Nobody counted on Garner dying. Nobody thought he could. How ‘bout that? Everything rested on Garner being alive. Without his life each of theirs fell to pieces. Now ain’t that slavery or what is it?

For years Paul D believed schoolteacher broke into children what Garner had raised into men. And it was that that made them run off. Now, plagued by the contents of his tobacco tin, he wondered how much difference there really was between before schoolteacher and after. Garner called and announced them men—but only on Sweet Home, and by his leave.

Who could be fooled into buying a singing n***** with a gun? Shouting Seven-O! Seven-O! because his Thirty-Mile Woman got away with his blossoming seed. What a laugh. So rippling and full of glee it put out the fire.

“She ain’t crazy. She love those children. She was trying to out-hurt the hurter.”

“Tell me something, Stamp.” Paul D’s eyes were rheumy. “Tell me this one thing. How much is a n***** supposed to take? Tell me. How much?”