there fall upon those who were so kind to my sorrowing family and myself while we were passing through the deep waters, the radiant smiles of Him who says, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me."




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