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CALDWELL, Erskine



Tobacco Road

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He would not even consider going elsewhere to live, even though he were offered a chance to work another man’s farm on shares. Even to move to Augusta and work in the cotton mills would be impossible for him. The restless movement of the other tenant farmers to the mills had never had any effect on Jeeter. Working in cotton mills might be all right for some people, he said, but as for him, he would rather die of starvation than leave the land. In seven years his views of the subject had not been altered; and if anything, he was more determined than ever to remain where he was at all cost.

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The spring-time ain’t going to let you fool it by hiding away inside a durn cotton mill. It knows you got to stay on the land to feel good. That’s because humans made the mills. God made the land, but you don’t see Him building durn cotton mills. That’s how I know better than to go up there like the rest of them. I stay where God made a place for me.

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Good preachers don’t preach about God and heaven, and things like that. They always preach against something, like hell and the devil. Them is things to be against. It wouldn’t do a preacher no good to preach for God. He’s got to preach against the devil and all wicked and sinful things. That’s what the people like to hear about. They want to hear about the bad things.

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Though it sometimes looks like a rich man will never help the poor; whereas the poor people will give away everything they has to help somebody who ain’t got nothing. That’s how it looks to me. Don’t seem like it ought to be that way, but I reckon the rich ain’t got no time to fool with us poor folks.

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God’s Little Acre

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Will, when the gold-fever strikes a man, he can’t think about nothing else to save his soul. I reckon that’s what’s wrong with me, if anything is. I’ve got the fever so bad I can’t be bothered about planting cotton. I’m bent on getting those little yellow nuggets out of the ground. Come heaven, hell, or high water, I reckon I’ll just have to keep on digging till I strike the lode. I can’t stop to do nothing else now. The gold-fever has water-logged me through and through.

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Several yards of undermined sand and clay broke loose up near the top, and the land slid down to the floor of the crater. Ty Ty Walden was so angry about the landslide that he just stood there with the pick in his hands, knee-deep in the reddish earth, and swore about everything he could think of. The boys were ready to stop work, anyway. It was mid-afternoon then, and they had been down in the ground digging in the big hole since daylight that morning.

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God put us in the bodies of animals and tried to make us act like people. That was the beginning of trouble. If He had made us like we are, and not called us people, the last one of us would know how to live. A man can’t live, feeling himself from the inside, and listening to what the preachers say. He can’t do both, but he can do one or the other. He can live like we were made to live, and feel himself on the inside, or he can live like the preachers say, and be dead on the inside. A man has got God in him from the start, and when he is made to live like a preacher says to live, there’s going to be trouble. If the boys had done like I tried to get them to do, there never would have been all this trouble. The girls understand, and they are willing to live like God made them to live; but the boys go off and hear fools talk and they come back here and try to run things counter to God.

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A man can’t live, feeling himself from the inside, and listening to what the preachers say. He can’t do both, but he can do one or the other. He can live like we were made to live, and feel himself on the inside, or he can live like the preachers say, and be dead on the inside. A man has got God in him from the start, and when he is made to live like a preacher says to live, there’s going to be trouble.

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The trouble with people is that they try to fool themselves into believing that they’re different from the way God made them. You go to church and a preacher tells you things that deep down in your heart you know ain’t so. But most people are so dead inside that they believe it and try to make everybody else live that way. People ought to live like God made us to live.

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