Graphic Witness: Hugo Gellert
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Hugo Gellert: Comrade Gulliver

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IN a sunbaked cotton held, a Negro woman and half a dozen ragged children shuttled up and down the long rows. Their bodies were bent, and their adept fingers picked the snow-white bolls and placed them into trailing sacks, tied to their waists.

Further along a Negro man tussled with a balky mule. He did some fancy swearing: "Giddap, mule! Whoa, you cussed long eared woods-colt of Beelzebub! Whoa, vermin."

He stopped to straighten the matted trace cords. We walked over. He shook his head mournfully and greeted us with these words: "Hard luck in this family and it all fell on me.

"I whips the hide off that mule but he don't pay no mind. It ain't like it was his fault neither. Year after year I whips him if he gets stumping on the cotton when he is ploughing. Now government man wants us to plough cotton under. I can't explain to the mule how government wants him to get changing his ways. It ain't natural for humans to understand. And he ain't nothing except old mule. . .

"Yessuh, see my wife and children pickin' cotton? That's for the ducks."

"For the ducks?" I exclaimed in astonishment.

"Yessuh, we has peculiar ducks this part of the country. I has to get me credit at Bossman's store for feed and fertilizer. Feed for mule and my family. Then when the crop gets ready Bossman comes, brings me the book: fifteen dollars, ducks for feed. Ten dollars, ducks for fertilizer. Fifteen dollars ducks for feed and potatoes and corn. And by the time ducks get through with my crop, I owe Bossman money."

"Oh, deductions! Is that what you mean?" Mr. Keen asked.

"That's right, ducks," he said. "One year boll weevil, next year Roosevelt and ducks every year. And my share ain't been nothing but the work part."