The happy nine-fingered shepherds of pastoral

From Deliverance (1970) by James Dickey:

There is always something wrong about people in the country, I thought. In the comparatively few times I had ever been in the rural South I had been struck by the number of missing fingers. Offhand, I had counted around twenty, at least. There had also been several people with some form of crippling or twisting illness, some blind or one-eyed. No adequate medical treatment, maybe. But there was something else. You’d think that farming was a healthy life, with fresh air and fresh food and plenty of exercise, but I never saw a farmer who didn’t have something wrong with him, and most of the time obviously wrong; I never saw one who was physically powerful, either. Certainly there were none like Lewis. The work with the hands must be fantastically dangerous, in all that fresh air and sunshine, I thought: the catching of an arm in a tractor part somewhere off in the middle of a field where nothing happened but the sun blazed back more fiercely down the open mouth of one’s screams. And so many snakebites deep in the woods as one stepped over a rotting log, so many domestic animals suddenly turning and crushing one against the splintering side of a barn stall. I wanted none of it, and I didn’t want to be around when it happened either. But I was there, and there was no way for me to escape, except by water, from the country of nine-fingered people.

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