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Kneel to the Rising Sun
by [?]

Lonnie remembered then what Clem Henry had said he would do if Arch Gunnard ever tried to cut off his dog’s tail. Lonnie knew, and Clem knew, and everybody else knew, that that would give Arch the chance he was waiting for. All Arch asked, he had said, was for Clem Henry to overstep his place just one little half-inch, or to talk back to him with just one little short word, and he would do the rest. Everybody knew what Arch meant by that, especially if Clem did not turn and run. And Clem had not been known to run from anybody, after fifteen years in the country.

Arch reached down and grabbed Nancy’s tail while Lonnie was wondering about Clem. Nancy acted as if she thought Arch were playing some kind of a game with her. She turned her head around until she could reach Arch’s hand to lick it. He cracked her on the bridge of the nose with the end of the jackknife.

“He’s a mighty playful dog, Lonnie,” Arch said, catching up a shorter grip on the tail, “but his wagpole is way too long for a dog his size, especially when he wants to be a ketch hound.”

Lonnie swallowed hard.

” Mr. Arch, she’s a mighty fine rabbit tracker. I—”

“Shucks, Lonnie,” Arch said, whetting the knife blade on the dog’s tail, “I aint never seen a hound in all my life that needed a tail that long to hunt rabbits with. It’s way too long for just a common, ordinary, everyday ketch hound.”

Lonnie looked up hopefully at Dudley Smith and the others. None of them offered any help. It was useless for him to try to stop Arch, because Arch Gunnard would let nothing stand in his way when once he had set his head on what he wished to do. Lonnie knew that if he should let himself show any anger or resentment, Arch would drive him off the farm before sundown that night. Clem Henry was the only person there who would help him, but Clem …

The white men and the Negroes at both corners of the filling station waited to see what Lonnie was going to do about it. All of them hoped he would put up a fight for his hound. If anyone ever had the nerve to stop Arch Gunnard from cutting off a dog’s tail, it might put an end to it. It was plain, though, that Lonnie, who was one of Arch’s share-croppers, was afraid to speak up. Clem Henry might; Clem was the only one who might try to stop Arch, even if it meant trouble. And all of them knew that Arch would insist on running Clem out of the country, or filling him full of lead.

“I reckon it’s all right with you, aint it, Lonnie?” Arch said.”I don’t seem to hear no objections.”

Clem Henry stepped forward several paces, and stopped.

Arch laughed, watching Lonnie’s face, and jerked Nancy to her feet. The hound cried out in pain and surprise, but Arch made her be quiet by kicking her in the belly.

Lonnie winced. He could hardly bear to see anybody kick his dog like that.

“Mr. Arch, I …”

A contraction in his throat almost choked him for several moments, and he had to open his mouth wide and fight for breath. The other white men around him were silent. Nobody liked to see a dog kicked in the belly like that.

Lonnie could see the other end of the filling station from the corner of his eye. He saw a couple of Negroes go up behind Clem and grasp his overalls. Clem spat on the ground, between outspread feet, but he did not try to break away from them.

“Being as how I don’t hear no objections, I reckon it’s all right to go ahead and cut it off,” Arch said, spitting.

Lonnie’s head went forward and all he could see of Nancy was her hind feet. He had come to ask for a slab of sowbelly and some molasses, or something. Now he did not know if he could ever bring himself to ask for rations, no matter how much hungrier they became at home.

“I always make it a habit of asking a man first,” Arch said.”I wouldn’t want to go ahead and cut off a tail if a man had any objections. That wouldn’t be right. No, sir, it just wouldn’t be fair and square.”