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72 Poe StudiedDark Romanticism eenthcentury paternalism and the inherited tradition of looking at the poor, whatever their skin color, as the object of charity. The racial culture of American abolitionistscan be seen as a variation of the European tradition that, since the Renaissance, had produced a body of treatises on the poor that promulgated their heavenly rewards as an unfailing compensation for their earthlyindigence.This is the inherited context of Hamet Beecher Stowe’sUncleTomS Cabin;o?; Lye among theLowly (1851). l3 William E. Channing, Slavery (Boston:James Munroe, 1835), 103. l4 Herman Melville, “BenitoCereno,”Putnami Monthly,November 1855,462,467;October 1855, 356; November 1855,460. l5 Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Amy Life in a Black Regiment (Boston:Fields,Osgood,1870),passim. l6 Eric Sundquist, To Wakethe Nations: Race in t h MakingofAm’canLiterature (Cambridge:Harvard Univ. Press, 1993), 152. ’’See Grace Farrell,LillieDevmmx Bl&: RetracingaLije (Amherst:Univ.of MassachusettsPress,2002), 97. The short story that follows was originally published in the Philadelphia War Press, 22 March 1862, 4. It was recovered b y GraceFarrell from theWisconsinHistorical Society with the aid of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, a Butler University Fellowship, and a University of Wisconsin Friends of the Libraries Grant. The Rescued Fugitives: A Story of the War by Essex My company was on picket duty on the Ohio, not far from Cairo. It was towards eleven o’clock of a still dark night in November, and Iwas making the round of the guards for the last time before ‘turningin’ for a brief nap. As I went on from one sentinel’s post to another, I could hear the river plash on the muddy banks, and dimly discern the forest line of the opposite shore. But further than this, it was difficult to discover anything with certainty. The yellow waters were so dull in color, the woods so dark in their leaflessmonotony, and the sky so overcast, that all were of the same dingy gray. I was surprised, therefore, as I approached one of the sentinels, to hear him challenge some unseen person peremptorily, and then to catch the sharp click of his musket as he brought it to a cock. Stepping quicklyto his side,with the sudden thought that he might, in the darkness, commit some fatal blunder, I said: “What is it,Jones?” “Don’tyou see, sir,”he answered, touching his hat, half lowering his musket, “there’s some one swimming the river.” Even as he spoke, I caught the sound of the strokes of some good swimmer cutting the waters, though as yet nothing could be distinguished in the general gloom. ‘Yes,but don’t fire,” I said, “Whoeverit is can do us no harm, and friend or foe,we had best take him alive.“ So we stood waiting silently, while every moment the strokes drew nearer. The current wasvery strong just there, and it was no easy task to swim that river; but whoever was now attempting it was wise on the subject, for he had started high up the bank and when at last we caught sight of the dark spot his head made, he was coming down with the stream, striking across so obliquely that he made hiswaywith more ease than it firstseemed possible. When he got close in shore, he stopped for a moment , and lay quite still, evidently listening. “Now challenge,” I said. “Who goes there?” cried the sentinel. “Afriend,” answered a faint voice. “Advanceand give the countersign.” “Ican’t do that, massa;but for the lub ofJesus take me in.” “Afugitive!”I exclaimed, my heart bounding at these piteous accents, and in a moment I had leaped down the bank to extend a hand to the forlorn creature. He was very much exhausted when I reached him, clinging feebly to me as if his laststruggle was gone in that effort. I gave him a drink from my brandy flask that seemed to refresh him, and so assisted him up the bank, and away to the bivouac “TheRescuedFua’tives 73 fire. He was a splendid-lookingfellow,I could see, as he stood there, dressed only in a portion of an old pair of trowsers, tall, and huge of limb, with...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1754-6095
Print ISSN
1947-4644
Pages
pp. 72-76
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-07
Open Access
No
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