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‘My Enemy Passing By’
The Sand-Hills' Crest by Robert E. Howard, Reading from A Word from the Outer Dark, pages 22-4

Although a racialist who appears to have believed in blood memory, among Howard's strongest recurring themes is what I have labeled Trails, the idea that the man takes on some of the character of and is literally sculpted, mentally, spiritually and physically by his habitat, by his man-forging path through the crucible of life.

The Sand-Hill’s Crest is a tale of bitter failure, poverty, proud heritage, emasculation, traitor-dealing, moon-shining and fatalistic retribution.

A son of Tennessee and the Confederacy has fallen by stages from the social and material standards of his ancestors and now suffers as a bondman, a self-sold slave in the post oak region of East Texas, where his only freedom is distilling corn liquor in secret. He has been discovered and turned in by a neighbor and aims to set things right, harboring no illusions that he will get away with the crime of True Justice.

The nine verses range from 4 to 16 lines and are densely set in westward ethnic pride:

“(When my grandfather was a lad,

A hundred slaves his father had;

He clothed them better than I am clad.

They were sleek and fat and prime,

I’ve been hungry many a time.

They fed full, child man and wife;

I’ve been hungry most of my life.)

“I found a man to go my bond—he knows that I won’t run…”

In modern times we see bonding as insurance that a housekeeper or security guard will not steal our things and if they do, we are compensated by the third party insurer. But as recently as the 1920s Americans understood that to be bonded is to be owned and that running away is a theft of your master’s property—which is the very person of the bondman. This is still accurately reflected in the trade of the bail bondsman, who enslaves people as a mercenary overseer of the current police state, and is often regarded as a hero, lionized in film and reality TV.

To get a better picture of our American past, understand that to owe even a dollar was a crime and that losing your freedom was a direct result of the debt, not of a failure to pay off the debt according to some schedule. Where we are no owned surreptitiously by a free range corporate debt slavery system, our ancestors were owned as cattle for falling even a day’s wage into debt. One ruse that was used to enslave Scottish boys in the 1700s was the gift of a hat, a jacket or a meal by a friendly adult. Then, once the boy had donned his cap or eaten his meal he was owned and sold for periods ranging from 7-31 years.

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