Part 4 - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Audiobook by Mark Twain (Chs 27-34)

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Chapter XXVII. I CREPT to their doors and listened; they
was snoring. So I tiptoed along, and got down stairs all
There warn't a sound anywheres. I peeped through a crack of the dining-room
door, and see the men that was watching the corpse all sound asleep on their chairs.
The door was open into the parlor, where the corpse was laying, and there was a
candle in both rooms.
I passed along, and the parlor door was open; but I see there warn't nobody in
there but the remainders of Peter; so I shoved on by; but the front door was
locked, and the key wasn't there.
Just then I heard somebody coming down the stairs, back behind me.
I run in the parlor and took a swift look around, and the only place I see to hide
the bag was in the coffin.
The lid was shoved along about a foot, showing the dead man's face down in there,
with a wet cloth over it, and his shroud on.
I tucked the money-bag in under the lid, just down beyond where his hands was
crossed, which made me creep, they was so cold, and then I run back across the room
and in behind the door.
The person coming was Mary Jane.
She went to the coffin, very soft, and kneeled down and looked in; then she put up
her handkerchief, and I see she begun to cry, though I couldn't hear her, and her
back was to me.
I slid out, and as I passed the dining-room I thought I'd make sure them watchers
hadn't seen me; so I looked through the crack, and everything was all right.
They hadn't stirred.
I slipped up to bed, feeling ruther blue, on accounts of the thing playing out that
way after I had took so much trouble and run so much resk about it.
Says I, if it could stay where it is, all right; because when we get down the river a
hundred mile or two I could write back to Mary Jane, and she could dig him up again
and get it; but that ain't the thing that's
going to happen; the thing that's going to happen is, the money 'll be found when they
come to screw on the lid.
Then the king 'll get it again, and it 'll be a long day before he gives anybody
another chance to smouch it from him. Of course I WANTED to slide down and get it
out of there, but I dasn't try it.
Every minute it was getting earlier now, and pretty soon some of them watchers would
begin to stir, and I might get catched-- catched with six thousand dollars in my
hands that nobody hadn't hired me to take care of.
I don't wish to be mixed up in no such business as that, I says to myself.
When I got down stairs in the morning the parlor was shut up, and the watchers was
gone. There warn't nobody around but the family
and the widow Bartley and our tribe.
I watched their faces to see if anything had been happening, but I couldn't tell.
Towards the middle of the day the undertaker come with his man, and they set
the coffin in the middle of the room on a couple of chairs, and then set all our
chairs in rows, and borrowed more from the
neighbors till the hall and the parlor and the dining-room was full.
I see the coffin lid was the way it was before, but I dasn't go to look in under
it, with folks around.
Then the people begun to flock in, and the beats and the girls took seats in the front
row at the head of the coffin, and for a half an hour the people filed around slow,
in single rank, and looked down at the dead
man's face a minute, and some dropped in a tear, and it was all very still and solemn,
only the girls and the beats holding handkerchiefs to their eyes and keeping
their heads bent, and sobbing a little.
There warn't no other sound but the scraping of the feet on the floor and
blowing noses--because people always blows them more at a funeral than they do at
other places except church.
When the place was packed full the undertaker he slid around in his black
gloves with his softy soothering ways, putting on the last touches, and getting
people and things all ship-shape and
comfortable, and making no more sound than a cat.
He never spoke; he moved people around, he squeezed in late ones, he opened up
passageways, and done it with nods, and signs with his hands.
Then he took his place over against the wall.
He was the softest, glidingest, stealthiest man I ever see; and there warn't no more
smile to him than there is to a ham.
They had borrowed a melodeum--a sick one; and when everything was ready a young woman
set down and worked it, and it was pretty skreeky and colicky, and everybody joined
in and sung, and Peter was the only one
that had a good thing, according to my notion.
Then the Reverend Hobson opened up, slow and solemn, and begun to talk; and straight
off the most outrageous row busted out in the cellar a body ever heard; it was only
one dog, but he made a most powerful
racket, and he kept it up right along; the parson he had to stand there, over the
coffin, and wait--you couldn't hear yourself think.
It was right down awkward, and nobody didn't seem to know what to do.
But pretty soon they see that long-legged undertaker make a sign to the preacher as
much as to say, "Don't you worry--just depend on me."
Then he stooped down and begun to glide along the wall, just his shoulders showing
over the people's heads.
So he glided along, and the powwow and racket getting more and more outrageous all
the time; and at last, when he had gone around two sides of the room, he disappears
down cellar.
Then in about two seconds we heard a whack, and the dog he finished up with a most
amazing howl or two, and then everything was dead still, and the parson begun his
solemn talk where he left off.
In a minute or two here comes this undertaker's back and shoulders gliding
along the wall again; and so he glided and glided around three sides of the room, and
then rose up, and shaded his mouth with his
hands, and stretched his neck out towards the preacher, over the people's heads, and
says, in a kind of a coarse whisper, "HE HAD A RAT!"
Then he drooped down and glided along the wall again to his place.
You could see it was a great satisfaction to the people, because naturally they
wanted to know.
A little thing like that don't cost nothing, and it's just the little things
that makes a man to be looked up to and liked.
There warn't no more popular man in town than what that undertaker was.
Well, the funeral sermon was very good, but pison long and tiresome; and then the king
he shoved in and got off some of his usual rubbage, and at last the job was through,
and the undertaker begun to sneak up on the coffin with his screw-driver.
I was in a sweat then, and watched him pretty keen.
But he never meddled at all; just slid the lid along as soft as mush, and screwed it
down tight and fast. So there I was!
I didn't know whether the money was in there or not.
So, says I, s'pose somebody has hogged that bag on the sly?--now how do I know whether
to write to Mary Jane or not?
S'pose she dug him up and didn't find nothing, what would she think of me?
Blame it, I says, I might get hunted up and jailed; I'd better lay low and keep dark,
and not write at all; the thing's awful mixed now; trying to better it, I've
worsened it a hundred times, and I wish to
goodness I'd just let it alone, dad fetch the whole business!
They buried him, and we come back home, and I went to watching faces again--I couldn't
help it, and I couldn't rest easy.
But nothing come of it; the faces didn't tell me nothing.
The king he visited around in the evening, and sweetened everybody up, and made
himself ever so friendly; and he give out the idea that his congregation over in
England would be in a sweat about him, so
he must hurry and settle up the estate right away and leave for home.
He was very sorry he was so pushed, and so was everybody; they wished he could stay
longer, but they said they could see it couldn't be done.
And he said of course him and William would take the girls home with them; and that
pleased everybody too, because then the girls would be well fixed and amongst their
own relations; and it pleased the girls,
too--tickled them so they clean forgot they ever had a trouble in the world; and told
him to sell out as quick as he wanted to, they would be ready.
Them poor things was that glad and happy it made my heart ache to see them getting
fooled and lied to so, but I didn't see no safe way for me to chip in and change the
general tune.
Well, blamed if the king didn't bill the house and the niggers and all the property
for auction straight off--sale two days after the funeral; but anybody could buy
private beforehand if they wanted to.
So the next day after the funeral, along about noon-time, the girls' joy got the
first jolt.
A couple of nigger traders come along, and the king sold them the niggers reasonable,
for three-day drafts as they called it, and away they went, the two sons up the river
to Memphis, and their mother down the river to Orleans.
I thought them poor girls and them niggers would break their hearts for grief; they
cried around each other, and took on so it most made me down sick to see it.
The girls said they hadn't ever dreamed of seeing the family separated or sold away
from the town.
I can't ever get it out of my memory, the sight of them poor miserable girls and
niggers hanging around each other's necks and crying; and I reckon I couldn't a stood
it all, but would a had to bust out and
tell on our gang if I hadn't knowed the sale warn't no account and the niggers
would be back home in a week or two.
The thing made a big stir in the town, too, and a good many come out flatfooted and
said it was scandalous to separate the mother and the children that way.
It injured the frauds some; but the old fool he bulled right along, spite of all
the duke could say or do, and I tell you the duke was powerful uneasy.
Next day was auction day.
About broad day in the morning the king and the duke come up in the garret and woke me
up, and I see by their look that there was trouble.
The king says:
"Was you in my room night before last?" "No, your majesty"--which was the way I
always called him when nobody but our gang warn't around.
"Was you in there yisterday er last night?"
"No, your majesty." "Honor bright, now--no lies."
"Honor bright, your majesty, I'm telling you the truth.
I hain't been a-near your room since Miss Mary Jane took you and the duke and showed
it to you." The duke says:
"Have you seen anybody else go in there?"
"No, your grace, not as I remember, I believe."
"Stop and think." I studied awhile and see my chance; then I
"Well, I see the niggers go in there several times."
Both of them gave a little jump, and looked like they hadn't ever expected it, and then
like they HAD.
Then the duke says: "What, all of them?"
"No--leastways, not all at once--that is, I don't think I ever see them all come OUT at
once but just one time."
"Hello! When was that?"
"It was the day we had the funeral. In the morning.
It warn't early, because I overslept.
I was just starting down the ladder, and I see them."
"Well, go on, GO on! What did they do?
How'd they act?"
"They didn't do nothing. And they didn't act anyway much, as fur as
I see.
They tiptoed away; so I seen, easy enough, that they'd shoved in there to do up your
majesty's room, or something, s'posing you was up; and found you WARN'T up, and so
they was hoping to slide out of the way of
trouble without waking you up, if they hadn't already waked you up."
"Great guns, THIS is a go!" says the king; and both of them looked pretty sick and
tolerable silly.
They stood there a-thinking and scratching their heads a minute, and the duke he bust
into a kind of a little raspy chuckle, and says:
"It does beat all how neat the niggers played their hand.
They let on to be SORRY they was going out of this region!
And I believed they WAS sorry, and so did you, and so did everybody.
Don't ever tell ME any more that a nigger ain't got any histrionic talent.
Why, the way they played that thing it would fool ANYBODY.
In my opinion, there's a fortune in 'em.
If I had capital and a theater, I wouldn't want a better lay-out than that--and here
we've gone and sold 'em for a song. Yes, and ain't privileged to sing the song
Say, where IS that song--that draft?" "In the bank for to be collected.
Where WOULD it be?" "Well, THAT'S all right then, thank
Says I, kind of timid-like: "Is something gone wrong?"
The king whirls on me and rips out: "None o' your business!
You keep your head shet, and mind y'r own affairs--if you got any.
Long as you're in this town don't you forgit THAT--you hear?"
Then he says to the duke, "We got to jest swaller it and say noth'n': mum's the word
for US." As they was starting down the ladder the
duke he chuckles again, and says:
"Quick sales AND small profits! It's a good business--yes."
The king snarls around on him and says: "I was trying to do for the best in sellin'
'em out so quick.
If the profits has turned out to be none, lackin' considable, and none to carry, is
it my fault any more'n it's yourn?"
"Well, THEY'D be in this house yet and we WOULDN'T if I could a got my advice
listened to."
The king sassed back as much as was safe for him, and then swapped around and lit
into ME again.
He give me down the banks for not coming and TELLING him I see the niggers come out
of his room acting that way--said any fool would a KNOWED something was up.
And then waltzed in and cussed HIMSELF awhile, and said it all come of him not
laying late and taking his natural rest that morning, and he'd be blamed if he'd
ever do it again.
So they went off a-jawing; and I felt dreadful glad I'd worked it all off on to
the niggers, and yet hadn't done the niggers no harm by it.
Chapter XXVIII. BY and by it was getting-up time.
So I come down the ladder and started for down-stairs; but as I come to the girls'
room the door was open, and I see Mary Jane setting by her old hair trunk, which was
open and she'd been packing things in it-- getting ready to go to England.
But she had stopped now with a folded gown in her lap, and had her face in her hands,
I felt awful bad to see it; of course anybody would.
I went in there and says:
"Miss Mary Jane, you can't a-bear to see people in trouble, and I can't --most
always. Tell me about it."
So she done it.
And it was the niggers--I just expected it.
She said the beautiful trip to England was most about spoiled for her; she didn't know
HOW she was ever going to be happy there, knowing the mother and the children warn't
ever going to see each other no more--and
then busted out bitterer than ever, and flung up her hands, and says:
"Oh, dear, dear, to think they ain't EVER going to see each other any more!"
"But they WILL--and inside of two weeks-- and I KNOW it!" says I.
Laws, it was out before I could think!
And before I could budge she throws her arms around my neck and told me to say it
AGAIN, say it AGAIN, say it AGAIN! I see I had spoke too sudden and said too
much, and was in a close place.
I asked her to let me think a minute; and she set there, very impatient and excited
and handsome, but looking kind of happy and eased-up, like a person that's had a tooth
pulled out.
So I went to studying it out.
I says to myself, I reckon a body that ups and tells the truth when he is in a tight
place is taking considerable many resks, though I ain't had no experience, and can't
say for certain; but it looks so to me,
anyway; and yet here's a case where I'm blest if it don't look to me like the truth
is better and actuly SAFER than a lie.
I must lay it by in my mind, and think it over some time or other, it's so kind of
strange and unregular. I never see nothing like it.
Well, I says to myself at last, I'm a-going to chance it; I'll up and tell the truth
this time, though it does seem most like setting down on a kag of powder and
touching it off just to see where you'll go to.
Then I says:
"Miss Mary Jane, is there any place out of town a little ways where you could go and
stay three or four days?" "Yes; Mr.
Why?" "Never mind why yet.
If I'll tell you how I know the niggers will see each other again inside of two
weeks--here in this house--and PROVE how I know it--will you go to Mr.
Lothrop's and stay four days?"
"Four days!" she says; "I'll stay a year!" "All right," I says, "I don't want nothing
more out of YOU than just your word--I druther have it than another man's kiss-
She smiled and reddened up very sweet, and I says, "If you don't mind it, I'll shut
the door--and bolt it." Then I come back and set down again, and
"Don't you holler. Just set still and take it like a man.
I got to tell the truth, and you want to brace up, Miss Mary, because it's a bad
kind, and going to be hard to take, but there ain't no help for it.
These uncles of yourn ain't no uncles at all; they're a couple of frauds --regular
dead-beats. There, now we're over the worst of it, you
can stand the rest middling easy."
It jolted her up like everything, of course; but I was over the shoal water now,
so I went right along, her eyes a-blazing higher and higher all the time, and told
her every blame thing, from where we first
struck that young fool going up to the steamboat, clear through to where she flung
herself on to the king's breast at the front door and he kissed her sixteen or
seventeen times--and then up she jumps, with her face afire like sunset, and says:
"The brute!
Come, don't waste a minute--not a SECOND-- we'll have them tarred and feathered, and
flung in the river!" Says I:
But do you mean BEFORE you go to Mr. Lothrop's, or--"
"Oh," she says, "what am I THINKING about!" she says, and set right down again.
"Don't mind what I said--please don't--you WON'T, now, WILL you?"
Laying her silky hand on mine in that kind of a way that I said I would die first.
"I never thought, I was so stirred up," she says; "now go on, and I won't do so any
more. You tell me what to do, and whatever you
say I'll do it."
"Well," I says, "it's a rough gang, them two frauds, and I'm fixed so I got to
travel with them a while longer, whether I want to or not--I druther not tell you why;
and if you was to blow on them this town
would get me out of their claws, and I'd be all right; but there'd be another person
that you don't know about who'd be in big trouble.
Well, we got to save HIM, hain't we?
Of course. Well, then, we won't blow on them."
Saying them words put a good idea in my head.
I see how maybe I could get me and Jim rid of the frauds; get them jailed here, and
then leave.
But I didn't want to run the raft in the daytime without anybody aboard to answer
questions but me; so I didn't want the plan to begin working till pretty late to-night.
I says:
"Miss Mary Jane, I'll tell you what we'll do, and you won't have to stay at Mr.
Lothrop's so long, nuther. How fur is it?"
"A little short of four miles--right out in the country, back here."
"Well, that 'll answer.
Now you go along out there, and lay low till nine or half-past to-night, and then
get them to fetch you home again --tell them you've thought of something.
If you get here before eleven put a candle in this window, and if I don't turn up wait
TILL eleven, and THEN if I don't turn up it means I'm gone, and out of the way, and
Then you come out and spread the news around, and get these beats jailed."
"Good," she says, "I'll do it."
"And if it just happens so that I don't get away, but get took up along with them, you
must up and say I told you the whole thing beforehand, and you must stand by me all
you can."
"Stand by you! indeed I will. They sha'n't touch a hair of your head!"
she says, and I see her nostrils spread and her eyes snap when she said it, too.
"If I get away I sha'n't be here," I says, "to prove these rapscallions ain't your
uncles, and I couldn't do it if I WAS here. I could swear they was beats and bummers,
that's all, though that's worth something.
Well, there's others can do that better than what I can, and they're people that
ain't going to be doubted as quick as I'd be.
I'll tell you how to find them.
Gimme a pencil and a piece of paper. There--'Royal Nonesuch, Bricksville.'
Put it away, and don't lose it.
When the court wants to find out something about these two, let them send up to
Bricksville and say they've got the men that played the Royal Nonesuch, and ask for
some witnesses--why, you'll have that
entire town down here before you can hardly wink, Miss Mary.
And they'll come a-biling, too." I judged we had got everything fixed about
right now.
So I says: "Just let the auction go right along, and
don't worry.
Nobody don't have to pay for the things they buy till a whole day after the auction
on accounts of the short notice, and they ain't going out of this till they get that
money; and the way we've fixed it the sale
ain't going to count, and they ain't going to get no money.
It's just like the way it was with the niggers--it warn't no sale, and the niggers
will be back before long.
Why, they can't collect the money for the NIGGERS yet--they're in the worst kind of a
fix, Miss Mary."
"Well," she says, "I'll run down to breakfast now, and then I'll start straight
for Mr. Lothrop's."
"'Deed, THAT ain't the ticket, Miss Mary Jane," I says, "by no manner of means; go
BEFORE breakfast." "Why?"
"What did you reckon I wanted you to go at all for, Miss Mary?"
"Well, I never thought--and come to think, I don't know.
What was it?"
"Why, it's because you ain't one of these leather-face people.
I don't want no better book than what your face is.
A body can set down and read it off like coarse print.
Do you reckon you can go and face your uncles when they come to kiss you good-
morning, and never--"
"There, there, don't! Yes, I'll go before breakfast--I'll be glad
to. And leave my sisters with them?"
"Yes; never mind about them.
They've got to stand it yet a while. They might suspicion something if all of
you was to go.
I don't want you to see them, nor your sisters, nor nobody in this town; if a
neighbor was to ask how is your uncles this morning your face would tell something.
No, you go right along, Miss Mary Jane, and I'll fix it with all of them.
I'll tell Miss Susan to give your love to your uncles and say you've went away for a
few hours for to get a little rest and change, or to see a friend, and you'll be
back to-night or early in the morning."
"Gone to see a friend is all right, but I won't have my love given to them."
"Well, then, it sha'n't be." It was well enough to tell HER so--no harm
in it.
It was only a little thing to do, and no trouble; and it's the little things that
smooths people's roads the most, down here below; it would make Mary Jane comfortable,
and it wouldn't cost nothing.
Then I says: "There's one more thing--that bag of money."
"Well, they've got that; and it makes me feel pretty silly to think HOW they got
"No, you're out, there. They hain't got it."
"Why, who's got it?" "I wish I knowed, but I don't.
I HAD it, because I stole it from them; and I stole it to give to you; and I know where
I hid it, but I'm afraid it ain't there no more.
I'm awful sorry, Miss Mary Jane, I'm just as sorry as I can be; but I done the best I
could; I did honest.
I come nigh getting caught, and I had to shove it into the first place I come to,
and run--and it warn't a good place."
"Oh, stop blaming yourself--it's too bad to do it, and I won't allow it --you couldn't
help it; it wasn't your fault. Where did you hide it?"
I didn't want to set her to thinking about her troubles again; and I couldn't seem to
get my mouth to tell her what would make her see that corpse laying in the coffin
with that bag of money on his stomach.
So for a minute I didn't say nothing; then I says:
"I'd ruther not TELL you where I put it, Miss Mary Jane, if you don't mind letting
me off; but I'll write it for you on a piece of paper, and you can read it along
the road to Mr.
Lothrop's, if you want to. Do you reckon that 'll do?"
"Oh, yes." So I wrote: "I put it in the coffin.
It was in there when you was crying there, away in the night.
I was behind the door, and I was mighty sorry for you, Miss Mary Jane."
It made my eyes water a little to remember her crying there all by herself in the
night, and them devils laying there right under her own roof, shaming her and robbing
her; and when I folded it up and give it to
her I see the water come into her eyes, too; and she shook me by the hand, hard,
and says: "GOOD-bye.
I'm going to do everything just as you've told me; and if I don't ever see you again,
I sha'n't ever forget you and I'll think of you a many and a many a time, and I'll PRAY
for you, too!"--and she was gone.
Pray for me! I reckoned if she knowed me she'd take a
job that was more nearer her size. But I bet she done it, just the same--she
was just that kind.
She had the grit to pray for Judus if she took the notion--there warn't no back-down
to her, I judge.
You may say what you want to, but in my opinion she had more sand in her than any
girl I ever see; in my opinion she was just full of sand.
It sounds like flattery, but it ain't no flattery.
And when it comes to beauty--and goodness, too--she lays over them all.
I hain't ever seen her since that time that I see her go out of that door; no, I hain't
ever seen her since, but I reckon I've thought of her a many and a many a million
times, and of her saying she would pray for
me; and if ever I'd a thought it would do any good for me to pray for HER, blamed if
I wouldn't a done it or bust. Well, Mary Jane she lit out the back way, I
reckon; because nobody see her go.
When I struck Susan and the hare-lip, I says:
"What's the name of them people over on t'other side of the river that you all goes
to see sometimes?"
They says: "There's several; but it's the Proctors,
mainly." "That's the name," I says; "I most forgot
Well, Miss Mary Jane she told me to tell you she's gone over there in a dreadful
hurry--one of them's sick." "Which one?"
"I don't know; leastways, I kinder forget; but I thinks it's--"
"Sakes alive, I hope it ain't HANNER?" "I'm sorry to say it," I says, "but
Hanner's the very one."
"My goodness, and she so well only last week!
Is she took bad?" "It ain't no name for it.
They set up with her all night, Miss Mary Jane said, and they don't think she'll last
many hours." "Only think of that, now!
What's the matter with her?"
I couldn't think of anything reasonable, right off that way, so I says:
"Mumps." "Mumps your granny!
They don't set up with people that's got the mumps."
"They don't, don't they? You better bet they do with THESE mumps.
These mumps is different.
It's a new kind, Miss Mary Jane said." "How's it a new kind?"
"Because it's mixed up with other things." "What other things?"
"Well, measles, and whooping-cough, and erysiplas, and consumption, and yaller
janders, and brain-fever, and I don't know what all."
"My land!
And they call it the MUMPS?" "That's what Miss Mary Jane said."
"Well, what in the nation do they call it the MUMPS for?"
"Why, because it IS the mumps.
That's what it starts with." "Well, ther' ain't no sense in it.
A body might stump his toe, and take pison, and fall down the well, and break his neck,
and bust his brains out, and somebody come along and ask what killed him, and some
numskull up and say, 'Why, he stumped his TOE.'
Would ther' be any sense in that? NO.
And ther' ain't no sense in THIS, nuther.
Is it ketching?" "Is it KETCHING?
Why, how you talk. Is a HARROW catching--in the dark?
If you don't hitch on to one tooth, you're bound to on another, ain't you?
And you can't get away with that tooth without fetching the whole harrow along,
can you?
Well, these kind of mumps is a kind of a harrow, as you may say--and it ain't no
slouch of a harrow, nuther, you come to get it hitched on good."
"Well, it's awful, I think," says the hare- lip.
"I'll go to Uncle Harvey and--" "Oh, yes," I says, "I WOULD.
Of COURSE I would.
I wouldn't lose no time." "Well, why wouldn't you?"
"Just look at it a minute, and maybe you can see.
Hain't your uncles obleegd to get along home to England as fast as they can?
And do you reckon they'd be mean enough to go off and leave you to go all that journey
by yourselves?
YOU know they'll wait for you. So fur, so good.
Your uncle Harvey's a preacher, ain't he?
Very well, then; is a PREACHER going to deceive a steamboat clerk? is he going to
deceive a SHIP CLERK? --so as to get them to let Miss Mary Jane
go aboard?
Now YOU know he ain't. What WILL he do, then?
Why, he'll say, 'It's a great pity, but my church matters has got to get along the
best way they can; for my niece has been exposed to the dreadful pluribus-unum
mumps, and so it's my bounden duty to set
down here and wait the three months it takes to show on her if she's got it.'
But never mind, if you think it's best to tell your uncle Harvey--"
"Shucks, and stay fooling around here when we could all be having good times in
England whilst we was waiting to find out whether Mary Jane's got it or not?
Why, you talk like a muggins."
"Well, anyway, maybe you'd better tell some of the neighbors."
"Listen at that, now. You do beat all for natural stupidness.
Can't you SEE that THEY'D go and tell?
Ther' ain't no way but just to not tell anybody at ALL."
"Well, maybe you're right--yes, I judge you ARE right."
"But I reckon we ought to tell Uncle Harvey she's gone out a while, anyway, so he won't
be uneasy about her?" "Yes, Miss Mary Jane she wanted you to do
She says, 'Tell them to give Uncle Harvey and William my love and a kiss, and say
I've run over the river to see Mr.'--Mr.-- what IS the name of that rich family your
uncle Peter used to think so much of?--I mean the one that--"
"Why, you must mean the Apthorps, ain't it?"
"Of course; bother them kind of names, a body can't ever seem to remember them, half
the time, somehow.
Yes, she said, say she has run over for to ask the Apthorps to be sure and come to the
auction and buy this house, because she allowed her uncle Peter would ruther they
had it than anybody else; and she's going
to stick to them till they say they'll come, and then, if she ain't too tired,
she's coming home; and if she is, she'll be home in the morning anyway.
She said, don't say nothing about the Proctors, but only about the Apthorps--
which 'll be perfectly true, because she is going there to speak about their buying the
house; I know it, because she told me so herself."
"All right," they said, and cleared out to lay for their uncles, and give them the
love and the kisses, and tell them the message.
Everything was all right now.
The girls wouldn't say nothing because they wanted to go to England; and the king and
the duke would ruther Mary Jane was off working for the auction than around in
reach of Doctor Robinson.
I felt very good; I judged I had done it pretty neat--I reckoned Tom Sawyer couldn't
a done it no neater himself.
Of course he would a throwed more style into it, but I can't do that very handy,
not being brung up to it.
Well, they held the auction in the public square, along towards the end of the
afternoon, and it strung along, and strung along, and the old man he was on hand and
looking his level pisonest, up there
longside of the auctioneer, and chipping in a little Scripture now and then, or a
little goody-goody saying of some kind, and the duke he was around goo-gooing for
sympathy all he knowed how, and just spreading himself generly.
But by and by the thing dragged through, and everything was sold --everything but a
little old trifling lot in the graveyard.
So they'd got to work that off--I never see such a girafft as the king was for wanting
to swallow EVERYTHING.
Well, whilst they was at it a steamboat landed, and in about two minutes up comes a
crowd a-whooping and yelling and laughing and carrying on, and singing out:
"HERE'S your opposition line! here's your two sets o' heirs to old Peter Wilks--and
you pays your money and you takes your choice!"
Chapter XXIX. THEY was fetching a very nice-looking old
gentleman along, and a nice-looking younger one, with his right arm in a sling.
And, my souls, how the people yelled and laughed, and kept it up.
But I didn't see no joke about it, and I judged it would strain the duke and the
king some to see any.
I reckoned they'd turn pale. But no, nary a pale did THEY turn.
The duke he never let on he suspicioned what was up, but just went a goo-gooing
around, happy and satisfied, like a jug that's googling out buttermilk; and as for
the king, he just gazed and gazed down
sorrowful on them new-comers like it give him the stomach-ache in his very heart to
think there could be such frauds and rascals in the world.
Oh, he done it admirable.
Lots of the principal people gethered around the king, to let him see they was on
his side. That old gentleman that had just come
looked all puzzled to death.
Pretty soon he begun to speak, and I see straight off he pronounced LIKE an
Englishman--not the king's way, though the king's WAS pretty good for an imitation.
I can't give the old gent's words, nor I can't imitate him; but he turned around to
the crowd, and says, about like this:
"This is a surprise to me which I wasn't looking for; and I'll acknowledge, candid
and frank, I ain't very well fixed to meet it and answer it; for my brother and me has
had misfortunes; he's broke his arm, and
our baggage got put off at a town above here last night in the night by a mistake.
I am Peter Wilks' brother Harvey, and this is his brother William, which can't hear
nor speak--and can't even make signs to amount to much, now't he's only got one
hand to work them with.
We are who we say we are; and in a day or two, when I get the baggage, I can prove
it. But up till then I won't say nothing more,
but go to the hotel and wait."
So him and the new dummy started off; and the king he laughs, and blethers out:
"Broke his arm--VERY likely, AIN'T it?--and very convenient, too, for a fraud that's
got to make signs, and ain't learnt how.
Lost their baggage! That's MIGHTY good!--and mighty ingenious--
So he laughed again; and so did everybody else, except three or four, or maybe half a
One of these was that doctor; another one was a sharp-looking gentleman, with a
carpet-bag of the old-fashioned kind made out of carpet-stuff, that had just come off
of the steamboat and was talking to him in
a low voice, and glancing towards the king now and then and nodding their heads--it
was Levi Bell, the lawyer that was gone up to Louisville; and another one was a big
rough husky that come along and listened to
all the old gentleman said, and was listening to the king now.
And when the king got done this husky up and says:
"Say, looky here; if you are Harvey Wilks, when'd you come to this town?"
"The day before the funeral, friend," says the king.
"But what time o' day?"
"In the evenin'--'bout an hour er two before sundown."
"HOW'D you come?" "I come down on the Susan Powell from
"Well, then, how'd you come to be up at the Pint in the MORNIN'--in a canoe?"
"I warn't up at the Pint in the mornin'." "It's a lie."
Several of them jumped for him and begged him not to talk that way to an old man and
a preacher. "Preacher be hanged, he's a fraud and a
He was up at the Pint that mornin'. I live up there, don't I?
Well, I was up there, and he was up there. I see him there.
He come in a canoe, along with Tim Collins and a boy."
The doctor he up and says: "Would you know the boy again if you was to
see him, Hines?"
"I reckon I would, but I don't know. Why, yonder he is, now.
I know him perfectly easy." It was me he pointed at.
The doctor says:
"Neighbors, I don't know whether the new couple is frauds or not; but if THESE two
ain't frauds, I am an idiot, that's all.
I think it's our duty to see that they don't get away from here till we've looked
into this thing. Come along, Hines; come along, the rest of
We'll take these fellows to the tavern and affront them with t'other couple, and I
reckon we'll find out SOMETHING before we get through."
It was nuts for the crowd, though maybe not for the king's friends; so we all started.
It was about sundown.
The doctor he led me along by the hand, and was plenty kind enough, but he never let go
my hand.
We all got in a big room in the hotel, and lit up some candles, and fetched in the new
couple. First, the doctor says:
"I don't wish to be too hard on these two men, but I think they're frauds, and they
may have complices that we don't know nothing about.
If they have, won't the complices get away with that bag of gold Peter Wilks left?
It ain't unlikely.
If these men ain't frauds, they won't object to sending for that money and
letting us keep it till they prove they're all right--ain't that so?"
Everybody agreed to that.
So I judged they had our gang in a pretty tight place right at the outstart.
But the king he only looked sorrowful, and says:
"Gentlemen, I wish the money was there, for I ain't got no disposition to throw
anything in the way of a fair, open, out- and-out investigation o' this misable
business; but, alas, the money ain't there; you k'n send and see, if you want to."
"Where is it, then?"
"Well, when my niece give it to me to keep for her I took and hid it inside o' the
straw tick o' my bed, not wishin' to bank it for the few days we'd be here, and
considerin' the bed a safe place, we not
bein' used to niggers, and suppos'n' 'em honest, like servants in England.
The niggers stole it the very next mornin' after I had went down stairs; and when I
sold 'em I hadn't missed the money yit, so they got clean away with it.
My servant here k'n tell you 'bout it, gentlemen."
The doctor and several said "Shucks!" and I see nobody didn't altogether believe him.
One man asked me if I see the niggers steal it.
I said no, but I see them sneaking out of the room and hustling away, and I never
thought nothing, only I reckoned they was afraid they had waked up my master and was
trying to get away before he made trouble with them.
That was all they asked me. Then the doctor whirls on me and says:
"Are YOU English, too?"
I says yes; and him and some others laughed, and said, "Stuff!"
Well, then they sailed in on the general investigation, and there we had it, up and
down, hour in, hour out, and nobody never said a word about supper, nor ever seemed
to think about it--and so they kept it up,
and kept it up; and it WAS the worst mixed- up thing you ever see.
They made the king tell his yarn, and they made the old gentleman tell his'n; and
anybody but a lot of prejudiced chuckleheads would a SEEN that the old
gentleman was spinning truth and t'other one lies.
And by and by they had me up to tell what I knowed.
The king he give me a left-handed look out of the corner of his eye, and so I knowed
enough to talk on the right side.
I begun to tell about Sheffield, and how we lived there, and all about the English
Wilkses, and so on; but I didn't get pretty fur till the doctor begun to laugh; and
Levi Bell, the lawyer, says:
"Set down, my boy; I wouldn't strain myself if I was you.
I reckon you ain't used to lying, it don't seem to come handy; what you want is
You do it pretty awkward." I didn't care nothing for the compliment,
but I was glad to be let off, anyway. The doctor he started to say something, and
turns and says:
"If you'd been in town at first, Levi Bell- -" The king broke in and reached out his
hand, and says: "Why, is this my poor dead brother's old
friend that he's wrote so often about?"
The lawyer and him shook hands, and the lawyer smiled and looked pleased, and they
talked right along awhile, and then got to one side and talked low; and at last the
lawyer speaks up and says:
"That 'll fix it. I'll take the order and send it, along with
your brother's, and then they'll know it's all right."
So they got some paper and a pen, and the king he set down and twisted his head to
one side, and chawed his tongue, and scrawled off something; and then they give
the pen to the duke--and then for the first time the duke looked sick.
But he took the pen and wrote. So then the lawyer turns to the new old
gentleman and says:
"You and your brother please write a line or two and sign your names."
The old gentleman wrote, but nobody couldn't read it.
The lawyer looked powerful astonished, and says:
"Well, it beats ME"--and snaked a lot of old letters out of his pocket, and examined
them, and then examined the old man's writing, and then THEM again; and then
says: "These old letters is from Harvey
Wilks; and here's THESE two handwritings, and anybody can see they didn't write them"
(the king and the duke looked sold and foolish, I tell you, to see how the lawyer
had took them in), "and here's THIS old
gentleman's hand writing, and anybody can tell, easy enough, HE didn't write them--
fact is, the scratches he makes ain't properly WRITING at all.
Now, here's some letters from--"
The new old gentleman says: "If you please, let me explain.
Nobody can read my hand but my brother there--so he copies for me.
It's HIS hand you've got there, not mine."
"WELL!" says the lawyer, "this IS a state of things.
I've got some of William's letters, too; so if you'll get him to write a line or so we
can com--"
"He CAN'T write with his left hand," says the old gentleman.
"If he could use his right hand, you would see that he wrote his own letters and mine
Look at both, please--they're by the same hand."
The lawyer done it, and says:
"I believe it's so--and if it ain't so, there's a heap stronger resemblance than
I'd noticed before, anyway. Well, well, well!
I thought we was right on the track of a solution, but it's gone to grass, partly.
But anyway, one thing is proved--THESE two ain't either of 'em Wilkses"--and he wagged
his head towards the king and the duke.
Well, what do you think? That muleheaded old fool wouldn't give in
THEN! Indeed he wouldn't.
Said it warn't no fair test.
Said his brother William was the cussedest joker in the world, and hadn't tried to
write --HE see William was going to play one of his jokes the minute he put the pen
to paper.
And so he warmed up and went warbling and warbling right along till he was actuly
beginning to believe what he was saying HIMSELF; but pretty soon the new gentleman
broke in, and says:
"I've thought of something. Is there anybody here that helped to lay
out my br--helped to lay out the late Peter Wilks for burying?"
"Yes," says somebody, "me and Ab Turner done it.
We're both here." Then the old man turns towards the king,
and says:
"Perhaps this gentleman can tell me what was tattooed on his breast?"
Blamed if the king didn't have to brace up mighty quick, or he'd a squshed down like a
bluff bank that the river has cut under, it took him so sudden; and, mind you, it was a
thing that was calculated to make most
ANYBODY sqush to get fetched such a solid one as that without any notice, because how
was HE going to know what was tattooed on the man?
He whitened a little; he couldn't help it; and it was mighty still in there, and
everybody bending a little forwards and gazing at him.
Says I to myself, NOW he'll throw up the sponge--there ain't no more use.
Well, did he? A body can't hardly believe it, but he
I reckon he thought he'd keep the thing up till he tired them people out, so they'd
thin out, and him and the duke could break loose and get away.
Anyway, he set there, and pretty soon he begun to smile, and says:
"Mf! It's a VERY tough question, AIN'T it!
YES, sir, I k'n tell you what's tattooed on his breast.
It's jest a small, thin, blue arrow -- that's what it is; and if you don't look
clost, you can't see it.
NOW what do you say--hey?" Well, I never see anything like that old
blister for clean out-and-out cheek.
The new old gentleman turns brisk towards Ab Turner and his pard, and his eye lights
up like he judged he'd got the king THIS time, and says:
"There--you've heard what he said!
Was there any such mark on Peter Wilks' breast?"
Both of them spoke up and says: "We didn't see no such mark."
"Good!" says the old gentleman.
"Now, what you DID see on his breast was a small dim P, and a B (which is an initial
he dropped when he was young), and a W, with dashes between them, so: P--B--W"--
and he marked them that way on a piece of paper.
"Come, ain't that what you saw?" Both of them spoke up again, and says:
"No, we DIDN'T.
We never seen any marks at all." Well, everybody WAS in a state of mind now,
and they sings out: "The whole BILIN' of 'm 's frauds!
Le's duck 'em! le's drown 'em! le's ride 'em on a rail!" and everybody was whooping
at once, and there was a rattling powwow. But the lawyer he jumps on the table and
yells, and says:
"Gentlemen--gentleMEN! Hear me just a word--just a SINGLE word--if
you PLEASE! There's one way yet--let's go and dig up
the corpse and look."
That took them. "Hooray!" they all shouted, and was
starting right off; but the lawyer and the doctor sung out:
"Hold on, hold on!
Collar all these four men and the boy, and fetch THEM along, too!"
"We'll do it!" they all shouted; "and if we don't find them marks we'll lynch the whole
I WAS scared, now, I tell you. But there warn't no getting away, you know.
They gripped us all, and marched us right along, straight for the graveyard, which
was a mile and a half down the river, and the whole town at our heels, for we made
noise enough, and it was only nine in the evening.
As we went by our house I wished I hadn't sent Mary Jane out of town; because now if
I could tip her the wink she'd light out and save me, and blow on our dead-beats.
Well, we swarmed along down the river road, just carrying on like wildcats; and to make
it more scary the sky was darking up, and the lightning beginning to wink and
flitter, and the wind to shiver amongst the leaves.
This was the most awful trouble and most dangersome I ever was in; and I was kinder
stunned; everything was going so different from what I had allowed for; stead of being
fixed so I could take my own time if I
wanted to, and see all the fun, and have Mary Jane at my back to save me and set me
free when the close-fit come, here was nothing in the world betwixt me and sudden
death but just them tattoo-marks.
If they didn't find them-- I couldn't bear to think about it; and yet,
somehow, I couldn't think about nothing else.
It got darker and darker, and it was a beautiful time to give the crowd the slip;
but that big husky had me by the wrist -- Hines--and a body might as well try to give
Goliar the slip.
He dragged me right along, he was so excited, and I had to run to keep up.
When they got there they swarmed into the graveyard and washed over it like an
And when they got to the grave they found they had about a hundred times as many
shovels as they wanted, but nobody hadn't thought to fetch a lantern.
But they sailed into digging anyway by the flicker of the lightning, and sent a man to
the nearest house, a half a mile off, to borrow one.
So they dug and dug like everything; and it got awful dark, and the rain started, and
the wind swished and swushed along, and the lightning come brisker and brisker, and the
thunder boomed; but them people never took
no notice of it, they was so full of this business; and one minute you could see
everything and every face in that big crowd, and the shovelfuls of dirt sailing
up out of the grave, and the next second
the dark wiped it all out, and you couldn't see nothing at all.
At last they got out the coffin and begun to unscrew the lid, and then such another
crowding and shouldering and shoving as there was, to scrouge in and get a sight,
you never see; and in the dark, that way, it was awful.
Hines he hurt my wrist dreadful pulling and tugging so, and I reckon he clean forgot I
was in the world, he was so excited and panting.
All of a sudden the lightning let go a perfect sluice of white glare, and somebody
sings out: "By the living jingo, here's the bag of
gold on his breast!"
Hines let out a whoop, like everybody else, and dropped my wrist and give a big surge
to bust his way in and get a look, and the way I lit out and shinned for the road in
the dark there ain't nobody can tell.
I had the road all to myself, and I fairly flew--leastways, I had it all to myself
except the solid dark, and the now-and-then glares, and the buzzing of the rain, and
the thrashing of the wind, and the
splitting of the thunder; and sure as you are born I did clip it along!
When I struck the town I see there warn't nobody out in the storm, so I never hunted
for no back streets, but humped it straight through the main one; and when I begun to
get towards our house I aimed my eye and set it.
No light there; the house all dark--which made me feel sorry and disappointed, I
didn't know why.
But at last, just as I was sailing by, FLASH comes the light in Mary Jane's
window! and my heart swelled up sudden, like to bust; and the same second the house
and all was behind me in the dark, and
wasn't ever going to be before me no more in this world.
She WAS the best girl I ever see, and had the most sand.
The minute I was far enough above the town to see I could make the towhead, I begun to
look sharp for a boat to borrow, and the first time the lightning showed me one that
wasn't chained I snatched it and shoved.
It was a canoe, and warn't fastened with nothing but a rope.
The towhead was a rattling big distance off, away out there in the middle of the
river, but I didn't lose no time; and when I struck the raft at last I was so fagged I
would a just laid down to blow and gasp if I could afforded it.
But I didn't. As I sprung aboard I sung out:
"Out with you, Jim, and set her loose!
Glory be to goodness, we're shut of them!"
Jim lit out, and was a-coming for me with both arms spread, he was so full of joy;
but when I glimpsed him in the lightning my heart shot up in my mouth and I went
overboard backwards; for I forgot he was
old King Lear and a drownded A-rab all in one, and it most scared the livers and
lights out of me.
But Jim fished me out, and was going to hug me and bless me, and so on, he was so glad
I was back and we was shut of the king and the duke, but I says:
"Not now; have it for breakfast, have it for breakfast!
Cut loose and let her slide!"
So in two seconds away we went a-sliding down the river, and it DID seem so good to
be free again and all by ourselves on the big river, and nobody to bother us.
I had to skip around a bit, and jump up and crack my heels a few times--I couldn't help
it; but about the third crack I noticed a sound that I knowed mighty well, and held
my breath and listened and waited; and sure
enough, when the next flash busted out over the water, here they come!--and just a-
laying to their oars and making their skiff hum!
It was the king and the duke.
So I wilted right down on to the planks then, and give up; and it was all I could
do to keep from crying.
Chapter XXX. WHEN they got aboard the king went for me,
and shook me by the collar, and says: "Tryin' to give us the slip, was ye, you
Tired of our company, hey?" I says:
"No, your majesty, we warn't--PLEASE don't, your majesty!"
"Quick, then, and tell us what WAS your idea, or I'll shake the insides out o'
you!" "Honest, I'll tell you everything just as
it happened, your majesty.
The man that had a-holt of me was very good to me, and kept saying he had a boy about
as big as me that died last year, and he was sorry to see a boy in such a dangerous
fix; and when they was all took by surprise
by finding the gold, and made a rush for the coffin, he lets go of me and whispers,
'Heel it now, or they'll hang ye, sure!' and I lit out.
It didn't seem no good for ME to stay--I couldn't do nothing, and I didn't want to
be hung if I could get away.
So I never stopped running till I found the canoe; and when I got here I told Jim to
hurry, or they'd catch me and hang me yet, and said I was afeard you and the duke
wasn't alive now, and I was awful sorry,
and so was Jim, and was awful glad when we see you coming; you may ask Jim if I
Jim said it was so; and the king told him to shut up, and said, "Oh, yes, it's MIGHTY
likely!" and shook me up again, and said he reckoned he'd drownd me.
But the duke says:
"Leggo the boy, you old idiot! Would YOU a done any different?
Did you inquire around for HIM when you got loose?
I don't remember it."
So the king let go of me, and begun to cuss that town and everybody in it.
But the duke says:
"You better a blame' sight give YOURSELF a good cussing, for you're the one that's
entitled to it most.
You hain't done a thing from the start that had any sense in it, except coming out so
cool and cheeky with that imaginary blue- arrow mark.
That WAS bright--it was right down bully; and it was the thing that saved us.
For if it hadn't been for that they'd a jailed us till them Englishmen's baggage
come--and then--the penitentiary, you bet!
But that trick took 'em to the graveyard, and the gold done us a still bigger
kindness; for if the excited fools hadn't let go all holts and made that rush to get
a look we'd a slept in our cravats to-
night--cravats warranted to WEAR, too-- longer than WE'D need 'em."
They was still a minute--thinking; then the king says, kind of absent-minded like:
And we reckoned the NIGGERS stole it!" That made me squirm!
"Yes," says the duke, kinder slow and deliberate and sarcastic, "WE did."
After about a half a minute the king drawls out:
"Leastways, I did." The duke says, the same way:
"On the contrary, I did."
The king kind of ruffles up, and says: "Looky here, Bilgewater, what'r you
referrin' to?" The duke says, pretty brisk:
"When it comes to that, maybe you'll let me ask, what was YOU referring to?"
"Shucks!" says the king, very sarcastic; "but I don't know--maybe you was asleep,
and didn't know what you was about."
The duke bristles up now, and says: "Oh, let UP on this cussed nonsense; do you
take me for a blame' fool? Don't you reckon I know who hid that money
in that coffin?"
"YES, sir! I know you DO know, because you done it
yourself!" "It's a lie!"--and the duke went for him.
The king sings out:
"Take y'r hands off!--leggo my throat!--I take it all back!"
The duke says:
"Well, you just own up, first, that you DID hide that money there, intending to give me
the slip one of these days, and come back and dig it up, and have it all to
"Wait jest a minute, duke--answer me this one question, honest and fair; if you
didn't put the money there, say it, and I'll b'lieve you, and take back everything
I said."
"You old scoundrel, I didn't, and you know I didn't.
There, now!" "Well, then, I b'lieve you.
But answer me only jest this one more--now DON'T git mad; didn't you have it in your
mind to hook the money and hide it?" The duke never said nothing for a little
bit; then he says:
"Well, I don't care if I DID, I didn't DO it, anyway.
But you not only had it in mind to do it, but you DONE it."
"I wisht I never die if I done it, duke, and that's honest.
I won't say I warn't goin' to do it, because I WAS; but you--I mean somebody--
got in ahead o' me."
"It's a lie! You done it, and you got to SAY you done
it, or--" The king began to gurgle, and then he gasps
"'Nough!--I OWN UP!" I was very glad to hear him say that; it
made me feel much more easier than what I was feeling before.
So the duke took his hands off and says:
"If you ever deny it again I'll drown you. It's WELL for you to set there and blubber
like a baby--it's fitten for you, after the way you've acted.
I never see such an old ostrich for wanting to gobble everything --and I a-trusting you
all the time, like you was my own father.
You ought to been ashamed of yourself to stand by and hear it saddled on to a lot of
poor niggers, and you never say a word for 'em.
It makes me feel ridiculous to think I was soft enough to BELIEVE that rubbage.
Cuss you, I can see now why you was so anxious to make up the deffisit--you wanted
to get what money I'd got out of the Nonesuch and one thing or another, and
scoop it ALL!"
The king says, timid, and still a- snuffling:
"Why, duke, it was you that said make up the deffisit; it warn't me."
"Dry up!
I don't want to hear no more out of you!" says the duke.
"And NOW you see what you GOT by it. They've got all their own money back, and
all of OURN but a shekel or two BESIDES.
G'long to bed, and don't you deffersit ME no more deffersits, long 's YOU live!"
So the king sneaked into the wigwam and took to his bottle for comfort, and before
long the duke tackled HIS bottle; and so in about a half an hour they was as thick as
thieves again, and the tighter they got the
lovinger they got, and went off a-snoring in each other's arms.
They both got powerful mellow, but I noticed the king didn't get mellow enough
to forget to remember to not deny about hiding the money-bag again.
That made me feel easy and satisfied.
Of course when they got to snoring we had a long gabble, and I told Jim everything.
Chapter XXXI. WE dasn't stop again at any town for days
and days; kept right along down the river. We was down south in the warm weather now,
and a mighty long ways from home.
We begun to come to trees with Spanish moss on them, hanging down from the limbs like
long, gray beards. It was the first I ever see it growing, and
it made the woods look solemn and dismal.
So now the frauds reckoned they was out of danger, and they begun to work the villages
First they done a lecture on temperance; but they didn't make enough for them both
to get drunk on.
Then in another village they started a dancing-school; but they didn't know no
more how to dance than a kangaroo does; so the first prance they made the general
public jumped in and pranced them out of town.
Another time they tried to go at yellocution; but they didn't yellocute long
till the audience got up and give them a solid good cussing, and made them skip out.
They tackled missionarying, and mesmerizing, and doctoring, and telling
fortunes, and a little of everything; but they couldn't seem to have no luck.
So at last they got just about dead broke, and laid around the raft as she floated
along, thinking and thinking, and never saying nothing, by the half a day at a
time, and dreadful blue and desperate.
And at last they took a change and begun to lay their heads together in the wigwam and
talk low and confidential two or three hours at a time.
Jim and me got uneasy.
We didn't like the look of it. We judged they was studying up some kind of
worse deviltry than ever.
We turned it over and over, and at last we made up our minds they was going to break
into somebody's house or store, or was going into the counterfeit-money business,
or something.
So then we was pretty scared, and made up an agreement that we wouldn't have nothing
in the world to do with such actions, and if we ever got the least show we would give
them the cold shake and clear out and leave them behind.
Well, early one morning we hid the raft in a good, safe place about two mile below a
little bit of a shabby village named Pikesville, and the king he went ashore and
told us all to stay hid whilst he went up
to town and smelt around to see if anybody had got any wind of the Royal Nonesuch
there yet.
("House to rob, you MEAN," says I to myself; "and when you get through robbing
it you'll come back here and wonder what has become of me and Jim and the raft--and
you'll have to take it out in wondering.")
And he said if he warn't back by midday the duke and me would know it was all right,
and we was to come along. So we stayed where we was.
The duke he fretted and sweated around, and was in a mighty sour way.
He scolded us for everything, and we couldn't seem to do nothing right; he found
fault with every little thing.
Something was a-brewing, sure. I was good and glad when midday come and no
king; we could have a change, anyway--and maybe a chance for THE change on top of it.
So me and the duke went up to the village, and hunted around there for the king, and
by and by we found him in the back room of a little low doggery, very tight, and a lot
of loafers bullyragging him for sport, and
he a-cussing and a-threatening with all his might, and so tight he couldn't walk, and
couldn't do nothing to them.
The duke he begun to abuse him for an old fool, and the king begun to sass back, and
the minute they was fairly at it I lit out and shook the reefs out of my hind legs,
and spun down the river road like a deer,
for I see our chance; and I made up my mind that it would be a long day before they
ever see me and Jim again. I got down there all out of breath but
loaded up with joy, and sung out:
"Set her loose, Jim! we're all right now!" But there warn't no answer, and nobody come
out of the wigwam. Jim was gone!
I set up a shout--and then another--and then another one; and run this way and that
in the woods, whooping and screeching; but it warn't no use--old Jim was gone.
Then I set down and cried; I couldn't help it.
But I couldn't set still long.
Pretty soon I went out on the road, trying to think what I better do, and I run across
a boy walking, and asked him if he'd seen a strange nigger dressed so and so, and he
"Yes." "Whereabouts?" says I.
"Down to Silas Phelps' place, two mile below here.
He's a runaway nigger, and they've got him.
Was you looking for him?" "You bet I ain't!
I run across him in the woods about an hour or two ago, and he said if I hollered he'd
cut my livers out--and told me to lay down and stay where I was; and I done it.
Been there ever since; afeard to come out."
"Well," he says, "you needn't be afeard no more, becuz they've got him.
He run off f'm down South, som'ers." "It's a good job they got him."
"Well, I RECKON!
There's two hunderd dollars reward on him. It's like picking up money out'n the road."
"Yes, it is--and I could a had it if I'd been big enough; I see him FIRST.
Who nailed him?"
"It was an old fellow--a stranger--and he sold out his chance in him for forty
dollars, becuz he's got to go up the river and can't wait.
Think o' that, now!
You bet I'D wait, if it was seven year." "That's me, every time," says I.
"But maybe his chance ain't worth no more than that, if he'll sell it so cheap.
Maybe there's something ain't straight about it."
"But it IS, though--straight as a string. I see the handbill myself.
It tells all about him, to a dot--paints him like a picture, and tells the
plantation he's frum, below NewrLEANS. No-sirree-BOB, they ain't no trouble 'bout
THAT speculation, you bet you.
Say, gimme a chaw tobacker, won't ye?" I didn't have none, so he left.
I went to the raft, and set down in the wigwam to think.
But I couldn't come to nothing.
I thought till I wore my head sore, but I couldn't see no way out of the trouble.
After all this long journey, and after all we'd done for them scoundrels, here it was
all come to nothing, everything all busted up and ruined, because they could have the
heart to serve Jim such a trick as that,
and make him a slave again all his life, and amongst strangers, too, for forty dirty
Once I said to myself it would be a thousand times better for Jim to be a slave
at home where his family was, as long as he'd GOT to be a slave, and so I'd better
write a letter to Tom Sawyer and tell him to tell Miss Watson where he was.
But I soon give up that notion for two things: she'd be mad and disgusted at his
rascality and ungratefulness for leaving her, and so she'd sell him straight down
the river again; and if she didn't,
everybody naturally despises an ungrateful nigger, and they'd make Jim feel it all the
time, and so he'd feel ornery and disgraced.
And then think of ME!
It would get all around that Huck Finn helped a nigger to get his freedom; and if
I was ever to see anybody from that town again I'd be ready to get down and lick his
boots for shame.
That's just the way: a person does a low- down thing, and then he don't want to take
no consequences of it. Thinks as long as he can hide it, it ain't
no disgrace.
That was my fix exactly. The more I studied about this the more my
conscience went to grinding me, and the more wicked and low-down and ornery I got
to feeling.
And at last, when it hit me all of a sudden that here was the plain hand of Providence
slapping me in the face and letting me know my wickedness was being watched all the
time from up there in heaven, whilst I was
stealing a poor old woman's nigger that hadn't ever done me no harm, and now was
showing me there's One that's always on the lookout, and ain't a-going to allow no such
miserable doings to go only just so fur and
no further, I most dropped in my tracks I was so scared.
Well, I tried the best I could to kinder soften it up somehow for myself by saying I
was brung up wicked, and so I warn't so much to blame; but something inside of me
kept saying, "There was the Sunday-school,
you could a gone to it; and if you'd a done it they'd a learnt you there that people
that acts as I'd been acting about that nigger goes to everlasting fire."
It made me shiver.
And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn't try to quit being the
kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down.
But the words wouldn't come.
Why wouldn't they? It warn't no use to try and hide it from
Him. Nor from ME, neither.
I knowed very well why they wouldn't come.
It was because my heart warn't right; it was because I warn't square; it was because
I was playing double.
I was letting ON to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the
biggest one of all.
I was trying to make my mouth SAY I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and
go and write to that nigger's owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I
knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it.
You can't pray a lie--I found that out. So I was full of trouble, full as I could
be; and didn't know what to do.
At last I had an idea; and I says, I'll go and write the letter--and then see if I can
Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather right straight off, and
my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all
glad and excited, and set down and wrote:
Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville, and
Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up
for the reward if you send.
HUCK FINN. I felt good and all washed clean of sin for
the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now.
But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking--
thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and
going to hell.
And went on thinking.
And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the
time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and
we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing.
But somehow I couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only
the other kind.
I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n, 'stead of calling me, so I could go
on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I
come to him again in the swamp, up there
where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me
and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I
struck the time I saved him by telling the
men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend
old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he's got now; and then I happened to
look around and see that paper.
It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand.
I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I
knowed it.
I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:
"All right, then, I'll GO to hell"--and tore it up.
It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said.
And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming.
I shoved the whole thing out of my head, and said I would take up wickedness again,
which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn't.
And for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I
could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and
in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.
Then I set to thinking over how to get at it, and turned over some considerable many
ways in my mind; and at last fixed up a plan that suited me.
So then I took the bearings of a woody island that was down the river a piece, and
as soon as it was fairly dark I crept out with my raft and went for it, and hid it
there, and then turned in.
I slept the night through, and got up before it was light, and had my breakfast,
and put on my store clothes, and tied up some others and one thing or another in a
bundle, and took the canoe and cleared for shore.
I landed below where I judged was Phelps's place, and hid my bundle in the woods, and
then filled up the canoe with water, and loaded rocks into her and sunk her where I
could find her again when I wanted her,
about a quarter of a mile below a little steam sawmill that was on the bank.
Then I struck up the road, and when I passed the mill I see a sign on it,
"Phelps's Sawmill," and when I come to the farm-houses, two or three hundred yards
further along, I kept my eyes peeled, but
didn't see nobody around, though it was good daylight now.
But I didn't mind, because I didn't want to see nobody just yet--I only wanted to get
the lay of the land.
According to my plan, I was going to turn up there from the village, not from below.
So I just took a look, and shoved along, straight for town.
Well, the very first man I see when I got there was the duke.
He was sticking up a bill for the Royal Nonesuch--three-night performance--like
that other time.
They had the cheek, them frauds! I was right on him before I could shirk.
He looked astonished, and says: "Hel-LO!
Where'd YOU come from?"
Then he says, kind of glad and eager, "Where's the raft?--got her in a good
place?" I says:
"Why, that's just what I was going to ask your grace."
Then he didn't look so joyful, and says: "What was your idea for asking ME?" he
"Well," I says, "when I see the king in that doggery yesterday I says to myself, we
can't get him home for hours, till he's soberer; so I went a-loafing around town to
put in the time and wait.
A man up and offered me ten cents to help him pull a skiff over the river and back to
fetch a sheep, and so I went along; but when we was dragging him to the boat, and
the man left me a-holt of the rope and went
behind him to shove him along, he was too strong for me and jerked loose and run, and
we after him.
We didn't have no dog, and so we had to chase him all over the country till we
tired him out. We never got him till dark; then we fetched
him over, and I started down for the raft.
When I got there and see it was gone, I says to myself, 'They've got into trouble
and had to leave; and they've took my nigger, which is the only nigger I've got
in the world, and now I'm in a strange
country, and ain't got no property no more, nor nothing, and no way to make my living;'
so I set down and cried. I slept in the woods all night.
But what DID become of the raft, then?--and Jim--poor Jim!"
"Blamed if I know--that is, what's become of the raft.
That old fool had made a trade and got forty dollars, and when we found him in the
doggery the loafers had matched half- dollars with him and got every cent but
what he'd spent for whisky; and when I got
him home late last night and found the raft gone, we said, 'That little rascal has
stole our raft and shook us, and run off down the river.'"
"I wouldn't shake my NIGGER, would I?--the only nigger I had in the world, and the
only property." "We never thought of that.
Fact is, I reckon we'd come to consider him OUR nigger; yes, we did consider him so--
goodness knows we had trouble enough for him.
So when we see the raft was gone and we flat broke, there warn't anything for it
but to try the Royal Nonesuch another shake.
And I've pegged along ever since, dry as a powder-horn.
Where's that ten cents? Give it here."
I had considerable money, so I give him ten cents, but begged him to spend it for
something to eat, and give me some, because it was all the money I had, and I hadn't
had nothing to eat since yesterday.
He never said nothing. The next minute he whirls on me and says:
"Do you reckon that nigger would blow on us?
We'd skin him if he done that!"
"How can he blow? Hain't he run off?"
"No! That old fool sold him, and never divided
with me, and the money's gone."
"SOLD him?" I says, and begun to cry; "why, he was MY
nigger, and that was my money. Where is he?--I want my nigger."
"Well, you can't GET your nigger, that's all--so dry up your blubbering.
Looky here--do you think YOU'D venture to blow on us?
Blamed if I think I'd trust you.
Why, if you WAS to blow on us--" He stopped, but I never see the duke look
so ugly out of his eyes before. I went on a-whimpering, and says:
"I don't want to blow on nobody; and I ain't got no time to blow, nohow.
I got to turn out and find my nigger."
He looked kinder bothered, and stood there with his bills fluttering on his arm,
thinking, and wrinkling up his forehead. At last he says:
"I'll tell you something.
We got to be here three days. If you'll promise you won't blow, and won't
let the nigger blow, I'll tell you where to find him."
So I promised, and he says:
"A farmer by the name of Silas Ph--" and then he stopped.
You see, he started to tell me the truth; but when he stopped that way, and begun to
study and think again, I reckoned he was changing his mind.
And so he was.
He wouldn't trust me; he wanted to make sure of having me out of the way the whole
three days. So pretty soon he says:
"The man that bought him is named Abram Foster--Abram G.
Foster--and he lives forty mile back here in the country, on the road to Lafayette."
"All right," I says, "I can walk it in three days.
And I'll start this very afternoon."
"No you wont, you'll start NOW; and don't you lose any time about it, neither, nor do
any gabbling by the way.
Just keep a tight tongue in your head and move right along, and then you won't get
into trouble with US, d'ye hear?" That was the order I wanted, and that was
the one I played for.
I wanted to be left free to work my plans. "So clear out," he says; "and you can tell
Mr. Foster whatever you want to.
Maybe you can get him to believe that Jim IS your nigger--some idiots don't require
documents--leastways I've heard there's such down South here.
And when you tell him the handbill and the reward's bogus, maybe he'll believe you
when you explain to him what the idea was for getting 'em out.
Go 'long now, and tell him anything you want to; but mind you don't work your jaw
any BETWEEN here and there." So I left, and struck for the back country.
I didn't look around, but I kinder felt like he was watching me.
But I knowed I could tire him out at that.
I went straight out in the country as much as a mile before I stopped; then I doubled
back through the woods towards Phelps'.
I reckoned I better start in on my plan straight off without fooling around,
because I wanted to stop Jim's mouth till these fellows could get away.
I didn't want no trouble with their kind.
I'd seen all I wanted to of them, and wanted to get entirely shut of them.
Chapter XXXII.
WHEN I got there it was all still and Sunday-like, and hot and sunshiny; the
hands was gone to the fields; and there was them kind of faint dronings of bugs and
flies in the air that makes it seem so
lonesome and like everybody's dead and gone; and if a breeze fans along and
quivers the leaves it makes you feel mournful, because you feel like it's
spirits whispering--spirits that's been
dead ever so many years--and you always think they're talking about YOU.
As a general thing it makes a body wish HE was dead, too, and done with it all.
Phelps' was one of these little one-horse cotton plantations, and they all look
A rail fence round a two-acre yard; a stile made out of logs sawed off and up-ended in
steps, like barrels of a different length, to climb over the fence with, and for the
women to stand on when they are going to
jump on to a horse; some sickly grass- patches in the big yard, but mostly it was
bare and smooth, like an old hat with the nap rubbed off; big double log-house for
the white folks--hewed logs, with the
chinks stopped up with mud or mortar, and these mud-stripes been whitewashed some
time or another; round-log kitchen, with a big broad, open but roofed passage joining
it to the house; log smoke-house back of
the kitchen; three little log nigger-cabins in a row t'other side the smoke-house; one
little hut all by itself away down against the back fence, and some outbuildings down
a piece the other side; ash-hopper and big
kettle to bile soap in by the little hut; bench by the kitchen door, with bucket of
water and a gourd; hound asleep there in the sun; more hounds asleep round about;
about three shade trees away off in a
corner; some currant bushes and gooseberry bushes in one place by the fence; outside
of the fence a garden and a watermelon patch; then the cotton fields begins, and
after the fields the woods.
I went around and clumb over the back stile by the ash-hopper, and started for the
When I got a little ways I heard the dim hum of a spinning-wheel wailing along up
and sinking along down again; and then I knowed for certain I wished I was dead--for
that IS the lonesomest sound in the whole world.
I went right along, not fixing up any particular plan, but just trusting to
Providence to put the right words in my mouth when the time come; for I'd noticed
that Providence always did put the right words in my mouth if I left it alone.
When I got half-way, first one hound and then another got up and went for me, and of
course I stopped and faced them, and kept still.
And such another powwow as they made!
In a quarter of a minute I was a kind of a hub of a wheel, as you may say--spokes made
out of dogs--circle of fifteen of them packed together around me, with their necks
and noses stretched up towards me, a-
barking and howling; and more a-coming; you could see them sailing over fences and
around corners from everywheres.
A nigger woman come tearing out of the kitchen with a rolling-pin in her hand,
singing out, "Begone YOU Tige! you Spot! begone sah!" and she fetched first one and
then another of them a clip and sent them
howling, and then the rest followed; and the next second half of them come back,
wagging their tails around me, and making friends with me.
There ain't no harm in a hound, nohow.
And behind the woman comes a little nigger girl and two little nigger boys without
anything on but tow-linen shirts, and they hung on to their mother's gown, and peeped
out from behind her at me, bashful, the way they always do.
And here comes the white woman running from the house, about forty-five or fifty year
old, bareheaded, and her spinning-stick in her hand; and behind her comes her little
white children, acting the same way the little niggers was doing.
She was smiling all over so she could hardly stand--and says:
"It's YOU, at last!--AIN'T it?"
I out with a "Yes'm" before I thought.
She grabbed me and hugged me tight; and then gripped me by both hands and shook and
shook; and the tears come in her eyes, and run down over; and she couldn't seem to hug
and shake enough, and kept saying, "You
don't look as much like your mother as I reckoned you would; but law sakes, I don't
care for that, I'm so glad to see you! Dear, dear, it does seem like I could eat
you up!
Children, it's your cousin Tom!--tell him howdy."
But they ducked their heads, and put their fingers in their mouths, and hid behind
So she run on: "Lize, hurry up and get him a hot breakfast
right away--or did you get your breakfast on the boat?"
I said I had got it on the boat.
So then she started for the house, leading me by the hand, and the children tagging
When we got there she set me down in a split-bottomed chair, and set herself down
on a little low stool in front of me, holding both of my hands, and says:
"Now I can have a GOOD look at you; and, laws-a-me, I've been hungry for it a many
and a many a time, all these long years, and it's come at last!
We been expecting you a couple of days and more.
What kep' you?--boat get aground?" "Yes'm--she--"
"Don't say yes'm--say Aunt Sally.
Where'd she get aground?" I didn't rightly know what to say, because
I didn't know whether the boat would be coming up the river or down.
But I go a good deal on instinct; and my instinct said she would be coming up--from
down towards Orleans.
That didn't help me much, though; for I didn't know the names of bars down that
I see I'd got to invent a bar, or forget the name of the one we got aground on--or--
Now I struck an idea, and fetched it out: "It warn't the grounding--that didn't keep
us back but a little.
We blowed out a cylinder-head." "Good gracious! anybody hurt?"
"No'm. Killed a nigger."
"Well, it's lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.
Two years ago last Christmas your uncle Silas was coming up from Newrleans on the
old Lally Rook, and she blowed out a cylinder-head and crippled a man.
And I think he died afterwards.
He was a Baptist. Your uncle Silas knowed a family in Baton
Rouge that knowed his people very well. Yes, I remember now, he DID die.
Mortification set in, and they had to amputate him.
But it didn't save him. Yes, it was mortification--that was it.
He turned blue all over, and died in the hope of a glorious resurrection.
They say he was a sight to look at. Your uncle's been up to the town every day
to fetch you.
And he's gone again, not more'n an hour ago; he'll be back any minute now.
You must a met him on the road, didn't you?--oldish man, with a--"
"No, I didn't see nobody, Aunt Sally.
The boat landed just at daylight, and I left my baggage on the wharf-boat and went
looking around the town and out a piece in the country, to put in the time and not get
here too soon; and so I come down the back way."
"Who'd you give the baggage to?" "Nobody."
"Why, child, it 'll be stole!"
"Not where I hid it I reckon it won't," I says.
"How'd you get your breakfast so early on the boat?"
It was kinder thin ice, but I says:
"The captain see me standing around, and told me I better have something to eat
before I went ashore; so he took me in the texas to the officers' lunch, and give me
all I wanted."
I was getting so uneasy I couldn't listen good.
I had my mind on the children all the time; I wanted to get them out to one side and
pump them a little, and find out who I was.
But I couldn't get no show, Mrs. Phelps kept it up and run on so.
Pretty soon she made the cold chills streak all down my back, because she says:
"But here we're a-running on this way, and you hain't told me a word about Sis, nor
any of them.
Now I'll rest my works a little, and you start up yourn; just tell me EVERYTHING--
tell me all about 'm all every one of 'm; and how they are, and what they're doing,
and what they told you to tell me; and every last thing you can think of."
Well, I see I was up a stump--and up it good.
Providence had stood by me this fur all right, but I was hard and tight aground
now. I see it warn't a bit of use to try to go
ahead--I'd got to throw up my hand.
So I says to myself, here's another place where I got to resk the truth.
I opened my mouth to begin; but she grabbed me and hustled me in behind the bed, and
"Here he comes! Stick your head down lower--there, that'll
do; you can't be seen now. Don't you let on you're here.
I'll play a joke on him.
Children, don't you say a word." I see I was in a fix now.
But it warn't no use to worry; there warn't nothing to do but just hold still, and try
and be ready to stand from under when the lightning struck.
I had just one little glimpse of the old gentleman when he come in; then the bed hid
him. Mrs. Phelps she jumps for him, and says:
"Has he come?"
"No," says her husband. "Good-NESS gracious!" she says, "what in
the warld can have become of him?"
"I can't imagine," says the old gentleman; "and I must say it makes me dreadful
uneasy." "Uneasy!" she says; "I'm ready to go
He MUST a come; and you've missed him along the road.
I KNOW it's so--something tells me so." "Why, Sally, I COULDN'T miss him along the
road--YOU know that."
"But oh, dear, dear, what WILL Sis say! He must a come!
You must a missed him. He--"
"Oh, don't distress me any more'n I'm already distressed.
I don't know what in the world to make of it.
I'm at my wit's end, and I don't mind acknowledging 't I'm right down scared.
But there's no hope that he's come; for he COULDN'T come and me miss him.
Sally, it's terrible--just terrible-- something's happened to the boat, sure!"
"Why, Silas! Look yonder!--up the road!--ain't that
somebody coming?"
He sprung to the window at the head of the bed, and that give Mrs. Phelps the chance
she wanted.
She stooped down quick at the foot of the bed and give me a pull, and out I come; and
when he turned back from the window there she stood, a-beaming and a-smiling like a
house afire, and I standing pretty meek and sweaty alongside.
The old gentleman stared, and says: "Why, who's that?"
"Who do you reckon 't is?"
"I hain't no idea. Who IS it?"
"It's TOM SAWYER!" By jings, I most slumped through the floor!
But there warn't no time to swap knives; the old man grabbed me by the hand and
shook, and kept on shaking; and all the time how the woman did dance around and
laugh and cry; and then how they both did
fire off questions about Sid, and Mary, and the rest of the tribe.
But if they was joyful, it warn't nothing to what I was; for it was like being born
again, I was so glad to find out who I was.
Well, they froze to me for two hours; and at last, when my chin was so tired it
couldn't hardly go any more, I had told them more about my family--I mean the
Sawyer family--than ever happened to any six Sawyer families.
And I explained all about how we blowed out a cylinder-head at the mouth of White
River, and it took us three days to fix it.
Which was all right, and worked first-rate; because THEY didn't know but what it would
take three days to fix it. If I'd a called it a bolthead it would a
done just as well.
Now I was feeling pretty comfortable all down one side, and pretty uncomfortable all
up the other.
Being Tom Sawyer was easy and comfortable, and it stayed easy and comfortable till by
and by I hear a steamboat coughing along down the river.
Then I says to myself, s'pose Tom Sawyer comes down on that boat?
And s'pose he steps in here any minute, and sings out my name before I can throw him a
wink to keep quiet?
Well, I couldn't HAVE it that way; it wouldn't do at all.
I must go up the road and waylay him. So I told the folks I reckoned I would go
up to the town and fetch down my baggage.
The old gentleman was for going along with me, but I said no, I could drive the horse
myself, and I druther he wouldn't take no trouble about me.
Chapter XXXIII. SO I started for town in the wagon, and
when I was half-way I see a wagon coming, and sure enough it was Tom Sawyer, and I
stopped and waited till he come along.
I says "Hold on!" and it stopped alongside, and his mouth opened up like a trunk, and
stayed so; and he swallowed two or three times like a person that's got a dry
throat, and then says:
"I hain't ever done you no harm. You know that.
So, then, what you want to come back and ha'nt ME for?"
I says:
"I hain't come back--I hain't been GONE." When he heard my voice it righted him up
some, but he warn't quite satisfied yet. He says:
"Don't you play nothing on me, because I wouldn't on you.
Honest injun now, you ain't a ghost?" "Honest injun, I ain't," I says.
"Well--I--I--well, that ought to settle it, of course; but I can't somehow seem to
understand it no way. Looky here, warn't you ever murdered AT
"No. I warn't ever murdered at all--I played it
on them. You come in here and feel of me if you
don't believe me."
So he done it; and it satisfied him; and he was that glad to see me again he didn't
know what to do.
And he wanted to know all about it right off, because it was a grand adventure, and
mysterious, and so it hit him where he lived.
But I said, leave it alone till by and by; and told his driver to wait, and we drove
off a little piece, and I told him the kind of a fix I was in, and what did he reckon
we better do?
He said, let him alone a minute, and don't disturb him.
So he thought and thought, and pretty soon he says:
"It's all right; I've got it.
Take my trunk in your wagon, and let on it's your'n; and you turn back and fool
along slow, so as to get to the house about the time you ought to; and I'll go towards
town a piece, and take a fresh start, and
get there a quarter or a half an hour after you; and you needn't let on to know me at
first." I says:
"All right; but wait a minute.
There's one more thing--a thing that NOBODY don't know but me.
And that is, there's a nigger here that I'm a-trying to steal out of slavery, and his
name is JIM--old Miss Watson's Jim."
He says: "What!
Why, Jim is--" He stopped and went to studying.
I says:
"I know what you'll say. You'll say it's dirty, low-down business;
but what if it is? I'm low down; and I'm a-going to steal him,
and I want you keep mum and not let on.
Will you?" His eye lit up, and he says:
"I'll HELP you steal him!" Well, I let go all holts then, like I was
It was the most astonishing speech I ever heard--and I'm bound to say Tom Sawyer fell
considerable in my estimation. Only I couldn't believe it.
"Oh, shucks!" I says; "you're joking."
"I ain't joking, either."
"Well, then," I says, "joking or no joking, if you hear anything said about a runaway
nigger, don't forget to remember that YOU don't know nothing about him, and I don't
know nothing about him."
Then we took the trunk and put it in my wagon, and he drove off his way and I drove
But of course I forgot all about driving slow on accounts of being glad and full of
thinking; so I got home a heap too quick for that length of a trip.
The old gentleman was at the door, and he says:
"Why, this is wonderful! Whoever would a thought it was in that mare
to do it?
I wish we'd a timed her. And she hain't sweated a hair--not a hair.
It's wonderful.
Why, I wouldn't take a hundred dollars for that horse now--I wouldn't, honest; and yet
I'd a sold her for fifteen before, and thought 'twas all she was worth."
That's all he said.
He was the innocentest, best old soul I ever see.
But it warn't surprising; because he warn't only just a farmer, he was a preacher, too,
and had a little one-horse log church down back of the plantation, which he built it
himself at his own expense, for a church
and schoolhouse, and never charged nothing for his preaching, and it was worth it,
There was plenty other farmer-preachers like that, and done the same way, down
In about half an hour Tom's wagon drove up to the front stile, and Aunt Sally she see
it through the window, because it was only about fifty yards, and says:
"Why, there's somebody come!
I wonder who 'tis? Why, I do believe it's a stranger.
Jimmy" (that's one of the children) "run and tell Lize to put on another plate for
Everybody made a rush for the front door, because, of course, a stranger don't come
EVERY year, and so he lays over the yaller- fever, for interest, when he does come.
Tom was over the stile and starting for the house; the wagon was spinning up the road
for the village, and we was all bunched in the front door.
Tom had his store clothes on, and an audience--and that was always nuts for Tom
In them circumstances it warn't no trouble to him to throw in an amount of style that
was suitable.
He warn't a boy to meeky along up that yard like a sheep; no, he come ca'm and
important, like the ram.
When he got a-front of us he lifts his hat ever so gracious and dainty, like it was
the lid of a box that had butterflies asleep in it and he didn't want to disturb
them, and says:
"Mr. Archibald Nichols, I presume?"
"No, my boy," says the old gentleman, "I'm sorry to say 't your driver has deceived
you; Nichols's place is down a matter of three mile more.
Come in, come in."
Tom he took a look back over his shoulder, and says, "Too late--he's out of sight."
"Yes, he's gone, my son, and you must come in and eat your dinner with us; and then
we'll hitch up and take you down to Nichols's."
"Oh, I CAN'T make you so much trouble; I couldn't think of it.
I'll walk --I don't mind the distance." "But we won't LET you walk--it wouldn't be
Southern hospitality to do it.
Come right in." "Oh, DO," says Aunt Sally; "it ain't a bit
of trouble to us, not a bit in the world. You must stay.
It's a long, dusty three mile, and we can't let you walk.
And, besides, I've already told 'em to put on another plate when I see you coming; so
you mustn't disappoint us.
Come right in and make yourself at home."
So Tom he thanked them very hearty and handsome, and let himself be persuaded, and
come in; and when he was in he said he was a stranger from Hicksville, Ohio, and his
name was William Thompson--and he made another bow.
Well, he run on, and on, and on, making up stuff about Hicksville and everybody in it
he could invent, and I getting a little nervious, and wondering how this was going
to help me out of my scrape; and at last,
still talking along, he reached over and kissed Aunt Sally right on the mouth, and
then settled back again in his chair comfortable, and was going on talking; but
she jumped up and wiped it off with the back of her hand, and says:
"You owdacious puppy!" He looked kind of hurt, and says:
"I'm surprised at you, m'am."
"You're s'rp--Why, what do you reckon I am? I've a good notion to take and--Say, what
do you mean by kissing me?" He looked kind of humble, and says:
"I didn't mean nothing, m'am.
I didn't mean no harm. I--I--thought you'd like it."
"Why, you born fool!"
She took up the spinning stick, and it looked like it was all she could do to keep
from giving him a crack with it. "What made you think I'd like it?"
"Well, I don't know.
Only, they--they--told me you would." "THEY told you I would.
Whoever told you's ANOTHER lunatic. I never heard the beat of it.
Who's THEY?"
"Why, everybody. They all said so, m'am."
It was all she could do to hold in; and her eyes snapped, and her fingers worked like
she wanted to scratch him; and she says:
"Who's 'everybody'? Out with their names, or ther'll be an
idiot short." He got up and looked distressed, and
fumbled his hat, and says:
"I'm sorry, and I warn't expecting it. They told me to.
They all told me to. They all said, kiss her; and said she'd
like it.
They all said it--every one of them. But I'm sorry, m'am, and I won't do it no
more --I won't, honest." "You won't, won't you?
Well, I sh'd RECKON you won't!"
"No'm, I'm honest about it; I won't ever do it again--till you ask me."
"Till I ASK you! Well, I never see the beat of it in my born
I lay you'll be the Methusalem-numskull of creation before ever I ask you --or the
likes of you." "Well," he says, "it does surprise me so.
I can't make it out, somehow.
They said you would, and I thought you would.
But--" He stopped and looked around slow, like he wished he could run across a
friendly eye somewheres, and fetched up on the old gentleman's, and says, "Didn't YOU
think she'd like me to kiss her, sir?"
"Why, no; I--I--well, no, I b'lieve I didn't."
Then he looks on around the same way to me, and says:
"Tom, didn't YOU think Aunt Sally 'd open out her arms and say, 'Sid Sawyer--'"
"My land!" she says, breaking in and jumping for him, "you impudent young
rascal, to fool a body so--" and was going to hug him, but he fended her off, and
"No, not till you've asked me first." So she didn't lose no time, but asked him;
and hugged him and kissed him over and over again, and then turned him over to the old
man, and he took what was left.
And after they got a little quiet again she says:
"Why, dear me, I never see such a surprise. We warn't looking for YOU at all, but only
Sis never wrote to me about anybody coming but him."
"It's because it warn't INTENDED for any of us to come but Tom," he says; "but I begged
and begged, and at the last minute she let me come, too; so, coming down the river, me
and Tom thought it would be a first-rate
surprise for him to come here to the house first, and for me to by and by tag along
and drop in, and let on to be a stranger. But it was a mistake, Aunt Sally.
This ain't no healthy place for a stranger to come."
"No--not impudent whelps, Sid. You ought to had your jaws boxed; I hain't
been so put out since I don't know when.
But I don't care, I don't mind the terms-- I'd be willing to stand a thousand such
jokes to have you here. Well, to think of that performance!
I don't deny it, I was most putrified with astonishment when you give me that smack."
We had dinner out in that broad open passage betwixt the house and the kitchen;
and there was things enough on that table for seven families --and all hot, too; none
of your flabby, tough meat that's laid in a
cupboard in a damp cellar all night and tastes like a hunk of old cold cannibal in
the morning.
Uncle Silas he asked a pretty long blessing over it, but it was worth it; and it didn't
cool it a bit, neither, the way I've seen them kind of interruptions do lots of
There was a considerable good deal of talk all the afternoon, and me and Tom was on
the lookout all the time; but it warn't no use, they didn't happen to say nothing
about any runaway nigger, and we was afraid to try to work up to it.
But at supper, at night, one of the little boys says:
"Pa, mayn't Tom and Sid and me go to the show?"
"No," says the old man, "I reckon there ain't going to be any; and you couldn't go
if there was; because the runaway nigger told Burton and me all about that
scandalous show, and Burton said he would
tell the people; so I reckon they've drove the owdacious loafers out of town before
this time." So there it was!--but I couldn't help it.
Tom and me was to sleep in the same room and bed; so, being tired, we bid good-night
and went up to bed right after supper, and clumb out of the window and down the
lightning-rod, and shoved for the town; for
I didn't believe anybody was going to give the king and the duke a hint, and so if I
didn't hurry up and give them one they'd get into trouble sure.
On the road Tom he told me all about how it was reckoned I was murdered, and how pap
disappeared pretty soon, and didn't come back no more, and what a stir there was
when Jim run away; and I told Tom all about
our Royal Nonesuch rapscallions, and as much of the raft voyage as I had time to;
and as we struck into the town and up through the middle of it--it was as much as
half-after eight, then--here comes a raging
rush of people with torches, and an awful whooping and yelling, and banging tin pans
and blowing horns; and we jumped to one side to let them go by; and as they went by
I see they had the king and the duke
astraddle of a rail--that is, I knowed it WAS the king and the duke, though they was
all over tar and feathers, and didn't look like nothing in the world that was human--
just looked like a couple of monstrous big soldier- plumes.
Well, it made me sick to see it; and I was sorry for them poor pitiful rascals, it
seemed like I couldn't ever feel any hardness against them any more in the
It was a dreadful thing to see. Human beings CAN be awful cruel to one
another. We see we was too late--couldn't do no
We asked some stragglers about it, and they said everybody went to the show looking
very innocent; and laid low and kept dark till the poor old king was in the middle of
his cavortings on the stage; then somebody
give a signal, and the house rose up and went for them.
So we poked along back home, and I warn't feeling so brash as I was before, but kind
of ornery, and humble, and to blame, somehow--though I hadn't done nothing.
But that's always the way; it don't make no difference whether you do right or wrong, a
person's conscience ain't got no sense, and just goes for him anyway.
If I had a yaller dog that didn't know no more than a person's conscience does I
would pison him.
It takes up more room than all the rest of a person's insides, and yet ain't no good,
nohow. Tom Sawyer he says the same.
Chapter XXXIV. WE stopped talking, and got to thinking.
By and by Tom says: "Looky here, Huck, what fools we are to not
think of it before!
I bet I know where Jim is." "No!
Where?" "In that hut down by the ash-hopper.
Why, looky here.
When we was at dinner, didn't you see a nigger man go in there with some vittles?"
"Yes." "What did you think the vittles was for?"
"For a dog."
"So 'd I. Well, it wasn't for a dog."
"Why?" "Because part of it was watermelon."
"So it was--I noticed it.
Well, it does beat all that I never thought about a dog not eating watermelon.
It shows how a body can see and don't see at the same time."
"Well, the nigger unlocked the padlock when he went in, and he locked it again when he
came out. He fetched uncle a key about the time we
got up from table--same key, I bet.
Watermelon shows man, lock shows prisoner; and it ain't likely there's two prisoners
on such a little plantation, and where the people's all so kind and good.
Jim's the prisoner.
All right--I'm glad we found it out detective fashion; I wouldn't give shucks
for any other way.
Now you work your mind, and study out a plan to steal Jim, and I will study out
one, too; and we'll take the one we like the best."
What a head for just a boy to have!
If I had Tom Sawyer's head I wouldn't trade it off to be a duke, nor mate of a
steamboat, nor clown in a circus, nor nothing I can think of.
I went to thinking out a plan, but only just to be doing something; I knowed very
well where the right plan was going to come from.
Pretty soon Tom says:
"Ready?" "Yes," I says.
"All right--bring it out." "My plan is this," I says.
"We can easy find out if it's Jim in there.
Then get up my canoe to-morrow night, and fetch my raft over from the island.
Then the first dark night that comes steal the key out of the old man's britches after
he goes to bed, and shove off down the river on the raft with Jim, hiding daytimes
and running nights, the way me and Jim used to do before.
Wouldn't that plan work?" "WORK?
Why, cert'nly it would work, like rats a- fighting.
But it's too blame' simple; there ain't nothing TO it.
What's the good of a plan that ain't no more trouble than that?
It's as mild as goose-milk. Why, Huck, it wouldn't make no more talk
than breaking into a soap factory."
I never said nothing, because I warn't expecting nothing different; but I knowed
mighty well that whenever he got HIS plan ready it wouldn't have none of them
objections to it.
And it didn't.
He told me what it was, and I see in a minute it was worth fifteen of mine for
style, and would make Jim just as free a man as mine would, and maybe get us all
killed besides.
So I was satisfied, and said we would waltz in on it.
I needn't tell what it was here, because I knowed it wouldn't stay the way, it was.
I knowed he would be changing it around every which way as we went along, and
heaving in new bullinesses wherever he got a chance.
And that is what he done.
Well, one thing was dead sure, and that was that Tom Sawyer was in earnest, and was
actuly going to help steal that nigger out of slavery.
That was the thing that was too many for me.
Here was a boy that was respectable and well brung up; and had a character to lose;
and folks at home that had characters; and he was bright and not leather-headed; and
knowing and not ignorant; and not mean, but
kind; and yet here he was, without any more pride, or rightness, or feeling, than to
stoop to this business, and make himself a shame, and his family a shame, before
I COULDN'T understand it no way at all. It was outrageous, and I knowed I ought to
just up and tell him so; and so be his true friend, and let him quit the thing right
where he was and save himself.
And I DID start to tell him; but he shut me up, and says:
"Don't you reckon I know what I'm about? Don't I generly know what I'm about?"
"Didn't I SAY I was going to help steal the nigger?"
"Yes." "WELL, then."
That's all he said, and that's all I said.
It warn't no use to say any more; because when he said he'd do a thing, he always
done it.
But I couldn't make out how he was willing to go into this thing; so I just let it go,
and never bothered no more about it. If he was bound to have it so, I couldn't
help it.
When we got home the house was all dark and still; so we went on down to the hut by the
ash-hopper for to examine it. We went through the yard so as to see what
the hounds would do.
They knowed us, and didn't make no more noise than country dogs is always doing
when anything comes by in the night.
When we got to the cabin we took a look at the front and the two sides; and on the
side I warn't acquainted with--which was the north side--we found a square window-
hole, up tolerable high, with just one stout board nailed across it.
I says: "Here's the ticket.
This hole's big enough for Jim to get through if we wrench off the board."
Tom says: "It's as simple as tit-tat-toe, three-in-a-
row, and as easy as playing hooky.
I should HOPE we can find a way that's a little more complicated than THAT, Huck
"Well, then," I says, "how 'll it do to saw him out, the way I done before I was
murdered that time?" "That's more LIKE," he says.
"It's real mysterious, and troublesome, and good," he says; "but I bet we can find a
way that's twice as long. There ain't no hurry; le's keep on looking
Betwixt the hut and the fence, on the back side, was a lean-to that joined the hut at
the eaves, and was made out of plank. It was as long as the hut, but narrow--only
about six foot wide.
The door to it was at the south end, and was padlocked.
Tom he went to the soap-kettle and searched around, and fetched back the iron thing
they lift the lid with; so he took it and prized out one of the staples.
The chain fell down, and we opened the door and went in, and shut it, and struck a
match, and see the shed was only built against a cabin and hadn't no connection
with it; and there warn't no floor to the
shed, nor nothing in it but some old rusty played-out hoes and spades and picks and a
crippled plow.
The match went out, and so did we, and shoved in the staple again, and the door
was locked as good as ever. Tom was joyful.
He says;
"Now we're all right. We'll DIG him out.
It 'll take about a week!"
Then we started for the house, and I went in the back door--you only have to pull a
buckskin latch-string, they don't fasten the doors--but that warn't romantical
enough for Tom Sawyer; no way would do him but he must climb up the lightning-rod.
But after he got up half way about three times, and missed fire and fell every time,
and the last time most busted his brains out, he thought he'd got to give it up; but
after he was rested he allowed he would
give her one more turn for luck, and this time he made the trip.
In the morning we was up at break of day, and down to the nigger cabins to pet the
dogs and make friends with the nigger that fed Jim--if it WAS Jim that was being fed.
The niggers was just getting through breakfast and starting for the fields; and
Jim's nigger was piling up a tin pan with bread and meat and things; and whilst the
others was leaving, the key come from the house.
This nigger had a good-natured, chuckle- headed face, and his wool was all tied up
in little bunches with thread.
That was to keep witches off.
He said the witches was pestering him awful these nights, and making him see all kinds
of strange things, and hear all kinds of strange words and noises, and he didn't
believe he was ever witched so long before in his life.
He got so worked up, and got to running on so about his troubles, he forgot all about
what he'd been a-going to do.
So Tom says: "What's the vittles for?
Going to feed the dogs?"
The nigger kind of smiled around gradually over his face, like when you heave a
brickbat in a mud-puddle, and he says: "Yes, Mars Sid, A dog.
Cur'us dog, too.
Does you want to go en look at 'im?" "Yes."
I hunched Tom, and whispers: "You going, right here in the daybreak?
THAT warn't the plan."
"No, it warn't; but it's the plan NOW." So, drat him, we went along, but I didn't
like it much.
When we got in we couldn't hardly see anything, it was so dark; but Jim was
there, sure enough, and could see us; and he sings out:
"Why, HUCK!
En good LAN'! ain' dat Misto Tom?" I just knowed how it would be; I just
expected it.
I didn't know nothing to do; and if I had I couldn't a done it, because that nigger
busted in and says: "Why, de gracious sakes! do he know you
We could see pretty well now. Tom he looked at the nigger, steady and
kind of wondering, and says: "Does WHO know us?"
"Why, dis-yer runaway nigger."
"I don't reckon he does; but what put that into your head?"
"What PUT it dar? Didn' he jis' dis minute sing out like he
knowed you?"
Tom says, in a puzzled-up kind of way: "Well, that's mighty curious.
WHO sung out? WHEN did he sing out?
WHAT did he sing out?"
And turns to me, perfectly ca'm, and says, "Did YOU hear anybody sing out?"
Of course there warn't nothing to be said but the one thing; so I says:
"No; I ain't heard nobody say nothing."
Then he turns to Jim, and looks him over like he never see him before, and says:
"Did you sing out?" "No, sah," says Jim; "I hain't said
nothing, sah."
"Not a word?" "No, sah, I hain't said a word."
"Did you ever see us before?" "No, sah; not as I knows on."
So Tom turns to the nigger, which was looking wild and distressed, and says, kind
of severe: "What do you reckon's the matter with you,
What made you think somebody sung out?" "Oh, it's de dad-blame' witches, sah, en I
wisht I was dead, I do. Dey's awluz at it, sah, en dey do mos' kill
me, dey sk'yers me so.
Please to don't tell nobody 'bout it sah, er ole Mars Silas he'll scole me; 'kase he
say dey AIN'T no witches. I jis' wish to goodness he was heah now --
DEN what would he say!
I jis' bet he couldn' fine no way to git aroun' it DIS time.
But it's awluz jis' so; people dat's SOT, stays sot; dey won't look into noth'n'en
fine it out f'r deyselves, en when YOU fine it out en tell um 'bout it, dey doan'
b'lieve you."
Tom give him a dime, and said we wouldn't tell nobody; and told him to buy some more
thread to tie up his wool with; and then looks at Jim, and says:
"I wonder if Uncle Silas is going to hang this nigger.
If I was to catch a nigger that was ungrateful enough to run away, I wouldn't
give him up, I'd hang him."
And whilst the nigger stepped to the door to look at the dime and bite it to see if
it was good, he whispers to Jim and says: "Don't ever let on to know us.
And if you hear any digging going on nights, it's us; we're going to set you
Jim only had time to grab us by the hand and squeeze it; then the nigger come back,
and we said we'd come again some time if the nigger wanted us to; and he said he
would, more particular if it was dark,
because the witches went for him mostly in the dark, and it was good to have folks
around then.