Born Again

CHAPTER 1

Judging from my own experience it is my opinion that many strange and wonderful events have happened during the past in which man took part, that have never been recorded.

Many reasons could be given for this, but the main causes perhaps, are that the participants have lacked the intelligence, education or literary ability to properly describe them.

In these respects I must admit my own inferiority. But I feel that should I not promulgate an account of my own remarkable life for the benefit of mankind then I would betray the trust nature has confided in me.

So I warn the exquisite literary critic and the over-polished individual who prefer fancy phrases to logical ideas, that this work may somewhat jar their delicate senses of perception.

And having offered these few remarks I shall introduce myself to the reader:

My name is John Convert. The earth is my home and country. All men are my kin, be they white, black, red, yellow or brown. I was born somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean between Liverpool and New York while my parents were emigrating from England to America. My mother died giving me birth.

Whether or not it was because I first saw the light of day while in a state of transit that caused me afterwards to acquire a thirst for travel and adventure I cannot say, but true it is that during my whole life I have been constantly moving from place to place.

Then again my father was a Methodist preacher and the good Lord ostensibly sent calls to him from every nook and corner of the United States, for as long as I can remember he too was continually changing abiding places. In fact, it seems to me now when I look back that he seldom preached twice from the same pulpit. Whether this was due to bad preaching or because he had the courage to tell the good church folk many plain truths concerning themselves, I know not, but I do know that in many ways my father was a very good man, and also a very learned man-perhaps a little too learned to be wise, for, like most great scholars he may have forced so much book stuff into his brain that he left no room for progressive thoughts of his own. He was, however, quite unlike many clergymen of the present time who apparently think and certainly act as if their main work was to flatter and amuse the women.

My father was straightforward, honest, kind and truthful. He was dogmatic in his religious beliefs, combative by nature and never happier than when fighting the Devil in his own corner, as he expressed it. Furthermore, he was haughty, stubborn and egotistical, and these traits of character I inherited from him.

But while I honestly inherited combativeness, stubbornness and egotism from my father, these characteristics became very objectionable to him when displayed by myself. So from my earliest childhood days there was a continual tug of war between us to see who would be master of the house.

There was one inheritance I received from my father, however, that I have always felt profoundly grateful to him for, namely, a sound physical constitution. One of his earnest teachings, which, by the way, was generally ridiculed, was that parents should not bring children into the world unless they themselves had led temperate lives and were in perfect health. In this respect he lived as he preached and practiced temperateness in all things.

As I grew up I was taught to take care of myself physically, as well as mentally and morally. At the age of eleven I was as large and strong as most boys of sixteen, and at sixteen there were few men who could outdo me in feats of strength and endurance. My education was limited to what I learned at the different public schools which I attended, and with out exception I was always rated as the very worst boy of the whole institution. I do not believe that ever a day passed that I was not sent to the principal for refractory conduct, and in many instances I was suspended or expelled entirely. Fighting was my chief offence as I was always ready and anxious for a fistic encounter with any boy who was willing to battle. In short, I was a very unruly child with an independent spirit, who recognized the authority of nobody to give arbitrary commands.

In consequence of these facts my father and I had frequent altercations and as my innate love for travel and adventure asserted itself I ran away from home when but eleven years old, an age when most children are mere babies, and started out in the world to seek my own success.

I began to earn my own living by selling newspapers on the streets of Chicago, and from that time on became a wanderer upon the face of the earth; working at various occupations and engaging in many schemes and pursuits in an endeavor to pay my way through life, and during the next eleven years I not only visited every part of the United States, but nearly every country in the world, during which time I experienced enough adventures to fill many books if put into print, but as they have no bearing upon this narrative I must pass them by without mention.

So at the age of twenty-two, being then a worthless vagabond, I was aboard a three-masted schooner working my way from Australia to England as a common sailor. That was during the year of 1881.

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