OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
TOM SAWYER’S COMRADE
PERSONSattempting to find a motive in this narra-tive willbe prosecuted; persons attempting to find amoral init will be banished; persons attempting tofind aplot in it will be shot.
BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR
Per G.G.Chief of Ordnance.
IN thisbook a number of dialects are usedto wit:theMissouri negro dialect; the extremest form of thebackwoodsSouthwestern dialect; the ordinary "PikeCounty"dialect; and four modified varieties of thislast. Theshadings have not been done in a hap-hazardfashionor by guesswork; but painstakinglyand withthe trustworthy guidance and support ofpersonalfamiliarity with these several forms of speech.
I makethis explanation for the reason that withoutit manyreaders would suppose that all these charactersweretrying to talk alike and not succeeding.
Scene: TheMississippi ValleyTime:Forty to fifty years ago
YOU don'tknow about me without you have read abook bythe name of The Adventures of TomSawyer;but that ain't no matter. That book wasmade byMr. Mark Twainand he told the truthmainly.There was things which he stretchedbutmainly hetold the truth. That is nothing. I neverseenanybody but lied one time or anotherwithout itwas AuntPollyor the widowor maybe Mary. AuntPolly --Tom's Aunt Pollyshe is -- and Maryandthe WidowDouglas is all told about in that bookwhich ismostly a true bookwith some stretchersasI saidbefore.
Now theway that the book winds up is this: Tomand mefound the money that the robbers hid in thecaveandit made us rich. We got six thousand dollarsapiece --all gold. It was an awful sight of moneywhen itwas piled up. WellJudge Thatcher he tookit and putit out at interestand it fetched us a dollara dayapiece all the year round -- more than a bodycould tellwhat to do with. The Widow Douglas shetook mefor her sonand allowed she would sivilizeme; but itwas rough living in the house all the timeconsideringhow dismal regular and decent the widowwas in allher ways; and so when I couldn't stand itno longerI lit out. I got into my old rags and mysugar-hogsheadagainand was free and satisfied. ButTom Sawyerhe hunted me up and said he was goingto start aband of robbersand I might join if I wouldgo back tothe widow and be respectable. So I wentback.
The widowshe cried over meand called me a poorlost lamband she called me a lot of other namestoobutshe never meant no harm by it. She put mein themnew clothes againand I couldn't do nothingbut sweatand sweatand feel all cramped up. Wellthentheold thing commenced again. The widowrung abell for supperand you had to come to time.When yougot to the table you couldn't go right toeatingbut you had to wait for the widow to tuckdown herhead and grumble a little over the victualsthoughthere warn't really anything the matter withthem--that isnothing only everything was cookedby itself.In a barrel of odds and ends it is different;things getmixed upand the juice kind of swapsaroundand the things go better.
Aftersupper she got out her book and learned meaboutMoses and the Bulrushersand I was in a sweatto findout all about him; but by and by she let it outthat Moseshad been dead a considerable long time; sothen Ididn't care no more about himbecause I don'ttake nostock in dead people.
Prettysoon I wanted to smokeand asked the widowto let me.But she wouldn't. She said it was a meanpracticeand wasn't cleanand I must try to not do itany more.That is just the way with some people.They getdown on a thing when they don't knownothingabout it. Here she was a-bothering aboutMoseswhich was no kin to herand no use to any-bodybeing goneyou seeyet finding a power offault withme for doing a thing that had some good init. Andshe took snufftoo; of course that was allrightbecause she done it herself.
HersisterMiss Watsona tolerable slim old maidwithgoggles onhad just come to live with herandtook a setat me now with a spelling-book. Sheworked memiddling hard for about an hourand thenthe widowmade her ease up. I couldn't stood itmuchlonger. Then for an hour it was deadly dulland I wasfidgety. Miss Watson would say"Don'tput yourfeet up thereHuckleberry;" and "Don'tscrunch uplike thatHuckleberry -- set up straight;"and prettysoon she would say"Don't gap and stretchlike thatHuckleberry -- why don't you try to be-have?"Then she told me all about the bad placeand I saidI wished I was there. She got mad thenbut Ididn't mean no harm. All I wanted was to gosomewheres;all I wanted was a changeI warn'tparticular.She said it was wicked to say what I said;said shewouldn't say it for the whole world; she wasgoing tolive so as to go to the good place. WellIcouldn'tsee no advantage in going where she wasgoingsoI made up my mind I wouldn't try for it.But Inever said sobecause it would only maketroubleand wouldn't do no good.
Now shehad got a startand she went on and toldme allabout the good place. She said all a bodywould haveto do there was to go around all day longwith aharp and singforever and ever. So I didn'tthink muchof it. But I never said so. I asked her ifshereckoned Tom Sawyer would go thereand shesaid notby a considerable sight. I was glad aboutthatbecause I wanted him and me to be together.
MissWatson she kept pecking at meand it gottiresomeand lonesome. By and by they fetched theniggers inand had prayersand then everybody wasoff tobed. I went up to my room with a piece ofcandleand put it on the table. Then I set down in achair bythe window and tried to think of somethingcheerfulbut it warn't no use. I felt so lonesome Imostwished I was dead. The stars were shiningandthe leavesrustled in the woods ever so mournful; andI heard anowlaway offwho-whooing about some-body thatwas deadand a whippowill and a dog cry-ing aboutsomebody that was going to die; and thewind wastrying to whisper something to meand Icouldn'tmake out what it wasand so it made the coldshiversrun over me. Then away out in the woods Iheard thatkind of a sound that a ghost makes when itwants totell about something that's on its mind andcan't makeitself understoodand so can't rest easy inits graveand has to go about that way every nightgrieving.I got so down-hearted and scared I did wishI had somecompany. Pretty soon a spider wentcrawlingup my shoulderand I flipped it off and it litin thecandle; and before I could budge it was allshriveledup. I didn't need anybody to tell me thatthat wasan awful bad sign and would fetch me somebad luckso I was scared and most shook the clothesoff of me.I got up and turned around in my tracksthreetimes and crossed my breast every time; andthen Itied up a little lock of my hair with a thread tokeepwitches away. But I hadn't no confidence.You dothat when you've lost a horseshoe that you'vefoundinstead of nailing it up over the doorbut Ihadn'tever heard anybody say it was any way to keepoff badluck when you'd killed a spider.
I set downagaina-shaking all overand got out mypipe for asmoke; for the house was all as still asdeath nowand so the widow wouldn't know. Wellafter along time I heard the clock away off in thetown goboom -- boom -- boom -- twelve licks; andall stillagain -- stiller than ever. Pretty soon I hearda twigsnap down in the dark amongst the trees --somethingwas a stirring. I set still and listened.Directly Icould just barely hear a "me-yow! me-yow!"down there. That was good! Says I"me-yow!me-yow!" as soft as I couldand then I putout thelight and scrambled out of the window on tothe shed.Then I slipped down to the ground andcrawled inamong the treesandsure enoughtherewas TomSawyer waiting for me.
WE wenttiptoeing along a path amongst the treesbacktowards the end of the widow's gardenstoopingdown so as the branches wouldn't scrape ourheads.When we was passing by the kitchen I fellover aroot and made a noise. We scrouched downand laidstill. Miss Watson's big niggernamed Jimwassetting in the kitchen door; we could see himprettyclearbecause there was a light behind him.He got upand stretched his neck out about a minutelistening.Then he says:
Helistened some more; then he come tiptoeingdown andstood right between us; we could a touchedhimnearly. Welllikely it was minutes and minutesthat therewarn't a soundand we all there so closetogether.There was a place on my ankle that got toitchingbut I dasn't scratch it; and then my ear begunto itch;and next my backright between my shoul-ders.Seemed like I'd die if I couldn't scratch. WellI'venoticed that thing plenty times since. If you arewith thequalityor at a funeralor trying to go tosleep whenyou ain't sleepy -- if you are anywhereswhere itwon't do for you to scratchwhy you will itchall overin upwards of a thousand places. Pretty soonJim says:
"Saywho is you? Whar is you? Dog my catsef I didn'hear sumf'n. WellI know what I's gwyneto do: I'sgwyne to set down here and listen tell Ihears itagin."
So he setdown on the ground betwixt me and Tom.He leanedhis back up against a treeand stretched hislegs outtill one of them most touched one of mine.My nosebegun to itch. It itched till the tears comeinto myeyes. But I dasn't scratch. Then it begunto itch onthe inside. Next I got to itching under-neath. Ididn't know how I was going to set still.Thismiserableness went on as much as six or sevenminutes;but it seemed a sight longer than that. Iwasitching in eleven different places now. I reckonedI couldn'tstand it more'n a minute longerbut I setmy teethhard and got ready to try. Just then Jimbegun tobreathe heavy; next he begun to snore --and then Iwas pretty soon comfortable again.
Tom hemade a sign to me -- kind of a little noisewith hismouth -- and we went creeping away on ourhands andknees. When we was ten foot off Tomwhisperedto meand wanted to tie Jim to the tree forfun. But Isaid no; he might wake and make a dis-turbanceand then they'd find out I warn't in. ThenTom saidhe hadn't got candles enoughand he wouldslip inthe kitchen and get some more. I didn't wanthim totry. I said Jim might wake up and come.But Tomwanted to resk it; so we slid in there and gotthreecandlesand Tom laid five cents on the table forpay. Thenwe got outand I was in a sweat to getaway; butnothing would do Tom but he must crawlto whereJim wason his hands and kneesand playsomethingon him. I waitedand it seemed a goodwhileeverything was so still and lonesome.
As soon asTom was back we cut along the patharound thegarden fenceand by and by fetched up onthe steeptop of the hill the other side of the house.Tom saidhe slipped Jim's hat off of his head and hungit on alimb right over himand Jim stirred a littlebuthe didn'twake. Afterwards Jim said the witches be-witchedhim and put him in a tranceand rode him allover theStateand then set him under the trees againand hunghis hat on a limb to show who done it. Andnext timeJim told it he said they rode him down toNewOrleans; andafter thatevery time he told it hespread itmore and moretill by and by he said theyrode himall over the worldand tired him most todeathandhis back was all over saddle-boils. Jimwasmonstrous proud about itand he got so hewouldn'thardly notice the other niggers. Niggerswould comemiles to hear Jim tell about itand he wasmorelooked up to than any nigger in that country.Strangeniggers would stand with their mouths openand lookhim all oversame as if he was a wonder.Niggers isalways talking about witches in the dark bythekitchen fire; but whenever one was talking andletting onto know all about such thingsJim wouldhappen inand say"Hm! What you know 'boutwitches?"and that nigger was corked up and had totake aback seat. Jim always kept that five-centerpieceround his neck with a stringand said it was acharm thedevil give to him with his own handsandtold himhe could cure anybody with it and fetchwitcheswhenever he wanted to just by saying some-thing toit; but he never told what it was he said to it.Niggerswould come from all around there and giveJimanything they hadjust for a sight of that five-centerpiece; but they wouldn't touch itbecause thedevil hadhad his hands on it. Jim was most ruinedfor aservantbecause he got stuck up on account ofhavingseen the devil and been rode by witches.
WellwhenTom and me got to the edge of the hill-top welooked away down into the village and couldsee threeor four lights twinklingwhere there was sickfolksmaybe; and the stars over us was sparkling everso fine;and down by the village was the rivera wholemilebroadand awful still and grand. We went downthe hilland found Jo Harper and Ben Rogersandtwo orthree more of the boyshid in the old tanyard.So weunhitched a skiff and pulled down the river twomile and ahalfto the big scar on the hillsideandwentashore.
We went toa clump of bushesand Tom madeeverybodyswear to keep the secretand then showedthem ahole in the hillright in the thickest part of thebushes.Then we lit the candlesand crawled in onour handsand knees. We went about two hundredyardsandthen the cave opened up. Tom pokedaboutamongst the passagesand pretty soon duckedunder awall where you wouldn't a noticed that therewas ahole. We went along a narrow place and gotinto akind of roomall damp and sweaty and coldand therewe stopped. Tom says:
"Nowwe'll start this band of robbers and call itTomSawyer's Gang. Everybody that wants to joinhas got totake an oathand write his name in blood."
Everybodywas willing. So Tom got out a sheet ofpaper thathe had wrote the oath onand read it. Itsworeevery boy to stick to the bandand never tellany of thesecrets; and if anybody done anything toany boy inthe bandwhichever boy was ordered tokill thatperson and his family must do itand hemustn'teat and he mustn't sleep till he had killed themand hackeda cross in their breastswhich was the signof theband. And nobody that didn't belong to theband coulduse that markand if he did he must besued; andif he done it again he must be killed. Andif anybodythat belonged to the band told the secretshe musthave his throat cutand then have his carcassburnt upand the ashes scattered all aroundand hisnameblotted off of the list with blood and never men-tionedagain by the gangbut have a curse put on itand beforgot forever.
Everybodysaid it was a real beautiful oathandasked Tomif he got it out of his own head. He saidsome ofitbut the rest was out of pirate-books androbber-booksand every gang that was high-tonedhad it.
Somethought it would be good to kill the FAMILIESof boysthat told the secrets. Tom said it was a goodideasohe took a pencil and wrote it in. Then BenRogerssays:
"Here'sHuck Finnhe hain't got no family; whatyou goingto do 'bout him?"
"Wellhain't he got a father?" says Tom Sawyer.
"Yeshe's got a fatherbut you can't never findhim thesedays. He used to lay drunk with the hogsin thetanyardbut he hain't been seen in these partsfor a yearor more."
Theytalked it overand they was going to rule meoutbecause they said every boy must have a familyorsomebody to killor else it wouldn't be fair andsquare forthe others. Wellnobody could think ofanythingto do -- everybody was stumpedand setstill. Iwas most ready to cry; but all at once Ithought ofa wayand so I offered them Miss Watson-- theycould kill her. Everybody said:
"Ohshe'll do. That's all right. Huck can comein."
Then theyall stuck a pin in their fingers to getblood tosign withand I made my mark on the paper.
"Now"says Ben Rogers"what's the line of busi-ness ofthis Gang?"
"Nothingonly robbery and murder" Tom said.
"Butwho are we going to rob? -- housesor cattleor --"
"Stuff!stealing cattle and such things ain't rob-bery; it'sburglary" says Tom Sawyer. "We ain'tburglars.That ain't no sort of style. We are high-waymen. Westop stages and carriages on the roadwith masksonand kill the people and take theirwatchesand money."
"Mustwe always kill the people?"
"Ohcertainly. It's best. Some authorities thinkdifferentbut mostly it's considered best to kill them --exceptsome that you bring to the cave hereand keepthem tillthey're ransomed."
"Idon't know. But that's what they do. I'veseen it inbooks; and so of course that's what we'vegot todo."
"Buthow can we do it if we don't know what it is?"
"Whyblame it allwe've GOT to do it. Don't I tellyou it'sin the books? Do you want to go to doingdifferentfrom what's in the booksand get things allmuddledup?"
"Ohthat's all very fine to SAYTom Sawyerbuthow in thenation are these fellows going to be ran-somed ifwe don't know how to do it to them? -- that'sthe thingI want to get at. Nowwhat do you reckonit is?"
"WellI don't know. But per'aps if we keep themtillthey're ransomedit means that we keep them tillthey'redead. "
"Nowthat's something LIKE. That'll answer.Whycouldn't you said that before? We'll keep themtillthey're ransomed to death; and a bothersome lotthey'llbetoo -- eating up everythingand alwaystrying toget loose."
"Howyou talkBen Rogers. How can they getloose whenthere's a guard over themready to shootthem downif they move a peg?"
"Aguard! Wellthat IS good. So somebody'sgot to setup all night and never get any sleepjust soas towatch them. I think that's foolishness. Whycan't abody take a club and ransom them as soon asthey gethere?"
"Becauseit ain't in the books so -- that's why.NowBenRogersdo you want to do things regularor don'tyou? -- that's the idea. Don't you reckonthat thepeople that made the books knows what's thecorrectthing to do? Do you reckon YOU can learn'emanything? Not by a good deal. Nosirwe'lljust go onand ransom them in the regular way."
"Allright. I don't mind; but I say it's a foolwayanyhow. Saydo we kill the womentoo?"
"WellBen Rogersif I was as ignorant as you Iwouldn'tlet on. Kill the women? No; nobody eversawanything in the books like that. You fetch themto thecaveand you're always as polite as pie to them;and by andby they fall in love with youand neverwant to gohome any more."
"Wellif that's the way I'm agreedbut I don'ttake nostock in it. Mighty soon we'll have the cavesocluttered up with womenand fellows waiting to beransomedthat there won't be no place for the rob-bers. Butgo aheadI ain't got nothing to say."
LittleTommy Barnes was asleep nowand whenthey wakedhim up he was scaredand criedand saidhe wantedto go home to his maand didn't want tobe arobber any more.
So theyall made fun of himand called him cry-babyandthat made him madand he said he wouldgostraight and tell all the secrets. But Tom give himfive centsto keep quietand said we would all go homeand meetnext weekand rob somebody and kill somepeople.
Ben Rogerssaid he couldn't get out muchonlySundaysand so he wanted to begin next Sunday; butall theboys said it would be wicked to do it on Sundayand thatsettled the thing. They agreed to get to-gether andfix a day as soon as they couldand thenwe electedTom Sawyer first captain and Jo Harpersecondcaptain of the Gangand so started home.
I clumb upthe shed and crept into my window justbefore daywas breaking. My new clothes was allgreased upand clayeyand I was dog-tired.
WELLIgot a good going-over in the morningfrom oldMiss Watson on account of myclothes;but the widow she didn't scoldbut onlycleanedoff the grease and clayand looked so sorrythat Ithought I would behave awhile if I could. ThenMissWatson she took me in the closet and prayedbutnothingcome of it. She told me to pray every dayandwhatever I asked for I would get it. But it warn'tso. Itried it. Once I got a fish-linebut no hooks.It warn'tany good to me without hooks. I tried forthe hooksthree or four timesbut somehow I couldn'tmake itwork. By and byone dayI asked MissWatson totry for mebut she said I was a fool. Shenever toldme whyand I couldn't make it out no way.
I set downone time back in the woodsand had along thinkabout it. I says to myselfif a body cangetanything they pray forwhy don't Deacon Winnget backthe money he lost on pork? Why can't thewidow getback her silver snuffbox that was stole?Why can'tMiss Watson fat up? Nosays I to myselfthere ain't nothing in it. I went and told thewidowabout itand she said the thing a body couldget bypraying for it was "spiritual gifts." This wastoo manyfor mebut she told me what she meant -- Imust helpother peopleand do everything I could forotherpeopleand look out for them all the timeandneverthink about myself. This was including MissWatsonasI took it. I went out in the woods andturned itover in my mind a long timebut I couldn'tsee noadvantage about it -- except for the other peo-ple; so atlast I reckoned I wouldn't worry about itany morebut just let it go. Sometimes the widowwould takeme one side and talk about Providence in away tomake a body's mouth water; but maybe nextday MissWatson would take hold and knock it alldownagain. I judged I could see that there was twoProvidencesand a poor chap would stand considerableshow withthe widow's Providencebut if Miss Wat-son's gothim there warn't no help for him any more.I thoughtit all outand reckoned I would belong tothewidow's if he wanted methough I couldn't makeout how hewas a-going to be any better off then thanwhat hewas beforeseeing I was so ignorantand sokind oflow-down and ornery.
Pap hehadn't been seen for more than a yearandthat wascomfortable for me; I didn't want to see himno more.He used to always whale me when he wassober andcould get his hands on me; though I usedto take tothe woods most of the time when he wasaround.Wellabout this time he was found in theriverdrowndedabout twelve mile above townsopeoplesaid. They judged it was himanyway; saidthisdrownded man was just his sizeand was raggedand haduncommon long hairwhich was all like pap;but theycouldn't make nothing out of the facebe-cause ithad been in the water so long it warn't muchlike aface at all. They said he was floating on hisback inthe water. They took him and buried him onthe bank.But I warn't comfortable longbecause Ihappenedto think of something. I knowed mightywell thata drownded man don't float on his backbuton hisface. So I knowedthenthat this warn't papbut awoman dressed up in a man's clothes. So I wasuncomfortableagain. I judged the old man wouldturn upagain by and bythough I wished he wouldn't.
We playedrobber now and then about a monthandthen Iresigned. All the boys did. We hadn't robbednobodyhadn't killed any peoplebut only just pre-tended. Weused to hop out of the woods and gochargingdown on hog-drivers and women in cartstakinggarden stuff to marketbut we never hived anyof them.Tom Sawyer called the hogs "ingots" andhe calledthe turnips and stuff "julery" and we wouldgo to thecave and powwow over what we had doneand howmany people we had killed and marked. ButI couldn'tsee no profit in it. One time Tom sent aboy to runabout town with a blazing stickwhich hecalled aslogan (which was the sign for the Gang togettogether)and then he said he had got secret newsby hisspies that next day a whole parcel of Spanishmerchantsand rich A-rabs was going to camp in CaveHollowwith two hundred elephantsand six hundredcamelsand over a thousand "sumter" mulesallloadeddown with di'mondsand they didn't have onlya guard offour hundred soldiersand so we would layinambuscadeas he called itand kill the lot andscoop thethings. He said we must slick up our swordsand gunsand get ready. He never could go aftereven aturnip-cart but he must have the swords andguns allscoured up for itthough they was only lathandbroomsticksand you might scour at them till yourottedand then they warn't worth a mouthful of ashesmore thanwhat they was before. I didn't believe wecould licksuch a crowd of Spaniards and A-rabsbutI wantedto see the camels and elephantsso I was onhand nextdaySaturdayin the ambuscade; and whenwe got theword we rushed out of the woods and downthe hill.But there warn't no Spaniards and A-rabsand therewarn't no camels nor no elephants. Itwarn'tanything but a Sunday-school picnicand onlyaprimer-class at that. We busted it upand chasedthechildren up the hollow; but we never got anythingbut somedoughnuts and jamthough Ben Rogers gota ragdolland Jo Harper got a hymn-book and atract; andthen the teacher charged inand made usdropeverything and cut. I didn't see no di'mondsand I toldTom Sawyer so. He said there was loadsof themthereanyway; and he said there was A-rabstheretooand elephants and things. I saidwhycouldn'twe see themthen? He said if I warn't soignorantbut had read a book called Don QuixoteIwould knowwithout asking. He said it was all donebyenchantment. He said there was hundreds ofsoldiersthereand elephants and treasureand so onbut we hadenemies which he called magicians; andthey hadturned the whole thing into an infant Sunday-schooljust out of spite. I saidall right; then thething forus to do was to go for the magicians. TomSawyersaid I was a numskull.
"Why"said he"a magician could call up a lotof geniesand they would hash you up like nothingbefore youcould say Jack Robinson. They are as tallas a treeand as big around as a church."
"Well"I says"s'pose we got some genies tohelp US --can't we lick the other crowd then?"
"Howyou going to get them?"
"Idon't know. How do THEY get them?"
"Whythey rub an old tin lamp or an iron ringand thenthe genies come tearing inwith the thunderandlightning a-ripping around and the smoke a-rollingandeverything they're told to do they up and do it.They don'tthink nothing of pulling a shot-tower upby therootsand belting a Sunday-school superinten-dent overthe head with it -- or any other man."
"Whomakes them tear around so?"
"Whywhoever rubs the lamp or the ring. Theybelong towhoever rubs the lamp or the ringandthey'vegot to do whatever he says. If he tells themto build apalace forty miles long out of di'mondsandfill itfull of chewing-gumor whatever you wantandfetch anemperor's daughter from China for you tomarrythey've got to do it -- and they've got to do itbeforesun-up next morningtoo. And more: they'vegot towaltz that palace around over the countrywhereveryou want ityou understand."
"Well"says I"I think they are a pack of flat-heads fornot keeping the palace themselves 'stead offoolingthem away like that. And what's more -- if Iwas one ofthem I would see a man in Jericho before Iwould dropmy business and come to him for the rub-bing of anold tin lamp."
"Howyou talkHuck Finn. Whyyou'd HAVE tocome whenhe rubbed itwhether you wanted to ornot."
"What!and I as high as a tree and as big as achurch?All rightthen; I WOULD come; but I layI'd makethat man climb the highest tree there was inthecountry."
"Shucksit ain't no use to talk to youHuck Finn.You don'tseem to know anythingsomehow -- perfectsaphead."
I thoughtall this over for two or three daysandthen Ireckoned I would see if there was anything in it.I got anold tin lamp and an iron ringand went out inthe woodsand rubbed and rubbed till I sweat like anInjuncalculating to build a palace and sell it; but itwarn't nousenone of the genies come. So then Ijudgedthat all that stuff was only just one of TomSawyer'slies. I reckoned he believed in the A-rabsand theelephantsbut as for me I think different. Ithad allthe marks of a Sunday-school.
WELLthree or four months run alongand it waswell intothe winter now. I had been to schoolmost allthe time and could spell and read and writejust alittleand could say the multiplication table upto sixtimes seven is thirty-fiveand I don't reckon Icould everget any further than that if I was to liveforever. Idon't take no stock in mathematicsany-way.
At first Ihated the schoolbut by and by I got so Icouldstand it. Whenever I got uncommon tired Iplayedhookeyand the hiding I got next day done megood andcheered me up. So the longer I went toschool theeasier it got to be. I was getting sort ofused tothe widow's waystooand they warn't soraspy onme. Living in a house and sleeping in a bedpulled onme pretty tight mostlybut before the coldweather Iused to slide out and sleep in the woodssometimesand so that was a rest to me. I liked theold waysbestbut I was getting so I liked the newonestooa little bit. The widow said I was comingalong slowbut sureand doing very satisfactory. Shesaid shewarn't ashamed of me.
Onemorning I happened to turn over the salt-cellaratbreakfast. I reached for some of it as quick as Icould tothrow over my left shoulder and keep off thebad luckbut Miss Watson was in ahead of meandcrossed meoff. She says"Take your hands awayHuckleberry;what a mess you are always making!"The widowput in a good word for mebut that warn'tgoing tokeep off the bad luckI knowed that wellenough. Istarted outafter breakfastfeeling worriedand shakyand wondering where it was going to fallon meandwhat it was going to be. There is ways tokeep offsome kinds of bad luckbut this wasn't oneof themkind; so I never tried to do anythingbut justpokedalong low-spirited and on the watch-out.
I wentdown to the front garden and clumb over thestilewhere you go through the high board fence.There wasan inch of new snow on the groundand Iseensomebody's tracks. They had come up from thequarry andstood around the stile a whileand thenwent onaround the garden fence. It was funny theyhadn'tcome inafter standing around so. I couldn'tmake itout. It was very curioussomehow. I wasgoing tofollow aroundbut I stooped down to look atthe tracksfirst. I didn't notice anything at firstbutnext Idid. There was a cross in the left boot-heelmade withbig nailsto keep off the devil.
I was upin a second and shinning down the hill. Ilookedover my shoulder every now and thenbut Ididn't seenobody. I was at Judge Thatcher's as quickas I couldget there. He said:
"Whymy boyyou are all out of breath. Didyou comefor your interest?"
"Nosir" I says; "is there some for me?"
"Ohyesa half-yearly is in last night -- over ahundredand fifty dollars. Quite a fortune for you.You hadbetter let me invest it along with your sixthousandbecause if you take it you'll spend it."
"Nosir" I says"I don't want to spend it. Idon't wantit at all -- nor the six thousandnuther.I want youto take it; I want to give it to you -- thesixthousand and all."
He lookedsurprised. He couldn't seem to makeit out. Hesays:
"Whywhat can you meanmy boy?"
I says"Don't you ask me no questions about itplease.You'll take it -- won't you?"
"WellI'm puzzled. Is something the matter?"
"Pleasetake it" says I"and don't ask me noth-ing --then I won't have to tell no lies."
He studieda whileand then he says:
"Oho-o!I think I see. You want to SELL all yourpropertyto me -- not give it. That's the correctidea."
Then hewrote something on a paper and read itoverandsays:
"There;you see it says 'for a consideration.' Thatmeans Ihave bought it of you and paid you for it.Here's adollar for you. Now you sign it."
So Isigned itand left.
MissWatson's niggerJimhad a hair-ball as big asyour fistwhich had been took out of the fourthstomach ofan oxand he used to do magic with it.He saidthere was a spirit inside of itand it knowedeverything.So I went to him that night and told himpap washere againfor I found his tracks in the snow.What Iwanted to know waswhat he was going to doand was hegoing to stay? Jim got out his hair-balland saidsomething over itand then he held it up anddropped iton the floor. It fell pretty solidand onlyrolledabout an inch. Jim tried it againand thenanothertimeand it acted just the same. Jim gotdown onhis kneesand put his ear against it andlistened.But it warn't no use; he said it wouldn'ttalk. Hesaid sometimes it wouldn't talk withoutmoney. Itold him I had an old slick counterfeitquarterthat warn't no good because the brass showedthroughthe silver a littleand it wouldn't pass nohoweven ifthe brass didn't showbecause it was so slickit feltgreasyand so that would tell on it every time.(Ireckoned I wouldn't say nothing about the dollar Igot fromthe judge.) I said it was pretty bad moneybut maybethe hair-ball would take itbecause maybeitwouldn't know the difference. Jim smelt it and bitit andrubbed itand said he would manage so thehair-ballwould think it was good. He said he wouldsplit opena raw Irish potato and stick the quarter inbetweenand keep it there all nightand next morningyoucouldn't see no brassand it wouldn't feel greasyno moreand so anybody in town would take it in aminutelet alone a hair-ball. WellI knowed a potatowould dothat beforebut I had forgot it.
Jim putthe quarter under the hair-balland gotdown andlistened again. This time he said the hair-ball wasall right. He said it would tell my wholefortune ifI wanted it to. I saysgo on. So the hair-balltalked to Jimand Jim told it to me. He says:
"Yo'ole father doan' know yit what he's a-gwyneto do.Sometimes he spec he'll go 'wayen den aginhe speche'll stay. De bes' way is to res' easy en letde ole mantake his own way. Dey's two angelshoverin'roun' 'bout him. One uv 'em is white enshinyent'other one is black. De white one gits himto goright a little whileden de black one sail in enbust itall up. A body can't tell yit which one gwyneto fetchhim at de las'. But you is all right. Yougwyne tohave considable trouble in yo' lifeen con-sidablejoy. Sometimes you gwyne to git hurtensometimesyou gwyne to git sick; but every time you'sgwyne togit well agin. Dey's two gals flyin' 'boutyou in yo'life. One uv 'em's light en t'other one isdark. Oneis rich en t'other is po'. You's gwyne tomarry depo' one fust en de rich one by en by. Youwants tokeep 'way fum de water as much as you kinen don'trun no resk'kase it's down in de bills datyou'sgwyne to git hung."
When I litmy candle and went up to my room thatnightthere sat pap -- his own self!
I HAD shutthe door to. Then I turned around.and therehe was. I used to be scared of him allthe timehe tanned me so much. I reckoned I wasscarednowtoo; but in a minute I see I was mistaken-- thatisafter the first joltas you may saywhenmy breathsort of hitchedhe being so unexpected;but rightaway after I see I warn't scared of him worthbothringabout.
He wasmost fiftyand he looked it. His hair waslong andtangled and greasyand hung downand youcould seehis eyes shining through like he was behindvines. Itwas all blackno gray; so was his longmixed-upwhiskers. There warn't no color in his facewhere hisface showed; it was white; not like anotherman'swhitebut a white to make a body sicka whiteto make abody's flesh crawl -- a tree-toad whiteafish-bellywhite. As for his clothes -- just ragsthatwas all.He had one ankle resting on t'other knee;the booton that foot was bustedand two of his toesstuckthroughand he worked them now and then.His hatwas laying on the floor -- an old black slouchwith thetop caved inlike a lid.
I stooda-looking at him; he set there a-looking atmewithhis chair tilted back a little. I set the candledown. Inoticed the window was up; so he had clumbin by theshed. He kept a-looking me all over. Byand by hesays:
"Starchyclothes -- very. You think you're a gooddeal of abig-bugDON'T you?"
"MaybeI ammaybe I ain't" I says.
"Don'tyou give me none o' your lip" says he."You'veput on considerable many frills since I beenaway. I'lltake you down a peg before I get donewith you.You're educatedtoothey say -- can readand write.You think you're better'n your fathernowdon'tyoubecause he can't? I'LL take it out ofyou. Whotold you you might meddle with suchhifalut'nfoolishnesshey? -- who told you you could?"
"Thewidow. She told me."
"Thewidowhey? -- and who told the widow shecould putin her shovel about a thing that ain't none ofherbusiness?"
"Nobodynever told her."
"WellI'll learn her how to meddle. And lookyhere --you drop that schoolyou hear? I'll learnpeople tobring up a boy to put on airs over his ownfather andlet on to be better'n what HE is. You lemmecatch youfooling around that school againyou hear?Yourmother couldn't readand she couldn't writenutherbefore she died. None of the family couldn'tbeforeTHEY died. I can't; and here you're a-swellingyourselfup like this. I ain't the man to stand it --you hear?Saylemme hear you read."
I took upa book and begun something about Gen-eralWashington and the wars. When I'd read abouta half aminutehe fetched the book a whack with hishand andknocked it across the house. He says:
"It'sso. You can do it. I had my doubts whenyou toldme. Now looky here; you stop that puttingon frills.I won't have it. I'll lay for youmysmarty;and if I catch you about that school I'll tanyou good.First you know you'll get religiontoo. Inever seesuch a son.
He took upa little blue and yaller picture of somecows and aboyand says:
"It'ssomething they give me for learning mylessonsgood."
He tore itupand says:
"I'llgive you something better -- I'll give you acowhide.
He setthere a-mumbling and a-growling a minuteand thenhe says:
"AIN'Tyou a sweet-scented dandythough? Abed; andbedclothes; and a look'n'-glass; and a pieceof carpeton the floor -- and your own father got tosleep withthe hogs in the tanyard. I never see such ason. I betI'll take some o' these frills out o' youbefore I'mdone with you. Whythere ain't no end toyour airs-- they say you're rich. Hey? -- how's that?"
"Theylie -- that's how."
"Lookyhere -- mind how you talk to me; I'm a-standingabout all I can stand now -- so don't gimmeno sass.I've been in town two daysand I hain'theardnothing but about you bein' rich. I heardabout itaway down the rivertoo. That's why Icome. Yougit me that money to-morrow -- I wantit."
"Ihain't got no money."
"It'sa lie. Judge Thatcher's got it. You git it.I wantit."
"Ihain't got no moneyI tell you. You ask JudgeThatcher;he'll tell you the same."
"Allright. I'll ask him; and I'll make him pungletooorI'll know the reason why. Sayhow muchyou got inyour pocket? I want it."
"Ihain't got only a dollarand I want that to --"
"Itdon't make no difference what you want it for-- youjust shell it out."
He took itand bit it to see if it was goodand thenhe said hewas going down town to get some whisky;said hehadn't had a drink all day. When he had gotout on theshed he put his head in againand cussedme forputting on frills and trying to be better thanhim; andwhen I reckoned he was gone he come backand puthis head in againand told me to mind aboutthatschoolbecause he was going to lay for me andlick me ifI didn't drop that.
Next dayhe was drunkand he went to JudgeThatcher'sand bullyragged himand tried to makehim giveup the money; but he couldn'tand then heswore he'dmake the law force him.
The judgeand the widow went to law to get thecourt totake me away from him and let one of thembe myguardian; but it was a new judge that had justcomeandhe didn't know the old man; so he saidcourtsmustn't interfere and separate families if theycould helpit; said he'd druther not take a child awayfrom itsfather. So Judge Thatcher and the widowhad toquit on the business.
Thatpleased the old man till he couldn't rest. Hesaid he'dcowhide me till I was black and blue if Ididn'traise some money for him. I borrowed threedollarsfrom Judge Thatcherand pap took it and gotdrunkandwent a-blowing around and cussing andwhoopingand carrying on; and he kept it up all overtownwitha tin pantill most midnight; then theyjailedhimand next day they had him before courtand jailedhim again for a week. But he said HE wassatisfied;said he was boss of his sonand he'd makeit warmfor HIM.
When hegot out the new judge said he was a-goingto make aman of him. So he took him to hisown houseand dressed him up clean and niceandhad him tobreakfast and dinner and supper with thefamilyand was just old pie to himso to speak. Andaftersupper he talked to him about temperance andsuchthings till the old man criedand said he'd been afoolandfooled away his life; but now he was a-goingto turnover a new leaf and be a man nobody wouldn'tbe ashamedofand he hoped the judge would helphim andnot look down on him. The judge said hecould hughim for them words; so he criedand hiswife shecried again; pap said he'd been a man that hadalwaysbeen misunderstood beforeand the judge saidhebelieved it. The old man said that what a manwantedthat was down was sympathyand the judgesaid itwas so; so they cried again. And when it wasbedtimethe old man rose up and held out his handand says:
"Lookat itgentlemen and ladies all; take a-holdof it;shake it. There's a hand that was the hand ofa hog; butit ain't so no more; it's the hand of a manthat'sstarted in on a new lifeand'll die before he'llgo back.You mark them words -- don't forget I saidthem. It'sa clean hand now; shake it -- don't beafeard."
So theyshook itone after the otherall aroundandcried. Thejudge's wife she kissed it. Then the oldman hesigned a pledge -- made his mark. The judgesaid itwas the holiest time on recordor somethinglike that.Then they tucked the old man into a beauti-ful roomwhich was the spare roomand in the nightsome timehe got powerful thirsty and clumb out on totheporch-roof and slid down a stanchion and traded hisnew coatfor a jug of forty-rodand clumb back againand had agood old time; and towards daylight hecrawledout againdrunk as a fiddlerand rolled offthe porchand broke his left arm in two placesandwas mostfroze to death when somebody found himaftersun-up. And when they come to look at thatspare roomthey had to take soundings before theycouldnavigate it.
The judgehe felt kind of sore. He said he reckoneda bodycould reform the old man with a shotgunmaybebuthe didn't know no other way.
WELLpretty soon the old man was up and aroundagainandthen he went for Judge Thatcher inthe courtsto make him give up that moneyand hewent formetoofor not stopping school. He catchedme acouple of times and thrashed mebut I went toschooljust the sameand dodged him or outrun himmost ofthe time. I didn't want to go to school muchbeforebut I reckoned I'd go now to spite pap. Thatlaw trialwas a slow business -- appeared like theywarn'tever going to get started on it; so every nowand thenI'd borrow two or three dollars off of thejudge forhimto keep from getting a cowhiding.Every timehe got money he got drunk; and everytime hegot drunk he raised Cain around town; andevery timehe raised Cain he got jailed. He was justsuited --this kind of thing was right in his line.
He got tohanging around the widow's too muchand so shetold him at last that if he didn't quit usingaroundthere she would make trouble for him. WellWASN'T hemad? He said he would show who wasHuckFinn's boss. So he watched out for me one dayin thespringand catched meand took me up theriverabout three mile in a skiffand crossed over totheIllinois shore where it was woody and there warn'tno housesbut an old log hut in a place where thetimber wasso thick you couldn't find it if you didn'tknow whereit was.
He kept mewith him all the timeand I never got achance torun off. We lived in that old cabinand healwayslocked the door and put the key under his headnights. Hehad a gun which he had stoleI reckonand wefished and huntedand that was what we livedon. Everylittle while he locked me in and went downto thestorethree milesto the ferryand traded fishand gamefor whiskyand fetched it home and gotdrunk andhad a good timeand licked me. Thewidow shefound out where I was by and byand shesent a manover to try to get hold of me; but papdrove himoff with the gunand it warn't long afterthat tillI was used to being where I wasand likedit -- allbut the cowhide part.
It waskind of lazy and jollylaying off comfortableall daysmoking and fishingand no books nor study.Two monthsor more run alongand my clothes got tobe allrags and dirtand I didn't see how I'd ever gotto like itso well at the widow'swhere you had towashandeat on a plateand comb upand go to bedand get upregularand be forever bothering over abookandhave old Miss Watson pecking at you all thetime. Ididn't want to go back no more. I hadstoppedcussingbecause the widow didn't like it; butnow I tookto it again because pap hadn't no objec-tions. Itwas pretty good times up in the woodstheretake it all around.
But by andby pap got too handy with his hick'ryand Icouldn't stand it. I was all over welts. He gotto goingaway so muchtooand locking me in. Oncehe lockedme in and was gone three days. It wasdreadfullonesome. I judged he had got drownedand Iwasn't ever going to get out any more. I wasscared. Imade up my mind I would fix up some wayto leavethere. I had tried to get out of that cabinmany atimebut I couldn't find no way. Therewarn't awindow to it big enough for a dog to getthrough. Icouldn't get up the chimbly; it was toonarrow.The door was thicksolid oak slabs. Papwas prettycareful not to leave a knife or anything inthe cabinwhen he was away; I reckon I had huntedthe placeover as much as a hundred times; wellIwas mostall the time at itbecause it was about theonly wayto put in the time. But this time I foundsomethingat last; I found an old rusty wood-sawwithoutany handle; it was laid in between a rafterand theclapboards of the roof. I greased it up andwent towork. There was an old horse-blanket nailedagainstthe logs at the far end of the cabin behind thetabletokeep the wind from blowing through thechinks andputting the candle out. I got under thetable andraised the blanketand went to work to sawa sectionof the big bottom log out -- big enough tolet methrough. Wellit was a good long jobbut Iwasgetting towards the end of it when I heard pap'sgun in thewoods. I got rid of the signs of my workanddropped the blanket and hid my sawand prettysoon papcome in.
Pap warn'tin a good humor -- so he was his naturalself. Hesaid he was down townand everything wasgoingwrong. His lawyer said he reckoned he wouldwin hislawsuit and get the money if they ever gotstarted onthe trial; but then there was ways to put itoff a longtimeand Judge Thatcher knowed how to doit And hesaid people allowed there'd be anothertrial toget me away from him and give me to thewidow formy guardianand they guessed it would winthis time.This shook me up considerablebecause Ididn'twant to go back to the widow's any more andbe socramped up and sivilizedas they called it.Then theold man got to cussingand cussed every-thing andeverybody he could think ofand then cussedthem allover again to make sure he hadn't skippedanyandafter that he polished off with a kind of ageneralcuss all roundincluding a considerable parcelof peoplewhich he didn't know the names ofand socalledthem what's-his-name when he got to themandwent rightalong with his cussing.
He said hewould like to see the widow get me.He said hewould watch outand if they tried to comeany suchgame on him he knowed of a place six orseven mileoff to stow me inwhere they might hunttill theydropped and they couldn't find me. Thatmade mepretty uneasy againbut only for a minute;I reckonedI wouldn't stay on hand till he got thatchance.
The oldman made me go to the skiff and fetch thethings hehad got. There was a fifty-pound sack ofcorn mealand a side of baconammunitionand afour-gallonjug of whiskyand an old book and twonewspapersfor waddingbesides some tow. I totedup a loadand went back and set down on the bow ofthe skiffto rest. I thought it all overand I reckonedI wouldwalk off with the gun and some linesand taketo thewoods when I run away. I guessed I wouldn'tstay inone placebut just tramp right across thecountrymostly night timesand hunt and fish to keepaliveandso get so far away that the old man nor thewidowcouldn't ever find me any more. I judged Iwould sawout and leave that night if pap got drunkenoughand I reckoned he would. I got so full of itI didn'tnotice how long I was staying till the old manholleredand asked me whether I was asleep ordrownded.
I got thethings all up to the cabinand then it wasaboutdark. While I was cooking supper the old mantook aswig or two and got sort of warmed upandwent toripping again. He had been drunk over intownandlaid in the gutter all nightand he was asight tolook at. A body would a thought he wasAdam -- hewas just all mud. Whenever his liquorbegun towork he most always went for the govment.his timehe says:
"Callthis a govment! whyjust look at it and seewhat it'slike. Here's the law a-standing ready to takea man'sson away from him -- a man's own sonwhichhe has hadall the trouble and all the anxiety and alltheexpense of raising. Yesjust as that man has gotthat sonraised at lastand ready to go to work andbegin todo suthin' for HIM and give him a restthe lawup andgoes for him. And they call THAT govment!That ain'tallnuther. The law backs that old JudgeThatcherup and helps him to keep me out o' myproperty.Here's what the law does: The law takes aman worthsix thousand dollars and up'ardsand jamshim intoan old trap of a cabin like thisand lets himgo roundin clothes that ain't fitten for a hog. Theycall thatgovment! A man can't get his rights in agovmentlike this. Sometimes I've a mighty notion tojust leavethe country for good and all. Yesand ITOLD 'emso; I told old Thatcher so to his face. Lotsof 'emheard meand can tell what I said. Says Ifor twocents I'd leave the blamed country and nevercomea-near it agin. Them's the very words. I sayslook at myhat -- if you call it a hat -- but the lidraises upand the rest of it goes down till it's belowmy chinand then it ain't rightly a hat at allbut morelike myhead was shoved up through a jint o' stove-pipe. Lookat itsays I -- such a hat for me to wear-- one ofthe wealthiest men in this town if I could gitmy rights.
"Ohyesthis is a wonderful govmentwonderful.Whylookyhere. There was a free nigger there fromOhio -- amulattermost as white as a white man. Hehad thewhitest shirt on you ever seetooand theshiniesthat; and there ain't a man in that town that'sgot asfine clothes as what he had; and he had a goldwatch andchainand a silver-headed cane -- the awful-est oldgray-headed nabob in the State. And what doyou think?They said he was a p'fessor in a collegeand couldtalk all kinds of languagesand knowedeverything.And that ain't the wust. They said hecould VOTEwhen he was at home. Wellthat let meout.Thinks Iwhat is the country a-coming to? Itwas'lection dayand I was just about to go and votemyself ifI warn't too drunk to get there; but whenthey toldme there was a State in this country wherethey'd letthat nigger voteI drawed out. I says I'llnever voteagin. Them's the very words I said; theyall heardme; and the country may rot for all me --I'll nevervote agin as long as I live. And to see thecool wayof that nigger -- whyhe wouldn't a give methe roadif I hadn't shoved him out o' the way. Isays tothe peoplewhy ain't this nigger put up atauctionand sold? -- that's what I want to know. Andwhat doyou reckon they said? Whythey said hecouldn'tbe sold till he'd been in the State six monthsand hehadn't been there that long yet. Therenow --that's aspecimen. They call that a govment that can'tsell afree nigger till he's been in the State six months.Here's agovment that calls itself a govmentand letson to be agovmentand thinks it is a govmentandyet's gotto set stock-still for six whole months beforeit cantake a hold of a prowlingthievinginfernalwhite-shirtedfree niggerand --"
Pap wasagoing on so he never noticed where hisold limberlegs was taking him toso he went head overheels overthe tub of salt pork and barked both shinsand therest of his speech was all the hottest kind oflanguage-- mostly hove at the nigger and the gov-mentthough he give the tub sometooall alonghere andthere. He hopped around the cabin con-siderablefirst on one leg and then on the otherhold-ing firstone shin and then the other oneand at last helet outwith his left foot all of a sudden and fetchedthe tub arattling kick. But it warn't good judgmentbecausethat was the boot that had a couple of his toesleakingout of the front end of it; so now he raised ahowl thatfairly made a body's hair raiseand down hewent inthe dirtand rolled thereand held his toes;and thecussing he done then laid over anything hehad everdone previous. He said so his own self after-wards. Hehad heard old Sowberry Hagan in hisbest daysand he said it laid over himtoo; but Ireckonthat was sort of piling it onmaybe.
Aftersupper pap took the jugand said he hadenoughwhisky there for two drunks and one deliriumtremens.That was always his word. I judged hewould beblind drunk in about an hourand then Iwouldsteal the keyor saw myself outone or t'other.He drankand drankand tumbled down on hisblanketsby and by; but luck didn't run my way. Hedidn't gosound asleepbut was uneasy. He groanedand moanedand thrashed around this way and that fora longtime. At last I got so sleepy I couldn't keepmy eyesopen all I could doand so before I knowedwhat I wasabout I was sound asleepand the candleburning.
I don'tknow how long I was asleepbut all of asuddenthere was an awful scream and I was up.There waspap looking wildand skipping around everywhich wayand yelling about snakes. He said theywascrawling up his legs; and then he would give ajump andscreamand say one had bit him on thecheek --but I couldn't see no snakes. He startedand runround and round the cabinhollering "Takehim off!take him off! he's biting me on the neck!"I neversee a man look so wild in the eyes. Prettysoon hewas all fagged outand fell down panting;then herolled over and over wonderful fastkickingthingsevery which wayand striking and grabbing atthe airwith his handsand screaming and saying therewas devilsa-hold of him. He wore out by and byand laidstill a whilemoaning. Then he laid stillerand didn'tmake a sound. I could hear the owls andthe wolvesaway off in the woodsand it seemed terri-ble still.He was laying over by the corner. By andby heraised up part way and listenedwith his headto oneside. He saysvery low:
"Tramp-- tramp -- tramp; that's the dead; tramp-- tramp-- tramp; they're coming after me; but Iwon't go.Ohthey're here! don't touch me -- don't!hands off-- they're cold; let go. Ohlet a poor devilalone!"
Then hewent down on all fours and crawled offbeggingthem to let him aloneand he rolled himselfup in hisblanket and wallowed in under the old pinetablestill a-begging; and then he went to crying. Icould hearhim through the blanket.
By and byhe rolled out and jumped up on his feetlookingwildand he see me and went for me. Hechased meround and round the place with a clasp-knifecalling me the Angel of Deathand saying hewould killmeand then I couldn't come for him nomore. Ibeggedand told him I was only Huck; buthe laughedSUCH a screechy laughand roared andcussedand kept on chasing me up. Once when Iturnedshort and dodged under his arm he made agrab andgot me by the jacket between my shouldersand Ithought I was gone; but I slid out of the jacketquick aslightningand saved myself. Pretty soon hewas alltired outand dropped down with his backagainstthe doorand said he would rest a minute andthen killme. He put his knife under himand saidhe wouldsleep and get strongand then he would seewho waswho.
So hedozed off pretty soon. By and by I got theoldsplit-bottom chair and clumb up as easy as I couldnot tomake any noiseand got down the gun. Islippedthe ramrod down it to make sure it was loadedthen Ilaid it across the turnip barrelpointingtowardspapand set down behind it to wait for him tostir. Andhow slow and still the time did drag along.
RGIT up!What you 'bout?"
I openedmy eyes and looked aroundtryingto makeout where I was. It was after sun-upand Ihad beensound asleep. Pap was standing over melookingsourQand sicktoo. He says:
"Whatyou doin' with this gun?"
I judgedhe didn't know nothing about what he hadbeendoingso I says:
"Somebodytried to get inso I was laying forhim."
"Whydidn't you roust me out?"
"WellI tried tobut I couldn't; I couldn't budgeyou."
"Wellall right. Don't stand there palavering alldaybutout with you and see if there's a fish on thelines forbreakfast. I'll be along in a minute."
Heunlocked the doorand I cleared out up theriver-bank.I noticed some pieces of limbs and suchthingsfloating downand a sprinkling of bark; so Iknowed theriver had begun to rise. I reckoned Iwould havegreat times now if I was over at the town.The Junerise used to be always luck for me; becauseas soon asthat rise begins here comes cordwood float-ing downand pieces of log rafts -- sometimes a dozenlogstogether; so all you have to do is to catch themand sellthem to the wood-yards and the sawmill.
I wentalong up the bank with one eye out for papandt'other one out for what the rise might fetchalong.Wellall at once here comes a canoe; just abeautytooabout thirteen or fourteen foot longridinghigh like a duck. I shot head-first off of thebank likea frogclothes and all onand struck out forthe canoe.I just expected there'd be somebody lay-ing downin itbecause people often done that to foolfolksandwhen a chap had pulled a skiff out most toit they'draise up and laugh at him. But it warn't sothis time.It was a drift-canoe sure enoughand Iclumb inand paddled her ashore. Thinks Ithe oldman willbe glad when he sees this -- she's worth tendollars.But when I got to shore pap wasn't in sightyetandas I was running her into a little creek like agullyallhung over with vines and willowsI struckanotheridea: I judged I'd hide her goodand then'stead oftaking to the woods when I run offI'd godown theriver about fifty mile and camp in one placefor goodand not have such a rough time tramping onfoot.
It waspretty close to the shantyand I thought Iheard theold man coming all the time; but I got herhid; andthen I out and looked around a bunch ofwillowsand there was the old man down the patha piecejust drawing a bead on a bird with his gun. Sohe hadn'tseen anything.
When hegot along I was hard at it taking up a"trot"line. He abused me a little for being so slow;but I toldhim I fell in the riverand that was whatmade me solong. I knowed he would see I was wetand thenhe would be asking questions. We got fivecatfishoff the lines and went home.
While welaid off after breakfast to sleep upboth ofus beingabout wore outI got to thinking that if I couldfix upsome way to keep pap and the widow from tryingto followmeit would be a certainer thing than trust-ing toluck to get far enough off before they missedme; youseeall kinds of things might happen. WellI didn'tsee no way for a whilebut by and by papraised upa minute to drink another barrel of waterand hesays:
"Anothertime a man comes a-prowling round hereyou roustme outyou hear? That man warn't herefor nogood. I'd a shot him. Next time you roustme outyou hear?"
Then hedropped down and went to sleep again; butwhat hehad been saying give me the very idea Iwanted. Isays to myselfI can fix it now so nobodywon'tthink of following me.
Abouttwelve o'clock we turned out and went alongup thebank. The river was coming up pretty fastand lotsof driftwood going by on the rise. By andby alongcomes part of a log raft -- nine logs fasttogether.We went out with the skiff and towed itashore.Then we had dinner. Anybody but papwould awaited and seen the day throughso as tocatch morestuff; but that warn't pap's style. Ninelogs wasenough for one time; he must shove rightover totown and sell. So he locked me in and tookthe skiffand started off towing the raft about half-pastthree. I judged he wouldn't come back thatnight. Iwaited till I reckoned he had got a goodstart;then I out with my sawand went to work onthat logagain. Before he was t'other side of the riverI was outof the hole; him and his raft was just aspeck onthe water away off yonder.
I took thesack of corn meal and took it to wherethe canoewas hidand shoved the vines and branchesapart andput it in; then I done the same with theside ofbacon; then the whisky-jug. I took all thecoffee andsugar there wasand all the ammunition; Itook thewadding; I took the bucket and gourd; Itook adipper and a tin cupand my old saw and twoblanketsand the skillet and the coffee-pot. I tookfish-linesand matches and other things -- everythingthat wasworth a cent. I cleaned out the place. Iwanted anaxebut there wasn't anyonly the one outat thewoodpileand I knowed why I was going to leavethat. Ifetched out the gunand now I was done.
I had worethe ground a good deal crawling out ofthe holeand dragging out so many things. So Ifixed thatas good as I could from the outside byscatteringdust on the placewhich covered up thesmoothnessand the sawdust. Then I fixed the pieceof logback into its placeand put two rocks under itand oneagainst it to hold it therefor it was bent upat thatplace and didn't quite touch ground. If youstood fouror five foot away and didn't know it wassawedyouwouldn't never notice it; and besidesthiswas theback of the cabinand it warn't likely anybodywould gofooling around there.
It was allgrass clear to the canoeso I hadn't left atrack. Ifollowed around to see. I stood on thebank andlooked out over the river. All safe. So Itook thegun and went up a piece into the woodsandwashunting around for some birds when I see a wildpig; hogssoon went wild in them bottoms after theyhad gotaway from the prairie farms. I shot this fel-low andtook him into camp.
I took theaxe and smashed in the door. I beat itand hackedit considerable a-doing it. I fetched thepig inand took him back nearly to the table andhackedinto his throat with the axeand laid him downon theground to bleed; I say ground because it wasground --hard packedand no boards. Wellnext Itook anold sack and put a lot of big rocks in it -- all Icould drag-- and I started it from the pigand draggedit to thedoor and through the woods down to the riverand dumpedit inand down it sunkout of sight.You couldeasy see that something had been draggedover theground. I did wish Tom Sawyer was there;I knowedhe would take an interest in this kind ofbusinessand throw in the fancy touches. Nobodycouldspread himself like Tom Sawyer in such a thingas that.
WelllastI pulled out some of my hairand bloodedthe axegoodand stuck it on the back sideand slungthe axe inthe corner. Then I took up the pig and heldhim to mybreast with my jacket (so he couldn't drip)till I gota good piece below the house and thendumped himinto the river. Now I thought of some-thingelse. So I went and got the bag of mealand my oldsaw out of the canoeand fetchedthem tothe house. I took the bag to where itused tostandand ripped a hole in the bottom of itwith thesawfor there warn't no knives and forks onthe place-- pap done everything with his clasp-knifeabout thecooking. Then I carried the sack about ahundredyards across the grass and through the willowseast ofthe houseto a shallow lake that was five milewide andfull of rushes -- and ducks tooyou mightsayinthe season. There was a slough or a creekleadingout of it on the other side that went miles awayI don'tknow wherebut it didn't go to the river. Themealsifted out and made a little track all the way tothe lake.I dropped pap's whetstone there tooso asto looklike it had been done by accident. Then I tiedup the ripin the meal sack with a stringso it wouldn'tleak nomoreand took it and my saw to the canoeagain.
It wasabout dark now; so I dropped the canoedown theriver under some willows that hung over thebankandwaited for the moon to rise. I made fast toa willow;then I took a bite to eatand by and by laiddown inthe canoe to smoke a pipe and lay out a plan.I says tomyselfthey'll follow the track of that sack-ful ofrocks to the shore and then drag the river forme. Andthey'll follow that meal track to the lakeand gobrowsing down the creek that leads out of it tofind therobbers that killed me and took the things.They won'tever hunt the river for anything but mydeadcarcass. They'll soon get tired of thatandwon'tbother no more about me. All right; I canstopanywhere I want to. Jackson's Island is goodenough forme; I know that island pretty wellandnobodyever comes there. And then I can paddleover totown nightsand slink around and pick upthings Iwant. Jackson's Island's the place.
I waspretty tiredand the first thing I knowed Iwasasleep. When I woke up I didn't know where Iwas for aminute. I set up and looked arounda littlescared.Then I remembered. The river looked milesand milesacross. The moon was so bright I could acountedthe drift logs that went a-slipping alongblackand stillhundreds of yards out from shore. Every-thing wasdead quietand it looked lateand SMELTlate. Youknow what I mean -- I don't know thewords toput it in.
I took agood gap and a stretchand was just goingto unhitchand start when I heard a sound away overthe water.I listened. Pretty soon I made it out. Itwas thatdull kind of a regular sound that comes fromoarsworking in rowlocks when it's a still night. Ipeeped outthrough the willow branchesand there itwas -- askiffaway across the water. I couldn't tellhow manywas in it. It kept a-comingand when itwasabreast of me I see there warn't but one man in it.Think's Imaybe it's papthough I warn't expectinghim. Hedropped below me with the currentandby and byhe came a-swinging up shore in the easywaterandhe went by so close I could a reached outthe gunand touched him. Wellit WAS papsureenough --and sobertooby the way he laid his oars.
I didn'tlose no time. The next minute I was a-spinningdown stream soft but quick in the shade ofthe bank.I made two mile and a halfand thenstruck outa quarter of a mile or more towards themiddle ofthe riverbecause pretty soon I would bepassingthe ferry landingand people might see meand hailme. I got out amongst the driftwoodandthen laiddown in the bottom of the canoe and let herfloat. Ilaid thereand had a good rest and a smokeout of mypipelooking away into the sky; not acloud init. The sky looks ever so deep when you laydown onyour back in the moonshine; I never knowedit before.And how far a body can hear on the watersuchnights! I heard people talking at the ferry land-ing. Iheard what they saidtoo -- every word of it.One mansaid it was getting towards the long days andthe shortnights now. T'other one said THIS warn'tone of theshort oneshe reckoned -- and then theylaughedand he said it over againand they laughedagain;then they waked up another fellow and toldhimandlaughedbut he didn't laugh; he ripped outsomethingbriskand said let him alone. The firstfellowsaid he 'lowed to tell it to his old woman -- shewouldthink it was pretty good; but he said thatwarn'tnothing to some things he had said in his time.I heardone man say it was nearly three o'clockandhe hopeddaylight wouldn't wait more than about aweeklonger. After that the talk got further andfurtherawayand I couldn't make out the words anymore; butI could hear the mumbleand now and thena laughtoobut it seemed a long ways off.
I was awaybelow the ferry now. I rose upandthere wasJackson's Islandabout two mile and a halfdownstreamheavy timbered and standing up out ofthe middleof the riverbig and dark and solidlike asteamboatwithout any lights. There warn't any signsof the barat the head -- it was all under water now.
It didn'ttake me long to get there. I shot past thehead at aripping ratethe current was so swiftandthen I gotinto the dead water and landed on the sidetowardsthe Illinois shore. I run the canoe into a deepdent inthe bank that I knowed about; I had to partthe willowbranches to get in; and when I made fastnobodycould a seen the canoe from the outside.
I went upand set down on a log at the head of theislandand looked out on the big river and the blackdriftwoodand away over to the townthree mileawaywhere there was three or four lights twinkling.Amonstrous big lumber-raft was about a mile upstreamcoming along downwith a lantern in themiddle ofit. I watched it come creeping downandwhen itwas most abreast of where I stood I heard aman say"Stern oarsthere! heave her head to stab-board!"I heard that just as plain as if the man wasby myside.
There wasa little gray in the sky now; so I steppedinto thewoodsand laid down for a nap before break-fast.
THE sunwas up so high when I waked that I judgedit wasafter eight o'clock. I laid there in thegrass andthe cool shade thinking about thingsandfeelingrested and ruther comfortable and satisfied. Icould seethe sun out at one or two holesbut mostlyit was bigtrees all aboutand gloomy in there amongstthem.There was freckled places on the ground wherethe lightsifted down through the leavesand thefreckledplaces swapped about a littleshowing therewas alittle breeze up there. A couple of squirrels seton a limband jabbered at me very friendly.
I waspowerful lazy and comfortable -- didn't wantto get upand cook breakfast. WellI was dozing offagain whenI thinks I hears a deep sound of "boom!"away upthe river. I rouses upand rests on my elbowandlistens; pretty soon I hears it again. I hoppedupandwent and looked out at a hole in the leavesand I seea bunch of smoke laying on the water a longways up --about abreast the ferry. And there wastheferryboat full of people floating along down. Iknowedwhat was the matter now. "Boom!" I seethe whitesmoke squirt out of the ferryboat's side.You seethey was firing cannon over the watertryingto make mycarcass come to the top.
I waspretty hungrybut it warn't going to do forme tostart a firebecause they might see the smoke.So I setthere and watched the cannon-smoke andlistenedto the boom. The river was a mile wide thereand italways looks pretty on a summer morning -- soI washaving a good enough time seeing them hunt formyremainders if I only had a bite to eat. WellthenI happenedto think how they always put quicksilverin loavesof bread and float them offbecause theyalways goright to the drownded carcass and stopthere. Sosays II'll keep a lookoutand if any ofthem'sfloating around after me I'll give them a show.I changedto the Illinois edge of the island to see whatluck Icould haveand I warn't disappointed. A bigdoubleloaf come alongand I most got it with a longstickbutmy foot slipped and she floated out further.Of courseI was where the current set in the closest tothe shore-- I knowed enough for that. But by andby alongcomes another oneand this time I won. Itook outthe plug and shook out the little dab of quick-silverand set my teeth in. It was "baker's bread"-- whatthe quality eat; none of your low-downcorn-pone.
I got agood place amongst the leavesand set thereon a logmunching the bread and watching the ferry-boatandvery well satisfied. And then somethingstruck me.I saysnow I reckon the widow or theparson orsomebody prayed that this bread would findmeandhere it has gone and done it. So there ain'tno doubtbut there is something in that thing -- that isthere'ssomething in it when a body like the widow orthe parsonpraysbut it don't work for meand Ireckon itdon't work for only just the right kind.
I lit apipe and had a good long smokeand wentonwatching. The ferryboat was floating with thecurrentand I allowed I'd have a chance to see whowas aboardwhen she come alongbecause she wouldcome inclosewhere the bread did. When she'd gotprettywell along down towards meI put out my pipeand wentto where I fished out the breadand laiddownbehind a log on the bank in a little open place.Where thelog forked I could peep through.
By and byshe come alongand she drifted in soclose thatthey could a run out a plank and walkedashore.Most everybody was on the boat. PapandJudgeThatcherand Bessie Thatcherand Jo Harperand TomSawyerand his old Aunt Pollyand Sid andMaryandplenty more. Everybody was talking aboutthemurderbut the captain broke in and says:
"Looksharpnow; the current sets in the closesthereandmaybe he's washed ashore and got tangledamongstthe brush at the water's edge. I hope soanyway."
"Ididn't hope so. They all crowded up and leanedover therailsnearly in my faceand kept stillwatch-ing withall their might. I could see them first-ratebut theycouldn't see me. Then the captain sung out:
"Standaway!" and the cannon let off such a blastrightbefore me that it made me deef with the noise andprettynear blind with the smokeand I judged I wasgone. Ifthey'd a had some bullets inI reckonthey'd agot the corpse they was after. WellI see Iwarn'thurtthanks to goodness. The boat floated onand wentout of sight around the shoulder of the island.I couldhear the booming now and thenfurther andfurtheroffand by and byafter an hourI didn't hearit nomore. The island was three mile long. I judgedthey hadgot to the footand was giving it up. Buttheydidn't yet a while. They turned around the footof theisland and started up the channel on the Mis-sourisideunder steamand booming once in a whileas theywent. I crossed over to that side and watchedthem. Whenthey got abreast the head of the islandthey quitshooting and dropped over to the Missourishore andwent home to the town.
I knowed Iwas all right now. Nobody else wouldcomea-hunting after me. I got my traps out of thecanoe andmade me a nice camp in the thick woods. Imade akind of a tent out of my blankets to put mythingsunder so the rain couldn't get at them. Icatched acatfish and haggled him open with my sawandtowards sundown I started my camp fire and hadsupper.Then I set out a line to catch some fish forbreakfast.
When itwas dark I set by my camp fire smokingandfeeling pretty well satisfied; but by and by it gotsort oflonesomeand so I went and set on the bankandlistened to the current swashing alongand countedthe starsand drift logs and rafts that come downandthen wentto bed; there ain't no better way to put intime whenyou are lonesome; you can't stay soyousoon getover it.
And so forthree days and nights. No difference --just thesame thing. But the next day I went explor-ing arounddown through the island. I was boss of it;it allbelonged to meso to sayand I wanted to knowall aboutit; but mainly I wanted to put in the time.I foundplenty strawberriesripe and prime; and greensummergrapesand green razberries; and the greenblackberrieswas just beginning to show. They wouldall comehandy by and byI judged.
WellIwent fooling along in the deep woods till Ijudged Iwarn't far from the foot of the island. I hadmy gunalongbut I hadn't shot nothing; it was forprotection;thought I would kill some game nighhome.About this time I mighty near stepped on agood-sizedsnakeand it went sliding off through thegrass andflowersand I after ittrying to get a shot atit. Iclipped alongand all of a sudden I boundedright onto the ashes of a camp fire that was stillsmoking.
My heartjumped up amongst my lungs. I neverwaited forto look furtherbut uncocked my gun andwentsneaking back on my tiptoes as fast as ever Icould.Every now and then I stopped a second amongstthe thickleaves and listenedbut my breath come sohard Icouldn't hear nothing else. I slunk along an-otherpiece furtherthen listened again; and so onand so on.If I see a stumpI took it for a man; if Itrod on astick and broke itit made me feel like aperson hadcut one of my breaths in two and I onlygot halfand the short halftoo.
When I gotto camp I warn't feeling very brashtherewarn't much sand in my craw; but I saysthisain't notime to be fooling around. So I got all mytraps intomy canoe again so as to have them out ofsightandI put out the fire and scattered the ashesaround tolook like an old last year's campand thenclumb atree.
I reckon Iwas up in the tree two hours; but Ididn't seenothingI didn't hear nothing -- I onlyTHOUGHT Iheard and seen as much as a thousandthings.WellI couldn't stay up there forever; so atlast I gotdownbut I kept in the thick woods and onthelookout all the time. All I could get to eat wasberriesand what was left over from breakfast.
By thetime it was night I was pretty hungry. Sowhen itwas good and dark I slid out from shore beforemoonriseand paddled over to the Illinois bank -- abouta quarterof a mile. I went out in the woods andcooked asupperand I had about made up my mindI wouldstay there all night when I hear a PLUNKETY-PLUNKPLUNKETY-PLUNKand says to myselfhorsescoming;and next I hear people's voices. I goteverythinginto the canoe as quick as I couldand thenwentcreeping through the woods to see what I couldfind out.I hadn't got far when I hear a man say:
"Webetter camp here if we can find a good place;the horsesis about beat out. Let's look around."
I didn'twaitbut shoved out and paddled awayeasy. Itied up in the old placeand reckoned I wouldsleep inthe canoe.
I didn'tsleep much. I couldn'tsomehowforthinking.And every time I waked up I thoughtsomebodyhad me by the neck. So the sleep didn'tdo me nogood. By and by I says to myselfI can'tlive thisway; I'm a-going to find out who it is that'shere onthe island with me; I'll find it out or bust.WellIfelt better right off.
So I tookmy paddle and slid out from shore just astep ortwoand then let the canoe drop along downamongstthe shadows. The moon was shiningand out-side ofthe shadows it made it most as light as day. Ipokedalong well on to an houreverything still asrocks andsound asleep. Wellby this time I wasmost downto the foot of the island. A little ripplycoolbreeze begun to blowand that was as good assaying thenight was about done. I give her a turnwith thepaddle and brung her nose to shore; then Igot my gunand slipped out and into the edge of thewoods. Isat down there on a logand looked outthroughthe leaves. I see the moon go off watchandthedarkness begin to blanket the river. But in a littlewhile Isee a pale streak over the treetopsand knowedthe daywas coming. So I took my gun and slippedofftowards where I had run across that camp firestoppingevery minute or two to listen. But I hadn'tno lucksomehow; I couldn't seem to find the place.But by andbysure enoughI catched a glimpse offire awaythrough the trees. I went for itcautiousand slow.By and by I was close enough to have alookandthere laid a man on the ground. It mostgive methe fantods. He had a blanket around hisheadandhis head was nearly in the fire. I set therebehind aclump of bushes in about six foot of himand keptmy eyes on him steady. It was getting graydaylightnow. Pretty soon he gapped and stretchedhimselfand hove off the blanketand it was MissWatson'sJim! I bet I was glad to see him. I says:
"HelloJim!" and skipped out.
He bouncedup and stared at me wild. Then hedrops downon his kneesand puts his hands togetherand says:
"Doan'hurt me -- don't! I hain't ever done noharm to aghos'. I alwuz liked dead peopleen doneall Icould for 'em. You go en git in de river aginwhah youb'longsen doan' do nuffn to Ole Jim'at'uz awluzyo' fren'."
WellIwarn't long making him understand I warn'tdead. Iwas ever so glad to see Jim. I warn't lone-some now.I told him I warn't afraid of HIM tellingthe peoplewhere I was. I talked alongbut he onlyset thereand looked at me; never said nothing. ThenI says:
"It'sgood daylight. Le's get breakfast. Make upyour campfire good."
"What'sde use er makin' up de camp fire to cookstrawbriesen sich truck? But you got a gunhain'tyou? Denwe kin git sumfn better den strawbries."
"Strawberriesand such truck" I says. "Is thatwhat youlive on?"
"Icouldn' git nuffn else" he says.
"Whyhow long you been on the islandJim?"
"Icome heah de night arter you's killed."
"Whatall that time?"
"Andain't you had nothing but that kind of rub-bage toeat?"
"Nosah -- nuffn else."
"Wellyou must be most starvedain't you?"
"Ireck'n I could eat a hoss. I think I could.How longyou ben on de islan'?"
"Sincethe night I got killed."
"No!W'ywhat has you lived on? But you gota gun. Ohyesyou got a gun. Dat's good. Nowyou killsumfn en I'll make up de fire."
So we wentover to where the canoe wasand whilehe built afire in a grassy open place amongst the treesI fetchedmeal and bacon and coffeeand coffee-potandfrying-panand sugar and tin cupsand the niggerwas setback considerablebecause he reckoned it wasall donewith witchcraft. I catched a good big catfishtooandJim cleaned him with his knifeand friedhim.
Whenbreakfast was ready we lolled on the grass andeat itsmoking hot. Jim laid it in with all his mightfor he wasmost about starved. Then when we hadgot prettywell stuffedwe laid off and lazied.By and byJim says:
"Butlooky hereHuckwho wuz it dat 'uz killedin datshanty ef it warn't you?"
Then Itold him the whole thingand he said it wassmart. Hesaid Tom Sawyer couldn't get up no betterplan thanwhat I had. Then I says:
"Howdo you come to be hereJimand how'd youget here?"
He lookedpretty uneasyand didn't say nothing fora minute.Then he says:
"MaybeI better not tell."
"Welldey's reasons. But you wouldn' tell on meef I uz totell youwould youHuck?"
"Blamedif I wouldJim."
"WellI b'lieve youHuck. I -- I RUN OFF."
"Butmindyou said you wouldn' tell -- you knowyou saidyou wouldn' tellHuck."
"WellI did. I said I wouldn'tand I'll stick to it.HonestINJUNI will. People would call me a low-downAbolitionist and despise me for keeping mum --but thatdon't make no difference. I ain't a-going totellandI ain't a-going back thereanyways. Sonowle'sknow all about it."
"Wellyou seeit 'uz dis way. Ole missus -- dat'sMissWatson -- she pecks on me all de timeen treatsme pootyroughbut she awluz said she wouldn' sellme down toOrleans. But I noticed dey wuz a niggertraderroun' de place considable latelyen I begin togitoneasy. Wellone night I creeps to de do' pootylateende do' warn't quite sheten I hear old missustell dewidder she gwyne to sell me down to Orleansbut shedidn' want tobut she could git eight hund'ddollarsfor meen it 'uz sich a big stack o' money shecouldn'resis'. De widder she try to git her to sayshewouldn' do itbut I never waited to hear de res'.I lit outmighty quickI tell you.
"Ituck out en shin down de hillen 'spec to steal askift'long de sho' som'ers 'bove de townbut dey wuzpeoplea-stirring yitso I hid in de ole tumble-downcooper-shopon de bank to wait for everybody to go'way.WellI wuz dah all night. Dey wuz somebodyroun' allde time. 'Long 'bout six in de mawnin'skiftsbegin to go byen 'bout eight er nine everyskift datwent 'long wuz talkin' 'bout how yo' papcome overto de town en say you's killed. Dese las'skifts wuzfull o' ladies en genlmen a-goin' over for tosee deplace. Sometimes dey'd pull up at de sho' entake ares' b'fo' dey started acrostso by de talk I gotto knowall 'bout de killin'. I 'uz powerful sorryyou'skilledHuckbut I ain't no mo' now.
"Ilaid dah under de shavin's all day. I 'uzhungrybut I warn't afeard; bekase I knowed olemissus ende widder wuz goin' to start to de camp-meet'n'right arter breakfas' en be gone all dayendey knowsI goes off wid de cattle 'bout daylightsodeywouldn' 'spec to see me roun' de placeen so deywouldn'miss me tell arter dark in de evenin'. Deyutherservants wouldn' miss mekase dey'd shin outen takeholiday soon as de ole folks 'uz out'n de way.
"Wellwhen it come dark I tuck out up de riverroadenwent 'bout two mile er more to whah deywarn't nohouses. I'd made up my mine 'bout whatI's agwyneto do. You seeef I kep' on tryin' to gitawayafootde dogs 'ud track me; ef I stole a skift tocrossoverdey'd miss dat skiftyou seeen dey'dknow 'boutwhah I'd lan' on de yuther sideen whahto pick upmy track. So I saysa raff is what I'sarter; itdoan' MAKE no track.
"Isee a light a-comin' roun' de p'int bymebyso Iwade' inen shove' a log ahead o' me en swum more'nhalf wayacrost de riveren got in 'mongst de drift-woodenkep' my head down lowen kinder swumagin decurrent tell de raff come along. Den I swumto destern uv it en tuck a-holt. It clouded up en 'uzpooty darkfor a little while. So I clumb up en laiddown on deplanks. De men 'uz all 'way yonder inde middlewhah de lantern wuz. De river wuz a-risin'endey wuz a good current; so I reck'n'd 'atby fo' inde mawnin' I'd be twenty-five mile down deriverenden I'd slip in jis b'fo' daylight en swimasho'entake to de woods on de Illinois side.
"ButI didn' have no luck. When we 'uz mos'down to dehead er de islan' a man begin to come aftwid delanternI see it warn't no use fer to waitso Islidoverboard en struck out fer de islan'. WellI hada notion Icould lan' mos' anywhersbut I couldn't --bank toobluff. I 'uz mos' to de foot er de islan'b'fo' Ifound' a good place. I went into de woods enjedged Iwouldn' fool wid raffs no mo'long as deymove delantern roun' so. I had my pipe en a plug erdog-legen some matches in my capen dey warn'twetso I'uz all right."
"Andso you ain't had no meat nor bread to eat allthis time?Why didn't you get mud-turkles?"
"Howyou gwyne to git 'm? You can't slip up onum en grabum; en how's a body gwyne to hit umwid arock? How could a body do it in de night?En Iwarn't gwyne to show mysef on de bank in dedaytime."
"Wellthat's so. You've had to keep in the woodsall thetimeof course. Did you hear 'em shootingthecannon?"
"Ohyes. I knowed dey was arter you. I see umgo by heah-- watched um thoo de bushes."
Some youngbirds come alongflying a yard or twoat a timeand lighting. Jim said it was a sign it wasgoing torain. He said it was a sign when youngchickensflew that wayand so he reckoned it was thesame waywhen young birds done it. I was going tocatch someof thembut Jim wouldn't let me. Hesaid itwas death. He said his father laid mighty sickonceandsome of them catched a birdand his oldgrannysaid his father would dieand he did.
And Jimsaid you mustn't count the things you aregoing tocook for dinnerbecause that would bringbad luck.The same if you shook the table-cloth aftersundown.And he said if a man owned a beehive andthat mandiedthe bees must be told about it beforesun-upnext morningor else the bees would allweakendown and quit work and die. Jim said beeswouldn'tsting idiots; but I didn't believe thatbe-cause Ihad tried them lots of times myselfand theywouldn'tsting me.
I hadheard about some of these things beforebutnot all ofthem. Jim knowed all kinds of signs. Hesaid heknowed most everything. I said it looked tome likeall the signs was about bad luckand so Iasked himif there warn't any good-luck signs. Hesays:
"Mightyfew -- an' DEY ain't no use to a body.What youwant to know when good luck's a-comin'for? Wantto keep it off?" And he said: "Ef you'sgot hairyarms en a hairy breas'it's a sign dat you'sagwyne tobe rich. Welldey's some use in a signlike dat'kase it's so fur ahead. You seemaybeyou's gotto be po' a long time fusten so you mightgitdiscourage' en kill yo'sef 'f you didn' know by design datyou gwyne to be rich bymeby."
"Haveyou got hairy arms and a hairy breastJim?"
"What'sde use to ax dat question? Don't yousee Ihas?"
"Wellare you rich?"
"Nobut I ben rich wunstand gwyne to be richagin.Wunst I had foteen dollarsbut I tuck tospecalat'n'en got busted out."
"Whatdid you speculate inJim?"
"Wellfust I tackled stock."
"Whatkind of stock?"
"Whylive stock -- cattleyou know. I put tendollars ina cow. But I ain' gwyne to resk no mo'money instock. De cow up 'n' died on my han's."
"Soyou lost the ten dollars."
"NoI didn't lose it all. I on'y los' 'bout nine ofit. I solede hide en taller for a dollar en ten cents."
"Youhad five dollars and ten cents left. Did youspeculateany more?"
"Yes.You know that one-laigged nigger datb'longs toold Misto Bradish? Wellhe sot up abankensay anybody dat put in a dollar would git fo'dollarsmo' at de en' er de year. Wellall de niggerswent inbut dey didn't have much. I wuz de on'yone dathad much. So I stuck out for mo' dan fo'dollarsen I said 'f I didn' git it I'd start a bank my-sef. Wello' course dat nigger want' to keep me outer debusinessbekase he says dey warn't business'nough fortwo banksso he say I could put in my fivedollars enhe pay me thirty-five at de en' er de year.
"So Idone it. Den I reck'n'd I'd inves' dethirty-fivedollars right off en keep things a-movin'.Dey wuz anigger name' Bobdat had ketched a wood-flatenhis marster didn' know it; en I bought it off'nhim entold him to take de thirty-five dollars when deen' er deyear come; but somebody stole de wood-flatdat nighten nex day de one-laigged nigger say debank'sbusted. So dey didn' none uv us git nomoney."
"Whatdid you do with the ten centsJim?"
"WellI 'uz gwyne to spen' itbut I had a dreamen dedream tole me to give it to a nigger name'Balum --Balum's Ass dey call him for short; he'sone er demchuckleheadsyou know. But he's luckydey sayen I see I warn't lucky. De dream say letBaluminves' de ten cents en he'd make a raise for me.WellBalum he tuck de moneyen when he wuz inchurch hehear de preacher say dat whoever give to depo' len'to de Lorden boun' to git his money back ahund'dtimes. So Balum he tuck en give de ten centsto de po'en laid low to see what wuz gwyne to comeof it."
"Wellwhat did come of itJim?"
"Nuffnnever come of it. I couldn' manage tok'leck datmoney no way; en Balum he couldn'. Iain' gwyneto len' no mo' money 'dout I see desecurity.Boun' to git yo' money back a hund'dtimesdepreacher says! Ef I could git de ten CENTSbackI'dcall it squahen be glad er de chanst."
"Wellit's all right anywayJimlong as you'regoing tobe rich again some time or other."
"Yes;en I's rich nowcome to look at it. I ownsmysefenI's wuth eight hund'd dollars. I wisht Ihad demoneyI wouldn' want no mo'."
I WANTEDto go and look at a place right about themiddle ofthe island that I'd found when I wasexploring;so we started and soon got to itbecausethe islandwas only three miles long and a quarter of amile wide.
This placewas a tolerable longsteep hill or ridgeaboutforty foot high. We had a rough time gettingto thetopthe sides was so steep and the bushes sothick. Wetramped and clumb around all over itandby and byfound a good big cavern in the rockmostup to thetop on the side towards Illinois. The cavernwas as bigas two or three rooms bunched togetherand Jimcould stand up straight in it. It was cool inthere. Jimwas for putting our traps in there rightawaybutI said we didn't want to be climbing up anddown thereall the time.
Jim saidif we had the canoe hid in a good placeand hadall the traps in the cavernwe could rush thereif anybodywas to come to the islandand they wouldnever findus without dogs. Andbesideshe saidthemlittle birds had said it was going to rainand didI want thethings to get wet?
So we wentback and got the canoeand paddled upabreastthe cavernand lugged all the traps up there.Then wehunted up a place close by to hide the canoeinamongst the thick willows. We took some fish offof thelines and set them againand begun to get readyfordinner.
The doorof the cavern was big enough to roll ahogsheadinand on one side of the door the floorstuck outa little bitand was flat and a good place tobuild afire on. So we built it there and cookeddinner.
We spreadthe blankets inside for a carpetand eatour dinnerin there. We put all the other things handyat theback of the cavern. Pretty soon it darkened upand begunto thunder and lighten; so the birds wasrightabout it. Directly it begun to rainand it rainedlike allfurytooand I never see the wind blow so.It was oneof these regular summer storms. It wouldget sodark that it looked all blue-black outsideandlovely;and the rain would thrash along by so thickthat thetrees off a little ways looked dim and spider-webby; andhere would come a blast of wind thatwould bendthe trees down and turn up the pale under-side ofthe leaves; and then a perfect ripper of a gustwouldfollow along and set the branches to tossingtheir armsas if they was just wild; and nextwhen itwas justabout the bluest and blackest -- FST! it was asbright asgloryand you'd have a little glimpse of tree-topsa-plunging about away off yonder in the stormhundredsof yards further than you could see before;dark assin again in a secondand now you'd hear thethunderlet go with an awful crashand then go rum-blinggrumblingtumblingdown the sky towards theunder sideof the worldlike rolling empty barrelsdownstairs -- where it's long stairs and they bounce agood dealyou know.
"Jimthis is nice" I says. "I wouldn't want tobe nowhereelse but here. Pass me along anotherhunk offish and some hot corn-bread."
"Wellyou wouldn't a ben here 'f it hadn't a benfor Jim.You'd a ben down dah in de woods widoutanydinneren gittn' mos' drowndedtoo; dat youwouldhoney. Chickens knows when it's gwyne torainenso do de birdschile."
The riverwent on raising and raising for ten ortwelvedaystill at last it was over the banks. Thewater wasthree or four foot deep on the island in thelow placesand on the Illinois bottom. On that side itwas a goodmany miles widebut on the Missouri sideit was thesame old distance across -- a half a mile --becausethe Missouri shore was just a wall of highbluffs.
Daytimeswe paddled all over the island in the canoeIt wasmighty cool and shady in the deep woodsevenif the sunwas blazing outside. We went winding inand outamongst the treesand sometimes the vineshung sothick we had to back away and go some otherway. Wellon every old broken-down tree you couldseerabbits and snakes and such things; and whenthe islandhad been overflowed a day or two they gotso tameon account of being hungrythat you couldpaddleright up and put your hand on them if youwanted to;but not the snakes and turtles -- they wouldslide offin the water. The ridge our cavern was inwas fullof them. We could a had pets enough if we'dwantedthem.
One nightwe catched a little section of a lumberraft --nice pine planks. It was twelve foot wide andaboutfifteen or sixteen foot longand the top stoodabovewater six or seven inches -- a solidlevel floor.We couldsee saw-logs go by in the daylight some-timesbutwe let them go; we didn't show ourselvesindaylight.
Anothernight when we was up at the head of theislandjust before daylighthere comes a frame-housedownonthe west side. She was a two-storyandtiltedover considerable. We paddled out and gotaboard --clumb in at an upstairs window. But it wastoo darkto see yetso we made the canoe fast and setin her towait for daylight.
The lightbegun to come before we got to the footof theisland. Then we looked in at the window. Wecould makeout a bedand a tableand two old chairsand lotsof things around about on the floorand therewasclothes hanging against the wall. There wassomethinglaying on the floor in the far corner thatlookedlike a man. So Jim says:
But itdidn't budge. So I hollered againand thenJim says:
"Deman ain't asleep -- he's dead. You hold still-- I'll goen see."
He wentand bent down and lookedand says:
"It'sa dead man. Yesindeedy; nakedtoo.He's benshot in de back. I reck'n he's ben deadtwo erthree days. Come inHuckbut doan' look athis face-- it's too gashly."
I didn'tlook at him at all. Jim throwed some oldrags overhimbut he needn't done it; I didn't wantto seehim. There was heaps of old greasy cardsscatteredaround over the floorand old whisky bottlesand acouple of masks made out of black cloth; andall overthe walls was the ignorantest kind of wordsandpictures made with charcoal. There was two olddirtycalico dressesand a sun-bonnetand somewomen'sunderclothes hanging against the wallandsome men'sclothingtoo. We put the lot into thecanoe --it might come good. There was a boy's oldspeckledstraw hat on the floor; I took thattoo.And therewas a bottle that had had milk in itand ithad a ragstopper for a baby to suck. We would atook thebottlebut it was broke. There was a seedyold chestand an old hair trunk with the hinges broke.They stoodopenbut there warn't nothing left in themthat wasany account. The way things was scatteredabout wereckoned the people left in a hurryandwarn'tfixed so as to carry off most of their stuff.
We got anold tin lanternand a butcher-knife with-out anyhandleand a bran-new Barlow knife worthtwo bitsin any storeand a lot of tallow candlesand atincandlestickand a gourdand a tin cupand a rattyoldbedquilt off the bedand a reticule with needlesand pinsand beeswax and buttons and thread and allsuch truckin itand a hatchet and some nailsand afishlineas thick as my little finger with some mon-stroushooks on itand a roll of buckskinand aleatherdog-collarand a horseshoeand some vials ofmedicinethat didn't have no label on them; and justas we wasleaving I found a tolerable good curry-comband Jim hefound a ratty old fiddle-bowand a woodenleg. Thestraps was broke off of itbutbarring thatit was agood enough legthough it was too long forme and notlong enough for Jimand we couldn't findthe otheronethough we hunted all around.
And sotake it all aroundwe made a good haul.When wewas ready to shove off we was a quarter of amile belowthe islandand it was pretty broad day; soI made Jimlay down in the canoe and cover up withthe quiltbecause if he set up people could tell he wasa nigger agood ways off. I paddled over to theIllinoisshoreand drifted down most a half a miledoing it.I crept up the dead water under the bankand hadn'tno accidents and didn't see nobody. Wegot homeall safe.
AFTERbreakfast I wanted to talk about the deadman andguess out how he come to be killedbutJim didn'twant to. He said it would fetch bad luck;andbesideshe saidhe might come and ha'nt us; hesaid a manthat warn't buried was more likely to go a-ha'ntingaround than one that was planted and com-fortable.That sounded pretty reasonableso I didn'tsay nomore; but I couldn't keep from studying overit andwishing I knowed who shot the manand whatthey doneit for.
Werummaged the clothes we'd gotand found eightdollars insilver sewed up in the lining of an old blanketovercoat.Jim said he reckoned the people in thathousestole the coatbecause if they'd a knowed themoney wasthere they wouldn't a left it. I said Ireckonedthey killed himtoo; but Jim didn't want totalk aboutthat. I says:
"Nowyou think it's bad luck; but what did yousay when Ifetched in the snake-skin that I found onthe top ofthe ridge day before yesterday? You saidit was theworst bad luck in the world to touch asnake-skinwith my hands. Wellhere's your badluck!We've raked in all this truck and eight dollarsbesides. Iwish we could have some bad luck like thisevery dayJim."
"Neveryou mindhoneynever you mind. Don'tyou gittoo peart. It's a-comin'. Mind I tell youit'sa-comin'."
It didcometoo. It was a Tuesday that we hadthat talk.Wellafter dinner Friday we was layingaround inthe grass at the upper end of the ridgeandgot out oftobacco. I went to the cavern to get someand founda rattlesnake in there. I killed himandcurled himup on the foot of Jim's blanketever sonaturalthinking there'd be some fun when Jim foundhim there.Wellby night I forgot all about thesnakeandwhen Jim flung himself down on the blanketwhile Istruck a light the snake's mate was thereandbit him.
He jumpedup yellingand the first thing the lightshowed wasthe varmint curled up and ready foranotherspring. I laid him out in a second with astickandJim grabbed pap's whisky-jug and begun topour itdown.
He wasbarefootedand the snake bit him right onthe heel.That all comes of my being such a fool asto notremember that wherever you leave a dead snakeits matealways comes there and curls around it. Jimtold me tochop off the snake's head and throw itawayandthen skin the body and roast a piece of it.I done itand he eat it and said it would help curehim. Hemade me take off the rattles and tie themaround hiswristtoo. He said that that would help.Then Islid out quiet and throwed the snakes clearawayamongst the bushes; for I warn't going to letJim findout it was all my faultnot if I could help it.
Jim suckedand sucked at the jugand now and thenhe got outof his head and pitched around and yelled;but everytime he come to himself he went to suckingat the jugagain. His foot swelled up pretty bigandso did hisleg; but by and by the drunk begun tocomeandso I judged he was all right; but I'ddrutherbeen bit with a snake than pap's whisky.
Jim waslaid up for four days and nights. Thentheswelling was all gone and he was around again. Imade up mymind I wouldn't ever take a-holt of asnake-skinagain with my handsnow that I see whathad comeof it. Jim said he reckoned I would believehim nexttime. And he said that handling a snake-skin wassuch awful bad luck that maybe we hadn'tgot to theend of it yet. He said he druther see thenew moonover his left shoulder as much as a thousandtimes thantake up a snake-skin in his hand. WellIwasgetting to feel that way myselfthough I've alwaysreckonedthat looking at the new moon over your leftshoulderis one of the carelessest and foolishest thingsa body cando. Old Hank Bunker done it onceandbraggedabout it; and in less than two years he gotdrunk andfell off of the shot-towerand spread him-self outso that he was just a kind of a layeras youmay say;and they slid him edgeways between twobarn doorsfor a coffinand buried him soso theysaybut Ididn't see it. Pap told me. But anywayit allcome of looking at the moon that waylike afool.
Wellthedays went alongand the river went downbetweenits banks again; and about the first thing wedone wasto bait one of the big hooks with a skinnedrabbit andset it and catch a catfish that was as big asa manbeing six foot two inches longand weighedover twohundred pounds. We couldn't handle himof course;he would a flung us into Illinois. We justset thereand watched him rip and tear around till hedrownded.We found a brass button in his stomachand around balland lots of rubbage. We split theball openwith the hatchetand there was a spool in it.Jim saidhe'd had it there a long timeto coat it overso andmake a ball of it. It was as big a fish as wasevercatched in the MississippiI reckon. Jim said hehadn'tever seen a bigger one. He would a beenworth agood deal over at the village. They peddleout such afish as that by the pound in the market-housethere; everybody buys some of him; his meat'sas whiteas snow and makes a good fry.
Nextmorning I said it was getting slow and dulland Iwanted to get a stirring up some way. I said Ireckoned Iwould slip over the river and find out whatwas goingon. Jim liked that notion; but he said Imust go inthe dark and look sharp. Then he studiedit overand saidcouldn't I put on some of them oldthings anddress up like a girl? That was a goodnotiontoo. So we shortened up one of the calicogownsandI turned up my trouser-legs to my kneesand gotinto it. Jim hitched it behind with the hooksand it wasa fair fit. I put on the sun-bonnet and tiedit undermy chinand then for a body to look in andsee myface was like looking down a joint of stove-pipe. Jimsaid nobody would know meeven in thedaytimehardly. I practiced around all day to getthe hangof the thingsand by and by I could doprettywell in themonly Jim said I didn't walk like agirl; andhe said I must quit pulling up my gown toget at mybritches-pocket. I took noticeand donebetter.
I startedup the Illinois shore in the canoe just afterdark.
I startedacross to the town from a little below theferry-landingand the drift of the current fetched mein at thebottom of the town. I tied up and startedalong thebank. There was a light burning in a littleshantythat hadn't been lived in for a long timeand Iwonderedwho had took up quarters there. I slippedup andpeeped in at the window. There was a womanaboutforty year old in there knitting by a candle thatwas on apine table. I didn't know her face; she wasastrangerfor you couldn't start a face in that townthat Ididn't know. Now this was luckybecause Iwasweakening; I was getting afraid I had come;peoplemight know my voice and find me out. But ifthis womanhad been in such a little town two daysshe couldtell me all I wanted to know; so I knockedat thedoorand made up my mind I wouldn't forget Iwas agirl.
"COMEin" says the womanand I did. Shesays:"Take a cheer."
I done it.She looked me all over with her littleshinyeyesand says:
"Whatmight your name be?"
"Where'bouts do you live? In this neighbor-hood?'
"No'm.In Hookervilleseven mile below. I'vewalked allthe way and I'm all tired out."
"HungrytooI reckon. I'll find you something."
"No'mI ain't hungry. I was so hungry I had tostop twomiles below here at a farm; so I ain't hungryno more.It's what makes me so late. My mother'sdown sickand out of money and everythingand Icome totell my uncle Abner Moore. He lives at theupper endof the townshe says. I hain't ever beenherebefore. Do you know him?"
"No;but I don't know everybody yet. I haven'tlived herequite two weeks. It's a considerable waysto theupper end of the town. You better stay hereall night.Take off your bonnet."
"No"I says; "I'll rest a whileI reckonand goon. Iain't afeared of the dark."
She saidshe wouldn't let me go by myselfbut herhusbandwould be in by and bymaybe in a hour anda halfand she'd send him along with me. Then shegot totalking about her husbandand about her rela-tions upthe riverand her relations down the riverand abouthow much better off they used to wasandhow theydidn't know but they'd made a mistakecoming toour towninstead of letting well alone --and so onand so ontill I was afeard I had made amistakecoming to her to find out what was going onin thetown; but by and by she dropped on to papand themurderand then I was pretty willing to letherclatter right along. She told about me and TomSawyerfinding the six thousand dollars (only she gotit ten)and all about pap and what a hard lot he wasand what ahard lot I wasand at last she got down towhere Iwas murdered. I says:
"Whodone it? We've heard considerable aboutthesegoings on down in Hookervillebut we don'tknow who'twas that killed Huck Finn."
"WellI reckon there's a right smart chance ofpeopleHERE that'd like to know who killed him. Somethink oldFinn done it himself."
"No-- is that so?"
"Mosteverybody thought it at first. He'll neverknow hownigh he come to getting lynched. Butbeforenight they changed around and judged it wasdone by arunaway nigger named Jim."
I stopped.I reckoned I better keep still. She runonandnever noticed I had put in at all:
"Thenigger run off the very night Huck Finn waskilled. Sothere's a reward out for him -- three hun-dreddollars. And there's a reward out for old Finntoo -- twohundred dollars. You seehe come to townthemorning after the murderand told about itandwas outwith 'em on the ferryboat huntand rightaway afterhe up and left. Before night they wantedto lynchhimbut he was goneyou see. Wellnextday theyfound out the nigger was gone; they foundout hehadn't ben seen sence ten o'clock the night themurder wasdone. So then they put it on himyousee; andwhile they was full of itnext daybackcomes oldFinnand went boo-hooing to JudgeThatcherto get money to hunt for the nigger all overIllinoiswith. The judge gave him someand thatevening hegot drunkand was around till after mid-night witha couple of mighty hard-looking strangersand thenwent off with them. Wellhe hain't comebacksenceand they ain't looking for him back tillthis thingblows over a littlefor people thinks nowthat hekilled his boy and fixed things so folks wouldthinkrobbers done itand then he'd get Huck's moneywithouthaving to bother a long time with a lawsuit.People dosay he warn't any too good to do it. Ohhe's slyI reckon. If he don't come back for a yearhe'll beall right. You can't prove anything on himyou know;everything will be quieted down thenandhe'll walkin Huck's money as easy as nothing."
"YesI reckon so'm. I don't see nothing in theway of it.Has everybody guit thinking the niggerdone it?"
"Ohnonot everybody. A good many thinks hedone it.But they'll get the nigger pretty soon nowand maybethey can scare it out of him."
"Whyare they after him yet?"
"Wellyou're innocentain't you! Does threehundreddollars lay around every day for people topick up?Some folks think the nigger ain't far fromhere. I'mone of them -- but I hain't talked it around.A few daysago I was talking with an old couple thatlives nextdoor in the log shantyand they happenedto sayhardly anybody ever goes to that island overyonderthat they call Jackson's Island. Don't any-body livethere? says I. Nonobodysays they. Ididn't sayany morebut I done some thinking. Iwas prettynear certain I'd seen smoke over thereabout thehead of the islanda day or two before thatso I saysto myselflike as not that nigger's hidingoverthere; anywaysays Iit's worth the trouble togive theplace a hunt. I hain't seen any smoke senceso Ireckon maybe he's goneif it was him; buthusband'sgoing over to see -- him and another man.He wasgone up the river; but he got back to-dayand I toldhim as soon as he got here two hours ago."
I had gotso uneasy I couldn't set still. I had to dosomethingwith my hands; so I took up a needle off ofthe tableand went to threading it. My hands shookand I wasmaking a bad job of it. When the womanstoppedtalking I looked upand she was looking atme prettycurious and smiling a little. I put down theneedle andthreadand let on to be interested -- and Iwastoo-- and says:
"Threehundred dollars is a power of money. Iwish mymother could get it. Is your husband goingover thereto-night?"
"Ohyes. He went up-town with the man I wastellingyou ofto get a boat and see if they couldborrowanother gun. They'll go over after midnight."
"Couldn'tthey see better if they was to wait tilldaytime?"
"Yes.And couldn't the nigger see bettertoo?Aftermidnight he'll likely be asleepand they can sliparoundthrough the woods and hunt up his camp fireall thebetter for the darkif he's got one."
"Ididn't think of that."
The womankept looking at me pretty curiousandI didn'tfeel a bit comfortable. Pretty soon she says"
"Whatdid you say your name washoney?"
"M --Mary Williams."
Somehow itdidn't seem to me that I said it wasMarybeforeso I didn't look up -- seemed to me Isaid itwas Sarah; so I felt sort of corneredand wasafearedmaybe I was looking ittoo. I wished thewomanwould say something more; the longer she setstill theuneasier I was. But now she says:
"HoneyI thought you said it was Sarah whenyou firstcome in?"
"Ohyes'mI did. Sarah Mary Williams. Sarah'smy firstname. Some calls me Sarahsome calls meMary."
"Ohthat's the way of it?"
I wasfeeling better thenbut I wished I was out ofthereanyway. I couldn't look up yet.
Wellthewoman fell to talking about how hardtimes wasand how poor they had to liveand how therats wasas free as if they owned the placeand soforth andso onand then I got easy again. She wasrightabout the rats. You'd see one stick his nose outof a holein the corner every little while. She said shehad tohave things handy to throw at them when shewas aloneor they wouldn't give her no peace. Sheshowed mea bar of lead twisted up into a knotandsaid shewas a good shot with it generlybut she'dwrenchedher arm a day or two agoand didn't knowwhethershe could throw true now. But she watchedfor achanceand directly banged away at a rat; butshe missedhim wideand said "Ouch!" it hurt herarm so.Then she told me to try for the next one. Iwanted tobe getting away before the old man gotbackbutof course I didn't let on. I got the thingand thefirst rat that showed his nose I let driveandif he'd astayed where he was he'd a been a tolerablesick rat.She said that was first-rateand she reckonedI wouldhive the next one. She went and got thelump oflead and fetched it backand brought along ahank ofyarn which she wanted me to help her with.I held upmy two hands and she put the hank overthemandwent on talking about her and her husband'smatters.But she broke off to say:
"Keepyour eye on the rats. You better have thelead inyour laphandy."
So shedropped the lump into my lap just at thatmomentand I clapped my legs together on it and shewent ontalking. But only about a minute. Thenshe tookoff the hank and looked me straight in thefaceandvery pleasantand says:
"Comenowwhat's your real name?"
"What'syour real name? Is it Billor TomorBob? -- orwhat is it?"
I reckon Ishook like a leafand I didn't knowhardlywhat to do. But I says:
"Pleaseto don't poke fun at a poor girl like memum. IfI'm in the way hereI'll --"
"Noyou won't. Set down and stay where youare. Iain't going to hurt youand I ain't going totell onyounuther. You just tell me your secretandtrust me.I'll keep it; andwhat's moreI'll helpyou. So'llmy old man if you want him to. Youseeyou're a runaway 'prenticethat's all. It ain'tanything.There ain't no harm in it. You've beentreatedbadand you made up your mind to cut.Bless youchildI wouldn't tell on you. Tell me allabout itnowthat's a good boy."
So I saidit wouldn't be no use to try to play it anylongerand I would just make a clean breast and tellhereverythingbut she musn't go back on her promise.Then Itold her my father and mother was deadandthe lawhad bound me out to a mean old farmer in thecountrythirty mile back from the riverand he treatedme so badI couldn't stand it no longer; he went awayto be gonea couple of daysand so I took my chanceand stolesome of his daughter's old clothes andclearedoutand I had been three nights coming thethirtymiles. I traveled nightsand hid daytimes andsleptandthe bag of bread and meat I carried fromhomelasted me all the wayand I had a-plenty. Isaid Ibelieved my uncle Abner Moore would take careof meandso that was why I struck out for this townof Goshen.
"Goshenchild? This ain't Goshen. This is St.Petersburg.Goshen's ten mile further up the river.Who toldyou this was Goshen?"
"Whya man I met at daybreak this morningjustas I wasgoing to turn into the woods for my regularsleep. Hetold me when the roads forked I must takethe righthandand five mile would fetch me toGoshen."
"Hewas drunkI reckon. He told you just ex-actlywrong."
"Wellhedid act like he was drunkbut it ain't nomatternow. I got to be moving along. I'll fetchGoshenbefore daylight."
"Holdon a minute. I'll put you up a snack to eat.You mightwant it."
So she putme up a snackand says:
"Saywhen a cow's laying downwhich end of hergets upfirst? Answer up prompt now -- don't stopto studyover it. Which end gets up first?"
"Whichside of a tree does the moss grow on?"
"Iffifteen cows is browsing on a hillsidehowmany ofthem eats with their heads pointed the samedirection?"
"WellI reckon you HAVE lived in the country. Ithoughtmaybe you was trying to hocus me again.What'syour real namenow?"
"Welltry to remember itGeorge. Don't forgetand tellme it's Elexander before you goand then getout bysaying it's George Elexander when I catch you.And don'tgo about women in that old calico. Youdo a girltolerable poorbut you might fool menmaybe.Bless youchildwhen you set out to threada needledon't hold the thread still and fetch the needleup to it;hold the needle still and poke the thread atit; that'sthe way a woman most always doesbut aman alwaysdoes t'other way. And when you throwat a rator anythinghitch yourself up a tiptoe andfetch yourhand up over your head as awkward as youcanandmiss your rat about six or seven foot. Throwstiff-armedfrom the shoulderlike there was a pivotthere forit to turn onlike a girl; not from the wristand elbowwith your arm out to one sidelike a boy.Andmindyouwhen a girl tries to catch anything inher lapshe throws her knees apart; she don't clapthemtogetherthe way you did when you catched thelump oflead. WhyI spotted you for a boy whenyou wasthreading the needle; and I contrived theotherthings just to make certain. Now trot along toyouruncleSarah Mary Williams George ElexanderPetersand if you get into trouble you send word toMrs.Judith Loftuswhich is meand I'll do what Ican to getyou out of it. Keep the river road all thewayandnext time you tramp take shoes and sockswith you.The river road's a rocky oneand yourfeet'll bein a condition when you get to GoshenIreckon."
I went upthe bank about fifty yardsand then Idoubled onmy tracks and slipped back to where mycanoe wasa good piece below the house. I jumpedinandwas off in a hurry. I went up-stream farenough tomake the head of the islandand thenstartedacross. I took off the sun-bonnetfor I didn'twant noblinders on then. When I was about themiddle Iheard the clock begin to strikeso I stopsandlistens; the sound come faint over the water butclear --eleven. When I struck the head of the islandI neverwaited to blowthough I was most windedbutI shovedright into the timber where my old camp usedto beandstarted a good fire there on a high and dryspot.
Then Ijumped in the canoe and dug out for ourplaceamile and a half belowas hard as I could go.I landedand slopped through the timber and up theridge andinto the cavern. There Jim laidsoundasleep onthe ground. I roused him out and says:
"Gitup and hump yourselfJim! There ain't aminute tolose. They're after us!"
Jim neverasked no questionshe never said a word;but theway he worked for the next half an hourshowedabout how he was scared. By that time every-thing wehad in the world was on our raftand she wasready tobe shoved out from the willow cove where shewas hid.We put out the camp fire at the cavern thefirstthingand didn't show a candle outside after that.
I took thecanoe out from the shore a little pieceand took alook; but if there was a boat around Icouldn'tsee itfor stars and shadows ain't good to seeby. Thenwe got out the raft and slipped along downin theshadepast the foot of the island dead still --neversaying a word.
IT must abeen close on to one o'clock when wegot belowthe island at lastand the raft did seemto gomighty slow. If a boat was to come along wewas goingto take to the canoe and break for theIllinoisshore; and it was well a boat didn't comeforwe hadn'tever thought to put the gun in the canoeor afishing-lineor anything to eat. We was inruther toomuch of a sweat to think of so many things.It warn'tgood judgment to put EVERYTHING on the raft.
If the menwent to the island I just expect theyfound thecamp fire I builtand watched it all night forJim tocome. Anywaysthey stayed away from usand if mybuilding the fire never fooled them it warn'tno faultof mine. I played it as low down on them asI could.
When thefirst streak of day began to show we tiedup to atowhead in a big bend on the Illinois sideandhacked offcottonwood branches with the hatchetandcovered up the raft with them so she looked likethere hadbeen a cave-in in the bank there. A tow-head is asandbar that has cottonwoods on it as thickasharrow-teeth.
We hadmountains on the Missouri shore and heavytimber onthe Illinois sideand the channel was downtheMissouri shore at that placeso we warn't afraid ofanybodyrunning across us. We laid there all dayandwatched the rafts and steamboats spin down theMissourishoreand up-bound steamboats fight the bigriver inthe middle. I told Jim all about the time Ihadjabbering with that woman; and Jim said she wasa smartoneand if she was to start after us herself shewouldn'tset down and watch a camp fire -- nosirshe'dfetch a dog. WellthenI saidwhy couldn'tshe tellher husband to fetch a dog? Jim said he betshe didthink of it by the time the men was ready tostartandhe believed they must a gone up-town to geta dog andso they lost all that timeor else wewouldn'tbe here on a towhead sixteen or seventeenmile belowthe village -- noindeedywe would be inthat sameold town again. So I said I didn't carewhat wasthe reason they didn't get us as long as theydidn't.
When itwas beginning to come on dark we pokedour headsout of the cottonwood thicketand lookedup anddown and across; nothing in sight; so Jimtook upsome of the top planks of the raft and built asnugwigwam to get under in blazing weather andrainyandto keep the things dry. Jim made a floorfor thewigwamand raised it a foot or more above thelevel ofthe raftso now the blankets and all the trapswas out ofreach of steamboat waves. Right in themiddle ofthe wigwam we made a layer of dirt aboutfive orsix inches deep with a frame around it for tohold it toits place; this was to build a fire on insloppyweather or chilly; the wigwam would keep itfrom beingseen. We made an extra steering-oartoobecause one of the others might get broke on asnag orsomething. We fixed up a short forked stickto hangthe old lantern onbecause we must alwayslight thelantern whenever we see a steamboat comingdown-streamto keep from getting run over; but wewouldn'thave to light it for up-stream boats unless wesee we wasin what they call a "crossing"; for theriver waspretty high yetvery low banks being still alittleunder water; so up-bound boats didn't alwaysrun thechannelbut hunted easy water.
Thissecond night we run between seven and eighthourswith a current that was making over four milean hour.We catched fish and talkedand we took aswim nowand then to keep off sleepiness. It waskind ofsolemndrifting down the bigstill riverlay-ing on ourbacks looking up at the starsand we didn'tever feellike talking loudand it warn't often that welaughed --only a little kind of a low chuckle. Wehad mightygood weather as a general thingand noth-ing everhappened to us at all -- that nightnor thenextnorthe next.
Everynight we passed townssome of them awayup onblack hillsidesnothing but just a shiny bed oflights;not a house could you see. The fifth night wepassed St.Louisand it was like the whole world litup. In St.Petersburg they used to say there wastwenty orthirty thousand people in St. Louisbut Ineverbelieved it till I see that wonderful spread oflights attwo o'clock that still night. There warn't asoundthere; everybody was asleep.
Everynight now I used to slip ashore towards teno'clock atsome little villageand buy ten or fifteencents'worth of meal or bacon or other stuff to eat;andsometimes I lifted a chicken that warn't roostingcomfortableand took him along. Pap always saidtake achicken when you get a chancebecause if youdon't wanthim yourself you can easy find somebodythat doesand a good deed ain't ever forgot. I neversee papwhen he didn't want the chicken himselfbutthat iswhat he used to sayanyway.
Morningsbefore daylight I slipped into cornfieldsandborrowed a watermelonor a mushmelonor apunkinorsome new cornor things of that kind.Pap alwayssaid it warn't no harm to borrow things ifyou wasmeaning to pay them back some time; butthe widowsaid it warn't anything but a soft name forstealingand no decent body would do it. Jim said hereckonedthe widow was partly right and pap was partlyright; sothe best way would be for us to pick out twoor threethings from the list and say we wouldn't borrowthem anymore -- then he reckoned it wouldn't be noharm toborrow the others. So we talked it over allone nightdrifting along down the rivertrying tomake upour minds whether to drop the watermelonsor thecantelopesor the mushmelonsor what. Buttowardsdaylight we got it all settled satisfactoryandconcludedto drop crabapples and p'simmons. Wewarn'tfeeling just right before thatbut it was allcomfortablenow. I was glad the way it come outtoobecause crabapples ain't ever goodand thep'simmonswouldn't be ripe for two or three monthsyet.
We shot awater-fowl now and then that got up tooearly inthe morning or didn't go to bed early enoughin theevening. Take it all roundwe lived pretty high.
The fifthnight below St. Louis we had a big stormaftermidnightwith a power of thunder and lightningand therain poured down in a solid sheet. We stayedin thewigwam and let the raft take care of itself.When thelightning glared out we could see a bigstraightriver aheadand highrocky bluffs on bothsides. Byand by says I"Hel-LOJimlooky yon-der!"It was a steamboat that had killed herself on arock. Wewas drifting straight down for her. Thelightningshowed her very distinct. She was leaningoverwithpart of her upper deck above waterandyou couldsee every little chimbly-guy clean and clearand achair by the big bellwith an old slouch hathanging onthe back of itwhen the flashes come.
Wellitbeing away in the night and stormyand allsomysterious-likeI felt just the way any other boywould afelt when I see that wreck laying there somournfuland lonesome in the middle of the river. Iwanted toget aboard of her and slink around a littleand seewhat there was there. So I says:
"Le'sland on herJim."
But Jimwas dead against it at first. He says:
"Idoan' want to go fool'n 'long er no wrack.We's doin'blame' wellen we better let blame' wellaloneasde good book says. Like as not dey's awatchmanon dat wrack."
"Watchmanyour grandmother" I says; "thereain'tnothing to watch but the texas and the pilot-house; anddo you reckon anybody's going to resk hislife for atexas and a pilot-house such a night as thiswhen it'slikely to break up and wash off down theriver anyminute?" Jim couldn't say nothing to thatso hedidn't try. "And besides" I says"we mightborrowsomething worth having out of the captain'sstateroom.SeegarsI bet you -- and cost five centsapiecesolid cash. Steamboat captains is always richand getsixty dollars a monthand THEY don't care acent whata thing costsyou knowlong as they wantit. Sticka candle in your pocket; I can't restJimtill wegive her a rummaging. Do you reckon TomSawyerwould ever go by this thing? Not for piehewouldn't.He'd call it an adventure -- that's whathe'd callit; and he'd land on that wreck if it was hislast act.And wouldn't he throw style into it? --wouldn'the spread himselfnor nothing? Whyyou'dthink it was Christopher C'lumbus discoveringKingdom-Come.I wish Tom Sawyer WAS here."
Jim hegrumbled a littlebut give in. He said wemustn'ttalk any more than we could helpand thentalkmighty low. The lightning showed us the wreckagain justin timeand we fetched the stabboardderrickand made fast there.
The deckwas high out here. We went sneaking downthe slopeof it to labboardin the darktowards thetexasfeeling our way slow with our feetand spreadingour handsout to fend off the guysfor it was so darkwecouldn't see no sign of them. Pretty soon westruck theforward end of the skylightand clumb onto it; andthe next step fetched us in front of thecaptain'sdoorwhich was openand by Jimminyaway downthrough the texas-hall we see a light! andall in thesame second we seem to hear low voices inyonder!
Jimwhispered and said he was feeling powerfulsickandtold me to come along. I saysall rightand wasgoing to start for the raft; but just then Iheard avoice wail out and say:
"Ohplease don'tboys; I swear I won't evertell!"
Anothervoice saidpretty loud:
"It'sa lieJim Turner. You've acted this waybefore.You always want more'n your share of thetruckandyou've always got ittoobecause you'veswore 'tif you didn't you'd tell. But this time you'vesaid itjest one time too many. You're the meanesttreacherousesthound in this country."
By thistime Jim was gone for the raft. I was justa-bilingwith curiosity; and I says to myselfTomSawyerwouldn't back out nowand so I won't either;I'ma-going to see what's going on here. So Idropped onmy hands and knees in the little passageand creptaft in the dark till there warn't but onestateroombetwixt me and the cross-hall of the texas.Then inthere I see a man stretched on the floor andtied handand footand two men standing over himand one ofthem had a dim lantern in his handandthe otherone had a pistol. This one kept pointingthe pistolat the man's head on the floorand saying:
"I'dLIKE to! And I ortertoo -- a mean skunk!"
The man onthe floor would shrivel up and say"Ohplease don'tBill; I hain't ever goin' to tell."
And everytime he said that the man with the lanternwouldlaugh and say:
"'Deedyou AIN'T! You never said no truer thing'n thatyou bet you." And once he said: "Hearhim beg!and yit if we hadn't got the best of him andtied himhe'd a killed us both. And what FOR? Jistfornoth'n. Jist because we stood on our RIGHTS --that'swhat for. But I lay you ain't a-goin' to threatennobody anymoreJim Turner. Put UP that pistolBill."
"Idon't want toJake Packard. I'm for killin'him -- anddidn't he kill old Hatfield jist the sameway -- anddon't he deserve it?"
"ButI don't WANT him killedand I've got myreasonsfor it."
"Blessyo' heart for them wordsJake Packard!I'll neverforgit you long's I live!" says the man onthe floorsort of blubbering.
Packarddidn't take no notice of thatbut hung uphislantern on a nail and started towards where I wasthere inthe darkand motioned Bill to come. Icrawfishedas fast as I could about two yardsbut theboatslanted so that I couldn't make very good time;so to keepfrom getting run over and catched I crawledinto astateroom on the upper side. The man came a-pawingalong in the darkand when Packard got tomystateroomhe says:
"Here-- come in here."
And in hecomeand Bill after him. But beforethey gotin I was up in the upper berthcorneredandsorry Icome. Then they stood therewith their handson theledge of the berthand talked. I couldn't seethembutI could tell where they was by the whiskythey'dbeen having. I was glad I didn't drink whisky;but itwouldn't made much difference anywaybecausemost ofthe time they couldn't a treed me because Ididn'tbreathe. I was too scared. AndbesidesabodyCOULDN'T breathe and hear such talk. Theytalked lowand earnest. Bill wanted to kill Turner.He says:
"He'ssaid he'll telland he will. If we was togive bothour shares to him NOW it wouldn't make nodifferenceafter the row and the way we've served him.Shore'syou're bornhe'll turn State's evidence; nowyou hearME. I'm for putting him out of his troubles."
"So'mI" says Packardvery quiet.
"BlameitI'd sorter begun to think you wasnUt.Wellthenthat's all right. Le's go and do it."
"Holdon a minute; I hain't had my say yit. Youlisten tome. Shooting's goodbut there's quieterways ifthe thing's GOT to be done. But what I say isthis: itain't good sense to go court'n around after ahalter ifyou can git at what you're up to in someway that'sjist as good and at the same time don'tbring youinto no resks. Ain't that so?"
"Youbet it is. But how you goin' to manage itthistime?"
"Wellmy idea is this: we'll rustle around and gatherupwhatever pickins we've overlooked in the state-roomsandshove for shore and hide the truck. Thenwe'llwait. Now I say it ain't a-goin' to be more'ntwo hoursbefo' this wrack breaks up and washes offdown theriver. See? He'll be drowndedand won'thavenobody to blame for it but his own self. Ireckonthat's a considerble sight better 'n killin' ofhim. I'munfavorable to killin' a man as long as youcan gitaroun' it; it ain't good senseit ain't goodmorals.Ain't I right?"
"YesI reck'n you are. But s'pose she DON'Tbreak upand wash off?"
"Wellwe can wait the two hours anyway and seecan't we?"
"Allrightthen; come along."
So theystartedand I lit outall in a cold sweatandscrambled forward. It was dark as pitch there;but Isaidin a kind of a coarse whisper"Jim !" andheanswered upright at my elbowwith a sort of amoanandI says:
"QuickJimit ain't no time for fooling aroundandmoaning; there's a gang of murderers in yonderand if wedon't hunt up their boat and set her driftingdown theriver so these fellows can't get away from thewreckthere's one of 'em going to be in a bad fix.But if wefind their boat we can put ALL of 'em in abad fix --for the sheriff 'll get 'em. Quick -- hurry!I'll huntthe labboard sideyou hunt the stabboard.You startat the raftand --"
"Ohmy lordylordy! RAF'? Dey ain' no raf'no mo';she done broke loose en gone I -- en herewe is!"
WELLIcatched my breath and most fainted.Shut up ona wreck with such a gang as that!But itwarn't no time to be sentimentering. We'd GOTto findthat boat now -- had to have it for ourselves.So we wenta-quaking and shaking down the stabboardsideandslow work it wastoo -- seemed a week be-fore wegot to the stern. No sign of a boat. Jimsaid hedidn't believe he could go any further -- soscared hehadn't hardly any strength lefthe said.But Isaidcome onif we get left on this wreck weare in afixsure. So on we prowled again. Westruck forthe stern of the texasand found itandthenscrabbled along forwards on the skylighthangingon fromshutter to shutterfor the edge of the skylightwas in thewater. When we got pretty close to thecross-halldoor there was the skiffsure enough! Icould justbarely see her. I felt ever so thankful. Inanothersecond I would a been aboard of herbut justthen thedoor opened. One of the men stuck his headout onlyabout a couple of foot from meand I thoughtI wasgone; but he jerked it in againand says:
"Heavethat blame lantern out o' sightBill!"
He flung abag of something into the boatand thengot inhimself and set down. It was Packard. ThenBill HEcome out and got in. Packard saysin a lowvoice:
"Allready -- shove off!"
I couldn'thardly hang on to the shuttersI was soweak. ButBill says:
"Holdon -- 'd you go through him?"
"No.So he's got his share o' the cash yet."
"Wellthencome along; no use to take truck andleavemoney."
"Saywon't he suspicion what we're up to?"
"Maybehe won't. But we got to have it anyway.Comealong."
So theygot out and went in.
The doorslammed to because it was on the careenedside; andin a half second I was in the boatand Jimcometumbling after me. I out with my knife and cutthe ropeand away we went!
We didn'ttouch an oarand we didn't speak norwhispernor hardly even breathe. We went glidingswiftalongdead silentpast the tip of the paddle-boxandpast the stern; then in a second or two morewe was ahundred yards below the wreckand thedarknesssoaked her upevery last sign of herand wewas safeand knowed it.
When wewas three or four hundred yards down-stream wesee the lantern show like a little spark at thetexas doorfor a secondand we knowed by that thattherascals had missed their boatand was beginningtounderstand that they was in just as much trouble nowas JimTurner was.
Then Jimmanned the oarsand we took out afterour raft.Now was the first time that I begun to worryabout themen -- I reckon I hadn't had time to before.I begun tothink how dreadful it waseven for mur-dererstobe in such a fix. I says to myselfthereain't notelling but I might come to be a murderermyselfyetand then how would I like it? So says Ito Jim:
"Thefirst light we see we'll land a hundred yardsbelow itor above itin a place where it's a goodhiding-placefor you and the skiffand then I'll go andfix upsome kind of a yarnand get somebody to gofor thatgang and get them out of their scrapeso theycan behung when their time comes."
But thatidea was a failure; for pretty soon it begunto stormagainand this time worse than ever. Therainpoured downand never a light showed; every-body inbedI reckon. We boomed along down theriverwatching for lights and watching for our raft.After along time the rain let upbut the cloudsstayedand the lightning kept whimperingand by andby a flashshowed us a black thing aheadfloatingandwe madefor it.
It was theraftand mighty glad was we to getaboard ofit again. We seen a light now away downto therighton shore. So I said I would go for it.The skiffwas half full of plunder which that gang hadstolethere on the wreck. We hustled it on to the raftin a pileand I told Jim to float along downand showa lightwhen he judged he had gone about two mileand keepit burning till I come; then I manned myoars andshoved for the light. As I got down towardsit threeor four more showed -- up on a hillside. Itwas avillage. I closed in above the shore lightandlaid on myoars and floated. As I went by I see itwas alantern hanging on the jackstaff of a double-hullferryboat.I skimmed around for the watchmana-wonderingwhereabouts he slept; and by and by Ifound himroosting on the bitts forwardwith his headdownbetween his knees. I gave his shoulder two orthreelittle shovesand begun to cry.
He stirredup in a kind of a startlish way; but whenhe see itwas only me he took a good gap and stretchand thenhe says:
"Hellowhat's up? Don't crybub. What's thetrouble?"
"Papand mamand sisand --"
Then Ibroke down. He says:
"Ohdang it nowDON'T take on so; we all has tohave ourtroublesand this 'n 'll come out all right.What's thematter with 'em?"
"They're-- they're -- are you the watchman of theboat?"
"Yes"he sayskind of pretty-well-satisfied like."I'mthe captain and the owner and the mate and thepilot andwatchman and head deck-hand; and some-times I'mthe freight and passengers. I ain't as richas old JimHornbackand I can't be so blame' gener-ous andgood to TomDickand Harry as what he isand slamaround money the way he does; but I'vetold him amany a time 't I wouldn't trade places withhim; forsays Ia sailor's life's the life for meandI'm dernedif I'D live two mile out o' townwherethereain't nothing ever goin' onnot for all his spon-dulicksand as much more on top of it. Says I --"
I broke inand says:
"They'rein an awful peck of troubleand --"
"Whypap and mam and sis and Miss Hooker;and ifyou'd take your ferryboat and go up there --"
"Upwhere? Where are they?"
"Whythere ain't but one."
"Whatyou don't mean the Walter Scott?"
"Goodland! what are they doin' THEREfor gracioussakes?"
"Wellthey didn't go there a-purpose."
"Ibet they didn't! Whygreat goodnessthereain't nochance for 'em if they don't git off mightyquick!Whyhow in the nation did they ever git intosuch ascrape?"
"Easyenough. Miss Hooker was a-visiting upthere tothe town --"
"YesBooth's Landing -- go on."
"Shewas a-visiting there at Booth's Landingandjust inthe edge of the evening she started over withher niggerwoman in the horse-ferry to stay all nightat herfriend's houseMiss What-you-may-call-herQIdisrememberher name -- and they lost their steering-oarandswung around and went a-floating downsternfirstabout two mileand saddle-baggsed on thewreckandthe ferryman and the nigger woman andthe horseswas all lostbut Miss Hooker she made agrab andgot aboard the wreck. Wellabout an hourafter darkwe come along down in our trading-scowand it wasso dark we didn't notice the wreck till wewas righton it; and so WE saddle-baggsed; but all ofus wassaved but Bill Whipple -- and ohhe WAS thebestcretur ! -- I most wish 't it had been meI do."
"MyGeorge! It's the beatenest thing I everstruck.And THEN what did you all do?"
"Wellwe hollered and took onbut it's so widethere wecouldn't make nobody hear. So pap saidsomebodygot to get ashore and get help somehow. Iwas theonly one that could swimso I made a dashfor itand Miss Hooker she said if I didn't strike helpsoonercome here and hunt up her uncleand he'dfix thething. I made the land about a mile belowand beenfooling along ever sincetrying to get peopleto dosomethingbut they said'Whatin such a nightand such acurrent? There ain't no sense in it; gofor thesteam ferry.' Now if you'll go and --"
"ByJacksonI'd LIKE toandblame itI don'tknow but Iwill; but who in the dingnation's a-going'to PAY forit? Do you reckon your pap --"
"WhyTHAT'S all right. Miss Hooker she tole mePARTICULARthat her uncle Hornback --"
"Greatguns! is HE her uncle? Looky hereyoubreak forthat light over yonder-wayand turn outwest whenyou git thereand about a quarter of a mileout you'llcome to the tavern; tell 'em to dart youout to JimHornback'sand he'll foot the bill. Anddon't youfool around anybecause he'll want to knowthe news.Tell him I'll have his niece all safe beforehe can getto town. Hump yourselfnow; I'm a-going uparound the corner here to roust out myengineer."
I struckfor the lightbut as soon as he turned thecorner Iwent back and got into my skiff and bailed heroutandthen pulled up shore in the easy water aboutsixhundred yardsand tucked myself in among somewoodboats;for I couldn't rest easy till I could seetheferryboat start. But take it all aroundI was feel-ing ruthercomfortable on accounts of taking all thistroublefor that gangfor not many would a done it.I wishedthe widow knowed about it. I judged shewould beproud of me for helping these rapscallionsbecauserapscallions and dead beats is the kind thewidow andgood people takes the most interest in.
Wellbefore long here comes the wreckdim andduskysliding along down! A kind of cold shiverwentthrough meand then I struck out for her. Shewas verydeepand I see in a minute there warn't muchchance foranybody being alive in her. I pulled allaround herand hollered a littlebut there wasn't anyanswer;all dead still. I felt a little bit heavy-heartedabout thegangbut not muchfor I reckoned if theycouldstand it I could.
Then herecomes the ferryboat; so I shoved for themiddle ofthe river on a long down-stream slant; andwhen Ijudged I was out of eye-reach I laid on myoarsandlooked back and see her go and smell aroundthe wreckfor Miss Hooker's remaindersbecause thecaptainwould know her uncle Hornback would wantthem; andthen pretty soon the ferryboat give it upand wentfor the shoreand I laid into my work andwenta-booming down the river.
It didseem a powerful long time before Jim's lightshowed up;and when it did show it looked like it wasa thousandmile off. By the time I got there the skywasbeginning to get a little gray in the east; so westruck foran islandand hid the raftand sunk theskiffandturned in and slept like dead people.
BY and bywhen we got upwe turned over thetruck thegang had stole off of the wreckandfoundbootsand blanketsand clothesand all sorts ofotherthingsand a lot of booksand a spyglassandthreeboxes of seegars. We hadn't ever been this richbefore inneither of our lives. The seegars was prime.We laidoff all the afternoon in the woods talkingandme readingthe booksand having a general good time.I told Jimall about what happened inside the wreckand at theferryboatand I said these kinds of thingswasadventures; but he said he didn't want no moreadventures.He said that when I went in the texasand hecrawled back to get on the raft and found hergone henearly diedbecause he judged it was all upwith HIManyway it could be fixed; for if he didn't getsaved hewould get drownded; and if he did getsavedwhoever saved him would send him back homeso as toget the rewardand then Miss Watson wouldsell himSouthsure. Wellhe was right; he wasmostalways right; he had an uncommon level headfor anigger.
I readconsiderable to Jim about kings and dukesand earlsand suchand how gaudy they dressedandhow muchstyle they put onand called each otheryourmajestyand your graceand your lordshipandso on'stead of mister; and Jim's eyes bugged outand he wasinterested. He says:
"Ididn' know dey was so many un um. I hain'thearn'bout none un umskaselybut ole King Soller-munonless you counts dem kings dat's in a pack erk'yards.How much do a king git?"
"Get?"I says; "whythey get a thousand dollarsa month ifthey want it; they can have just as muchas theywant; everything belongs to them."
"AIN'dat gay? En what dey got to doHuck?"
"THEYdon't do nothing! Whyhow you talk!They justset around."
"No;is dat so?"
"Ofcourse it is. They just set around -- exceptmaybewhen there's a war; then they go to the war.But othertimes they just lazy around; or go hawking-- justhawking and sp -- Sh! -- d' you hear a noise?"
We skippedout and looked; but it warn't nothingbut theflutter of a steamboat's wheel away downcomingaround the point; so we come back.
"Yes"says I"and other timeswhen things isdulltheyfuss with the parlyment; and if everybodydon't gojust so he whacks their heads off. Butmostlythey hang round the harem."
"Theplace where he keeps his wives. Don't youknow aboutthe harem? Solomon had one; he hadabout amillion wives."
"Whyyesdat's so; I -- I'd done forgot it. Aharem's abo'd'n-houseI reck'n. Mos' likely deyhasrackety times in de nussery. En I reck'n de wivesquarrelsconsidable; en dat 'crease de racket. Yit deysaySollermun de wises' man dat ever live'. I doan'take nostock in dat. Bekase why: would a wise manwant tolive in de mids' er sich a blim-blammin' all detime? No-- 'deed he wouldn't. A wise man 'ud takeen buil' abiler-factry; en den he could shet DOWN debiler-factrywhen he want to res'."
"Wellbut he WAS the wisest mananyway; be-cause thewidow she told me soher own self."
"Idoan k'yer what de widder sayhe WARN'T nowise mannuther. He had some er de dad-fetchedes'ways Iever see. Does you know 'bout dat chile dathe 'uzgwyne to chop in two?"
"Yesthe widow told me all about it."
"WELLden! Warn' dat de beatenes' notion in deworl'? Youjes' take en look at it a minute. Dah'sde stumpdah -- dat's one er de women; heah's you-- dat'sde yuther one; I's Sollermun; en dish yerdollarbill's de chile. Bofe un you claims it. Whatdoes I do?Does I shin aroun' mongs' de neighborsen fineout which un you de bill DO b'long toen han'it over tode right oneall safe en soun'de way datanybodydat had any gumption would? No; I takeen whackde bill in TWOen give half un it to youende yutherhalf to de yuther woman. Dat's de waySollermunwas gwyne to do wid de chile. Now Iwant toast you: what's de use er dat half a bill? --can't buynoth'n wid it. En what use is a half achile? Iwouldn' give a dern for a million un um."
"Buthang itJimyou've clean missed the point --blame ityou've missed it a thousand mile."
"Who?Me? Go 'long. Doan' talk to me 'boutyo' pints.I reck'n I knows sense when I sees it; endey ain'no sense in sich doin's as dat. De 'sputewarn't'bout a half a chilede 'spute was 'bout awholechile; en de man dat think he kin settle a'spute'bout a whole chile wid a half a chile doan'knowenough to come in out'n de rain. Doan' talkto me'bout SollermunHuckI knows him by de back."
"ButI tell you you don't get the point."
"Blamede point! I reck'n I knows what I knows.En mineyoude REAL pint is down furder -- it's downdeeper. Itlays in de way Sollermun was raised.You take aman dat's got on'y one or two chillen; isdat mangwyne to be waseful o' chillen? Noheain't; hecan't 'ford it. HE know how to value 'em.But youtake a man dat's got 'bout five million chillenrunnin'roun' de houseen it's diffunt. HE as soonchop achile in two as a cat. Dey's plenty mo'. Achile ertwomo' er lesswarn't no consekens toSollermundad fatch him!"
I neversee such a nigger. If he got a notion in hishead oncethere warn't no getting it out again. Hewas themost down on Solomon of any nigger I eversee. So Iwent to talking about other kingsand letSolomonslide. I told about Louis Sixteenth that gothis headcut off in France long time ago; and abouthis littleboy the dolphinthat would a been a kingbut theytook and shut him up in jailand some say hediedthere.
"Butsome says he got out and got awayand cometoAmerica."
"Dat'sgood! But he'll be pooty lonesome -- deyain' nokings hereis deyHuck?"
"Denhe cain't git no situation. What he gwyneto do?"
"WellI don't know. Some of them gets on thepoliceand some of them learns people how to talkFrench."
"WhyHuckdoan' de French people talk de sameway wedoes?"
"NOJim; you couldn't understand a word theysaid --not a single word."
"WellnowI be ding-busted! How do datcome?"
"Idon't know; but it's so. I got some of theirjabber outof a book. S'pose a man was to come toyou andsay Polly-voo-franzy -- what would youthink?"
"Iwouldn' think nuff'n; I'd take en bust him overde head --dat isif he warn't white. I wouldn't 'lowno niggerto call me dat."
"Shucksit ain't calling you anything. It's onlysayingdoyou know how to talk French?"
"Welldenwhy couldn't he SAY it?"
"Whyhe IS a-saying it. That's a Frenchman'sWAY ofsaying it."
"Wellit's a blame ridicklous wayen I doan' wantto hear nomo' 'bout it. Dey ain' no sense in it."
"LookyhereJim; does a cat talk like we do?"
"Noa cat don't."
"Welldoes a cow?"
"Noa cow don'tnuther."
"Doesa cat talk like a cowor a cow talk like acat?"
"It'snatural and right for 'em to talk different fromeachotherain't it?"
"Andain't it natural and right for a cat and a cowto talkdifferent from US?"
"Whymos' sholy it is."
"Wellthenwhy ain't it natural and right for aFRENCHMANto talk different from us? You answer methat."
"Is acat a manHuck?"
"Welldendey ain't no sense in a cat talkin' like aman. Is acow a man? -- er is a cow a cat?"
"Noshe ain't either of them."
"Welldenshe ain't got no business to talk likeeither oneer the yuther of 'em. Is a Frenchman aman?"
"WELLden! Dad blame itwhy doan' he TALK likea man? Youanswer me DAT!"
I see itwarn't no use wasting words -- you can'tlearn anigger to argue. So I quit.
WE judgedthat three nights more would fetch us toCairoatthe bottom of Illinoiswhere the OhioRivercomes inand that was what we was after. Wewould sellthe raft and get on a steamboat and go wayup theOhio amongst the free Statesand then be outoftrouble.
Wellthesecond night a fog begun to come onandwe madefor a towhead to tie tofor it wouldn't do totry to runin a fog; but when I paddled ahead in thecanoewith the line to make fastthere warn't any-thing butlittle saplings to tie to. I passed the linearound oneof them right on the edge of the cut bankbut therewas a stiff currentand the raft come boom-ing downso lively she tore it out by the roots andaway shewent. I see the fog closing downand itmade me sosick and scared I couldn't budge for mosta half aminute it seemed to me -- and then there warn'tno raft insight; you couldn't see twenty yards. Ijumpedinto the canoe and run back to the sternandgrabbedthe paddle and set her back a stroke. Butshe didn'tcome. I was in such a hurry I hadn'tuntiedher. I got up and tried to untie herbut I wasso excitedmy hands shook so I couldn't hardly doanythingwith them.
As soon asI got started I took out after the rafthot andheavyright down the towhead. That wasall rightas far as it wentbut the towhead warn'tsixtyyards longand the minute I flew by the foot ofit I shotout into the solid white fogand hadn't nomore ideawhich way I was going than a dead man.
Thinks Iit won't do to paddle; first I know I'llrun intothe bank or a towhead or something; I gotto setstill and floatand yet it's mighty fidgety busi-ness tohave to hold your hands still at such a time. Iwhoopedand listened. Away down there somewheresI hears asmall whoopand up comes my spirits. Iwenttearing after itlistening sharp to hear it again.The nexttime it come I see I warn't heading for itbutheading away to the right of it. And the nexttime I washeading away to the left of it -- and notgaining onit much eitherfor I was flying aroundthisway andthat and t'otherbut it was going straightahead allthe time.
I did wishthe fool would think to beat a tin panand beatit all the timebut he never didand it wasthe stillplaces between the whoops that was makingthetrouble for me. WellI fought alongand directlyI hearsthe whoop BEHIND me. I was tangled goodnow. Thatwas somebody else's whoopor else I wasturnedaround.
I throwedthe paddle down. I heard the whoopagain; itwas behind me yetbut in a different place;it keptcomingand kept changing its placeand I keptansweringtill by and by it was in front of me againand Iknowed the current had swung the canoe's headdown-streamand I was all right if that was Jim andnot someother raftsman hollering. I couldn't tellnothingabout voices in a fogfor nothing don't looknaturalnor sound natural in a fog.
Thewhooping went onand in about a minute Icomea-booming down on a cut bank with smokyghosts ofbig trees on itand the current throwed meoff to theleft and shot byamongst a lot of snags thatfairlyroaredthe currrent was tearing by them so swift.
In anothersecond or two it was solid white and stillagain. Iset perfectly still thenlistening to my heartthumpandI reckon I didn't draw a breath while itthumped ahundred.
I justgive up then. I knowed what the matter was.That cutbank was an islandand Jim had gone downt'otherside of it. It warn't no towhead that youcouldfloat by in ten minutes. It had the big timberof aregular island; it might be five or six miles longand morethan half a mile wide.
I keptquietwith my ears cockedabout fifteenminutesIreckon. I was floating alongof coursefour orfive miles an hour; but you don't ever thinkof that.Noyou FEEL like you are laying dead still onthe water;and if a little glimpse of a snag slips byyou don'tthink to yourself how fast YOU'RE goingbutyou catchyour breath and thinkmy! how that snag'stearingalong. If you think it ain't dismal and lone-some outin a fog that way by yourself in the nightyou try itonce -- you'll see.
Nextforabout a half an hourI whoops now andthen; atlast I hears the answer a long ways offandtries tofollow itbut I couldn't do itand directly Ijudged I'dgot into a nest of towheadsfor I had littledimglimpses of them on both sides of me -- sometimesjust anarrow channel betweenand some that Icouldn'tsee I knowed was there because I'd hear thewash ofthe current against the old dead brush andtrash thathung over the banks. WellI warn't longloosingthe whoops down amongst the towheads; andI onlytried to chase them a little whileanywaybe-cause itwas worse than chasing a Jack-o'-lantern.You neverknowed a sound dodge around soandswapplaces so quick and so much.
I had toclaw away from the bank pretty lively fouror fivetimesto keep from knocking the islands out ofthe river;and so I judged the raft must be buttinginto thebank every now and thenor else it would getfurtherahead and clear out of hearing -- it was floatinga littlefaster than what I was.
WellIseemed to be in the open river again by andbybut Icouldn't hear no sign of a whoop nowheres.I reckonedJim had fetched up on a snagmaybeandit was allup with him. I was good and tiredso I laiddown inthe canoe and said I wouldn't bother nomore. Ididn't want to go to sleepof course; but Iwas sosleepy I couldn't help it; so I thought I wouldtake jestone little cat-nap.
But Ireckon it was more than a cat-napfor when Iwaked upthe stars was shining brightthe fog was allgoneandI was spinning down a big bend stern first.First Ididn't know where I was; I thought I wasdreaming;and when things began to come back to metheyseemed to come up dim out of last week.
It was amonstrous big river herewith the tallestand thethickest kind of timber on both banks; just asolidwallas well as I could see by the stars. I lookedawaydown-streamand seen a black speck on thewater. Itook after it; but when I got to it it warn'tnothingbut a couple of sawlogs made fast together.Then I seeanother speckand chased that; thenanotherand this time I was right. It was the raft.
When I gotto it Jim was setting there with his headdownbetween his kneesasleepwith his right armhangingover the steering-oar. The other oar wassmashedoffand the raft was littered up with leavesandbranches and dirt. So she'd had a rough time.
I madefast and laid down under Jim's nose on theraftandbegan to gapand stretch my fists out againstJimandsays:
"HelloJimhave I been asleep? Why didn't youstir meup?"
"Goodnessgraciousis dat youHuck? En youain' dead-- you ain' drownded -- you's back agin?It's toogood for truehoneyit's too good for true.Lemme lookat you chilelemme feel o' you. Noyou ain'dead! you's back agin'live en soun'jis desame oleHuck -- de same ole Huckthanks to good-ness!"
"What'sthe matter with youJim? You been a-drinking?"
"Drinkin'?Has I ben a-drinkin'? Has I had achance tobe a-drinkin'?"
"Wellthenwhat makes you talk so wild?"
"Howdoes I talk wild?"
"HOW?Whyhain't you been talking about mycomingbackand all that stuffas if I'd been goneaway?"
"Huck-- Huck Finnyou look me in de eye; lookme in deeye. HAIN'T you ben gone away?"
"Goneaway? Whywhat in the nation do youmean? Ihain't been gone anywheres. Where wouldI go to?"
"Welllooky herebossdey's sumf'n wrongdeyis. Is IMEor who IS I? Is I heahor whah IS I?Now dat'swhat I wants to know."
"WellI think you're hereplain enoughbut Ithinkyou're a tangle-headed old foolJim."
"Iisis I? Wellyou answer me dis: Didn't youtote outde line in de canoe fer to make fas' to de tow-head?"
"NoI didn't. What tow-head? I hain't see notow-head."
"Youhain't seen no towhead? Looky heredidn'tde linepull loose en de raf' go a-hummin' down deriverenleave you en de canoe behine in de fog?"
"Whyde fog! -- de fog dat's been aroun' all night.En didn'tyou whoopen didn't I whooptell we gotmix' up inde islands en one un us got los' en t'otherone wasjis' as good as los''kase he didn' know whahhe wuz? Endidn't I bust up agin a lot er dem islandsen have aturrible time en mos' git drownded? Nowain' datsoboss -- ain't it so? You answer me dat."
"Wellthis is too many for meJim. I hain't seenno fognor no islandsnor no troublesnor nothing.I beensetting here talking with you all night till youwent tosleep about ten minutes agoand I reckon Idone thesame. You couldn't a got drunk in thattimesoof course you've been dreaming."
"Dadfetch ithow is I gwyne to dream all dat intenminutes?"
"Wellhang it allyou did dream itbecause theredidn't anyof it happen."
"ButHuckit's all jis' as plain to me as --"
"Itdon't make no difference how plain it is; thereain'tnothing in it. I knowbecause I've been hereall thetime."
Jim didn'tsay nothing for about five minutesbutset therestudying over it. Then he says:
"WelldenI reck'n I did dream itHuck; butdog mycats ef it ain't de powerfullest dream I eversee. En Ihain't ever had no dream b'fo' dat's tiredme likedis one."
"Ohwellthat's all rightbecause a dream doestire abody like everything sometimes. But this onewas astaving dream; tell me all about itJim."
So Jimwent to work and told me the whole thingrightthroughjust as it happenedonly he painted itupconsiderable. Then he said he must start in and"'terpret"itbecause it was sent for a warning. Hesaid thefirst towhead stood for a man that would tryto do ussome goodbut the current was another manthat wouldget us away from him. The whoops waswarningsthat would come to us every now and thenand if wedidn't try hard to make out to understandthemthey'd just take us into bad luck'stead of keep-ing us outof it. The lot of towheads was troubleswe wasgoing to get into with quarrelsome people andall kindsof mean folksbut if we minded our businessand didn'ttalk back and aggravate themwe wouldpullthrough and get out of the fog and into the bigclearriverwhich was the free Statesand wouldn'thave nomore trouble.
It hadclouded up pretty dark just after I got on tothe raftbut it was clearing up again now.
"Ohwellthat's all interpreted well enough as faras itgoesJim" I says; "but what does THESE thingsstandfor?"
It was theleaves and rubbish on the raft and thesmashedoar. You could see them first-rate now.
Jim lookedat the trashand then looked at meandback atthe trash again. He had got the dream fixedso strongin his head that he couldn't seem to shake itloose andget the facts back into its place again rightaway. Butwhen he did get the thing straightenedaround helooked at me steady without ever smilingand says:
"Whatdo dey stan' for? I'se gwyne to tell you.When I gotall wore out wid worken wid de callin'for youen went to sleepmy heart wuz mos' brokebekase youwuz los'en I didn' k'yer no' mo' whatbecome erme en de raf'. En when I wake up en fineyou backaginall safe en soun'de tears comeen Icould agot down on my knees en kiss yo' footI's sothankful.En all you wuz thinkin' 'bout wuz how youcould makea fool uv ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truck dahis TRASH;en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on dehead erdey fren's en makes 'em ashamed."
Then hegot up slow and walked to the wigwamand wentin there without saying anything but that.But thatwas enough. It made me feel so mean Icouldalmost kissed HIS foot to get him to take it back.
It wasfifteen minutes before I could work myself upto go andhumble myself to a nigger; but I done itand Iwarn't ever sorry for it afterwardsneither. Ididn't dohim no more mean tricksand I wouldn'tdone thatone if I'd a knowed it would make him feelthat way.
WE sleptmost all dayand started out at nightalittleways behind a monstrous long raft thatwas aslong going by as a procession. She had fourlongsweeps at each endso we judged she carried asmany asthirty menlikely. She had five big wigwamsaboardwide apartand an open camp fire in the mid-dleand atall flag-pole at each end. There was apower ofstyle about her. It AMOUNTED to somethingbeing araftsman on such a craft as that.
We wentdrifting down into a big bendand thenightclouded up and got hot. The river was verywideandwas walled with solid timber on both sides;youcouldn't see a break in it hardly everor a light.We talkedabout Cairoand wondered whether wewould knowit when we got to it. I said likely wewouldn'tbecause I had heard say there warn't butabout adozen houses thereand if they didn't happento havethem lit uphow was we going to know wewaspassing a town? Jim said if the two big riversjoinedtogether therethat would show. But I saidmaybe wemight think we was passing the foot of anisland andcoming into the same old river again. ThatdisturbedJim -- and me too. So the question waswhat todo? I saidpaddle ashore the first time alightshowedand tell them pap was behindcomingalong witha trading-scowand was a green hand atthebusinessand wanted to know how far it was toCairo. Jimthought it was a good ideaso we took asmoke onit and waited.
Therewarn't nothing to do now but to look outsharp forthe townand not pass it without seeing it.He saidhe'd be mighty sure to see itbecause he'd bea free manthe minute he seen itbut if he missed ithe'd be ina slave country again and no more show forfreedom.Every little while he jumps up and says:
But itwarn't. It was Jack-o'-lanternsor lightningbugs; sohe set down againand went to watchingsame asbefore. Jim said it made him all over tremblyandfeverish to be so close to freedom. WellI cantell youit made me all over trembly and feverishtooto hearhimbecause I begun to get it through myhead thathe WAS most free -- and who was to blamefor it?WhyME. I couldn't get that out of my con-scienceno how nor no way. It got to troubling meso Icouldn't rest; I couldn't stay still in one place.It hadn'tever come home to me beforewhat thisthing wasthat I was doing. But now it did; and itstayedwith meand scorched me more and more. Itried tomake out to myself that I warn't to blamebecause Ididn't run Jim off from his rightful owner;but itwarn't no useconscience up and sayseverytime"Butyou knowed he was running for his free-domandyou could a paddled ashore and told some-body."That was so -- I couldn't get around thatnoway.That was where it pinched. Conscience saysto me"What had poor Miss Watson done to youthat youcould see her nigger go off right under youreyes andnever say one single word? What did thatpoor oldwoman do to you that you could treat her somean? Whyshe tried to learn you your bookshe triedto learnyou your mannersshe tried to be good to youevery wayshe knowed how. THAT'S what she done."
I got tofeeling so mean and so miserable I most wishedI wasdead. I fidgeted up and down the raftabusingmyself tomyselfand Jim was fidgeting up and downpast me.We neither of us could keep still. Everytime hedanced around and says"Dah's Cairo!" itwentthrough me like a shotand I thought if it WASCairo Ireckoned I would die of miserableness.
Jim talkedout loud all the time while I was talkingto myself.He was saying how the first thing hewould dowhen he got to a free State he would go tosaving upmoney and never spend a single centandwhen hegot enough he would buy his wifewhich wasowned on afarm close to where Miss Watson lived;and thenthey would both work to buy the two chil-drenandif their master wouldn't sell themthey'dget anAb'litionist to go and steal them.
It mostfroze me to hear such talk. He wouldn'tever daredto talk such talk in his life before. Justsee what adifference it made in him the minute hejudged hewas about free. It was according to the oldsaying"Give a nigger an inch and he'll take an ell."Thinks Ithis is what comes of my not thinking.Here wasthis niggerwhich I had as good as helpedto runawaycoming right out flat-footed and sayinghe wouldsteal his children -- children that belonged toa man Ididn't even know; a man that hadn't everdone me noharm.
I wassorry to hear Jim say thatit was such aloweringof him. My conscience got to stirring me uphotterthan everuntil at last I says to it"Let up onme -- itain't too late yet -- I'll paddle ashore at thefirstlight and tell." I felt easy and happy and lightas afeather right off. All my troubles was gone. Iwent tolooking out sharp for a lightand sort of sing-ing tomyself. By and by one showed. Jim singsout:
"We'ssafeHuckwe's safe! Jump up and crackyo' heels!Dat's de good ole Cairo at las'I jis knowsit!"
"I'lltake the canoe and go and seeJim. Itmightn'tbeyou know."
He jumpedand got the canoe readyand put his oldcoat inthe bottom for me to set onand give me thepaddle;and as I shoved offhe says:
"Pootysoon I'll be a-shout'n' for joyen I'll sayit's allon accounts o' Huck; I's a free manen Icouldn'tever ben free ef it hadn' ben for Huck; Huckdone it.Jim won't ever forgit youHuck; you's debes' fren'Jim's ever had; en you's de ONLY fren' oleJim's gotnow."
I waspaddling offall in a sweat to tell on him; butwhen hesays thisit seemed to kind of take the tuckall out ofme. I went along slow thenand I warn'tright downcertain whether I was glad I started orwhether Iwarn't. When I was fifty yards offJimsays:
"Dahyou goesde ole true Huck; de on'y whitegenlmandat ever kep' his promise to ole Jim."
WellIjust felt sick. But I saysI GOT to do it -- Ican't getOUT of it. Right then along comes a skiffwith twomen in it with gunsand they stopped and Istopped.One of them says:
"Apiece of a raft" I says.
"Doyou belong on it?"
"Anymen on it?"
"Wellthere's five niggers run off to-night up yon-derabovethe head of the bend. Is your man whiteor black?"
I didn'tanswer up prompt. I tried tobut thewordswouldn't come. I tried for a second or two tobrace upand out with itbut I warn't man enough --hadn't thespunk of a rabbit. I see I was weakening;so I justgive up tryingand up and says:
"Ireckon we'll go and see for ourselves."
"Iwish you would" says I"because it's papthat'sthereand maybe you'd help me tow the raftashorewhere the light is. He's sick -- and so is mamand MaryAnn."
"Ohthe devil! we're in a hurryboy. But Is'posewe've got to. Comebuckle to your paddleand let'sget along."
I buckledto my paddle and they laid to their oars.When wehad made a stroke or twoI says:
"Pap'llbe mighty much obleeged to youI cantell you.Everybody goes away when I want them tohelp metow the raft ashoreand I can't do it bymyself."
"Wellthat's infernal mean. Oddtoo. Sayboywhat's thematter with your father?"
"It'sthe -- a -- the -- wellit ain't anything much."
Theystopped pulling. It warn't but a mighty littleways tothe raft now. One says:
"Boythat's a lie. What IS the matter with yourpap?Answer up square nowand it'll be the betterfor you."
"IwillsirI willhonest -- but don't leave usplease.It's the -- the -- Gentlemenif you'll onlypullaheadand let me heave you the headlineyouwon't haveto come a-near the raft -- please do."
"Sether backJohnset her back!" says one.Theybacked water. "Keep awayboy -- keep tolooard.Confound itI just expect the wind hasblowed itto us. Your pap's got the small-poxandyou knowit precious well. Why didn't you come outand sayso? Do you want to spread it all over?"
"Well"says Ia-blubbering"I've told every-bodybeforeand they just went away and left us."
"Poordevilthere's something in that. We areright downsorry for youbut we -- wellhang itwedon't wantthe small-poxyou see. Look hereI'lltell youwhat to do. Don't you try to land by your-selforyou'll smash everything to pieces. You floatalong downabout twenty milesand you'll come to atown onthe left-hand side of the river. It will belong aftersun-up thenand when you ask for helpyou tellthem your folks are all down with chills andfever.Don't be a fool againand let people guesswhat isthe matter. Now we're trying to do you akindness;so you just put twenty miles between usthat's agood boy. It wouldn't do any good to landyonderwhere the light is -- it's only a wood-yard.SayIreckon your father's poorand I'm bound tosay he'sin pretty hard luck. HereI'll put a twenty-dollargold piece on this boardand you get it when itfloats by.I feel mighty mean to leave you; but mykingdom!it won't do to fool with small-poxdon'tyou see?"
"HoldonParker" says the other man"here's atwenty toput on the board for me. Good-byeboy;you do asMr. Parker told youand you'll be allright."
"That'ssomy boy -- good-byegood-bye. If yousee anyrunaway niggers you get help and nab themand youcan make some money by it."
"Good-byesir" says I; "I won't let no runawayniggersget by me if I can help it."
They wentoff and I got aboard the raftfeeling badand lowbecause I knowed very well I had donewrongandI see it warn't no use for me to try tolearn todo right; a body that don't get STARTED rightwhen he'slittle ain't got no show -- when the pinchcomesthere ain't nothing to back him up and keephim to hisworkand so he gets beat. Then I thoughta minuteand says to myselfhold on; s'pose you'd adone rightand give Jim upwould you felt better thanwhat youdo now? Nosays II'd feel bad -- I'd feeljust thesame way I do now. Wellthensays Iwhat's theuse you learning to do right when it'stroublesometo do right and ain't no trouble to dowrongandthe wages is just the same? I was stuck.I couldn'tanswer that. So I reckoned I wouldn'tbother nomore about itbut after this always dowhichevercome handiest at the time.
I wentinto the wigwam; Jim warn't there. I lookedallaround; he warn't anywhere. I says:
"HereI isHuck. Is dey out o' sight yit? Don'ttalkloud."
He was inthe river under the stern oarwith justhis noseout. I told him they were out of sightso hecomeaboard. He says:
"Iwas a-listenin' to all de talken I slips into deriver enwas gwyne to shove for sho' if dey comeaboard.Den I was gwyne to swim to de raf' aginwhen deywas gone. But lawsyhow you did fool'emHuck!Dat WUZ de smartes' dodge! I tell youchileI'spec it save' ole Jim -- ole Jim ain't going toforgit youfor dathoney."
Then wetalked about the money. It was a prettygood raise-- twenty dollars apiece. Jim said we couldtake deckpassage on a steamboat nowand the moneywould lastus as far as we wanted to go in the freeStates. Hesaid twenty mile more warn't far for theraft togobut he wished we was already there.
Towardsdaybreak we tied upand Jim was mightyparticularabout hiding the raft good. Then he workedall dayfixing things in bundlesand getting all readyto quitrafting.
That nightabout ten we hove in sight of the lightsof a townaway down in a left-hand bend.
I went offin the canoe to ask about it. Pretty soon Ifound aman out in the river with a skiffsetting a trot-line. Iranged up and says:
"Misteris that town Cairo?"
"Cairo?no. You must be a blame' fool."
"Whattown is itmister?"
"Ifyou want to knowgo and find out. If youstay herebotherin' around me for about a half a minutelongeryou'll get something you won't want."
I paddledto the raft. Jim was awful disappointedbut I saidnever mindCairo would be the next placeIreckoned.
We passedanother town before daylightand I wasgoing outagain; but it was high groundso I didn'tgo. Nohigh ground about CairoJim said. I hadforgot it.We laid up for the day on a towheadtolerableclose to the left-hand bank. I begun tosuspicionsomething. So did Jim. I says:
"Maybewe went by Cairo in the fog that night."
"Doan'le's talk about itHuck. Po' niggers can'thave noluck. I awluz 'spected dat rattlesnake-skinwarn'tdone wid its work."
"Iwish I'd never seen that snake-skinJim -- I dowish I'dnever laid eyes on it."
"Itain't yo' faultHuck; you didn' know. Don'tyou blameyo'self 'bout it."
When itwas daylighthere was the clear Ohio waterinshoresure enoughand outside was the old regularMuddy! Soit was all up with Cairo.
We talkedit all over. It wouldn't do to take to theshore; wecouldn't take the raft up the streamofcourse.There warn't no way but to wait for darkand startback in the canoe and take the chances. Sowe sleptall day amongst the cottonwood thicketsoas to befresh for the workand when we went back tothe raftabout dark the canoe was gone!
We didn'tsay a word for a good while. Therewarn'tanything to say. We both knowed well enoughit wassome more work of the rattlesnake-skin; sowhat wasthe use to talk about it? It would only looklike wewas finding faultand that would be bound tofetch morebad luck -- and keep on fetching ittootillwe knowedenough to keep still.
By and bywe talked about what we better doandfoundthere warn't no way but just to go along downwith theraft till we got a chance to buy a canoe to goback in.We warn't going to borrow it when therewarn'tanybody aroundthe way pap would doforthat mightset people after us.
So weshoved out after dark on the raft.
Anybodythat don't believe yet that it's foolishness tohandle asnake-skinafter all that that snake-skin donefor uswill believe it now if they read on and see whatmore itdone for us.
The placeto buy canoes is off of rafts laying up atshore. Butwe didn't see no rafts laying up; so wewent alongduring three hours and more. Wellthenight gotgray and ruther thickwhich is the nextmeanestthing to fog. You can't tell the shape of theriverandyou can't see no distance. It got to bevery lateand stilland then along comes a steamboatup theriver. We lit the lanternand judged she wouldsee it.Up-stream boats didn't generly come close tous; theygo out and follow the bars and hunt for easywaterunder the reefs; but nights like this they bullright upthe channel against the whole river.
We couldhear her pounding alongbut we didn'tsee hergood till she was close. She aimed right forus. Oftenthey do that and try to see how close theycan comewithout touching; sometimes the wheel bitesoff asweepand then the pilot sticks his head out andlaughsand thinks he's mighty smart. Wellhere shecomesandwe said she was going to try and shave us;but shedidn't seem to be sheering off a bit. She wasa big oneand she was coming in a hurrytoolookinglike ablack cloud with rows of glow-worms around it;but all ofa sudden she bulged outbig and scarywitha long rowof wide-open furnace doors shining likered-hotteethand her monstrous bows and guardshangingright over us. There was a yell at usand ajinglingof bells to stop the enginesa powwow ofcussingand whistling of steam -- and as Jim wentoverboardon one side and I on the othershe comesmashingstraight through the raft.
I dived --and I aimed to find the bottomtoofor athirty-footwheel had got to go over meand I wantedit to haveplenty of room. I could always stay underwater aminute; this time I reckon I stayed under aminute anda half. Then I bounced for the top in ahurryforI was nearly busting. I popped out to myarmpitsand blowed the water out of my noseandpuffed abit. Of course there was a booming current;and ofcourse that boat started her engines again tensecondsafter she stopped themfor they never caredmuch forraftsmen; so now she was churning along upthe riverout of sight in the thick weatherthough Icould hearher.
I sung outfor Jim about a dozen timesbut I didn'tget anyanswer; so I grabbed a plank that touched mewhile Iwas "treading water" and struck out forshoreshoving it ahead of me. But I made out tosee thatthe drift of the current was towards the left-handshorewhich meant that I was in a crossing; soI changedoff and went that way.
It was oneof these longslantingtwo-mile cross-ings; so Iwas a good long time in getting over. Imade asafe landingand clumb up the bank. I couldn'tsee but alittle waysbut I went poking along overroughground for a quarter of a mile or moreandthen I runacross a big old-fashioned double log-housebefore Inoticed it. I was going to rush by and getawaybuta lot of dogs jumped out and went to howl-ing andbarking at meand I knowed better than tomoveanother peg.
IN about aminute somebody spoke out of a windowwithoutputting his head outand says:
"Bedoneboys! Who's there?"
"Whatdo you want?"
"Idon't want nothingsir. I only want to goalong bybut the dogs won't let me."
"Whatare you prowling around here this time ofnight for-- hey?"
"Iwarn't prowling aroundsirI fell overboard offof thesteamboat."
"Ohyou diddid you? Strike a light theresome-body. Whatdid you say your name was?"
"GeorgeJacksonsir. I'm only a boy."
"Lookhereif you're telling the truth you needn'tbe afraid-- nobody'll hurt you. But don't try tobudge;stand right where you are. Rouse out Boband Tomsome of youand fetch the guns. GeorgeJacksonis there anybody with you?"
I heardthe people stirring around in the house nowand see alight. The man sung out:
"Snatchthat light awayBetsyyou old fool -- ain'tyou gotany sense? Put it on the floor behind thefrontdoor. Bobif you and Tom are readytakeyourplaces."
"NowGeorge Jacksondo you know the Shepherd-sons?"
"Nosir; I never heard of them."
"Wellthat may be soand it mayn't. Nowallready.Step forwardGeorge Jackson. And minddon't youhurry -- come mighty slow. If there's any-body withyoulet him keep back -- if he shows him-self he'llbe shot. Come along now. Come slow;push thedoor open yourself -- just enough to squeezeind' youhear?"
I didn'thurry; I couldn't if I'd a wanted to. Itook oneslow step at a time and there warn't a soundonly Ithought I could hear my heart. The dogs wereas stillas the humansbut they followed a little behindme. When Igot to the three log doorsteps I heardthemunlocking and unbarring and unbolting. I putmy hand onthe door and pushed it a little and a littlemore tillsomebody said"Therethat's enough -- putyour headin." I done itbut I judged they wouldtake itoff.
The candlewas on the floorand there they all waslooking atmeand me at themfor about a quarter ofa minute:Three big men with guns pointed at mewhich mademe winceI tell you; the oldestgray andaboutsixtythe other two thirty or more -- all of themfine andhandsome -- and the sweetest old gray-headedladyandback of her two young women which Icouldn'tsee right well. The old gentleman says:
"There;I reckon it's all right. Come in."
As soon asI was in the old gentleman he locked thedoor andbarred it and bolted itand told the youngmen tocome in with their gunsand they all went in abig parlorthat had a new rag carpet on the floorandgottogether in a corner that was out of the range ofthe frontwindows -- there warn't none on the side.They heldthe candleand took a good look at meand allsaid"WhyHE ain't a Shepherdson -- nothereain't any Shepherdson about him." Then theold mansaid he hoped I wouldn't mind being searchedfor armsbecause he didn't mean no harm by it -- itwas onlyto make sure. So he didn't pry into mypocketsbut only felt outside with his handsand saidit was allright. He told me to make myself easy andat homeand tell all about myself; but the old ladysays:
"Whybless youSaulthe poor thing's as wet ashe can be;and don't you reckon it may be he'shungry?"
"Truefor youRachel -- I forgot."
So the oldlady says:
"Betsy"(this was a nigger woman)you fly aroundand gethim something to eat as quick as you canpoorthing; andone of you girls go and wake up Buck andtell him-- ohhere he is himself. Bucktake thislittlestranger and get the wet clothes off from him anddress himup in some of yours that's dry."
Bucklooked about as old as me -- thirteen or four-teen oralong therethough he was a little bigger thanme. Hehadn't on anything but a shirtand he wasveryfrowzy-headed. He came in gaping and diggingone fistinto his eyesand he was dragging a gun alongwith theother one. He says:
"Ain'tthey no Shepherdsons around?"
They saidno'twas a false alarm.
"Well"he says"if they'd a ben someI reckonI'd a gotone."
They alllaughedand Bob says:
"WhyBuckthey might have scalped us allyou'vebeen soslow in coming."
"Wellnobody come after meand it ain't rightI'm alwayskept down; I don't get no show."
"NevermindBuckmy boy" says the old man"you'llhave show enoughall in good timedon'tyou fretabout that. Go 'long with you nowand doas yourmother told you."
When wegot up-stairs to his room he got me acoarseshirt and a roundabout and pants of hisand Iput themon. While I was at it he asked me what myname wasbut before I could tell him he started to tellme about abluejay and a young rabbit he had catchedin thewoods day before yesterdayand he asked mewhereMoses was when the candle went out. I said Ididn'tknow; I hadn't heard about it beforeno way.
"Wellguess" he says.
"How'mI going to guess" says I"when I neverheard tellof it before?"
"Butyou can guesscan't you? It's just as easy."
"WHICHcandle?" I says.
"Whyany candle" he says.
"Idon't know where he was" says I; "wherewas he?"
"Whyhe was in the DARK! That's where he was!"
"Wellif you knowed where he waswhat did youask mefor?"
"Whyblame itit's a riddledon't you see? Sayhow longare you going to stay here? You got tostayalways. We can just have booming times -- theydon't haveno school now. Do you own a dog?I've got adog -- and he'll go in the river and bringout chipsthat you throw in. Do you like to comb upSundaysand all that kind of foolishness? You bet Idon'tbutma she makes me. Confound these olebritches!I reckon I'd better put 'em onbut I'druthernotit's so warm. Are you all ready? Allright.Come alongold hoss."
Coldcorn-ponecold corn-beefbutter and butter-milk --that is what they had for me down thereandthereain't nothing better that ever I've come acrossyet. Buckand his ma and all of them smoked cobpipesexcept the nigger womanwhich was goneandthe twoyoung women. They all smoked and talkedand I eatand talked. The young women had quiltsaroundthemand their hair down their backs. Theyall askedme questionsand I told them how pap andme and allthe family was living on a little farm downat thebottom of Arkansawand my sister Mary Annrun offand got married and never was heard of nomoreandBill went to hunt them and he warn't heardof nomoreand Tom and Mort diedand then therewarn'tnobody but just me and pap leftand he wasjusttrimmed down to nothingon account of histroubles;so when he died I took what there was leftbecausethe farm didn't belong to usand started upthe riverdeck passageand fell overboard; and thatwas how Icome to be here. So they said I couldhave ahome there as long as I wanted it. Then itwas mostdaylight and everybody went to bedand Iwent tobed with Buckand when I waked up in themorningdrat it allI had forgot what my name was.So I laidthere about an hour trying to thinkandwhen Buckwaked up I says:
"Ibet you can't spell my name" says I.
"Ibet you what you dare I can" says he.
"Allright" says I"go ahead."
"G-e-o-r-g-eJ-a-x-o-n -- there now" he says.
"Well"says I"you done itbut I didn't thinkyou could.It ain't no slouch of a name to spell --right offwithout studying."
I set itdownprivatebecause somebody might wantME tospell it nextand so I wanted to be handy withit andrattle it off like I was used to it.
It was amighty nice familyand a mighty nicehousetoo. I hadn't seen no house out in the countrybeforethat was so nice and had so much style. Itdidn'thave an iron latch on the front doornor awooden onewith a buckskin stringbut a brass knobto turnthe same as houses in town. There warn't nobed in theparlornor a sign of a bed; but heaps ofparlors intowns has beds in them. There was a bigfireplacethat was bricked on the bottomand thebricks waskept clean and red by pouring water onthem andscrubbing them with another brick; some-times theywash them over with red water-paint thatthey callSpanish-brownsame as they do in town.They hadbig brass dog-irons that could hold up a saw-log. Therewas a clock on the middle of the mantel-piecewith a picture of a town painted on the bottomhalf ofthe glass frontand a round place in the middleof it forthe sunand you could see the pendulumswingingbehind it. It was beautiful to hear that clocktick; andsometimes when one of these peddlers hadbeen alongand scoured her up and got her in goodshapeshewould start in and strike a hundred andfiftybefore she got tuckered out. They wouldn't tookany moneyfor her.
Wellthere was a big outlandish parrot on each sideof theclockmade out of something like chalkandpainted upgaudy. By one of the parrots was a catmade ofcrockeryand a crockery dog by the other;and whenyou pressed down on them they squeakedbut didn'topen their mouths nor look different norinterested.They squeaked through underneath. Therewas acouple of big wild-turkey-wing fans spread outbehindthose things. On the table in the middle ofthe roomwas a kind of a lovely crockery basket thatbad applesand oranges and peaches and grapes piledup in itwhich was much redder and yellower andprettierthan real ones isbut they warn't real becauseyou couldsee where pieces had got chipped off andshowed thewhite chalkor whatever it wasunder-neath.
This tablehad a cover made out of beautiful oilclothwith a redand blue spread-eagle painted on itand apaintedborder all around. It come all the way fromPhiladelphiathey said. There was some bookstoopiled upperfectly exacton each corner of the table.One was abig family Bible full of pictures. One wasPilgrim'sProgressabout a man that left his familyitdidn't saywhy. I read considerable in it now andthen. Thestatements was interestingbut tough.Anotherwas Friendship's Offeringfull of beautifulstuff andpoetry; but I didn't read the poetry. An-other wasHenry Clay's Speechesand another wasDr. Gunn'sFamily Medicinewhich told you all aboutwhat to doif a body was sick or dead. There was ahymn bookand a lot of other books. And there wasnicesplit-bottom chairsand perfectly soundtoo --not baggeddown in the middle and bustedlike anoldbasket.
They hadpictures hung on the walls -- mainlyWashingtonsand Lafayettesand battlesand High-landMarysand one called "Signing the Declaration."There wassome that they called crayonswhich one ofthedaughters which was dead made her own self whenshe wasonly fifteen years old. They was differentfrom anypictures I ever see before -- blackermostlythan iscommon. One was a woman in a slim blackdressbelted small under the armpitswith bulges likea cabbagein the middle of the sleevesand a largeblackscoop-shovel bonnet with a black veiland whiteslimankles crossed about with black tapeand verywee blackslipperslike a chiseland she was leaningpensive ona tombstone on her right elbowunder aweepingwillowand her other hand hanging down hersideholding a white handkerchief and a reticuleandunderneaththe picture it said "Shall I Never See TheeMoreAlas." Another one was a young lady with herhair allcombed up straight to the top of her headandknottedthere in front of a comb like a chair-backandshe wascrying into a handkerchief and had a deadbirdlaying on its back in her other hand with its heelsupandunderneath the picture it said "I Shall NeverHear ThySweet Chirrup More Alas." There was onewhere ayoung lady was at a window looking up at themoonandtears running down her cheeks; and shehad anopen letter in one hand with black sealing waxshowing onone edge of itand she was mashing alocketwith a chain to it against her mouthand under-neath thepicture it said "And Art Thou Gone YesThou ArtGone Alas." These was all nice picturesIreckonbut I didn't somehow seem to take to thembecause ifever I was down a little they always give methefan-tods. Everybody was sorry she diedbecauseshe hadlaid out a lot more of these pictures to doand a bodycould see by what she had done what theyhad lost.But I reckoned that with her disposition shewas havinga better time in the graveyard. She wasat work onwhat they said was her greatest picturewhen shetook sickand every day and every night itwas herprayer to be allowed to live till she got itdonebutshe never got the chance. It was a pictureof a youngwoman in a long white gownstanding onthe railof a bridge all ready to jump offwith her hairall downher backand looking up to the moonwiththe tearsrunning down her faceand she had two armsfoldedacross her breastand two arms stretched out infrontandtwo more reaching up towards the moon --and theidea was to see which pair would look bestand thenscratch out all the other arms; butas I wassayingshe died before she got her mind made upand nowthey kept this picture over the head of thebed in herroomand every time her birthday comethey hungflowers on it. Other times it was hid witha littlecurtain. The young woman in the picture had akind of anice sweet facebut there was so many armsit madeher look too spideryseemed to me.
This younggirl kept a scrap-book when she wasaliveandused to paste obituaries and accidents andcases ofpatient suffering in it out of the PresbyterianObserverand write poetry after them out of her ownhead. Itwas very good poetry. This is what shewroteabout a boy by the name of Stephen DowlingBots thatfell down a well and was drownded:
ODETO STEPHEN DOWLING BOTSDEC'D
Anddid young Stephen sicken
And did young Stephen die?
And did the sad hearts thicken
And did the mourners cry?
No; such was not the fate of
Young Stephen Dowling Bots;
Though sad hearts round him thickened
'Twas not from sickness' shots.
No whooping-cough did rack his frame
Nor measles drear with spots;
Not these impaired the sacred name
Of Stephen Dowling Bots.
Despised love struck not with woe
That head of curly knots
Nor stomach troubles laid him low
Young Stephen Dowling Bots.
Ono. Then list with tearful eye
Whilst I his fate do tell.
His soul did from this cold world fly
By falling down a well.
They got him out and emptied him;
Alas it was too late;
His spirit was gone for to sport aloft
In the realms of the good and great.
IfEmmeline Grangerford could make poetry likethatbefore she was fourteenthere ain't no tellingwhat shecould a done by and by. Buck said shecouldrattle off poetry like nothing. She didn't everhave tostop to think. He said she would slap down alineandif she couldn't find anything to rhyme with itwould justscratch it out and slap down another oneand goahead. She warn't particular; she could writeaboutanything you choose to give her to write aboutjust so itwas sadful. Every time a man diedor awomandiedor a child diedshe would be on handwith her"tribute" before he was cold. She calledthemtributes. The neighbors said it was the doctorfirstthen Emmelinethen the undertaker -- the under-takernever got in ahead of Emmeline but onceandthen shehung fire on a rhyme for the dead person'snamewhich was Whistler. She warn't ever the sameafterthat; she never complainedbut she kinder pinedaway anddid not live long. Poor thingmany's thetime Imade myself go up to the little room that usedto be hersand get out her poor old scrap-book andread in itwhen her pictures had been aggravating meand I hadsoured on her a little. I liked all thatfamilydead ones and alland warn't going to let any-thing comebetween us. Poor Emmeline made poetryabout allthe dead people when she was aliveand itdidn'tseem right that there warn't nobody to makesome abouther now she was gone; so I tried to sweatout averse or two myselfbut I couldn't seem to makeit gosomehow. They kept Emmeline's room trimand niceand all the things fixed in it just the wayshe likedto have them when she was aliveand nobodyever sleptthere. The old lady took care of the roomherselfthough there was plenty of niggersand shesewedthere a good deal and read her Bible theremostly.
Wellas Iwas saying about the parlorthere wasbeautifulcurtains on the windows: whitewith picturespainted onthem of castles with vines all down thewallsandcattle coming down to drink. There was alittle oldpianotoothat had tin pans in itI reckonandnothing was ever so lovely as to hear the youngladiessing "The Last Link is Broken" and play "TheBattle ofPrague" on it. The walls of all the roomswasplasteredand most had carpets on the floorsandthe wholehouse was whitewashed on the outside.
It was adouble houseand the big open place be-twixt themwas roofed and flooredand sometimes thetable wasset there in the middle of the dayand it wasa coolcomfortable place. Nothing couldn't be better.And warn'tthe cooking goodand just bushels of ittoo!
COL.GRANGERFORD was a gentlemanyou see.He was agentleman all over; and so was hisfamily. Hewas well bornas the saying isand that'sworth asmuch in a man as it is in a horseso theWidowDouglas saidand nobody ever denied that shewas of thefirst aristocracy in our town; and pap healwayssaid ittoothough he warn't no more qualitythan amudcat himself. Col. Grangerford was very talland veryslimand had a darkish-paly complexionnota sign ofred in it anywheres; he was clean shavedeverymorning all over his thin faceand he had thethinnestkind of lipsand the thinnest kind of nostrilsand a highnoseand heavy eyebrowsand the blackestkind ofeyessunk so deep back that they seemed likethey waslooking out of caverns at youas you maysay. Hisforehead was highand his hair was blackandstraight and hung to his shoulders. His handswas longand thinand every day of his life he put ona cleanshirt and a full suit from head to foot madeout oflinen so white it hurt your eyes to look at it;and onSundays he wore a blue tail-coat with brassbuttons onit. He carried a mahogany cane with asilverhead to it. There warn't no frivolishness abouthimnot abitand he warn't ever loud. He was askind as hecould be -- you could feel thatyou knowand so youhad confidence. Sometimes he smiledand it wasgood to see; but when he straightened him-self uplike a liberty-poleand the lightning begun toflickerout from under his eyebrowsyou wanted toclimb atree firstand find out what the matter wasafterwards.He didn't ever have to tell anybody tomind theirmanners -- everybody was always good-manneredwhere he was. Everybody loved to havehimaroundtoo; he was sunshine most always -- Imean hemade it seem like good weather. When heturnedinto a cloudbank it was awful dark for half aminuteand that was enough; there wouldn't nothinggo wrongagain for a week.
When himand the old lady come down in the morn-ing allthe family got up out of their chairs and givethemgood-dayand didn't set down again till they hadset down.Then Tom and Bob went to the sideboardwhere thedecanter wasand mixed a glass of bittersand handedit to himand he held it in his hand andwaitedtill Tom's and Bob's was mixedand then theybowed andsaid"Our duty to yousirand madam;"and THEYbowed the least bit in the world and saidthank youand so they drankall threeand Bob andTom poureda spoonful of water on the sugar and themite ofwhisky or apple brandy in the bottom of theirtumblersand give it to me and Buckand we drank tothe oldpeople too.
Bob wasthe oldest and Tom next -- tallbeautifulmen withvery broad shoulders and brown facesandlong blackhair and black eyes. They dressed in whitelinen fromhead to footlike the old gentlemanandwore broadPanama hats.
Then therewas Miss Charlotte; she was twenty-fiveandtall and proud and grandbut as good as shecould bewhen she warn't stirred up; but when shewas shehad a look that would make you wilt in yourtrackslike her father. She was beautiful.
So was hersisterMiss Sophiabut it was a differentkind. Shewas gentle and sweet like a doveand shewas onlytwenty.
Eachperson had their own nigger to wait on them --Buck too.My nigger had a monstrous easy timebe-cause Iwarn't used to having anybody do anythingfor mebut Buck's was on the jump most of the time.
This wasall there was of the family nowbut thereused to bemore -- three sons; they got killed; andEmmelinethat died.
The oldgentleman owned a lot of farms and over ahundredniggers. Sometimes a stack of people wouldcometherehorsebackfrom ten or fifteen mile aroundand stayfive or six daysand have such junketingsroundabout and on the riverand dances and picnicsin thewoods daytimesand balls at the house nights.Thesepeople was mostly kinfolks of the family. Themenbrought their guns with them. It was a hand-some lotof qualityI tell you.
There wasanother clan of aristocracy around there-- five orsix families -- mostly of the name of Shep-herdson.They was as high-toned and well born andrich andgrand as the tribe of Grangerfords. TheShepherdsonsand Grangerfords used the same steam-boatlandingwhich was about two mile above ourhouse; sosometimes when I went up there with a lotof ourfolks I used to see a lot of the Shepherdsonsthere ontheir fine horses.
One dayBuck and me was away out in the woodshuntingand heard a horse coming. We was crossingthe road.Buck says:
"Quick!Jump for the woods!"
We doneitand then peeped down the woodsthroughthe leaves. Pretty soon a splendid youngman comegalloping down the roadsetting his horseeasy andlooking like a soldier. He had his gun acrosshispommel. I had seen him before. It was youngHarneyShepherdson. I heard Buck's gun go off atmy earand Harney's hat tumbled off from his head.He grabbedhis gun and rode straight to the placewhere wewas hid. But we didn't wait. We startedthroughthe woods on a run. The woods warn't thickso Ilooked over my shoulder to dodge the bulletandtwice Iseen Harney cover Buck with his gun; andthen herode away the way he come -- to get his hatI reckonbut I couldn't see. We never stopped run-ning tillwe got home. The old gentleman's eyesblazed aminute -- 'twas pleasuremainlyI judged --then hisface sort of smoothed downand he sayskind ofgentle:
"Idon't like that shooting from behind a bush.Why didn'tyou step into the roadmy boy?"
"TheShepherdsons don'tfather. They alwaystakeadvantage."
MissCharlotte she held her head up like a queenwhile Buckwas telling his taleand her nostrils spreadand hereyes snapped. The two young men lookeddarkbutnever said nothing. Miss Sophia she turnedpalebutthe color come back when she found theman warn'thurt.
Soon as Icould get Buck down by the corn-cribsunder thetrees by ourselvesI says:
"Didyou want to kill himBuck?"
"WellI bet I did."
"Whatdid he do to you?"
"Him?He never done nothing to me."
"Wellthenwhat did you want to kill him for?"
"Whynothing -- only it's on account of the feud."
"Whywhere was you raised? Don't you knowwhat afeud is?"
"Neverheard of it before -- tell me about it."
"Well"says Buck"a feud is this way: A manhas aquarrel with another manand kills him; thenthat otherman's brother kills HIM; then the otherbrotherson both sidesgoes for one another; thentheCOUSINS chip in -- and by and by everybody's killedoffandthere ain't no more feud. But it's kind ofslowandtakes a long time."
"Hasthis one been going on longBuck?"
"WellI should RECKON! It started thirty year agoor som'ersalong there. There was trouble 'boutsomethingand then a lawsuit to settle it; and thesuit wentagin one of the menand so he up and shotthe manthat won the suit -- which he would naturallydoofcourse. Anybody would."
"Whatwas the trouble aboutBuck? -- land?"
"Ireckon maybe -- I don't know."
"Wellwho done the shooting? Was it a Granger-ford or aShepherdson?"
"Lawshow do I know? It was so long ago."
"Ohyespa knowsI reckonand some of theother oldpeople; but they don't know now what therow wasabout in the first place."
"Hasthere been many killedBuck?"
"Yes;right smart chance of funerals. But theydon'talways kill. Pa's got a few buckshot in him;but hedon't mind it 'cuz he don't weigh muchany-way. Bob'sbeen carved up some with a bowieandTom's beenhurt once or twice."
"Hasanybody been killed this yearBuck?"
"Yes;we got one and they got one. 'Bout threemonths agomy cousin Budfourteen year oldwasridingthrough the woods on t'other side of the riverand didn'thave no weapon with himwhich was blame'foolishnessand in a lonesome place he hears a horsea-comingbehind himand sees old Baldy Shepherdsona-linkin'after him with his gun in his hand and hiswhite haira-flying in the wind; and 'stead of jumpingoff andtaking to the brushBud 'lowed he could out-run him;so they had itnip and tuckfor five mile ormoretheold man a-gaining all the time; so at lastBud seenit warn't any useso he stopped and facedaround soas to have the bullet holes in frontyouknowandthe old man he rode up and shot himdown. Buthe didn't git much chance to enjoy hisluckforinside of a week our folks laid HIM out."
"Ireckon that old man was a cowardBuck."
"Ireckon he WARN'T a coward. Not by a blame'sight.There ain't a coward amongst them Shepherd-sons --not a one. And there ain't no cowards amongsttheGrangerfords either. Whythat old man kep' uphis end ina fight one day for half an hour againstthreeGrangerfordsand come out winner. They wasalla-horseback; he lit off of his horse and got behinda littlewoodpileand kep' his horse before him to stopthebullets; but the Grangerfords stayed on theirhorses andcapered around the old manand pepperedaway athimand he peppered away at them. Himand hishorse both went home pretty leaky and crip-pledbutthe Grangerfords had to be FETCHED home --and one of'em was deadand another died the nextday. Nosir; if a body's out hunting for cowards hedon't wantto fool away any time amongst them Shep-herdsonsbecuz they don't breed any of that KIND."
NextSunday we all went to churchabout threemileeverybody a-horseback. The men took theirgunsalongso did Buckand kept them between theirknees orstood them handy against the wall. TheShepherdsonsdone the same. It was pretty ornerypreaching-- all about brotherly loveand such-liketiresomeness;but everybody said it was a good ser-monandthey all talked it over going homeand hadsuch apowerful lot to say about faith and good worksand freegrace and preforeordestinationand I don'tknow whatallthat it did seem to me to be one of theroughestSundays I had run across yet.
About anhour after dinner everybody was dozingaroundsome in their chairs and some in their roomsand it gotto be pretty dull. Buck and a dog wasstretchedout on the grass in the sun sound asleep. Iwent up toour roomand judged I would take a napmyself. Ifound that sweet Miss Sophia standing inher doorwhich was next to oursand she took me inher roomand shut the door very softand asked me ifI likedherand I said I did; and she asked me if Iwould dosomething for her and not tell anybodyand I saidI would. Then she said she'd forgot herTestamentand left it in the seat at church between twootherbooksand would I slip out quiet and go thereand fetchit to herand not say nothing to nobody. Isaid Iwould. So I slid out and slipped off up theroadandthere warn't anybody at the churchexceptmaybe ahog or twofor there warn't any lock on thedoorandhogs likes a puncheon floor in summer-timebecauseit's cool. If you noticemost folks don't goto churchonly when they've got to; but a hog isdifferent.
Says I tomyselfsomething's up; it ain't naturalfor a girlto be in such a sweat about a Testament.So I giveit a shakeand out drops a little piece ofpaper with"HALF-PAST TWO" wrote on it with a pencil.Iransacked itbut couldn't find anything else. Icouldn'tmake anything out of thatso I put the paperin thebook againand when I got home and upstairsthere wasMiss Sophia in her door waiting for me.She pulledme in and shut the door; then she lookedin theTestament till she found the paperand as soonas sheread it she looked glad; and before a bodycouldthink she grabbed me and give me a squeezeand said Iwas the best boy in the worldand not totellanybody. She was mighty red in the face for aminuteand her eyes lighted upand it made herpowerfulpretty. I was a good deal astonishedbutwhen I gotmy breath I asked her what the paper wasaboutandshe asked me if I had read itand I saidnoandshe asked me if I could read writingand Itold her"noonly coarse-hand" and then she saidthe paperwarn't anything but a book-mark to keepher placeand I might go and play now.
I went offdown to the riverstudying over thisthingandpretty soon I noticed that my nigger wasfollowingalong behind. When we was out of sight ofthe househe looked back and around a secondandthen comesa-runningand says:
"MarsJawgeif you'll come down into de swampI'll showyou a whole stack o' water-moccasins."
Thinks Ithat's mighty curious; he said that yester-day. Heoughter know a body don't love water-moccasinsenough to go around hunting for them.What is heup toanyway? So I says:
"Allright; trot ahead."
I followeda half a mile; then he struck out over theswampandwaded ankle deep as much as anotherhalf-mile.We come to a little flat piece of land whichwas dryand very thick with trees and bushes andvinesandhe says:
"Youshove right in dah jist a few stepsMarsJawge;dah's whah dey is. I's seed 'm befo'; Idon'tk'yer to see 'em no mo'."
Then heslopped right along and went awayandprettysoon the trees hid him. I poked into the placea-ways andcome to a little open patch as big as abedroomall hung around with vinesand found a manlayingthere asleep -- andby jingsit was my old Jim!
I wakedhim upand I reckoned it was going to bea grandsurprise to him to see me againbut it warn't.He nearlycried he was so gladbut he warn't sur-prised.Said he swum along behind me that nightand heardme yell every timebut dasn't answerbe-cause hedidn't want nobody to pick HIM up and takehim intoslavery again. Says he:
"Igot hurt a littleen couldn't swim fas'so I wuzaconsidable ways behine you towards de las'; whenyou landedI reck'ned I could ketch up wid you on delan' 'douthavin' to shout at youbut when I see dathouse Ibegin to go slow. I 'uz off too fur to hearwhat deysay to you -- I wuz 'fraid o' de dogs; butwhen it'uz all quiet agin I knowed you's in de houseso Istruck out for de woods to wait for day. Earlyin demawnin' some er de niggers come alonggwyneto defieldsen dey tuk me en showed me dis placewhah dedogs can't track me on accounts o' de wateren deybrings me truck to eat every nighten tells mehow you'sa-gitt'n along."
"Whydidn't you tell my Jack to fetch me heresoonerJim?"
"Well'twarn't no use to 'sturb youHucktell wecould dosumfn -- but we's all right now. I ben a-buyin'pots en pans en vittlesas I got a chansten a-patchin'up de raf' nights when --"
"Youmean to say our old raft warn't smashed alltoflinders?"
"Noshe warn't. She was tore up a good deal --one en' ofher was; but dey warn't no great harmdoneon'your traps was mos' all los'. Ef we hadn'dive' sodeep en swum so fur under wateren de nighthadn' benso darken we warn't so sk'yerden bensichpunkin-headsas de sayin' iswe'd a seed de raf'.But it'sjis' as well we didn't'kase now she's all fixedup aginmos' as good as newen we's got a new lot o'stuffinde place o' what 'uz los'."
"Whyhow did you get hold of the raft againJim-- did youcatch her?"
"HowI gwyne to ketch her en I out in de woods?No; someer de niggers foun' her ketched on a snagalong heahin de ben'en dey hid her in a crick'mongst dewillowsen dey wuz so much jawin' 'boutwhich un'um she b'long to de mos' dat I come toheah 'boutit pooty soonso I ups en settles de troubleby tellin''um she don't b'long to none uv umbut toyou en me;en I ast 'm if dey gwyne to grab a youngwhitegenlman's propatyen git a hid'n for it? Den Igin 'm tencents apieceen dey 'uz mighty well satis-fiedenwisht some mo' raf's 'ud come along en make'm richagin. Dey's mighty good to medese niggersisenwhatever I wants 'm to do fur me I doan' haveto ast 'mtwicehoney. Dat Jack's a good niggerenpootysmart."
"Yeshe is. He ain't ever told me you was here;told me tocomeand he'd show me a lot of water-moccasins.If anything happens HE ain't mixed up init. He cansay he never seen us togetherand it 'llbe thetruth."
I don'twant to talk much about the next day. IreckonI'll cut it pretty short. I waked up aboutdawnandwas a-going to turn over and go to sleepagain whenI noticed how still it was -- didn't seemto beanybody stirring. That warn't usual. Next Inoticedthat Buck was up and gone. WellI gets upa-wonderingand goes down stairs -- nobody around;everythingas still as a mouse. Just the same outside.Thinks Iwhat does it mean? Down by the wood-pile Icomes across my Jackand says:
"What'sit all about?"
"Don'tyou knowMars Jawge?"
"No"says I"I don't."
"WelldenMiss Sophia's run off! 'deed she has.She runoff in de night some time -- nobody don'tknow jis'when; run off to get married to dat youngHarneyShepherdsonyou know -- leastwaysso dey'spec. Defambly foun' it out 'bout half an hourago --maybe a little mo' -- en' I TELL you dey warn'tno timelos'. Sich another hurryin' up guns en hossesYOU neversee! De women folks has gone for to stirup derelationsen ole Mars Saul en de boys tuck deyguns enrode up de river road for to try to ketch datyoung manen kill him 'fo' he kin git acrost de riverwid MissSophia. I reck'n dey's gwyne to be mightyroughtimes."
"Buckwent off 'thout waking me up."
"WellI reck'n he DID! Dey warn't gwyne to mixyou up init. Mars Buck he loaded up his gun en'lowedhe's gwyne to fetch home a Shepherdson orbust.Welldey'll be plenty un 'm dahI reck'nenyou betyou he'll fetch one ef he gits a chanst."
I took upthe river road as hard as I could put. Byand by Ibegin to hear guns a good ways off. WhenI came insight of the log store and the woodpilewhere thesteamboats lands I worked along under thetrees andbrush till I got to a good placeand then Iclumb upinto the forks of a cottonwood that was outof reachand watched. There was a wood-rank fourfoot higha little ways in front of the treeand first Iwas goingto hide behind that; but maybe it wasluckier Ididn't.
There wasfour or five men cavorting around on theirhorses inthe open place before the log storecussingandyellingand trying to get at a couple of youngchaps thatwas behind the wood-rank alongside ofthesteamboat landing; but they couldn't come it.Every timeone of them showed himself on the riverside ofthe woodpile he got shot at. The two boyswassquatting back to back behind the pileso theycouldwatch both ways.
By and bythe men stopped cavorting around andyelling.They started riding towards the store; thenup getsone of the boysdraws a steady bead over thewood-rankand drops one of them out of his saddle.All themen jumped off of their horses and grabbed thehurt oneand started to carry him to the store; andthatminute the two boys started on the run. Theygot halfway to the tree I was in before the mennoticed.Then the men see themand jumped ontheirhorses and took out after them. They gained onthe boysbut it didn't do no goodthe boys had toogood astart; they got to the woodpile that was infront ofmy treeand slipped in behind itand so theyhad thebulge on the men again. One of the boyswas Buckand the other was a slim young chap aboutnineteenyears old.
The menripped around awhileand then rode away.As soon asthey was out of sight I sung out to Buckand toldhim. He didn't know what to make of myvoicecoming out of the tree at first. He was awfulsurprised.He told me to watch out sharp and let himknow whenthe men come in sight again; said theywas up tosome devilment or other -- wouldn't be gonelong. Iwished I was out of that treebut I dasn'tcome down.Buck begun to cry and ripand 'lowedthat himand his cousin Joe (that was the other youngchap)would make up for this day yet. He said hisfather andhis two brothers was killedand two orthree ofthe enemy. Said the Shepherdsons laid forthem inambush. Buck said his father and brothersought towaited for their relations -- the Shepherdsonswas toostrong for them. I asked him what was be-come ofyoung Harney and Miss Sophia. He saidthey'd gotacross the river and was safe. I was gladof that;but the way Buck did take on because hedidn'tmanage to kill Harney that day he shot at him-- Ihain't ever heard anything like it.
All of asuddenbang! bang! bang! goes three orfour guns-- the men had slipped around through thewoods andcome in from behind without their horses!The boysjumped for the river -- both of them hurt --and asthey swum down the current the men run alongthe bankshooting at them and singing out"Killthemkillthem!" It made me so sick I most fell outof thetree. I ain't a-going to tell ALL that happened --it wouldmake me sick again if I was to do that. Iwished Ihadn't ever come ashore that night to seesuchthings. I ain't ever going to get shut of them --lots oftimes I dream about them.
I stayedin the tree till it begun to get darkafraidto comedown. Sometimes I heard guns away off inthe woods;and twice I seen little gangs of men galloppast thelog store with guns; so I reckoned the troublewas stilla-going on. I was mighty downhearted; so Imade up mymind I wouldn't ever go anear that houseagainbecause I reckoned I was to blamesomehow.I judgedthat that piece of paper meant that MissSophia wasto meet Harney somewheres at half-pasttwo andrun off; and I judged I ought to told herfatherabout that paper and the curious way she actedand thenmaybe he would a locked her upand thisawful messwouldn't ever happened.
When I gotdown out of the tree I crept along downthe riverbank a pieceand found the two bodies layingin theedge of the waterand tugged at them till I gotthemashore; then I covered up their facesand gotaway asquick as I could. I cried a little when I wascoveringup Buck's facefor he was mighty good to me.
It wasjust dark now. I never went near the housebut struckthrough the woods and made for theswamp. Jimwarn't on his islandso I tramped off ina hurryfor the crickand crowded through the willowsred-hot tojump aboard and get out of that awfulcountry.The raft was gone! My soulsbut I wasscared! Icouldn't get my breath for most a minute.Then Iraised a yell. A voice not twenty-five footfrom mesays:
"Goodlan'! is dat youhoney? Doan' make nonoise."
It wasJim's voice -- nothing ever sounded so goodbefore. Irun along the bank a piece and got aboardand Jim hegrabbed me and hugged mehe was so gladto see me.He says:
"Lawsbless youchileI 'uz right down sho' you'sdead agin.Jack's been heah; he say he reck'n you'sben shotkase you didn' come home no mo'; so I'sjes' disminute a startin' de raf' down towards de moufer decrickso's to be all ready for to shove out enleave soonas Jack comes agin en tells me for certainyou ISdead. LawsyI's mighty glad to git you backagainhoney.
"Allright -- that's mighty good; they won't findmeandthey'll think I've been killedand floated downthe river-- there's something up there that 'll help themthink so-- so don't you lose no timeJimbut justshove offfor the big water as fast as ever you can."
I neverfelt easy till the raft was two mile belowthere andout in the middle of the Mississippi. Thenwe hung upour signal lanternand judged that we wasfree andsafe once more. I hadn't had a bite to eatsinceyesterdayso Jim he got out some corn-dodgersandbuttermilkand pork and cabbage and greens --thereain't nothing in the world so good when it'scookedright -- and whilst I eat my supper we talkedand had agood time. I was powerful glad to getaway fromthe feudsand so was Jim to get away fromthe swamp.We said there warn't no home like araftafter all. Other places do seem so cramped upandsmotherybut a raft don't. You feel mighty freeand easyand comfortable on a raft.
TWO orthree days and nights went by; I reckon Imight saythey swum bythey slid along so quietand smoothand lovely. Here is the way we put inthe time.It was a monstrous big river down there --sometimesa mile and a half wide; we run nightsandlaid upand hid daytimes; soon as night was mostgone westopped navigating and tied up -- nearlyalways inthe dead water under a towhead; and thencut youngcottonwoods and willowsand hid the raftwith them.Then we set out the lines. Next we slidinto theriver and had a swimso as to freshen up andcool off;then we set down on the sandy bottom wherethe waterwas about knee deepand watched the day-lightcome. Not a sound anywheres -- perfectly still-- justlike the whole world was asleeponly sometimesthebullfrogs a-clutteringmaybe. The first thing toseelooking away over the waterwas a kind of dullline --that was the woods on t'other side; youcouldn'tmake nothing else out; then a pale place inthe sky;then more paleness spreading around; thenthe riversoftened up away offand warn't black anymorebutgray; you could see little dark spots driftingalong everso far away -- trading scowsand suchthings;and long black streaks -- rafts; sometimesyou couldhear a sweep screaking; or jumbled upvoicesitwas so stilland sounds come so far; and byand by youcould see a streak on the water which youknow bythe look of the streak that there's a snagthere in aswift current which breaks on it and makesthatstreak look that way; and you see the mist curlup off ofthe waterand the east reddens upand theriverandyou make out a log-cabin in the edge ofthe woodsaway on the bank on t'other side of theriverbeing a woodyardlikelyand piled by themcheats soyou can throw a dog through it anywheres;then thenice breeze springs upand comes fanningyou fromover thereso cool and fresh and sweet tosmell onaccount of the woods and the flowers; butsometimesnot that waybecause they've left dead fishlayingaroundgars and suchand they do get prettyrank; andnext you've got the full dayand every-thingsmiling in the sunand the song-birds justgoing it!
A littlesmoke couldn't be noticed nowso we wouldtake somefish off of the lines and cook up a hot break-fast. Andafterwards we would watch the lonesome-ness ofthe riverand kind of lazy alongand by andby lazyoff to sleep. Wake up by and byand look tosee whatdone itand maybe see a steamboat coughingalongup-streamso far off towards the other side youcouldn'ttell nothing about her only whether she was astern-wheelor side-wheel; then for about an hour therewouldn'tbe nothing to hear nor nothing to see -- justsolidlonesomeness. Next you'd see a raft sliding byaway offyonderand maybe a galoot on it choppingbecausethey're most always doing it on a raft; you'dsee theaxe flash and come down -- you don'thearnothing; you see that axe go up againand bythe timeit's above the man's head then you hear theK'CHUNK!-- it had took all that time to come over thewater. Sowe would put in the daylazying aroundlisteningto the stillness. Once there was a thick fogand therafts and things that went by was beating tinpans sothe steamboats wouldn't run over them. Ascow or araft went by so close we could hear themtalkingand cussing and laughing -- heard them plain;but wecouldn't see no sign of them; it made you feelcrawly; itwas like spirits carrying on that way in theair. Jimsaid he believed it was spirits; but I says:
"No;spirits wouldn't say'Dern the dern fog.'"
Soon as itwas night out we shoved; when we gother out toabout the middle we let her aloneand lether floatwherever the current wanted her to; then welit thepipesand dangled our legs in the waterandtalkedabout all kinds of things -- we was alwaysnakeddayand nightwhenever the mosquitoes wouldlet us --the new clothes Buck's folks made for me wastoo goodto be comfortableand besides I didn't gomuch onclothesnohow.
Sometimeswe'd have that whole river all to ourselvesfor thelongest time. Yonder was the banks and theislandsacross the water; and maybe a spark -- whichwas acandle in a cabin window; and sometimes on thewater youcould see a spark or two -- on a raft or ascowyouknow; and maybe you could hear a fiddleor a songcoming over from one of them crafts. It'slovely tolive on a raft. We had the sky up thereallspeckledwith starsand we used to lay on our backsand lookup at themand discuss about whether theywas madeor only just happened. Jim he allowedthey wasmadebut I allowed they happened; I judgedit wouldhave took too long to MAKE so many. Jimsaid themoon could a LAID them; wellthat lookedkind ofreasonableso I didn't say nothing against itbecauseI've seen a frog lay most as manyso ofcourse itcould be done. We used to watch the starsthat felltooand see them streak down. Jim allowedthey'd gotspoiled and was hove out of the nest.
Once ortwice of a night we would see a steamboatslippingalong in the darkand now and then shewouldbelch a whole world of sparks up out of herchimbleysand they would rain down in the river andlook awfulpretty; then she would turn a corner andher lightswould wink out and her powwow shut offand leavethe river still again; and by and by herwaveswould get to usa long time after she was goneand jogglethe raft a bitand after that you wouldn'thearnothing for you couldn't tell how longexceptmaybefrogs or something.
Aftermidnight the people on shore went to bedand thenfor two or three hours the shores was black --no moresparks in the cabin windows. These sparkswas ourclock -- the first one that showed again meantmorningwas comingso we hunted a place to hide andtie upright away.
Onemorning about daybreak I found a canoe andcrossedover a chute to the main shore -- it was onlytwohundred yards -- and paddled about a mile up acrickamongst the cypress woodsto see if I couldn'tget someberries. Just as I was passing a place wherea kind ofa cowpath crossed the crickhere comes acouple ofmen tearing up the path as tight as theycould footit. I thought I was a gonerfor wheneveranybodywas after anybody I judged it was ME -- ormaybe Jim.I was about to dig out from there in ahurrybutthey was pretty close to me thenand sungout andbegged me to save their lives -- said theyhadn'tbeen doing nothingand was being chased forit -- saidthere was men and dogs a-coming. Theywanted tojump right inbut I says:
"Don'tyou do it. I don't hear the dogs and horsesyet;you've got time to crowd through the brush andget up thecrick a little ways; then you take to thewater andwade down to me and get in -- that'll throwthe dogsoff the scent."
They doneitand soon as they was aboard I litout forour towheadand in about five or ten minuteswe heardthe dogs and the men away offshouting.We heardthem come along towards the crickbutcouldn'tsee them; they seemed to stop and foolaround awhile; thenas we got further and furtheraway allthe timewe couldn't hardly hear them at all;by thetime we had left a mile of woods behind us andstruck therivereverything was quietand we paddledover tothe towhead and hid in the cottonwoods andwas safe.
One ofthese fellows was about seventy or upwardsand had abald head and very gray whiskers. He hadan oldbattered-up slouch hat onand a greasy bluewoollenshirtand ragged old blue jeans britches stuffedinto hisboot-topsand home-knit galluses -- noheonly hadone. He had an old long-tailed blue jeanscoat withslick brass buttons flung over his armandboth ofthem had bigfatratty-looking carpet-bags.
The otherfellow was about thirtyand dressed aboutas ornery.After breakfast we all laid off and talkedand thefirst thing that come out was that these chapsdidn'tknow one another.
"Whatgot you into trouble?" says the baldhead tot'otherchap.
"WellI'd been selling an article to take the tartaroff theteeth -- and it does take it offtooand generlythe enamelalong with it -- but I stayed about onenightlonger than I ought toand was just in the act ofslidingout when I ran across you on the trail this sideof townand you told me they were comingand beggedme to helpyou to get off. So I told you I was ex-pectingtrouble myselfand would scatter out WITH you.That's thewhole yarn -- what's yourn?
"WellI'd ben a-running' a little temperance revivalthar 'bouta weekand was the pet of the womenfolksbigand littlefor I was makin' it mighty warmfor therummiesI TELL youand takin' as much as fiveor sixdollars a night -- ten cents a headchildren andniggersfree -- and business a-growin' all the timewhensomehow or another a little report got aroundlast nightthat I had a way of puttin' in my time witha privatejug on the sly. A nigger rousted me outthismornin'and told me the people was getherin' onthe quietwith their dogs and horsesand they'd bealongpretty soon and give me 'bout half an hour'sstartandthen run me down if they could; and if theygot methey'd tar and feather me and ride me on arailsure. I didn't wait for no breakfast -- I warn'thungry."
"Oldman" said the young one"I reckon wemightdouble-team it together; what do you think?"
"Iain't undisposed. What's your line -- mainly?"
"Jourprinter by trade; do a little in patent medi-cines;theater-actor -- tragedyyou know; take a turntomesmerism and phrenology when there's a chance;teachsinging-geography school for a change; sling alecturesometimes -- ohI do lots of things -- mostanythingthat comes handyso it ain't work. What'syour lay?"
"I'vedone considerble in the doctoring way in mytime.Layin' on o' hands is my best holt -- for cancerandparalysisand sich things; and I k'n tell a fortuneprettygood when I've got somebody along to find outthe factsfor me. Preachin's my linetooandworkin'camp-meetin'sand missionaryin' around."
Nobodynever said anything for a while; then theyoung manhove a sigh and says:
"What're you alassin' about?" says the bald-head.
"Tothink I should have lived to be leading such alifeandbe degraded down into such company." Andhe begunto wipe the corner of his eye with a rag.
"Dernyour skinain't the company good enoughfor you?"says the baldheadpretty pert and uppish.
"Yesit IS good enough for me; it's as good as Ideserve;for who fetched me so low when I was sohigh? Idid myself. I don't blame YOUgentlemen --far fromit; I don't blame anybody. I deserve it all.Let thecold world do its worst; one thing I know --there's agrave somewhere for me. The world maygo on justas it's always doneand take everythingfrom me --loved onespropertyeverything; but itcan't takethat. Some day I'll lie down in it and for-get italland my poor broken heart will be at rest."He went ona-wiping.
"Drotyour pore broken heart" says the baldhead;"whatare you heaving your pore broken heart at USf'r? WEhain't done nothing."
"NoI know you haven't. I ain't blaming yougentlemen.I brought myself down -- yesI did itmyself.It's right I should suffer -- perfectly right --I don'tmake any moan."
"Broughtyou down from whar? Whar was youbroughtdown from?"
"Ahyou would not believe me; the world neverbelieves-- let it pass -- 'tis no matter. The secret ofmy birth--"
"Thesecret of your birth! Do you mean to say --"
"Gentlemen"says the young manvery solemn"Iwill reveal it to youfor I feel I may have confi-dence inyou. By rights I am a duke!"
Jim's eyesbugged out when he heard that; and Ireckonmine didtoo. Then the baldhead says:"No!you can't mean it?"
"Yes.My great-grandfathereldest son of theDuke ofBridgewaterfled to this country about theend of thelast centuryto breathe the pure air of free-dom;married hereand diedleaving a sonhis ownfatherdying about the same time. The second son ofthe lateduke seized the titles and estates -- the infantreal dukewas ignored. I am the lineal descendant ofthatinfant -- I am the rightful Duke of Bridgewater;and heream Iforlorntorn from my high estatehunted ofmendespised by the cold worldraggedwornheart-brokenand degraded to the companion-ship offelons on a raft!"
Jim pitiedhim ever so muchand so did I. Wetried tocomfort himbut he said it warn't much usehecouldn't be much comforted; said if we was a mindtoacknowledge himthat would do him more goodthan mostanything else; so we said we wouldif hewould tellus how. He said we ought to bow whenwe spoketo himand say "Your Grace" or "MyLord"or "Your Lordship" -- and he wouldn't mindit if wecalled him plain "Bridgewater" whichhesaidwasa title anywayand not a name; and one ofus oughtto wait on him at dinnerand do any littlething forhim he wanted done.
Wellthatwas all easyso we done it. All throughdinner Jimstood around and waited on himand says"Willyo' Grace have some o' dis or some o' dat?"and so onand a body could see it was mighty pleasingto him.
But theold man got pretty silent by and by -- didn'thave muchto sayand didn't look pretty comfortableover allthat petting that was going on around thatduke. Heseemed to have something on his mind.Soalongin the afternoonhe says:
"LookyhereBilgewater" he says"I'm nationsorry foryoubut you ain't the only person that's hadtroubleslike that."
"Noyou ain't. You ain't the only person that'sben snakeddown wrongfully out'n a high place."
"Noyou ain't the only person that's had a secretof hisbirth." Andby jingsHE begins to cry.
"Hold!What do you mean?"
"Bilgewaterkin I trust you?" says the old manstill sortof sobbing.
"Tothe bitter death!" He took the old man bythe handand squeezed itand says"That secret ofyourbeing: speak!"
"BilgewaterI am the late Dauphin!"
You betyouJim and me stared this time. Thenthe dukesays:
"Yesmy friendit is too true -- your eyes is look-in' atthis very moment on the pore disappearedDauphinLooy the Seventeenson of Looy the Six-teen andMarry Antonette."
"You!At your age! No! You mean you'rethe lateCharlemagne; you must be six or seven hun-dred yearsoldat the very least."
"Troublehas done itBilgewatertrouble has doneit;trouble has brung these gray hairs and this prema-turebalditude. Yesgentlemenyou see before youin bluejeans and miserythe wanderin'exiledtram-pled-onand sufferin' rightful King of France."
Wellhecried and took on so that me and Jimdidn'tknow hardly what to dowe was so sorry -- andso gladand proud we'd got him with ustoo. So weset inlike we done before with the dukeand tried tocomfortHIM. But he said it warn't no usenothingbut to bedead and done with it all could do him anygood;though he said it often made him feel easier andbetter fora while if people treated him according tohisrightsand got down on one knee to speak to himand alwayscalled him "Your Majesty" and waitedon himfirst at mealsand didn't set down in hispresencetill he asked them. So Jim and me set tomajestyinghimand doing this and that and t'otherfor himand standing up till he told us we might setdown. Thisdone him heaps of goodand so he gotcheerfuland comfortable. But the duke kind of souredon himand didn't look a bit satisfied with the waythings wasgoing; stillthe king acted real friendlytowardshimand said the duke's great-grandfatherand allthe other Dukes of Bilgewater was a good dealthought ofby HIS fatherand was allowed to come tothe palaceconsiderable; but the duke stayed huffy agoodwhiletill by and by the king says:
"Likeas not we got to be together a blamed longtime onthis h-yer raftBilgewaterand so what's theuse o'your bein' sour? It 'll only make things on-comfortable.It ain't my fault I warn't born a dukeit ain'tyour fault you warn't born a king -- so what'sthe use toworry? Make the best o' things the wayyou find'emsays I -- that's my motto. This ain'tno badthing that we've struck here -- plenty gruband aneasy life -- comegive us your handdukeandle's allbe friends."
The dukedone itand Jim and me was pretty gladto see it.It took away all the uncomfortableness andwe feltmighty good over itbecause it would a been amiserablebusiness to have any unfriendliness on theraft; forwhat you wantabove all thingson a raftisforeverybody to be satisfiedand feel right and kindtowardsthe others.
It didn'ttake me long to make up my mind thattheseliars warn't no kings nor dukes at allbut justlow-downhumbugs and frauds. But I never saidnothingnever let on; kept it to myself; it's the bestway; thenyou don't have no quarrelsand don't getinto notrouble. If they wanted us to call them kingsand dukesI hadn't no objections'long as it wouldkeep peacein the family; and it warn't no use to tellJimso Ididn't tell him. If I never learnt nothingelse outof papI learnt that the best way to get alongwith hiskind of people is to let them have their ownway.
THEY askedus considerable many questions; wantedto knowwhat we covered up the raft that wayforandlaid by in the daytime instead of running --was Jim arunaway nigger? Says I:
"Goodnesssakes! would a runaway nigger runSOUTH?"
Notheyallowed he wouldn't. I had to accountfor thingssome wayso I says:
"Myfolks was living in Pike Countyin Missouriwhere Iwas bornand they all died off but me and paand mybrother Ike. Pahe 'lowed he'd break upand godown and live with Uncle Benwho's got alittleone-horse place on the riverforty-four milebelowOrleans. Pa was pretty poorand had somedebts; sowhen he'd squared up there warn't nothingleft butsixteen dollars and our niggerJim. Thatwarn'tenough to take us fourteen hundred miledeckpassagenor no other way. Wellwhen the river rosepa had astreak of luck one day; he ketched this pieceof a raft;so we reckoned we'd go down to Orleans onit. Pa'sluck didn't hold out; a steamboat run overtheforrard corner of the raft one nightand we allwentoverboard and dove under the wheel; Jim andme come upall rightbut pa was drunkand Ike wasonly fouryears oldso they never come up no more.Wellforthe next day or two we had considerabletroublebecause people was always coming out in skiffsand tryingto take Jim away from mesaying they be-lieved hewas a runaway nigger. We don't run day-times nomore now; nights they don't bother us."
"Leaveme alone to cipher out a way so we can runin thedaytime if we want to. I'll think the thingover --I'll invent a plan that'll fix it. We'll let italone forto-daybecause of course we don't want togo by thattown yonder in daylight -- it mightn't behealthy."
Towardsnight it begun to darken up and look likerain; theheat lightning was squirting around low downin theskyand the leaves was beginning to shiver -- itwas goingto be pretty uglyit was easy to see that.So theduke and the king went to overhauling ourwigwamtosee what the beds was like. My bed wasa strawtickQbetter than Jim'swhich was a corn-shucktick; there's always cobs around about in ashucktickand they poke into you and hurt; andwhen youroll over the dry shucks sound like you wasrollingover in a pile of dead leaves; it makes such arustlingthat you wake up. Wellthe duke allowed hewould takemy bed; but the king allowed he wouldn't.He says:
"Ishould a reckoned the difference in rank would asejestedto you that a corn-shuck bed warn't just fittenfor me tosleep on. Your Grace 'll take the shuckbedyourself."
Jim and mewas in a sweat again for a minutebeingafraidthere was going to be some more troubleamongstthem; so we was pretty glad when the dukesays:
"'Tismy fate to be always ground into the mireunder theiron heel of oppression. Misfortune hasbroken myonce haughty spirit; I yieldI submit; 'tismy fate. Iam alone in the world -- let me suffer;can bearit."
We gotaway as soon as it was good and dark. Theking toldus to stand well out towards the middle ofthe riverand not show a light till we got a long waysbelow thetown. We come in sight of the little bunchof lightsby and by -- that was the townyou know --and slidbyabout a half a mile outall right. Whenwe wasthree-quarters of a mile below we hoisted upour signallantern; and about ten o'clock it come onto rainand blow and thunder and lighten like every-thing; sothe king told us to both stay on watch tilltheweather got better; then him and the duke crawledinto thewigwam and turned in for the night. It wasmy watchbelow till twelvebut I wouldn't a turned inanyway ifI'd had a bedbecause a body don't seesuch astorm as that every day in the weeknot by alongsight. My soulshow the wind did scream along!And everysecond or two there'd come a glare that litup thewhite-caps for a half a mile aroundand you'dsee theislands looking dusty through the rainand thetreesthrashing around in the wind; then comes aH-WHACK!-- bum! bum! bumble-umble-um-bum-bum-bum-bum --and the thunder would go rumbling andgrumblingawayand quit -- and then RIP comes an-otherflash and another sockdolager. The waves mostwashed meoff the raft sometimesbut I hadn't anyclothesonand didn't mind. We didn't have notroubleabout snags; the lightning was glaring andflitteringaround so constant that we could see themplentysoon enough to throw her head this way or thatand missthem.
I had themiddle watchyou knowbut I was prettysleepy bythat timeso Jim he said he would stand thefirst halfof it for me; he was always mighty goodthat wayJim was. I crawled into the wigwambutthe kingand the duke had their legs sprawled aroundso therewarn't no show for me; so I laid outside -- Ididn'tmind the rainbecause it was warmand thewaveswarn't running so high now. About two theycome upagainthoughand Jim was going to call me;but hechanged his mindbecause he reckoned theywarn'thigh enough yet to do any harm; but he wasmistakenabout thatfor pretty soon all of a suddenalongcomes a regular ripper and washed me over-board. Itmost killed Jim a-laughing. He was theeasiestnigger to laugh that ever wasanyway.
I took thewatchand Jim he laid down and snoredaway; andby and by the storm let up for good andall; andthe first cabin-light that showed I rousted himoutandwe slid the raft into hiding quarters for theday.
The kinggot out an old ratty deck of cards afterbreakfastand him and the duke played seven-up awhilefive cents a game. Then they got tired of itandallowed they would "lay out a campaign" astheycalled it. The duke went down into his carpet-bagandfetched up a lot of little printed bills andread themout loud. One bill said"The celebratedDr. Armandde Montalbanof Paris" would "lectureon theScience of Phrenology" at such and such aplaceonthe blank day of blankat ten cents admis-sionand"furnish charts of character at twenty-fivecentsapiece." The duke said that was HIM. In an-other billhe was the "world-renowned ShakespeariantragedianGarrick the Youngerof Drury LaneLon-don."In other bills he had a lot of other names anddone otherwonderful thingslike finding water andgold witha "divining-rod" "dissipating witchspells"and so on. By and by he says:
"Butthe histrionic muse is the darling. Have youever trodthe boardsRoyalty?"
"No"says the king.
"Youshallthenbefore you're three days olderFallenGrandeur" says the duke. "The first goodtown wecome to we'll hire a hall and do the swordfight inRichard III. and the balcony scene in RomeoandJuliet. How does that strike you?"
"I'minup to the hubfor anything that will payBilgewater;butyou seeI don't know nothing aboutplay-actin'and hain't ever seen much of it. I was toosmall whenpap used to have 'em at the palace. Doyou reckonyou can learn me?"
"Allright. I'm jist a-freezn' for something freshanyway.Le's commence right away."
So theduke he told him all about who Romeo wasand whoJuliet wasand said he was used to beingRomeosothe king could be Juliet.
"Butif Juliet's such a young galdukemy peeledhead andmy white whiskers is goin' to look oncommonodd onhermaybe."
"Nodon't you worry; these country jakes won'tever thinkof that. Besidesyou knowyou'll be incostumeand that makes all the difference in theworld;Juliet's in a balconyenjoying the moonlightbefore shegoes to bedand she's got on her night-gown andher ruffled nightcap. Here are the costumesfor theparts."
He got outtwo or three curtain-calico suitswhichhe saidwas meedyevil armor for Richard III. andt'otherchapand a long white cotton nightshirt and arufflednightcap to match. The king was satisfied; sothe dukegot out his book and read the parts over inthe mostsplendid spread-eagle wayprancing aroundand actingat the same timeto show how it had got tobe done;then he give the book to the king and toldhim to gethis part by heart.
There wasa little one-horse town about three miledown thebendand after dinner the duke said he hadcipheredout his idea about how to run in daylightwithout itbeing dangersome for Jim; so he allowedhe wouldgo down to the town and fix that thing.The kingallowed he would gotooand see if hecouldn'tstrike something. We was out of coffeesoJim said Ibetter go along with them in the canoe andget some.
When wegot there there warn't nobody stirring;streetsemptyand perfectly dead and stilllike Sun-day. Wefound a sick nigger sunning himself in aback yardand he said everybody that warn't tooyoung ortoo sick or too old was gone to camp-meetingabout two mile back in the woods. The kinggot thedirectionsand allowed he'd go and work thatcamp-meetingfor all it was worthand I might gotoo.
The dukesaid what he was after was a printing-office. Wefound it; a little bit of a concernup overacarpenter shop -- carpenters and printers all gone tothemeetingand no doors locked. It was a dirtylittered-upplaceand had ink marksand handbillswithpictures of horses and runaway niggers on themall overthe walls. The duke shed his coat and said hewas allright now. So me and the king lit out for thecamp-meeting.
We gotthere in about a half an hour fairly drippingfor it wasa most awful hot day. There was as muchas athousand people there from twenty mile around.The woodswas full of teams and wagonshitchedeverywheresfeeding out of the wagon-troughs andstompingto keep off the flies. There was sheds madeout ofpoles and roofed over with brancheswhere theyhadlemonade and gingerbread to selland piles ofwatermelonsand green corn and such-like truck.
Thepreaching was going on under the same kindsof shedsonly they was bigger and held crowds ofpeople.The benches was made out of outside slabsof logswith holes bored in the round side to drivesticksinto for legs. They didn't have no backs.Thepreachers had high platforms to stand on at oneend of thesheds. The women had on sun-bonnets;and somehad linsey-woolsey frockssome ginghamonesanda few of the young ones had on calico.Some ofthe young men was barefootedand some ofthechildren didn't have on any clothes but just a tow-linenshirt. Some of the old women was knittingandsome ofthe young folks was courting on the sly.
The firstshed we come to the preacher was liningout ahymn. He lined out two lineseverybody sungitand itwas kind of grand to hear itthere was somany ofthem and they done it in such a rousing way;then helined out two more for them to sing -- and soon. Thepeople woke up more and moreand sunglouder andlouder; and towards the end some begunto groanand some begun to shout. Then the preacherbegun topreachand begun in earnesttoo; and wentweavingfirst to one side of the platform and then theotherandthen a-leaning down over the front of itwith hisarms and his body going all the timeandshoutinghis words out with all his might; and everynow andthen he would hold up his Bible and spread itopenandkind of pass it around this way and thatshouting"It's the brazen serpent in the wilderness!Look uponit and live!" And people would shoutout"Glory! -- A-a-MEN!" And so he went onandthe peoplegroaning and crying and saying amen:
"Ohcome to the mourners' bench! comeblackwith sin!(AMEN!) comesick and sore! (AMEN!)comelameand halt and blind! (AMEN!) comeporeand needysunk in shame! (A-A-MEN!) comeallthat'sworn and soiled and suffering! -- come with abrokenspirit! come with a contrite heart! come inyour ragsand sin and dirt! the waters that cleanse isfreethedoor of heaven stands open -- ohenter inand be atrest!" (A-A-MEN! GLORYGLORY HALLELUJAH!)
And so on.You couldn't make out what thepreachersaid any moreon account of the shoutingandcrying. Folks got up everywheres in the crowdand workedtheir way just by main strength to themourners'benchwith the tears running down theirfaces; andwhen all the mourners had got up there tothe frontbenches in a crowdthey sung and shoutedand flungthemselves down on the strawjust crazyand wild.
Wellthefirst I knowed the king got a-goingandyou couldhear him over everybody; and next hewenta-charging up on to the platformand thepreacherhe begged him to speak to the peopleandhe doneit. He told them he was a pirate -- been apirate forthirty years out in the Indian Ocean -- andhis crewwas thinned out considerable last spring in afightandhe was home now to take out some freshmenandthanks to goodness he'd been robbed lastnight andput ashore off of a steamboat without a centand he wasglad of it; it was the blessedest thing thateverhappened to himbecause he was a changed mannowandhappy for the first time in his life; andpoor as hewashe was going to start right off andwork hisway back to the Indian Oceanand put in therest ofhis life trying to turn the pirates into the truepath; forhe could do it better than anybody elsebeingacquainted with all pirate crews in that ocean;and thoughit would take him a long time to gettherewithout moneyhe would get there anywayandevery timehe convinced a pirate he would say to him"Don'tyou thank medon't you give me no credit;it allbelongs to them dear people in Pokeville camp-meetingnatural brothers and benefactors of the raceand thatdear preacher therethe truest friend a pirateever had!"
And thenhe busted into tearsand so did everybody.Thensomebody sings out"Take up a collection forhimtakeup a collection!" Wella half a dozenmade ajump to do itbut somebody sings out"LetHIM passthe hat around!" Then everybody said itthepreacher too.
So theking went all through the crowd with his hatswabbinghis eyesand blessing the people and praisingthem andthanking them for being so good to the poorpiratesaway off there; and every little while theprettiestkind of girlswith the tears running downtheircheekswould up and ask him would he let themkiss himfor to remember him by; and he always doneit; andsome of them he hugged and kissed as manyas five orsix times -- and he was invited to stay aweek; andeverybody wanted him to live in theirhousesand said they'd think it was an honor; but hesaid asthis was the last day of the camp-meeting hecouldn'tdo no goodand besides he was in a sweat toget to theIndian Ocean right off and go to work onthepirates.
When wegot back to the raft and he come to countup hefound he had collected eighty-seven dollars andseventy-fivecents. And then he had fetched away athree-gallonjug of whiskytoothat he found under awagon whenhe was starting home through the woods.The kingsaidtake it all aroundit laid over any dayhe'd everput in in the missionarying line. He said itwarn't nouse talkingheathens don't amount to shucksalongsideof pirates to work a camp-meeting with.
The dukewas thinking HE'D been doing pretty welltill theking come to show upbut after that he didn'tthink soso much. He had set up and printed off twolittlejobs for farmers in that printing-office -- horsebills --and took the moneyfour dollars. And hehad got inten dollars' worth of advertisements for thepaperwhich he said he would put in for four dollarsif theywould pay in advance -- so they done it. Theprice ofthe paper was two dollars a yearbut he tookin threesubscriptions for half a dollar apiece on con-dition ofthem paying him in advance; they were goingto pay incordwood and onions as usualbut he saidhe hadjust bought the concern and knocked down theprice aslow as he could afford itand was going torun it forcash. He set up a little piece of poetrywhich hemadehimselfout of his own head -- threeverses --kind of sweet and saddish -- the name of itwas"Yescrushcold worldthis breaking heart" --and heleft that all set up and ready to print in thepaperanddidn't charge nothing for it. Wellhetook innine dollars and a halfand said he'd done aprettysquare day's work for it.
Then heshowed us another little job he'd printedand hadn'tcharged forbecause it was for us. It hada pictureof a runaway nigger with a bundle on a stickover hisshoulderand "$200 reward" under it. Thereadingwas all about Jimand just described him to adot. Itsaid he run away from St. Jacques' planta-tionforty mile below New Orleanslast winterandlikelywent northand whoever would catch him andsend himback he could have the reward and expenses.
"Now"says the duke"after to-night we can runin thedaytime if we want to. Whenever we see any-bodycoming we can tie Jim hand and foot with a ropeand layhim in the wigwam and show this handbill andsay wecaptured him up the riverand were too poorto travelon a steamboatso we got this little raft oncreditfrom our friends and are going down to get thereward.Handcuffs and chains would look still betteron Jimbut it wouldn't go well with the story of usbeing sopoor. Too much like jewelry. Ropes arethecorrect thing -- we must preserve the unitiesas wesay on theboards."
We allsaid the duke was pretty smartand therecouldn'tbe no trouble about running daytimes. Wejudged wecould make miles enough that night to getout of thereach of the powwow we reckoned the duke'swork inthe printing office was going to make in thatlittletown; then we could boom right along if wewanted to.
We laidlow and kept stilland never shoved out tillnearly teno'clock; then we slid bypretty wide awayfrom thetownand didn't hoist our lantern till we wasclear outof sight of it.
When Jimcalled me to take the watch at four in themorninghe says:
"Huckdoes you reck'n we gwyne to run acrostany mo'kings on dis trip?"
"No"I says"I reckon not."
"Well"says he"dat's all rightden. I doan'mine oneer two kingsbut dat's enough. Dis one'spowerfuldrunken de duke ain' much better."
I foundJim had been trying to get him to talkFrenchsohe could hear what it was like; but he saidhe hadbeen in this country so longand had so muchtroublehe'd forgot it.
IT wasafter sun-up nowbut we went right on anddidn't tieup. The king and the duke turned outby and bylooking pretty rusty; but after they'djumpedoverboard and took a swim it chippered themup a gooddeal. After breakfast the king he took aseat onthe corner of the raftand pulled off his bootsand rolledup his britchesand let his legs dangle inthe waterso as to be comfortableand lit his pipeandwent togetting his Romeo and Juliet by heart. Whenhe had gotit pretty good him and the duke begun topracticeit together. The duke had to learn him overand overagain how to say every speech; and he madehim sighand put his hand on his heartand after awhile hesaid he done it pretty well; "only" he says"youmustn't bellow out ROMEO! that waylike abull --you must say it soft and sick and languishyso --R-o-o-meo! that is the idea; for Juliet's a dearsweet merechild of a girlyou knowand she doesn'tbray likea jackass."
Wellnextthey got out a couple of long swords thatthe dukemade out of oak lathsand begun to practicethe swordfight -- the duke called himself RichardIII.; andthe way they laid on and pranced aroundthe raftwas grand to see. But by and by the kingtrippedand fell overboardand after that they took arestandhad a talk about all kinds of adventuresthey'd hadin other times along the river.
Afterdinner the duke says:
"WellCapetwe'll want to make this a first-classshowyouknowso I guess we'll add a little more toit. Wewant a little something to answer encoreswithanyway."
The duketold himand then says:
"I'llanswer by doing the Highland fling or thesailor'shornpipe; and you -- welllet me see -- ohI've gotit -- you can do Hamlet's soliloquy."
"Hamlet'ssoliloquyyou know; the most celebratedthing inShakespeare. Ahit's sublimesublime! Al-waysfetches the house. I haven't got it in the book-- I'veonly got one volume -- but I reckon I canpiece itout from memory. I'll just walk up and downa minuteand see if I can call it back from recollec-tion'svaults."
So he wentto marching up and downthinkingandfrowninghorrible every now and then; then he wouldhoist uphis eyebrows; next he would squeeze his handon hisforehead and stagger back and kind of moan;next hewould sighand next he'd let on to drop atear. Itwas beautiful to see him. By and by he gotit. Hetold us to give attention. Then he strikes amost nobleattitudewith one leg shoved forwardsandhis armsstretched away upand his head tilted backlooking upat the sky; and then he begins to rip andrave andgrit his teeth; and after thatall through hisspeechhehowledand spread aroundand swelled uphis chestand just knocked the spots out of any actingever I seebefore. This is the speech -- I learned iteasyenoughwhile he was learning it to the king:
To beor not to be; that is the bare bodkin
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would fardels beartill Birnam Wood do
come to Dunsinane
But that the fear of something after death
Murders the innocent sleep
Great nature's second course
And makes us rather sling the arrows of outrageous fortune
Than fly to others that we know not of.
There's the respect must give us pause:
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time
The oppressor's wrongthe proud man's contumely
The law's delayand the quietus which his
pangs might take
In the dead waste and middle of the night
when churchyards yawn
In customary suits of solemn black
But that the undiscovered country from whose
bourne no traveler returns
Breathes forth contagion on the world
And thus the native hue of resolutionlike
the poor cat i' the adage
Is sicklied o'er with care
And all the clouds that lowered o'er our housetops
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.
'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
But soft youthe fair Ophelia:
Ope not thy ponderous and marble jaws
But get thee to a nunnery -- go!
Welltheold man he liked that speechand hemightysoon got it so he could do it first-rate. Itseemedlike he was just born for it; and when he hadhis handin and was excitedit was perfectly lovelythe way hewould rip and tear and rair up behindwhen hewas getting it off.
The firstchance we got the duke he had some show-billsprinted; and after thatfor two or three days aswe floatedalongthe raft was a most uncommon livelyplaceforthere warn't nothing but sword fighting andrehearsing-- as the duke called it -- going on all thetime. Onemorningwhen we was pretty well downthe Stateof Arkansawwe come in sight of a littleone-horsetown in a big bend; so we tied up aboutthree-quartersof a mile above itin the mouth of acrickwhich was shut in like a tunnel by the cypresstreesandall of us but Jim took the canoe and wentdown thereto see if there was any chance in that placefor ourshow.
We struckit mighty lucky; there was going to be acircusthere that afternoonand the country people wasalreadybeginning to come inin all kinds of oldshacklywagonsand on horses. The circus wouldleavebefore nightso our show would have a prettygoodchance. The duke he hired the courthouseandwe wentaround and stuck up our bills. They readlike this:
Shaksperean Revival ! ! !
For One Night Only!
The world renowned tragedians
David Garrick the Youngerof Drury Lane Theatre London
Edmund Kean the elderof the Royal Haymarket Theatre
WhitechapelPudding LanePiccadillyLondonand the
Royal Continental Theatresin their sublime
Shaksperean Spectacle entitled
The Balcony Scene
Romeo and Juliet ! ! !
Assisted by the whole strength of the company!
New costumesnew scenesnew appointments!
The thrillingmasterlyand blood-curdling
In Richard III. ! ! !
Richard III.............Mr. Garrick
(by special request)
Hamlet's Immortal Soliloquy ! !
By The Illustrious Kean!
Done by him 300 consecutive nights in Paris!
For One Night Only
On account of imperative European engagements!
Admission 25 cents; children and servants10 cents.
Then wewent loafing around town. The stores andhouses wasmost all oldshacklydried up frame con-cerns thathadn't ever been painted; they was set upthree orfour foot above ground on stiltsso as to beout ofreach of the water when the river was over-flowed.The houses had little gardens around thembut theydidn't seem to raise hardly anything in thembutjimpson-weedsand sunflowersand ash pilesandoldcurled-up boots and shoesand pieces of bottlesand ragsand played-out tinware. The fences wasmade ofdifferent kinds of boardsnailed on at dif-ferenttimes; and they leaned every which wayandhad gatesthat didn't generly have but one hinge -- aleatherone. Some of the fences had been white-washedsome time or anotherbut the duke said it wasinClumbus' timelike enough. There was generlyhogs inthe gardenand people driving them out.
All thestores was along one street. They hadwhitedomestic awnings in frontand the country peo-plehitched their horses to the awning-posts. Therewas emptydrygoods boxes under the awningsandloafersroosting on them all day longwhittling themwith theirBarlow knives; and chawing tobaccoandgaping andyawning and stretching -- a mighty ornerylot. Theygenerly had on yellow straw hats most aswide as anumbrellabut didn't wear no coats norwaistcoatsthey called one another Billand Buckand Hankand Joeand Andyand talked lazy anddrawlyand used considerable many cuss words.There wasas many as one loafer leaning up againsteveryawning-postand he most always had his handsin hisbritches-pocketsexcept when he fetched themout tolend a chaw of tobacco or scratch. What abody washearing amongst them all the time was:
"Gimmea chaw 'v tobackerHank "
"Cain't;I hain't got but one chaw left. Ask Bill."
Maybe Billhe gives him a chaw; maybe he lies andsays heain't got none. Some of them kinds ofloafersnever has a cent in the worldnor a chaw oftobacco oftheir own. They get all their chawing byborrowing;they say to a fellow"I wisht you'd len'me a chawJackI jist this minute give Ben Thompsonthe lastchaw I had" -- which is a lie pretty mucheverytime;it don't fool nobody but a stranger; butJack ain'tno strangerso he says:
"YOUgive him a chawdid you? So did yoursister'scat's grandmother. You pay me back thechawsyou've awready borry'd off'n meLafe Bucknerthen I'llloan you one or two ton of itand won'tcharge youno back intrustnuther."
"WellI DID pay you back some of it wunst."
"Yesyou did -- 'bout six chaws. You borry'dstoretobacker and paid back nigger-head."
Storetobacco is flat black plugbut these fellowsmostlychaws the natural leaf twisted. When theyborrow achaw they don't generly cut it off with aknifebutset the plug in between their teethand gnawwith theirteeth and tug at the plug with their handstill theyget it in two; then sometimes the one thatowns thetobacco looks mournful at it when it'shandedbackand sayssarcastic:
"Heregimme the CHAWand you take the PLUG."
All thestreets and lanes was just mud; they warn'tnothingelse BUT mud -- mud as black as tar and nighabout afoot deep in some placesand two or threeinchesdeep in ALL the places. The hogs loafed andgruntedaround everywheres. You'd see a muddysow and alitter of pigs come lazying along the streetandwhollop herself right down in the waywhere folkshad towalk around herand she'd stretch out and shuther eyesand wave her ears whilst the pigs was milkingherandlook as happy as if she was on salary. Andprettysoon you'd hear a loafer sing out"Hi! SOboy! sickhimTige!" and away the sow would gosquealingmost horriblewith a dog or two swinging toeach earand three or four dozen more a-coming; andthen youwould see all the loafers get up and watchthe thingout of sightand laugh at the fun and lookgratefulfor the noise. Then they'd settle back againtill therewas a dog fight. There couldn't anythingwake themup all overand make them happy all overlike a dogfight -- unless it might be putting turpentineon a straydog and setting fire to himor tying a tinpan to histail and see him run himself to death.
On theriver front some of the houses was stickingout overthe bankand they was bowed and bentandaboutready to tumble inThe people had moved outof them.The bank was caved away under one cornerof someothersand that corner was hanging over.Peoplelived in them yetbut it was dangersomebe-causesometimes a strip of land as wide as a housecaves inat a time. Sometimes a belt of land a quarterof a miledeep will start in and cave along and cavealong tillit all caves into the river in one summer.Such atown as that has to be always moving backand backand backbecause the river's always gnawingat it.
The nearerit got to noon that day the thicker andthickerwas the wagons and horses in the streetsandmorecoming all the time. Families fetched theirdinnerswith them from the countryand eat them inthewagons. There was considerable whisky drinkinggoing onand I seen three fights. By and by some-body singsout:
"Herecomes old Boggs! -- in from the country forhis littleold monthly drunk; here he comesboys!"
All theloafers looked glad; I reckoned they wasused tohaving fun out of Boggs. One of them says:
"Wonderwho he's a-gwyne to chaw up this time.If he'da-chawed up all the men he's ben a-gwyne tochaw up inthe last twenty year he'd have considerableruputationnow."
Anotherone says"I wisht old Boggs 'd threatenme'cuzthen I'd know I warn't gwyne to die for athousan'year."
Boggscomes a-tearing along on his horsewhoopingandyelling like an Injunand singing out:
"Clerthe trackthar. I'm on the waw-pathandthe priceuv coffins is a-gwyne to raise."
He wasdrunkand weaving about in his saddle; hewas overfifty year oldand had a very red face.Everybodyyelled at him and laughed at him and sassedhimandhe sassed backand said he'd attend to themand laythem out in their regular turnsbut he couldn'twait nowbecause he'd come to town to kill oldColonelSherburnand his motto was"Meat firstand spoonvittles to top off on."
He see meand rode up and says:
"Whar'dyou come f'mboy? You prepared todie?"
Then herode on. I was scaredbut a man says:
"Hedon't mean nothing; he's always a-carryin'on likethat when he's drunk. He's the best natured-est oldfool in Arkansaw -- never hurt nobodydrunknorsober."
Boggs rodeup before the biggest store in townandbent hishead down so he could see under the curtainof theawning and yells:
"Comeout hereSherburn! Come out and meetthe manyou've swindled. You're the houn' I'm afterand I'ma-gwyne to have youtoo!"
And so hewent oncalling Sherburn everything hecould layhis tongue toand the whole street packedwithpeople listening and laughing and going on. Byand by aproud-looking man about fifty-five -- and hewas a heapthe best dressed man in that towntoo --steps outof the storeand the crowd drops back oneach sideto let him come. He says to Boggsmightyca'm andslow -- he says:
"I'mtired of thisbut I'll endure it till one o'clock.Till oneo'clockmind -- no longer. If you open yourmouthagainst me only once after that time you can'ttravel sofar but I will find you."
Then heturns and goes in. The crowd lookedmightysober; nobody stirredand there warn't nomorelaughing. Boggs rode off blackguarding Sher-burn asloud as he could yellall down the street; andprettysoon back he comes and stops before the storestillkeeping it up. Some men crowded around himand triedto get him to shut upbut he wouldn't; theytold himit would be one o'clock in about fifteen min-utesandso he MUST go home -- he must go rightaway. Butit didn't do no good. He cussed awaywith allhis mightand throwed his hat down in themud androde over itand pretty soon away he wenta-ragingdown the street againwith his gray hair a-flying.Everybody that could get a chance at himtriedtheir best to coax him off of his horse so theycould lockhim up and get him sober; but it warn't nouse -- upthe street he would tear againand giveSherburnanother cussing. By and by somebody says:
"Gofor his daughter! -- quickgo for his daughter;sometimeshe'll listen to her. If anybody can persuadehimshecan."
Sosomebody started on a run. I walked downstreet aways and stopped. In about five or ten min-utes herecomes Boggs againbut not on his horse.He wasa-reeling across the street towards mebare-headedwith a friend on both sides of him a-holt ofhis armsand hurrying him along. He was quietandlookeduneasy; and he warn't hanging back anybutwas doingsome of the hurrying himself. Somebodysings out:
I lookedover there to see who said itand it wasthatColonel Sherburn. He was standing perfectlystill inthe streetand had a pistol raised in his righthand --not aiming itbut holding it out with the barreltilted uptowards the sky. The same second I see ayoung girlcoming on the runand two men with her.Boggs andthe men turned round to see who calledhimandwhen they see the pistol the men jumpedto onesideand the pistol-barrel come down slowand steadyto a level -- both barrels cocked. Boggsthrows upboth of his hands and says"O Lorddon'tshoot!"Bang! goes the first shotand he staggersbackclawing at the air -- bang! goes the second oneand hetumbles backwards on to the groundheavyand solidwith his arms spread out. That young girlscreamedout and comes rushingand down she throwsherself onher fathercryingand saying"Ohhe'skilledhimhe's killed him!" The crowd closed uparoundthemand shouldered and jammed one anotherwith theirnecks stretchedtrying to seeand peopleon theinside trying to shove them back and shouting"Backback! give him airgive him air!"
ColonelSherburn he tossed his pistol on to thegroundand turned around on his heels and walked off.
They tookBoggs to a little drug storethe crowdpressingaround just the sameand the whole townfollowingand I rushed and got a good place at thewindowwhere I was close to him and could see in.They laidhim on the floor and put one large Bibleunder hisheadand opened another one and spread iton hisbreast; but they tore open his shirt firstand Iseen whereone of the bullets went in. He madeabout adozen long gaspshis breast lifting the Bibleup when hedrawed in his breathand letting it downagain whenhe breathed it out -- and after that he laidstill; hewas dead. Then they pulled his daughteraway fromhimscreaming and cryingand took heroff. Shewas about sixteenand very sweet and gentlelookingbut awful pale and scared.
Wellpretty soon the whole town was theresquirm-ing andscrouging and pushing and shoving to get atthe windowand have a lookbut people that had theplaceswouldn't give them upand folks behind themwas sayingall the time"Saynowyou've lookedenoughyou fellows; 'tain't right and 'tain't fair foryou tostay thar all the timeand never give nobody achance;other folks has their rights as well as you."
There wasconsiderable jawing backso I slid outthinkingmaybe there was going to be trouble. Thestreetswas fulland everybody was excited. Every-body thatseen the shooting was telling how it hap-penedandthere was a big crowd packed around eachone ofthese fellowsstretching their necks and listen-ing. Onelonglanky manwith long hair and a bigwhite furstovepipe hat on the back of his headand acrooked-handledcanemarked out the places on thegroundwhere Boggs stood and where Sherburn stoodand thepeople following him around from one placeto t'otherand watching everything he doneand bob-bing theirheads to show they understoodand stoop-ing alittle and resting their hands on their thighs towatch himmark the places on the ground with hiscane; andthen he stood up straight and stiff whereSherburnhad stoodfrowning and having his hat-brimdown overhis eyesand sung out"Boggs!" and thenfetchedhis cane down slow to a leveland says"Bang!"staggered backwardssays "Bang!" againand felldown flat on his back. The people that hadseen thething said he done it perfect; said it was justexactlythe way it all happened. Then as much as adozenpeople got out their bottles and treated him.
Wellbyand by somebody said Sherburn ought tobelynched. In about a minute everybody was sayingit; soaway they wentmad and yellingand snatchingdown everyclothes-line they come to to do the hang-ing with.
THEYswarmed up towards Sherburn's housea-whoopingand raging like Injunsand everythinghad toclear the way or get run over and tromped tomushandit was awful to see. Children was heelingit aheadof the mobscreaming and trying to get outof theway; and every window along the road was fullof women'sheadsand there was nigger boys in everytreeandbucks and wenches looking over every fence;and assoon as the mob would get nearly to them theywouldbreak and skaddle back out of reach. Lots ofthe womenand girls was crying and taking onscaredmost todeath.
Theyswarmed up in front of Sherburn's palings asthick asthey could jam togetherand you couldn'thearyourself think for the noise. It was a littletwenty-footyard. Some sung out "Tear down thefence!tear down the fence!" Then there was aracket ofripping and tearing and smashingand downshe goesand the front wall of the crowd begins toroll inlike a wave.
Just thenSherburn steps out on to the roof of hislittlefront porchwith a double-barrel gun in his handand takeshis standperfectly ca'm and deliberatenotsaying aword. The racket stoppedand the wavesuckedback.
Sherburnnever said a word -- just stood therelook-ing down.The stillness was awful creepy and uncom-fortable.Sherburn run his eye slow along the crowd;andwherever it struck the people tried a little to out-gaze himbut they couldn't; they dropped their eyesand lookedsneaky. Then pretty soon Sherburn sortoflaughed; not the pleasant kindbut the kind thatmakes youfeel like when you are eating bread that'sgot sandin it.
Then hesaysslow and scornful:
"Theidea of YOU lynching anybody! It's amusing.The ideaof you thinking you had pluck enough tolynch aMAN! Because you're brave enough to tar andfeatherpoor friendless cast-out women that come alongheredidthat make you think you had grit enough tolay yourhands on a MAN? Whya MAN'S safe in thehands often thousand of your kind -- as long as it'sdaytimeand you're not behind him.
"Do Iknow you? I know you clear throughwas bornand raised in the Southand I've lived in theNorth; soI know the average all around. Theaverageman's a coward. In the North he lets anybodywalk overhim that wants toand goes home and praysfor ahumble spirit to bear it. In the South one manall byhimselfhas stopped a stage full of men in thedaytimeand robbed the lot. Your newspapers callyou abrave people so much that you think you arebraverthan any other people -- whereas you're just ASbraveandno braver. Why don't your juries hangmurderers?Because they're afraid the man's friendswill shootthem in the backin the dark -- and it's justwhat theyWOULD do.
"Sothey always acquit; and then a MAN goes inthe nightwith a hundred masked cowards at his backandlynches the rascal. Your mistake isthat youdidn'tbring a man with you; that's one mistakeandthe otheris that you didn't come in the dark and fetchyourmasks. You brought PART of a man -- BuckHarknessthere -- and if you hadn't had him to startyouyou'da taken it out in blowing.
"Youdidn't want to come. The average mandon't liketrouble and danger. YOU don't like troubleanddanger. But if only HALF a man -- like BuckHarknessthere -- shouts 'Lynch him! lynch him!'you'reafraid to back down -- afraid you'll be foundout to bewhat you are -- COWARDS -- and so you raisea yelland hang yourselves on to that half-a-man'scoat-tailand come raging up hereswearing what bigthingsyou're going to do. The pitifulest thing out isa mob;that's what an army is -- a mob; they don'tfight withcourage that's born in thembut with cour-age that'sborrowed from their massand from theirofficers.But a mob without any MAN at the head ofit isBENEATH pitifulness. Now the thing for YOU to dois todroop your tails and go home and crawl in ahole. Ifany real lynching's going to be done it willbe done inthe darkSouthern fashion; and when theycomethey'll bring their masksand fetch a MAN along.Now LEAVE-- and take your half-a-man with you" --tossinghis gun up across his left arm and cocking itwhen hesays this.
The crowdwashed back suddenand then broke allapartandwent tearing off every which wayand BuckHarknesshe heeled it after themlooking tolerable cheap.I could astayed if I wanted tobut I didn't want to.
I went tothe circus and loafed around the back sidetill thewatchman went byand then dived in under thetent. Ihad my twenty-dollar gold piece and someothermoneybut I reckoned I better save itbecausethereain't no telling how soon you are going to needitawayfrom home and amongst strangers that way.You can'tbe too careful. I ain't opposed to spendingmoney oncircuses when there ain't no other waybutthereain't no use in WASTING it on them.
It was areal bully circus. It was the splendidestsight thatever was when they all come riding intwoand twoagentleman and ladyside by sidethe menjust intheir drawers and undershirtsand no shoes norstirrupsand resting their hands on their thighs easyandcomfortable -- there must a been twenty of them-- andevery lady with a lovely complexionand per-fectlybeautifuland looking just like a gang of realsure-enoughqueensand dressed in clothes that costmillionsof dollarsand just littered with diamonds. Itwas apowerful fine sight; I never see anything solovely.And then one by one they got up and stoodand wenta-weaving around the ring so gentle andwavy andgracefulthe men looking ever so tall and airyandstraightwith their heads bobbing and skimmingalongaway up there under the tent-roofand everylady'srose-leafy dress flapping soft and silky aroundher hipsand she looking like the most loveliest parasol.
And thenfaster and faster they wentall of themdancingfirst one foot out in the air and then the otherthe horsesleaning more and moreand the ringmastergoinground and round the center-polecracking hiswhip andshouting "Hi! -- hi!" and the clown crack-ing jokesbehind him; and by and by all hands droppedthe reinsand every lady put her knuckles on her hipsand everygentleman folded his armsand then howthe horsesdid lean over and hump themselves! Andso oneafter the other they all skipped off into theringandmade the sweetest bow I ever seeand thenscamperedoutand everybody clapped their hands andwent justabout wild.
Wellallthrough the circus they done the mostastonishingthings; and all the time that clown carriedon so itmost killed the people. The ringmastercouldn'tever say a word to him but he was back athim quickas a wink with the funniest things a bodyever said;and how he ever COULD think of so many ofthemandso sudden and so patwas what I couldn'tnowayunderstand. WhyI couldn't a thought ofthem in ayear. And by and by a drunk man tried toget intothe ring -- said he wanted to ride; said hecould rideas well as anybody that ever was. Theyargued andtried to keep him outbut he wouldn'tlistenand the whole show come to a standstill. Thenthe peoplebegun to holler at him and make fun ofhimandthat made him madand he begun to ripand tear;so that stirred up the peopleand a lot ofmen begunto pile down off of the benches and swarmtowardsthe ringsaying"Knock him down! throwhim out!"and one or two women begun to scream.Sothenthe ringmaster he made a little speechandsaid hehoped there wouldn't be no disturbanceand ifthe manwould promise he wouldn't make no moretrouble hewould let him ride if he thought he couldstay onthe horse. So everybody laughed and said allrightandthe man got on. The minute he was onthe horsebegun to rip and tear and jump and cavortaroundwith two circus men hanging on to his bridletrying tohold himand the drunk man hanging on tohis neckand his heels flying in the air every jumpand thewhole crowd of people standing up shoutingandlaughing till tears rolled down. And at lastsureenoughall the circus men could dothe horse brokelooseandaway he went like the very nationroundand roundthe ringwith that sot laying down on himandhanging to his neckwith first one leg hangingmost tothe ground on one sideand then t'other oneon t'othersideand the people just crazy. It warn'tfunny tomethough; I was all of a tremble to see hisdanger.But pretty soon he struggled up astraddleandgrabbed the bridlea-reeling this way and that; andthe nextminute he sprung up and dropped the bridleand stood!and the horse a-going like a house afiretoo. Hejust stood up therea-sailing around as easyandcomfortable as if he warn't ever drunk in his life-- andthen he begun to pull off his clothes and slingthem. Heshed them so thick they kind of cloggedup theairand altogether he shed seventeen suits.Andthenthere he wasslim and handsomeanddressedthe gaudiest and prettiest you ever sawandhe litinto that horse with his whip and made him fairlyhum -- andfinally skipped offand made his bow anddanced offto the dressing-roomand everybody justa-howlingwith pleasure and astonishment.
Then theringmaster he see how he had been fooledand he WASthe sickest ringmaster you ever seeIreckon.Whyit was one of his own men! He hadgot upthat joke all out of his own headand never leton tonobody. WellI felt sheepish enough to betook insobut I wouldn't a been in that ringmaster'splacenotfor a thousand dollars. I don't know;there maybe bullier circuses than what that one wasbut Inever struck them yet. Anywaysit was plentygoodenough for ME; and wherever I run across ititcan haveall of MY custom every time.
Wellthatnight we had OUR show; but there warn'tonly abouttwelve people there -- just enough to payexpenses.And they laughed all the timeand thatmade theduke mad; and everybody leftanywaybefore theshow was overbut one boy which wasasleep. Sothe duke said these Arkansaw lunkheadscouldn'tcome up to Shakespeare; what they wantedwas lowcomedy -- and maybe something ruther worsethan lowcomedyhe reckoned. He said he couldsize theirstyle. So next morning he got some bigsheets ofwrapping paper and some black paintanddrawed offsome handbillsand stuck them up all overthevillage. The bills said:
AT THE COURT HOUSE!
FOR 3 NIGHTS ONLY!
The World-Renowned Tragedians
DAVID GARRICK THE YOUNGER!
EDMUND KEAN THE ELDER!
Of the London and Continental
In their Thrilling Tragedy of
THE KING'S CAMELEOPARD
THE ROYAL NONESUCH ! ! !
Admission 50 cents.
Then atthe bottom was the biggest line of allwhichsaid:
LADIES ANDCHILDREN NOT ADMITTED.
"There"says he"if that line don't fetch themIdon't knowArkansaw!"
WELLallday him and the king was hard at itrigging upa stage and a curtain and a row ofcandlesfor footlights; and that night the house wasjam fullof men in no time. When the place couldn'thold nomorethe duke he quit tending door and wentaround theback way and come on to the stage andstood upbefore the curtain and made a little speechandpraised up this tragedyand said it was the mostthrillingestone that ever was; and so he went on a-braggingabout the tragedyand about Edmund Keanthe Elderwhich was to play the main principal partin it; andat last when he'd got everybody's expecta-tions uphigh enoughhe rolled up the curtainandthe nextminute the king come a-prancing out on allfoursnaked; and he was painted all overring-streaked-and-stripedall sorts of colorsas splendidas arainbow. And -- but never mind the rest of hisoutfit; itwas just wildbut it was awful funny. Thepeoplemost killed themselves laughing; and when theking gotdone capering and capered off behind thescenesthey roared and clapped and stormed and haw-hawed tillhe come back and done it over againandafter thatthey made him do it another time. Wellitwould makea cow laugh to see the shines that oldidiot cut.
Then theduke he lets the curtain downand bows tothepeopleand says the great tragedy will be per-formedonly two nights moreon accounts of pressingLondonengagementswhere the seats is all sold alreadyfor it inDrury Lane; and then he makes them anotherbowandsays if he has succeeded in pleasing themandinstructing themhe will be deeply obleeged ifthey willmention it to their friends and get them tocome andsee it.
Twentypeople sings out:
"Whatis it over? Is that ALL?"
The dukesays yes. Then there was a fine time.Everybodysings out"Sold!" and rose up madandwasa-going for that stage and them tragedians. But abigfinelooking man jumps up on a bench andshouts:
"Holdon! Just a wordgentlemen." They stoppedto listen."We are sold -- mighty badly sold. Butwe don'twant to be the laughing stock of this wholetownIreckonand never hear the last of this thing aslong as welive. NO. What we want is to go out ofherequietand talk this show upand sell the REST ofthe town!Then we'll all be in the same boat. Ain'tthatsensible?" ("You bet it is! -- the jedge isright!"everybody sings out.) "All rightthen --not a wordabout any sell. Go along homeand ad-viseeverybody to come and see the tragedy."
Next dayyou couldn't hear nothing around thattown buthow splendid that show was. House wasjammedagain that nightand we sold this crowd thesame way.When me and the king and the duke gothome tothe raft we all had a supper; and by and byaboutmidnightthey made Jim and me back her outand floather down the middle of the riverand fetchher in andhide her about two mile below town.
The thirdnight the house was crammed again -- andtheywarn't new-comers this timebut people that wasat theshow the other two nights. I stood by the dukeat thedoorand I see that every man that went in hadhispockets bulgingor something muffled up underhis coat-- and I see it warn't no perfumeryneithernot by along sight. I smelt sickly eggs by the barreland rottencabbagesand such things; and if I knowthe signsof a dead cat being aroundand I bet I dothere wassixty-four of them went in. I shoved inthere fora minutebut it was too various for me; Icouldn'tstand it. Wellwhen the place couldn't holdno morepeople the duke he give a fellow a quarterand toldhim to tend door for him a minuteand thenhe startedaround for the stage doorI after him; butthe minutewe turned the corner and was in the darkhe says:
"Walkfast now till you get away from the housesand thenshin for the raft like the dickens was afteryou!"
I done itand he done the same. We struck theraft atthe same timeand in less than two seconds wewasgliding down streamall dark and stilland edgingtowardsthe middle of the rivernobody saying a word.I reckonedthe poor king was in for a gaudy time of itwith theaudiencebut nothing of the sort; prettysoon hecrawls out from under the wigwamand says:
"Wellhow'd the old thing pan out this timeduke?"He hadn't been up-town at all.
We nevershowed a light till we was about ten milebelow thevillage. Then we lit up and had a supperand theking and the duke fairly laughed their bonesloose overthe way they'd served them people. Theduke says:
"Greenhornsflatheads! I knew the first housewould keepmum and let the rest of the town get ropedin; and Iknew they'd lay for us the third nightandconsiderit was THEIR turn now. Wellit IS their turnand I'dgive something to know how much they'd takefor it. IWOULD just like to know how they're puttingin theiropportunity. They can turn it into a picnic ifthey wantto -- they brought plenty provisions."
Themrapscallions took in four hundred and sixty-fivedollars in that three nights. I never see moneyhauled inby the wagon-load like that before.By and bywhen they was asleep and snoringJimsays:
"Don'tit s'prise you de way dem kings carries onHuck?"
"No"I says"it don't."
"Wellit don'tbecause it's in the breed. I reckonthey'reall alike"
"ButHuckdese kings o' ourn is reglar rapscal-lions;dat's jist what dey is; dey's reglar rapscallions."
"Wellthat's what I'm a-saying; all kings ismostlyrapscallionsas fur as I can make out."
"Youread about them once -- you'll see. Lookat Henrythe Eight; this 'n 's a Sunday-school Super-intendentto HIM. And look at Charles SecondandLouisFourteenand Louis Fifteenand James Secondand EdwardSecondand Richard Thirdand fortymore;besides all them Saxon heptarchies that usedto riparound so in old times and raise Cain. Myyou oughtto seen old Henry the Eight when he wasin bloom.He WAS a blossom. He used to marry anew wifeevery dayand chop off her head next morn-ing. Andhe would do it just as indifferent as if hewasordering up eggs. 'Fetch up Nell Gwynn' hesays. Theyfetch her up. Next morning'Chop offher head!'And they chop it off. 'Fetch up JaneShore' hesays; and up she comesNext morning'Chop offher head' -- and they chop it off. 'Ringup FairRosamun.' Fair Rosamun answers the bell.Nextmorning'Chop off her head.' And he madeevery oneof them tell him a tale every night; and hekept thatup till he had hogged a thousand and onetales thatwayand then he put them all in a bookand calledit Domesday Book -- which was a goodname andstated the case. You don't know kingsJimbut Iknow them; and this old rip of ourn is oneof thecleanest I've struck in history. WellHenryhe takes anotion he wants to get up some trouble withthiscountry. How does he go at it -- give notice? --give thecountry a show? No. All of a sudden heheaves allthe tea in Boston Harbor overboardandwhacks outa declaration of independenceand daresthem tocome on. That was HIS style -- he never giveanybody achance. He had suspicions of his fatherthe Dukeof Wellington. Wellwhat did he do? Askhim toshow up? No -- drownded him in a butt ofmamseylike a cat. S'pose people left money layingaroundwhere he was -- what did he do? He collaredit. S'posehe contracted to do a thingand you paidhimanddidn't set down there and see that he doneit -- whatdid he do? He always done the other thing.S'pose heopened his mouth -- what then? If hedidn'tshut it up powerful quick he'd lose a lie everytime.That's the kind of a bug Henry was; and ifwe'd a hadhim along 'stead of our kings he'd a fooledthat towna heap worse than ourn done. I don't saythat ournis lambsbecause they ain'twhen you comeright downto the cold facts; but they ain't nothing toTHAT oldramanyway. All I say iskings is kingsand yougot to make allowances. Take them allaroundthey're a mighty ornery lot. It's the waythey'reraised."
"Butdis one do SMELL so like de nationHuck."
"Wellthey all doJim. We can't help the way akingsmells; history don't tell no way."
"Nowde dukehe's a tolerble likely man in someways."
"Yesa duke's different. But not very different.This one'sa middling hard lot for a duke. Whenhe's drunkthere ain't no near-sighted man could tellhim from aking."
"WellanywaysI doan' hanker for no mo' un umHuck. Deseis all I kin stan'."
"It'sthe way I feeltooJim. But we've got themon ourhandsand we got to remember what they areand makeallowances. Sometimes I wish we couldhear of acountry that's out of kings."
What wasthe use to tell Jim these warn't real kingsand dukes?It wouldn't a done no good; andbe-sidesitwas just as I said: you couldn't tell them fromthe realkind.
I went tosleepand Jim didn't call me when it wasmy turn.He often done that. When I waked upjust atdaybreak he was sitting there with his headdownbetwixt his kneesmoaning and mourning tohimself. Ididn't take notice nor let on. I knowedwhat itwas about. He was thinking about his wifeand hischildrenaway up yonderand he was low andhomesick;because he hadn't ever been away fromhomebefore in his life; and I do believe he cared justas muchfor his people as white folks does for their'n.It don'tseem naturalbut I reckon it's so. He wasoftenmoaning and mourning that way nightswhenhe judgedI was asleepand saying"Po' little 'Liza-beth! po'little Johnny! it's mighty hard; I spec' Iain't evergwyne to see you no mo'no mo'!" Hewas amighty good niggerJim was.
But thistime I somehow got to talking to him abouthis wifeand young ones; and by and by he says:
"Whatmakes me feel so bad dis time 'uz bekase Ihear sumpnover yonder on de bank like a whackera slamwhile agoen it mine me er de time I treat mylittle'Lizabeth so ornery. She warn't on'y 'bout fo'year oleen she tuck de sk'yarlet feveren had apowfulrough spell; but she got wellen one day shewasa-stannin' aroun'en I says to herI says:
"Shenever done it; jis' stood dahkiner smilin' upat me. Itmake me mad; en I says aginmighty loudI says:
"'Doan'you hear me? Shet de do'!'
"Shejis stood de same waykiner smilin' up. Iwasa-bilin'! I says:
"'Ilay I MAKE you mine!'
"Enwid dat I fetch' her a slap side de head datsont hera-sprawlin'. Den I went into de yutherroomen'uz gone 'bout ten minutes; en when Icome backdah was dat do' a-stannin' open YITendat chilestannin' mos' right in ita-lookin' down andmournin'en de tears runnin' down. Mybut I WUZmad! I wasa-gwyne for de chilebut jis' den -- itwas a do'dat open innerds -- jis' den'long come dewind enslam it tobehine de chileker-BLAM! -- en mylan'dechile never move'! My breff mos' hop outerme; en Ifeel so -- so -- I doan' know HOW I feel. Icrope outall a-tremblin'en crope aroun' en open dedo' easyen slowen poke my head in behine de chilesof' enstillen all uv a sudden I says POW! jis' asloud as Icould yell. SHE NEVER BUDGE! OhHuckIbust outa-cryin' en grab her up in my armsen say'Ohdepo' little thing! De Lord God Amightyfogive po'ole Jimkaze he never gwyne to fogive his-self aslong's he live!' Ohshe was plumb deef endumbHuckplumb deef en dumb -- en I'd ben a-treat'nher so!"
NEXT daytowards nightwe laid up under a littlewillowtowhead out in the middlewhere therewas avillage on each side of the riverand the dukeand theking begun to lay out a plan for working themtowns. Jimhe spoke to the dukeand said he hopeditwouldn't take but a few hoursbecause it got mightyheavy andtiresome to him when he had to lay all dayin thewigwam tied with the rope. You seewhen weleft himall alone we had to tie himbecause if any-bodyhappened on to him all by himself and not tieditwouldn't look much like he was a runaway niggeryou know.So the duke said it WAS kind of hard tohave tolay roped all dayand he'd cipher out someway to getaround it.
He wasuncommon brightthe duke wasand hesoonstruck it. He dressed Jim up in King Lear'soutfit --it was a long curtain-calico gownand a whitehorse-hairwig and whiskers; and then he took histheaterpaint and painted Jim's face and hands andears andneck all over a deaddullsolid bluelike aman that'sbeen drownded nine days. Blamed if hewarn't thehorriblest looking outrage I ever see. Thenthe duketook and wrote out a sign on a shingle so:
Sick Arab -- but harmless when not out of his head.
And henailed that shingle to a lathand stood thelath upfour or five foot in front of the wigwam. Jimwassatisfied. He said it was a sight better than lyingtied acouple of years every dayand trembling allover everytime there was a sound. The duke toldhim tomake himself free and easyand if anybodyever comemeddling aroundhe must hop out of thewigwamand carry on a littleand fetch a howl or twolike awild beastand he reckoned they would light outand leavehim alone. Which was sound enough judg-ment; butyou take the average manand he wouldn'twait forhim to howl. Whyhe didn't only look likehe wasdeadhe looked considerable more than that.
Theserapscallions wanted to try the Nonesuch againbecausethere was so much money in itbut theyjudged itwouldn't be safebecause maybe the newsmight aworked along down by this time. Theycouldn'thit no project that suited exactly; so at lastthe dukesaid he reckoned he'd lay off and work hisbrains anhour or two and see if he couldn't put upsomethingon the Arkansaw village; and the king heallowed hewould drop over to t'other village withoutany planbut just trust in Providence to lead him theprofitableway -- meaning the devilI reckon. Wehad allbought store clothes where we stopped last;and nowthe king put his'n onand he told me to putmine on. Idone itof course. The king's duds wasall blackand he did look real swell and starchy. Ineverknowed how clothes could change a body be-fore. Whybeforehe looked like the orneriest oldrip thatever was; but nowwhen he'd take off his newwhitebeaver and make a bow and do a smilehelookedthat grand and good and pious that you'd sayhe hadwalked right out of the arkand maybe was oldLeviticushimself. Jim cleaned up the canoeand Igot mypaddle ready. There was a big steamboat lay-ing at theshore away up under the pointabout threemile abovethe town -- been there a couple of hourstaking onfreight. Says the king:
"Seein'how I'm dressedI reckon maybe I betterarrivedown from St. Louis or Cincinnatior someother bigplace. Go for the steamboatHuckleberry;we'll comedown to the village on her."
I didn'thave to be ordered twice to go and take asteamboatride. I fetched the shore a half a mileabove thevillageand then went scooting along thebluff bankin the easy water. Pretty soon we come toa niceinnocent-looking young country jake setting ona logswabbing the sweat off of his facefor it waspowerfulwarm weather; and he had a couple of bigcarpet-bagsby him.
"Runher nose in shore" says the king. I doneit. "Wher'you bound foryoung man?"
"Forthe steamboat; going to Orleans."
"Gitaboard" says the king. "Hold on a minutemy servant'll he'p you with them bags. Jump outand he'pthe gentlemanAdolphus" -- meaning meIsee.
I done soand then we all three started on again.The youngchap was mighty thankful; said it wastough worktoting his baggage such weather. Heasked theking where he was goingand the king toldhim he'dcome down the river and landed at the othervillagethis morningand now he was going up a fewmile tosee an old friend on a farm up there. Theyoungfellow says:
"WhenI first see you I says to myself'It's Mr.Wilkssureand he come mighty near getting here intime.' Butthen I says again'NoI reckon it ain'thimorelse he wouldn't be paddling up the river.'You AIN'Thimare you?"
"Nomy name's Blodgett -- Elexander Blodgett --REVERENDElexander BlodgettI s'pose I must sayasI'm one o'the Lord's poor servants. But still I'mjist asable to be sorry for Mr. Wilks for not arrivingin timeall the sameif he's missed anything by it --which Ihope he hasn't."
"Wellhe don't miss any property by itbecausehe'll getthat all right; but he's missed seeing hisbrotherPeter die -- which he mayn't mindnobodycan tellas to that -- but his brother would a giveanythingin this world to see HIM before he died;nevertalked about nothing else all these three weeks;hadn'tseen him since they was boys together -- andhadn'tever seen his brother William at all -- that's thedeef anddumb one -- William ain't more than thirtyorthirty-five. Peter and George were the only onesthat comeout here; George was the married brother;him andhis wife both died last year. Harvey andWilliam'sthe only ones that's left now; andas I wassayingthey haven't got here in time."
"Didanybody send 'em word?"
"Ohyes; a month or two agowhen Peter wasfirsttook; because Peter said then that he sorter feltlike hewarn't going to get well this time. You seehe waspretty oldand George's g'yirls was too youngto be muchcompany for himexcept Mary Janethered-headedone; and so he was kinder lonesome afterGeorge andhis wife diedand didn't seem to caremuch tolive. He most desperately wanted to seeHarvey --and Williamtoofor that matter -- becausehe was oneof them kind that can't bear to make awill. Heleft a letter behind for Harveyand saidhe'd toldin it where his money was hidand how hewanted therest of the property divided up so George'sg'yirlswould be all right -- for George didn't leavenothing.And that letter was all they could get himto put apen to."
"Whydo you reckon Harvey don't come? Wher'does helive?"
"Ohhe lives in England -- Sheffield -- preachesthere --hasn't ever been in this country. He hasn'thad anytoo much time -- and besides he mightn't agot theletter at allyou know."
"Toobadtoo bad he couldn't a lived to see hisbrotherspoor soul. You going to Orleansyou say?"
"Yesbut that ain't only a part of it. I'm goingin a shipnext Wednesdayfor Ryo Janeerowheremy unclelives."
"It'sa pretty long journey. But it'll be lovely;wisht Iwas a-going. Is Mary Jane the oldest? Howold is theothers?"
"MaryJane's nineteenSusan's fifteenand Joanna'saboutfourteen -- that's the one that gives herself togood worksand has a hare-lip."
"Poorthings! to be left alone in the cold worldso."
"Wellthey could be worse off. Old Peter hadfriendsand they ain't going to let them come to noharm.There's Hobsonthe Babtis' preacher; andDeacon LotHoveyand Ben Ruckerand AbnerShacklefordand Levi Bellthe lawyer; and Dr. Rob-insonandtheir wivesand the widow Bartleyand --wellthere's a lot of them; but these are the ones thatPeter wasthickest withand used to write about some-timeswhen he wrote home; so Harvey 'll know whereto lookfor friends when he gets here."
Welltheold man went on asking questions till hejustfairly emptied that young fellow. Blamed if hedidn'tinquire about everybody and everything in thatblessedtownand all about the Wilkses; and aboutPeter'sbusiness -- which was a tanner; and aboutGeorge's-- which was a carpenter; and about Har-vey's --which was a dissentering minister; and so onand so on.Then he says:
"Whatdid you want to walk all the way up to thesteamboatfor?"
"Becauseshe's a big Orleans boatand I was afeardshemightn't stop there. When they're deep theywon't stopfor a hail. A Cincinnati boat willbut thisis a St.Louis one."
"WasPeter Wilks well off?"
"Ohyespretty well off. He had houses andlandandit's reckoned he left three or four thousandin cashhid up som'ers."
"Whendid you say he died?"
"Ididn't saybut it was last night."
"Yes'bout the middle of the day."
"Wellit's all terrible sad; but we've all got to goone timeor another. So what we want to do is to beprepared;then we're all right."
"Yessirit's the best way. Ma used to alwayssay that."
When westruck the boat she was about done load-ingandpretty soon she got off. The king never saidnothingabout going aboardso I lost my rideafterall. Whenthe boat was gone the king made me pad-dle upanother mile to a lonesome placeand then hegot ashoreand says:
"Nowhustle backright offand fetch the duke uphereandthe new carpet-bags. And if he's gone overto t'othersidego over there and git him. And tellhim to githimself up regardless. Shove alongnow."
I see whatHE was up to; but I never said nothingof course.When I got back with the duke we hid thecanoeandthen they set down on a logand the kingtold himeverythingjust like the young fellow hadsaid it --every last word of it. And all the time hewasa-doing it he tried to talk like an Englishman;and hedone it pretty welltoofor a slouch. I can'timitatehimand so I ain't a-going to try to; but hereallydone it pretty good. Then he says:
"Howare you on the deef and dumbBilgewater?"
The dukesaidleave him alone for that; said he hadplayed adeef and dumb person on the histronic boards.So thenthey waited for a steamboat.
About themiddle of the afternoon a couple of littleboats comealongbut they didn't come from highenough upthe river; but at last there was a big oneand theyhailed her. She sent out her yawland wewentaboardand she was from Cincinnati; and whenthey foundwe only wanted to go four or five milethey wasbooming madand gave us a cussingandsaid theywouldn't land us. But the king was ca'm.He says:
"Ifgentlemen kin afford to pay a dollar a mileapiece tobe took on and put off in a yawla steam-boat kinafford to carry 'emcan't it?"
So theysoftened down and said it was all right;and whenwe got to the village they yawled us ashore.About twodozen men flocked down when they see theyawla-comingand when the king says:
"Kinany of you gentlemen tell me wher' Mr. PeterWilkslives?" they give a glance at one anotherandnoddedtheir headsas much as to say"What d' Itell you?"Then one of them sayskind of soft andgentle:
"I'msorry. sirbut the best we can do is to tellyou wherehe DID live yesterday evening."
Sudden aswinking the ornery old cretur went anto smashand fell up against the manand put hischin onhis shoulderand cried down his backandsays:
"Alasalasour poor brother -- goneand we nevergot to seehim; ohit's tootoo hard!"
Then heturns aroundblubberingand makes a lotof idioticsigns to the duke on his handsand blamedif hedidn't drop a carpet-bag and bust out a-crying.If theywarn't the beatenest lotthem two fraudsthatever Istruck.
Wellthemen gathered around and sympathizedwith themand said all sorts of kind things to themandcarried their carpet-bags up the hill for themandlet themlean on them and cryand told the king allabout hisbrother's last momentsand the king he toldit allover again on his hands to the dukeand both ofthem tookon about that dead tanner like they'd lostthe twelvedisciples. Wellif ever I struck anythinglike itI'm a nigger. It was enough to make a bodyashamed ofthe human race.
THE newswas all over town in two minutesandyou couldsee the people tearing down on therun fromevery which waysome of them putting ontheircoats as they come. Pretty soon we was in themiddle ofa crowdand the noise of the tramping waslike asoldier march. The windows and dooryards wasfull; andevery minute somebody would sayover afence:
Andsomebody trotting along with the gang wouldanswerback and say:
"Youbet it is."
When wegot to the house the street in front of itwaspackedand the three girls was standing in thedoor. MaryJane WAS red-headedbut that don't makenodifferenceshe was most awful beautifuland herface andher eyes was all lit up like gloryshe was soglad heruncles was come. The king he spread hisarmsandMarsy Jane she jumped for themand thehare-lipjumped for the dukeand there they HAD it!Everybodymostleastways womencried for joy tosee themmeet again at last and have such good times.
Then theking he hunched the duke private -- I seehim do it-- and then he looked around and see thecoffinover in the corner on two chairs; so then himand thedukewith a hand across each other's shoul-derandt'other hand to their eyeswalked slow andsolemnover thereeverybody dropping back to givethem roomand all the talk and noise stoppingpeoplesaying"Sh!" and all the men taking their hats off anddroopingtheir headsso you could a heard a pin fall.And whenthey got there they bent over and looked inthecoffinand took one sightand then they bust outa-cryingso you could a heard them to Orleansmost;and thenthey put their arms around each other'snecksandhung their chins over each other's shoul-ders; andthen for three minutesor maybe fourInever seetwo men leak the way they done. Andmind youeverybody was doing the same; and theplace wasthat damp I never see anything like it.Then oneof them got on one side of the coffinandt'other ont'other sideand they kneeled down andrestedtheir foreheads on the coffinand let on to prayall tothemselves. Wellwhen it come to that itworked thecrowd like you never see anything like itandeverybody broke down and went to sobbing rightout loud-- the poor girlstoo; and every womannearlywent up to the girlswithout saying a wordand kissedthemsolemnon the foreheadand thenput theirhand on their headand looked up towardsthe skywith the tears running downand then bustedout andwent off sobbing and swabbingand give thenext womana show. I never see anything so dis-gusting.
Wellbyand by the king he gets up and comes for-ward alittleand works himself up and slobbers out aspeechall full of tears and flapdoodle about its beinga soretrial for him and his poor brother to lose thediseasedand to miss seeing diseased alive after thelongjourney of four thousand milebut it's a trialthat'ssweetened and sanctified to us by this dear sym-pathy andthese holy tearsand so he thanks them outof hisheart and out of his brother's heartbecause outof theirmouths they can'twords being too weak andcoldandall that kind of rot and slushtill it was justsickening;and then he blubbers out a pious goody-goodyAmenand turns himself loose and goes to cry-ing fit tobust.
And theminute the words were out of his mouthsomebodyover in the crowd struck up the doxolojerandeverybody joined in with all their mightand itjustwarmed you up and made you feel as good aschurchletting out. Music is a good thing; and afterall thatsoul-butter and hogwash I never see it freshenup thingssoand sound so honest and bully.
Then theking begins to work his jaw againandsays howhim and his nieces would be glad if a few ofthe mainprincipal friends of the family would takesupperhere with them this eveningand help set upwith theashes of the diseased; and says if his poorbrotherlaying yonder could speak he knows who hewouldnamefor they was names that was very dear tohimandmentioned often in his letters; and so he willname thesameto witas followsvizz.: -- Rev. Mr.Hobsonand Deacon Lot Hoveyand Mr. Ben Ruckerand AbnerShacklefordand Levi Belland Dr. Robin-sonandtheir wivesand the widow Bartley.
Rev.Hobson and Dr. Robinson was down to theend of thetown a-hunting together -- that isI meanthe doctorwas shipping a sick man to t'other worldand thepreacher was pinting him right. Lawyer Bellwas awayup to Louisville on business. But the restwas onhandand so they all come and shook handswith theking and thanked him and talked to him; andthen theyshook hands with the duke and didn't saynothingbut just kept a-smiling and bobbing theirheads likea passel of sapheads whilst he made all sortsof signswith his hands and said "Goo-goo -- goo-goo-goo"all the timelike a baby that can't talk.
So theking he blattered alongand managed toinquireabout pretty much everybody and dog in townby hisnameand mentioned all sorts of little thingsthathappened one time or another in the townor toGeorge'sfamilyor to Peter. And he always let onthat Peterwrote him the things; but that was a lie:he gotevery blessed one of them out of that youngflatheadthat we canoed up to the steamboat.
Then MaryJane she fetched the letter her fatherleftbehindand the king he read it out loud and criedover it.It give the dwelling-house and three thousanddollarsgoldto the girls; and it give the tanyard(which wasdoing a good business)along with someotherhouses and land (worth about seven thousand)and threethousand dollars in gold to Harvey andWilliamand told where the six thousand cash was hiddowncellar. So these two frauds said they'd go andfetch itupand have everything square and above-board; andtold me to come with a candle. We shutthe cellardoor behind usand when they found thebag theyspilt it out on the floorand it was a lovelysightallthem yaller-boys. Mythe way the king'seyes didshine! He slaps the duke on the shoulderand says:
"OhTHIS ain't bully nor noth'n! OhnoI reckonnot! WhyBiljyit beats the NonesuchDON'T it?"
The dukeallowed it did. They pawed the yaller-boysandsifted them through their fingers and letthemjingle down on the floor; and the king says:
"Itain't no use talkin'; bein' brothers to a richdead manand representatives of furrin heirs that's gotleft isthe line for you and meBilge. Thish yercomes oftrust'n to Providence. It's the best wayinthe longrun. I've tried 'em alland ther' ain't nobetterway."
Mosteverybody would a been satisfied with the pileand tookit on trust; but nothey must count it. Sotheycounts itand it comes out four hundred andfifteendollars short. Says the king:
"DernhimI wonder what he done with that fourhundredand fifteen dollars?"
Theyworried over that awhileand ransacked allaround forit. Then the duke says:
"Wellhe was a pretty sick manand likely hemade amistake -- I reckon that's the way of it. Thebest way'sto let it goand keep still about it. Wecan spareit."
"Ohshucksyeswe can SPARE it. I don't k'yernoth'n'bout that -- it's the COUNT I'm thinkin' about.We want tobe awful square and open and above-boardhereyouknow. We want to lug this h-yer moneyup stairsand count it before everybody -- then ther'ain'tnoth'n suspicious. But when the dead man saysther's sixthous'n dollarsyou knowwe don't wantto --"
"Holdon" says the duke. "Le's make up thedeffisit"and he begun to haul out yaller-boys out ofhispocket.
"It'sa most amaz'n' good ideaduke -- you HAVEgot arattlin' clever head on you" says the king."Blestif the old Nonesuch ain't a heppin' us outagin"and HE begun to haul out yaller-jackets andstack themup.
It mostbusted thembut they made up the sixthousandclean and clear.
"Say"says the duke"I got another idea. Le'sgo upstairs and count this moneyand then take andGIVE IT TOTHE GIRLS."
"Goodlanddukelemme hug you! It's the mostdazzlingidea 'at ever a man struck. You have cert'nlygot themost astonishin' head I ever see. Ohthis isthe bossdodgether' ain't no mistake 'bout it. Let'em fetchalong their suspicions now if they want to --this 'lllay 'em out."
When wegot up-stairs everybody gethered aroundthe tableand the king he counted it and stacked it upthreehundred dollars in a pile -- twenty elegant littlepiles.Everybody looked hungry at itand licked theirchops.Then they raked it into the bag againand Isee theking begin to swell himself up for anotherspeech. Hesays:
"Friendsallmy poor brother that lays yonder hasdonegenerous by them that's left behind in the vale ofsorrers.He has done generous by these yer poorlittlelambs that he loved and shelteredand that's leftfatherlessand motherless. Yesand we that knowedhim knowsthat he would a done MORE generous by 'emif hehadn't ben afeard o' woundin' his dear Williamand me.NowWOULDN'T he? Ther' ain't no question'bout itin MY mind. Wellthenwhat kind o' brotherswould itbe that 'd stand in his way at sech a time?And whatkind o' uncles would it be that 'd rob -- yesROB --sech poor sweet lambs as these 'at he loved so atsech atime? If I know William -- and I THINK I do --he --wellI'll jest ask him." He turns around andbegins tomake a lot of signs to the duke with hishandsandthe duke he looks at him stupid and leather-headed awhile; then all of a sudden he seems to catchhismeaningand jumps for the kinggoo-gooing withall hismight for joyand hugs him about fifteen timesbefore helets up. Then the king says"I knowedit; Ireckon THAT 'll convince anybody the way HE feelsabout it.HereMary JaneSusanJoannertake themoney --take it ALL. It's the gift of him that laysyondercold but joyful."
Mary Janeshe went for himSusan and the hare-lipwent forthe dukeand then such another hugging andkissing Inever see yet. And everybody crowded upwith thetears in their eyesand most shook the handsoff ofthem fraudssaying all the time:
"YouDEAR good souls! -- how LOVELY! -- how COULDyou!"
Wellthenpretty soon all hands got to talkingabout thediseased againand how good he wasandwhat aloss he wasand all that; and before long a bigiron-jawedman worked himself in there from outsideand stooda-listening and lookingand not saying any-thing; andnobody saying anything to him eitherbecausethe king was talking and they was all busylistening.The king was saying -- in the middle ofsomethinghe'd started in on --
"--they bein' partickler friends o' the diseased.That's whythey're invited here this evenin'; but to-morrow wewant ALL to come -- everybody; for herespectedeverybodyhe liked everybodyand so it'sfittenthat his funeral orgies sh'd be public."
And so hewent a-mooning on and onliking to hearhimselftalkand every little while he fetched in hisfuneralorgies againtill the duke he couldn't stand itno more;so he writes on a little scrap of paper"OBSEQUIESyou old fool" and folds it upand goestogoo-gooing and reaching it over people's heads tohim. Theking he reads it and puts it in his pocketand says:
"PoorWilliamafflicted as he ishis HEART'S aluzright.Asks me to invite everybody to come to thefuneral --wants me to make 'em all welcome. But heneedn't aworried -- it was jest what I was at."
Then heweaves along againperfectly ca'mandgoes todropping in his funeral orgies again every nowand thenjust like he done before. And when hedone itthe third time he says:
"Isay orgiesnot because it's the common termbecause itain't -- obsequies bein' the common term --butbecause orgies is the right term. Obsequies ain'tused inEngland no more now -- it's gone out. Wesay orgiesnow in England. Orgies is betterbecauseit meansthe thing you're after more exact. It's awordthat's made up out'n the Greek ORGOoutsideopenabroad; and the Hebrew JEESUMto plantcoverup; henceinTER. Soyou seefuneral orgies is anopen erpublic funeral."
He was theWORST I ever struck. Wellthe iron-jawed manhe laughed right in his face. Everybodywasshocked. Everybody says"WhyDOCTOR!" andAbnerShackleford says:
"WhyRobinsonhain't you heard the news? Thisis HarveyWilks."
The kinghe smiled eagerand shoved out hisflapperand says:
"Isit my poor brother's dear good friend and phy-sician? I--"
"Keepyour hands off of me!" says the doctor."YOUtalk like an EnglishmanDON'T you? It's theworstimitation I ever heard. YOU Peter Wilks'sbrother!You're a fraudthat's what you are!"
Wellhowthey all took on! They crowded aroundthe doctorand tried to quiet him downand tried toexplain tohim and tell him how Harvey 'd showed inforty waysthat he WAS Harveyand knowed every-body bynameand the names of the very dogsandbegged andBEGGED him not to hurt Harvey's feelingsand thepoor girl's feelingsand all that. But it warn'tno use; hestormed right alongand said any man thatpretendedto be an Englishman and couldn't imitatethe lingono better than what he did was a fraud and aliar. Thepoor girls was hanging to the king and cry-ing; andall of a sudden the doctor ups and turns onTHEM. Hesays:
"Iwas your father's friendand I'm your friend;and I warnyou as a friendand an honest one thatwants toprotect you and keep you out of harm andtroubleto turn your backs on that scoundrel and havenothing todo with himthe ignorant trampwith hisidioticGreek and Hebrewas he calls it. He is thethinnestkind of an impostor -- has come here with alot ofempty names and facts which he picked upsomewheresand you take them for PROOFSand arehelped tofool yourselves by these foolish friends herewho oughtto know better. Mary Jane Wilksyouknow mefor your friendand for your unselfish friendtoo. Nowlisten to me; turn this pitiful rascal out --I BEG youto do it. Will you?"
Mary Janestraightened herself upand mybut shewashandsome! She says:
"HEREis my answer." She hove up the bag ofmoney andput it in the king's handsand says"Takethis six thousand dollarsand invest for meand mysisters any way you want toand don't giveus noreceipt for it."
Then sheput her arm around the king on one sideand Susanand the hare-lip done the same on theother.Everybody clapped their hands and stompedon thefloor like a perfect stormwhilst the king heldup hishead and smiled proud. The doctor says:
"Allright; I wash MY hands of the matter. But Iwarn youall that a time 's coming when you're goingto feelsick whenever you think of this day." Andaway hewent.
"Allrightdoctor" says the kingkinder mockinghim;"we'll try and get 'em to send for you;" whichmade themall laughand they said it was a primegood hit.
WELLwhenthey was all gone the king he asksMary Janehow they was off for spare roomsand shesaid she had one spare roomwhich would dofor UncleWilliamand she'd give her own room toUncleHarveywhich was a little biggerand she wouldturn intothe room with her sisters and sleep on a cot;and upgarret was a little cubbywith a pallet in it.The kingsaid the cubby would do for his valley --meaningme.
So MaryJane took us upand she showed themtheirroomswhich was plain but nice. She said she'dhave herfrocks and a lot of other traps took out ofher roomif they was in Uncle Harvey's waybut hesaid theywarn't. The frocks was hung along the walland beforethem was a curtain made out of calico thathung downto the floor. There was an old hair trunkin onecornerand a guitar-box in anotherand allsorts oflittle knickknacks and jimcracks aroundlikegirlsbrisken up a room with. The king said it was allthe morehomely and more pleasanter for these fixingsand sodon't disturb them. The duke's room wasprettysmallbut plenty good enoughand so was mycubby.
That nightthey had a big supperand all them menand womenwas thereand I stood behind the king andthe duke'schairs and waited on themand the niggerswaited onthe rest. Mary Jane she set at the head ofthe tablewith Susan alongside of herand said howbad thebiscuits wasand how mean the preserves wasand howornery and tough the fried chickens was --and allthat kind of rotthe way women always do forto forceout compliments; and the people all knowedeverythingwas tiptopand said so -- said "How DOyou getbiscuits to brown so nice?" and "Whereforthe land'ssakeDID you get these amaz'n pickles?"and allthat kind of humbug talky-talkjust the waypeoplealways does at a supperyou know.
And whenit was all done me and the hare-lip hadsupper inthe kitchen off of the leavingswhilst the otherswashelping the niggers clean up the things. Thehare-lipshe got to pumping me about Englandandblest if Ididn't think the ice was getting mighty thinsometimes.She says:
"Didyou ever see the king?"
"Who?William Fourth? WellI bet I have -- hegoes toour church." I knowed he was dead yearsagobut Inever let on. So when I says he goes toourchurchshe says:
"Yes-- regular. His pew's right over oppositeourn -- ont'other side the pulpit."
"Ithought he lived in London?"
"Wellhe does. Where WOULD he live?"
"ButI thought YOU lived in Sheffield?"
I see Iwas up a stump. I had to let on to getchokedwith a chicken boneso as to get time to thinkhow to getdown again. Then I says:
"Imean he goes to our church regular when he's inSheffield.That's only in the summer timewhen hecomesthere to take the sea baths."
"Whyhow you talk -- Sheffield ain't on the sea."
"Wellwho said it was?"
"Inever said nothing of the kind."
"Wellwhat DID you saythen?"
"Saidhe come to take the sea BATHS -- that's what Isaid."
"Wellthenhow's he going to take the sea baths ifit ain'ton the sea?"
"Lookyhere" I says; "did you ever see anyCongress-water?"
"Welldid you have to go to Congress to getit?"
"Wellneither does William Fourth have to go tothe sea toget a sea bath."
"Howdoes he get itthen?"
"Getsit the way people down here gets Congress-water --in barrels. There in the palace at Sheffieldthey'vegot furnacesand he wants his water hot.They can'tbile that amount of water away off there atthe sea.They haven't got no conveniences for it."
"OhI seenow. You might a said that in the firstplace andsaved time."
When shesaid that I see I was out of the woodsagainandso I was comfortable and glad. Nextshesays:
"Doyou go to churchtoo?"
"Wheredo you set?"
"Whyin our pew."
"WhyOURN -- your Uncle Harvey's."
"His'n?What does HE want with a pew?"
"Wantsit to set in. What did you RECKON he wantedwith it?"
"WhyI thought he'd be in the pulpit."
Rot himIforgot he was a preacher. I see I wasup a stumpagainso I played another chicken boneand gotanother think. Then I says:
"Blameitdo you suppose there ain't but onepreacherto a church?"
"Whywhat do they want with more?"
"What!-- to preach before a king? I never didsee such agirl as you. They don't have no less thanseventeen."
"Seventeen!My land! WhyI wouldn't set outsuch astring as thatnot if I NEVER got to glory. Itmust take'em a week."
"Shucksthey don't ALL of 'em preach the sameday --only ONE of 'em."
"Wellthenwhat does the rest of 'em do?"
"Ohnothing much. Loll aroundpass the plate-- and onething or another. But mainly they don'tdonothing."
"Wellthenwhat are they FOR?"
"Whythey're for STYLE. Don't you know noth-ing?"
"WellI don't WANT to know no such foolishness asthat. Howis servants treated in England? Do theytreat 'embetter 'n we treat our niggers?"
"NO!A servant ain't nobody there. They treatthem worsethan dogs."
"Don'tthey give 'em holidaysthe way we doChristmasand New Year's weekand Fourth of July?"
"Ohjust listen! A body could tell YOU hain't everbeen toEngland by that. WhyHare-l -- whyJoannathey neversee a holiday from year's end to year'send; nevergo to the circusnor theaternor niggershowsnornowheres."
"ButYOU always went to church."
WellIwas gone up again. I forgot I was the oldman'sservant. But next minute I whirled in on akind of anexplanation how a valley was different froma commonservant and HAD to go to church whetherhe wantedto or notand set with the familyon ac-count ofits being the law. But I didn't do it prettygoodandwhen I got done I see she warn't satisfied.She says:
"Honestinjunnowhain't you been telling me alot oflies?"
"Honestinjun" says I.
"Noneof it at all?"
"Noneof it at all. Not a lie in it" says I.
"Layyour hand on this book and say it."
I see itwarn't nothing but a dictionaryso I laid myhand on itand said it. So then she looked a littlebettersatisfiedand says:
"WellthenI'll believe some of it; but I hope tograciousif I'll believe the rest."
"Whatis it you won't believeJoe?" says MaryJanestepping in with Susan behind her. "It ain'tright norkind for you to talk so to himand him astrangerand so far from his people. How would youlike to betreated so?"
"That'salways your wayMaim -- always sailing into helpsomebody before they're hurt. I hain't donenothing tohim. He's told some stretchersI reckonand I saidI wouldn't swallow it all; and that's everybit andgrain I DID say. I reckon he can stand a littlething likethatcan't he?"
"Idon't care whether 'twas little or whether 'twasbig; he'shere in our house and a strangerand itwasn'tgood of you to say it. If you was in his placeit wouldmake you feel ashamed; and so you oughtn'tto say athing to another person that will make THEMfeelashamed."
"WhyMaimhe said --"
"Itdon't make no difference what he SAID -- thatain't thething. The thing is for you to treat himKINDandnot be saying things to make him rememberhe ain'tin his own country and amongst his ownfolks."
I says tomyselfTHIS is a girl that I'm letting thatold reptlerob her of her money!
Then SusanSHE waltzed in; and if you'll believemeshedid give Hare-lip hark from the tomb!
Says I tomyselfand this is ANOTHER one that I'mlettinghim rob her of her money!
Then MaryJane she took another inningand wentin sweetand lovely again -- which was her way; butwhen shegot done there warn't hardly anything left o'poorHare-lip. So she hollered.
"Allrightthen" says the other girls; "you justask hispardon."
She doneittoo; and she done it beautiful. Shedone it sobeautiful it was good to hear; and I wishedI couldtell her a thousand liesso she could do itagain.
I says tomyselfthis is ANOTHER one that I'm lettinghim robher of her money. And when she got throughthey alljest laid theirselves out to make me feel athome andknow I was amongst friends. I felt soornery andlow down and mean that I says to myselfmy mind'smade up; I'll hive that money for them orbust.
So then Ilit out -- for bedI saidmeaning sometime oranother. When I got by myself I went tothinkingthe thing over. I says to myselfshall I goto thatdoctorprivateand blow on these frauds?No -- thatwon't do. He might tell who told him;then theking and the duke would make it warm forme. ShallI goprivateand tell Mary Jane? No --I dasn'tdo it. Her face would give them a hintsure;they've got the moneyand they'd slide rightout andget away with it. If she was to fetch in helpI'd getmixed up in the business before it was donewithIjudge. No; there ain't no good way but one.I got tosteal that moneysomehow; and I got tosteal itsome way that they won't suspicion that I doneit.They've got a good thing hereand they ain'ta-going toleave till they've played this family and thistown forall they're worthso I'll find a chance timeenough.I'll steal it and hide it; and by and bywhen I'maway down the riverI'll write a letter andtell MaryJane where it's hid. But I better hive it to-night if Icanbecause the doctor maybe hasn't let upas much ashe lets on he has; he might scare themout ofhere yet.
SothinksII'll go and search them rooms. Up-stairs thehall was darkbut I found the duke's roomandstarted to paw around it with my hands; but Irecollectedit wouldn't be much like the king to letanybodyelse take care of that money but his own self;so then Iwent to his room and begun to paw aroundthere. ButI see I couldn't do nothing without acandleand I dasn't light oneof course. So I judgedI'd got todo the other thing -- lay for them andeavesdrop.About that time I hears their footstepscomingand was going to skip under the bed; Ireachedfor itbut it wasn't where I thought it wouldbe; but Itouched the curtain that hid Mary Jane'sfrockssoI jumped in behind that and snuggled inamongstthe gownsand stood there perfectly still.
They comein and shut the door; and the first thingthe dukedone was to get down and look under thebed. ThenI was glad I hadn't found the bed when Iwanted it.And yetyou knowit's kind of natural tohide underthe bed when you are up to anythingprivate.They sets down thenand the king says:
"Wellwhat is it? And cut it middlin' shortbe-cause it'sbetter for us to be down there a-whoopin'up themournin' than up here givin' 'em a chance totalk usover."
"Wellthis is itCapet. I ain't easy; I ain't com-fortable.That doctor lays on my mind. I wanted toknow yourplans. I've got a notionand I think it's asoundone."
"Thatwe better glide out of this before three in themorningand clip it down the river with what we'vegot.Speciallyseeing we got it so easy -- GIVEN backto usflung at our headsas you may saywhen ofcourse weallowed to have to steal it back. I'm forknockingoff and lighting out."
That mademe feel pretty bad. About an hour ortwo ago itwould a been a little differentbut now itmade mefeel bad and disappointedThe king rips outand says:
"What!And not sell out the rest o' the property?March offlike a passel of fools and leave eight or ninethous'n'dollars' worth o' property layin' around jestsufferin'to be scooped in? -- and all goodsalablestufftoo."
The dukehe grumbled; said the bag of gold wasenoughand he didn't want to go no deeper -- didn'twant torob a lot of orphans of EVERYTHING they had.
"Whyhow you talk!" says the king. "Wesha'n'trob 'em of nothing at all but jest this money.The peoplethat BUYS the property is the suff'rers;because assoon 's it's found out 'at we didn't ownit --which won't be long after we've slid -- the salewon't bevalidand it 'll all go back to the estate.These yerorphans 'll git their house back aginandthat'senough for THEM; they're young and spryandk'n easyearn a livin'. THEY ain't a-goin to suffer.Whyjestthink -- there's thous'n's and thous'n's thatain't nighso well off. Bless youTHEY ain't got noth'n'tocomplain of."
Welltheking he talked him blind; so at last hegive inand said all rightbut said he believed it wasblamedfoolishness to stayand that doctor hangingover them.But the king says:
"Cussthe doctor! What do we k'yer for HIM?Hain't wegot all the fools in town on our side? Andain't thata big enough majority in any town?"
So theygot ready to go down stairs again. Theduke says:
"Idon't think we put that money in a good place."
Thatcheered me up. I'd begun to think I warn'tgoing toget a hint of no kind to help me. The kingsays:
"BecauseMary Jane 'll be in mourning from thisout; andfirst you know the nigger that does up therooms willget an order to box these duds up and put'em away;and do you reckon a nigger can run acrossmoney andnot borrow some of it?"
"Yourhead's level aginduke" says the king; andhe comesa-fumbling under the curtain two or threefoot fromwhere I was. I stuck tight to the wall andkeptmighty stillthough quivery; and I wonderedwhat themfellows would say to me if they catchedme; and Itried to think what I'd better do if they didcatch me.But the king he got the bag before I couldthink morethan about a half a thoughtand he neversuspicionedI was around. They took and shoved thebagthrough a rip in the straw tick that was under thefeather-bedand crammed it in a foot or two amongstthe strawand said it was all right nowbecause aniggeronly makes up the feather-bedand don't turnover thestraw tick only about twice a yearand so itwarn't inno danger of getting stole now.
But Iknowed better. I had it out of there beforethey washalf-way down stairs. I groped along up tomy cubbyand hid it there till I could get a chanceto dobetter. I judged I better hide it outside of thehousesomewheresbecause if they missed it they wouldgive thehouse a good ransacking: I knowed that verywell. ThenI turned inwith my clothes all on; but Icouldn't agone to sleep if I'd a wanted toI was insuch asweat to get through with the business. Byand by Iheard the king and the duke come up; so Irolled offmy pallet and laid with my chin at the top ofmy ladderand waited to see if anything was going tohappen.But nothing did.
So I heldon till all the late sounds had quit and theearly oneshadn't begun yet; and then I slipped downtheladder.
I CREPT totheir doors and listened; they was snor-ing. So Itiptoed alongand got down stairs allright.There warn't a sound anywheres. I peepedthrough acrack of the dining-room doorand see themen thatwas watching the corpse all sound asleep ontheirchairs. The door was open into the parlorwherethe corpsewas layingand there was a candle in bothrooms. Ipassed alongand the parlor door was open;but I seethere warn't nobody in there but the re-maindersof Peter; so I shoved on by; but the frontdoor waslockedand the key wasn't there. Just thenI heardsomebody coming down the stairsback behindme. I runin the parlor and took a swift look aroundand theonly place I see to hide the bag was in thecoffin.The lid was shoved along about a footshow-ing thedead man's face down in therewith a wetcloth overitand his shroud on. I tucked the money-bag inunder the lidjust down beyond where hishands wascrossedwhich made me creepthey was socoldandthen I run back across the room and inbehind thedoor.
The personcoming was Mary Jane. She went tothecoffinvery softand kneeled down and looked in;then sheput up her handkerchiefand I see she begunto crythough I couldn't hear herand her back wasto me. Islid outand as I passed the dining-room IthoughtI'd make sure them watchers hadn't seen me;so Ilooked through the crackand everything was allright.They hadn't stirred.
I slippedup to bedfeeling ruther blueon accountsof thething playing out that way after I had took somuchtrouble and run so much resk about it. Says Iif itcould stay where it isall right; because when weget downthe river a hundred mile or two I could writeback toMary Janeand she could dig him up againand getit; but that ain't the thing that's going tohappen;the thing that's going to happen isthemoney 'llbe found when they come to screw on thelid. Thenthe king 'll get it againand it 'll be a longday beforehe gives anybody another chance to smouchit fromhim. Of course I WANTED to slide down andget it outof therebut I dasn't try it. Every minuteit wasgetting earlier nowand pretty soon some ofthemwatchers would begin to stirand I might getcatched --catched with six thousand dollars in myhands thatnobody hadn't hired me to take care of. Idon't wishto be mixed up in no such business as thatI says tomyself.
When I gotdown stairs in the morning the parlorwas shutupand the watchers was gone. There warn'tnobodyaround but the family and the widow Bartleyand ourtribe. I watched their faces to see if anythinghad beenhappeningbut I couldn't tell.
Towardsthe middle of the day the undertaker comewith hismanand they set the coffin in the middle ofthe roomon a couple of chairsand then set all ourchairs inrowsand borrowed more from the neighborstill thehall and the parlor and the dining-room wasfull. Isee the coffin lid was the way it was beforebut Idasn't go to look in under itwith folks around.
Then thepeople begun to flock inand the beatsand thegirls took seats in the front row at the head ofthecoffinand for a half an hour the people filedaroundslowin single rankand looked down at thedead man'sface a minuteand some dropped in a tearand it wasall very still and solemnonly the girls andthe beatsholding handkerchiefs to their eyes and keep-ing theirheads bentand sobbing a little. Therewarn't noother sound but the scraping of the feet onthe floorand blowing noses -- because people alwaysblows themmore at a funeral than they do at otherplacesexcept church.
When theplace was packed full the undertaker heslidaround in his black gloves with his softy soother-ing waysputting on the last touchesand gettingpeople andthings all ship-shape and comfortableandmaking nomore sound than a cat. He never spoke;he movedpeople aroundhe squeezed in late onesheopened uppassagewaysand done it with nodsandsigns withhis hands. Then he took his place overagainstthe wall. He was the softestglidingeststealthiestman I ever see; and there warn't no moresmile tohim than there is to a ham.
They hadborrowed a melodeum -- a sick one; andwheneverything was ready a young woman set downand workeditand it was pretty skreeky and colickyandeverybody joined in and sungand Peter was theonly onethat had a good thingaccording to mynotion.Then the Reverend Hobson opened upslowandsolemnand begun to talk; and straight off themostoutrageous row busted out in the cellar a bodyeverheard; it was only one dogbut he made a mostpowerfulracketand he kept it up right along; theparson hehad to stand thereover the coffinand wait-- youcouldn't hear yourself think. It was rightdownawkwardand nobody didn't seem to know whatto do. Butpretty soon they see that long-leggedundertakermake a sign to the preacher as much as tosay"Don't you worry -- just depend on me." Thenhe stoopeddown and begun to glide along the walljust hisshoulders showing over the people's heads.So heglided alongand the powwow and racket get-ting moreand more outrageous all the time; and atlastwhenhe had gone around two sides of the roomhedisappears down cellar. Then in about two secondswe heard awhackand the dog he finished up with amostamazing howl or twoand then everything wasdeadstilland the parson begun his solemn talk wherehe leftoff. In a minute or two here comes this under-taker'sback and shoulders gliding along the wallagain; andso he glided and glided around three sidesof theroomand then rose upand shaded his mouthwith hishandsand stretched his neck out towards thepreacherover the people's headsand saysin a kindof acoarse whisper"HE HAD A RAT!" Then hedroopeddown and glided along the wall again to hisplace. Youcould see it was a great satisfaction to thepeoplebecause naturally they wanted to know. Alittlething like that don't cost nothingand it's just thelittlethings that makes a man to be looked up to andliked.There warn't no more popular man in townthan whatthat undertaker was.
Wellthefuneral sermon was very goodbut pisonlong andtiresome; and then the king he shoved in andgot offsome of his usual rubbageand at last the jobwasthroughand the undertaker begun to sneak up onthe coffinwith his screw-driver. I was in a sweatthenandwatched him pretty keen. But he nevermeddled atall; just slid the lid along as soft as mushandscrewed it down tight and fast. So there I was!I didn'tknow whether the money was in there or not.SosaysIs'pose somebody has hogged that bag onthe sly?-- now how do I know whether to write toMary Janeor not? S'pose she dug him up and didn'tfindnothingwhat would she think of me? Blame itI saysImight get hunted up and jailed; I'd betterlay lowand keep darkand not write at all; the thing'sawfulmixed now; trying to better itI've worsened ita hundredtimesand I wish to goodness I'd just let italonedadfetch the whole business!
Theyburied himand we come back homeand Iwent towatching faces again -- I couldn't help itandI couldn'trest easy. But nothing come of it; thefacesdidn't tell me nothing.
The kinghe visited around in the eveningandsweetenedeverybody upand made himself ever sofriendly;and he give out the idea that his congrega-tion overin England would be in a sweat about himso he musthurry and settle up the estate right awayand leavefor home. He was very sorry he was sopushedand so was everybody; they wished he couldstaylongerbut they said they could see it couldn't bedone. Andhe said of course him and William wouldtake thegirls home with them; and that pleased every-body toobecause then the girls would be well fixed andamongsttheir own relations; and it pleased the girlstoo --tickled them so they clean forgot they ever hada troublein the world; and told him to sell out asquick ashe wanted tothey would be ready. Thempoorthings was that glad and happy it made my heartache tosee them getting fooled and lied to sobut Ididn't seeno safe way for me to chip in and changethegeneral tune.
Wellblamed if the king didn't bill the house andtheniggers and all the property for auction straightoff --sale two days after the funeral; but anybodycould buyprivate beforehand if they wanted to.
So thenext day after the funeralalong about noon-timethegirls' joy got the first jolt. A couple ofniggertraders come alongand the king sold them theniggersreasonablefor three-day drafts as they calleditandaway they wentthe two sons up the river toMemphisand their mother down the river to Orleans.I thoughtthem poor girls and them niggers wouldbreaktheir hearts for grief; they cried around eachotherandtook on so it most made me down sick tosee it.The girls said they hadn't ever dreamed ofseeing thefamily separated or sold away from thetown. Ican't ever get it out of my memorythesight ofthem poor miserable girls and niggers hangingaroundeach other's necks and crying; and I reckon Icouldn't astood it allbut would a had to bust outand tellon our gang if I hadn't knowed the sale warn'tno accountand the niggers would be back home in aweek ortwo.
The thingmade a big stir in the towntooand agood manycome out flatfooted and said it was scandal-ous toseparate the mother and the children that way.It injuredthe frauds some; but the old fool he bulledrightalongspite of all the duke could say or doandI tell youthe duke was powerful uneasy.
Next daywas auction day. About broad day in themorningthe king and the duke come up in the garretand wokeme upand I see by their look that therewastrouble. The king says:
"Wasyou in my room night before last?"
"Noyour majesty" -- which was the way I alwayscalled himwhen nobody but our gang warn't around.
"Wasyou in there yisterday er last night?"
"Honorbrightnow -- no lies."
"Honorbrightyour majestyI'm telling you thetruth. Ihain't been a-near your room since Miss MaryJane tookyou and the duke and showed it to you."
"Haveyou seen anybody else go in there?"
"Noyour gracenot as I rememberI believe."
I studiedawhile and see my chance; then I says:
"WellI see the niggers go in there several times."
Both ofthem gave a little jumpand looked liketheyhadn't ever expected itand then like they HAD.Then theduke says:
"Whatall of them?"
"No-- leastwaysnot all at once -- that isI don'tthink Iever see them all come OUT at once but just onetime."
"Hello!When was that?"
"Itwas the day we had the funeral. In the morn-ing. Itwarn't earlybecause I overslept. I was juststartingdown the ladderand I see them."
"Wellgo onGO on! What did they do? How'dthey act?"
"Theydidn't do nothing. And they didn't actanywaymuchas fur as I see. They tiptoed away;so I seeneasy enoughthat they'd shoved in there todo up yourmajesty's roomor somethings'posingyou wasup; and found you WARN'T upand so theywas hopingto slide out of the way of trouble withoutwaking youupif they hadn't already waked you up."
"GreatgunsTHIS is a go!" says the king; andboth ofthem looked pretty sick and tolerable silly.They stoodthere a-thinking and scratching their headsa minuteand the duke he bust into a kind of a littleraspychuckleand says:
"Itdoes beat all how neat the niggers played theirhand. Theylet on to be SORRY they was going out ofthisregion! And I believed they WAS sorryand sodid youand so did everybody. Don't ever tell MEany morethat a nigger ain't got any histrionic talent.Whytheway they played that thing it would foolANYBODY.In my opinionthere's a fortune in 'em. IfI hadcapital and a theaterI wouldn't want a betterlay-outthan that -- and here we've gone and sold 'emfor asong. Yesand ain't privileged to sing the songyet. Saywhere IS that song -- that draft?"
"Inthe bank for to be collected. Where WOULD itbe?"
"WellTHAT'S all right thenthank goodness."
Says Ikind of timid-like:
"Issomething gone wrong?"
The kingwhirls on me and rips out:
"Noneo' your business! You keep your headshetandmind y'r own affairs -- if you got any.Long asyou're in this town don't you forgit THAT --you hear?"Then he says to the duke"We got tojestswaller it and say noth'n': mum's the word for US."
As theywas starting down the ladder the duke hechucklesagainand says:
"Quicksales AND small profits! It's a good busi-ness --yes."
The kingsnarls around on him and says:
"Iwas trying to do for the best in sellin' 'em outso quick.If the profits has turned out to be nonelackin'considableand none to carryis it my faultany more'nit's yourn?"
"WellTHEY'D be in this house yet and we WOULDN'Tif I coulda got my advice listened to."
The kingsassed back as much as was safe for himand thenswapped around and lit into ME again. Hegive medown the banks for not coming and TELLINGhim I seethe niggers come out of his room acting thatway --said any fool would a KNOWED something wasup. Andthen waltzed in and cussed HIMSELF awhileand saidit all come of him not laying late and takinghisnatural rest that morningand he'd be blamed if he'dever do itagain. So they went off a-jawing; and Ifeltdreadful glad I'd worked it all off on to the niggersand yethadn't done the niggers no harm by it.
BY and byit was getting-up time. So I come downthe ladderand started for down-stairs; but as Icome tothe girls' room the door was openand I seeMary Janesetting by her old hair trunkwhich wasopen andshe'd been packing things in it -- gettingready togo to England. But she had stopped nowwith afolded gown in her lapand had her face in herhandscrying. I felt awful bad to see it; of courseanybodywould. I went in there and says:
"MissMary Janeyou can't a-bear to see peopleintroubleand I can't -- most always. Tell meabout it."
So shedone it. And it was the niggers -- I justexpectedit. She said the beautiful trip to Englandwas mostabout spoiled for her; she didn't know HOWshe wasever going to be happy thereknowing themother andthe children warn't ever going to seeeach otherno more -- and then busted out bittererthan everand flung up her handsand says:
"Ohdeardearto think they ain't EVER going tosee eachother any more!"
"Butthey WILL -- and inside of two weeks -- and IKNOW it!"says I.
Lawsitwas out before I could think! And beforeI couldbudge she throws her arms around my neckand toldme to say it AGAINsay it AGAINsay it AGAIN!
I see Ihad spoke too sudden and said too muchand was ina close place. I asked her to let me thinka minute;and she set therevery impatient and ex-cited andhandsomebut looking kind of happy andeased-uplike a person that's had a tooth pulled out.So I wentto studying it out. I says to myselfIreckon abody that ups and tells the truth when he isin a tightplace is taking considerable many resksthough Iain't had no experienceand can't say forcertain;but it looks so to meanyway; and yet here'sa casewhere I'm blest if it don't look to me like thetruth isbetter and actuly SAFER than a lie. I must layit by inmy mindand think it over some time orotherit's so kind of strange and unregular. I neverseenothing like it. WellI says to myself at lastI'ma-going to chance it; I'll up and tell the truth thistimethough it does seem most like setting down on akag ofpowder and touching it off just to see whereyou'll goto. Then I says:
"MissMary Janeis there any place out of town alittleways where you could go and stay three or fourdays?"
"Yes;Mr. Lothrop's. Why?"
"Nevermind why yet. If I'll tell you how I knowtheniggers will see each other again inside of twoweeks --here in this house -- and PROVE how I knowit -- willyou go to Mr. Lothrop's and stay four days?"
"Fourdays!" she says; "I'll stay a year!"
"Allright" I says"I don't want nothing moreout of YOUthan just your word -- I druther have it thananotherman's kiss-the-Bible." She smiled and red-dened upvery sweetand I says"If you don't minditI'llshut the door -- and bolt it."
Then Icome back and set down againand says:
"Don'tyou holler. Just set still and take it like aman. I gotto tell the truthand you want to braceupMissMarybecause it's a bad kindand going tobe hard totakebut there ain't no help for it. Theseuncles ofyourn ain't no uncles at all; they're a coupleof frauds-- regular dead-beats. Therenow we'reover theworst of ityou can stand the rest middlingeasy."
It joltedher up like everythingof course; but Iwas overthe shoal water nowso I went right alongher eyesa-blazing higher and higher all the timeandtold herevery blame thingfrom where we first struckthat youngfool going up to the steamboatclearthrough towhere she flung herself on to the king'sbreast atthe front door and he kissed her sixteen orseventeentimes -- and then up she jumpswith herface afirelike sunsetand says:
"Thebrute! Comedon't waste a minute -- not aSECOND --we'll have them tarred and featheredandflung inthe river!"
"Cert'nly.But do you mean BEFORE you go to Mr.Lothrop'sor --"
"Oh"she says"what am I THINKING about!"she saysand set right down again. "Don't mindwhat Isaid -- please don't -- you WON'TnowWILLyou?"Laying her silky hand on mine in that kindof a waythat I said I would die first. "I neverthoughtIwas so stirred up" she says; "now go onand Iwon't do so any more. You tell me what to doandwhatever you say I'll do it."
"Well"I says"it's a rough gangthem twofraudsand I'm fixed so I got to travel with them awhilelongerwhether I want to or not -- I druther nottell youwhy; and if you was to blow on them thistown wouldget me out of their clawsand I'd be allright; butthere'd be another person that you don'tknow aboutwho'd be in big trouble. Wellwe gotto saveHIMhain't we? Of course. Wellthenwewon't blowon them."
Sayingthem words put a good idea in my head. Isee howmaybe I could get me and Jim rid of thefrauds;get them jailed hereand then leave. But Ididn'twant to run the raft in the daytime without any-bodyaboard to answer questions but me; so I didn'twant theplan to begin working till pretty late to-night.I says:
"MissMary JaneI'll tell you what we'll doandyou won'thave to stay at Mr. Lothrop's so longnuther.How fur is it?"
"Alittle short of four miles -- right out in thecountryback here."
"Wellthat 'll answer. Now you go along out thereand laylow till nine or half-past to-nightand then getthem tofetch you home again -- tell them you'vethought ofsomething. If you get here before elevenput acandle in this windowand if I don't turn upwait TILLelevenand THEN if I don't turn up it meansI'm goneand out of the wayand safe. Then youcome outand spread the news aroundand get thesebeatsjailed."
"Good"she says"I'll do it."
"Andif it just happens so that I don't get awaybut gettook up along with themyou must up and sayI told youthe whole thing beforehandand you muststand byme all you can."
"Standby you! indeed I will. They sha'n't toucha hair ofyour head!" she saysand I see her nostrilsspread andher eyes snap when she said ittoo.
"If Iget away I sha'n't be here" I says"toprovethese rapscallions ain't your unclesand Icouldn'tdo it if I WAS here. I could swear they wasbeats andbummersthat's allthough that's worthsomething.Wellthere's others can do that better thanwhat Icanand they're people that ain't going to bedoubted asquick as I'd be. I'll tell you how to findthem.Gimme a pencil and a piece of paper. There-- 'RoyalNonesuchBricksville.' Put it awayanddon't loseit. When the court wants to find out some-thingabout these twolet them send up to Bricksvilleand saythey've got the men that played the RoyalNonesuchand ask for some witnesses -- whyyou'llhave thatentire town down here before you can hardlywinkMissMary. And they'll come a-bilingtoo."
I judgedwe had got everything fixed about rightnow. So Isays:
"Justlet the auction go right alongand don'tworry.Nobody don't have to pay for the things theybuy till awhole day after the auction on accounts ofthe shortnoticeand they ain't going out of this tillthey getthat money; and the way we've fixed it thesale ain'tgoing to countand they ain't going to getno money.It's just like the way it was with theniggers --it warn't no saleand the niggers will bebackbefore long. Whythey can't collect the moneyfor theNIGGERS yet -- they're in the worst kind of afixMissMary."
"Well"she says"I'll run down to breakfast nowand thenI'll start straight for Mr. Lothrop's."
"'DeedTHAT ain't the ticketMiss Mary Jane" Isays"byno manner of means; go BEFORE breakfast."
"Whatdid you reckon I wanted you to go at allforMissMary?"
"WellI never thought -- and come to thinkIdon'tknow. What was it?"
"Whyit's because you ain't one of these leather-facepeople. I don't want no better book than whatyour faceis. A body can set down and read it offlikecoarse print. Do you reckon you can go andface youruncles when they come to kiss you good-morningand never --"
"Theretheredon't! YesI'll go before break-fast --I'll be glad to. And leave my sisters withthem?"
"Yes;never mind about them. They've got tostand ityet a while. They might suspicion somethingif all ofyou was to go. I don't want you to see themnor yoursistersnor nobody in this town; if a neigh-bor was toask how is your uncles this morning yourface wouldtell something. Noyou go right alongMiss MaryJaneand I'll fix it with all of them. I'lltell MissSusan to give your love to your uncles andsay you'vewent away for a few hours for to get alittlerest and changeor to see a friendand you'll bebackto-night or early in the morning."
"Goneto see a friend is all rightbut I won't havemy lovegiven to them."
"Wellthenit sha'n't be." It was well enough totell HERso -- no harm in it. It was only a little thingto doandno trouble; and it's the little things thatsmoothspeople's roads the mostdown here below; itwould makeMary Jane comfortableand it wouldn'tcostnothing. Then I says: "There's one more thing-- thatbag of money."
"Wellthey've got that; and it makes me feelprettysilly to think HOW they got it."
"Noyou're outthere. They hain't got it."
"Whywho's got it?"
"Iwish I knowedbut I don't. I HAD itbecause Istole itfrom them; and I stole it to give to you; andI knowwhere I hid itbut I'm afraid it ain't there nomore. I'mawful sorryMiss Mary JaneI'm just assorry as Ican be; but I done the best I could; I didhonest. Icome nigh getting caughtand I had toshove itinto the first place I come toand run -- andit warn'ta good place."
"Ohstop blaming yourself -- it's too bad to do itand Iwon't allow it -- you couldn't help it; it wasn'tyourfault. Where did you hide it?"
I didn'twant to set her to thinking about hertroublesagain; and I couldn't seem to get my mouthto tellher what would make her see that corpse layingin thecoffin with that bag of money on his stomach.So for aminute I didn't say nothing; then I says:
"I'druther not TELL you where I put itMiss MaryJaneifyou don't mind letting me off; but I'll write itfor you ona piece of paperand you can read it alongthe roadto Mr. Lothrop'sif you want to. Do youreckonthat 'll do?"
So Iwrote: "I put it in the coffin. It was inthere whenyou was crying thereaway in the night.I wasbehind the doorand I was mighty sorry foryouMissMary Jane."
It made myeyes water a little to remember her cry-ing thereall by herself in the nightand them devilslayingthere right under her own roofshaming herandrobbing her; and when I folded it up and give itto her Isee the water come into her eyestoo; andshe shookme by the handhardand says:
"GOOD-bye.I'm going to do everything just asyou'vetold me; and if I don't ever see you againIsha'n'tever forget you. and I'll think of you a manyand a manya timeand I'll PRAY for youtoo!" -- andshe wasgone.
Pray forme! I reckoned if she knowed me she'dtake a jobthat was more nearer her size. But I betshe doneitjust the same -- she was just that kind.She hadthe grit to pray for Judus if she took thenotion --there warn't no back-down to herI judge.You maysay what you want tobut in my opinionshe hadmore sand in her than any girl I ever see; inmy opinionshe was just full of sand. It sounds likeflatterybut it ain't no flattery. And when it comesto beauty-- and goodnesstoo -- she lays over themall. Ihain't ever seen her since that time that I seeher go outof that door; noI hain't ever seen hersincebutI reckon I've thought of her a many and amany amillion timesand of her saying she wouldpray forme; and if ever I'd a thought it would doany goodfor me to pray for HERblamed if I wouldn'ta done itor bust.
WellMaryJane she lit out the back wayI reckon;becausenobody see her go. When I struck Susanand thehare-lipI says:
"What'sthe name of them people over on t'otherside ofthe river that you all goes to see sometimes?"
"There'sseveral; but it's the Proctorsmainly."
"That'sthe name" I says; "I most forgot it.WellMissMary Jane she told me to tell you she'sgone overthere in a dreadful hurry -- one of them'ssick."
"Idon't know; leastwaysI kinder forget; but Ithinksit's --"
"SakesaliveI hope it ain't HANNER?"
"I'msorry to say it" I says"but Hanner's thevery one."
"Mygoodnessand she so well only last week! Isshe tookbad?"
"Itain't no name for it. They set up with her allnightMiss Mary Jane saidand they don't think she'lllast manyhours."
"Onlythink of thatnow! What's the matter withher?"
I couldn'tthink of anything reasonableright offthat wayso I says:
"Mumpsyour granny! They don't set up withpeoplethat's got the mumps."
"Theydon'tdon't they? You better bet they dowith THESEmumps. These mumps is different. It's anew kindMiss Mary Jane said."
"How'sit a new kind?"
"Becauseit's mixed up with other things."
"Wellmeaslesand whooping-coughand erysiplasandconsumptionand yaller jandersand brain-feverand Idon't know what all."
"Myland! And they call it the MUMPS?"
"That'swhat Miss Mary Jane said."
"Wellwhat in the nation do they call it the MUMPSfor?"
"Whybecause it IS the mumps. That's what itstartswith."
"Wellther' ain't no sense in it. A body mightstump histoeand take pisonand fall down the welland breakhis neckand bust his brains outand some-body comealong and ask what killed himand somenumskullup and say'Whyhe stumped his TOE.'Wouldther' be any sense in that? NO. And ther'ain't nosense in THISnuther. Is it ketching?"
"Isit KETCHING? Whyhow you talk. Is a HARROWcatching-- in the dark? If you don't hitch on to onetoothyou're bound to on anotherain't you? Andyou can'tget away with that tooth without fetchingthe wholeharrow alongcan you? Wellthese kindof mumpsis a kind of a harrowas you may say -- andit ain'tno slouch of a harrownutheryou come toget ithitched on good."
"Wellit's awfulI think" says the hare-lip."I'llgo to Uncle Harvey and --"
"Ohyes" I says"I WOULD. Of COURSE I would.I wouldn'tlose no time."
"Wellwhy wouldn't you?"
"Justlook at it a minuteand maybe you can see.Hain'tyour uncles obleegd to get along home to Eng-land asfast as they can? And do you reckon they'dbe meanenough to go off and leave you to go all thatjourney byyourselves? YOU know they'll wait foryou. Sofurso good. Your uncle Harvey's apreacherain't he? Very wellthen; is a PREACHERgoing todeceive a steamboat clerk? is he going todeceive aSHIP CLERK? -- so as to get them to let MissMary Janego aboard? Now YOU know he ain't.What WILLhe dothen? Whyhe'll say'It's a greatpitybutmy church matters has got to get along thebest waythey can; for my niece has been exposed tothedreadful pluribus-unum mumpsand so it's myboundenduty to set down here and wait the threemonths ittakes to show on her if she's got it.' Butnevermindif you think it's best to tell your uncleHarvey --"
"Shucksand stay fooling around here when wecould allbe having good times in England whilst wewaswaiting to find out whether Mary Jane's got it ornot? Whyyou talk like a muggins."
"Wellanywaymaybe you'd better tell some oftheneighbors."
"Listenat thatnow. You do beat all for naturalstupidness.Can't you SEE that THEY'D go and tell?Ther'ain't no way but just to not tell anybody at ALL."
"Wellmaybe you're right -- yesI judge you AREright."
"ButI reckon we ought to tell Uncle Harvey she'sgone out awhileanywayso he won't be uneasyabouther?"
"YesMiss Mary Jane she wanted you to do that.She says'Tell them to give Uncle Harvey andWilliam mylove and a kissand say I've run over theriver tosee Mr.' -- Mr. -- what IS the name of thatrichfamily your uncle Peter used to think so muchof? -- Imean the one that --"
"Whyyou must mean the Apthorpsain't it?"
"Ofcourse; bother them kind of namesa bodycan't everseem to remember themhalf the timesomehow.Yesshe saidsay she has run over for toask theApthorps to be sure and come to the auctionand buythis housebecause she allowed her unclePeterwould ruther they had it than anybody else;and she'sgoing to stick to them till they say they'llcomeandthenif she ain't too tiredshe's cominghome; andif she isshe'll be home in the morninganyway.She saiddon't say nothing about the Proc-torsbutonly about the Apthorps -- which 'll be per-fectlytruebecause she is going there to speak abouttheirbuying the house; I know itbecause she toldme soherself."
"Allright" they saidand cleared out to lay fortheirunclesand give them the love and the kissesand tellthem the message.
Everythingwas all right now. The girls wouldn'tsaynothing because they wanted to go to England;and theking and the duke would ruther Mary Jane wasoffworking for the auction than around in reach ofDoctorRobinson. I felt very good; I judged I haddone itpretty neat -- I reckoned Tom Sawyer couldn'ta done itno neater himself. Of course he would athrowedmore style into itbut I can't do that veryhandynotbeing brung up to it.
Welltheyheld the auction in the public squarealongtowards the end of the afternoonand it strungalongandstrung alongand the old man he was onhand andlooking his level pisonestup there longsideof theauctioneerand chipping in a little Scripturenow andthenor a little goody-goody saying of somekindandthe duke he was around goo-gooing for sym-pathy allhe knowed howand just spreading himselfgenerly.
But by andby the thing dragged throughandeverythingwas sold -- everything but a little old triflinglot in thegraveyard. So they'd got to work that off-- I neversee such a girafft as the king was for want-ing toswallow EVERYTHING. Wellwhilst they was at itasteamboat landedand in about two minutes upcomes acrowd a-whooping and yelling and laughingandcarrying onand singing out:
"HERE'Syour opposition line! here's your two setso' heirsto old Peter Wilks -- and you pays yourmoney andyou takes your choice!"
THEY wasfetching a very nice-looking old gentle-man alongand a nice-looking younger onewithhis rightarm in a sling. Andmy soulshow thepeopleyelled and laughedand kept it up. But I didn'tsee nojoke about itand I judged it would strain theduke andthe king some to see any. I reckonedthey'dturn pale. But nonary a pale did THEY turn.The dukehe never let on he suspicioned what wasupbutjust went a goo-gooing aroundhappy andsatisfiedlike a jug that's googling out buttermilk;and as forthe kinghe just gazed and gazed downsorrowfulon them new-comers like it give him thestomach-achein his very heart to think there could besuchfrauds and rascals in the world. Ohhe done itadmirable.Lots of the principal people getheredaround thekingto let him see they was on his side.That oldgentleman that had just come looked all puz-zled todeath. Pretty soon he begun to speakand Iseestraight off he pronounced LIKE an Englishman --not theking's waythough the king's WAS pretty goodfor animitation. I can't give the old gent's wordsnor Ican't imitate him; but he turned around to thecrowdandsaysabout like this:
"Thisis a surprise to me which I wasn't lookingfor; andI'll acknowledgecandid and frankI ain'tvery wellfixed to meet it and answer it; for mybrotherand me has had misfortunes; he's broke hisarmandour baggage got put off at a town above herelast nightin the night by a mistake. I am PeterWilks'brother Harveyand this is his brother Williamwhichcan't hear nor speak -- and can't even makesigns toamount to muchnow't he's only got onehand towork them with. We are who we say we are;and in aday or twowhen I get the baggageI canprove it.But up till then I won't say nothing morebut go tothe hotel and wait."
So him andthe new dummy started off; and the kinghe laughsand blethers out:
"Brokehis arm -- VERY likelyAIN'T it? -- and veryconvenienttoofor a fraud that's got to make signsand ain'tlearnt how. Lost their baggage! That'sMIGHTYgood! -- and mighty ingenious -- under theCIRCUMSTANCES!
So helaughed again; and so did everybody elseexceptthree or fouror maybe half a dozen. One ofthese wasthat doctor; another one was a sharp-lookinggentlemanwith a carpet-bag of the old-fashionedkind made out of carpet-stuffthat had justcome offof the steamboat and was talking to him in alow voiceand glancing towards the king now and thenandnodding their heads -- it was Levi Bellthe lawyerthat wasgone up to Louisville; and another one wasa bigrough husky that come along and listened toall theold gentleman saidand was listening to theking now.And when the king got done this huskyup andsays:
"Saylooky here; if you are Harvey Wilkswhen'dyou cometo this town?"
"Theday before the funeralfriend" says the king.
"Butwhat time o' day?"
"Inthe evenin' -- 'bout an hour er two before sun-down."
"Icome down on the Susan Powell from Cincin-nati."
"Wellthenhow'd you come to be up at the Pintin theMORNIN' -- in a canoe?"
"Iwarn't up at the Pint in the mornin'."
Several ofthem jumped for him and begged him notto talkthat way to an old man and a preacher.
"Preacherbe hangedhe's a fraud and a liar. Hewas up atthe Pint that mornin'. I live up theredon'tI? WellIwas up thereand he was up there. I seehim there.He come in a canoealong with TimCollinsand a boy."
The doctorhe up and says:
"Wouldyou know the boy again if you was to seehimHines?"
"Ireckon I wouldbut I don't know. Whyyonder heisnow. I know him perfectly easy."
It was mehe pointed at. The doctor says:
"NeighborsI don't know whether the new coupleis fraudsor not; but if THESE two ain't fraudsI am anidiotthat's all. I think it's our duty to see that theydon't getaway from here till we've looked into thisthing.Come alongHines; come alongthe rest ofyou. We'lltake these fellows to the tavern andaffrontthem with t'other coupleand I reckon we'llfind outSOMETHING before we get through."
It wasnuts for the crowdthough maybe not forthe king'sfriends; so we all started. It was aboutsundown.The doctor he led me along by the handand wasplenty kind enoughbut he never let go myhand.
We all gotin a big room in the hoteland lit upsomecandlesand fetched in the new couple. Firstthe doctorsays:
"Idon't wish to be too hard on these two menbutI thinkthey're fraudsand they may have complicesthat wedon't know nothing about. If they havewon't thecomplices get away with that bag of goldPeterWilks left? It ain't unlikely. If these menain'tfraudsthey won't object to sending for thatmoney andletting us keep it till they prove they'reall right-- ain't that so?"
Everybodyagreed to that. So I judged they hadour gangin a pretty tight place right at the outstart.But theking he only looked sorrowfuland says:
"GentlemenI wish the money was therefor Iain't gotno disposition to throw anything in the wayof a fairopenout-and-out investigation o' thismisablebusiness; butalasthe money ain't there;you k'nsend and seeif you want to."
"Wellwhen my niece give it to me to keep for herI took andhid it inside o' the straw tick o' my bednotwishin' to bank it for the few days we'd be hereandconsiderin' the bed a safe placewe not bein' usedtoniggersand suppos'n' 'em honestlike servants inEngland.The niggers stole it the very next mornin'after Ihad went down stairs; and when I sold 'em Ihadn'tmissed the money yitso they got clean awaywith it.My servant here k'n tell you 'bout itgentle-men."
The doctorand several said "Shucks!" and I seenobodydidn't altogether believe him. One man askedme if Isee the niggers steal it. I said nobut I seethemsneaking out of the room and hustling awayandI neverthought nothingonly I reckoned they wasafraidthey had waked up my master and was trying toget awaybefore he made trouble with them. Thatwas allthey asked me. Then the doctor whirls on meand says:
I saysyes; and him and some others laughedandsaid"Stuff!"
Wellthenthey sailed in on the general investiga-tionandthere we had itup and downhour inhouroutandnobody never said a word about suppernoreverseemed to think about it -- and so they kept itupandkept it up; and it WAS the worst mixed-upthing youever see. They made the king tell his yarnand theymade the old gentleman tell his'n; and any-body but alot of prejudiced chuckleheads would a SEENthat theold gentleman was spinning truth and t'otherone lies.And by and by they had me up to tell whatI knowed.The king he give me a left-handed lookout of thecorner of his eyeand so I knowed enoughto talk onthe right side. I begun to tell aboutSheffieldand how we lived thereand all about theEnglishWilksesand so on; but I didn't get prettyfur tillthe doctor begun to laugh; and Levi Bellthelawyersays:
"Setdownmy boy; I wouldn't strain myself if Iwas you. Ireckon you ain't used to lyingit don'tseem tocome handy; what you want is practice. Youdo itpretty awkward."
I didn'tcare nothing for the complimentbut I wasglad to belet offanyway.
The doctorhe started to say somethingand turnsand says:
"Ifyou'd been in town at firstLevi Bell --"The kingbroke in and reached out his handandsays:
"Whyis this my poor dead brother's old friendthat he'swrote so often about?"
The lawyerand him shook handsand the lawyersmiled andlooked pleasedand they talked right alongawhileand then got to one side and talked low; andat lastthe lawyer speaks up and says:
"That'll fix it. I'll take the order and send italong withyour brother'sand then they'll know it'sallright."
So theygot some paper and a penand the king heset downand twisted his head to one sideand chawedhistongueand scrawled off something; and then theygive thepen to the duke -- and then for the first timethe dukelooked sick. But he took the pen and wrote.So thenthe lawyer turns to the new old gentleman andsays:
"Youand your brother please write a line or twoand signyour names."
The oldgentleman wrotebut nobody couldn't readit. Thelawyer looked powerful astonishedand says:
"Wellit beats ME -- and snaked a lot of old lettersout of hispocketand examined themand then ex-amined theold man's writingand then THEM again;and thensays: "These old letters is from HarveyWilks; andhere's THESE two handwritingsand any-body cansee they didn't write them" (the king andthe dukelooked sold and foolishI tell youto seehow thelawyer had took them in)"and here's THIS oldgentleman'shand writingand anybody can telleasyenoughHEdidn't write them -- fact isthe scratcheshe makesain't properly WRITING at all. Nowhere'ssomeletters from --"
The newold gentleman says:
"Ifyou pleaselet me explain. Nobody can readmy handbut my brother there -- so he copies for me.It's HIShand you've got therenot mine."
"WELL!"says the lawyer"this IS a state ofthings.I've got some of William's letterstoo; so ifyou'll gethim to write a line or so we can com --"
"HeCAN'T write with his left hand" says the oldgentleman."If he could use his right handyouwould seethat he wrote his own letters and minetoo. Lookat bothplease -- they're by the samehand."
The lawyerdone itand says:
"Ibelieve it's so -- and if it ain't sothere's a heapstrongerresemblance than I'd noticed beforeanyway.Wellwellwell! I thought we was right on the trackof aslutionbut it's gone to grasspartly. But any-wayonething is proved -- THESE two ain't either of'emWilkses" -- and he wagged his head towards theking andthe duke.
Wellwhatdo you think? That muleheaded oldfoolwouldn't give in THEN! Indeed he wouldn't.Said itwarn't no fair test. Said his brother Williamwas thecussedest joker in the worldand hadn't triedto write-- HE see William was going to play one of hisjokes theminute he put the pen to paper. And so hewarmed upand went warbling right along till he wasactulybeginning to believe what he was saying HIM-SELF; butpretty soon the new gentleman broke inandsays:
"I'vethought of something. Is there anybodyhere thathelped to lay out my br -- helped to lay outthe latePeter Wilks for burying?"
"Yes"says somebody"me and Ab Turner doneit. We'reboth here."
Then theold man turns towards the kingandsays:
"Perapsthis gentleman can tell me what wastattooedon his breast?"
Blamed ifthe king didn't have to brace up mightyquickorhe'd a squshed down like a bluff bank thatthe riverhas cut underit took him so sudden; andmind youit was a thing that was calculated to makemostANYBODY sqush to get fetched such a solid one asthatwithout any noticebecause how was HE going toknow whatwas tattooed on the man? He whitened alittle; hecouldn't help it; and it was mighty still inthereandeverybody bending a little forwards andgazing athim. Says I to myselfNOW he'll throw upthe sponge-- there ain't no more use. Welldid he?A bodycan't hardly believe itbut he didn't. Ireckon hethought he'd keep the thing up till he tiredthempeople outso they'd thin outand him and theduke couldbreak loose and get away. Anywayheset thereand pretty soon he begun to smileand says:
"Mf!It's a VERY tough questionAIN'T it! YESsirI k'ntell you what's tattooed on his breast. It'sjest asmallthinblue arrow -- that's what it is; andif youdon't look clostyou can't see it. NOW whatdo you say-- hey?"
WellInever see anything like that old blister forcleanout-and-out cheek.
The newold gentleman turns brisk towards AbTurner andhis pardand his eye lights up like hejudgedhe'd got the king THIS timeand says:
"There-- you've heard what he said! Was thereany suchmark on Peter Wilks' breast?"
Both ofthem spoke up and says:
"Wedidn't see no such mark."
"Good!"says the old gentleman. "Nowwhatyou DIDsee on his breast was a small dim Pand a B(which isan initial he dropped when he was young)and a Wwith dashes between themso: P -- B --W" --and he marked them that way on a piece ofpaper."Comeain't that what you saw?"
Both ofthem spoke up againand says:
"Nowe DIDN'T. We never seen any marks at all."
Welleverybody WAS in a state of mind nowandthey singsout:
"Thewhole BILIN' of 'm 's frauds! Le's duck'em! le'sdrown 'em! le's ride 'em on a rail!" andeverybodywas whooping at onceand there was a rat-tlingpowwow. But the lawyer he jumps on the tableand yellsand says:
"Gentlemen-- gentleMEN! Hear me just a word --just aSINGLE word -- if you PLEASE! There's one wayyet --let's go and dig up the corpse and look."
"Hooray!"they all shoutedand was starting rightoff; butthe lawyer and the doctor sung out:
"Holdonhold on! Collar all these four men andthe boyand fetch THEM alongtoo!"
"We'lldo it!" they all shouted; "and if we don'tfind themmarks we'll lynch the whole gang!"
I WASscarednowI tell you. But there warn't nogettingawayyou know. They gripped us allandmarched usright alongstraight for the graveyardwhich wasa mile and a half down the riverand thewhole townat our heelsfor we made noise enoughand it wasonly nine in the evening.
As we wentby our house I wished I hadn't sentMary Janeout of town; because now if I could tip herthe winkshe'd light out and save meand blow on ourdead-beats.
Wellweswarmed along down the river roadjustcarryingon like wildcats; and to make it more scarythe skywas darking upand the lightning beginning towink andflitterand the wind to shiver amongst theleaves.This was the most awful trouble and mostdangersomeI ever was in; and I was kinder stunned;everythingwas going so different from what I hadallowedfor; stead of being fixed so I could take myown timeif I wanted toand see all the funand haveMary Janeat my back to save me and set me freewhen theclose-fit comehere was nothing in theworldbetwixt me and sudden death but just themtattoo-marks.If they didn't find them --
I couldn'tbear to think about it; and yetsome-howIcouldn't think about nothing else. It gotdarker anddarkerand it was a beautiful time to givethe crowdthe slip; but that big husky had me by thewrist --Hines -- and a body might as well try to giveGoliar theslip. He dragged me right alonghe was soexcitedand I had to run to keep up.
When theygot there they swarmed into the grave-yard andwashed over it like an overflow. And whenthey gotto the grave they found they had about ahundredtimes as many shovels as they wantedbutnobodyhadn't thought to fetch a lantern. But theysailedinto digging anyway by the flicker of the light-ningandsent a man to the nearest housea half amile offto borrow one.
So theydug and dug like everything; and it gotawfuldarkand the rain startedand the wind swishedandswushed alongand the lightning come brisker andbriskerand the thunder boomed; but them peoplenever tookno notice of itthey was so full of thisbusiness;and one minute you could see everythingand everyface in that big crowdand the shovelfuls ofdirtsailing up out of the graveand the next secondthe darkwiped it all outand you couldn't see nothingat all.
At lastthey got out the coffin and begun to unscrewthe lidand then such another crowding and shoulder-ing andshoving as there wasto scrouge in and get asightyounever see; and in the darkthat wayit wasawful.Hines he hurt my wrist dreadful pulling andtuggingsoand I reckon he clean forgot I was in theworldhewas so excited and panting.
All of asudden the lightning let go a perfect sluiceof whiteglareand somebody sings out:
"Bythe living jingohere's the bag of gold on hisbreast!"
Hines letout a whooplike everybody elseanddropped mywrist and give a big surge to bust his wayin and geta lookand the way I lit out and shinnedfor theroad in the dark there ain't nobody can tell.
I had theroad all to myselfand I fairly flew --leastwaysI had it all to myself except the solid darkand thenow-and-then glaresand the buzzing of therainandthe thrashing of the windand the splittingof thethunder; and sure as you are born I did clip italong!
When Istruck the town I see there warn't nobodyout in thestormso I never hunted for no back streetsbut humpedit straight through the main one; andwhen Ibegun to get towards our house I aimed myeye andset it. No light there; the house all dark --which mademe feel sorry and disappointedI didn'tknow why.But at lastjust as I was sailing byFLASHcomes thelight in Mary Jane's window! and my heartswelled upsuddenlike to bust; and the same secondthe houseand all was behind me in the darkandwasn'tever going to be before me no more in thisworld. SheWAS the best girl I ever seeand had themost sand.
The minuteI was far enough above the town to seeI couldmake the towheadI begun to look sharp fora boat toborrowand the first time the lightningshowed meone that wasn't chained I snatched it andshoved. Itwas a canoeand warn't fastened withnothingbut a rope. The towhead was a rattling bigdistanceoffaway out there in the middle of the riverbut Ididn't lose no time; and when I struck the raftat last Iwas so fagged I would a just laid down toblow andgasp if I could afforded it. But I didn't.As Isprung aboard I sung out:
"Outwith youJimand set her loose! Glory betogoodnesswe're shut of them!"
Jim litoutand was a-coming for me with both armsspreadhewas so full of joy; but when I glimpsedhim in thelightning my heart shot up in my mouthand I wentoverboard backwards; for I forgot he wasold KingLear and a drownded A-rab all in oneand itmostscared the livers and lights out of me. But Jimfished meoutand was going to hug me and bless meand so onhe was so glad I was back and we was shutof theking and the dukebut I says:
"Notnow; have it for breakfasthave it for break-fast! Cutloose and let her slide!"
So in twoseconds away we went a-sliding down theriverandit DID seem so good to be free again and allbyourselves on the big riverand nobody to botherus. I hadto skip around a bitand jump up andcrack myheels a few times -- I couldn't help it; butabout thethird crack I noticed a sound that I knowedmightywelland held my breath and listened andwaited;and sure enoughwhen the next flash bustedout overthe waterhere they come! -- and just a-laying totheir oars and making their skiff hum! Itwas theking and the duke.
So Iwilted right down on to the planks thenandgive up;and it was all I could do to keep from crying.
WHEN theygot aboard the king went for meandshook meby the collarand says:
"Tryin'to give us the slipwas yeyou pup!Tired ofour companyhey?"
"Noyour majestywe warn't -- PLEASE don'tyourmajesty!"
"Quickthenand tell us what WAS your ideaorI'll shakethe insides out o' you!"
"HonestI'll tell you everything just as it hap-penedyour majesty. The man that had a-holt of mewas verygood to meand kept saying he had a boyabout asbig as me that died last yearand he wassorry tosee a boy in such a dangerous fix; and whenthey wasall took by surprise by finding the goldandmade arush for the coffinhe lets go of me and whis-pers'Heel it nowor they'll hang yesure!' and Ilit out.It didn't seem no good for ME to stay -- Icouldn'tdo nothingand I didn't want to be hung ifI couldget away. So I never stopped running till Ifound thecanoe; and when I got here I told Jim tohurryorthey'd catch me and hang me yetand said Iwas afeardyou and the duke wasn't alive nowandI wasawful sorryand so was Jimand was awful gladwhen wesee you coming; you may ask Jim if Ididn't."
Jim saidit was so; and the king told him to shutupandsaid"Ohyesit's MIGHTY likely!" andshook meup againand said he reckoned he'd drowndme. Butthe duke says:
"Leggothe boyyou old idiot! Would YOU a doneanydifferent? Did you inquire around for HIM whenyou gotloose? I don't remember it."
So theking let go of meand begun to cuss thattown andeverybody in it. But the duke says:
"Youbetter a blame' sight give YOURSELF a goodcussingfor you're the one that's entitled to it most.You hain'tdone a thing from the start that had anysense initexcept coming out so cool and cheeky withthatimaginary blue-arrow mark. That WAS bright --it wasright down bully; and it was the thing thatsaved us.For if it hadn't been for that they'd a jailedus tillthem Englishmen's baggage come -- and then --thepenitentiaryyou bet! But that trick took 'em tothegraveyardand the gold done us a still biggerkindness;for if the excited fools hadn't let go allholts andmade that rush to get a look we'd a slept inourcravats to-night -- cravats warranted to WEARtoo-- longerthan WE'D need 'em."
They wasstill a minute -- thinking; then the kingsayskindof absent-minded like:
"Mf!And we reckoned the NIGGERS stole it!"
That mademe squirm!
"Yes"says the dukekinder slow and deliberateandsarcastic"WE did."
Afterabout a half a minute the king drawls out:
The dukesaysthe same way:
"Onthe contraryI did."
The kingkind of ruffles upand says:
"LookyhereBilgewaterwhat'r you referrin' to?"
The dukesayspretty brisk:
"Whenit comes to thatmaybe you'll let me askwhat wasYOU referring to?"
"Shucks!"says the kingvery sarcastic; "but Idon't know-- maybe you was asleepand didn't knowwhat youwas about."
The dukebristles up nowand says:
"Ohlet UP on this cussed nonsense; do you takeme for ablame' fool? Don't you reckon I know whohid thatmoney in that coffin?"
"YESsir! I know you DO knowbecause you doneityourself!"
"It'sa lie!" -- and the duke went for him. Theking singsout:
"Takey'r hands off! -- leggo my throat! -- I take itall back!"
"Wellyou just own upfirstthat you DID hidethat moneythereintending to give me the slip one ofthesedaysand come back and dig it upand have itall toyourself."
"Waitjest a minuteduke -- answer me this onequestionhonest and fair; if you didn't put the moneytheresayitand I'll b'lieve youand take back every-thing Isaid."
"Youold scoundrelI didn'tand you know Ididn't.Therenow!"
"WellthenI b'lieve you. But answer me onlyjest thisone more -- now DON'T git mad; didn't youhave it inyour mind to hook the money and hide it?"
The dukenever said nothing for a little bit; then hesays:
"WellI don't care if I DIDI didn't DO itanyway.But younot only had it in mind to do itbut youDONE it."
"Iwisht I never die if I done itdukeand that'shonest. Iwon't say I warn't goin' to do itbecause IWAS; butyou -- I mean somebody -- got in ahead o'me."
"It'sa lie! You done itand you got to SAY youdone itor --"
The kingbegan to gurgleand then he gasps out:
"'Nough!-- I OWN UP!"
I was veryglad to hear him say that; it made mefeel muchmore easier than what I was feeling before.So theduke took his hands off and says:
"Ifyou ever deny it again I'll drown you. It'sWELL foryou to set there and blubber like a baby -- it'sfitten foryouafter the way you've acted. I neversee suchan old ostrich for wanting to gobble every-thing --and I a-trusting you all the timelike you wasmy ownfather. You ought to been ashamed of your-self tostand by and hear it saddled on to a lot of poorniggersand you never say a word for 'em. It makesme feelridiculous to think I was soft enough to BELIEVEthatrubbage. Cuss youI can see now why you wasso anxiousto make up the deffisit -- you wanted toget whatmoney I'd got out of the Nonesuch and onething oranotherand scoop it ALL!"
The kingsaystimidand still a-snuffling:
"Whydukeit was you that said make up thedeffisit;it warn't me."
"Dryup! I don't want to hear no more out ofyou!"says the duke. "And NOW you see what youGOT by it.They've got all their own money backandall ofOURN but a shekel or two BESIDES. G'long to bedand don'tyou deffersit ME no more deffersitslong 'sYOU live!"
So theking sneaked into the wigwam and took tohis bottlefor comfortand before long the duke tackledHISbottle; and so in about a half an hour they was asthick asthieves againand the tighter they got thelovingerthey gotand went off a-snoring in eachother'sarms. They both got powerful mellowbut Inoticedthe king didn't get mellow enough to forget torememberto not deny about hiding the money-bagagain.That made me feel easy and satisfied. Ofcoursewhen they got to snoring we had a long gabbleand I toldJim everything.
WE dasn'tstop again at any town for days anddays; keptright along down the river. Wewas downsouth in the warm weather nowand amightylong ways from home. We begun to come totrees withSpanish moss on themhanging down fromthe limbslike longgray beards. It was the first Iever seeit growingand it made the woods look solemnanddismal. So now the frauds reckoned they was outof dangerand they begun to work the villages again.
First theydone a lecture on temperance; but theydidn'tmake enough for them both to get drunk on.Then inanother village they started a dancing-school;but theydidn't know no more how to dance than akangaroodoes; so the first prance they made thegeneralpublic jumped in and pranced them out oftown.Another time they tried to go at yellocution;but theydidn't yellocute long till the audience got upand givethem a solid good cussingand made themskip out.They tackled missionaryingand mesmeriz-inganddoctoringand telling fortunesand a little ofeverything;but they couldn't seem to have no luck.So at lastthey got just about dead brokeand laidaround theraft as she floated alongthinking andthinkingand never saying nothingby the half a dayat a timeand dreadful blue and desperate.
And atlast they took a change and begun to laytheirheads together in the wigwam and talk low andconfidentialtwo or three hours at a time. Jim and megotuneasy. We didn't like the look of it. We judgedthey wasstudying up some kind of worse deviltry thanever. Weturned it over and overand at last we madeup ourminds they was going to break into somebody'shouse orstoreor was going into the counterfeit-moneybusinessor something. So then we was prettyscaredand made up an agreement that we wouldn'thavenothing in the world to do with such actionsandif we evergot the least show we would give them thecold shakeand clear out and leave them behind.Wellearly one morning we hid the raft in a goodsafe placeabout two mile below a little bit of a shabbyvillagenamed Pikesvilleand the king he went ashoreand toldus all to stay hid whilst he went up to townand smeltaround to see if anybody had got any windof theRoyal Nonesuch there yet. ("House to robyou MEAN"says I to myself; "and when you getthroughrobbing it you'll come back here and wonderwhat hasbecome of me and Jim and the raft -- andyou'llhave to take it out in wondering.") And hesaid if hewarn't back by midday the duke and mewould knowit was all rightand we was to come along.
So westayed where we was. The duke he frettedandsweated aroundand was in a mighty sour way.He scoldedus for everythingand we couldn't seem todo nothingright; he found fault with every littlething.Something was a-brewingsure. I was goodand gladwhen midday come and no king; we couldhave achangeanyway -- and maybe a chance for THEchance ontop of it. So me and the duke went up tothevillageand hunted around there for the kingandby and bywe found him in the back room of a littlelowdoggeryvery tightand a lot of loafers bullyrag-ging himfor sportand he a-cussing and a-threateningwith allhis mightand so tight he couldn't walkandcouldn'tdo nothing to them. The duke he begun toabuse himfor an old fooland the king begun to sassbackandthe minute they was fairly at it I lit out andshook thereefs out of my hind legsand spun downthe riverroad like a deerfor I see our chance; and Imade up mymind that it would be a long day beforethey eversee me and Jim again. I got down there allout ofbreath but loaded up with joyand sung out:
"Sether looseJim! we're all right now!"
But therewarn't no answerand nobody come outof thewigwam. Jim was gone! I set up a shout --and thenanother -- and then another one; and runthis wayand that in the woodswhooping and screech-ing; butit warn't no use -- old Jim was gone. ThenI set downand cried; I couldn't help it. But Icouldn'tset still long. Pretty soon I went out on theroadtrying to think what I better doand I run acrossa boywalkingand asked him if he'd seen a strangeniggerdressed so and soand he says:
"Downto Silas Phelps' placetwo mile belowhere. He'sa runaway niggerand they've got him.Was youlooking for him?"
"Youbet I ain't! I run across him in the woodsabout anhour or two agoand he said if I holleredhe'd cutmy livers out -- and told me to lay down andstay whereI was; and I done it. Been there eversince;afeard to come out."
"Well"he says"you needn't be afeard no morebecuzthey've got him. He run off f'm down Southsom'ers."
"It'sa good job they got him."
"WellI RECKON! There's two hunderd dollars re-ward onhim. It's like picking up money out'n theroad."
"Yesit is -- and I could a had it if I'd been bigenough; Isee him FIRST. Who nailed him?"
"Itwas an old fellow -- a stranger -- and he soldout hischance in him for forty dollarsbecuz he's gotto go upthe river and can't wait. Think o' thatnow! Youbet I'D waitif it was seven year."
"That'smeevery time" says I. "But maybe hischanceain't worth no more than thatif he'll sell it socheap.Maybe there's something ain't straight aboutit."
"Butit ISthough -- straight as a string. I see thehandbillmyself. It tells all about himto a dot --paints himlike a pictureand tells the plantation he'sfrumbelow NewrLEANS. No-sirree-BOBthey ain't notrouble'bout THAT speculationyou bet you. Saygimme achaw tobackerwon't ye?"
I didn'thave noneso he left. I went to the raftand setdown in the wigwam to think. But I couldn'tcome tonothing. I thought till I wore my head sorebut Icouldn't see no way out of the trouble. Afterall thislong journeyand after all we'd done for themscoundrelshere it was all come to nothingeverythingall bustedup and ruinedbecause they could have theheart toserve Jim such a trick as thatand make hima slaveagain all his lifeand amongst strangerstoofor fortydirty dollars.
Once Isaid to myself it would be a thousand timesbetter forJim to be a slave at home where his familywasaslong as he'd GOT to be a slaveand so I'd betterwrite aletter to Tom Sawyer and tell him to tell MissWatsonwhere he was. But I soon give up that notionfor twothings: she'd be mad and disgusted at hisrascalityand ungratefulness for leaving herand soshe'd sellhim straight down the river again; and ifshedidn'teverybody naturally despises an ungratefulniggerand they'd make Jim feel it all the timeand sohe'd feelornery and disgraced. And then think ofME! Itwould get all around that Huck Finn helped anigger toget his freedom; and if I was ever to seeanybodyfrom that town again I'd be ready to getdown andlick his boots for shame. That's just theway: aperson does a low-down thingand then hedon't wantto take no consequences of it. Thinks aslong as hecan hideit ain't no disgrace. That wasmy fixexactly. The more I studied about this themore myconscience went to grinding meand themorewicked and low-down and ornery I got to feel-ing. Andat lastwhen it hit me all of a sudden thathere wasthe plain hand of Providence slapping me inthe faceand letting me know my wickedness was beingwatchedall the time from up there in heavenwhilst Iwasstealing a poor old woman's nigger that hadn'tever doneme no harmand now was showing methere'sOne that's always on the lookoutand ain't a-going toallow no such miserable doings to go onlyjust sofur and no furtherI most dropped in mytracks Iwas so scared. WellI tried the best I couldto kindersoften it up somehow for myself by saying Iwas brungup wickedand so I warn't so much toblame; butsomething inside of me kept saying"Therewas the Sunday-schoolyou could a gone toit; and ifyou'd a done it they'd a learnt you therethatpeople that acts as I'd been acting about thatniggergoes to everlasting fire."
It made meshiver. And I about made up my mindto prayand see if I couldn't try to quit being the kindof a boy Iwas and be better. So I kneeled down.But thewords wouldn't come. Why wouldn't they?It warn'tno use to try and hide it from Him. Norfrom MEneither. I knowed very well why theywouldn'tcome. It was because my heart warn't right;it wasbecause I warn't square; it was because I wasplayingdouble. I was letting ON to give up sinbutawayinside of me I was holding on to the biggest oneof all. Iwas trying to make my mouth SAY I woulddo theright thing and the clean thingand go and writeto thatnigger's owner and tell where he was; but deepdown in meI knowed it was a lieand He knowed it.You can'tpray a lie -- I found that out.
So I wasfull of troublefull as I could be; anddidn'tknow what to do. At last I had an idea; and IsaysI'llgo and write the letter -- and then see if I canpray. Whyit was astonishingthe way I felt as lightas afeather right straight offand my troubles allgone. So Igot a piece of paper and a pencilallglad andexcitedand set down and wrote:
Miss Watsonyour runaway nigger Jim is down
here two mile below Pikesvilleand Mr. Phelps
has got him and he will give him up for the
reward if you send.
I feltgood and all washed clean of sin for the firsttime I hadever felt so in my lifeand I knowed Icould praynow. But I didn't do it straight offbutlaid thepaper down and set there thinking -- thinkinghow goodit was all this happened soand how near Icome tobeing lost and going to hell. And went onthinking.And got to thinking over our trip down theriver; andI see Jim before me all the time: in theday and inthe night-timesometimes moonlightsome-timesstormsand we a-floating alongtalking andsingingand laughing. But somehow I couldn't seemto strikeno places to harden me against himbut onlythe otherkind. I'd see him standing my watch on topof his'n'stead of calling meso I could go on sleep-ing; andsee him how glad he was when I come backout of thefog; and when I come to him again in theswampupthere where the feud was; and such-liketimes; andwould always call me honeyand pet meand doeverything he could think of for meand howgood healways was; and at last I struck the time Isaved himby telling the men we had small-pox aboardand he wasso gratefuland said I was the best friendold Jimever had in the worldand the ONLY one he'sgot now;and then I happened to look around and seethatpaper.
It was aclose place. I took it upand held it inmy hand. Iwas a-tremblingbecause I'd got to de-cideforeverbetwixt two thingsand I knowed it. Istudied aminutesort of holding my breathand thensays tomyself:
"AllrightthenI'll GO to hell" -- and tore it up.
It wasawful thoughts and awful wordsbut they wassaid. AndI let them stay said; and never thought nomore aboutreforming. I shoved the whole thing outof myheadand said I would take up wickednessagainwhich was in my linebeing brung up to itandthe otherwarn't. And for a starter I would go towork andsteal Jim out of slavery again; and if I couldthink upanything worseI would do thattoo; be-cause aslong as I was inand in for goodI might aswell gothe whole hog.
Then I setto thinking over how to get at itandturnedover some considerable many ways in my mind;and atlast fixed up a plan that suited me. So then Itook thebearings of a woody island that was downthe rivera pieceand as soon as it was fairly dark Icrept outwith my raft and went for itand hid itthereandthen turned in. I slept the night throughand got upbefore it was lightand had my breakfastand put onmy store clothesand tied up some othersand onething or another in a bundleand took thecanoe andcleared for shore. I landed below where Ijudged wasPhelps's placeand hid my bundle in thewoodsandthen filled up the canoe with waterandloadedrocks into her and sunk her where I could findher againwhen I wanted herabout a quarter of amile belowa little steam sawmill that was on the bank.
Then Istruck up the roadand when I passed themill I seea sign on it"Phelps's Sawmill" and whenI come tothe farm-housestwo or three hundred yardsfurtheralongI kept my eyes peeledbut didn't seenobodyaroundthough it was good daylight now.But Ididn't mindbecause I didn't want to see nobodyjust yet-- I only wanted to get the lay of the land.Accordingto my planI was going to turn up therefrom thevillagenot from below. So I just took alookandshoved alongstraight for town. Wellthevery firstman I see when I got there was the duke.He wassticking up a bill for the Royal Nonesuch --three-nightperformance -- like that other time. Theyhad thecheekthem frauds! I was right on him be-fore Icould shirk. He looked astonishedand says:
"Hel-LO!Where'd YOU come from?" Then hesayskindof glad and eager"Where's the raft? --got her ina good place?"
"Whythat's just what I was going to ask yourgrace."
Then hedidn't look so joyfuland says:
"Whatwas your idea for asking ME?" he says.
"Well"I says"when I see the king in that dog-geryyesterday I says to myselfwe can't get himhome forhourstill he's soberer; so I went a-loafingaroundtown to put in the time and wait. A man upandoffered me ten cents to help him pull a skiff overthe riverand back to fetch a sheepand so I wentalong; butwhen we was dragging him to the boatandthe manleft me a-holt of the rope and went behindhim toshove him alonghe was too strong for me andjerkedloose and runand we after him. We didn'thave nodogand so we had to chase him all over thecountrytill we tired him out. We never got him tilldark; thenwe fetched him overand I started downfor theraft. When I got there and see it was goneIsays tomyself'They've got into trouble and had toleave; andthey've took my niggerwhich is the onlyniggerI've got in the worldand now I'm in a strangecountryand ain't got no property no morenor noth-ingandno way to make my living;' so I set downand cried.I slept in the woods all night. But whatDID becomeof the raftthen? -- and Jim -- poor Jim!"
"Blamedif I know -- that iswhat's become of theraft. Thatold fool had made a trade and got fortydollarsand when we found him in the doggery theloafershad matched half-dollars with him and gotevery centbut what he'd spent for whisky; and whenI got himhome late last night and found the raft gonewe said'That little rascal has stole our raft and shookusandrun off down the river.'"
"Iwouldn't shake my NIGGERwould I? -- the onlynigger Ihad in the worldand the only property."
"Wenever thought of that. Fact isI reckon we'dcome toconsider him OUR nigger; yeswe did considerhim so --goodness knows we had trouble enough forhim. Sowhen we see the raft was gone and we flatbrokethere warn't anything for it but to try theRoyalNonesuch another shake. And I've peggedalong eversincedry as a powder-horn. Where's thatten cents?Give it here."
I hadconsiderable moneyso I give him ten centsbut beggedhim to spend it for something to eatandgive mesomebecause it was all the money I hadandI hadn'thad nothing to eat since yesterday. He neversaidnothing. The next minute he whirls on me andsays:
"Doyou reckon that nigger would blow on us?We'd skinhim if he done that!"
"Howcan he blow? Hain't he run off?"
"No!That old fool sold himand never dividedwith meand the money's gone."
"SOLDhim?" I saysand begun to cry; "whyhewas MYniggerand that was my money. Where ishe? -- Iwant my nigger."
"Wellyou can't GET your niggerthat's all -- sodry upyour blubbering. Looky here -- do you thinkYOU'Dventure to blow on us? Blamed if I think I'dtrust you.Whyif you WAS to blow on us --"
Hestoppedbut I never see the duke look so ugly outof hiseyes before. I went on a-whimperingand says:
"Idon't want to blow on nobody; and I ain't gotno time toblownohow. I got to turn out and findmynigger."
He lookedkinder botheredand stood there with hisbillsfluttering on his armthinkingand wrinkling uphisforehead. At last he says:
"I'lltell you something. We got to be here threedays. Ifyou'll promise you won't blowand won'tlet thenigger blowI'll tell you where to find him."
So Ipromisedand he says:
"Afarmer by the name of Silas Ph----" and thenhestopped. You seehe started to tell me the truth;but whenhe stopped that wayand begun to study andthinkagainI reckoned he was changing his mind.And so hewas. He wouldn't trust me; he wanted tomake sureof having me out of the way the wholethreedays. So pretty soon he says:
"Theman that bought him is named Abram Foster-- AbramG. Foster -- and he lives forty mile backhere inthe countryon the road to Lafayette."
"Allright" I says"I can walk it in three days.And I'llstart this very afternoon."
"Noyou wontyou'll start NOW; and don't youlose anytime about itneithernor do any gabbling bythe way.Just keep a tight tongue in your head andmove rightalongand then you won't get into troublewith USd'ye hear?"
That wasthe order I wantedand that was the one Iplayedfor. I wanted to be left free to work my plans.
"Soclear out" he says; "and you can tell Mr.Fosterwhatever you want to. Maybe you can gethim tobelieve that Jim IS your nigger -- some idiotsdon'trequire documents -- leastways I've heard there'ssuch downSouth here. And when you tell him thehandbilland the reward's bogusmaybe he'll believeyou whenyou explain to him what the idea was forgetting'em out. Go 'long nowand tell him anythingyou wantto; but mind you don't work your jaw anyBETWEENhere and there."
So I leftand struck for the back country. I didn'tlookaroundbut I kinder felt like he was watching me.But Iknowed I could tire him out at that. I wentstraightout in the country as much as a mile before Istopped;then I doubled back through the woodstowardsPhelps'. I reckoned I better start in on myplanstraight off without fooling aroundbecause Iwanted tostop Jim's mouth till these fellows could getaway. Ididn't want no trouble with their kind. I'dseen all Iwanted to of themand wanted to get entirelyshut ofthem.
WHEN I gotthere it was all still and Sunday-likeand hotand sunshiny; the hands was gone tothefields; and there was them kind of faint droningsof bugsand flies in the air that makes it seem so lone-some andlike everybody's dead and gone; and if abreezefans along and quivers the leaves it makes youfeelmournfulbecause you feel like it's spirits whisper-ing --spirits that's been dead ever so many years --and youalways think they're talking about YOU. As ageneralthing it makes a body wish HE was deadtooand donewith it all.
Phelps'was one of these little one-horse cotton plan-tationsand they all look alike. A rail fence round atwo-acreyard; a stile made out of logs sawed off andup-endedin stepslike barrels of a different lengthtoclimb overthe fence withand for the women to standon whenthey are going to jump on to a horse; somesicklygrass-patches in the big yardbut mostly it wasbare andsmoothlike an old hat with the nap rubbedoff; bigdouble log-house for the white folks -- hewedlogswiththe chinks stopped up with mud or mortarand thesemud-stripes been whitewashed some time oranother;round-log kitchenwith a big broadopenbut roofedpassage joining it to the house; log smoke-house backof the kitchen; three little log nigger-cabinsin a rowt'other side the smoke-house; one little hutall byitself away down against the back fenceandsomeoutbuildings down a piece the other side; ash-hopper andbig kettle to bile soap in by the little hut;bench bythe kitchen doorwith bucket of water and agourd;hound asleep there in the sun; more houndsasleepround about; about three shade trees away offin acorner; some currant bushes and gooseberrybushes inone place by the fence; outside of the fencea gardenand a watermelon patch; then the cottonfieldsbeginsand after the fields the woods.
I wentaround and clumb over the back stile by theash-hopperand started for the kitchen. When I gota littleways I heard the dim hum of a spinning-wheelwailingalong up and sinking along down again; andthen Iknowed for certain I wished I was dead -- forthat ISthe lonesomest sound in the whole world.
I wentright alongnot fixing up any particular planbut justtrusting to Providence to put the right wordsin mymouth when the time come; for I'd noticed thatProvidencealways did put the right words in my mouthif I leftit alone.
When I gothalf-wayfirst one hound and thenanothergot up and went for meand of course Istoppedand faced themand kept still. And suchanotherpowwow as they made! In a quarter of aminute Iwas a kind of a hub of a wheelas you maysay --spokes made out of dogs -- circle of fifteenof thempacked together around mewith their necksand nosesstretched up towards mea-barking andhowling;and more a-coming; you could see them sail-ing overfences and around corners from everywheres.
A niggerwoman come tearing out of the kitchen witharolling-pin in her handsinging out"Begone YOUTige! youSpot! begone sah!" and she fetched firstone andthen another of them a clip and sent themhowlingand then the rest followed; and the nextsecondhalf of them come backwagging their tailsaround meand making friends with me. There ain'tno harm ina houndnohow.
And behindthe woman comes a little nigger girl andtwo littlenigger boys without anything on but tow-linenshirtsand they hung on to their mother's gownandpeeped outfrom behind her at mebashfulthe waytheyalways do. And here comes the white womanrunningfrom the houseabout forty-five or fifty yearoldbareheadedand her spinning-stick in her hand;and behindher comes her little white childrenactingthe sameway the little niggers was going. She wassmilingall over so she could hardly stand -- and says:
"It'sYOUat last! -- AIN'T it?"
I out witha "Yes'm" before I thought.
Shegrabbed me and hugged me tight; and thengripped meby both hands and shook and shook; andthe tearscome in her eyesand run down over; andshecouldn't seem to hug and shake enoughand keptsaying"You don't look as much like your mother asI reckonedyou would; but law sakesI don't care forthatI'mso glad to see you! Deardearit does seemlike Icould eat you up! Childrenit's your cousinTom! --tell him howdy."
But theyducked their headsand put their fingers intheirmouthsand hid behind her. So she run on:
"Lizehurry up and get him a hot breakfast rightaway -- ordid you get your breakfast on the boat?"
I said Ihad got it on the boat. So then she startedfor thehouseleading me by the handand the childrentaggingafter. When we got there she set me down inasplit-bottomed chairand set herself down on a littlelow stoolin front of meholding both of my handsand says:
"NowI can have a GOOD look at you; andlaws-a-meI'vebeen hungry for it a many and a many a timeall theselong yearsand it's come at last! We beenexpectingyou a couple of days and more. What kep'you? --boat get aground?"
"Yes'm-- she --"
"Don'tsay yes'm -- say Aunt Sally. Where'd shegetaground?"
I didn'trightly know what to saybecause I didn'tknowwhether the boat would be coming up the riveror down.But I go a good deal on instinct; and myinstinctsaid she would be coming up -- from downtowardsOrleans. That didn't help me muchthough;for Ididn't know the names of bars down that way. Isee I'dgot to invent a baror forget the name of theone we gotaground on -- or -- Now I struck an ideaandfetched it out:
"Itwarn't the grounding -- that didn't keep us backbut alittle. We blowed out a cylinder-head."
"Goodgracious! anybody hurt?"
"No'm.Killed a nigger."
"Wellit's lucky; because sometimes people do gethurt. Twoyears ago last Christmas your uncle Silaswas comingup from Newrleans on the old Lally Rookand sheblowed out a cylinder-head and crippled a man.And Ithink he died afterwards. He was a Baptist.Your uncleSilas knowed a family in Baton Rougethatknowed his people very well. YesI remembernowheDID die. Mortification set inand they had toamputatehim. But it didn't save him. Yesit wasmortification-- that was it. He turned blue all overand diedin the hope of a glorious resurrection. Theysay he wasa sight to look at. Your uncle's been upto thetown every day to fetch you. And he's goneagainnotmore'n an hour ago; he'll be back anyminutenow. You must a met him on the roaddidn'tyou? --oldish manwith a --"
"NoI didn't see nobodyAunt Sally. The boatlandedjust at daylightand I left my baggage on thewharf-boatand went looking around the town and outa piece inthe countryto put in the time and not gethere toosoon; and so I come down the back way."
"Who'dyou give the baggage to?"
"Whychildit 'll be stole!"
"Notwhere I hid it I reckon it won't" I says.
"How'dyou get your breakfast so early on theboat?"
It waskinder thin icebut I says:
"Thecaptain see me standing aroundand told meI betterhave something to eat before I went ashore;so he tookme in the texas to the officers' lunchandgive meall I wanted."
I wasgetting so uneasy I couldn't listen good. Ihad mymind on the children all the time; I wanted toget themout to one side and pump them a littleandfind outwho I was. But I couldn't get no showMrs.Phelpskept it up and run on so. Pretty soon she madethe coldchills streak all down my backbecause shesays:
"Buthere we're a-running on this wayand youhain'ttold me a word about Sisnor any of them.Now I'llrest my works a littleand you start up yourn;just tellme EVERYTHING -- tell me all about 'm allevery oneof 'm; and how they areand what they'redoingandwhat they told you to tell me; and everylast thingyou can think of."
WellIsee I was up a stump -- and up it good.Providencehad stood by me this fur all rightbut Iwas hardand tight aground now. I see it warn't a bitof use totry to go ahead -- I'd got to throw up myhand. So Isays to myselfhere's another place whereI got toresk the truth. I opened my mouth to begin;but shegrabbed me and hustled me in behind the bedand says:
"Herehe comes! Stick your head down lower --therethat'll do; you can't be seen now. Don't youlet onyou're here. I'll play a joke on him. Childrendon't yousay a word."
I see Iwas in a fix now. But it warn't no use toworry;there warn't nothing to do but just hold stilland tryand be ready to stand from under when thelightningstruck.
I had justone little glimpse of the old gentlemanwhen hecome in; then the bed hid him. Mrs. Phelpsshe jumpsfor himand says:
"No"says her husband.
"Good-NESSgracious!" she says"what in thewarld canhave become of him?"
"Ican't imagine" says the old gentleman; "andI must sayit makes me dreadful uneasy."
"Uneasy!"she says; "I'm ready to go distracted!He MUST acome; and you've missed him along theroad. IKNOW it's so -- something tells me so."
"WhySallyI COULDN'T miss him along the road --YOU knowthat."
"Butohdeardearwhat WILL Sis say! He must acome! Youmust a missed him. He --"
"Ohdon't distress me any more'n I'm already dis-tressed. Idon't know what in the world to make of it.I'm at mywit's endand I don't mind acknowledging't I'mright down scared. But there's no hope thathe's come;for he COULDN'T come and me miss him.Sallyit's terrible -- just terrible -- something's hap-pened tothe boatsure!"
"WhySilas! Look yonder! -- up the road! -- ain'tthatsomebody coming?"
He sprungto the window at the head of the bedand thatgive Mrs. Phelps the chance she wanted. Shestoopeddown quick at the foot of the bed and give mea pulland out I come; and when he turned backfrom thewindow there she stooda-beaming and a-smil-ing like ahouse afireand I standing pretty meek andsweatyalongside. The old gentleman staredandsays:
"Whodo you reckon 't is?"
"Ihain't no idea. Who IS it?"
By jingsI most slumped through the floor! Buttherewarn't no time to swap knives; the old mangrabbed meby the hand and shookand kept on shak-ing; andall the time how the woman did dance aroundand laughand cry; and then how they both did fire offquestionsabout Sidand Maryand the rest of thetribe.
But ifthey was joyfulit warn't nothing to what Iwas; forit was like being born againI was so glad tofind outwho I was. Wellthey froze to me for twohours; andat lastwhen my chin was so tired itcouldn'thardly go any moreI had told them moreabout myfamily -- I mean the Sawyer family -- thaneverhappened to any six Sawyer families. And I ex-plainedall about how we blowed out a cylinder-head atthe mouthof White Riverand it took us three days tofix it.Which was all rightand worked first-rate; be-cause THEYdidn't know but what it would take threedays tofix it. If I'd a called it a bolthead it would adone justas well.
Now I wasfeeling pretty comfortable all down onesideandpretty uncomfortable all up the other. Be-ing TomSawyer was easy and comfortableand itstayedeasy and comfortable till by and by I hear asteamboatcoughing along down the river. Then Isays tomyselfs'pose Tom Sawyer comes down on thatboat? Ands'pose he steps in here any minuteandsings outmy name before I can throw him a wink tokeepquiet?
WellIcouldn't HAVE it that way; it wouldn't do atall. Imust go up the road and waylay him. So Itold thefolks I reckoned I would go up to the townand fetchdown my baggage. The old gentleman wasfor goingalong with mebut I said noI could drivethe horsemyselfand I druther he wouldn't take notroubleabout me.
SO Istarted for town in the wagonand when I washalf-way Isee a wagon comingand sure enough itwas TomSawyerand I stopped and waited till he comealong. Isays "Hold on!" and it stopped alongsideand hismouth opened up like a trunkand stayed so;and heswallowed two or three times like a person that'sgot a drythroatand then says:
"Ihain't ever done you no harm. You know that.Sothenwhat you want to come back and ha'nt MEfor?"
"Ihain't come back -- I hain't been GONE."
When heheard my voice it righted him up somebuthe warn'tquite satisfied yet. He says:
"Don'tyou play nothing on mebecause I wouldn'ton you.Honest injunyou ain't a ghost?"
"HonestinjunI ain't" I says.
"Well-- I -- I -- wellthat ought to settle itofcourse;but I can't somehow seem to understand it noway. Lookyherewarn't you ever murdered AT ALL?"
"No.I warn't ever murdered at all -- I played iton them.You come in here and feel of me if youdon'tbelieve me."
So he doneit; and it satisfied him; and he was thatglad tosee me again he didn't know what to do. Andhe wantedto know all about it right offbecause it wasa grandadventureand mysteriousand so it hit himwhere helived. But I saidleave it alone till by andby; andtold his driver to waitand we drove off a littlepieceandI told him the kind of a fix I was inand whatdid hereckon we better do? He saidlet him alone aminuteand don't disturb him. So he thought andthoughtand pretty soon he says:
"It'sall right; I've got it. Take my trunk in yourwagonandlet on it's your'n; and you turn back andfool alongslowso as to get to the house about thetime youought to; and I'll go towards town a pieceand take afresh startand get there a quarter or a halfan hourafter you; and you needn't let on to knowme atfirst."
"Allright; but wait a minute. There's one morething -- athing that NOBODY don't know but me. Andthat isthere's a nigger here that I'm a-trying to stealout ofslaveryand his name is JIM -- old Miss Wat-son'sJim."
"What ! WhyJim is --"
He stoppedand went to studying. I says:
"Iknow what you'll say. You'll say it's dirtylow-downbusiness; but what if it is? I'm low down; andI'ma-going to steal himand I want you keep mumand notlet on. Will you?"
His eyelit upand he says:
"I'llHELP you steal him!"
WellIlet go all holts thenlike I was shot. Itwas themost astonishing speech I ever heard -- andI'm boundto say Tom Sawyer fell considerable in myestimation.Only I couldn't believe it. Tom Sawyer aNIGGER-STEALER!
"Ohshucks!" I says; "you're joking."
"Wellthen" I says"joking or no jokingif youhearanything said about a runaway niggerdon't for-get toremember that YOU don't know nothing abouthimand Idon't know nothing about him."
Then wetook the trunk and put it in my wagonandhe droveoff his way and I drove mine. But of courseI forgotall about driving slow on accounts of being gladand fullof thinking; so I got home a heap too quickfor thatlength of a trip. The old gentleman was atthe doorand he says:
"Whythis is wonderful! Whoever would athought itwas in that mare to do it? I wish we'da timedher. And she hain't sweated a hair -- not ahair. It'swonderful. WhyI wouldn't take a hundreddollarsfor that horse now -- I wouldn'thonest; andyet I'd asold her for fifteen beforeand thought 'twasall shewas worth."
That's allhe said. He was the innocentestbest oldsoul Iever see. But it warn't surprising; because hewarn'tonly just a farmerhe was a preachertooandhad alittle one-horse log church down back of theplantationwhich he built it himself at his own expensefor achurch and schoolhouseand never charged noth-ing forhis preachingand it was worth ittoo. Therewas plentyother farmer-preachers like thatand donethe samewaydown South.
In abouthalf an hour Tom's wagon drove up to thefrontstileand Aunt Sally she see it through the win-dowbecause it was only about fifty yardsand says:
"Whythere's somebody come! I wonder who'tis? WhyI do believe it's a stranger. Jimmy "(that'sone of the children)' "run and tell Lize to puton anotherplate for dinner."
Everybodymade a rush for the front doorbecauseof coursea stranger don't come EVERY yearand so helays overthe yaller-feverfor interestwhen he doescome. Tomwas over the stile and starting for thehouse; thewagon was spinning up the road for thevillageand we was all bunched in the front door. Tomhad hisstore clothes onand an audience -- and thatwas alwaysnuts for Tom Sawyer. In them circum-stances itwarn't no trouble to him to throw in anamount ofstyle that was suitable. He warn't a boy tomeekyalong up that yard like a sheep; nohe comeca'm andimportantlike the ram. When he got a-frontof us helifts his hat ever so gracious and daintylike itwas thelid of a box that had butterflies asleep in it andhe didn'twant to disturb themand says:
"Mr.Archibald NicholsI presume?"
"Nomy boy" says the old gentleman"I'm sorryto say 'tyour driver has deceived you; Nichols's placeis down amatter of three mile more. Come incomein."
Tom hetook a look back over his shoulderand says"Toolate -- he's out of sight."
"Yeshe's gonemy sonand you must come inand eatyour dinner with us; and then we'll hitch upand takeyou down to Nichols's."
"OhI CAN'T make you so much trouble; I couldn'tthink ofit. I'll walk -- I don't mind the distance."
"Butwe won't LET you walk -- it wouldn't be South-ernhospitality to do it. Come right in."
"OhDO" says Aunt Sally; "it ain't a bit oftrouble tousnot a bit in the world. You must stay.It's alongdusty three mileand we can't let you walk.AndbesidesI've already told 'em to put on anotherplate whenI see you coming; so you mustn't disap-point us.Come right in and make yourself at home."
So Tom hethanked them very hearty and handsomeand lethimself be persuadedand come in; and whenhe was inhe said he was a stranger from HicksvilleOhioandhis name was William Thompson -- and hemadeanother bow.
Wellherun onand onand onmaking up stuffaboutHicksville and everybody in it he could inventand Igetting a little nerviousand wondering how thiswas goingto help me out of my scrape; and at laststilltalking alonghe reached over and kissed AuntSallyright on the mouthand then settled back againin hischair comfortableand was going on talking; butshe jumpedup and wiped it off with the back of herhandandsays:
He lookedkind of hurtand says:
"I'msurprised at youm'am."
"You'res'rp -- Whywhat do you reckon I am?I've agood notion to take and -- Saywhat do youmean bykissing me?"
He lookedkind of humbleand says:
"Ididn't mean nothingm'am. I didn't mean noharm. I --I -- thought you'd like it."
"Whyyou born fool!" She took up the spinningstickandit looked like it was all she could do to keepfromgiving him a crack with it. "What made youthink I'dlike it?"
"WellI don't know. Onlythey -- they -- toldme youwould."
"THEYtold you I would. Whoever told you'sANOTHERlunatic. I never heard the beat of it. Who'sTHEY?"
"Whyeverybody. They all said som'am."
It was allshe could do to hold in; and her eyessnappedand her fingers worked like she wanted toscratchhim; and she says:
"Who's'everybody'? Out with their namesorther'll bean idiot short."
He got upand looked distressedand fumbled hishatandsays:
"I'msorryand I warn't expecting it. They toldme to.They all told me to. They all saidkiss her;and saidshe'd like it. They all said it -- every one ofthem. ButI'm sorrym'amand I won't do it nomore -- Iwon'thonest."
"Youwon'twon't you? WellI sh'd RECKON youwon't!"
"No'mI'm honest about it; I won't ever do itagain --till you ask me."
"TillI ASK you! WellI never see the beat of it inmy borndays! I lay you'll be the Methusalem-num-skull ofcreation before ever I ask you -- or the likes ofyou."
"Well"he says"it does surprise me so. I can'tmake itoutsomehow. They said you wouldand Ithoughtyou would. But --" He stopped and lookedaroundslowlike he wished he could run across afriendlyeye somewheresand fetched up on the oldgentleman'sand says"Didn't YOU think she'd likeme to kisshersir?"
"Whyno; I -- I -- wellnoI b'lieve I didn't."
Then helooks on around the same way to meandsays:
"Tomdidn't YOU think Aunt Sally 'd open out herarms andsay'Sid Sawyer --'"
"Myland!" she saysbreaking in and jumping forhim"youimpudent young rascalto fool a bodyso --"and was going to hug himbut he fended heroffandsays:
"Nonot till you've asked me first."
So shedidn't lose no timebut asked him; andhugged himand kissed him over and over againandthenturned him over to the old manand he took whatwas left.And after they got a little quiet again she says:
"Whydear meI never see such a surprise. Wewarn'tlooking for YOU at allbut only Tom. Sis neverwrote tome about anybody coming but him."
"It'sbecause it warn't INTENDED for any of us tocome butTom" he says; "but I begged and beggedand at thelast minute she let me cometoo; socom-ing downthe riverme and Tom thought it would beafirst-rate surprise for him to come here to the housefirstandfor me to by and by tag along and drop inand let onto be a stranger. But it was a mistakeAuntSally. This ain't no healthy place for a strangerto come."
"No-- not impudent whelpsSid. You ought tohad yourjaws boxed; I hain't been so put out since Idon't knowwhen. But I don't careI don't mindthe terms-- I'd be willing to stand a thousand suchjokes tohave you here. Wellto think of that per-formance!I don't deny itI was most putrified withastonishmentwhen you give me that smack."
We haddinner out in that broad open passage be-twixt thehouse and the kitchen; and there was thingsenough onthat table for seven families -- and all hottoo; noneof your flabbytough meat that's laid in acupboardin a damp cellar all night and tastes like ahunk ofold cold cannibal in the morning. UncleSilas heasked a pretty long blessing over itbut it wasworth it;and it didn't cool it a bitneitherthe wayI've seenthem kind of interruptions do lots of times.There wasa considerable good deal of talk all theafternoonand me and Tom was on the lookout all thetime; butit warn't no usethey didn't happen to saynothingabout any runaway niggerand we was afraidto try towork up to it. But at supperat nightoneof thelittle boys says:
"Pamayn't Tom and Sid and me go to the show?"
"No"says the old man"I reckon there ain't go-ing to beany; and you couldn't go if there was; be-cause therunaway nigger told Burton and me all aboutthatscandalous showand Burton said he would tell thepeople; soI reckon they've drove the owdacious loaf-ers out oftown before this time."
So thereit was! -- but I couldn't help it. Tom andme was tosleep in the same room and bed; sobeingtiredwebid good-night and went up to bed right aftersupperand clumb out of the window and down thelightning-rodand shoved for the town; for I didn'tbelieveanybody was going to give the king and theduke ahintand so if I didn't hurry up and give themone they'dget into trouble sure.
On theroad Tom he told me all about how it wasreckoned Iwas murderedand how pap disappearedprettysoonand didn't come back no moreand whata stirthere was when Jim run away; and I told Tomall aboutour Royal Nonesuch rapscallionsand asmuch ofthe raft voyage as I had time to; and as westruckinto the town and up through the -- here comes aragingrush of people with torchesand an awfulwhoopingand yellingand banging tin pans and blow-ing horns;and we jumped to one side to let them goby; and asthey went by I see they had the king andthe dukeastraddle of a rail -- that isI knowed it WASthe kingand the dukethough they was all over tar andfeathersand didn't look like nothing in the world thatwas human-- just looked like a couple of monstrousbigsoldier-plumes. Wellit made me sick to see it;and I wassorry for them poor pitiful rascalsit seemedlike Icouldn't ever feel any hardness against them anymore inthe world. It was a dreadful thing to see.Humanbeings CAN be awful cruel to one another.
We see wewas too late -- couldn't do no good. Weasked somestragglers about itand they said everybodywent tothe show looking very innocent; and laidlow andkept dark till the poor old king was in themiddle ofhis cavortings on the stage; then somebodygive asignaland the house rose up and went forthem.
So wepoked along back homeand I warn't feelingso brashas I was beforebut kind of orneryandhumbleand to blamesomehow -- though I hadn'tdonenothing. But that's always the way; it don'tmake nodifference whether you do right or wrongaperson'sconscience ain't got no senseand just goes forhimanyway. If I had a yaller dog that didn't knowno morethan a person's conscience does I would pisonhim. Ittakes up more room than all the rest of aperson'sinsidesand yet ain't no goodnohow. TomSawyer hesays the same.
WE stoppedtalkingand got to thinking. By and byTom says:
"LookyhereHuckwhat fools we are to not thinkof itbefore! I bet I know where Jim is."
"Inthat hut down by the ash-hopper. Whylookyhere. Whenwe was at dinnerdidn't you see a niggerman go inthere with some vittles?"
"Whatdid you think the vittles was for?"
"So'd I. Wellit wasn't for a dog."
"Becausepart of it was watermelon."
"Soit was -- I noticed it. Wellit does beat allthat Inever thought about a dog not eating water-melon. Itshows how a body can see and don't see atthe sametime."
"Wellthe nigger unlocked the padlock when hewent inand he locked it again when he came out. Hefetcheduncle a key about the time we got up fromtable --same keyI bet. Watermelon shows manlock showsprisoner; and it ain't likely there's twoprisonerson such a little plantationand where thepeople'sall so kind and good. Jim's the prisoner.All right-- I'm glad we found it out detective fashion;I wouldn'tgive shucks for any other way. Now youwork yourmindand study out a plan to steal JimandI willstudy out onetoo; and we'll take the one welike thebest."
What ahead for just a boy to have! If I had TomSawyer'shead I wouldn't trade it off to be a dukenormate of asteamboatnor clown in a circusnor nothingI canthink of. I went to thinking out a planbut onlyjust to bedoing something; I knowed very well wherethe rightplan was going to come from. Pretty soonTom says:
"Allright -- bring it out."
"Myplan is this" I says. "We can easy find outif it'sJim in there. Then get up my canoe to-morrownightandfetch my raft over from the island. Thenthe firstdark night that comes steal the key out of theold man'sbritches after he goes to bedand shove offdown theriver on the raft with Jimhiding daytimesandrunning nightsthe way me and Jim used to do be-fore.Wouldn't that plan work?"
"WORK?Whycert'nly it would worklike ratsa-fighting.But it's too blame' simple; there ain'tnothing TOit. What's the good of a plan that ain't nomoretrouble than that? It's as mild as goose-milk.WhyHuckit wouldn't make no more talk than break-ing into asoap factory."
I neversaid nothingbecause I warn't expecting noth-ingdifferent; but I knowed mighty well that wheneverhe got HISplan ready it wouldn't have none of themobjectionsto it.
And itdidn't. He told me what it wasand I see ina minuteit was worth fifteen of mine for styleandwould makeJim just as free a man as mine wouldandmaybe getus all killed besides. So I was satisfiedandsaid wewould waltz in on it. I needn't tell what itwas herebecause I knowed it wouldn't stay the wayitwas. Iknowed he would be changing it around everywhich wayas we went alongand heaving in new bull-inesseswherever he got a chance. And that is whathe done.
Wellonething was dead sureand that was that TomSawyer wasin earnestand was actuly going to helpsteal thatnigger out of slavery. That was the thingthat wastoo many for me. Here was a boy that wasrespectableand well brung up; and had a character tolose; andfolks at home that had characters; and hewas brightand not leather-headed; and knowing andnotignorant; and not meanbut kind; and yet herehe waswithout any more prideor rightnessor feel-ingthanto stoop to this businessand make himself ashameandhis family a shamebefore everybody. ICOULDN'Tunderstand it no way at all. It was outra-geousandI knowed I ought to just up and tell him so;and so behis true friendand let him quit the thingrightwhere he was and save himself. And I DID startto tellhim; but he shut me upand says:
"Don'tyou reckon I know what I'm about? Don'tI generlyknow what I'm about?"
"Didn'tI SAY I was going to help steal the nigger?"
That's allhe saidand that's all I said. It warn't nouse to sayany more; because when he said he'd do athinghealways done it. But I couldn't make outhow he waswilling to go into this thing; so I just let itgoandnever bothered no more about it. If he wasbound tohave it soI couldn't help it.
When wegot home the house was all dark and still;so we wenton down to the hut by the ash-hopper forto examineit. We went through the yard so as to seewhat thehounds would do. They knowed usanddidn'tmake no more noise than country dogs is alwaysdoing whenanything comes by in the night. Whenwe got tothe cabin we took a look at the front and thetwo sides;and on the side I warn't acquainted with --which wasthe north side -- we found a square window-holeuptolerable highwith just one stout board nailedacross it.I says:
"Here'sthe ticket. This hole's big enough for Jimto getthrough if we wrench off the board."
"It'sas simple as tit-tat-toethree-in-a-rowand aseasy asplaying hooky. I should HOPE we can find away that'sa little more complicated than THATHuckFinn."
"Wellthen" I says"how 'll it do to saw him outthe way Idone before I was murdered that time?"
"That'smore LIKE" he says. "It's real mysteriousandtroublesomeand good" he says; "but I bet wecan find away that's twice as long. There ain't nohurry;le's keep on looking around."
Betwixtthe hut and the fenceon the back sidewasa lean-tothat joined the hut at the eavesand was madeout ofplank. It was as long as the hutbut narrow-- onlyabout six foot wide. The door to it was at thesouth endand was padlocked. Tom he went to thesoap-kettleand searched aroundand fetched back theiron thingthey lift the lid with; so he took it andprized outone of the staples. The chain fell downand weopened the door and went inand shut itandstruck amatchand see the shed was only built againsta cabinand hadn't no connection with it; and therewarn't nofloor to the shednor nothing in it but someold rustyplayed-out hoes and spades and picks anda crippledplow. The match went outand so did weand shovedin the staple againand the door was lockedas good asever. Tom was joyful. He says;
"Nowwe're all right. We'll DIG him out. It 'lltake abouta week!"
Then westarted for the houseand I went in theback door-- you only have to pull a buckskin latch-stringthey don't fasten the doors -- but that warn'tromanticalenough for Tom Sawyer; no way would dohim but hemust climb up the lightning-rod. But afterhe got uphalf way about three timesand missed fireand fellevery timeand the last time most busted hisbrainsouthe thought he'd got to give it up; but afterhe wasrested he allowed he would give her one moreturn forluckand this time he made the trip.
In themorning we was up at break of dayand downto thenigger cabins to pet the dogs and make friendswith thenigger that fed Jim -- if it WAS Jim that wasbeing fed.The niggers was just getting through break-fast andstarting for the fields; and Jim's nigger waspiling upa tin pan with bread and meat and things;and whilstthe others was leavingthe key come fromthe house.
Thisnigger had a good-naturedchuckle-headed faceand hiswool was all tied up in little bunches withthread.That was to keep witches off. He said thewitcheswas pestering him awful these nightsand mak-ing himsee all kinds of strange thingsand hear all kindsof strangewords and noisesand he didn't believe hewas everwitched so long before in his life. He gotso workedupand got to running on so about histroubleshe forgot all about what he'd been a-going todo. So Tomsays:
"What'sthe vittles for? Going to feed the dogs?"
The niggerkind of smiled around graduly over hisfacelikewhen you heave a brickbat in a mud-puddleand hesays:
"YesMars SidA dog. Cur'us dogtoo. Doesyou wantto go en look at 'im?"
I hunchedTomand whispers:
"Yougoingright here in the daybreak? THATwarn't theplan."
"Noit warn't; but it's the plan NOW."
Sodrathimwe went alongbut I didn't like itmuch. Whenwe got in we couldn't hardly see any-thingitwas so dark; but Jim was theresure enoughand couldsee us; and he sings out:
"WhyHUCK! En good LAN'! ain' dat Misto Tom?"
I justknowed how it would be; I just expected it.I didn'tknow nothing to do; and if I had I couldn'ta done itbecause that nigger busted in and says:
"Whyde gracious sakes! do he know you genl-men?"
We couldsee pretty well now. Tom he looked attheniggersteady and kind of wonderingand says:
"DoesWHO know us?"
"Whydis-yer runaway nigger."
"Idon't reckon he does; but what put that intoyourhead?"
"WhatPUT it dar? Didn' he jis' dis minute singout likehe knowed you?"
Tom saysin a puzzled-up kind of way:
"Wellthat's mighty curious. WHO sung out?WHEN didhe sing out? WHAT did he sing out?"And turnsto meperfectly ca'mand says"DidYOU hearanybody sing out?"
Of coursethere warn't nothing to be said but the onething; soI says:
"No;I ain't heard nobody say nothing."
Then heturns to Jimand looks him over like henever seehim beforeand says:
"Didyou sing out?"
"Nosah" says Jim; " I hain't said nothingsah."
"NosahI hain't said a word."
"Didyou ever see us before?"
"Nosah; not as I knows on."
So Tomturns to the niggerwhich was looking wildanddistressedand sayskind of severe:
"Whatdo you reckon's the matter with youany-way? Whatmade you think somebody sung out?"
"Ohit's de dad-blame' witchessahen I wisht Iwas deadI do. Dey's awluz at itsahen dey domos' killmedey sk'yers me so. Please to don't tellnobody'bout it saher ole Mars Silas he'll scole me;'kase hesay dey AIN'T no witches. I jis' wish to good-ness hewas heah now -- DEN what would he say! Ijis' bethe couldn' fine no way to git aroun' it DIS time.But it'sawluz jis' so; people dat's SOTstays sot; deywon't lookinto noth'n'en fine it out f'r deyselvesenwhen YOUfine it out en tell um 'bout itdey doan'b'lieveyou."
Tom givehim a dimeand said we wouldn't tell no-body; andtold him to buy some more thread to tie uphis woolwith; and then looks at Jimand says:
"Iwonder if Uncle Silas is going to hang this nigger.If I wasto catch a nigger that was ungrateful enoughto runawayI wouldn't give him upI'd hang him."And whilstthe nigger stepped to the door to look atthe dimeand bite it to see if it was goodhe whispersto Jim andsays:
"Don'tever let on to know us. And if you hearanydigging going on nightsit's us; we're going toset youfree."
Jim onlyhad time to grab us by the hand and squeezeit; thenthe nigger come backand we said we'dcome againsome time if the nigger wanted us to; andhe said hewouldmore particular if it was darkbe-cause thewitches went for him mostly in the darkandit wasgood to have folks around then.
IT wouldbe most an hour yet till breakfastso we leftand struckdown into the woods; because Tom saidwe got tohave SOME light to see how to dig byand alanternmakes too muchand might get us into trouble;what wemust have was a lot of them rotten chunksthat'scalled fox-fireand just makes a soft kind of aglow whenyou lay them in a dark place. We fetchedan armfuland hid it in the weedsand set down to restand Tomsayskind of dissatisfied:
"Blameitthis whole thing is just as easy andawkward asit can be. And so it makes it so rottendifficultto get up a difficult plan. There ain't no watch-man to bedrugged -- now there OUGHT to be a watch-man. Thereain't even a dog to give a sleeping-mix-ture to.And there's Jim chained by one legwith aten-footchainto the leg of his bed: whyall you gotto do isto lift up the bedstead and slip off the chain.And UncleSilas he trusts everybody; sends the keyto thepunkin-headed niggerand don't send nobody towatch thenigger. Jim could a got out of that window-holebefore thisonly there wouldn't be no use tryingto travelwith a ten-foot chain on his leg. WhydratitHuckit's the stupidest arrangement I ever see.You got toinvent ALL the difficulties. Wellwe can'thelp it;we got to do the best we can with the materialswe've got.Anyhowthere's one thing -- there's morehonor ingetting him out through a lot of difficultiesanddangerswhere there warn't one of them furnishedto you bythe people who it was their duty to furnishthemandyou had to contrive them all out of yourown head.Now look at just that one thing of thelantern.When you come down to the cold factswesimply gotto LET ON that a lantern's resky. Whywecould workwith a torchlight procession if we wantedtoIbelieve. Nowwhilst I think of itwe got tohunt upsomething to make a saw out of the firstchance weget."
"Whatdo we want of a saw?"
"Whatdo we WANT of a saw? Hain't we got tosaw theleg of Jim's bed offso as to get the chainloose?"
"Whyyou just said a body could lift up the bed-stead andslip the chain off."
"Wellif that ain't just like youHuck Finn. YouCAN get upthe infant-schooliest ways of going at athing.Whyhain't you ever read any books at all?-- BaronTrencknor Casanovanor Benvenuto Chel-leenynorHenri IV.nor none of them heroes? Whoever heardof getting a prisoner loose in such an old-maidy wayas that? No; the way all the best authori-ties doesis to saw the bed-leg in twoand leave it justsoandswallow the sawdustso it can't be foundandput somedirt and grease around the sawed place so theverykeenest seneskal can't see no sign of it's beingsawedandthinks the bed-leg is perfectly sound. Thenthe nightyou're readyfetch the leg a kickdown shegoes; slipoff your chainand there you are. Nothingto do buthitch your rope ladder to the battlementsshindown itbreak your leg in the moat -- because a ropeladder isnineteen foot too shortyou know -- and there'syourhorses and your trusty vasslesand they scoopyou up andfling you across a saddleand away you goto yournative Langudocor Navarreor wherever it is.It'sgaudyHuck. I wish there was a moat to thiscabin. Ifwe get timethe night of the escapewe'll digone."
"Whatdo we want of a moat when we're going tosnake himout from under the cabin?"
But henever heard me. He had forgot me andeverythingelse. He had his chin in his handthinking.Prettysoon he sighs and shakes his head; then sighsagainandsays:
"Noit wouldn't do -- there ain't necessity enoughfor it."
"Forwhat?" I says.
"Whyto saw Jim's leg off" he says.
"Goodland!" I says; "whythere ain't NO neces-sity forit. And what would you want to saw his legoff foranyway?"
"Wellsome of the best authorities has done it.Theycouldn't get the chain offso they just cut theirhand offand shoved. And a leg would be better still.But we gotto let that go. There ain't necessityenough inthis case; andbesidesJim's a niggerandwouldn'tunderstand the reasons for itand how it's thecustom inEurope; so we'll let it go. But there's onething --he can have a rope ladder; we can tear up oursheets andmake him a rope ladder easy enough. Andwe cansend it to him in a pie; it's mostly done thatway. AndI've et worse pies."
"WhyTom Sawyerhow you talk" I says; "Jimain't gotno use for a rope ladder."
"HeHAS got use for it. How YOU talkyou bettersay; youdon't know nothing about it. He's GOT tohave arope ladder; they all do."
"Whatin the nation can he DO with it?"
"DOwith it? He can hide it in his bedcan't he?"That'swhat they all do; and HE'S got totoo.Huckyoudon't ever seem to want to do anythingthat'sregular; you want to be starting something freshall thetime. S'pose he DON'T do nothing with it? ain'tit therein his bedfor a clewafter he's gone? anddon't youreckon they'll want clews? Of course theywill. Andyou wouldn't leave them any? That wouldbe aPRETTY howdy-doWOULDN'T it! I never heard ofsuch athing."
"Well"I says"if it's in the regulationsand he'sgot tohave itall rightlet him have it; because Idon't wishto go back on no regulations; but there'sone thingTom Sawyer -- if we go to tearing up oursheets tomake Jim a rope ladderwe're going to getintotrouble with Aunt Sallyjust as sure as you'reborn. Nowthe way I look at ita hickry-bark ladderdon't costnothingand don't waste nothingand isjust asgood to load up a pie withand hide in a strawtickasany rag ladder you can start; and as for Jimhe ain'thad no experienceand so he don't care whatkind of a--"
"OhshucksHuck Finnif I was as ignorant asyou I'dkeep still -- that's what I'D do. Who everheard of astate prisoner escaping by a hickry-barkladder?Whyit's perfectly ridiculous."
"Wellall rightTomfix it your own way; but ifyou'lltake my adviceyou'll let me borrow a sheet offof theclothesline."
He saidthat would do. And that gave him anotherideaandhe says:
"Whatdo we want of a shirtTom?"
"Wantit for Jim to keep a journal on."
"Journalyour granny -- JIM can't write."
"S'posehe CAN'T write -- he can make marks onthe shirtcan't heif we make him a pen out ofan oldpewter spoon or a piece of an old iron barrel-hoop?"
"WhyTomwe can pull a feather out of a gooseand makehim a better one; and quickertoo."
"PRISONERSdon't have geese running around thedonjon-keepto pull pens out ofyou muggins. TheyALWAYSmake their pens out of the hardesttoughesttroublesomestpiece of old brass candlestick or some-thing likethat they can get their hands on; and ittakes themweeks and weeks and months and monthsto file itouttoobecause they've got to do it by rub-bing it onthe wall. THEY wouldn't use a goose-quill ifthey hadit. It ain't regular."
"Wellthenwhat'll we make him the ink out of?"
"Manymakes it out of iron-rust and tears; butthat's thecommon sort and women; the best authori-ties usestheir own blood. Jim can do that; and whenhe wantsto send any little common ordinary mysteriousmessage tolet the world know where he's captivatedhe canwrite it on the bottom of a tin plate with a forkand throwit out of the window. The Iron Maskalwaysdone thatand it's a blame' good waytoo."
"Jimain't got no tin plates. They feed him in apan."
"Thatain't nothing; we can get him some."
"Can'tnobody READ his plates."
"Thatain't got anything to DO with itHuck Finn.All HE'Sgot to do is to write on the plate and throwit out.You don't HAVE to be able to read it. Whyhalf thetime you can't read anything a prisoner writeson a tinplateor anywhere else."
"Wellthenwhat's the sense in wasting the plates?"
"Whyblame it allit ain't the PRISONER'S plates."
"Butit's SOMEBODY'S platesain't it?"
"Wellspos'n it is? What does the PRISONER carewhose --"
He brokeoff therebecause we heard the breakfast-hornblowing. So we cleared out for the house.
Alongduring the morning I borrowed a sheet and awhiteshirt off of the clothes-line; and I found an oldsack andput them in itand we went down and got thefox-fireand put that in too. I called it borrowingbecausethat was what pap always called it; but Tomsaid itwarn't borrowingit was stealing. He said wewasrepresenting prisoners; and prisoners don't carehow theyget a thing so they get itand nobody don'tblame themfor iteither. It ain't no crime in aprisonerto steal the thing he needs to get away withTom said;it's his right; and soas long as we wasrepresentinga prisonerwe had a perfect right to stealanythingon this place we had the least use for to getourselvesout of prison with. He said if we warn'tprisonersit would be a very different thingand nobodybut ameanornery person would steal when he warn'taprisoner. So we allowed we would steal every-thingthere was that come handy. And yet he madea mightyfussone dayafter thatwhen I stole awatermelonout of the nigger-patch and eat it; and hemade me goand give the niggers a dime without tellingthem whatit was for. Tom said that what he meantwaswecould steal anything we NEEDED. WellI saysI neededthe watermelon. But he said I didn't need itto get outof prison with; there's where the differencewas. Hesaid if I'd a wanted it to hide a knife inandsmuggle itto Jim to kill the seneskal withit would abeen allright. So I let it go at thatthough I couldn'tsee noadvantage in my representing a prisoner if I gotto setdown and chaw over a lot of gold-leaf distinctionslike thatevery time I see a chance to hog a watermelon.
Wellas Iwas sayingwe waited that morning tilleverybodywas settled down to businessand nobodyin sightaround the yard; then Tom he carried thesack intothe lean-to whilst I stood off a piece to keepwatch. Byand by he come outand we went and setdown onthe woodpile to talk. He says:
"Everything'sall right now except tools; and that'seasyfixed."
"Whyto dig with. We ain't a-going to GNAW himoutarewe?"
"Ain'tthem old crippled picks and things in theregoodenough to dig a nigger out with?" I says.
He turnson melooking pitying enough to make abody cryand says:
"HuckFinndid you EVER hear of a prisoner havingpicks andshovelsand all the modern conveniences inhiswardrobe to dig himself out with? Now I want toask you --if you got any reasonableness in you at all-- whatkind of a show would THAT give him to be ahero? Whythey might as well lend him the key anddone withit. Picks and shovels -- whythey wouldn'tfurnish'em to a king."
"Wellthen" I says"if we don't want the picksandshovelswhat do we want?"
"Acouple of case-knives."
"Todig the foundations out from under that cabinwith?"
"Itdon't make no difference how foolish it isit'sthe RIGHTway -- and it's the regular way. And thereain't noOTHER waythat ever I heard ofand I've readall thebooks that gives any information about thesethings.They always dig out with a case-knife -- andnotthrough dirtmind you; generly it's through solidrock. Andit takes them weeks and weeks and weeksand forever and ever. Whylook at one of themprisonersin the bottom dungeon of the Castle Deefinthe harborof Marseillesthat dug himself out that way;how longwas HE at ityou reckon?"
"Idon't know. A month and a half."
"THIRTY-SEVENYEAR -- and he come out in China.THAT'S thekind. I wish the bottom of THIS fortresswas solidrock."
"JIMdon't know nobody in China."
"What'sTHAT got to do with it? Neither did thatotherfellow. But you're always a-wandering off on asideissue. Why can't you stick to the main point?"
"Allright -- I don't care where he comes outso heCOMES out;and Jim don'teitherI reckon. Butthere'sone thinganyway -- Jim's too old to be dugout with acase-knife. He won't last."
"Yeshe will LASTtoo. You don't reckon it's goingto takethirty-seven years to dig out through a DIRTfoundationdo you?"
"Howlong will it takeTom?"
"Wellwe can't resk being as long as we ought tobecause itmayn't take very long for Uncle Silas to hearfrom downthere by New Orleans. He'll hear Jim ain'tfromthere. Then his next move will be to advertise Jimorsomething like that. So we can't resk being as longdigginghim out as we ought to. By rights I reckonwe oughtto be a couple of years; but we can't.Thingsbeing so uncertainwhat I recommend is this:that wereally dig right inas quick as we can; andafterthatwe can LET ONto ourselvesthat we was atitthirty-seven years. Then we can snatch him out andrush himaway the first time there's an alarm. YesIreckonthat 'll be the best way."
"Nowthere's SENSE in that" I says. "Letting ondon't costnothing; letting on ain't no trouble; and ifit's anyobjectI don't mind letting on we was at it ahundredand fifty year. It wouldn't strain me noneafter Igot my hand in. So I'll mosey along nowandsmouch acouple of case-knives."
"Smouchthree" he says; "we want one to makea saw outof."
"Tomif it ain't unregular and irreligious to sejestit"I says"there's an old rusty saw-blade aroundyondersticking under the weather-boarding behind thesmoke-house."
He lookedkind of weary and discouraged-likeandsays:
"Itain't no use to try to learn you nothingHuck.Run alongand smouch the knives -- three of them."So I doneit.
AS soon aswe reckoned everybody was asleep thatnight wewent down the lightning-rodand shutourselvesup in the lean-toand got out our pile offox-fireand went to work. We cleared everythingout of thewayabout four or five foot along the mid-dle of thebottom log. Tom said we was right behindJim's bednowand we'd dig in under itand when wegotthrough there couldn't nobody in the cabin everknow therewas any hole therebecause Jim's counter-pin hungdown most to the groundand you'd have toraise itup and look under to see the hole. So we dugand dugwith the case-knives till most midnight; andthen wewas dog-tiredand our hands was blisteredand yetyou couldn't see we'd done anything hardly.At last Isays:
"Thisain't no thirty-seven year job; this is athirty-eightyear jobTom Sawyer."
He neversaid nothing. But he sighedand prettysoon hestopped diggingand then for a good littlewhile Iknowed that he was thinking. Then he says:
"Itain't no useHuckit ain't a-going to work. Ifwe wasprisoners it wouldbecause then we'd have asmany yearsas we wantedand no hurry; and wewouldn'tget but a few minutes to digevery daywhile theywas changing watchesand so our handswouldn'tget blisteredand we could keep it up rightalongyear in and year outand do it rightand theway itought to be done. But WE can't fool along;we got torush; we ain't got no time to spare. If wewas to putin another night this way we'd have toknock offfor a week to let our hands get well --couldn'ttouch a case-knife with them sooner."
"Wellthenwhat we going to doTom?"
"I'lltell you. It ain't rightand it ain't moral .and Iwouldn't like it to get out; but there ain't onlyjust theone way: we got to dig him out with thepicksandLET ON it's case-knives."
"NOWyou're TALKING!" I says; "your head getslevelerand leveler all the timeTom Sawyer" Isays."Picks is the thingmoral or no moral; and asfor meIdon't care shucks for the morality of itnohow.When I start in to steal a niggeror a water-melonora Sunday-school bookI ain't no waysparticularhow it's done so it's done. What I want ismy nigger;or what I want is my watermelon; or whatI want ismy Sunday-school book; and if a pick's thehandiestthingthat's the thing I'm a-going to dig thatnigger orthat watermelon or that Sunday-school bookout with;and I don't give a dead rat what the au-thoritiesthinks about it nuther."
"Well"he says"there's excuse for picks andletting-onin a case like this; if it warn't soI wouldn'tapprove ofitnor I wouldn't stand by and see therulesbroke -- because right is rightand wrong iswronganda body ain't got no business doing wrongwhen heain't ignorant and knows better. It mightanswer forYOU to dig Jim out with a pickWITHOUT anylettingonbecause you don't know no better; but itwouldn'tfor mebecause I do know better. Gimmeacase-knife."
He had hisown by himbut I handed him mine.He flungit downand says:
I didn'tknow just what to do -- but then I thought.Iscratched around amongst the old toolsand got apickaxeand give it to himand he took it and went toworkandnever said a word.
He wasalways just that particular. Full of principle.
So then Igot a shoveland then we picked andshoveledturn aboutand made the fur fly. We stuckto itabout a half an hourwhich was as long as wecouldstand up; but we had a good deal of a hole toshow forit. When I got up stairs I looked out at thewindow andsee Tom doing his level best with thelightning-rodbut he couldn't come ithis hands wasso sore.At last he says:
"Itain't no useit can't be done. What youreckon Ibetter do? Can't you think of no way?"
"Yes"I says"but I reckon it ain't regular.Come upthe stairsand let on it's a lightning-rod."
So he doneit.
Next dayTom stole a pewter spoon and a brasscandlestickin the housefor to make some pens forJim outofand six tallow candles; and I hung aroundthe niggercabins and laid for a chanceand stole threetinplates. Tom says it wasn't enough; but I saidnobodywouldn't ever see the plates that Jim throwedoutbecause they'd fall in the dog-fennel and jimpsonweedsunder the window-hole -- then we could totethem backand he could use them over again. SoTom wassatisfied. Then he says:
"Nowthe thing to study out ishow to get thethings toJim."
"Takethem in through the hole" I says"whenwe get itdone."
He onlyjust looked scornfuland said somethingaboutnobody ever heard of such an idiotic ideaandthen hewent to studying. By and by he said he hadcipheredout two or three waysbut there warn't noneed todecide on any of them yet. Said we'd got topost Jimfirst.
That nightwe went down the lightning-rod a littleafter tenand took one of the candles alongandlistenedunder the window-holeand heard Jim snoring;so wepitched it inand it didn't wake him. Then wewhirled inwith the pick and shoveland in about twohours anda half the job was done. We crept in underJim's bedand into the cabinand pawed around andfound thecandle and lit itand stood over Jim awhileand foundhim looking hearty and healthyand thenwe wokehim up gentle and gradual. He was so glad tosee us hemost cried; and called us honeyand all thepet nameshe could think of; and was for having ushunt up acold-chisel to cut the chain off of his legwith rightawayand clearing out without losing anytime. ButTom he showed him how unregular itwould beand set down and told him all about ourplansandhow we could alter them in a minute anytime therewas an alarm; and not to be the least afraidbecause wewould see he got awaySURE. So Jim hesaid itwas all rightand we set there and talked overold timesawhileand then Tom asked a lot of ques-tionsandwhen Jim told him Uncle Silas come inevery dayor two to pray with himand Aunt Sallycome in tosee if he was comfortable and had plenty toeatandboth of them was kind as they could beTomsays:
"NOWI know how to fix it. We'll send you somethings bythem."
I said"Don't do nothing of the kind; it's one ofthe mostjackass ideas I ever struck;" but he neverpaid noattention to me; went right on. It was hisway whenhe'd got his plans set.
So he toldJim how we'd have to smuggle in therope-ladderpie and other large things by Nattheniggerthat fed himand he must be on the lookoutand not besurprisedand not let Nat see him openthem; andwe would put small things in uncle's coat-pocketsand he must steal them out; and we would tiethings toaunt's apron-strings or put them in herapron-pocketif we got a chance; and told him whatthey wouldbe and what they was for. And told himhow tokeep a journal on the shirt with his bloodandall that.He told him everything. Jim he couldn'tsee nosense in the most of itbut he allowed we waswhitefolks and knowed better than him; so he wassatisfiedand said he would do it all just as Tom said.
Jim hadplenty corn-cob pipes and tobacco; sowe had aright down good sociable time; then wecrawledout through the holeand so home to bedwith handsthat looked like they'd been chawed. Tomwas inhigh spirits. He said it was the best fun heever hadin his lifeand the most intellectural; andsaid if heonly could see his way to it we would keep itup all therest of our lives and leave Jim to our childrento getout; for he believed Jim would come to like itbetter andbetter the more he got used to it. He saidthat inthat way it could be strung out to as much aseightyyearand would be the best time on record.And hesaid it would make us all celebrated that had ahand init.
In themorning we went out to the woodpile andchopped upthe brass candlestick into handy sizesandTom putthem and the pewter spoon in his pocket.Then wewent to the nigger cabinsand while I gotNat'snotice offTom shoved a piece of candlestickinto themiddle of a corn-pone that was in Jim's panand wewent along with Nat to see how it would workand itjust worked noble; when Jim bit into it it mostmashed allhis teeth out; and there warn't ever any-thingcould a worked better. Tom said so himself.Jim henever let on but what it was only just a piece ofrock orsomething like that that's always getting intobreadyouknow; but after that he never bit intonothingbut what he jabbed his fork into it in three orfourplaces first.
And whilstwe was a-standing there in the dimmishlighthere comes a couple of the hounds bulging infrom underJim's bed; and they kept on piling in tillthere waseleven of themand there warn't hardlyroom inthere to get your breath. By jingswe forgotto fastenthat lean-to door! The nigger Nat he onlyjusthollered "Witches" onceand keeled over on tothe flooramongst the dogsand begun to groan likehe wasdying. Tom jerked the door open and flungout a slabof Jim's meatand the dogs went for itandin twoseconds he was out himself and back again andshut thedoorand I knowed he'd fixed the other doortoo. Thenhe went to work on the niggercoaxinghim andpetting himand asking him if he'd beenimagininghe saw something again. He raised upandblinkedhis eyes aroundand says:
"MarsSidyou'll say I's a foolbut if I didn'tb'lieve Isee most a million dogser devilser some'nI wisht Imay die right heah in dese tracks. I didmos'sholy. Mars SidI FELT um -- I FELT umsah;dey wasall over me. Dad fetch itI jis' wisht Icould gitmy han's on one er dem witches jis' wunst --on'y jis'wunst -- it's all I'd ast. But mos'ly I wishtdey'dlemme 'loneI does."
"WellI tell you what I think. What makes themcome herejust at this runaway nigger's breakfast-time?It'sbecause they're hungry; that's the reason. Youmake thema witch pie; that's the thing for YOU todo."
"Butmy lan'Mars Sidhow's I gwyne to make'm a witchpie? I doan' know how to make it. Ihain'tever hearn er sich a thing b'fo'."
"WellthenI'll have to make it myself."
"Willyou do ithoney? -- Qwill you? I'll wusshupde groun'und' yo' footI will!"
"AllrightI'll do itseeing it's youand you'vebeen goodto us and showed us the runaway nigger.But yougot to be mighty careful. When we comearoundyou turn your back; and then whatever we'veput in thepandon't you let on you see it at all. Anddon't youlook when Jim unloads the pan -- somethingmighthappenI don't know what. And above alldon't youHANDLE the witch-things."
"HANNEL'mMars Sid? What IS you a-talkin''bout? Iwouldn' lay de weight er my finger onumnotf'r ten hund'd thous'n billion dollarsIwouldn't."
THAT wasall fixed. So then we went away andwent tothe rubbage-pile in the back yardwherethey keepthe old bootsand ragsand pieces ofbottlesand wore-out tin thingsand all such truckandscratched around and found an old tin washpanandstopped up the holes as well as we couldto bakethe pieinand took it down cellar and stole it full offlour andstarted for breakfastand found a couple ofshingle-nailsthat Tom said would be handy for aprisonerto scrabble his name and sorrows on thedungeonwalls withand dropped one of them in AuntSally'sapron-pocket which was hanging on a chairandt'other we stuck in the band of Uncle Silas's hatwhich wason the bureaubecause we heard the chil-dren saytheir pa and ma was going to the runawaynigger'shouse this morningand then went to break-fastandTom dropped the pewter spoon in UncleSilas'scoat-pocketand Aunt Sally wasn't come yetso we hadto wait a little while.
And whenshe come she was hot and red and crossandcouldn't hardly wait for the blessing; and thenshe wentto sluicing out coffee with one hand andcrackingthe handiest child's head with her thimblewith theotherand says:
"I'vehunted high and I've hunted lowand it doesbeat allwhat HAS become of your other shirt."
My heartfell down amongst my lungs and liversandthingsand a hard piece of corn-crust started downmy throatafter it and got met on the road with acoughandwas shot across the tableand took oneof thechildren in the eye and curled him up like afishing-wormand let a cry out of him the size of awarwhoopand Tom he turned kinder blue around thegillsandit all amounted to a considerable state ofthings forabout a quarter of a minute or as much asthatandI would a sold out for half price if there wasa bidder.But after that we was all right again -- itwas thesudden surprise of it that knocked us so kindof cold.Uncle Silas he says:
"It'smost uncommon curiousI can't understandit. I knowperfectly well I took it OFFbecause --"
"Becauseyou hain't got but one ON. Just LISTEN atthe man! Iknow you took it offand know it by abetter waythan your wool-gethering memorytoobecause itwas on the clo's-line yesterday -- I see ittheremyself. But it's gonethat's the long and theshort ofitand you'll just have to change to a redflann'lone till I can get time to make a new one.And it 'llbe the third I've made in two years. It justkeeps abody on the jump to keep you in shirts; andwhateveryou do manage to DO with 'm all is more'n Ican makeout. A body 'd think you WOULD learn totake somesort of care of 'em at your time of life."
"Iknow itSallyand I do try all I can. But itoughtn'tto be altogether my faultbecauseyou knowI don'tsee them nor have nothing to do with themexceptwhen they're on me; and I don't believe I'veever lostone of them OFF of me."
"Wellit ain't YOUR fault if you haven'tSilas;you'd adone it if you couldI reckon. And the shirtain't allthat's gonenuther. Ther's a spoon gone;and THATain't all. There was tenand now ther's onlynine. Thecalf got the shirtI reckonbut the calfnever tookthe spoonTHAT'S certain."
"Whywhat else is goneSally?"
"Ther'ssix CANDLES gone -- that's what. The ratscould agot the candlesand I reckon they did; Iwonderthey don't walk off with the whole placetheway you'realways going to stop their holes and don'tdo it; andif they warn't fools they'd sleep in yourhairSilas -- YOU'D never find it out; but you can't laythe SPOONon the ratsand that I know."
"WellSallyI'm in faultand I acknowledge it;I've beenremiss; but I won't let to-morrow go bywithoutstopping up them holes."
"OhI wouldn't hurry; next year 'll do. MatildaAngelinaAraminta PHELPS!"
Whackcomes the thimbleand the child snatchesher clawsout of the sugar-bowl without fooling aroundany. Justthen the nigger woman steps on to thepassageand says:
"Missusdey's a sheet gone."
"ASHEET gone! Wellfor the land's sake!"
"I'llstop up them holes to-day" says Uncle Silaslookingsorrowful.
"OhDO shet up! -- s'pose the rats took the SHEET?WHERE'S itgoneLize?"
"Clahto goodness I hain't no notionMiss' Sally.She wuz onde clo'sline yistiddybut she done gone:she ain'dah no mo' now."
"Ireckon the world IS coming to an end. I NEVERsee thebeat of it in all my born days. A shirtand asheetanda spoonand six can --"
"Missus"comes a young yaller wench"dey's abrasscannelstick miss'n."
"Clerout from hereyou hussyer I'll take a skilletto ye!"
Wellshewas just a-biling. I begun to lay for achance; Ireckoned I would sneak out and go for thewoods tillthe weather moderated. She kept a-ragingrightalongrunning her insurrection all by herselfandeverybody else mighty meek and quiet; and atlast UncleSilaslooking kind of foolishfishes up thatspoon outof his pocket. She stoppedwith her mouthopen andher hands up; and as for meI wished I wasinJeruslem or somewheres. But not longbecauseshe says:
"It'sJUST as I expected. So you had it in yourpocket allthe time; and like as not you've got theotherthings theretoo. How'd it get there?"
"Ireely don't knowSally" he sayskind ofapologizing"or you know I would tell. I was a-studyingover my text in Acts Seventeen before break-fastandI reckon I put it in therenot noticingmeaning toput my Testament inand it must be sobecause myTestament ain't in; but I'll go and see;and if theTestament is where I had itI'll know Ididn't putit inand that will show that I laid theTestamentdown and took up the spoonand --"
"Ohfor the land's sake! Give a body a rest!Go 'longnowthe whole kit and biling of ye; anddon't comenigh me again till I've got back my peaceof mind."
I'D aheard her if she'd a said it to herselflet alonespeakingit out; and I'd a got up and obeyed her ifI'd a beendead. As we was passing through thesetting-roomthe old man he took up his hatand theshingle-nailfell out on the floorand he just merelypicked itup and laid it on the mantel-shelfand neversaidnothingand went out. Tom see him do itandrememberedabout the spoonand says:
"Wellit ain't no use to send things by HIM nomoreheain't reliable." Then he says: "But hedone us agood turn with the spoonanywaywithoutknowingitand so we'll go and do him one withoutHIMknowing it -- stop up his rat-holes."
There wasa noble good lot of them down cellarandit took usa whole hourbut we done the job tight andgood andshipshape. Then we heard steps on thestairsand blowed out our light and hid; and herecomes theold manwith a candle in one hand and abundle ofstuff in t'otherlooking as absent-minded asyearbefore last. He went a mooning aroundfirst toonerat-hole and then anothertill he'd been to themall. Thenhe stood about five minutespicking tallow-drip offof his candle and thinking. Then he turns offslow anddreamy towards the stairssaying:
"Wellfor the life of me I can't remember when Idone it. Icould show her now that I warn't to blameon accountof the rats. But never mind -- let it go. Ireckon itwouldn't do no good."
And so hewent on a-mumbling up stairsand thenwe left.He was a mighty nice old man. Andalways is.
Tom was agood deal bothered about what to do fora spoonbut he said we'd got to have it; so he took athink.When he had ciphered it out he told me howwe was todo; then we went and waited around thespoon-baskettill we see Aunt Sally comingand thenTom wentto counting the spoons and laying them outto onesideand I slid one of them up my sleeveandTom says:
"WhyAunt Sallythere ain't but nine spoonsYET."
"Go'long to your playand don't bother me. IknowbetterI counted 'm myself."
"WellI've counted them twiceAuntyand I can'tmake butnine."
She lookedout of all patiencebut of course shecome tocount -- anybody would.
"Ideclare to gracious ther' AIN'T but nine!" shesays."Whywhat in the world -- plague TAKE thethingsI'll count 'm again."
So Islipped back the one I hadand when she gotdonecountingshe says:
"Hangthe troublesome rubbagether's TEN now!"and shelooked huffy and bothered both. But Tomsays:
"WhyAuntyI don't think there's ten."
"Younumskulldidn't you see me COUNT 'm?"
"WellI'll count 'm AGAIN."
So Ismouched oneand they come out ninesameas theother time. Wellshe WAS in a tearing way --justa-trembling all overshe was so mad. But shecountedand counted till she got that addled she'd startto countin the basket for a spoon sometimes; and sothreetimes they come out rightand three times theycome outwrong. Then she grabbed up the basketandslammed it across the house and knocked the catgalley-west;and she said cle'r out and let her havesomepeaceand if we come bothering around heragainbetwixt that and dinner she'd skin us. So wehad theodd spoonand dropped it in her apron-pocketwhilst shewas a-giving us our sailing ordersand Jimgot it allrightalong with her shingle nailbeforenoon. Wewas very well satisfied with this businessand Tomallowed it was worth twice the trouble ittookbecause he said NOW she couldn't ever countthemspoons twice alike again to save her life; andwouldn'tbelieve she'd counted them right if she DID;and saidthat after she'd about counted her head offfor thenext three days he judged she'd give it up andoffer tokill anybody that wanted her to ever countthem anymore.
So we putthe sheet back on the line that nightandstole oneout of her closet; and kept on putting itback andstealing it again for a couple of days till shedidn'tknow how many sheets she had any moreandshe didn'tCAREand warn't a-going to bullyrag the restof hersoul out about itand wouldn't count themagain notto save her life; she druther die first.
So we wasall right nowas to the shirt and thesheet andthe spoon and the candlesby the help ofthe calfand the rats and the mixed-up counting; andas to thecandlestickit warn't no consequenceitwould blowover by and by.
But thatpie was a job; we had no end of troublewith thatpie. We fixed it up away down in thewoodsandcooked it there; and we got it done atlastandvery satisfactorytoo; but not all in oneday; andwe had to use up three wash-pans full offlourbefore we got throughand we got burnt prettymuch alloverin placesand eyes put out with thesmoke;becauseyou seewe didn't want nothing buta crustand we couldn't prop it up rightand shewouldalways cave in. But of course we thought ofthe rightway at last -- which was to cook the laddertoointhe pie. So then we laid in with Jim thesecondnightand tore up the sheet all in little stringsandtwisted them togetherand long before daylight wehad alovely rope that you could a hung a person with.We let onit took nine months to make it.
And in theforenoon we took it down to the woodsbut itwouldn't go into the pie. Being made of awholesheetthat waythere was rope enough for fortypies ifwe'd a wanted themand plenty left over forsouporsausageor anything you choose. We coulda had awhole dinner.
But wedidn't need it. All we needed was justenough forthe pieand so we throwed the rest away.We didn'tcook none of the pies in the wash-pan --afraid thesolder would melt; but Uncle Silas he had anoblebrass warming-pan which he thought consider-able ofbecause it belonged to one of his ancesterswith along wooden handle that come over from Eng-land withWilliam the Conqueror in the Mayflower orone ofthem early ships and was hid away up garretwith a lotof other old pots and things that wasvaluablenot on account of being any accountbe-cause theywarn'tbut on account of them beingrelictsyou knowand we snaked her outprivateandtook herdown therebut she failed on the first piesbecause wedidn't know howbut she come up smilingon thelast one. We took and lined her with doughand sether in the coalsand loaded her up with ragropeandput on a dough roofand shut down the lidand puthot embers on topand stood off five footwith thelong handlecool and comfortableand infifteenminutes she turned out a pie that was a satisfac-tion tolook at. But the person that et it would wantto fetch acouple of kags of toothpicks alongfor ifthat ropeladder wouldn't cramp him down to businessI don'tknow nothing what I'm talking aboutand layhim inenough stomach-ache to last him till next timetoo.
Nat didn'tlook when we put the witch pie in Jim'span; andwe put the three tin plates in the bottom ofthe panunder the vittles; and so Jim got everythingall rightand as soon as he was by himself he bustedinto thepie and hid the rope ladder inside of his strawtickandscratched some marks on a tin plate andthrowed itout of the window-hole.
MAKINGthem pens was a distressid tough joband so wasthe saw; and Jim allowed the in-scriptionwas going to be the toughest of all. That'sthe onewhich the prisoner has to scrabble on the wall.But he hadto have it; Tom said he'd GOT to; therewarn't nocase of a state prisoner not scrabbling hisinscriptionto leave behindand his coat of arms.
"Lookat Lady Jane Grey" he says; "look atGilfordDudley; look at old Northumberland! WhyHucks'pose it IS considerble trouble? -- what yougoing todo? -- how you going to get around it?Jim's GOTto do his inscription and coat of arms. Theyall do."
"WhyMars TomI hain't got no coat o' arm; Ihain't gotnuffn but dish yer ole shirten you knowsI got tokeep de journal on dat."
"Ohyou don't understandJim; a coat of arms isverydifferent."
"Well"I says"Jim's rightanywaywhen hesays heain't got no coat of armsbecause he hain't."
"Ireckon I knowed that" Tom says"but youbet he'llhave one before he goes out of this -- becausehe's goingout RIGHTand there ain't going to be noflaws inhis record."
So whilstme and Jim filed away at the pens on abrickbatapieceJim a-making his'n out of the brassand Imaking mine out of the spoonTom set to workto thinkout the coat of arms. By and by he said he'dstruck somany good ones he didn't hardly knowwhich totakebut there was one which he reckonedhe'ddecide on. He says:
"Onthe scutcheon we'll have a bend OR in thedexterbasea saltire MURREY in the fesswith a dogcouchantfor common chargeand under his foot achainembattledfor slaverywith a chevron VERT in achiefengrailedand three invected lines on a fieldAZUREwith the nombril points rampant on a dancetteindented;cresta runaway niggerSABLEwith hisbundleover his shoulder on a bar sinister; and acouple ofgules for supporterswhich is you and me;mottoMAGGIORE FRETTAMINORE OTTO. Got it out of abook --means the more haste the less speed."
"Geewhillikins"I says"but what does the rest ofit mean?"
"Weain't got no time to bother over that" hesays; "wegot to dig in like all git-out."
"Wellanyway" I says"what's SOME of it?What's afess?"
"Afess -- a fess is -- YOU don't need to know whata fess is.I'll show him how to make it when he getsto it."
"ShucksTom" I says"I think you might tell aperson.What's a bar sinister?"
"OhI don't know. But he's got to have it. Allthenobility does."
That wasjust his way. If it didn't suit him to ex-plain athing to youhe wouldn't do it. You mightpump athim a weekit wouldn't make no difference.
He'd gotall that coat of arms business fixedsonow hestarted in to finish up the rest of that part ofthe workwhich was to plan out a mournful inscrip-tion --said Jim got to have onelike they all done.He made upa lotand wrote them out on a paperandread themoffso:
1. Here a captive heart busted.
2. Here a poor prisonerforsook by the world
and friendsfretted his sorrowful life.
3. Here a lonely heart brokeand a worn spirit
went to its restafter thirty-seven years
of solitary captivity.
4. Herehomeless and friendlessafter
thirty-seven years of bitter captivity
perished a noble strangernatural son of
Tom'svoice trembled whilst he was reading themand hemost broke down. When he got done hecouldn'tno way make up his mind which one for Jimtoscrabble on to the wallthey was all so good; butat last heallowed he would let him scrabble them allon. Jimsaid it would take him a year to scrabblesuch a lotof truck on to the logs with a nailand hedidn'tknow how to make lettersbesides; but Tomsaid hewould block them out for himand then hewouldn'thave nothing to do but just follow the lines.Thenpretty soon he says:
"Cometo thinkthe logs ain't a-going to do; theydon't havelog walls in a dungeon: we got to dig theinscriptionsinto a rock. We'll fetch a rock."
Jim saidthe rock was worse than the logs; he saidit wouldtake him such a pison long time to dig theminto arock he wouldn't ever get out. But Tom saidhe wouldlet me help him do it. Then he took a lookto see howme and Jim was getting along with thepens. Itwas most pesky tedious hard work and slowand didn'tgive my hands no show to get well of thesoresandwe didn't seem to make no headwayhardly;so Tomsays:
"Iknow how to fix it. We got to have a rock forthe coatof arms and mournful inscriptionsand we cankill twobirds with that same rock. There's a gaudybiggrindstone down at the milland we'll smouch itand carvethe things on itand file out the pens andthe saw onittoo."
It warn'tno slouch of an idea; and it warn't noslouch ofa grindstone nuther; but we allowed we'dtackle it.It warn't quite midnight yetso we clearedout forthe millleaving Jim at work. We smouchedthegrindstoneand set out to roll her homebut itwas a mostnation tough job. Sometimesdo what wecouldwecouldn't keep her from falling overand shecomemighty near mashing us every time. Tom saidshe wasgoing to get one of ussurebefore we gotthrough.We got her half way; and then we wasplumbplayed outand most drownded with sweat.We see itwarn't no use; we got to go and fetch JimSo heraised up his bed and slid the chain off of thebed-legand wrapt it round and round his neckandwe crawledout through our hole and down thereandJim and melaid into that grindstone and walkedher alonglike nothing; and Tom superintended.He couldout-superintend any boy I ever see. Heknowed howto do everything.
Our holewas pretty bigbut it warn't big enough toget thegrindstone through; but Jim he took the pickand soonmade it big enough. Then Tom marked outthemthings on it with the nailand set Jim to work onthemwiththe nail for a chisel and an iron bolt fromtherubbage in the lean-to for a hammerand told himto worktill the rest of his candle quit on himand thenhe couldgo to bedand hide the grindstone under hisstraw tickand sleep on it. Then we helped him fixhis chainback on the bed-legand was ready for bedourselves.But Tom thought of somethingand says:
"Yougot any spiders in hereJim?"
"Nosahthanks to goodness I hain'tMars Tom."
"Allrightwe'll get you some."
"Butbless youhoneyI doan' WANT none. I'safeard unum. I jis' 's soon have rattlesnakes aroun'."
Tomthought a minute or twoand says:
"It'sa good idea. And I reckon it's been done.It MUST abeen done; it stands to reason. Yesit's aprime goodidea. Where could you keep it?"
"Degoodness gracious aliveMars Tom! Whyifdey was arattlesnake to come in heah I'd take en bustright outthoo dat log wallI wouldwid my head."
WhyJimyou wouldn't be afraid of it after alittle.You could tame it."
"Yes-- easy enough. Every animal is grateful forkindnessand pettingand they wouldn't THINK of hurt-ing aperson that pets them. Any book will tell youthat. Youtry -- that's all I ask; just try for two orthreedays. Whyyou can get him so in a little whilethat he'lllove you; and sleep with you; and won'tstay awayfrom you a minute; and will let you wraphim roundyour neck and put his head in your mouth."
"PLEASEMars Tom -- DOAN' talk so! I can't STAN'it! He'dLET me shove his head in my mouf -- fer afavorhain't it? I lay he'd wait a pow'ful long time'fo' I ASThim. En mo' en datI doan' WANT him tosleep widme."
"Jimdon't act so foolish. A prisoner's GOT tohave somekind of a dumb petand if a rattlesnakehain'tever been triedwhythere's more glory to begained inyour being the first to ever try it than anyother wayyou could ever think of to save your life."
"WhyMars TomI doan' WANT no sich glory.Snake take'n bite Jim's chin offden WHAH is deglory? NosahI doan' want no sich doin's."
"Blameitcan't you TRY? I only WANT you to try-- youneedn't keep it up if it don't work."
"Butde trouble all DONE ef de snake bite me whileI's atryin' him. Mars TomI's willin' to tackle mos'anything'at ain't onreasonablebut ef you en Huckfetches arattlesnake in heah for me to tameI'sgwyne toLEAVEdat's SHORE."
"Wellthenlet it golet it goif you're so bull-headedabout it. We can get you some garter-snakesand youcan tie some buttons on their tailsand let onthey'rerattlesnakesand I reckon that 'll have to do."
"Ik'n stan' DEMMars Tombut blame' 'f Icouldn'get along widout umI tell you dat. I neverknowedb'fo' 't was so much bother and trouble to beaprisoner."
"Wellit ALWAYS is when it's done right. You gotany ratsaround here?"
"NosahI hain't seed none."
"Wellwe'll get you some rats."
"WhyMars TomI doan' WANT no rats. Dey'sdedadblamedest creturs to 'sturb a bodyen rustleroun' over'imen bite his feetwhen he's tryin' tosleepIever see. Nosahgimme g'yarter-snakes'fI's got tohave 'mbut doan' gimme no rats; I hain'got no usef'r umskasely."
"ButJimyou GOT to have 'em -- they all do. Sodon't makeno more fuss about it. Prisoners ain'teverwithout rats. There ain't no instance of it. Andthey trainthemand pet themand learn them tricksand theyget to be as sociable as flies. But you got toplay musicto them. You got anything to play musicon?"
"Iain' got nuffn but a coase comb en a piece o'paperena juice-harp; but I reck'n dey wouldn' takeno stockin a juice-harp."
"Yesthey would. THEY don't care what kind ofmusic'tis. A jews-harp's plenty good enough for arat. Allanimals like music -- in a prison they doteon it.Speciallypainful music; and you can't get noother kindout of a jews-harp. It always intereststhem; theycome out to see what's the matter withyou. Yesyou're all right; you're fixed very well.You wantto set on your bed nights before you go tosleepandearly in the morningsand play your jews-harp; play'The Last Link is Broken' -- that's thething that'll scoop a rat quicker 'n anything else; andwhenyou've played about two minutes you'll see allthe ratsand the snakesand spidersand things beginto feelworried about youand come. And they'lljustfairly swarm over youand have a noble goodtime."
"YesDEY willI reck'nMars Tombut what kineer time isJIM havin'? Blest if I kin see de pint. ButI'll do itef I got to. I reck'n I better keep de animalssatisfieden not have no trouble in de house."
Tom waitedto think it overand see if there wasn'tnothingelse; and pretty soon he says:
"Ohthere's one thing I forgot. Could you raisea flowerheredo you reckon?"
"Idoan know but maybe I couldMars Tom; butit'stolable dark in heahen I ain' got no use f'r noflowernohowen she'd be a pow'ful sight o' trouble."
"Wellyou try itanyway. Some other prisonershas doneit."
"Oneer dem big cat-tail-lookin' mullen-stalks wouldgrow inheahMars TomI reck'nbut she wouldn'tbe wuthhalf de trouble she'd coss."
"Don'tyou believe it. We'll fetch you a little oneand youplant it in the corner over thereand raise it.And don'tcall it mullencall it Pitchiola -- that's itsright namewhen it's in a prison. And you want towater itwith your tears."
"WhyI got plenty spring waterMars Tom."
"Youdon't WANT spring water; you want to waterit withyour tears. It's the way they always do."
"WhyMars TomI lay I kin raise one er demmullen-stalkstwyste wid spring water whiles anotherman's aSTART'N one wid tears."
"Thatain't the idea. You GOT to do it with tears."
"She'lldie on my han'sMars Tomshe sholywill; kaseI doan' skasely ever cry."
So Tom wasstumped. But he studied it overandthen saidJim would have to worry along the best hecould withan onion. He promised he would go to theniggercabins and drop oneprivatein Jim's coffee-potinthe morning. Jim said he would "jis' 's soonhavetobacker in his coffee;" and found so much faultwith itand with the work and bother of raising themullenand jews-harping the ratsand petting andflatteringup the snakes and spiders and thingson topof all theother work he had to do on pensand in-scriptionsand journalsand thingswhich made itmoretrouble and worry and responsibility to be aprisonerthan anything he ever undertookthat Tommost lostall patience with him; and said he was justloadeneddown with more gaudier chances than aprisonerever had in the world to make a name forhimselfand yet he didn't know enough to appreciatethemandthey was just about wasted on him. SoJim he wassorryand said he wouldn't behave so nomoreandthen me and Tom shoved for bed.
IN themorning we went up to the village and boughta wirerat-trap and fetched it downand unstoppedthe bestrat-holeand in about an hour we had fifteenof thebulliest kind of ones; and then we took it andput it ina safe place under Aunt Sally's bed. Butwhile wewas gone for spiders little Thomas FranklinBenjaminJefferson Elexander Phelps found it thereand openedthe door of it to see if the rats would comeoutandthey did; and Aunt Sally she come inandwhen wegot back she was a-standing on top of the bedraisingCainand the rats was doing what they could tokeep offthe dull times for her. So she took anddusted usboth with the hickryand we was as muchas twohours catching another fifteen or sixteendratthatmeddlesome cuband they warn't the likeliestnutherbecause the first haul was the pick of the flock.I neversee a likelier lot of rats than what that firsthaul was.
We got asplendid stock of sorted spidersand bugsand frogsand caterpillarsand one thing or another;and welike to got a hornet's nestbut we didn't. Thefamily wasat home. We didn't give it right upbutstayedwith them as long as we could; because weallowedwe'd tire them out or they'd got to tire usoutandthey done it. Then we got allycumpain andrubbed onthe placesand was pretty near all rightagainbutcouldn't set down convenient. And so wewent forthe snakesand grabbed a couple of dozengartersand house-snakesand put them in a bagandput it inour roomand by that time it was supper-timeanda rattling good honest day's work: andhungry? --ohnoI reckon not! And there warn't ablessedsnake up there when we went back -- we didn'thalf tiethe sackand they worked out somehowandleft. Butit didn't matter muchbecause they wasstill onthe premises somewheres. So we judged wecould getsome of them again. Nothere warn't norealscarcity of snakes about the house for a consider-ablespell. You'd see them dripping from the raftersand placesevery now and then; and they generlylanded inyour plateor down the back of your neckand mostof the time where you didn't want them.Welltheywas handsome and stripedand there warn'tno harm ina million of them; but that never made nodifferenceto Aunt Sally; she despised snakesbe thebreed whatthey mightand she couldn't stand themno way youcould fix it; and every time one of themfloppeddown on herit didn't make no difference whatshe wasdoingshe would just lay that work down andlight out.I never see such a woman. And you couldhear herwhoop to Jericho. You couldn't get her totakea-holt of one of them with the tongs. And if sheturnedover and found one in bed she would scrambleout andlift a howl that you would think the house wasafire. Shedisturbed the old man so that he said hecould mostwish there hadn't ever been no snakescreated.Whyafter every last snake had been goneclear outof the house for as much as a week AuntSallywarn't over it yet; she warn't near over it; whenshe wassetting thinking about something you couldtouch heron the back of her neck with a feather andshe wouldjump right out of her stockings. It wasverycurious. But Tom said all women was just so.He saidthey was made that way for some reason orother.
We got alicking every time one of our snakes comein herwayand she allowed these lickings warn't noth-ing towhat she would do if we ever loaded up theplaceagain with them. I didn't mind the lickingsbecausethey didn't amount to nothing; but I mindedthetrouble we had to lay in another lot. But we gotthem laidinand all the other things; and you neversee acabin as blithesome as Jim's was when they'd allswarm outfor music and go for him. Jim didn't likethespidersand the spiders didn't like Jim; and sothey'd layfor himand make it mighty warm for him.And hesaid that between the rats and the snakes andthegrindstone there warn't no room in bed for himskasely;and when there wasa body couldn't sleepitwas solivelyand it was always livelyhe saidbecauseTHEY neverall slept at one timebut took turn aboutso whenthe snakes was asleep the rats was on deckand whenthe rats turned in the snakes come on watchso healways had one gang under himin his wayandt'othergang having a circus over himand if he gotup to hunta new place the spiders would take a chanceat him ashe crossed over. He said if he ever got outthis timehe wouldn't ever be a prisoner againnot fora salary.
Wellbythe end of three weeks everything was inprettygood shape. The shirt was sent in earlyin apieandevery time a rat bit Jim he would get up andwrite alittle in his journal whilst the ink was fresh; thepens wasmadethe inscriptions and so on was allcarved onthe grindstone; the bed-leg was sawed intwoandwe had et up the sawdustand it give us amostamazing stomach-ache. We reckoned we was allgoing todiebut didn't. It was the most undigestiblesawdust Iever see; and Tom said the same. But as Iwassayingwe'd got all the work done nowat last;and we wasall pretty much fagged outtoobut mainlyJim. Theold man had wrote a couple of times to theplantationbelow Orleans to come and get their run-awayniggerbut hadn't got no answerbecause therewarn't nosuch plantation; so he allowed he would ad-vertiseJim in the St. Louis and New Orleans papers;and whenhe mentioned the St. Louis ones it give methe coldshiversand I see we hadn't no time to lose.So Tomsaidnow for the nonnamous letters.
"What'sthem?" I says.
"Warningsto the people that something is up.Sometimesit's done one waysometimes another.Butthere's always somebody spying around that givesnotice tothe governor of the castle. When LouisXVI. wasgoing to light out of the Tooleries a servant-girl doneit. It's a very good wayand so is thenonnamousletters. We'll use them both. And it'susual forthe prisoner's mother to change clothes withhimandshe stays inand he slides out in her clothes.We'll dothattoo."
"Butlooky hereTomwhat do we want to WARNanybodyfor that something's up? Let them find itout forthemselves -- it's their lookout."
"YesI know; but you can't depend on them.It's theway they've acted from the very start -- leftus to doEVERYTHING. They're so confiding and mullet-headedthey don't take notice of nothing at all. So ifwe don'tGIVE them notice there won't be nobody nornothing tointerfere with usand so after all our hardwork andtrouble this escape 'll go off perfectly flat;won'tamount to nothing -- won't be nothing TO it."
"Wellas for meTomthat's the way I'd like."
"Shucks!"he saysand looked disgusted. So Isays:
"ButI ain't going to make no complaint. Anyway thatsuits you suits me. What you going to doabout theservant-girl?"
"You'llbe her. You slide inin the middle of thenightandhook that yaller girl's frock."
"WhyTomthat 'll make trouble next morning;becauseof courseshe prob'bly hain't got any butthat one."
"Iknow; but you don't want it but fifteen minutesto carrythe nonnamous letter and shove it under thefrontdoor."
"AllrightthenI'll do it; but I could carry it justas handyin my own togs."
"Youwouldn't look like a servant-girl THENwouldyou?"
"Nobut there won't be nobody to see what I looklikeANYWAY."
"Thatain't got nothing to do with it. The thingfor us todo is just to do our DUTYand not worryaboutwhether anybody SEES us do it or not. Hain'tyou got noprinciple at all?"
"AllrightI ain't saying nothing; I'm the servant-girl.Who's Jim's mother?"
"I'mhis mother. I'll hook a gown from AuntSally."
"Wellthenyou'll have to stay in the cabin whenme and Jimleaves."
"Notmuch. I'll stuff Jim's clothes full of strawand lay iton his bed to represent his mother in dis-guiseandJim 'll take the nigger woman's gown off ofme andwear itand we'll all evade together. When aprisonerof style escapes it's called an evasion. It'salwayscalled so when a king escapesf'rinstance.And thesame with a king's son; it don't make no differ-encewhether he's a natural one or an unnatural one."
So Tom hewrote the nonnamous letterand Ismouchedthe yaller wench's frock that nightand putit onandshoved it under the front doorthe way Tomtold meto. It said:
Beware. Trouble is brewing. Keep a sharp lookout.
Next nightwe stuck a picturewhich Tom drawedin bloodof a skull and crossbones on the front door;and nextnight another one of a coffin on the backdoor. Inever see a family in such a sweat. Theycouldn't abeen worse scared if the place had a beenfull ofghosts laying for them behind everything andunder thebeds and shivering through the air. If adoorbangedAunt Sally she jumped and said"ouch!"if anything fellshe jumped and said"ouch!"if you happened to touch herwhen shewarn'tnoticingshe done the same; she couldn't facenoway andbe satisfiedbecause she allowed there wassomethingbehind her every time -- so she was alwaysa-whirlingaround suddenand saying "ouch" andbeforeshe'd got two-thirds around she'd whirl backagainandsay it again; and she was afraid to go to bedbut shedasn't set up. So the thing was workingvery wellTom said; he said he never see a thingwork moresatisfactory. He said it showed it wasdoneright.
So hesaidnow for the grand bulge! So the verynextmorning at the streak of dawn we got anotherletterreadyand was wondering what we better do withitbecause we heard them say at supper they wasgoing tohave a nigger on watch at both doors allnight. Tomhe went down the lightning-rod to spyaround;and the nigger at the back door was asleepand hestuck it in the back of his neck and come back.Thisletter said:
Don't betray meI wish to be your friend. There
is a desprate gang of cut-throats from over in the
Indian Territory going to steal your runaway
nigger to-nightand they have been trying to scare
you so as you will stay in the house and not bother
them. I am one of the gangbut have got religgion
and wish to quit it and lead an honest life again
and will betray the helish design. They will sneak
down from northardsalong the fenceat midnight
exactwith a false keyand go in the nigger's
cabin to get him. I am to be off a piece and blow
a tin horn if I see any danger; but stead of that I
will BA like a sheep soon as they get in and not
blow at all; then whilst they are getting his chains
looseyou slip there and lock them inand can
kill them at your leasure. Don't do anything but
just the way I am telling you; if you do they will
suspicion something and raise whoop-jamboreehoo. I
do not wish any reward but to know I have done the
WE wasfeeling pretty good after breakfastandtook mycanoe and went over the river a-fishingwith alunchand had a good timeand took a look atthe raftand found her all rightand got home late tosupperand found them in such a sweat and worrytheydidn't know which end they was standing onandmade us goright off to bed the minute we was donesupperand wouldn't tell us what the trouble wasandnever leton a word about the new letterbut didn'tneed tobecause we knowed as much about it asanybodydidand as soon as we was half up stairs andher backwas turned we slid for the cellar cubboardand loadedup a good lunch and took it up to ourroom andwent to bedand got up about half-pastelevenand Tom put on Aunt Sally's dress that hestole andwas going to start with the lunchbut says:
"Ilaid out a hunk of it" I says"on a piece of acorn-pone."
"Wellyou LEFT it laid outthen -- it ain't here."
"Wecan get along without it" I says.
"Wecan get along WITH ittoo" he says; "justyou slidedown cellar and fetch it. And then moseyright downthe lightning-rod and come along. I'll goand stuffthe straw into Jim's clothes to represent hismother indisguiseand be ready to BA like a sheepand shovesoon as you get there."
So out hewentand down cellar went I. The hunkof butterbig as a person's fistwas where I had leftitso Itook up the slab of corn-pone with it onandblowed outmy lightand started up stairs verystealthyand got up to the main floor all rightbuthere comesAunt Sally with a candleand I clappedthe truckin my hatand clapped my hat on my headand thenext second she see me; and she says:
"Youbeen down cellar?"
"Whatyou been doing down there?"
"Wellthenwhat possessed you to go down therethis timeof night?"
"Idon't know 'm."
"Youdon't KNOW? Don't answer me that way.TomIwant to know what you been DOING downthere."
"Ihain't been doing a single thingAunt SallyIhope togracious if I have."
I reckonedshe'd let me go nowand as a generlthing shewould; but I s'pose there was so manystrangethings going on she was just in a sweat abouteverylittle thing that warn't yard-stick straight; so shesaysverydecided:
"Youjust march into that setting-room and staythere tillI come. You been up to something you nobusinesstoand I lay I'll find out what it is before I'Mdone withyou."
So shewent away as I opened the door and walkedinto thesetting-room. Mybut there was a crowdthere!Fifteen farmersand every one of them had agun. I wasmost powerful sickand slunk to a chairand setdown. They was setting aroundsome of themtalking alittlein a low voiceand all of them fidgetyanduneasybut trying to look like they warn't; but Iknowedthey wasbecause they was always taking offtheirhatsand putting them onand scratching theirheadsandchanging their seatsand fumbling withtheirbuttons. I warn't easy myselfbut I didn't takemy hatoffall the same.
I did wishAunt Sally would comeand get donewith meand lick meif she wanted toand let me getaway andtell Tom how we'd overdone this thingandwhat athundering hornet's-nest we'd got ourselvesintosowe could stop fooling around straight offandclear outwith Jim before these rips got out of patienceand comefor us.
At lastshe come and begun to ask me questionsbut ICOULDN'T answer them straightI didn't knowwhich endof me was up; because these men was insuch afidget now that some was wanting to start rightNOW andlay for them desperadoesand saying it warn'tbut a fewminutes to midnight; and others was tryingto getthem to hold on and wait for the sheep-signal;and herewas Aunty pegging away at the questionsand mea-shaking all over and ready to sink down inmy tracksI was that scared; and the place gettinghotter andhotterand the butter beginning to melt andrun downmy neck and behind my ears; and prettysoonwhenone of them says"I'M for going andgetting inthe cabin FIRST and right NOWand catchingthem whenthey come" I most dropped; and a streakof buttercome a-trickling down my foreheadandAunt Sallyshe see itand turns white as a sheetandsays:
"Forthe land's sakewhat IS the matter with thechild?He's got the brain-fever as shore as you'rebornandthey're oozing out!"
Andeverybody runs to seeand she snatches off myhatandout comes the bread and what was left of thebutterand she grabbed meand hugged meandsays:
"Ohwhat a turn you did give me! and how gladandgrateful I am it ain't no worse; for luck's againstusand itnever rains but it poursand when I see thattruck Ithought we'd lost youfor I knowed by thecolor andall it was just like your brains would be if --Deardearwhyd'nt you TELL me that was what you'dbeen downthere forI wouldn't a cared. Now clerout tobedand don't lemme see no more of you tillmorning!"
I was upstairs in a secondand down the lightning-rod inanother oneand shinning through the dark forthelean-to. I couldn't hardly get my words outIwas soanxious; but I told Tom as quick as I couldwe mustjump for it nowand not a minute to lose --the housefull of menyonderwith guns!
His eyesjust blazed; and he says:
"No!-- is that so? AIN'T it bully! WhyHuckif it wasto do over againI bet I could fetch two hun-dred! Ifwe could put it off till --"
"Hurry!HURRY!" I says. "Where's Jim?"
"Rightat your elbow; if you reach out your armyou cantouch him. He's dressedand everything'sready. Nowwe'll slide out and give the sheep-signal."
But thenwe heard the tramp of men coming to thedoorandheard them begin to fumble with the pad-lockandheard a man say:
"ITOLD you we'd be too soon; they haven't come-- thedoor is locked. HereI'll lock some of youinto thecabinand you lay for 'em in the dark and kill'em whenthey come; and the rest scatter around apieceandlisten if you can hear 'em coming."
So in theycomebut couldn't see us in the darkandmost trodon us whilst we was hustling to get underthe bed.But we got under all rightand out throughthe holeswift but soft -- Jim firstme nextand Tomlastwhich was according to Tom's orders. Now wewas in thelean-toand heard trampings close by out-side. Sowe crept to the doorand Tom stopped usthere andput his eye to the crackbut couldn't makeoutnothingit was so dark; and whispered and saidhe wouldlisten for the steps to get furtherand whenhe nudgedus Jim must glide out firstand him last.So he sethis ear to the crack and listenedandlistenedand listenedand the steps a-scraping aroundout thereall the time; and at last he nudged usandwe slidoutand stooped downnot breathingand notmaking theleast noiseand slipped stealthy towards thefence inInjun fileand got to it all rightand me andJim overit; but Tom's britches catched fast on a splinteron the toprailand then he hear the steps comingso hehad topull loosewhich snapped the splinter and madea noise;and as he dropped in our tracks and startedsomebodysings out:
"Who'sthat? Answeror I'll shoot!"
But wedidn't answer; we just unfurled our heelsandshoved. Then there was a rushand a BANGBANGBANG! andthe bullets fairly whizzed around us! Weheard themsing out:
"Herethey are! They've broke for the river!After 'emboysand turn loose the dogs!"
So herethey comefull tilt. We could hear thembecausethey wore boots and yelledbut we didn't wearno bootsand didn't yell. We was in the path to themill; andwhen they got pretty close on to us wedodgedinto the bush and let them go byand thendropped inbehind them. They'd had all the dogsshut upso they wouldn't scare off the robbers; butby thistime somebody had let them looseand herethey comemaking powwow enough for a million; butthey wasour dogs; so we stopped in our tracks tilltheycatched up; and when they see it warn't nobodybut usand no excitement to offer themthey only justsaidhowdyand tore right ahead towards the shoutingandclattering; and then we up-steam againandwhizzedalong after them till we was nearly to themillandthen struck up through the bush to wheremy canoewas tiedand hopped in and pulled for dearlifetowards the middle of the riverbut didn't makeno morenoise than we was obleeged to. Then westruckouteasy and comfortablefor the island wheremy raftwas; and we could hear them yelling andbarking ateach other all up and down the banktill wewas so faraway the sounds got dim and died out.And whenwe stepped on to the raft I says:
"NOWold Jimyou're a free man againand I betyou won'tever be a slave no more."
"En amighty good job it wuztooHuck. It 'uzplannedbeautifulen it 'uz done beautiful; en deyain'tNOBODY kin git up a plan dat's mo' mixed-up ensplendidden what dat one wuz."
We was allglad as we could bebut Tom was thegladdestof all because he had a bullet in the calf ofhis leg.
When meand Jim heard that we didn't feel so brashas what wedid before. It was hurting him consider-ableandbleeding; so we laid him in the wigwam andtore upone of the duke's shirts for to bandage himbut hesays:
"Gimmethe rags; I can do it myself. Don't stopnow; don'tfool around hereand the evasion boomingalong sohandsome; man the sweepsand set herloose!Boyswe done it elegant! -- 'deed we did. Iwish WE'Da had the handling of Louis XVI.therewouldn't abeen no 'Son of Saint Louisascend toheaven!'wrote down in HIS biography; nosirwe'da whoopedhim over the BORDER -- that's what we'd adone withHIM -- and done it just as slick as nothingat alltoo. Man the sweeps -- man the sweeps!"
But me andJim was consulting -- and thinking.And afterwe'd thought a minuteI says:
"Welldendis is de way it look to meHuck. Efit wuz HIMdat 'uz bein' sot freeen one er de boyswuz to gitshotwould he say'Go on en save menemmine'bout a doctor f'r to save dis one?' Is datlike MarsTom Sawyer? Would he say dat? You BEThewouldn't! WELLdenis JIM gywne to say it?Nosah --I doan' budge a step out'n dis place 'douta DOCTORnot if it's forty year!"
I knowedhe was white insideand I reckoned he'dsay whathe did say -- so it was all right nowand Itold Tom Iwas a-going for a doctor. He raised con-siderablerow about itbut me and Jim stuck to it andwouldn'tbudge; so he was for crawling out and set-ting theraft loose himself; but we wouldn't let him.Then hegive us a piece of his mindbut it didn't dono good.
So when hesees me getting the canoe readyhesays:
"Wellthenif you re bound to goI'll tell you theway to dowhen you get to the village. Shut the doorandblindfold the doctor tight and fastand make himswear tobe silent as the graveand put a purse full ofgold inhis handand then take and lead him all aroundthe backalleys and everywheres in the darkand thenfetch himhere in the canoein a roundabout wayamongstthe islandsand search him and take his chalkaway fromhimand don't give it back to him tillyou gethim back to the villageor else he will chalkthis raftso he can find it again. It's the way theyall do."
So I saidI wouldand leftand Jim was to hide inthe woodswhen he see the doctor coming till he wasgoneagain.
THE doctorwas an old man; a very nicekind-look-ing oldman when I got him up. I told himme and mybrother was over on Spanish Island hunt-ingyesterday afternoonand camped on a piece of araft wefoundand about midnight he must a kicked hisgun in hisdreamsfor it went off and shot him in thelegandwe wanted him to go over there and fix it andnot saynothing about itnor let anybody knowbe-cause wewanted to come home this evening and sur-prise thefolks.
"Whois your folks?" he says.
"Oh"he says. And after a minutehe says:
"How'dyou say he got shot?"
"Hehad a dream" I says"and it shot him."
"Singulardream" he says.
So he litup his lanternand got his saddle-bagsandwestarted. But when he sees the canoe he didn't likethe lookof her -- said she was big enough for onebutdidn'tlook pretty safe for two. I says:
"Ohyou needn't be afeardsirshe carried thethree ofus easy enough."
"Whyme and Sidand -- and -- and THE GUNS;that'swhat I mean."
But he puthis foot on the gunnel and rocked herand shookhis headand said he reckoned he'd lookaround fora bigger one. But they was all locked andchained;so he took my canoeand said for me to waittill hecome backor I could hunt around furtherormaybe Ibetter go down home and get them ready forthesurprise if I wanted to. But I said I didn't; soI told himjust how to find the raftand then he started.
I struckan idea pretty soon. I says to myselfspos'n hecan't fix that leg just in three shakes of asheep'stailas the saying is? spos'n it takes him threeor fourdays? What are we going to do? -- lay aroundthere tillhe lets the cat out of the bag? Nosir; Iknow whatI'LL do. I'll waitand when he comes backif he sayshe's got to go any more I'll get down theretooif Iswim; and we'll take and tie himand keephimandshove out down the river; and when Tom'sdone withhim we'll give him what it's worthor allwe gotand then let him get ashore.
So then Icrept into a lumber-pile to get some sleep;and nexttime I waked up the sun was away up overmy head! Ishot out and went for the doctor'shousebutthey told me he'd gone away in the nightsome timeor otherand warn't back yet. WellthinksIthatlooks powerful bad for Tomand I'll dig outfor theisland right off. So away I shovedand turnedthecornerand nearly rammed my head into UncleSilas'sstomach! He says:
"WhyTOM! Where you been all this timeyourascal?"
"Ihain't been nowheres" I says"only just hunt-ing forthe runaway nigger -- me and Sid."
"Whywhere ever did you go?" he says. "Youraunt'sbeen mighty uneasy."
"Sheneedn't" I says"because we was all right.Wefollowed the men and the dogsbut they outrun usand welost them; but we thought we heard them onthe waterso we got a canoe and took out after themandcrossed overbut couldn't find nothing of them;so wecruised along up-shore till we got kind of tiredand beatout; and tied up the canoe and went to sleepand neverwaked up till about an hour ago; then wepaddledover here to hear the newsand Sid's at thepost-officeto see what he can hearand I'm a-branch-ing out toget something to eat for usand then we'regoinghome."
So then wewent to the post-office to get "Sid"; butjust as Isuspicionedhe warn't there; so the old manhe got aletter out of the officeand we waited awhilelongerbut Sid didn't come; so the old man saidcomealonglet Sid foot it homeor canoe itwhen hegot donefooling around -- but we would ride. Icouldn'tget him to let me stay and wait for Sid; andhe saidthere warn't no use in itand I must comealongandlet Aunt Sally see we was all right.
When wegot home Aunt Sally was that glad to seeme shelaughed and cried bothand hugged meandgive meone of them lickings of hern that don't amountto shucksand said she'd serve Sid the same when hecome.
And theplace was plum full of farmers and farmers'wivestodinner; and such another clack a body neverheard. OldMrs. Hotchkiss was the worst; her tonguewasa-going all the time. She says:
"WellSister PhelpsI've ransacked that-air cabinoveran'I b'lieve the nigger was crazy. I says toSisterDamrell -- didn't ISister Damrell? -- s'Ihe'scrazys'I-- them's the very words I said. You allhearn me:he's crazys'I; everything shows its'I.Look atthat-air grindstones'I; want to tell ME't anycretur't's in his right mind 's a goin' to scrabble allthem crazythings onto a grindstones'I? Here sich 'n'sich aperson busted his heart; 'n' here so 'n' sopeggedalong for thirty-seven year'n' all that --natcherlson o' Louis somebody'n' sich everlast'nrubbage.He's plumb crazys'I; it's what I says inthe fustplaceit's what I says in the middle'n' it'swhat Isays last 'n' all the time -- the nigger's crazy --crazy 'sNebokoodneezers'I."
"An'look at that-air ladder made out'n ragsSisterHotchkiss"says old Mrs. Damrell; "what in thename o'goodness COULD he ever want of --"
"Thevery words I was a-sayin' no longer ago th'nthisminute to Sister Utterback'n' she'll tell you soherself.Sh-shelook at that-air rag laddersh-she;'n' s'IyesLOOK at its'I -- what COULD he a-wantedof its'I. Sh-sheSister Hotchkisssh-she --"
"Buthow in the nation'd they ever GIT that grind-stone INthereANYWAY? 'n' who dug that-air HOLE? 'n'who --"
"Myvery WORDSBrer Penrod! I was a-sayin' --passthat-air sasser o' m'lasseswon't ye? -- I wasa-sayin'to Sister Dunlapjist this minutehow DID theygit thatgrindstone in theres'I. Without HELPmindyou --'thout HELP! THAT'S wher 'tis. Don't tell MEs'I; thereWUZ helps'I; 'n' ther' wuz a PLENTY helptoos'I;ther's ben a DOZEN a-helpin' that nigger'n' Ilay I'dskin every last nigger on this place but I'D findout whodone its'I; 'n' moreovers'I --"
"ADOZEN says you! -- FORTY couldn't a done everythingthat's been done. Look at them case-knife sawsandthingshow tedious they've been made; look atthatbed-leg sawed off with 'ma week's work for sixmen; lookat that nigger made out'n straw on the bed;and lookat --"
"Youmay WELL say itBrer Hightower! It's jist asI wasa-sayin' to Brer Phelpshis own self. S'ewhatdo YOUthink of itSister Hotchkisss'e? Think o'whatBrerPhelpss'I? Think o' that bed-leg sawedoff that aways'e? THINK of its'I? I lay it neversawedITSELF offs'I -- somebody SAWED its'I; that'smyopiniontake it or leave itit mayn't be no 'counts'Ibutsich as 't isit's my opinions'I'n' if anybody k'nstart a better ones'Ilet him DO its'Ithat'sall. I says to Sister Dunlaps'I --"
"Whydog my catsthey must a ben a house-full o'niggers inthere every night for four weeks to a doneall thatworkSister Phelps. Look at that shirt --every lastinch of it kivered over with secret Africanwrit'ndone with blood! Must a ben a raft uv 'm at itrightalongall the timeamost. WhyI'd give twodollars tohave it read to me; 'n' as for the niggersthat wroteitI 'low I'd take 'n' lash 'm t'll --"
"Peopleto HELP himBrother Marples! WellIreckonyou'd THINK so if you'd a been in this house fora whileback. Whythey've stole everything theycould laytheir hands on -- and we a-watching all thetimemindyou. They stole that shirt right off o' theline! andas for that sheet they made the rag ladder outofther'ain't no telling how many times they DIDN'Tstealthat; and flourand candlesand candlesticksandspoonsand the old warming-panand most athousandthings that I disremember nowand my newcalicodress; and me and Silas and my Sid and Tomon theconstant watch day AND nightas I was a-tellingyouandnot a one of us could catch hide nor hair norsight norsound of them; and here at the last minutelo andbehold youthey slides right in under our nosesand foolsusand not only fools US but the Injun Terri-toryrobbers tooand actuly gets AWAY with that niggersafe andsoundand that with sixteen men and twenty-two dogsright on their very heels at that very time!I tellyouit just bangs anything I ever HEARD of.WhySPERITS couldn't a done better and been nosmarter.And I reckon they must a BEEN sperits -- be-causeYOUknow our dogsand ther' ain't no better;wellthemdogs never even got on the TRACK of 'monce! Youexplain THAT to me if you can! -- ANY ofyou!"
"Wellit does beat --"
"LawsaliveI never --"
"Sohelp meI wouldn't a be --"
"HOUSE-thievesas well as --"
"GoodnessgracioussakesI'd a ben afeard to live insich a --"
"'Fraidto LIVE! -- whyI was that scared I dasn'thardly goto bedor get upor lay downor SET downSisterRidgeway. Whythey'd steal the very -- whygoodnesssakesyou can guess what kind of a fluster Iwas in bythe time midnight come last night. I hopetogracious if I warn't afraid they'd steal some o' thefamily! Iwas just to that pass I didn't have no reason-ingfaculties no more. It looks foolish enough NOWinthedaytime; but I says to myselfthere's my two poorboysasleep'way up stairs in that lonesome roomandI declareto goodness I was that uneasy 't I crep' upthere andlocked 'em in! I DID. And anybody would.Becauseyou knowwhen you get scared that wayand itkeeps running onand getting worse and worseall thetimeand your wits gets to addlingand you getto doingall sorts o' wild thingsand by and by youthink toyourselfspos'n I was a boyand was away upthereandthe door ain't lockedand you --" Shestoppedlooking kind of wonderingand then sheturned herhead around slowand when her eye lit onme -- Igot up and took a walk.
Says I tomyselfI can explain better how we cometo not bein that room this morning if I go out to oneside andstudy over it a little. So I done it. But Idasn't gofuror she'd a sent for me. And when itwas latein the day the people all wentand then Icome inand told her the noise and shooting waked upme and"Sid" and the door was lockedand wewanted tosee the funso we went down the lightning-rodandboth of us got hurt a littleand we didn't neverwant totry THAT no more. And then I went on andtold herall what I told Uncle Silas before; and thenshe saidshe'd forgive usand maybe it was all rightenoughanywayand about what a body might expectof boysfor all boys was a pretty harum-scarum lot asfur as shecould see; and soas long as no harm hadn'tcome ofitshe judged she better put in her time beinggratefulwe was alive and well and she had us stillsteadoffretting over what was past and done. So then shekissed meand patted me on the headand droppedinto akind of a brown study; and pretty soon jumpsupandsays:
"Whylawsamercyit's most nightand Sid notcome yet!What HAS become of that boy?"
I see mychance; so I skips up and says:
"I'llrun right up to town and get him" I says.
"Noyou won't" she says. "You'll stay rightwher' youare; ONE'S enough to be lost at a time. Ifhe ain'there to supperyour uncle 'll go."
Wellhewarn't there to supper; so right aftersupperuncle went.
He comeback about ten a little bit uneasy; hadn'trun acrossTom's track. Aunt Sally was a good DEALuneasy;but Uncle Silas he said there warn't no occa-sion to be-- boys will be boyshe saidand you'll seethis oneturn up in the morning all sound and right.So she hadto be satisfied. But she said she'd set upfor him awhile anywayand keep a light burning so hecould seeit.
And thenwhen I went up to bed she come up withme andfetched her candleand tucked me inandmotheredme so good I felt meanand like I couldn'tlook herin the face; and she set down on the bed andtalkedwith me a long timeand said what a splendidboy Sidwasand didn't seem to want to ever stoptalkingabout him; and kept asking me every now andthen if Ireckoned he could a got lostor hurtormaybedrowndedand might be laying at this minutesomewheressuffering or deadand she not by him tohelp himand so the tears would drip down silentandI wouldtell her that Sid was all rightand would behome inthe morningsure; and she would squeeze myhandormaybe kiss meand tell me to say it againand keepon saying itbecause it done her goodandshe was inso much trouble. And when she was goingaway shelooked down in my eyes so steady and gentleand says:
"Thedoor ain't going to be lockedTomandthere'sthe window and the rod; but you'll be goodWON'T you?And you won't go? For MY sake."
Laws knowsI WANTED to go bad enough to see aboutTomandwas all intending to go; but after that Iwouldn't awentnot for kingdoms.
But shewas on my mind and Tom was on my mindso I sleptvery restless. And twice I went down therod awayin the nightand slipped around frontandsee hersetting there by her candle in the window withher eyestowards the road and the tears in them; andI wished Icould do something for herbut I couldn'tonly toswear that I wouldn't never do nothing togrieve herany more. And the third time I waked upat dawnand slid downand she was there yetandher candlewas most outand her old gray head wasresting onher handand she was asleep.
THE oldman was uptown again before breakfastbutcouldn'tget no track of Tom; and both of themset at thetable thinkingand not saying nothingandlookingmournfuland their coffee getting coldandnot eatinganything. And by and by the old mansays:
"DidI give you the letter?"
"Theone I got yesterday out of the post-office."
"Noyou didn't give me no letter."
"WellI must a forgot it."
So herummaged his pocketsand then went off some-whereswhere he had laid it downand fetched itandgive it toher. She says:
"Whyit's from St. Petersburg -- it's from Sis."
I allowedanother walk would do me good; but Icouldn'tstir. But before she could break it open shedropped itand run -- for she see something. And sodid I. Itwas Tom Sawyer on a mattress; and that olddoctor;and Jimin HER calico dresswith his handstiedbehind him; and a lot of people. I hid the letterbehind thefirst thing that come handyand rushed.She flungherself at Tomcryingand says:
"Ohhe's deadhe's deadI know he's dead!"
And Tom heturned his head a littleand mutteredsomethingor otherwhich showed he warn't in hisrightmind; then she flung up her handsand says:
"He'salivethank God! And that's enough!"and shesnatched a kiss of himand flew for the houseto get thebed readyand scattering orders right and leftat theniggers and everybody elseas fast as her tonguecould goevery jump of the way.
I followedthe men to see what they was going to dowith Jim;and the old doctor and Uncle Silas followedafter Tominto the house. The men was very huffyand someof them wanted to hang Jim for an exampleto all theother niggers around thereso they wouldn'tbe tryingto run away like Jim doneand making sucha raft oftroubleand keeping a whole family scaredmost todeath for days and nights. But the others saiddon't doitit wouldn't answer at all; he ain't ourniggerand his owner would turn up and make us payfor himsure. So that cooled them down a littlebe-cause thepeople that's always the most anxious for tohang anigger that hain't done just right is always thevery onesthat ain't the most anxious to pay for himwhenthey've got their satisfaction out of him.
Theycussed Jim considerblethoughand give hima cuff ortwo side the head once in a whilebut Jimnever saidnothingand he never let on to know meand theytook him to the same cabinand put his ownclothes onhimand chained him againand not to nobed-legthis timebut to a big staple drove into the bot-tom logand chained his handstooand both legsandsaid hewarn't to have nothing but bread and water toeat afterthis till his owner comeor he was sold at auc-tionbecause he didn't come in a certain length of timeand filledup our holeand said a couple of farmerswith gunsmust stand watch around about the cabineverynightand a bulldog tied to the door in the day-time; andabout this time they was through with thejob andwas tapering off with a kind of generl good-byecussingand then the old doctor comes and takes alookandsays:
"Don'tbe no rougher on him than you're obleegedtobecause he ain't a bad nigger. When I got towhere Ifound the boy I see I couldn't cut the bulletoutwithout some helpand he warn't in no conditionfor me toleave to go and get help; and he got a littleworse anda little worseand after a long time he wentout of hisheadand wouldn't let me come a-nigh himany moreand said if I chalked his raft he'd kill meand no endof wild foolishness like thatand I see Icouldn'tdo anything at all with him; so I saysI gotto haveHELP somehow; and the minute I says it outcrawlsthis nigger from somewheres and says he'll helpand hedone ittooand done it very well. Of courseI judgedhe must be a runaway niggerand there I WAS!and thereI had to stick right straight along all the restof the dayand all night. It was a fixI tell you! Ihad acouple of patients with the chillsand of courseI'd ofliked to run up to town and see thembut Idasn'tbecause the nigger might get awayand then I'dbe toblame; and yet never a skiff come close enoughfor me tohail. So there I had to stick plumb untildaylightthis morning; and I never see a nigger thatwas abetter nuss or faithfullerand yet he was riskinghisfreedom to do itand was all tired outtooand Isee plainenough he'd been worked main hard lately.I likedthe nigger for that; I tell yougentlemenaniggerlike that is worth a thousand dollars -- and kindtreatmenttoo. I had everything I neededand theboy wasdoing as well there as he would a done athome --bettermaybebecause it was so quiet; butthere IWASwith both of 'm on my handsand thereI had tostick till about dawn this morning; then somemen in askiff come byand as good luck would haveit thenigger was setting by the pallet with his headpropped onhis knees sound asleep; so I motionedthem inquietand they slipped up on him and grabbedhim andtied him before he knowed what he wasaboutandwe never had no trouble. And the boybeing in akind of a flighty sleeptoowe muffled theoars andhitched the raft onand towed her over verynice andquietand the nigger never made the leastrow norsaid a word from the start. He ain't no badniggergentlemen; that's what I think about him."
"Wellit sounds very gooddoctorI'm obleeged tosay."
Then theothers softened up a littletooand I wasmightythankful to that old doctor for doing Jim thatgood turn;and I was glad it was according to my judg-ment ofhimtoo; because I thought he had a goodheart inhim and was a good man the first time I seehim. Thenthey all agreed that Jim had acted verywellandwas deserving to have some notice took ofitandreward. So every one of them promisedrightout andheartythat they wouldn't cuss him no more.
Then theycome out and locked him up. I hopedthey wasgoing to say he could have one or two of thechainstook offbecause they was rotten heavyor couldhave meatand greens with his bread and water; buttheydidn't think of itand I reckoned it warn't bestfor me tomix inbut I judged I'd get the doctor's yarnto AuntSally somehow or other as soon as I'd gotthroughthe breakers that was laying just ahead of me --explanationsI meanof how I forgot to mention aboutSid beingshot when I was telling how him and me putin thatdratted night paddling around hunting the run-awaynigger.
But I hadplenty time. Aunt Sally she stuck to thesick-roomall day and all nightand every time I seeUncleSilas mooning around I dodged him.
Nextmorning I heard Tom was a good deal betterand theysaid Aunt Sally was gone to get a nap. SoI slips tothe sick-roomand if I found him awake Ireckonedwe could put up a yarn for the family thatwouldwash. But he was sleepingand sleeping verypeacefultoo; and palenot fire-faced the way he waswhen hecome. So I set down and laid for him towake. Inabout half an hour Aunt Sally comes glidinginandthere I wasup a stump again! She motionedme to bestilland set down by meand begun towhisperand said we could all be joyful nowbecauseall thesymptoms was first-rateand he'd been sleepinglike thatfor ever so longand looking better and peace-fuller allthe timeand ten to one he'd wake up in hisrightmind.
So we setthere watchingand by and by he stirs abitandopened his eyes very naturaland takes a lookand says:
"Hello!-- whyI'm at HOME! How's that?Where'sthe raft?"
"It'sall right" I says.
"Thesame" I saysbut couldn't say it prettybrash. Buthe never noticedbut says:
"Good!Splendid! NOW we're all right and safe!Did youtell Aunty?"
I wasgoing to say yes; but she chipped in and says:"AboutwhatSid?"
"Whyabout the way the whole thing was done."
"WhyTHE whole thing. There ain't but one; howwe set therunaway nigger free -- me and Tom."
"Goodland! Set the run -- What IS the childtalkingabout! Deardearout of his head again!"
"NOI ain't out of my HEAD; I know all what I'mtalkingabout. We DID set him free -- me and Tom.We laidout to do itand we DONE it. And we doneiteleganttoo." He'd got a startand she nevercheckedhim upjust set and stared and staredand lethim clipalongand I see it warn't no use for ME to putin. "WhyAuntyit cost us a power of work --weeks ofit -- hours and hoursevery nightwhilst youwas allasleep. And we had to steal candlesand thesheetandthe shirtand your dressand spoonsandtinplatesand case-knivesand the warming-panandthegrindstoneand flourand just no end of thingsandyou can'tthink what work it was to make the sawsandpensandinscriptionsand one thing or anotherandyou can'tthink HALF the fun it was. And we had tomake upthe pictures of coffins and thingsand non-namousletters from the robbersand get up and downthelightning-rodand dig the hole into the cabinandmade therope ladder and send it in cooked up in a pieand sendin spoons and things to work with in yourapronpocket --"
"--and load up the cabin with rats and snakes andso onforcompany for Jim; and then you kept Tomhere solong with the butter in his hat that you comenearspiling the whole businessbecause the men comebefore wewas out of the cabinand we had to rushand theyheard us and let drive at usand I got myshareandwe dodged out of the path and let them gobyandwhen the dogs come they warn't interested inusbutwent for the most noiseand we got our canoeand madefor the raftand was all safeand Jim wasa freemanand we done it all by ourselvesand WASN'Tit bullyAunty!"
"WellI never heard the likes of it in all my borndays! Soit was YOUyou little rapscallionsthat's beenmaking allthis troubleand turned everybody's witscleaninside out and scared us all most to death. I've asgood anotion as ever I had in my life to take it out o'you thisvery minute. To thinkhere I've beennightafternighta -- YOU just get well onceyou youngscampandI lay I'll tan the Old Harry out o' both o'ye!"
But Tomhe WAS so proud and joyfulhe just COULDN'Thold inand his tongue just WENT it -- she a-chippinginandspitting fire all alongand both of them goingit atoncelike a cat convention; and she says:
"WELLyou get all the enjoyment you can out of itNOWformind I tell you if I catch you meddling withhim again--"
"Meddlingwith WHO?" Tom saysdropping hissmile andlooking surprised.
"WithWHO? Whythe runaway niggerof course.Who'd youreckon?"
Tom looksat me very graveand says:
"Tomdidn't you just tell me he was all right?Hasn't hegot away?"
"HIM?"says Aunt Sally; "the runaway nigger?'Deed hehasn't. They've got him backsafe andsoundandhe's in that cabin againon bread andwaterandloaded down with chainstill he's claimedor sold!"
Tom rosesquare up in bedwith his eye hotandhisnostrils opening and shutting like gillsand singsout to me:
"Theyhain't no RIGHT to shut him up! SHOVE! --and don'tyou lose a minute. Turn him loose! heain't noslave; he's as free as any cretur that walksthisearth!"
"WhatDOES the child mean?"
"Imean every word I SAYAunt Sallyand if some-body don'tgoI'LL go. I've knowed him all his lifeand so hasTomthere. Old Miss Watson died twomonthsagoand she was ashamed she ever was goingto sellhim down the riverand SAID so; and she sethim freein her will."
"Thenwhat on earth did YOU want to set him freeforseeing he was already free?"
"Wellthat IS a questionI must say; and just likewomen!WhyI wanted the ADVENTURE of it; and I'da wadedneck-deep in blood to -- goodness aliveAUNTPOLLY!"
If shewarn't standing right therejust inside thedoorlooking as sweet and contented as an angel halffull ofpieI wish I may never!
Aunt Sallyjumped for herand most hugged thehead offof herand cried over herand I found agoodenough place for me under the bedfor it wasgettingpretty sultry for usseemed to me. And Ipeepedoutand in a little while Tom's Aunt Pollyshookherself loose and stood there looking across atTom overher spectacles -- kind of grinding him intothe earthyou know. And then she says:
"Yesyou BETTER turn y'r head away -- I would if Iwas youTom."
"Ohdeary me!" says Aunt Sally; "IS he changedso? Whythat ain't TOMit's Sid; Tom's -- Tom's-- whywhere is Tom? He was here a minute ago."
"Youmean where's Huck FINN -- that's what youmean! Ireckon I hain't raised such a scamp as myTom allthese years not to know him when I SEE him.That WOULDbe a pretty howdy-do. Come out fromunder thatbedHuck Finn."
So I doneit. But not feeling brash.
Aunt Sallyshe was one of the mixed-upest-lookingpersons Iever see -- except oneand that was UncleSilaswhen he come in and they told it all to him. Itkind ofmade him drunkas you may sayand hedidn'tknow nothing at all the rest of the dayandpreached aprayer-meeting sermon that night that gavehim arattling ruputationbecause the oldest man inthe worldcouldn't a understood it. So Tom's AuntPollyshetold all about who I wasand what; and Ihad to upand tell how I was in such a tight place thatwhen Mrs.Phelps took me for Tom Sawyer -- shechipped inand says"Ohgo on and call me AuntSallyI'mused to it nowand 'tain't no need tochange"-- that when Aunt Sally took me for TomSawyer Ihad to stand it -- there warn't no other wayand Iknowed he wouldn't mindbecause it would benuts forhimbeing a mysteryand he'd make an ad-ventureout of itand be perfectly satisfied. And soit turnedoutand he let on to be Sidand made thingsas soft ashe could for me.
And hisAunt Polly she said Tom was right aboutold MissWatson setting Jim free in her will; and sosureenoughTom Sawyer had gone and took all thattroubleand bother to set a free nigger free! and Icouldn'tever understand beforeuntil that minute andthat talkhow he COULD help a body set a nigger freewith hisbringing-up.
WellAuntPolly she said that when Aunt Sallywrote toher that Tom and SID had come all right andsafeshesays to herself:
"Lookat thatnow! I might have expected itlettinghim go off that way without anybody to watchhim. Sonow I got to go and trapse all the way downthe rivereleven hundred mileand find out what thatcreetur'sup to THIS timeas long as I couldn't seem toget anyanswer out of you about it."
"WhyI never heard nothing from you" saysAuntSally.
"WellI wonder! WhyI wrote you twice to askyou whatyou could mean by Sid being here."
"WellI never got 'emSis."
Aunt Pollyshe turns around slow and severeandsays:
"Well-- WHAT?" he sayskind of pettish.
"Dont you what MEyou impudent thing -- handout themletters."
"THEMletters. I be boundif I have to take a-holt ofyou I'll --"
"They'rein the trunk. Therenow. And they'rejust thesame as they was when I got them out of theoffice. Ihain't looked into themI hain't touchedthem. ButI knowed they'd make troubleand Ithought ifyou warn't in no hurryI'd --"
"Wellyou DO need skinningthere ain't no mistakeabout it.And I wrote another one to tell you I wascoming;and I s'pose he --"
"Noit come yesterday; I hain't read it yetbutIT'S allrightI've got that one."
I wantedto offer to bet two dollars she hadn'tbut Ireckonedmaybe it was just as safe to not to. So Inever saidnothing.
THE firsttime I catched Tom private I asked himwhat washis ideatime of the evasion? -- what itwas he'dplanned to do if the evasion worked all rightand hemanaged to set a nigger free that was alreadyfreebefore? And he saidwhat he had planned in hishead fromthe startif we got Jim out all safewas forus to runhim down the river on the raftand haveadventuresplumb to the mouth of the riverand thentell himabout his being freeand take him back uphome on asteamboatin styleand pay him for hislost timeand write word ahead and get out all theniggersaroundand have them waltz him into townwith atorchlight procession and a brass-bandand thenhe wouldbe a heroand so would we. But I reckonedit wasabout as well the way it was.
We had Jimout of the chains in no timeand whenAunt Pollyand Uncle Silas and Aunt Sally found outhow goodhe helped the doctor nurse Tomthey madea heap offuss over himand fixed him up primeandgive himall he wanted to eatand a good timeandnothing todo. And we had him up to the sick-roomand had ahigh talk; and Tom give Jim forty dollarsfor beingprisoner for us so patientand doing it up sogoodandJim was pleased most to deathand bustedoutandsays:
"DAHnowHuckwhat I tell you? -- what I tellyou up dahon Jackson islan'? I TOLE you I got ahairybreas'en what's de sign un it; en I TOLE you Iben richwunsten gwineter to be rich AGIN; en it'scome true;en heah she is! DAHnow! doan' talkto ME --signs is SIGNSmine I tell you; en I knowedjis' 'swell 'at I 'uz gwineter be rich agin as I's a-stannin'heah dis minute!"
And thenTom he talked along and talked alongand saysle's all three slide out of here one of thesenights andget an outfitand go for howling adventuresamongstthe Injunsover in the Territoryfor a coupleof weeksor two; and I saysall rightthat suits mebut Iain't got no money for to buy the outfitand Ireckon Icouldn't get none from homebecause it'slikelypap's been back before nowand got it all awayfrom JudgeThatcher and drunk it up.
"Nohe hain't" Tom says; "it's all there yet --sixthousand dollars and more; and your pap hain'tever beenback since. Hadn't when I come awayanyhow."
Jim sayskind of solemn:
"Heain't a-comin' back no mo'Huck."
"NemminewhyHuck -- but he ain't comin' backno mo."
But I keptat him; so at last he says:
"Doan'you 'member de house dat was float'n downde riveren dey wuz a man in dahkivered upen Iwent in enunkivered him and didn' let you come in?Welldenyou kin git yo' money when you wants itkase datwuz him."
Tom's mostwell nowand got his bullet around hisneck on awatch-guard for a watchand is alwaysseeingwhat time it isand so there ain't nothing moreto writeaboutand I am rotten glad of itbecause ifI'd aknowed what a trouble it was to make a book Iwouldn't atackled itand ain't a-going to no more.But Ireckon I got to light out for the Territory aheadof therestbecause Aunt Sally she's going to adoptme andsivilize meand I can't stand it. I been therebefore.