Saturday, December 3, 2011

"John Rankin"

There are nights when the cold is like a knife and the wind sends a rattling chill through the trees. These are the nights when the Ohio River can be crossed on foot. And these are the nights that the lowliest of God's children make their bid for freedom, hoping to dodge the slave catchers that haunt its banks. But this was not one of those nights. The Ohio was full of ragged ice floes, and it was not the time to cross. My wife and I with our 13 children were tucked snugly into bed in our red brick house in Ripley. Another attempt had recently been made upon my life, and I was grateful for the peace that pervaded our home this wet night. My children—the older ones especially—knew the routine and we all knew that no slave would be knocking on our door tonight. Or, we thought we knew.

I thought I must be dreaming there was a knock at the door. But I knew it was no dream when my wife and I pulled into our home a young, chattering slave woman holding a small baby. My wife quickly helped her to change into dry clothes our eldest daughter brought from the supply we keep. I stirred up the fire, and as soon as she joined us, could not contain my curiosity.

"How did you ever make it here?" I asked in amazement.

Her shivering somewhat subsided, she replied, "The grace of God. And a man—a strange ugly-faced one—showed me the way to your house."

Copyright 2011 Perry Elisabeth


  1. John Rankin is a historical character. Yes, he really did have 13 children, was an abolitionist pastor, and lived in Ripley, Ohio. He, together with his family, helped hundreds of slaves escape. I've always been fascinated by his story!

  2. And if you go to the wikipedia link, click "The Real Eliza" in the table of contents to see what my scribble is based on!

  3. A historical piece! The opening paragraph was beautifully done; I love the tone and the description. :)

  4. You should write a historical novel You! You know that? I know, just what you need, another idea to get backlogged. ;)