The word appears 15 times.
I have yet to read this, so can only provide context from the plot summary. The story focuses on the relationship of several retired Texas Rangers and their adventures driving a cattle herd from Texas to Montana in 1876. Given that this is only 10 years after the Civil War, the word would still be in common use.
However, when she got them cooked, he ate one and was very pleased with the taste. Then he and the girl divided the rabbit and ate it to the last bite, throwing the bones into the creek. The combinatino of rabbit and fog innards has caused quite a congregation of turtles to collect.
"Niggers eat turtles," the girl said, cracking a rabbit bone between her teeth.
"They eat most anything," Roscoe said. "I guess they can't be choosy."
"You've thought about it as a business for too long. If you win the card game you ought to pretend you're a fancy lady in San Francisco who don't have nothing to do but lay around on silk sheets and have a nigger bring you buttermilk once in a while. And what my job is is to make you feel good."
"I wouldn't mind you either, Jake," Sally said. "I wish I could trade places with her."
"You what?" he asked, mightily startled.
"I've went with a nigger before but never an Indian," she said. "I'd like to try one."
The news about the nigger was a shock to Jake. He knew Sal was wild, but hadn't supposed she was that wild. The look on her face frightened him a little.
"You know something else? I paid that nigger," she said. "I give him ten dollars to turn whore and then he never got to spend it"
"Why not? Jake asked.
"He bragged and they hung him from a tree," Sally said. "Wrong thing to brag about in Georgia. Some of them wanted to hang me but they didn't have the guts to hang a woman. I just got run out of town."
"How many were there?" Call asked. "Or could you get a count?"
"I expect it was Dan Suggs and his two brothers, and a bad nigger they ride with," Wilbarger said. "I think I hit the nigger."
Dan quivered, his eyes popping with hatred. When Deets came over with some rawhide strings he snarled at him, baring his teeth. "Don't you tie me, nigger boy," he said. "I'll not forget you if you do."
Deets finally got the nooses done. He mounted and rode behind each man, to carefully set the knots. Little Eddie submitted quietly, but Dan Suggs shook his head like a wildcat when Deets came to him.
"Nigger boy, don't you get near me," he said. "I won't be hung by no black nigger."
"You're yellow bellies, both of you, or you would have fought me fair," Dan Suggs said, glaring down at him. "I'll fight you yet, barehanded, if you'll just let me down. I'll fight the both of you right now, and this nigger boy too."
"You'd do better to say goodbye to your brothers," Call said. "I expect you got them into this."
"Some do and some just keep coming," Captain Weaver said. "I didn't come over here to talk all morning. Have you men seen any sign?"
"Our scout didn't mention any," Call said, waving to Deets.
"Oh, you've got a nigger for a scout," Dixon said. "No wonder you're lost."
"We ain't lost," Call said, annoyed suddenly, "and that black man could track you across the coals of hell."
"If I see you in town I'll box your goddamn ears," Dixon said, addressing himself to Call.
Call ignored the man. He turned and started to ride away. Augustus released the young lieutenant's bridle.
"Leave me that nigger," Weaver said. "I've heard they can smell Indians. They're just red niggers, anyway."
"No," said Call. "I'd be afraid you'd mistreat him."
The other hands were somber. Soupy Jones and Bert Borum, who didn't feel it appropriate for white men to talk much to niggers, exchanged the view that nevertheless this one had been uncommonly decent. Needle Nelson offered to help dig the grave, for Deets had been the man who finally turned the Texas bull the day the bull got after him.