All the King's Men BY Warren, Robert Penn

The word appears 31 times.

I have yet to read this book. All the King's Men portrays the dramatic political rise and governorship of Willie Stark, a cynical populist in the American South during the 1930s.

Given the fact that this takes place during the Jim Crow era in the south (and at the same time as the books Native Son and The Studs Lonigan trilogy) the words appearance is not surprising.

".... you'll come to just at the moment when the right front wheel hooks over into the black dirt shoulder off the slab, and you'll try to jerk her back on but you can't because the slab is high like a curb, and maybe you'll try to reach to turn off the ignition just as she starts to dive. But you won't make it, of course. Then a nigger chopping cotton a mile away, he'll look up and see the little column of black smoke standing above the vitrolic, arsenical green of the cotton rows, and up against the violet, metallic, throbbing blue sky and he'll say, "Lawd God, hit's a-nudder one done done hit!" And the next nigger down the next row, he'll say, "Lawd God," and the first nigger will giggle, and the hoe will lift again and the blade will flash in the sun like a heliograph.

You come in Number 58, and pass the cotton gin and the power station and the fring of nigger shacks and bump across the railroad track and down a street where there are a lot of little houses painted white one time, with the sad valentine lace of gingerbread work around the eaves of the veranda....

Then the nigger woman brought in a pitcher of water on a tray, with three glasses, slipping her feet in old tennis shoes dryly along the boards.

I went out the back way, to the back porch. I could hear the nigger woman puttering around in the kitchen, humming to herself about her and Jesus.

"Judge," he said, and quit laughing, "you haven't got but one chance. You been guessing right in thie state going on forty years. You been sitting back here in this room and nigger boys been single-footing in here bringing you toddies and you been guessing right.

I set my glass on the shelf of the bookcase behind me. I discovered that I hadn't touched it, not since the first sip. Well, to hell with it, I thought, and let is stand. Some nigger boy would get it in the morning.

I waited, and then I said, "Wants 'em to take the low bid, they tell me."

And Number One: "Yeah, wants 'em to take the low bid and git a passel of niggers in here."

And Number Two: "To put white folks out of work. Biulden hit."

And Number Three: "You want to work longside a nigger? And specially him a strange nigger? Builden schoolhouse or backhouse, how so be hit?"

And Number Four: "And white folks needen work."

And Number One: "Yeah."

Yeah, I said to myself, so that is the tale for Mason County is red-neck country and they don't like niggers, not strange niggers, anyway, and they haven't got many of their own. "How much could they save," I asked, "taking the low bid?"

And Number One: "Couldn't save enuff to pay fer bringen no passel of niggers in here.

"Putten white folks out of work," Number Two said.

"He's biggety, that what he is," Mr. Dolph Pillsbury offered, "Gits in the courthouse and gits biggety, he --"

"He's a nigger-lover," the little old bald, knotty-headed fellow submitted.

"And him, him --" Mr. Pillsbury pointed at me with an air of revelation -- "I bet he's a nigger-lover, comen up here and sashayen round, I bet he --"

"No sale," I said. "I like mine vanilla. But now you've raised the subject, what's nigger-loving got to do with it?"

But when Willie kicked about the Moore business, Pillsbury starte the nigger business. Jeffers was a big time contractor, from south of the state, and he used a lot of Negro bricklayers and plasters and carpenters in some of his crews.

Me sitting up there bearing down on those books, and then they gave me those little crappy questions. A cornfield nigger could have answered them if he'd been able to spell.

.... not too loud but variegated and unremitting, a kind of course, hourse tweedy mixture of sounds to your nerves ends, and occasionally the clatter of dishes, for my room gave on the the kitchen area. And now and then a nigger would sing a snatch down there.

"Not a blessed thing." Which I knew was a lie, for she was always fooling around with orphans and half-wits and blind niggers, and not even getting paid for it.

"You heard wrong," I said. "I quit."

"You were smart," he said, "because when I get through with that outfit they wouldn't be able to pay you. They won't be able to pay the nigger washes the spittoons."

"Lucy," he was saying, "she could sleep on the bare ground. And that's exactly what she's going to raise Tom to do, too, if she has her way. She'd have him so the six-year kids will be plugging him with nigger-shooters, and then not bothering to run.

"When I came off the boat at Louisville, there was an old man, a nigger, sitting on the landing stage, and he was blind and picking on a guitar and singing 'Old Dan Tucker.' I took the money out of my bag and walked to him and laid it in his old hat."

"If you were going to give the money away -- if you felt the money was defiled -- why didn't you free her? Cass asked.

"You fool," Gilbert said to him, "be a private fool if you must, but in God's name don't be a public one. Do you think you can work them and free them? One day work, one day loaf. Do you think you can have a passel of free niggers next door to a plantation of slaves?"

"I belong here," Cass replied.

"Well, why don't you preach Abolition right here?" Gilbert demanded. "Do something, do anything, but stop making a fool of yourself trying to raise cotton with free niggers."

Toward the Tennessee border the pair were taken. The man, resisting officers, was shot; the woman was brought back. "See," Gilbert said, "all you have managed to do is get one nigger killed and one nigger whipped. I offer my congratulations." So Cass put is free Negroes on a boat bound up-river, and never heard of them again.

Yeah, I said to myself, he still lives here. He lived there above a spick restaurant, and nigger children played naked in the next block among starving cats, and nigger women sat on the steps after the sun got low and fanned right slow with palm-leaf fans.

.... and in the evenings the great high-wheeled carts groaned along the rutted tracks, piled high with the fetid sweet burden, and far off across the flat black fields laid bare by the knife, under the saffron sky, some nigger sang sadly about the transaction between him and Jesus.