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Newspaper Page Text
By Marah Alice Peters.
(Copyright by W. G. Chapman.)
"For good or bacUjthe world all be
fore me! Freedom, "health which
path shall I take?"
The ttjan who spoke was an ex
convict. He had just been released
A Bitter Scowl Wreathed His Face.
from the penitentiary, after serving a
ten years' sentence for embezzle
ment. He was not thirty-five, yet his
hair was streaked with gray and
there was a certain hardness about
the lips that comes from solitude and
In a word, Mark Burnham, with lit
tle or no bringing up, an orphan from
a tender age, had wasted five years
of his life, had secured a good posi
tion. Finally temptation had come,
he had appropriated funds of his em
ployer and had been convicted.
During all those years of hard
labor he had preserved a stolid,
rather than a submissive attitude.
He had counted the days on a notch
ed stick. The last one had been
reached. He was freed with a new
suit of clothes and a few dollars in
his pocket. At the door of the prison
he was met by a 'lawyer. A distant
relative had left him $10,000. A free
man, he could now claim it.
The snug little fortune or its
equivalent now reposed with a se
cret pocket. That afternoon he had
walked to a line of hills overlooking
the country around, to analyze his
unexpected condition of affluence, to
plan for the future.
His mind was blank as an unwrit
ten page. He had no friends. He had
paid the law its penalty. He was
clear of the world, and its fortune,
good or bad, all before him. Which
path, indeed, might he take!
As he recalled how harshly fate
had dealt with him, as afar to the
east he caught the glittering spires of
a big bustling city, his breath came
quick and hard. With all he had
heard of clever criminal ways in his
prison cell, how shrewdly might he
use his little capital fn schemes to
fleece the unwary, to enrich himself.
Then, too, the pleasures of the great
metropolis dozzled him.
"To live the life!" he breathed
hotly "after those ten years, chain
ed up like a wild beast!"
Just then an echoing hail attract
ed his attention. From the doorway
of a neat little farmhouse a comely
girlish matron was waving a welcome
to her husband, returning from work
in the fields. The observer noted the
aspect of comfort and. plenty about
the place, the warm, genuine love
greeting of the twain.
His lip quivered, a tear fell upon
his outstretched hand. He turned
from the sight
"Love, peace, happiness!" he mut
tered in a broken tone, "but not for