Part 2 - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Audiobook by Mark Twain (Chs 11-18)


Uploaded by CCProse on 25.09.2011

Transcript:
Chapter XI. "COME in," says the woman, and I did.
She says: "Take a cheer." I done it.
She looked me all over with her little shiny eyes, and says:
"What might your name be?" "Sarah Williams."
"Where 'bouts do you live?
In this neighborhood?' "No'm.
In Hookerville, seven mile below. I've walked all the way and I'm all tired
out."
"Hungry, too, I reckon. I'll find you something."
"No'm, I ain't hungry.
I was so hungry I had to stop two miles below here at a farm; so I ain't hungry no
more. It's what makes me so late.
My mother's down sick, and out of money and everything, and I come to tell my uncle
Abner Moore. He lives at the upper end of the town, she
says.
I hain't ever been here before. Do you know him?"
"No; but I don't know everybody yet. I haven't lived here quite two weeks.
It's a considerable ways to the upper end of the town.
You better stay here all night. Take off your bonnet."
"No," I says; "I'll rest a while, I reckon, and go on.
I ain't afeared of the dark."
She said she wouldn't let me go by myself, but her husband would be in by and by,
maybe in a hour and a half, and she'd send him along with me.
Then she got to talking about her husband, and about her relations up the river, and
her relations down the river, and about how much better off they used to was, and how
they didn't know but they'd made a mistake
coming to our town, instead of letting well alone--and so on and so on, till I was
afeard I had made a mistake coming to her to find out what was going on in the town;
but by and by she dropped on to pap and the
murder, and then I was pretty willing to let her clatter right along.
She told about me and Tom Sawyer finding the six thousand dollars (only she got it
ten) and all about pap and what a hard lot he was, and what a hard lot I was, and at
last she got down to where I was murdered.
I says: "Who done it?
We've heard considerable about these goings on down in Hookerville, but we don't know
who 'twas that killed Huck Finn."
"Well, I reckon there's a right smart chance of people HERE that'd like to know
who killed him. Some think old Finn done it himself."
"No--is that so?"
"Most everybody thought it at first. He'll never know how nigh he come to
getting lynched.
But before night they changed around and judged it was done by a runaway nigger
named Jim." "Why HE--"
I stopped.
I reckoned I better keep still. She run on, and never noticed I had put in
at all: "The nigger run off the very night Huck
Finn was killed.
So there's a reward out for him--three hundred dollars.
And there's a reward out for old Finn, too- -two hundred dollars.
You see, he come to town the morning after the murder, and told about it, and was out
with 'em on the ferryboat hunt, and right away after he up and left.
Before night they wanted to lynch him, but he was gone, you see.
Well, next day they found out the nigger was gone; they found out he hadn't ben seen
sence ten o'clock the night the murder was done.
So then they put it on him, you see; and while they was full of it, next day, back
comes old Finn, and went boo-hooing to Judge Thatcher to get money to hunt for the
nigger all over Illinois with.
The judge gave him some, and that evening he got drunk, and was around till after
midnight with a couple of mighty hard- looking strangers, and then went off with
them.
Well, he hain't come back sence, and they ain't looking for him back till this thing
blows over a little, for people thinks now that he killed his boy and fixed things so
folks would think robbers done it, and then
he'd get Huck's money without having to bother a long time with a lawsuit.
People do say he warn't any too good to do it.
Oh, he's sly, I reckon.
If he don't come back for a year he'll be all right.
You can't prove anything on him, you know; everything will be quieted down then, and
he'll walk in Huck's money as easy as nothing."
"Yes, I reckon so, 'm.
I don't see nothing in the way of it. Has everybody quit thinking the nigger done
it?" "Oh, no, not everybody.
A good many thinks he done it.
But they'll get the nigger pretty soon now, and maybe they can scare it out of him."
"Why, are they after him yet?" "Well, you're innocent, ain't you!
Does three hundred dollars lay around every day for people to pick up?
Some folks think the nigger ain't far from here.
I'm one of them--but I hain't talked it around.
A few days ago I was talking with an old couple that lives next door in the log
shanty, and they happened to say hardly anybody ever goes to that island over
yonder that they call Jackson's Island.
Don't anybody live there? says I. No, nobody, says they.
I didn't say any more, but I done some thinking.
I was pretty near certain I'd seen smoke over there, about the head of the island, a
day or two before that, so I says to myself, like as not that nigger's hiding
over there; anyway, says I, it's worth the trouble to give the place a hunt.
I hain't seen any smoke sence, so I reckon maybe he's gone, if it was him; but
husband's going over to see --him and another man.
He was gone up the river; but he got back to-day, and I told him as soon as he got
here two hours ago." I had got so uneasy I couldn't set still.
I had to do something with my hands; so I took up a needle off of the table and went
to threading it. My hands shook, and I was making a bad job
of it.
When the woman stopped talking I looked up, and she was looking at me pretty curious
and smiling a little.
I put down the needle and thread, and let on to be interested --and I was, too--and
says: "Three hundred dollars is a power of money.
I wish my mother could get it.
Is your husband going over there to-night?" "Oh, yes.
He went up-town with the man I was telling you of, to get a boat and see if they could
borrow another gun.
They'll go over after midnight." "Couldn't they see better if they was to
wait till daytime?" "Yes. And couldn't the nigger see better,
too?
After midnight he'll likely be asleep, and they can slip around through the woods and
hunt up his camp fire all the better for the dark, if he's got one."
"I didn't think of that."
The woman kept looking at me pretty curious, and I didn't feel a bit
comfortable. Pretty soon she says,
"What did you say your name was, honey?"
"M--Mary Williams."
Somehow it didn't seem to me that I said it was Mary before, so I didn't look up--
seemed to me I said it was Sarah; so I felt sort of cornered, and was afeared maybe I
was looking it, too.
I wished the woman would say something more; the longer she set still the uneasier
I was. But now she says:
"Honey, I thought you said it was Sarah when you first come in?"
"Oh, yes'm, I did. Sarah Mary Williams.
Sarah's my first name.
Some calls me Sarah, some calls me Mary." "Oh, that's the way of it?"
"Yes'm." I was feeling better then, but I wished I
was out of there, anyway.
I couldn't look up yet.
Well, the woman fell to talking about how hard times was, and how poor they had to
live, and how the rats was as free as if they owned the place, and so forth and so
on, and then I got easy again.
She was right about the rats. You'd see one stick his nose out of a hole
in the corner every little while.
She said she had to have things handy to throw at them when she was alone, or they
wouldn't give her no peace.
She showed me a bar of lead twisted up into a knot, and said she was a good shot with
it generly, but she'd wrenched her arm a day or two ago, and didn't know whether she
could throw true now.
But she watched for a chance, and directly banged away at a rat; but she missed him
wide, and said "Ouch!" it hurt her arm so. Then she told me to try for the next one.
I wanted to be getting away before the old man got back, but of course I didn't let
on.
I got the thing, and the first rat that showed his nose I let drive, and if he'd a
stayed where he was he'd a been a tolerable sick rat.
She said that was first-rate, and she reckoned I would hive the next one.
She went and got the lump of lead and fetched it back, and brought along a hank
of yarn which she wanted me to help her with.
I held up my two hands and she put the hank over them, and went on talking about her
and her husband's matters. But she broke off to say:
"Keep your eye on the rats.
You better have the lead in your lap, handy."
So she dropped the lump into my lap just at that moment, and I clapped my legs together
on it and she went on talking.
But only about a minute. Then she took off the hank and looked me
straight in the face, and very pleasant, and says:
"Come, now, what's your real name?"
"Wh--what, mum?" "What's your real name?
Is it Bill, or Tom, or Bob?--or what is it?"
I reckon I shook like a leaf, and I didn't know hardly what to do.
But I says: "Please to don't poke fun at a poor girl
like me, mum.
If I'm in the way here, I'll--" "No, you won't.
Set down and stay where you are. I ain't going to hurt you, and I ain't
going to tell on you, nuther.
You just tell me your secret, and trust me. I'll keep it; and, what's more, I'll help
you. So'll my old man if you want him to.
You see, you're a runaway 'prentice, that's all.
It ain't anything. There ain't no harm in it.
You've been treated bad, and you made up your mind to cut.
Bless you, child, I wouldn't tell on you. Tell me all about it now, that's a good
boy."
So I said it wouldn't be no use to try to play it any longer, and I would just make a
clean breast and tell her everything, but she musn't go back on her promise.
Then I told her my father and mother was dead, and the law had bound me out to a
mean old farmer in the country thirty mile back from the river, and he treated me so
bad I couldn't stand it no longer; he went
away to be gone a couple of days, and so I took my chance and stole some of his
daughter's old clothes and cleared out, and I had been three nights coming the thirty
miles.
I traveled nights, and hid daytimes and slept, and the bag of bread and meat I
carried from home lasted me all the way, and I had a-plenty.
I said I believed my uncle Abner Moore would take care of me, and so that was why
I struck out for this town of Goshen. "Goshen, child?
This ain't Goshen.
This is St. Petersburg.
Goshen's ten mile further up the river. Who told you this was Goshen?"
"Why, a man I met at daybreak this morning, just as I was going to turn into the woods
for my regular sleep.
He told me when the roads forked I must take the right hand, and five mile would
fetch me to Goshen." "He was drunk, I reckon.
He told you just exactly wrong."
"Well, he did act like he was drunk, but it ain't no matter now.
I got to be moving along. I'll fetch Goshen before daylight."
"Hold on a minute.
I'll put you up a snack to eat. You might want it."
So she put me up a snack, and says: "Say, when a cow's laying down, which end
of her gets up first?
Answer up prompt now--don't stop to study over it.
Which end gets up first?" "The hind end, mum."
"Well, then, a horse?"
"The for'rard end, mum." "Which side of a tree does the moss grow
on?" "North side."
"If fifteen cows is browsing on a hillside, how many of them eats with their heads
pointed the same direction?" "The whole fifteen, mum."
"Well, I reckon you HAVE lived in the country.
I thought maybe you was trying to hocus me again.
What's your real name, now?"
"George Peters, mum." "Well, try to remember it, George.
Don't forget and tell me it's Elexander before you go, and then get out by saying
it's George Elexander when I catch you.
And don't go about women in that old calico.
You do a girl tolerable poor, but you might fool men, maybe.
Bless you, child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still
and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it;
that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way.
And when you throw at a rat or anything, hitch yourself up a tiptoe and fetch your
hand up over your head as awkward as you can, and miss your rat about six or seven
foot.
Throw stiff-armed from the shoulder, like there was a pivot there for it to turn on,
like a girl; not from the wrist and elbow, with your arm out to one side, like a boy.
And, mind you, when a girl tries to catch anything in her lap she throws her knees
apart; she don't clap them together, the way you did when you catched the lump of
lead.
Why, I spotted you for a boy when you was threading the needle; and I contrived the
other things just to make certain.
Now trot along to your uncle, Sarah Mary Williams George Elexander Peters, and if
you get into trouble you send word to Mrs. Judith Loftus, which is me, and I'll do
what I can to get you out of it.
Keep the river road all the way, and next time you tramp take shoes and socks with
you.
The river road's a rocky one, and your feet'll be in a condition when you get to
Goshen, I reckon."
I went up the bank about fifty yards, and then I doubled on my tracks and slipped
back to where my canoe was, a good piece below the house.
I jumped in, and was off in a hurry.
I went up-stream far enough to make the head of the island, and then started
across. I took off the sun-bonnet, for I didn't
want no blinders on then.
When I was about the middle I heard the clock begin to strike, so I stops and
listens; the sound come faint over the water but clear--eleven.
When I struck the head of the island I never waited to blow, though I was most
winded, but I shoved right into the timber where my old camp used to be, and started a
good fire there on a high and dry spot.
Then I jumped in the canoe and dug out for our place, a mile and a half below, as hard
as I could go. I landed, and slopped through the timber
and up the ridge and into the cavern.
There Jim laid, sound asleep on the ground. I roused him out and says:
"Git up and hump yourself, Jim! There ain't a minute to lose.
They're after us!"
Jim never asked no questions, he never said a word; but the way he worked for the next
half an hour showed about how he was scared.
By that time everything we had in the world was on our raft, and she was ready to be
shoved out from the willow cove where she was hid.
We put out the camp fire at the cavern the first thing, and didn't show a candle
outside after that.
I took the canoe out from the shore a little piece, and took a look; but if there
was a boat around I couldn't see it, for stars and shadows ain't good to see by.
Then we got out the raft and slipped along down in the shade, past the foot of the
island dead still--never saying a word.
>
Chapter XII. IT must a been close on to one o'clock when
we got below the island at last, and the raft did seem to go mighty slow.
If a boat was to come along we was going to take to the canoe and break for the
Illinois shore; and it was well a boat didn't come, for we hadn't ever thought to
put the gun in the canoe, or a fishing- line, or anything to eat.
We was in ruther too much of a sweat to think of so many things.
It warn't good judgment to put EVERYTHING on the raft.
If the men went to the island I just expect they found the camp fire I built, and
watched it all night for Jim to come.
Anyways, they stayed away from us, and if my building the fire never fooled them it
warn't no fault of mine. I played it as low down on them as I could.
When the first streak of day began to show we tied up to a towhead in a big bend on
the Illinois side, and hacked off cottonwood branches with the hatchet, and
covered up the raft with them so she looked
like there had been a cave-in in the bank there.
A tow-head is a sandbar that has cottonwoods on it as thick as harrow-teeth.
We had mountains on the Missouri shore and heavy timber on the Illinois side, and the
channel was down the Missouri shore at that place, so we warn't afraid of anybody
running across us.
We laid there all day, and watched the rafts and steamboats spin down the Missouri
shore, and up-bound steamboats fight the big river in the middle.
I told Jim all about the time I had jabbering with that woman; and Jim said she
was a smart one, and if she was to start after us herself she wouldn't set down and
watch a camp fire--no, sir, she'd fetch a dog.
Well, then, I said, why couldn't she tell her husband to fetch a dog?
Jim said he bet she did think of it by the time the men was ready to start, and he
believed they must a gone up-town to get a dog and so they lost all that time, or else
we wouldn't be here on a towhead sixteen or
seventeen mile below the village--no, indeedy, we would be in that same old town
again. So I said I didn't care what was the reason
they didn't get us as long as they didn't.
When it was beginning to come on dark we poked our heads out of the cottonwood
thicket, and looked up and down and across; nothing in sight; so Jim took up some of
the top planks of the raft and built a snug
wigwam to get under in blazing weather and rainy, and to keep the things dry.
Jim made a floor for the wigwam, and raised it a foot or more above the level of the
raft, so now the blankets and all the traps was out of reach of steamboat waves.
Right in the middle of the wigwam we made a layer of dirt about five or six inches deep
with a frame around it for to hold it to its place; this was to build a fire on in
sloppy weather or chilly; the wigwam would keep it from being seen.
We made an extra steering-oar, too, because one of the others might get broke on a snag
or something.
We fixed up a short forked stick to hang the old lantern on, because we must always
light the lantern whenever we see a steamboat coming down-stream, to keep from
getting run over; but we wouldn't have to
light it for up-stream boats unless we see we was in what they call a "crossing"; for
the river was pretty high yet, very low banks being still a little under water; so
up-bound boats didn't always run the channel, but hunted easy water.
This second night we run between seven and eight hours, with a current that was making
over four mile an hour.
We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness.
It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs
looking up at the stars, and we didn't ever feel like talking loud, and it warn't often
that we laughed--only a little kind of a low chuckle.
We had mighty good weather as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at
all--that night, nor the next, nor the next.
Every night we passed towns, some of them away up on black hillsides, nothing but
just a shiny bed of lights; not a house could you see.
The fifth night we passed St.
Louis, and it was like the whole world lit up.
In St. Petersburg they used to say there was
twenty or thirty thousand people in St.
Louis, but I never believed it till I see that wonderful spread of lights at two
o'clock that still night. There warn't a sound there; everybody was
asleep.
Every night now I used to slip ashore towards ten o'clock at some little village,
and buy ten or fifteen cents' worth of meal or bacon or other stuff to eat; and
sometimes I lifted a chicken that warn't roosting comfortable, and took him along.
Pap always said, take a chicken when you get a chance, because if you don't want him
yourself you can easy find somebody that does, and a good deed ain't ever forgot.
I never see pap when he didn't want the chicken himself, but that is what he used
to say, anyway.
Mornings before daylight I slipped into cornfields and borrowed a watermelon, or a
mushmelon, or a punkin, or some new corn, or things of that kind.
Pap always said it warn't no harm to borrow things if you was meaning to pay them back
some time; but the widow said it warn't anything but a soft name for stealing, and
no decent body would do it.
Jim said he reckoned the widow was partly right and pap was partly right; so the best
way would be for us to pick out two or three things from the list and say we
wouldn't borrow them any more--then he
reckoned it wouldn't be no harm to borrow the others.
So we talked it over all one night, drifting along down the river, trying to
make up our minds whether to drop the watermelons, or the cantelopes, or the
mushmelons, or what.
But towards daylight we got it all settled satisfactory, and concluded to drop
crabapples and p'simmons. We warn't feeling just right before that,
but it was all comfortable now.
I was glad the way it come out, too, because crabapples ain't ever good, and the
p'simmons wouldn't be ripe for two or three months yet.
We shot a water-fowl now and then that got up too early in the morning or didn't go to
bed early enough in the evening. Take it all round, we lived pretty high.
The fifth night below St.
Louis we had a big storm after midnight, with a power of thunder and lightning, and
the rain poured down in a solid sheet. We stayed in the wigwam and let the raft
take care of itself.
When the lightning glared out we could see a big straight river ahead, and high, rocky
bluffs on both sides. By and by says I, "Hel-LO, Jim, looky
yonder!"
It was a steamboat that had killed herself on a rock.
We was drifting straight down for her. The lightning showed her very distinct.
She was leaning over, with part of her upper deck above water, and you could see
every little chimbly-guy clean and clear, and a chair by the big bell, with an old
slouch hat hanging on the back of it, when the flashes come.
Well, it being away in the night and stormy, and all so mysterious-like, I felt
just the way any other boy would a felt when I see that wreck laying there so
mournful and lonesome in the middle of the river.
I wanted to get aboard of her and slink around a little, and see what there was
there.
So I says: "Le's land on her, Jim."
But Jim was dead against it at first. He says:
"I doan' want to go fool'n 'long er no wrack.
We's doin' blame' well, en we better let blame' well alone, as de good book says.
Like as not dey's a watchman on dat wrack."
"Watchman your grandmother," I says; "there ain't nothing to watch but the texas and
the pilot-house; and do you reckon anybody's going to resk his life for a
texas and a pilot-house such a night as
this, when it's likely to break up and wash off down the river any minute?"
Jim couldn't say nothing to that, so he didn't try.
"And besides," I says, "we might borrow something worth having out of the captain's
stateroom. Seegars, I bet you--and cost five cents
apiece, solid cash.
Steamboat captains is always rich, and get sixty dollars a month, and THEY don't care
a cent what a thing costs, you know, long as they want it.
Stick a candle in your pocket; I can't rest, Jim, till we give her a rummaging.
Do you reckon Tom Sawyer would ever go by this thing?
Not for pie, he wouldn't.
He'd call it an adventure--that's what he'd call it; and he'd land on that wreck if it
was his last act. And wouldn't he throw style into it?
--wouldn't he spread himself, nor nothing?
Why, you'd think it was Christopher C'lumbus discovering Kingdom-Come.
I wish Tom Sawyer WAS here." Jim he grumbled a little, but give in.
He said we mustn't talk any more than we could help, and then talk mighty low.
The lightning showed us the wreck again just in time, and we fetched the stabboard
derrick, and made fast there.
The deck was high out here.
We went sneaking down the slope of it to labboard, in the dark, towards the texas,
feeling our way slow with our feet, and spreading our hands out to fend off the
guys, for it was so dark we couldn't see no sign of them.
Pretty soon we struck the forward end of the skylight, and clumb on to it; and the
next step fetched us in front of the captain's door, which was open, and by
Jimminy, away down through the texas-hall
we see a light! and all in the same second we seem to hear low voices in yonder!
Jim whispered and said he was feeling powerful sick, and told me to come along.
I says, all right, and was going to start for the raft; but just then I heard a voice
wail out and say: "Oh, please don't, boys; I swear I won't
ever tell!"
Another voice said, pretty loud: "It's a lie, Jim Turner.
You've acted this way before.
You always want more'n your share of the truck, and you've always got it, too,
because you've swore 't if you didn't you'd tell.
But this time you've said it jest one time too many.
You're the meanest, treacherousest hound in this country."
By this time Jim was gone for the raft.
I was just a-biling with curiosity; and I says to myself, Tom Sawyer wouldn't back
out now, and so I won't either; I'm a-going to see what's going on here.
So I dropped on my hands and knees in the little passage, and crept aft in the dark
till there warn't but one stateroom betwixt me and the cross-hall of the texas.
Then in there I see a man stretched on the floor and tied hand and foot, and two men
standing over him, and one of them had a dim lantern in his hand, and the other one
had a pistol.
This one kept pointing the pistol at the man's head on the floor, and saying:
"I'd LIKE to! And I orter, too--a mean skunk!"
The man on the floor would shrivel up and say, "Oh, please don't, Bill; I hain't ever
goin' to tell." And every time he said that the man with
the lantern would laugh and say:
"'Deed you AIN'T! You never said no truer thing 'n that, you
bet you."
And once he said: "Hear him beg! and yit if we hadn't got the best of him and tied
him he'd a killed us both. And what FOR?
Jist for noth'n.
Jist because we stood on our RIGHTS--that's what for.
But I lay you ain't a-goin' to threaten nobody any more, Jim Turner.
Put UP that pistol, Bill."
Bill says: "I don't want to, Jake Packard.
I'm for killin' him--and didn't he kill old Hatfield jist the same way--and don't he
deserve it?"
"But I don't WANT him killed, and I've got my reasons for it."
"Bless yo' heart for them words, Jake Packard!
I'll never forgit you long's I live!" says the man on the floor, sort of blubbering.
Packard didn't take no notice of that, but hung up his lantern on a nail and started
towards where I was there in the dark, and motioned Bill to come.
I crawfished as fast as I could about two yards, but the boat slanted so that I
couldn't make very good time; so to keep from getting run over and catched I crawled
into a stateroom on the upper side.
The man came a-pawing along in the dark, and when Packard got to my stateroom, he
says: "Here--come in here."
And in he come, and Bill after him.
But before they got in I was up in the upper berth, cornered, and sorry I come.
Then they stood there, with their hands on the ledge of the berth, and talked.
I couldn't see them, but I could tell where they was by the whisky they'd been having.
I was glad I didn't drink whisky; but it wouldn't made much difference anyway,
because most of the time they couldn't a treed me because I didn't breathe.
I was too scared.
And, besides, a body COULDN'T breathe and hear such talk.
They talked low and earnest. Bill wanted to kill Turner.
He says:
"He's said he'll tell, and he will. If we was to give both our shares to him
NOW it wouldn't make no difference after the row and the way we've served him.
Shore's you're born, he'll turn State's evidence; now you hear ME.
I'm for putting him out of his troubles." "So'm I," says Packard, very quiet.
"Blame it, I'd sorter begun to think you wasn't.
Well, then, that's all right. Le's go and do it."
"Hold on a minute; I hain't had my say yit.
You listen to me. Shooting's good, but there's quieter ways
if the thing's GOT to be done.
But what I say is this: it ain't good sense to go court'n around after a halter
if you can git at what you're up to in some way that's jist as good and at the same
time don't bring you into no resks.
Ain't that so?" "You bet it is.
But how you goin' to manage it this time?"
"Well, my idea is this: we'll rustle around and gather up whatever pickins we've
overlooked in the staterooms, and shove for shore and hide the truck.
Then we'll wait.
Now I say it ain't a-goin' to be more'n two hours befo' this wrack breaks up and washes
off down the river. See?
He'll be drownded, and won't have nobody to blame for it but his own self.
I reckon that's a considerble sight better 'n killin' of him.
I'm unfavorable to killin' a man as long as you can git aroun' it; it ain't good sense,
it ain't good morals. Ain't I right?"
"Yes, I reck'n you are.
But s'pose she DON'T break up and wash off?"
"Well, we can wait the two hours anyway and see, can't we?"
"All right, then; come along."
So they started, and I lit out, all in a cold sweat, and scrambled forward.
It was dark as pitch there; but I said, in a kind of a coarse whisper, "Jim!" and he
answered up, right at my elbow, with a sort of a moan, and I says:
"Quick, Jim, it ain't no time for fooling around and moaning; there's a gang of
murderers in yonder, and if we don't hunt up their boat and set her drifting down the
river so these fellows can't get away from
the wreck there's one of 'em going to be in a bad fix.
But if we find their boat we can put ALL of 'em in a bad fix--for the sheriff 'll get
'em.
Quick--hurry! I'll hunt the labboard side, you hunt the
stabboard. You start at the raft, and--"
"Oh, my lordy, lordy!
RAF'? Dey ain' no raf' no mo'; she done broke
loose en gone I--en here we is!"
>
Chapter XIII. WELL, I catched my breath and most fainted.
Shut up on a wreck with such a gang as that!
But it warn't no time to be sentimentering.
We'd GOT to find that boat now--had to have it for ourselves.
So we went a-quaking and shaking down the stabboard side, and slow work it was, too--
seemed a week before we got to the stern.
No sign of a boat. Jim said he didn't believe he could go any
further--so scared he hadn't hardly any strength left, he said.
But I said, come on, if we get left on this wreck we are in a fix, sure.
So on we prowled again.
We struck for the stern of the texas, and found it, and then scrabbled along forwards
on the skylight, hanging on from shutter to shutter, for the edge of the skylight was
in the water.
When we got pretty close to the cross-hall door there was the skiff, sure enough!
I could just barely see her. I felt ever so thankful.
In another second I would a been aboard of her, but just then the door opened.
One of the men stuck his head out only about a couple of foot from me, and I
thought I was gone; but he jerked it in again, and says:
"Heave that blame lantern out o' sight, Bill!"
He flung a bag of something into the boat, and then got in himself and set down.
It was Packard.
Then Bill HE come out and got in. Packard says, in a low voice:
"All ready--shove off!" I couldn't hardly hang on to the shutters,
I was so weak.
But Bill says: "Hold on--'d you go through him?"
"No. Didn't you?"
"No.
So he's got his share o' the cash yet." "Well, then, come along; no use to take
truck and leave money." "Say, won't he suspicion what we're up to?"
"Maybe he won't.
But we got to have it anyway. Come along."
So they got out and went in.
The door slammed to because it was on the careened side; and in a half second I was
in the boat, and Jim come tumbling after me.
I out with my knife and cut the rope, and away we went!
We didn't touch an oar, and we didn't speak nor whisper, nor hardly even breathe.
We went gliding swift along, dead silent, past the tip of the paddle-box, and past
the stern; then in a second or two more we was a hundred yards below the wreck, and
the darkness soaked her up, every last sign of her, and we was safe, and knowed it.
When we was three or four hundred yards down-stream we see the lantern show like a
little spark at the texas door for a second, and we knowed by that that the
rascals had missed their boat, and was
beginning to understand that they was in just as much trouble now as Jim Turner was.
Then Jim manned the oars, and we took out after our raft.
Now was the first time that I begun to worry about the men--I reckon I hadn't had
time to before. I begun to think how dreadful it was, even
for murderers, to be in such a fix.
I says to myself, there ain't no telling but I might come to be a murderer myself
yet, and then how would I like it? So says I to Jim:
"The first light we see we'll land a hundred yards below it or above it, in a
place where it's a good hiding-place for you and the skiff, and then I'll go and fix
up some kind of a yarn, and get somebody to
go for that gang and get them out of their scrape, so they can be hung when their time
comes."
But that idea was a failure; for pretty soon it begun to storm again, and this time
worse than ever. The rain poured down, and never a light
showed; everybody in bed, I reckon.
We boomed along down the river, watching for lights and watching for our raft.
After a long time the rain let up, but the clouds stayed, and the lightning kept
whimpering, and by and by a flash showed us a black thing ahead, floating, and we made
for it.
It was the raft, and mighty glad was we to get aboard of it again.
We seen a light now away down to the right, on shore.
So I said I would go for it.
The skiff was half full of plunder which that gang had stole there on the wreck.
We hustled it on to the raft in a pile, and I told Jim to float along down, and show a
light when he judged he had gone about two mile, and keep it burning till I come; then
I manned my oars and shoved for the light.
As I got down towards it three or four more showed--up on a hillside.
It was a village. I closed in above the shore light, and laid
on my oars and floated.
As I went by I see it was a lantern hanging on the jackstaff of a double-hull
ferryboat.
I skimmed around for the watchman, a- wondering whereabouts he slept; and by and
by I found him roosting on the bitts forward, with his head down between his
knees.
I gave his shoulder two or three little shoves, and begun to cry.
He stirred up in a kind of a startlish way; but when he see it was only me he took a
good gap and stretch, and then he says:
"Hello, what's up? Don't cry, bub.
What's the trouble?" I says:
"Pap, and mam, and sis, and--"
Then I broke down. He says:
"Oh, dang it now, DON'T take on so; we all has to have our troubles, and this 'n 'll
come out all right.
What's the matter with 'em?" "They're--they're--are you the watchman of
the boat?" "Yes," he says, kind of pretty-well-
satisfied like.
"I'm the captain and the owner and the mate and the pilot and watchman and head deck-
hand; and sometimes I'm the freight and passengers.
I ain't as rich as old Jim Hornback, and I can't be so blame' generous and good to
Tom, Dick, and Harry as what he is, and slam around money the way he does; but I've
told him a many a time 't I wouldn't trade
places with him; for, says I, a sailor's life's the life for me, and I'm derned if
I'D live two mile out o' town, where there ain't nothing ever goin' on, not for all
his spondulicks and as much more on top of it.
Says I--" I broke in and says:
"They're in an awful peck of trouble, and-- "
"WHO is?"
"Why, pap and mam and sis and Miss Hooker; and if you'd take your ferryboat and go up
there--" "Up where?
Where are they?"
"On the wreck." "What wreck?"
"Why, there ain't but one." "What, you don't mean the Walter Scott?"
"Yes."
"Good land! what are they doin' THERE, for gracious sakes?"
"Well, they didn't go there a-purpose." "I bet they didn't!
Why, great goodness, there ain't no chance for 'em if they don't git off mighty quick!
Why, how in the nation did they ever git into such a scrape?"
"Easy enough.
Miss Hooker was a-visiting up there to the town--"
"Yes, Booth's Landing--go on."
"She was a-visiting there at Booth's Landing, and just in the edge of the
evening she started over with her nigger woman in the horse-ferry to stay all night
at her friend's house, Miss What-you-may-
call-her I disremember her name--and they lost their steering-oar, and swung around
and went a-floating down, stern first, about two mile, and saddle-baggsed on the
wreck, and the ferryman and the nigger
woman and the horses was all lost, but Miss Hooker she made a grab and got aboard the
wreck.
Well, about an hour after dark we come along down in our trading-scow, and it was
so dark we didn't notice the wreck till we was right on it; and so WE saddle-baggsed;
but all of us was saved but Bill Whipple--
and oh, he WAS the best cretur!--I most wish 't it had been me, I do."
"My George! It's the beatenest thing I ever struck.
And THEN what did you all do?"
"Well, we hollered and took on, but it's so wide there we couldn't make nobody hear.
So pap said somebody got to get ashore and get help somehow.
I was the only one that could swim, so I made a dash for it, and Miss Hooker she
said if I didn't strike help sooner, come here and hunt up her uncle, and he'd fix
the thing.
I made the land about a mile below, and been fooling along ever since, trying to
get people to do something, but they said, 'What, in such a night and such a current?
There ain't no sense in it; go for the steam ferry.'
Now if you'll go and--"
"By Jackson, I'd LIKE to, and, blame it, I don't know but I will; but who in the
dingnation's a-going' to PAY for it? Do you reckon your pap--"
"Why THAT'S all right.
Miss Hooker she tole me, PARTICULAR, that her uncle Hornback--"
"Great guns! is HE her uncle?
Looky here, you break for that light over yonder-way, and turn out west when you git
there, and about a quarter of a mile out you'll come to the tavern; tell 'em to dart
you out to Jim Hornback's, and he'll foot the bill.
And don't you fool around any, because he'll want to know the news.
Tell him I'll have his niece all safe before he can get to town.
Hump yourself, now; I'm a-going up around the corner here to roust out my engineer."
I struck for the light, but as soon as he turned the corner I went back and got into
my skiff and bailed her out, and then pulled up shore in the easy water about six
hundred yards, and tucked myself in among
some woodboats; for I couldn't rest easy till I could see the ferryboat start.
But take it all around, I was feeling ruther comfortable on accounts of taking
all this trouble for that gang, for not many would a done it.
I wished the widow knowed about it.
I judged she would be proud of me for helping these rapscallions, because
rapscallions and dead beats is the kind the widow and good people takes the most
interest in.
Well, before long here comes the wreck, dim and dusky, sliding along down!
A kind of cold shiver went through me, and then I struck out for her.
She was very deep, and I see in a minute there warn't much chance for anybody being
alive in her.
I pulled all around her and hollered a little, but there wasn't any answer; all
dead still.
I felt a little bit heavy-hearted about the gang, but not much, for I reckoned if they
could stand it I could.
Then here comes the ferryboat; so I shoved for the middle of the river on a long down-
stream slant; and when I judged I was out of eye-reach I laid on my oars, and looked
back and see her go and smell around the
wreck for Miss Hooker's remainders, because the captain would know her uncle Hornback
would want them; and then pretty soon the ferryboat give it up and went for the
shore, and I laid into my work and went a- booming down the river.
It did seem a powerful long time before Jim's light showed up; and when it did show
it looked like it was a thousand mile off.
By the time I got there the sky was beginning to get a little gray in the east;
so we struck for an island, and hid the raft, and sunk the skiff, and turned in and
slept like dead people.
>
Chapter XIV.
BY and by, when we got up, we turned over the truck the gang had stole off of the
wreck, and found boots, and blankets, and clothes, and all sorts of other things, and
a lot of books, and a spyglass, and three boxes of seegars.
We hadn't ever been this rich before in neither of our lives.
The seegars was prime.
We laid off all the afternoon in the woods talking, and me reading the books, and
having a general good time.
I told Jim all about what happened inside the wreck and at the ferryboat, and I said
these kinds of things was adventures; but he said he didn't want no more adventures.
He said that when I went in the texas and he crawled back to get on the raft and
found her gone he nearly died, because he judged it was all up with HIM anyway it
could be fixed; for if he didn't get saved
he would get drownded; and if he did get saved, whoever saved him would send him
back home so as to get the reward, and then Miss Watson would sell him South, sure.
Well, he was right; he was most always right; he had an uncommon level head for a
nigger.
I read considerable to Jim about kings and dukes and earls and such, and how gaudy
they dressed, and how much style they put on, and called each other your majesty, and
your grace, and your lordship, and so on,
'stead of mister; and Jim's eyes bugged out, and he was interested.
He says: "I didn' know dey was so many un um.
I hain't hearn 'bout none un um, skasely, but ole King Sollermun, onless you counts
dem kings dat's in a pack er k'yards. How much do a king git?"
"Get?"
I says; "why, they get a thousand dollars a month if they want it; they can have just
as much as they want; everything belongs to them."
"AIN' dat gay?
En what dey got to do, Huck?" "THEY don't do nothing!
Why, how you talk! They just set around."
"No; is dat so?"
"Of course it is. They just set around--except, maybe, when
there's a war; then they go to the war.
But other times they just lazy around; or go hawking--just hawking and sp--Sh!--d'
you hear a noise?"
We skipped out and looked; but it warn't nothing but the flutter of a steamboat's
wheel away down, coming around the point; so we come back.
"Yes," says I, "and other times, when things is dull, they fuss with the
parlyment; and if everybody don't go just so he whacks their heads off.
But mostly they hang round the harem."
"Roun' de which?" "Harem."
"What's de harem?" "The place where he keeps his wives.
Don't you know about the harem?
Solomon had one; he had about a million wives."
"Why, yes, dat's so; I--I'd done forgot it. A harem's a bo'd'n-house, I reck'n.
Mos' likely dey has rackety times in de nussery.
En I reck'n de wives quarrels considable; en dat 'crease de racket.
Yit dey say Sollermun de wises' man dat ever live'.
I doan' take no stock in dat.
Bekase why: would a wise man want to live in de mids' er sich a blim-blammin' all de
time? No--'deed he wouldn't.
A wise man 'ud take en buil' a biler- factry; en den he could shet DOWN de biler-
factry when he want to res'."
"Well, but he WAS the wisest man, anyway; because the widow she told me so, her own
self." "I doan k'yer what de widder say, he WARN'T
no wise man nuther.
He had some er de dad-fetchedes' ways I ever see.
Does you know 'bout dat chile dat he 'uz gwyne to chop in two?"
"Yes, the widow told me all about it."
"WELL, den! Warn' dat de beatenes' notion in de worl'?
You jes' take en look at it a minute.
Dah's de stump, dah--dat's one er de women; heah's you--dat's de yuther one; I's
Sollermun; en dish yer dollar bill's de chile.
Bofe un you claims it.
What does I do?
Does I shin aroun' mongs' de neighbors en fine out which un you de bill DO b'long to,
en han' it over to de right one, all safe en soun', de way dat anybody dat had any
gumption would?
No; I take en whack de bill in TWO, en give half un it to you, en de yuther half to de
yuther woman. Dat's de way Sollermun was gwyne to do wid
de chile.
Now I want to ast you: what's de use er dat half a bill?--can't buy noth'n wid it.
En what use is a half a chile? I wouldn' give a dern for a million un um."
"But hang it, Jim, you've clean missed the point--blame it, you've missed it a
thousand mile." "Who?
Me?
Go 'long. Doan' talk to me 'bout yo' pints.
I reck'n I knows sense when I sees it; en dey ain' no sense in sich doin's as dat.
De 'spute warn't 'bout a half a chile, de 'spute was 'bout a whole chile; en de man
dat think he kin settle a 'spute 'bout a whole chile wid a half a chile doan' know
enough to come in out'n de rain.
Doan' talk to me 'bout Sollermun, Huck, I knows him by de back."
"But I tell you you don't get the point." "Blame de point!
I reck'n I knows what I knows.
En mine you, de REAL pint is down furder-- it's down deeper.
It lays in de way Sollermun was raised.
You take a man dat's got on'y one or two chillen; is dat man gwyne to be waseful o'
chillen? No, he ain't; he can't 'ford it.
HE know how to value 'em.
But you take a man dat's got 'bout five million chillen runnin' roun' de house, en
it's diffunt. HE as soon chop a chile in two as a cat.
Dey's plenty mo'.
A chile er two, mo' er less, warn't no consekens to Sollermun, dad fatch him!"
I never see such a nigger. If he got a notion in his head once, there
warn't no getting it out again.
He was the most down on Solomon of any nigger I ever see.
So I went to talking about other kings, and let Solomon slide.
I told about Louis Sixteenth that got his head cut off in France long time ago; and
about his little boy the dolphin, that would a been a king, but they took and shut
him up in jail, and some say he died there.
"Po' little chap." "But some says he got out and got away, and
come to America." "Dat's good!
But he'll be pooty lonesome--dey ain' no kings here, is dey, Huck?"
"No." "Den he cain't git no situation.
What he gwyne to do?"
"Well, I don't know. Some of them gets on the police, and some
of them learns people how to talk French." "Why, Huck, doan' de French people talk de
same way we does?"
"NO, Jim; you couldn't understand a word they said--not a single word."
"Well, now, I be ding-busted! How do dat come?"
"I don't know; but it's so.
I got some of their jabber out of a book. S'pose a man was to come to you and say
Polly-voo-franzy--what would you think?"
"I wouldn' think nuff'n; I'd take en bust him over de head--dat is, if he warn't
white. I wouldn't 'low no nigger to call me dat."
"Shucks, it ain't calling you anything.
It's only saying, do you know how to talk French?"
"Well, den, why couldn't he SAY it?" "Why, he IS a-saying it.
That's a Frenchman's WAY of saying it."
"Well, it's a blame ridicklous way, en I doan' want to hear no mo' 'bout it.
Dey ain' no sense in it." "Looky here, Jim; does a cat talk like we
do?"
"No, a cat don't." "Well, does a cow?"
"No, a cow don't, nuther." "Does a cat talk like a cow, or a cow talk
like a cat?"
"No, dey don't." "It's natural and right for 'em to talk
different from each other, ain't it?" "Course."
"And ain't it natural and right for a cat and a cow to talk different from US?"
"Why, mos' sholy it is." "Well, then, why ain't it natural and right
for a FRENCHMAN to talk different from us?
You answer me that." "Is a cat a man, Huck?"
"No." "Well, den, dey ain't no sense in a cat
talkin' like a man.
Is a cow a man?--er is a cow a cat?" "No, she ain't either of them."
"Well, den, she ain't got no business to talk like either one er the yuther of 'em.
Is a Frenchman a man?"
"Yes." "WELL, den!
Dad blame it, why doan' he TALK like a man? You answer me DAT!"
I see it warn't no use wasting words--you can't learn a nigger to argue.
So I quit.
>
Chapter XV. WE judged that three nights more would
fetch us to Cairo, at the bottom of Illinois, where the Ohio River comes in,
and that was what we was after.
We would sell the raft and get on a steamboat and go way up the Ohio amongst
the free States, and then be out of trouble.
Well, the second night a fog begun to come on, and we made for a towhead to tie to,
for it wouldn't do to try to run in a fog; but when I paddled ahead in the canoe, with
the line to make fast, there warn't anything but little saplings to tie to.
I passed the line around one of them right on the edge of the cut bank, but there was
a stiff current, and the raft come booming down so lively she tore it out by the roots
and away she went.
I see the fog closing down, and it made me so sick and scared I couldn't budge for
most a half a minute it seemed to me--and then there warn't no raft in sight; you
couldn't see twenty yards.
I jumped into the canoe and run back to the stern, and grabbed the paddle and set her
back a stroke. But she didn't come.
I was in such a hurry I hadn't untied her.
I got up and tried to untie her, but I was so excited my hands shook so I couldn't
hardly do anything with them.
As soon as I got started I took out after the raft, hot and heavy, right down the
towhead.
That was all right as far as it went, but the towhead warn't sixty yards long, and
the minute I flew by the foot of it I shot out into the solid white fog, and hadn't no
more idea which way I was going than a dead man.
Thinks I, it won't do to paddle; first I know I'll run into the bank or a towhead or
something; I got to set still and float, and yet it's mighty fidgety business to
have to hold your hands still at such a time.
I whooped and listened. Away down there somewheres I hears a small
whoop, and up comes my spirits.
I went tearing after it, listening sharp to hear it again.
The next time it come I see I warn't heading for it, but heading away to the
right of it.
And the next time I was heading away to the left of it--and not gaining on it much
either, for I was flying around, this way and that and t'other, but it was going
straight ahead all the time.
I did wish the fool would think to beat a tin pan, and beat it all the time, but he
never did, and it was the still places between the whoops that was making the
trouble for me.
Well, I fought along, and directly I hears the whoop BEHIND me.
I was tangled good now. That was somebody else's whoop, or else I
was turned around.
I throwed the paddle down.
I heard the whoop again; it was behind me yet, but in a different place; it kept
coming, and kept changing its place, and I kept answering, till by and by it was in
front of me again, and I knowed the current
had swung the canoe's head down-stream, and I was all right if that was Jim and not
some other raftsman hollering.
I couldn't tell nothing about voices in a fog, for nothing don't look natural nor
sound natural in a fog.
The whooping went on, and in about a minute I come a-booming down on a cut bank with
smoky ghosts of big trees on it, and the current throwed me off to the left and shot
by, amongst a lot of snags that fairly
roared, the currrent was tearing by them so swift.
In another second or two it was solid white and still again.
I set perfectly still then, listening to my heart thump, and I reckon I didn't draw a
breath while it thumped a hundred. I just give up then.
I knowed what the matter was.
That cut bank was an island, and Jim had gone down t'other side of it.
It warn't no towhead that you could float by in ten minutes.
It had the big timber of a regular island; it might be five or six miles long and more
than half a mile wide. I kept quiet, with my ears cocked, about
fifteen minutes, I reckon.
I was floating along, of course, four or five miles an hour; but you don't ever
think of that.
No, you FEEL like you are laying dead still on the water; and if a little glimpse of a
snag slips by you don't think to yourself how fast YOU'RE going, but you catch your
breath and think, my! how that snag's tearing along.
If you think it ain't dismal and lonesome out in a fog that way by yourself in the
night, you try it once--you'll see.
Next, for about a half an hour, I whoops now and then; at last I hears the answer a
long ways off, and tries to follow it, but I couldn't do it, and directly I judged I'd
got into a nest of towheads, for I had
little dim glimpses of them on both sides of me--sometimes just a narrow channel
between, and some that I couldn't see I knowed was there because I'd hear the wash
of the current against the old dead brush and trash that hung over the banks.
Well, I warn't long loosing the whoops down amongst the towheads; and I only tried to
chase them a little while, anyway, because it was worse than chasing a Jack-o'-
lantern.
You never knowed a sound dodge around so, and swap places so quick and so much.
I had to claw away from the bank pretty lively four or five times, to keep from
knocking the islands out of the river; and so I judged the raft must be butting into
the bank every now and then, or else it
would get further ahead and clear out of hearing--it was floating a little faster
than what I was.
Well, I seemed to be in the open river again by and by, but I couldn't hear no
sign of a whoop nowheres. I reckoned Jim had fetched up on a snag,
maybe, and it was all up with him.
I was good and tired, so I laid down in the canoe and said I wouldn't bother no more.
I didn't want to go to sleep, of course; but I was so sleepy I couldn't help it; so
I thought I would take jest one little cat- nap.
But I reckon it was more than a cat-nap, for when I waked up the stars was shining
bright, the fog was all gone, and I was spinning down a big bend stern first.
First I didn't know where I was; I thought I was dreaming; and when things began to
come back to me they seemed to come up dim out of last week.
It was a monstrous big river here, with the tallest and the thickest kind of timber on
both banks; just a solid wall, as well as I could see by the stars.
I looked away down-stream, and seen a black speck on the water.
I took after it; but when I got to it it warn't nothing but a couple of sawlogs made
fast together.
Then I see another speck, and chased that; then another, and this time I was right.
It was the raft.
When I got to it Jim was setting there with his head down between his knees, asleep,
with his right arm hanging over the steering-oar.
The other oar was smashed off, and the raft was littered up with leaves and branches
and dirt. So she'd had a rough time.
I made fast and laid down under Jim's nose on the raft, and began to gap, and stretch
my fists out against Jim, and says: "Hello, Jim, have I been asleep?
Why didn't you stir me up?"
"Goodness gracious, is dat you, Huck? En you ain' dead--you ain' drownded--you's
back agin? It's too good for true, honey, it's too
good for true.
Lemme look at you chile, lemme feel o' you. No, you ain' dead! you's back agin, 'live
en soun', jis de same ole Huck--de same ole Huck, thanks to goodness!"
"What's the matter with you, Jim?
You been a-drinking?" "Drinkin'?
Has I ben a-drinkin'? Has I had a chance to be a-drinkin'?"
"Well, then, what makes you talk so wild?"
"How does I talk wild?" "HOW?
Why, hain't you been talking about my coming back, and all that stuff, as if I'd
been gone away?"
"Huck--Huck Finn, you look me in de eye; look me in de eye.
HAIN'T you ben gone away?" "Gone away?
Why, what in the nation do you mean?
I hain't been gone anywheres. Where would I go to?"
"Well, looky here, boss, dey's sumf'n wrong, dey is.
Is I ME, or who IS I?
Is I heah, or whah IS I? Now dat's what I wants to know."
"Well, I think you're here, plain enough, but I think you're a tangle-headed old
fool, Jim."
"I is, is I? Well, you answer me dis: Didn't you tote
out de line in de canoe fer to make fas' to de tow-head?"
"No, I didn't.
What tow-head? I hain't see no tow-head."
"You hain't seen no towhead?
Looky here, didn't de line pull loose en de raf' go a-hummin' down de river, en leave
you en de canoe behine in de fog?" "What fog?"
"Why, de fog!--de fog dat's been aroun' all night.
En didn't you whoop, en didn't I whoop, tell we got mix' up in de islands en one un
us got los' en t'other one was jis' as good as los', 'kase he didn' know whah he wuz?
En didn't I bust up agin a lot er dem islands en have a turrible time en mos' git
drownded? Now ain' dat so, boss--ain't it so?
You answer me dat."
"Well, this is too many for me, Jim. I hain't seen no fog, nor no islands, nor
no troubles, nor nothing.
I been setting here talking with you all night till you went to sleep about ten
minutes ago, and I reckon I done the same. You couldn't a got drunk in that time, so
of course you've been dreaming."
"Dad fetch it, how is I gwyne to dream all dat in ten minutes?"
"Well, hang it all, you did dream it, because there didn't any of it happen."
"But, Huck, it's all jis' as plain to me as--"
"It don't make no difference how plain it is; there ain't nothing in it.
I know, because I've been here all the time."
Jim didn't say nothing for about five minutes, but set there studying over it.
Then he says:
"Well, den, I reck'n I did dream it, Huck; but dog my cats ef it ain't de powerfullest
dream I ever see. En I hain't ever had no dream b'fo' dat's
tired me like dis one."
"Oh, well, that's all right, because a dream does tire a body like everything
sometimes. But this one was a staving dream; tell me
all about it, Jim."
So Jim went to work and told me the whole thing right through, just as it happened,
only he painted it up considerable.
Then he said he must start in and "'terpret" it, because it was sent for a
warning.
He said the first towhead stood for a man that would try to do us some good, but the
current was another man that would get us away from him.
The whoops was warnings that would come to us every now and then, and if we didn't try
hard to make out to understand them they'd just take us into bad luck, 'stead of
keeping us out of it.
The lot of towheads was troubles we was going to get into with quarrelsome people
and all kinds of mean folks, but if we minded our business and didn't talk back
and aggravate them, we would pull through
and get out of the fog and into the big clear river, which was the free States, and
wouldn't have no more trouble.
It had clouded up pretty dark just after I got on to the raft, but it was clearing up
again now.
"Oh, well, that's all interpreted well enough as far as it goes, Jim," I says;
"but what does THESE things stand for?" It was the leaves and rubbish on the raft
and the smashed oar.
You could see them first-rate now. Jim looked at the trash, and then looked at
me, and back at the trash again.
He had got the dream fixed so strong in his head that he couldn't seem to shake it
loose and get the facts back into its place again right away.
But when he did get the thing straightened around he looked at me steady without ever
smiling, and says: "What do dey stan' for?
I'se gwyne to tell you.
When I got all wore out wid work, en wid de callin' for you, en went to sleep, my heart
wuz mos' broke bekase you wuz los', en I didn' k'yer no' mo' what become er me en de
raf'.
En when I wake up en fine you back agin, all safe en soun', de tears come, en I
could a got down on my knees en kiss yo' foot, I's so thankful.
En all you wuz thinkin' 'bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie.
Dat truck dah is TRASH; en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey
fren's en makes 'em ashamed."
Then he got up slow and walked to the wigwam, and went in there without saying
anything but that. But that was enough.
It made me feel so mean I could almost kissed HIS foot to get him to take it back.
It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a
nigger; but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it afterwards, neither.
I didn't do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn't done that one if I'd a knowed it
would make him feel that way.
>
Chapter XVI. WE slept most all day, and started out at
night, a little ways behind a monstrous long raft that was as long going by as a
procession.
She had four long sweeps at each end, so we judged she carried as many as thirty men,
likely.
She had five big wigwams aboard, wide apart, and an open camp fire in the middle,
and a tall flag-pole at each end. There was a power of style about her.
It AMOUNTED to something being a raftsman on such a craft as that.
We went drifting down into a big bend, and the night clouded up and got hot.
The river was very wide, and was walled with solid timber on both sides; you
couldn't see a break in it hardly ever, or a light.
We talked about Cairo, and wondered whether we would know it when we got to it.
I said likely we wouldn't, because I had heard say there warn't but about a dozen
houses there, and if they didn't happen to have them lit up, how was we going to know
we was passing a town?
Jim said if the two big rivers joined together there, that would show.
But I said maybe we might think we was passing the foot of an island and coming
into the same old river again.
That disturbed Jim--and me too. So the question was, what to do?
I said, paddle ashore the first time a light showed, and tell them pap was behind,
coming along with a trading-scow, and was a green hand at the business, and wanted to
know how far it was to Cairo.
Jim thought it was a good idea, so we took a smoke on it and waited.
There warn't nothing to do now but to look out sharp for the town, and not pass it
without seeing it.
He said he'd be mighty sure to see it, because he'd be a free man the minute he
seen it, but if he missed it he'd be in a slave country again and no more show for
freedom.
Every little while he jumps up and says: "Dah she is?"
But it warn't.
It was Jack-o'-lanterns, or lightning bugs; so he set down again, and went to watching,
same as before. Jim said it made him all over trembly and
feverish to be so close to freedom.
Well, I can tell you it made me all over trembly and feverish, too, to hear him,
because I begun to get it through my head that he WAS most free--and who was to blame
for it?
Why, ME. I couldn't get that out of my conscience,
no how nor no way. It got to troubling me so I couldn't rest;
I couldn't stay still in one place.
It hadn't ever come home to me before, what this thing was that I was doing.
But now it did; and it stayed with me, and scorched me more and more.
I tried to make out to myself that I warn't to blame, because I didn't run Jim off from
his rightful owner; but it warn't no use, conscience up and says, every time, "But
you knowed he was running for his freedom,
and you could a paddled ashore and told somebody."
That was so--I couldn't get around that noway.
That was where it pinched.
Conscience says to me, "What had poor Miss Watson done to you that you could see her
nigger go off right under your eyes and never say one single word?
What did that poor old woman do to you that you could treat her so mean?
Why, she tried to learn you your book, she tried to learn you your manners, she tried
to be good to you every way she knowed how.
THAT'S what she done." I got to feeling so mean and so miserable I
most wished I was dead.
I fidgeted up and down the raft, abusing myself to myself, and Jim was fidgeting up
and down past me. We neither of us could keep still.
Every time he danced around and says, "Dah's Cairo!" it went through me like a
shot, and I thought if it WAS Cairo I reckoned I would die of miserableness.
Jim talked out loud all the time while I was talking to myself.
He was saying how the first thing he would do when he got to a free State he would go
to saving up money and never spend a single cent, and when he got enough he would buy
his wife, which was owned on a farm close
to where Miss Watson lived; and then they would both work to buy the two children,
and if their master wouldn't sell them, they'd get an Ab'litionist to go and steal
them.
It most froze me to hear such talk. He wouldn't ever dared to talk such talk in
his life before. Just see what a difference it made in him
the minute he judged he was about free.
It was according to the old saying, "Give a nigger an inch and he'll take an ell."
Thinks I, this is what comes of my not thinking.
Here was this nigger, which I had as good as helped to run away, coming right out
flat-footed and saying he would steal his children--children that belonged to a man I
didn't even know; a man that hadn't ever done me no harm.
I was sorry to hear Jim say that, it was such a lowering of him.
My conscience got to stirring me up hotter than ever, until at last I says to it, "Let
up on me--it ain't too late yet--I'll paddle ashore at the first light and tell."
I felt easy and happy and light as a feather right off.
All my troubles was gone. I went to looking out sharp for a light,
and sort of singing to myself.
By and by one showed. Jim sings out:
"We's safe, Huck, we's safe! Jump up and crack yo' heels!
Dat's de good ole Cairo at las', I jis knows it!"
I says: "I'll take the canoe and go and see, Jim.
It mightn't be, you know."
He jumped and got the canoe ready, and put his old coat in the bottom for me to set
on, and give me the paddle; and as I shoved off, he says:
"Pooty soon I'll be a-shout'n' for joy, en I'll say, it's all on accounts o' Huck; I's
a free man, en I couldn't ever ben free ef it hadn' ben for Huck; Huck done it.
Jim won't ever forgit you, Huck; you's de bes' fren' Jim's ever had; en you's de ONLY
fren' ole Jim's got now."
I was paddling off, all in a sweat to tell on him; but when he says this, it seemed to
kind of take the tuck all out of me.
I went along slow then, and I warn't right down certain whether I was glad I started
or whether I warn't. When I was fifty yards off, Jim says:
"Dah you goes, de ole true Huck; de on'y white genlman dat ever kep' his promise to
ole Jim." Well, I just felt sick.
But I says, I GOT to do it--I can't get OUT of it.
Right then along comes a skiff with two men in it with guns, and they stopped and I
stopped.
One of them says: "What's that yonder?"
"A piece of a raft," I says. "Do you belong on it?"
"Yes, sir."
"Any men on it?" "Only one, sir."
"Well, there's five niggers run off to- night up yonder, above the head of the
bend.
Is your man white or black?" I didn't answer up prompt.
I tried to, but the words wouldn't come.
I tried for a second or two to brace up and out with it, but I warn't man enough--
hadn't the spunk of a rabbit. I see I was weakening; so I just give up
trying, and up and says:
"He's white." "I reckon we'll go and see for ourselves."
"I wish you would," says I, "because it's pap that's there, and maybe you'd help me
tow the raft ashore where the light is.
He's sick--and so is mam and Mary Ann." "Oh, the devil! we're in a hurry, boy.
But I s'pose we've got to. Come, buckle to your paddle, and let's get
along."
I buckled to my paddle and they laid to their oars.
When we had made a stroke or two, I says: "Pap'll be mighty much obleeged to you, I
can tell you.
Everybody goes away when I want them to help me tow the raft ashore, and I can't do
it by myself." "Well, that's infernal mean.
Odd, too.
Say, boy, what's the matter with your father?"
"It's the--a--the--well, it ain't anything much."
They stopped pulling.
It warn't but a mighty little ways to the raft now.
One says: "Boy, that's a lie.
What IS the matter with your pap?
Answer up square now, and it'll be the better for you."
"I will, sir, I will, honest--but don't leave us, please.
It's the--the --Gentlemen, if you'll only pull ahead, and let me heave you the
headline, you won't have to come a-near the raft--please do."
"Set her back, John, set her back!" says one.
They backed water. "Keep away, boy--keep to looard.
Confound it, I just expect the wind has blowed it to us.
Your pap's got the small-pox, and you know it precious well.
Why didn't you come out and say so?
Do you want to spread it all over?" "Well," says I, a-blubbering, "I've told
everybody before, and they just went away and left us."
"Poor devil, there's something in that.
We are right down sorry for you, but we-- well, hang it, we don't want the small-pox,
you see. Look here, I'll tell you what to do.
Don't you try to land by yourself, or you'll smash everything to pieces.
You float along down about twenty miles, and you'll come to a town on the left-hand
side of the river.
It will be long after sun-up then, and when you ask for help you tell them your folks
are all down with chills and fever. Don't be a fool again, and let people guess
what is the matter.
Now we're trying to do you a kindness; so you just put twenty miles between us,
that's a good boy. It wouldn't do any good to land yonder
where the light is--it's only a wood-yard.
Say, I reckon your father's poor, and I'm bound to say he's in pretty hard luck.
Here, I'll put a twenty-dollar gold piece on this board, and you get it when it
floats by.
I feel mighty mean to leave you; but my kingdom! it won't do to fool with small-
pox, don't you see?"
"Hold on, Parker," says the other man, "here's a twenty to put on the board for
me. Good-bye, boy; you do as Mr.
Parker told you, and you'll be all right."
"That's so, my boy--good-bye, good-bye. If you see any runaway niggers you get help
and nab them, and you can make some money by it."
"Good-bye, sir," says I; "I won't let no runaway niggers get by me if I can help
it."
They went off and I got aboard the raft, feeling bad and low, because I knowed very
well I had done wrong, and I see it warn't no use for me to try to learn to do right;
a body that don't get STARTED right when
he's little ain't got no show--when the pinch comes there ain't nothing to back him
up and keep him to his work, and so he gets beat.
Then I thought a minute, and says to myself, hold on; s'pose you'd a done right
and give Jim up, would you felt better than what you do now?
No, says I, I'd feel bad--I'd feel just the same way I do now.
Well, then, says I, what's the use you learning to do right when it's troublesome
to do right and ain't no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?
I was stuck.
I couldn't answer that. So I reckoned I wouldn't bother no more
about it, but after this always do whichever come handiest at the time.
I went into the wigwam; Jim warn't there.
I looked all around; he warn't anywhere. I says:
"Jim!" "Here I is, Huck.
Is dey out o' sight yit?
Don't talk loud." He was in the river under the stern oar,
with just his nose out. I told him they were out of sight, so he
come aboard.
He says: "I was a-listenin' to all de talk, en I
slips into de river en was gwyne to shove for sho' if dey come aboard.
Den I was gwyne to swim to de raf' agin when dey was gone.
But lawsy, how you did fool 'em, Huck! Dat WUZ de smartes' dodge!
I tell you, chile, I'spec it save' ole Jim- -ole Jim ain't going to forgit you for dat,
honey." Then we talked about the money.
It was a pretty good raise--twenty dollars apiece.
Jim said we could take deck passage on a steamboat now, and the money would last us
as far as we wanted to go in the free States.
He said twenty mile more warn't far for the raft to go, but he wished we was already
there.
Towards daybreak we tied up, and Jim was mighty particular about hiding the raft
good.
Then he worked all day fixing things in bundles, and getting all ready to quit
rafting.
That night about ten we hove in sight of the lights of a town away down in a left-
hand bend. I went off in the canoe to ask about it.
Pretty soon I found a man out in the river with a skiff, setting a trot-line.
I ranged up and says: "Mister, is that town Cairo?"
"Cairo? no.
You must be a blame' fool." "What town is it, mister?"
"If you want to know, go and find out.
If you stay here botherin' around me for about a half a minute longer you'll get
something you won't want." I paddled to the raft.
Jim was awful disappointed, but I said never mind, Cairo would be the next place,
I reckoned.
We passed another town before daylight, and I was going out again; but it was high
ground, so I didn't go. No high ground about Cairo, Jim said.
I had forgot it.
We laid up for the day on a towhead tolerable close to the left-hand bank.
I begun to suspicion something. So did Jim.
I says:
"Maybe we went by Cairo in the fog that night."
He says: "Doan' le's talk about it, Huck.
Po' niggers can't have no luck.
I awluz 'spected dat rattlesnake-skin warn't done wid its work."
"I wish I'd never seen that snake-skin, Jim--I do wish I'd never laid eyes on it."
"It ain't yo' fault, Huck; you didn' know.
Don't you blame yo'self 'bout it." When it was daylight, here was the clear
Ohio water inshore, sure enough, and outside was the old regular Muddy!
So it was all up with Cairo.
We talked it all over. It wouldn't do to take to the shore; we
couldn't take the raft up the stream, of course.
There warn't no way but to wait for dark, and start back in the canoe and take the
chances.
So we slept all day amongst the cottonwood thicket, so as to be fresh for the work,
and when we went back to the raft about dark the canoe was gone!
We didn't say a word for a good while.
There warn't anything to say. We both knowed well enough it was some more
work of the rattlesnake-skin; so what was the use to talk about it?
It would only look like we was finding fault, and that would be bound to fetch
more bad luck--and keep on fetching it, too, till we knowed enough to keep still.
By and by we talked about what we better do, and found there warn't no way but just
to go along down with the raft till we got a chance to buy a canoe to go back in.
We warn't going to borrow it when there warn't anybody around, the way pap would
do, for that might set people after us. So we shoved out after dark on the raft.
Anybody that don't believe yet that it's foolishness to handle a snake-skin, after
all that that snake-skin done for us, will believe it now if they read on and see what
more it done for us.
The place to buy canoes is off of rafts laying up at shore.
But we didn't see no rafts laying up; so we went along during three hours and more.
Well, the night got gray and ruther thick, which is the next meanest thing to fog.
You can't tell the shape of the river, and you can't see no distance.
It got to be very late and still, and then along comes a steamboat up the river.
We lit the lantern, and judged she would see it.
Up-stream boats didn't generly come close to us; they go out and follow the bars and
hunt for easy water under the reefs; but nights like this they bull right up the
channel against the whole river.
We could hear her pounding along, but we didn't see her good till she was close.
She aimed right for us.
Often they do that and try to see how close they can come without touching; sometimes
the wheel bites off a sweep, and then the pilot sticks his head out and laughs, and
thinks he's mighty smart.
Well, here she comes, and we said she was going to try and shave us; but she didn't
seem to be sheering off a bit.
She was a big one, and she was coming in a hurry, too, looking like a black cloud with
rows of glow-worms around it; but all of a sudden she bulged out, big and scary, with
a long row of wide-open furnace doors
shining like red-hot teeth, and her monstrous bows and guards hanging right
over us.
There was a yell at us, and a jingling of bells to stop the engines, a powwow of
cussing, and whistling of steam--and as Jim went overboard on one side and I on the
other, she come smashing straight through the raft.
I dived--and I aimed to find the bottom, too, for a thirty-foot wheel had got to go
over me, and I wanted it to have plenty of room.
I could always stay under water a minute; this time I reckon I stayed under a minute
and a half. Then I bounced for the top in a hurry, for
I was nearly busting.
I popped out to my armpits and blowed the water out of my nose, and puffed a bit.
Of course there was a booming current; and of course that boat started her engines
again ten seconds after she stopped them, for they never cared much for raftsmen; so
now she was churning along up the river,
out of sight in the thick weather, though I could hear her.
I sung out for Jim about a dozen times, but I didn't get any answer; so I grabbed a
plank that touched me while I was "treading water," and struck out for shore, shoving
it ahead of me.
But I made out to see that the drift of the current was towards the left-hand shore,
which meant that I was in a crossing; so I changed off and went that way.
It was one of these long, slanting, two- mile crossings; so I was a good long time
in getting over. I made a safe landing, and clumb up the
bank.
I couldn't see but a little ways, but I went poking along over rough ground for a
quarter of a mile or more, and then I run across a big old-fashioned double log-house
before I noticed it.
I was going to rush by and get away, but a lot of dogs jumped out and went to howling
and barking at me, and I knowed better than to move another peg.
>
Chapter XVII. IN about a minute somebody spoke out of a
window without putting his head out, and says:
"Be done, boys!
Who's there?" I says:
"It's me." "Who's me?"
"George Jackson, sir."
"What do you want?" "I don't want nothing, sir.
I only want to go along by, but the dogs won't let me."
"What are you prowling around here this time of night for--hey?"
"I warn't prowling around, sir, I fell overboard off of the steamboat."
"Oh, you did, did you?
Strike a light there, somebody. What did you say your name was?"
"George Jackson, sir. I'm only a boy."
"Look here, if you're telling the truth you needn't be afraid--nobody'll hurt you.
But don't try to budge; stand right where you are.
Rouse out Bob and Tom, some of you, and fetch the guns.
George Jackson, is there anybody with you?" "No, sir, nobody."
I heard the people stirring around in the house now, and see a light.
The man sung out: "Snatch that light away, Betsy, you old
fool--ain't you got any sense?
Put it on the floor behind the front door. Bob, if you and Tom are ready, take your
places." "All ready."
"Now, George Jackson, do you know the Shepherdsons?"
"No, sir; I never heard of them." "Well, that may be so, and it mayn't.
Now, all ready.
Step forward, George Jackson. And mind, don't you hurry--come mighty
slow. If there's anybody with you, let him keep
back--if he shows himself he'll be shot.
Come along now. Come slow; push the door open yourself--
just enough to squeeze in, d' you hear?" I didn't hurry; I couldn't if I'd a wanted
to.
I took one slow step at a time and there warn't a sound, only I thought I could hear
my heart. The dogs were as still as the humans, but
they followed a little behind me.
When I got to the three log doorsteps I heard them unlocking and unbarring and
unbolting.
I put my hand on the door and pushed it a little and a little more till somebody
said, "There, that's enough--put your head in."
I done it, but I judged they would take it off.
The candle was on the floor, and there they all was, looking at me, and me at them, for
about a quarter of a minute: Three big men with guns pointed at me, which made me
wince, I tell you; the oldest, gray and
about sixty, the other two thirty or more-- all of them fine and handsome --and the
sweetest old gray-headed lady, and back of her two young women which I couldn't see
right well.
The old gentleman says: "There; I reckon it's all right.
Come in."
As soon as I was in the old gentleman he locked the door and barred it and bolted
it, and told the young men to come in with their guns, and they all went in a big
parlor that had a new rag carpet on the
floor, and got together in a corner that was out of the range of the front windows -
-there warn't none on the side.
They held the candle, and took a good look at me, and all said, "Why, HE ain't a
Shepherdson--no, there ain't any Shepherdson about him."
Then the old man said he hoped I wouldn't mind being searched for arms, because he
didn't mean no harm by it--it was only to make sure.
So he didn't pry into my pockets, but only felt outside with his hands, and said it
was all right.
He told me to make myself easy and at home, and tell all about myself; but the old lady
says:
"Why, bless you, Saul, the poor thing's as wet as he can be; and don't you reckon it
may be he's hungry?" "True for you, Rachel--I forgot."
So the old lady says:
"Betsy" (this was a nigger woman), "you fly around and get him something to eat as
quick as you can, poor thing; and one of you girls go and wake up Buck and tell him-
-oh, here he is himself.
Buck, take this little stranger and get the wet clothes off from him and dress him up
in some of yours that's dry."
Buck looked about as old as me--thirteen or fourteen or along there, though he was a
little bigger than me. He hadn't on anything but a shirt, and he
was very frowzy-headed.
He came in gaping and digging one fist into his eyes, and he was dragging a gun along
with the other one. He says:
"Ain't they no Shepherdsons around?"
They said, no, 'twas a false alarm. "Well," he says, "if they'd a ben some, I
reckon I'd a got one." They all laughed, and Bob says:
"Why, Buck, they might have scalped us all, you've been so slow in coming."
"Well, nobody come after me, and it ain't right I'm always kept down; I don't get no
show."
"Never mind, Buck, my boy," says the old man, "you'll have show enough, all in good
time, don't you fret about that. Go 'long with you now, and do as your
mother told you."
When we got up-stairs to his room he got me a coarse shirt and a roundabout and pants
of his, and I put them on.
While I was at it he asked me what my name was, but before I could tell him he started
to tell me about a bluejay and a young rabbit he had catched in the woods day
before yesterday, and he asked me where Moses was when the candle went out.
I said I didn't know; I hadn't heard about it before, no way.
"Well, guess," he says.
"How'm I going to guess," says I, "when I never heard tell of it before?"
"But you can guess, can't you? It's just as easy."
"WHICH candle?"
I says. "Why, any candle," he says.
"I don't know where he was," says I; "where was he?"
"Why, he was in the DARK!
That's where he was!" "Well, if you knowed where he was, what did
you ask me for?" "Why, blame it, it's a riddle, don't you
see?
Say, how long are you going to stay here? You got to stay always.
We can just have booming times--they don't have no school now.
Do you own a dog?
I've got a dog--and he'll go in the river and bring out chips that you throw in.
Do you like to comb up Sundays, and all that kind of foolishness?
You bet I don't, but ma she makes me.
Confound these ole britches! I reckon I'd better put 'em on, but I'd
ruther not, it's so warm. Are you all ready?
All right.
Come along, old hoss." Cold corn-pone, cold corn-beef, butter and
buttermilk--that is what they had for me down there, and there ain't nothing better
that ever I've come across yet.
Buck and his ma and all of them smoked cob pipes, except the nigger woman, which was
gone, and the two young women. They all smoked and talked, and I eat and
talked.
The young women had quilts around them, and their hair down their backs.
They all asked me questions, and I told them how pap and me and all the family was
living on a little farm down at the bottom of Arkansaw, and my sister Mary Ann run off
and got married and never was heard of no
more, and Bill went to hunt them and he warn't heard of no more, and Tom and Mort
died, and then there warn't nobody but just me and pap left, and he was just trimmed
down to nothing, on account of his
troubles; so when he died I took what there was left, because the farm didn't belong to
us, and started up the river, deck passage, and fell overboard; and that was how I come
to be here.
So they said I could have a home there as long as I wanted it.
Then it was most daylight and everybody went to bed, and I went to bed with Buck,
and when I waked up in the morning, drat it all, I had forgot what my name was.
So I laid there about an hour trying to think, and when Buck waked up I says:
"Can you spell, Buck?" "Yes," he says.
"I bet you can't spell my name," says I.
"I bet you what you dare I can," says he. "All right," says I, "go ahead."
"G-e-o-r-g-e J-a-x-o-n--there now," he says.
"Well," says I, "you done it, but I didn't think you could.
It ain't no slouch of a name to spell-- right off without studying."
I set it down, private, because somebody might want ME to spell it next, and so I
wanted to be handy with it and rattle it off like I was used to it.
It was a mighty nice family, and a mighty nice house, too.
I hadn't seen no house out in the country before that was so nice and had so much
style.
It didn't have an iron latch on the front door, nor a wooden one with a buckskin
string, but a brass knob to turn, the same as houses in town.
There warn't no bed in the parlor, nor a sign of a bed; but heaps of parlors in
towns has beds in them.
There was a big fireplace that was bricked on the bottom, and the bricks was kept
clean and red by pouring water on them and scrubbing them with another brick;
sometimes they wash them over with red
water-paint that they call Spanish-brown, same as they do in town.
They had big brass dog-irons that could hold up a saw-log.
There was a clock on the middle of the mantelpiece, with a picture of a town
painted on the bottom half of the glass front, and a round place in the middle of
it for the sun, and you could see the pendulum swinging behind it.
It was beautiful to hear that clock tick; and sometimes when one of these peddlers
had been along and scoured her up and got her in good shape, she would start in and
strike a hundred and fifty before she got tuckered out.
They wouldn't took any money for her.
Well, there was a big outlandish parrot on each side of the clock, made out of
something like chalk, and painted up gaudy.
By one of the parrots was a cat made of crockery, and a crockery dog by the other;
and when you pressed down on them they squeaked, but didn't open their mouths nor
look different nor interested.
They squeaked through underneath. There was a couple of big wild-turkey-wing
fans spread out behind those things.
On the table in the middle of the room was a kind of a lovely crockery basket that had
apples and oranges and peaches and grapes piled up in it, which was much redder and
yellower and prettier than real ones is,
but they warn't real because you could see where pieces had got chipped off and showed
the white chalk, or whatever it was, underneath.
This table had a cover made out of beautiful oilcloth, with a red and blue
spread-eagle painted on it, and a painted border all around.
It come all the way from Philadelphia, they said.
There was some books, too, piled up perfectly exact, on each corner of the
table.
One was a big family Bible full of pictures.
One was Pilgrim's Progress, about a man that left his family, it didn't say why.
I read considerable in it now and then.
The statements was interesting, but tough. Another was Friendship's Offering, full of
beautiful stuff and poetry; but I didn't read the poetry.
Another was Henry Clay's Speeches, and another was Dr.
Gunn's Family Medicine, which told you all about what to do if a body was sick or
dead.
There was a hymn book, and a lot of other books.
And there was nice split-bottom chairs, and perfectly sound, too--not bagged down in
the middle and busted, like an old basket.
They had pictures hung on the walls--mainly Washingtons and Lafayettes, and battles,
and Highland Marys, and one called "Signing the Declaration."
There was some that they called crayons, which one of the daughters which was dead
made her own self when she was only fifteen years old.
They was different from any pictures I ever see before --blacker, mostly, than is
common.
One was a woman in a slim black dress, belted small under the armpits, with bulges
like a cabbage in the middle of the sleeves, and a large black scoop-shovel
bonnet with a black veil, and white slim
ankles crossed about with black tape, and very wee black slippers, like a chisel, and
she was leaning pensive on a tombstone on her right elbow, under a weeping willow,
and her other hand hanging down her side
holding a white handkerchief and a reticule, and underneath the picture it
said "Shall I Never See Thee More Alas."
Another one was a young lady with her hair all combed up straight to the top of her
head, and knotted there in front of a comb like a chair-back, and she was crying into
a handkerchief and had a dead bird laying
on its back in her other hand with its heels up, and underneath the picture it
said "I Shall Never Hear Thy Sweet Chirrup More Alas."
There was one where a young lady was at a window looking up at the moon, and tears
running down her cheeks; and she had an open letter in one hand with black sealing
wax showing on one edge of it, and she was
mashing a locket with a chain to it against her mouth, and underneath the picture it
said "And Art Thou Gone Yes Thou Art Gone Alas."
These was all nice pictures, I reckon, but I didn't somehow seem to take to them,
because if ever I was down a little they always give me the fan-tods.
Everybody was sorry she died, because she had laid out a lot more of these pictures
to do, and a body could see by what she had done what they had lost.
But I reckoned that with her disposition she was having a better time in the
graveyard.
She was at work on what they said was her greatest picture when she took sick, and
every day and every night it was her prayer to be allowed to live till she got it done,
but she never got the chance.
It was a picture of a young woman in a long white gown, standing on the rail of a
bridge all ready to jump off, with her hair all down her back, and looking up to the
moon, with the tears running down her face,
and she had two arms folded across her breast, and two arms stretched out in
front, and two more reaching up towards the moon--and the idea was to see which pair
would look best, and then scratch out all
the other arms; but, as I was saying, she died before she got her mind made up, and
now they kept this picture over the head of the bed in her room, and every time her
birthday come they hung flowers on it.
Other times it was hid with a little curtain.
The young woman in the picture had a kind of a nice sweet face, but there was so many
arms it made her look too spidery, seemed to me.
This young girl kept a scrap-book when she was alive, and used to paste obituaries and
accidents and cases of patient suffering in it out of the Presbyterian Observer, and
write poetry after them out of her own head.
It was very good poetry.
This is what she wrote about a boy by the name of Stephen Dowling Bots that fell down
a well and was drownded:
ODE TO STEPHEN DOWLING BOTS, DEC'D And did 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.
O no. 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.
If Emmeline Grangerford could make poetry like that before she was fourteen, there
ain't no telling what she could a done by and by.
Buck said she could rattle off poetry like nothing.
She didn't ever have to stop to think.
He said she would slap down a line, and if she couldn't find anything to rhyme with it
would just scratch it out and slap down another one, and go ahead.
She warn't particular; she could write about anything you choose to give her to
write about just so it was sadful.
Every time a man died, or a woman died, or a child died, she would be on hand with her
"tribute" before he was cold. She called them tributes.
The neighbors said it was the doctor first, then Emmeline, then the undertaker--the
undertaker never got in ahead of Emmeline but once, and then she hung fire on a rhyme
for the dead person's name, which was Whistler.
She warn't ever the same after that; she never complained, but she kinder pined away
and did not live long.
Poor thing, many's the time I made myself go up to the little room that used to be
hers and get out her poor old scrap-book and read in it when her pictures had been
aggravating me and I had soured on her a little.
I liked all that family, dead ones and all, and warn't going to let anything come
between us.
Poor Emmeline made poetry about all the dead people when she was alive, and it
didn't seem right that there warn't nobody to make some about her now she was gone; so
I tried to sweat out a verse or two myself, but I couldn't seem to make it go somehow.
They kept Emmeline's room trim and nice, and all the things fixed in it just the way
she liked to have them when she was alive, and nobody ever slept there.
The old lady took care of the room herself, though there was plenty of niggers, and she
sewed there a good deal and read her Bible there mostly.
Well, as I was saying about the parlor, there was beautiful curtains on the
windows: white, with pictures painted on them of castles with vines all down the
walls, and cattle coming down to drink.
There was a little old piano, too, that had tin pans in it, I reckon, and nothing was
ever so lovely as to hear the young ladies sing "The Last Link is Broken" and play
"The Battle of Prague" on it.
The walls of all the rooms was plastered, and most had carpets on the floors, and the
whole house was whitewashed on the outside.
It was a double house, and the big open place betwixt them was roofed and floored,
and sometimes the table was set there in the middle of the day, and it was a cool,
comfortable place.
Nothing couldn't be better. And warn't the cooking good, and just
bushels of it too!
>
Chapter XVIII. COL.
GRANGERFORD was a gentleman, you see. He was a gentleman all over; and so was his
family.
He was well born, as the saying is, and that's worth as much in a man as it is in a
horse, so the Widow Douglas said, and nobody ever denied that she was of the
first aristocracy in our town; and pap he
always said it, too, though he warn't no more quality than a mudcat himself.
Col. Grangerford was very tall and very slim, and had a darkish-paly complexion,
not a sign of red in it anywheres; he was clean shaved every morning all over his
thin face, and he had the thinnest kind of
lips, and the thinnest kind of nostrils, and a high nose, and heavy eyebrows, and
the blackest kind of eyes, sunk so deep back that they seemed like they was looking
out of caverns at you, as you may say.
His forehead was high, and his hair was black and straight and hung to his
shoulders.
His hands was long and thin, and every day of his life he put on a clean shirt and a
full suit from head to foot made out of linen so white it hurt your eyes to look at
it; and on Sundays he wore a blue tail-coat with brass buttons on it.
He carried a mahogany cane with a silver head to it.
There warn't no frivolishness about him, not a bit, and he warn't ever loud.
He was as kind as he could be--you could feel that, you know, and so you had
confidence.
Sometimes he smiled, and it was good to see; but when he straightened himself up
like a liberty-pole, and the lightning begun to flicker out from under his
eyebrows, you wanted to climb a tree first,
and find out what the matter was afterwards.
He didn't ever have to tell anybody to mind their manners --everybody was always good-
mannered where he was.
Everybody loved to have him around, too; he was sunshine most always--I mean he made it
seem like good weather.
When he turned into a cloudbank it was awful dark for half a minute, and that was
enough; there wouldn't nothing go wrong again for a week.
When him and the old lady come down in the morning all the family got up out of their
chairs and give them good-day, and didn't set down again till they had set down.
Then Tom and Bob went to the sideboard where the decanter was, and mixed a glass
of bitters and handed it to him, and he held it in his hand and waited till Tom's
and Bob's was mixed, and then they bowed
and said, "Our duty to you, sir, and madam;" and THEY bowed the least bit in the
world and said thank you, and so they drank, all three, and Bob and Tom poured a
spoonful of water on the sugar and the mite
of whisky or apple brandy in the bottom of their tumblers, and give it to me and Buck,
and we drank to the old people too.
Bob was the oldest and Tom next--tall, beautiful men with very broad shoulders and
brown faces, and long black hair and black eyes.
They dressed in white linen from head to foot, like the old gentleman, and wore
broad Panama hats.
Then there was Miss Charlotte; she was twenty-five, and tall and proud and grand,
but as good as she could be when she warn't stirred up; but when she was she had a look
that would make you wilt in your tracks, like her father.
She was beautiful. So was her sister, Miss Sophia, but it was
a different kind.
She was gentle and sweet like a dove, and she was only twenty.
Each person had their own nigger to wait on them--Buck too.
My nigger had a monstrous easy time, because I warn't used to having anybody do
anything for me, but Buck's was on the jump most of the time.
This was all there was of the family now, but there used to be more --three sons;
they got killed; and Emmeline that died. The old gentleman owned a lot of farms and
over a hundred niggers.
Sometimes a stack of people would come there, horseback, from ten or fifteen mile
around, and stay five or six days, and have such junketings round about and on the
river, and dances and picnics in the woods daytimes, and balls at the house nights.
These people was mostly kinfolks of the family.
The men brought their guns with them.
It was a handsome lot of quality, I tell you.
There was another clan of aristocracy around there--five or six families --mostly
of the name of Shepherdson.
They was as high-toned and well born and rich and grand as the tribe of
Grangerfords.
The Shepherdsons and Grangerfords used the same steamboat landing, which was about two
mile above our house; so sometimes when I went up there with a lot of our folks I
used to see a lot of the Shepherdsons there on their fine horses.
One day Buck and me was away out in the woods hunting, and heard a horse coming.
We was crossing the road.
Buck says: "Quick!
Jump for the woods!" We done it, and then peeped down the woods
through the leaves.
Pretty soon a splendid young man come galloping down the road, setting his horse
easy and looking like a soldier. He had his gun across his pommel.
I had seen him before.
It was young Harney Shepherdson. I heard Buck's gun go off at my ear, and
Harney's hat tumbled off from his head. He grabbed his gun and rode straight to the
place where we was hid.
But we didn't wait. We started through the woods on a run.
The woods warn't thick, so I looked over my shoulder to dodge the bullet, and twice I
seen Harney cover Buck with his gun; and then he rode away the way he come--to get
his hat, I reckon, but I couldn't see.
We never stopped running till we got home. The old gentleman's eyes blazed a minute--
'twas pleasure, mainly, I judged--then his face sort of smoothed down, and he says,
kind of gentle:
"I don't like that shooting from behind a bush.
Why didn't you step into the road, my boy?" "The Shepherdsons don't, father.
They always take advantage."
Miss Charlotte she held her head up like a queen while Buck was telling his tale, and
her nostrils spread and her eyes snapped. The two young men looked dark, but never
said nothing.
Miss Sophia she turned pale, but the color come back when she found the man warn't
hurt. Soon as I could get Buck down by the corn-
cribs under the trees by ourselves, I says:
"Did you want to kill him, Buck?" "Well, I bet I did."
"What did he do to you?" "Him?
He never done nothing to me."
"Well, then, what did you want to kill him for?"
"Why, nothing--only it's on account of the feud."
"What's a feud?"
"Why, where was you raised? Don't you know what a feud is?"
"Never heard of it before--tell me about it."
"Well," says Buck, "a feud is this way: A man has a quarrel with another man, and
kills him; then that other man's brother kills HIM; then the other brothers, on both
sides, goes for one another; then the
COUSINS chip in--and by and by everybody's killed off, and there ain't no more feud.
But it's kind of slow, and takes a long time."
"Has this one been going on long, Buck?"
"Well, I should RECKON! It started thirty year ago, or som'ers
along there.
There was trouble 'bout something, and then a lawsuit to settle it; and the suit went
agin one of the men, and so he up and shot the man that won the suit--which he would
naturally do, of course.
Anybody would." "What was the trouble about, Buck?--land?"
"I reckon maybe--I don't know." "Well, who done the shooting?
Was it a Grangerford or a Shepherdson?"
"Laws, how do I know? It was so long ago."
"Don't anybody know?"
"Oh, yes, pa knows, I reckon, and some of the other old people; but they don't know
now what the row was about in the first place."
"Has there been many killed, Buck?"
"Yes; right smart chance of funerals. But they don't always kill.
Pa's got a few buckshot in him; but he don't mind it 'cuz he don't weigh much,
anyway.
Bob's been carved up some with a bowie, and Tom's been hurt once or twice."
"Has anybody been killed this year, Buck?" "Yes; we got one and they got one.
'Bout three months ago my cousin Bud, fourteen year old, was riding through the
woods on t'other side of the river, and didn't have no weapon with him, which was
blame' foolishness, and in a lonesome place
he hears a horse a-coming behind him, and sees old Baldy Shepherdson a-linkin' after
him with his gun in his hand and his white hair a-flying in the wind; and 'stead of
jumping off and taking to the brush, Bud
'lowed he could out-run him; so they had it, nip and tuck, for five mile or more,
the old man a-gaining all the time; so at last Bud seen it warn't any use, so he
stopped and faced around so as to have the
bullet holes in front, you know, and the old man he rode up and shot him down.
But he didn't git much chance to enjoy his luck, for inside of a week our folks laid
HIM out."
"I reckon that old man was a coward, Buck." "I reckon he WARN'T a coward.
Not by a blame' sight. There ain't a coward amongst them
Shepherdsons--not a one.
And there ain't no cowards amongst the Grangerfords either.
Why, that old man kep' up his end in a fight one day for half an hour against
three Grangerfords, and come out winner.
They was all a-horseback; he lit off of his horse and got behind a little woodpile, and
kep' his horse before him to stop the bullets; but the Grangerfords stayed on
their horses and capered around the old
man, and peppered away at him, and he peppered away at them.
Him and his horse both went home pretty leaky and crippled, but the Grangerfords
had to be FETCHED home--and one of 'em was dead, and another died the next day.
No, sir; if a body's out hunting for cowards he don't want to fool away any time
amongst them Shepherdsons, becuz they don't breed any of that KIND."
Next Sunday we all went to church, about three mile, everybody a-horseback.
The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood
them handy against the wall.
The Shepherdsons done the same.
It was pretty ornery preaching--all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness;
but everybody said it was a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and
had such a powerful lot to say about faith
and good works and free grace and preforeordestination, and I don't know what
all, that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet.
About an hour after dinner everybody was dozing around, some in their chairs and
some in their rooms, and it got to be pretty dull.
Buck and a dog was stretched out on the grass in the sun sound asleep.
I went up to our room, and judged I would take a nap myself.
I found that sweet Miss Sophia standing in her door, which was next to ours, and she
took me in her room and shut the door very soft, and asked me if I liked her, and I
said I did; and she asked me if I would do
something for her and not tell anybody, and I said I would.
Then she said she'd forgot her Testament, and left it in the seat at church between
two other books, and would I slip out quiet and go there and fetch it to her, and not
say nothing to nobody.
I said I would.
So I slid out and slipped off up the road, and there warn't anybody at the church,
except maybe a hog or two, for there warn't any lock on the door, and hogs likes a
puncheon floor in summer-time because it's cool.
If you notice, most folks don't go to church only when they've got to; but a hog
is different.
Says I to myself, something's up; it ain't natural for a girl to be in such a sweat
about a Testament.
So I give it a shake, and out drops a little piece of paper with "HALF-PAST TWO"
wrote on it with a pencil. I ransacked it, but couldn't find anything
else.
I couldn't make anything out of that, so I put the paper in the book again, and when I
got home and upstairs there was Miss Sophia in her door waiting for me.
She pulled me in and shut the door; then she looked in the Testament till she found
the paper, and as soon as she read it she looked glad; and before a body could think
she grabbed me and give me a squeeze, and
said I was the best boy in the world, and not to tell anybody.
She was mighty red in the face for a minute, and her eyes lighted up, and it
made her powerful pretty.
I was a good deal astonished, but when I got my breath I asked her what the paper
was about, and she asked me if I had read it, and I said no, and she asked me if I
could read writing, and I told her "no,
only coarse-hand," and then she said the paper warn't anything but a book-mark to
keep her place, and I might go and play now.
I went off down to the river, studying over this thing, and pretty soon I noticed that
my nigger was following along behind.
When we was out of sight of the house he looked back and around a second, and then
comes a-running, and says:
"Mars Jawge, if you'll come down into de swamp I'll show you a whole stack o' water-
moccasins." Thinks I, that's mighty curious; he said
that yesterday.
He oughter know a body don't love water- moccasins enough to go around hunting for
them. What is he up to, anyway?
So I says:
"All right; trot ahead." I followed a half a mile; then he struck
out over the swamp, and waded ankle deep as much as another half-mile.
We come to a little flat piece of land which was dry and very thick with trees and
bushes and vines, and he says: "You shove right in dah jist a few steps,
Mars Jawge; dah's whah dey is.
I's seed 'm befo'; I don't k'yer to see 'em no mo'."
Then he slopped right along and went away, and pretty soon the trees hid him.
I poked into the place a-ways and come to a little open patch as big as a bedroom all
hung around with vines, and found a man laying there asleep--and, by jings, it was
my old Jim!
I waked him up, and I reckoned it was going to be a grand surprise to him to see me
again, but it warn't. He nearly cried he was so glad, but he
warn't surprised.
Said he swum along behind me that night, and heard me yell every time, but dasn't
answer, because he didn't want nobody to pick HIM up and take him into slavery
again.
Says he:
"I got hurt a little, en couldn't swim fas', so I wuz a considable ways behine you
towards de las'; when you landed I reck'ned I could ketch up wid you on de lan' 'dout
havin' to shout at you, but when I see dat house I begin to go slow.
I 'uz off too fur to hear what dey say to you--I wuz 'fraid o' de dogs; but when it
'uz all quiet agin I knowed you's in de house, so I struck out for de woods to wait
for day.
Early in de mawnin' some er de niggers come along, gwyne to de fields, en dey tuk me en
showed me dis place, whah de dogs can't track me on accounts o' de water, en dey
brings me truck to eat every night, en tells me how you's a-gitt'n along."
"Why didn't you tell my Jack to fetch me here sooner, Jim?"
"Well, 'twarn't no use to 'sturb you, Huck, tell we could do sumfn--but we's all right
now.
I ben a-buyin' pots en pans en vittles, as I got a chanst, en a-patchin' up de raf'
nights when--" "WHAT raft, Jim?"
"Our ole raf'."
"You mean to say our old raft warn't smashed all to flinders?"
"No, she warn't.
She was tore up a good deal--one en' of her was; but dey warn't no great harm done,
on'y our traps was mos' all los'.
Ef we hadn' dive' so deep en swum so fur under water, en de night hadn' ben so dark,
en we warn't so sk'yerd, en ben sich punkin-heads, as de sayin' is, we'd a seed
de raf'.
But it's jis' as well we didn't, 'kase now she's all fixed up agin mos' as good as
new, en we's got a new lot o' stuff, in de place o' what 'uz los'."
"Why, how did you get hold of the raft again, Jim--did you catch her?"
"How I gwyne to ketch her en I out in de woods?
No; some er de niggers foun' her ketched on a snag along heah in de ben', en dey hid
her in a crick 'mongst de willows, en dey wuz so much jawin' 'bout which un 'um she
b'long to de mos' dat I come to heah 'bout
it pooty soon, so I ups en settles de trouble by tellin' 'um she don't b'long to
none uv um, but to you en me; en I ast 'm if dey gwyne to grab a young white
genlman's propaty, en git a hid'n for it?
Den I gin 'm ten cents apiece, en dey 'uz mighty well satisfied, en wisht some mo'
raf's 'ud come along en make 'm rich agin.
Dey's mighty good to me, dese niggers is, en whatever I wants 'm to do fur me I doan'
have to ast 'm twice, honey. Dat Jack's a good nigger, en pooty smart."
"Yes, he is.
He ain't ever told me you was here; told me to come, and he'd show me a lot of water-
moccasins. If anything happens HE ain't mixed up in
it.
He can say he never seen us together, and it 'll be the truth."
I don't want to talk much about the next day.
I reckon I'll cut it pretty short.
I waked up about dawn, and was a-going to turn over and go to sleep again when I
noticed how still it was--didn't seem to be anybody stirring.
That warn't usual.
Next I noticed that Buck was up and gone. Well, I gets up, a-wondering, and goes down
stairs--nobody around; everything as still as a mouse.
Just the same outside.
Thinks I, what does it mean? Down by the wood-pile I comes across my
Jack, and says: "What's it all about?"
Says he:
"Don't you know, Mars Jawge?" "No," says I, "I don't."
"Well, den, Miss Sophia's run off! 'deed she has.
She run off in de night some time--nobody don't know jis' when; run off to get
married to dat young Harney Shepherdson, you know--leastways, so dey 'spec.
De fambly foun' it out 'bout half an hour ago--maybe a little mo'--en' I TELL you dey
warn't no time los'. Sich another hurryin' up guns en hosses YOU
never see!
De women folks has gone for to stir up de relations, en ole Mars Saul en de boys tuck
dey guns en rode up de river road for to try to ketch dat young man en kill him 'fo'
he kin git acrost de river wid Miss Sophia.
I reck'n dey's gwyne to be mighty rough times."
"Buck went off 'thout waking me up." "Well, I reck'n he DID!
Dey warn't gwyne to mix you up in it.
Mars Buck he loaded up his gun en 'lowed he's gwyne to fetch home a Shepherdson or
bust.
Well, dey'll be plenty un 'm dah, I reck'n, en you bet you he'll fetch one ef he gits a
chanst." I took up the river road as hard as I could
put.
By and by I begin to hear guns a good ways off.
When I cOme in sight of the log store and the woodpile where the steamboats lands I
worked along under the trees and brush till I got to a good place, and then I clumb up
into the forks of a cottonwood that was out of reach, and watched.
There was a wood-rank four foot high a little ways in front of the tree, and first
I was going to hide behind that; but maybe it was luckier I didn't.
There was four or five men cavorting around on their horses in the open place before
the log store, cussing and yelling, and trying to get at a couple of young chaps
that was behind the wood-rank alongside of
the steamboat landing; but they couldn't come it.
Every time one of them showed himself on the river side of the woodpile he got shot
at.
The two boys was squatting back to back behind the pile, so they could watch both
ways. By and by the men stopped cavorting around
and yelling.
They started riding towards the store; then up gets one of the boys, draws a steady
bead over the wood-rank, and drops one of them out of his saddle.
All the men jumped off of their horses and grabbed the hurt one and started to carry
him to the store; and that minute the two boys started on the run.
They got half way to the tree I was in before the men noticed.
Then the men see them, and jumped on their horses and took out after them.
They gained on the boys, but it didn't do no good, the boys had too good a start;
they got to the woodpile that was in front of my tree, and slipped in behind it, and
so they had the bulge on the men again.
One of the boys was Buck, and the other was a slim young chap about nineteen years old.
The men ripped around awhile, and then rode away.
As soon as they was out of sight I sung out to Buck and told him.
He didn't know what to make of my voice coming out of the tree at first.
He was awful surprised.
He told me to watch out sharp and let him know when the men come in sight again; said
they was up to some devilment or other -- wouldn't be gone long.
I wished I was out of that tree, but I dasn't come down.
Buck begun to cry and rip, and 'lowed that him and his cousin Joe (that was the other
young chap) would make up for this day yet.
He said his father and his two brothers was killed, and two or three of the enemy.
Said the Shepherdsons laid for them in ambush.
Buck said his father and brothers ought to waited for their relations--the
Shepherdsons was too strong for them. I asked him what was become of young Harney
and Miss Sophia.
He said they'd got across the river and was safe.
I was glad of that; but the way Buck did take on because he didn't manage to kill
Harney that day he shot at him--I hain't ever heard anything like it.
All of a sudden, bang! bang! bang! goes three or four guns--the men had slipped
around through the woods and come in from behind without their horses!
The boys jumped for the river--both of them hurt--and as they swum down the current the
men run along the bank shooting at them and singing out, "Kill them, kill them!"
It made me so sick I most fell out of the tree.
I ain't a-going to tell ALL that happened-- it would make me sick again if I was to do
that.
I wished I hadn't ever come ashore that night to see such things.
I ain't ever going to get shut of them-- lots of times I dream about them.
I stayed in the tree till it begun to get dark, afraid to come down.
Sometimes I heard guns away off in the woods; and twice I seen little gangs of men
gallop past the log store with guns; so I reckoned the trouble was still a-going on.
I was mighty downhearted; so I made up my mind I wouldn't ever go anear that house
again, because I reckoned I was to blame, somehow.
I judged that that piece of paper meant that Miss Sophia was to meet Harney
somewheres at half-past two and run off; and I judged I ought to told her father
about that paper and the curious way she
acted, and then maybe he would a locked her up, and this awful mess wouldn't ever
happened.
When I got down out of the tree I crept along down the river bank a piece, and
found the two bodies laying in the edge of the water, and tugged at them till I got
them ashore; then I covered up their faces, and got away as quick as I could.
I cried a little when I was covering up Buck's face, for he was mighty good to me.
It was just dark now.
I never went near the house, but struck through the woods and made for the swamp.
Jim warn't on his island, so I tramped off in a hurry for the crick, and crowded
through the willows, red-hot to jump aboard and get out of that awful country.
The raft was gone!
My souls, but I was scared! I couldn't get my breath for most a minute.
Then I raised a yell. A voice not twenty-five foot from me says:
"Good lan'! is dat you, honey?
Doan' make no noise." It was Jim's voice--nothing ever sounded so
good before.
I run along the bank a piece and got aboard, and Jim he grabbed me and hugged
me, he was so glad to see me. He says:
"Laws bless you, chile, I 'uz right down sho' you's dead agin.
Jack's been heah; he say he reck'n you's ben shot, kase you didn' come home no mo';
so I's jes' dis minute a startin' de raf' down towards de mouf er de crick, so's to
be all ready for to shove out en leave soon
as Jack comes agin en tells me for certain you IS dead.
Lawsy, I's mighty glad to git you back again, honey."
I says:
"All right--that's mighty good; they won't find me, and they'll think I've been
killed, and floated down the river--there's something up there that 'll help them think
so--so don't you lose no time, Jim, but
just shove off for the big water as fast as ever you can."
I never felt easy till the raft was two mile below there and out in the middle of
the Mississippi.
Then we hung up our signal lantern, and judged that we was free and safe once more.
I hadn't had a bite to eat since yesterday, so Jim he got out some corn-dodgers and
buttermilk, and pork and cabbage and greens--there ain't nothing in the world so
good when it's cooked right--and whilst I
eat my supper we talked and had a good time.
I was powerful glad to get away from the feuds, and so was Jim to get away from the
swamp.
We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all.
Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't.
You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.
>