Civilizing Huck--Miss Watson--Tom Sawyer Waits
The Boys Escape Jim--Torn Sawyer's Gang--Deep-laid Plans
A Good Going-over--Grace Triumphant--"One of Tom Sawyers's Lies"
Huck's Father--The Fond Parent--Reform.
He Went for Judge Thatcher--Huck Decided to Leave--Political
Laying for Him--Locked in the Cabin--Sinking the Body--Resting.
Sleeping in the Woods--Raising the Dead--Exploring the Island--Finding
The Cave--The Floating House
The Find--Old Hank Bunker--In Disguise
Huck and the Woman--The Search--Prevarication--Going to Goshen
Slow Navigation--Borrowing Things--Boarding the Wreck--The
Plotters--Hunting for the Boat
Escaping from the Wreck--The Watchman--Sinking
A General Good Time--The Harem--French
Huck Loses the Raft--In the Fog--Huck Finds the Raft--Trash
Expectation--A White Lie--Floating Currency--Running by
An Evening Call--The Farm in Arkansaw--Interior Decorations--Stephen
Dowling Bots--Poetical Effusions
Col. Grangerford--Aristocracy--Feuds--The Testament--Recovering the
Raft--The Wood-pile--Pork and Cabbage
Tying Up Day-times--An Astronomical Theory--Running a Temperance
Revival--The Duke of Bridgewater--The Troubles of Royalty
Huck Explains--Laying Out a Campaign--Working the Camp-meeting--A
Pirate at the Camp-meeting--The Duke as a Printer
Hamlet's Soliloquy--They Loafed Around Town--A Lazy
Sherburn--Attending the Circus--Intoxication in the Ring--The
Sold--Royal Comparisons--Jim Gets Home-sick
Jim in Royal Robes--They Take a Passenger--Getting Information--Family
Is It Them?--Singing the "Doxologer"--Awful Square-Funeral Orgies--A
A Pious King--The King's Clergy--She Asked His Pardon--Hiding in the
Room--Huck Takes the Money
The Funeral--Satisfying Curiosity--Quick Sales and Small
The Trip to England--"The Brute!"--Mary Jane Decides to Leave--Huck
Parting with Mary Jane--Mumps--The Opposition Line.
Contested Relationship--The King Explains the Loss--A Question of
Handwriting--Digging up the Corpse--Huck Escapes
The King Went for Him--A Royal Row--Powerful Mellow.
Ominous Plans--News from Jim--Old Recollections--Valuable Information
Still and Sunday-like--Mistaken Identity--Up a Stump--In a Dilemma
A Nigger Stealer--Southern Hospitality--A Pretty Long Blessing--Tar
The Hut by the Ash Hopper--Outrageous--Climbing the Lightning
Rod--Troubled with Witches
Escaping Properly--Dark Schemes--Discrimination in Stealing--A Deep Hole
The Lightning Rod--His Level Best--A Bequest to Posterity--A High Figure
The Last Shirt--Mooning Around--Sailing Orders--The Witch Pie.
The Coat of Arms--A Skilled Superintendent--Unpleasant Glory--A Tearful Subject
Rats--Lively Bed-fellows--The Straw Dummy
The Vigilance Committee--A Lively Run--Jim Advises a Doctor
The Doctor--Uncle Silas--Sister Hotchkiss--Aunt Sally in Trouble
Tom Sawyer Wounded--The Doctor's Story--Tom Confesses--Aunt Polly
Arrives--Hand Out Them Letters
CHAPTER THE LAST
Out of Bondage--Paying the Captive--Yours Truly, Huck Finn
PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted;
PERSONS attempting to find a moral in it will be banished;
PERSONS attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR,
Per G.G., Chief of Ordnance.
IN this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Missouri negro dialect;
the extremest form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect; the ordinary "Pike
County" dialect; and four modified varieties of this last. The shadings have not
been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guesswork; but painstakingly, and with
the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several
forms of speech. I make this explanation for the reason that without it many
readers would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and
YOU don't know about me without you have read a book by the
name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That
book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There
was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is
nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it
was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly -- Tom's Aunt
Polly, she is -- and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in
that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said
The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she
would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time,
considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her
ways; and so when I couldn't stand it no longer I lit out. I got into
my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied.
But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and said he was going to start a
band of robbers, and I might join if I would go back to the widow and
be respectable. So I went back.
The widow she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb,
and she called me a lot of other names, too, but she never meant no
harm by it. She put me in them new clothes again, and I couldn't do
nothing but sweat and sweat, and feel all cramped up. Well, then, the
old thing commenced again. The widow rung a bell for supper, and you
had to come to time. When you got to the table you couldn't go right
to eating, but you had to wait for the widow to tuck down her head and
grumble a little over the victuals, though there warn't really anything
the matter with them, -- that is, nothing only everything was cooked by
itself. In a barrel of odds and ends it is different; things get mixed
up, and the juice kind of swaps around, and the things go better.
After supper she got out her book and learned me about Moses and
the Bulrushers, and I was in a sweat to find out all about him; but by
and by she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time;
so then I didn't care no more about him, because I don't take no stock
in dead people.
Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow to let me. But
she wouldn't. She said it was a mean practice and wasn't clean, and I
must try to not do it any more. That is just the way with some people.
They get down on a thing when they don't know nothing about it. Here she
was a-bothering about Moses, which was no kin to her, and no use to
anybody, being gone, you see, yet finding a power of fault with me for
doing a thing that had some good in it. And she took snuff, too; of
course that was all right, because she done it herself.
Her sister, Miss Watson, a tolerable slim old maid, with goggles
on, had just come to live with her, and took a set at me now with a
spelling-book. She worked me middling hard for about an hour, and then
the widow made her ease up. I couldn't stood it much longer. Then for
an hour it was deadly dull, and I was fidgety. Miss Watson would say,
"Don't put your feet up there, Huckleberry;" and "Don't scrunch up
like that, Huckleberry -- set up straight;" and pretty soon she would
say, "Don't gap and stretch like that, Huckleberry -- why don't you
try to behave?" Then she told me all about the bad place, and I said
I wished I was there. She got mad then, but I didn't mean no harm.
All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn't
particular. She said it was wicked to say what I said; said she
wouldn't say it for the whole world; she was going to live so as to
go to the good place. Well, I couldn't see no advantage in going where
she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn't try for it.
Now she had got a start, and she went on and told me all
about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there
was to go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and
ever. So I didn't think much of it. But I never said so. I asked
her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said not
by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted
him and me to be together.
Miss Watson she kept pecking at me, and it got tiresome and
lonesome. By and by they fetched the niggers in and had prayers,
and then everybody was off to bed. I went up to my room with a
piece of candle, and put it on the table. Then I set down in a
chair by the window and tried to think of something cheerful,
but it warn't no use. I felt so lonesome I most wished I was
dead. The stars were shining, and the leaves rustled in the
woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing
about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying
about somebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying
to whisper something to me, and I couldn't make out what it was,
and so it made the cold shivers run over me. Then away out in
the woods I heard that kind of a sound that a ghost makes when
it wants to tell about something that's on its mind and can't
make itself understood, and so can't rest easy in its grave,
and has to go about that way every night grieving. I got so
down-hearted and scared I did wish I had some company. Pretty
soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder, and I flipped it
off and it lit in the candle; and before I could budge it was
all shriveled up. I didn't need anybody to tell me that that
was an awful bad sign and would fetch me some bad luck, so I
was scared and most shook the clothes off of me. I got up and
turned around in my tracks three times and crossed my breast
every time; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair with
a thread to keep witches away.
I set down again, a-shaking all over, and got out my pipe
for a smoke; for the house was all as still as death now, and
so the widow wouldn't know. Well, after a long time I heard
the clock away off in the town go boom -- boom -- boom --
twelve licks; and all still again -- stiller than ever. Pretty
soon I heard a twig snap down in the dark amongst the trees --
something was a stirring. I set still and listened. Directly
I could just barely hear a "me-yow! me-yow!" down there. That
was good! Says I,"me-yow! me-yow!" as soft as I could, and
then I put out the light and scrambled out of the window on
to the shed. Then I slipped down to the ground and crawled
in among the trees, and, sure enough, there was Tom Sawyer
waiting for me.
WE went tiptoeing along a path amongst the trees back towards
the end of the widow's garden, stooping down so as the branches
wouldn't scrape our heads. When we was passing by the kitchen I
fell over a root and made a noise. We scrouched down and laid still.
Miss Watson's big nigger, named Jim, was setting in the kitchen door;
we could see him pretty clear, because there was a light behind him.
He got up and stretched his neck out about a minute, listening.
Then he says:
He listened some more; then he come tiptoeing down and stood
right between us; we could a touched him, nearly. Well, likely it was
minutes and minutes that there warn't a sound, and we all there so
close together. There was a place on my ankle that got to itching,
but I dasn't scratch it; and then my ear begun to itch; and next my
back, right between my shoulders. Seemed like I'd die if I couldn't
scratch. Well, I've noticed that thing plenty times since. If you are
with the quality, or at a funeral, or trying to go to sleep when you
ain't sleepy -- if you are anywheres where it won't do for you to
scratch, why you will itch all over in upwards of a thousand places.
Pretty soon Jim says:
"Say, who is you? Whar is you? Dog my cats ef I didn' hear sumf'n.
Well, I know what I's gwyne to do: I's gwyne to set down here and
listen tell I hears it agin."
So he set down on the ground betwixt me and Tom. He leaned his
back up against a tree, and stretched his legs out till one of them
most touched one of mine. My nose begun to itch. It itched till the
tears come into my eyes. But I dasn't scratch. Then it begun to itch
on the inside. Next I got to itching underneath. I didn't know how I
was going to set still. This miserableness went on as much as six or
seven minutes; but it seemed a sight longer than that. I was itching
in eleven different places now. I reckoned I couldn't stand it more'n
a minute longer, but I set my teeth hard and got ready to try. Just
then Jim begun to breathe heavy; next he begun to snore -- and
then I was pretty soon comfortable again.
Tom he made a sign to me -- kind of a little noise with his mouth --
and we went creeping away on our hands and knees. When we was
ten foot off Tom whispered to me, and wanted to tie Jim to the tree
Tom said he slipped Jim's hat off of his head and hung it on a limb right
over him, and Jim stirred a little, but he didn't wake. Afterwards Jim said
the witches bewitched him and put him in a trance, and rode him all
over the State, and then set him under the trees again, and hung his
hat on a limb to show who done it. And next time Jim told it he said
they rode him down to New Orleans; and, after that, every time he told
it he spread it more and more, till by and by he said they rode him all
over the world, and tired him most to death, and his back was all over
saddle-boils.Jim was monstrous proud about it, and he got so he wouldn't
hardly notice the other niggers. Niggers would come miles to hear Jim
tell about it, and he was more looked up to than any nigger in that
country. Strange niggers would stand with their mouths open and look
him all over, same as if he was a wonder. Niggers is always talking about
witches in the dark by the kitchen fire; but whenever one was talking
and letting on to know all about such things, Jim would happen in and
say, "Hm! What you know 'bout witches?" and that nigger was corked
up and had to take a back seat. Jim always kept that five-center piece
round his neck with a string, and said it was a charm the devil give to
him with his own hands, and told him he could cure anybody with it and
fetch witches whenever he wanted to just by saying something to it; but
he never told what it was he said to it. Niggers would come from all
around there and give Jim anything they had, just for a sight of that
five-center piece; but they wouldn't touch it, because the devil had had
his hands on it. Jim was most ruined for a servant, because he got stuck
up on account of having seen the devil and been rode by witches.
Well, when Tom and me got to the edge of the hill-top we looked
away down into the village and could see three or four lights twinkling,
where there was sick folks, maybe; and the stars over us was sparkling
ever so fine; and down by the village was the river, a whole mile broad,
and awful still and grand.
Tom poked about amongst the passages, and pretty soon ducked
under a wall where you wouldn't a noticed that there was a hole. We
went along a narrow place and got into a kind of room, all damp and
sweaty and cold, and there we stopped. Tom says:
"Now, we'll start this band of robbers and call it Tom Sawyer's Gang.
Everybody that wants to join has got to take an oath, and write his name
Everybody was willing. So Tom got out a sheet of paper that he
had wrote the oath on, and read it. It swore every boy to stick to the
band, and never tell any of the secrets; and if anybody done anything to
any boy in the band, whichever boy was ordered to kill that person and
his family must do it, and he mustn't eat and he mustn't sleep till he had
killed them and hacked a cross in their breasts, which was the sign of
the band. And nobody that didn't belong to the band could use that mark,
and if he did he must be sued; and if he done it again he must be killed.
And if anybody that belonged to the band told the secrets, he must have
his throat cut, and then have his carcass burnt up and the ashes scattered
all around, and his name blotted off of the list with blood and never mentioned
again by the gang, but have a curse put on it and be forgot forever.
Everybody said it was a real beautiful oath, and asked Tom if he got it
out of his own head. He said, some of it, but the rest was out of pirate-books
and robber-books, and every gang that was high-toned had it.
Some thought it would be good to kill the families of boys that told the
secrets. Tom said it was a good idea, so he took a pencil and wrote it in.
Then Ben Rogers says:
"Here's Huck Finn, he hain't got no family; what you going to do 'bout
"Well, hain't he got a father?" says Tom Sawyer.
"Yes, he's got a father, but you can't never find him these days. He
used to lay drunk with the hogs in the tanyard, but he hain't been seen in
these parts for a year or more."
"Now," says Ben Rogers, "what's the line of business of this Gang?"
"Nothing only robbery and murder," Tom said.
"But who are we going to rob? -- houses, or cattle, or -- "
"Stuff! stealing cattle and such things ain't robbery; it's burglary,"
says Tom Sawyer. "We ain't burglars. That ain't no sort of style. We are
highwaymen. We stop stages and carriages on the road, with masks on, and
kill the people and take their watches and money."
"Must we always kill the people?"
"Oh, certainly. It's best. Some authorities think different, but
mostly it's considered best to kill them -- except some that you bring to
the cave here, and keep them till they're ransomed."
"Ransomed? What's that?"
"I don't know. But that's what they do. I've seen it in books;
and so of course that's what we've got to do."
"But how can we do it if we don't know what it is?"
"Why, blame it all, we've got to do it. Don't I tell you it's in the
books? Do you want to go to doing different from what's in the books,
and get things all muddled up?"
"Oh, that's all very fine to say, Tom Sawyer, but how in the
nation are these fellows going to be ransomed if we don't know how to
do it to them? -- that's the thing I want to get at. Now, what do you
reckon it is?"
"Well, I don't know. But per'aps if we keep them till they're
ransomed, it means that we keep them till they're dead. "
"Now, that's something like. That'll answer. Why couldn't you
said that before? We'll keep them till they're ransomed to death; and
a bothersome lot they'll be, too -- eating up everything, and always
trying to get loose."
"How you talk, Ben Rogers. How can they get loose when
there's a guard over them, ready to shoot them down if they move
"A guard! Well, that is good. So somebody's got to set up all
night and never get any sleep, just so as to watch them. I think that's
foolishness. Why can't a body take a club and ransom them as soon
as they get here?"
"Because it ain't in the books so -- that's why. Now, Ben
Rogers, do you want to do things regular, or don't you? -- that's the
idea. Don't you reckon that the people that made the books knows
what's the correct thing to do? Do you reckon you can learn 'em
anything? Not by a good deal. No, sir, we'll just go on and ransom
them in the regular way."
"All right. I don't mind; but I say it's a fool way, anyhow. Say,
do we kill the women, too?"
"Well, Ben Rogers, if I was as ignorant as you I wouldn't let
on. Kill the women? No; nobody ever saw anything in the books like
that. You fetch them to the cave, and you're always as polite as pie
to them; and by and by they fall in love with you, and never want to
go home any more."
"Well, if that's the way I'm agreed, but I don't take no stock
in it. Mighty soon we'll have the cave so cluttered up with women,
and fellows waiting to be ransomed, that there won't be no place for
the robbers. But go ahead, I ain't got nothing to say."
WELL, I got a good going-over in the morning from old Miss
Watson on account of my clothes; but the widow she didn't scold, but
only cleaned off the grease and clay, and looked so sorry that I thought
I would behave awhile if I could. Then Miss Watson she took me in
the closet and prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray
every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it. But it warn't so. I
tried it. Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks. It warn't any good to me
without hooks. I tried for the hooks three or four times, but somehow
I couldn't make it work. By and by, one day, I asked Miss Watson to try
for me, but she said I was a fool. She never told me why, and I couldn't
make it out no way.
I set down one time back in the woods, and had a long think about
it. I says to myself, if a body can get anything they pray for, why don't
Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork? Why can't the widow
get back her silver snuffbox that was stole? Why can't Miss Watson fat
up? No, says I to my self, there ain't nothing in it. I went and told the
widow about it, and she said the thing a body could get by praying for it
was "spiritual gifts." This was too many for me, but she told me what
she meant -- I must help other people, and do everything I could. I
thought it all out, and reckoned I would belong to the widow's if he
wanted me, though I couldn't make out how he was a-going to be any
better off then than what he was before, seeing I was so ignorant, and
so kind of low-down and ornery.
We played robber now and then about a month, and then I resigned.
All the boys did. We hadn't robbed nobody, hadn't killed any people, but
only just pretended. We used to hop out of the woods and go charging
down on hog-drivers and women in carts taking garden stuff to market,
but we never hived any of them. Tom Sawyer called the hogs "ingots,"
and he called the turnips and stuff "julery," and we would go to the cave
and powwow over what we had done, and how many people we had killed
and marked. But I couldn't see no profit in it. One time Tom sent a boy
to run about town with a blazing stick, which he called a slogan (which
was the sign for the Gang to get together), and then he said he had got
secret news by his spies that next day a whole parcel of Spanish merchants
and rich A-rabs was going to camp in Cave Hollow with two hundred
elephants, and six hundred camels, and over a thousand "sumter" mules,
all loaded down with di'monds, and they didn't have only a guard of four
hundred soldiers, and so we would lay in ambuscade, as he called it, and
kill the lot and scoop the things. He said we must slick up our swords and
guns, and get ready. He never could go after even a turnip-cart but he
must have the swords and guns all scoured up for it, though they was only
lath and broomsticks, and you might scour at them till you rotted, and then
they warn't worth a mouthful of ashes more than what they was before. I
didn't believe we could lick such a crowd of Spaniards and A-rabs, but I
wanted to see the camels and elephants, so I was on hand next day,
Saturday, in the ambuscade; and when we got the word we rushed out of
the woods and down the hill. But there warn't no Spaniards and A-rabs,
and there warn't no camels nor no elephants. It warn't anything but a
Sunday-school picnic, and only a primer-class at that. We busted it up, and
chased the children up the hollow; but we never got anything but some
doughnuts and jam, though Ben Rogers got a rag doll, and Jo Harper got a
hymn-book and a tract; and then the teacher charged in, and made us drop
everything and cut.
I didn't see no di'monds, and I told Tom Sawyer so. He said
there was loads of them there, anyway; and he said there was A-rabs
there, too, and elephants and things. I said, why couldn't we see
them, then? He said if I warn't so ignorant, but had read a book
called Don Quixote, I would know without asking. He said it was all
done by enchantment. He said there was hundreds of soldiers there,
and elephants and treasure, and so on, but we had enemies which he
called magicians; and they had turned the whole thing into an infant
Sunday-school, just out of spite. I said, all right; then the thing
for us to do was to go for the magicians. Tom Sawyer said I was a
"Why," says he, "a magician could call up a lot of genies, and
they would hash you up like nothing before you could say Jack Robinson.
They are as tall as a tree and as big around as a church."
"Well," I says, "s'pose we got some genies to help us -- can't
we lick the other crowd then?"
"How you going to get them?"
“I don't know. How do they get them?"
"Why, they rub an old tin lamp or an iron ring, and then the
genies come tearing in, with the thunder and lightning a-ripping around
and the smoke a-rolling, and everything they're told to do they up and
do it. They don't think nothing of pulling a shot-tower up by the roots,
and belting a Sunday-school superintendent over the head with it -- or
any other man."
"Who makes them tear around so?"
"Why, whoever rubs the lamp or the ring. They belong to whoever
rubs the lamp or the ring, and they've got to do whatever he says. If
he tells them to build a palace forty miles long out of di'monds, and
fill it full of chewing-gum, or whatever you want, and fetch an emperor's
daughter from China for you to marry, they've got to do it -- and
they've got to do it before sun-up next morning, too. And more: they've
got to waltz that palace around over the country wherever you want it,
"Well," says I, "I think they are a pack of flat-heads for not
keeping the palace themselves 'stead of fooling them away like that.
And what's more -- if I was one of them I would see a man in Jericho
before I would drop my business and come to him for the rubbing of
an old tin lamp."
"How you talk, Huck Finn. Why, you'd have to come when he rubbed it,
whether you wanted to or not."
"What! and I as high as a tree and as big as a church? All right, then;
I would come; but I lay I'd make that man climb the highest tree there
was in the country."
"Shucks, it ain't no use to talk to you, Huck Finn. You don't seem to
know anything, somehow-perfect saphead."
I thought all this over for two or three days, and then I reckoned I
would see if there was anything in it. I got an old tin lamp and an
iron ring, and went out in the woods and rubbed and rubbed till I sweat
like an Injun, calculating to build a palace and sell it; but it warn't
no use, none of the genies come. So then I judged that all that stuff
was only just one of Tom Sawyer's lies. I reckoned he believed in the
A-rabs and the elephants, but as for me I think different. It had all
the marks of a Sunday-school.
Miss Watson's nigger, Jim, had a hair-ball as big as your fist,
which had been took out of the fourth stomach of an ox, and he used to
do magic with it. He said there was a spirit inside of it, and it knowed
everything. So I went to him that night and told him pap was here again,
for I found his tracks in the snow. What I wanted to know was, what he
was going to do, and was he going to stay? Jim got out his hair-ball and
said something over it, and then he held it up and dropped it on the floor.
It fell pretty solid, and only rolled about an inch. Jim tried it again,
and then another time, and it acted just the same. Jim got down on his
knees, and put his ear against it and listened. But it warn't no use; he
said it wouldn't talk. He said sometimes it wouldn't talk without money.
I told him I had an old slick counterfeit quarter that warn't no good
because the brass showed through the silver a little, and it wouldn't
pass nohow, even if the brass didn't show, because it was so slick it felt
greasy, and so that would tell on it every time. (I reckoned I wouldn't say
nothing about the dollar I got from the judge.) I said it was pretty bad
money, but maybe the hair-ball would take it, because maybe it wouldn't
know the difference. Jim smelt it and bit it and rubbed it, and said he
would manage so the hair-ball would think it was good . He said he would
split open a raw Irish potato and stick the quarter in between and keep
it there all night, and next morning you couldn't see no brass, and it
wouldn't feel greasy no more, and so anybody in town would take it in a
minute, let alone a hair-ball. Well, I knowed a potato would do that
before, but I had forgot it.
Jim put the quarter under the hair-ball, and got down and listened
again. This time he said the hair-ball was all right. He said it would
tell my whole fortune if I wanted it to. I says, go on. So the hair-ball
talked to Jim, and Jim told it to me. He says:
"Yo' ole father doan' know yit what he's a-gwyne to do. Sometimes
he spec he'll go 'way, en den agin he spec he'll stay. De bes' way is to
res' easy en let de ole man take his own way. Dey's two angels hoverin'
roun' 'bout him. One uv 'em is white en shiny, en t'other one is black.
De white one gits him to go right a little while, den de black one sail
in en bust it all up. A body can't tell yit which one gwyne to fetch him
at de las'. But you is all right. You gwyne to have considable trouble
in yo' life, en considable joy. Sometimes you gwyne to git hurt, en
sometimes you gwyne to git sick; but every time you's gwyne to git well
agin. Dey's two gals flyin' 'bout you in yo' life. One uv 'em's light en
t'other one is dark. One is rich en t'other is po'. You's gwyne to marry
de po' one fust en de rich one by en by. You wants to keep 'way fum de
water as much as you kin, en don't run no resk, 'kase it's down in de
bills dat you's gwyne to git hung."
When I lit my candle and went up to my room that night there sat
pap -- his own self!
He was most fifty, and he looked it. His hair was long and tangled
and greasy, and hung down, and you could see his eyes shining through
like he was behind vines. It was all black, no gray; so was his long,
mixed-up whiskers. There warn't no color in his face, where his face
showed; it was white; not like another man's white, but a white to make
a body sick, a white to make a body's flesh crawl -- a tree-toad white,
a fish-belly white. As for his clothes -- just rags, that was all. He
had one ankle resting on t'other knee; the boot on that foot was busted,
and two of his toes stuck through, and he worked them now and then. His
hat was laying on the floor -- an old black slouch with the top caved in,
like a lid.
I stood a-looking at him; he set there a-looking at me, with his
chair tilted back a little. I set the candle down. I noticed the window
was up; so he had clumb in by the shed. He kept a-looking me all over.
By and by he says:
"Starchy clothes -- very. You think you're a good deal of a big-bug,
"Maybe I am, maybe I ain't," I says.
"Don't you give me none o' your lip," says he. "You've put on
considerable many frills since I been away. I'll take you down a peg
before I get done with you. You're educated, too, they say -- can read
and write. You think you're better'n your father, now, don't you, because
he can't? I'll take it out of you. Who told you you might meddle with such
hifalut'n foolishness, hey? -- who told you you could?"
"The widow. She told me."
"The widow, hey? -- and who told the widow she could put in her
shovel about a thing that ain't none of her business?"
"Nobody never told her."
"Well, I'll learn her how to meddle. And looky here -- you drop that
school, you hear? I'll learn people to bring up a boy to put on airs over
his own father and let on to be better'n what he is. You lemme catch you
fooling around that school again, you hear? Your mother couldn't read, and
she couldn't write, nuther, before she died. None of the family couldn't
before they died. I can't; and here you're a-swelling yourself up like this.
I ain't the man to stand it -- you hear? Say, lemme hear you read."
I took up a book and begun something about General Washington and the
wars. When I'd read about a half a minute, he fetched the book a whack with
his hand and knocked it across the house. He says:
"It's so. You can do it. I had my doubts when you told me. Now looky
here; you stop that putting on frills. I won't have it. I'll lay for you,
my smarty; and if I catch you about that school I'll tan you good. First
you know you'll get religion, too. I never see such a son.
He took up a little blue and yaller picture of some cows and a boy,
"It's something they give me for learning my lessons good."
He tore it up, and says:
"I'll give you something better -- I'll give you a cowhide.
He set there a-mumbling and a-growling a minute, and then he says:
"Ain't you a sweet-scented dandy, though? A bed; and bedclothes; and
a look'n'-glass; and a piece of carpet on the floor -- and your own father
got to sleep with the hogs in the tanyard. I never see such a son. I bet
I'll take some o' these frills out o' you before I'm done with you. Why,
there ain't no end to your airs -- they say you're rich. Hey? -- how's that?"
"They lie -- that's how."
"Looky here -- mind how you talk to me; I'm a-standing about all I
can stand now -- so don't gimme no sass. I've been in town two days, and I
hain't heard nothing but about you bein' rich. I heard about it away down
the river, too. That's why I come. You git me that money to-morrow -- I
"I hain't got no money."
"It's a lie. Judge Thatcher's got it. You git it. I want it."
"I hain't got no money, I tell you. You ask Judge Thatcher; he'll tell
you the same."
"All right. I'll ask him; and I'll make him pungle, too, or I'll know
the reason why. Say, how much you got in your pocket? I want it."
"I hain't got only a dollar, and I want that to -- "
"It don't make no difference what you want it for -- you just shell it out."
That pleased the old man till he couldn't rest. He said he'd cowhide
me till I was black and blue if I didn't raise some money for him. I
borrowed three dollars from Judge Thatcher, and pap took it and got drunk,
and went a-blowing around and cussing and whooping and carrying on; and
he kept it up all over town, with a tin pan, till most midnight; then
they jailed him, and next day they had him before court, and jailed him
again for a week. But he said he was satisfied; said he was boss of his
son, and he'd make it warm for him.
When he got out the new judge said he was a-going to make a man of
him. So he took him to his own house, and dressed him up clean and nice,
and had him to breakfast and dinner and supper with the family, and was
just old pie to him, so to speak. And after supper he talked to him about
temperance and such things till the old man cried, and said he'd been a
fool, and fooled away his life; but now he was a-going to turn over a new
leaf and be a man nobody wouldn't be ashamed of, and he hoped the judge
would help him and not look down on him. The judge said he could hug him for
them words; so he cried, and his wife she cried again; pap said he'd been a
man that had always been misunderstood before, and the judge said he
believed it. The old man said that what a man wanted that was down was
sympathy, and the judge said it was so; so they cried again. And when it
was bedtime the old man rose up and held out his hand, and says:
"Look at it, gentlemen and ladies all; take a-hold of it; shake it.
There's a hand that was the hand of a hog; but it ain't so no more; it's
the hand of a man that's started in on a new life, and'll die before
he'll go back. You mark them words -- don't forget I said them. It's a
clean hand now; shake it -- don't be afeard."
So they shook it, one after the other, all around, and cried. The
judge's wife she kissed it. Then the old man he signed a pledge -- made
his mark. The judge said it was the holiest time on record, or something
like that. Then they tucked the old man into a beautiful room, which was
the spare room, and in the night some time he got powerful thirsty and
clumb out on to the porch-roof and slid down a stanchion and traded his
new coat for a jug of forty-rod, and clumb back again and had a good old
time; and towards daylight he crawled out again, drunk as a fiddler, and
rolled off the porch and broke his left arm in two places, and was most
froze to death when somebody found him after sun-up. And when they come
to look at that spare room they had to take soundings before they could
The judge he felt kind of sore. He said he reckoned a body could
reform the old man with a shotgun, maybe, but he didn't know no other
He kept me with him all the time, and I never got a chance to run
off. We lived in that old cabin, and he always locked the door and put the
key under his head nights. He had a gun which he had stole, I reckon, and
we fished and hunted, and that was what we lived on. Every little while he
locked me in and went down to the store, three miles, to the ferry, and
traded fish and game for whisky, and fetched it home and got drunk and had
a good time, and licked me. The widow she found out where I was by and by,
and she sent a man over to try to get hold of me; but pap drove him off
with the gun, and it warn't long after that till I was used to being where
I was, and liked it -- all but the cowhide part.
It was kind of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable all day, smoking
and fishing, and no books nor study. Two months or more run along, and my
clothes got to be all rags and dirt, and I didn't see how I'd ever got to
like it so well at the widow's, where you had to wash, and eat on a plate,
and comb up, and go to bed and get up regular, and be forever bothering over
a book, and have old Miss Watson pecking at you all the time. I didn't want
to go back no more. I had stopped cussing, because the widow didn't like it;
but now I took to it again because pap hadn't no objections. It was pretty
good times up in the woods there, take it all around.
But by and by pap got too handy with his hick'ry, and I couldn't stand it.
I was all over welts. He got to going away so much, too, and locking me in.
Once he locked me in and was gone three days. It was dreadful lonesome.
I judged he had got drownded, and I wasn't ever going to get out any more.
I was scared. I made up my mind I would fix up some way to leave there.
I didn't want to go back to the widow's any more and be so cramped
up and sivilized, as they called it. Then the old man got to cussing, and
cussed everything and everybody he could think of, and then cussed them all
over againto make sure he hadn't skipped any, and after that he polished off
with a kind of a general cuss all round, including a considerable parcel of
people which he didn't know the names of, and so called them what's-his-name
when he got to them, and went right along with his cussing.
"Call this a govment! why, just look at it and see what it's like.
Here's the law a-standing ready to take a man's son away from him -- a man's
own son, which he has had all the trouble and all the anxiety and all the
expense of raising. Yes, just as that man has got that son raised at last,
and ready to go to work and begin to do suthin' for him and give him a rest,
the law up and goes for him. And they call that govment! That ain't all,
nuther. The law backs that old Judge Thatcher up and helps him to keep me
out o' my property. Here's what the law does: The law takes a man worth six
thousand dollars and up'ards, and jams him into an old trap of a cabin like
this, and lets him go round in clothes that ain't fitten for a hog. They
call that govment! A man can't get his rights in a govment like this.
"Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here. There
was a free nigger there from Ohio -- a mulatter, most as white as a white man.
He had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the shiniest hat; and there
ain't a man in that town that's got as fine clothes as what he had; and he had
a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane -- the awfulest old gray-
headed nabob in the State. And what do you think? They said he was a p'fessor
in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And
that ain't the wust. They said he could vote when he was at home. Well, that
let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was 'lection day, and
I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn't too drunk to get there; but when
they told me there was a State in this country where they'd let that nigger vote,
I drawed out. I says I'll never vote agin. Them's the very words I said; they all
heard me; and the country may rot for all me -- I'll never vote agin as long as I
live. And to see the cool way of that nigger -- why, he wouldn't a give me the
road if I hadn't shoved him out o' the way. I says to the people, why ain't this
nigger put up at auction and sold? -- that's what I want to know. And what do you
reckon they said? Why, they said he couldn't be sold till he'd been in the State
six months, and he hadn't been there that long yet. There, now -- that's a
specimen. They call that a govment that can't sell a free nigger till he's been in
the State six months. Here's a govment that calls itself a govment, and lets on
to be a govment, and thinks it is a govment, and yet's got to set stock-still for
six whole months before it can take a hold of a prowling, thieving, infernal,
white-shirted free nigger, and -- "
Pap was agoing on so he never noticed where his old limber legs was taking
him to, so he went head over heels over the tub of salt pork and barked both shins,
and the rest of his speech was all the hottest kind of language -- mostly hove at
the nigger and the govment, though he give the tub some, too, all along, here and
there. He hopped around the cabin considerable, first on one leg and then on the
other, holding first one shin and then the other one, and at last he let out with
his left foot all of a sudden and fetched the tub a rattling kick. But it warn't
good judgment, because that was the boot that had a couple of his toes leaking
out of the front end of it; so now he raised a howl that fairly made a body's
hair raise, and down he went in the dirt, and rolled there, and held his toes;
I don't know how long I was asleep, but all of a sudden there was an awful
scream and I was up. There was pap looking wild, and skipping around every
which way and yelling about snakes. He said they was crawling up his legs;
and then he would give a jump and scream, and say one had bit him on the
cheek -- but I couldn't see no snakes. He started and run round and round
the cabin, hollering "Take him off! take him off! he's biting me on the neck!"
I never see a man look so wild in the eyes. Pretty soon he was all fagged
out, and fell down panting; then he rolled over and over wonderful fast,
kicking things every which way, and striking and grabbing at the air with his
hands, and screaming and saying there was devils a-hold of him. He wore
out by and by, and laid still a while, moaning. Then he laid stiller, and didn't
wolves away off in the woods, and it seemed terrible still. He was laying over
by the corner. By and by he raised up part way and listened, with his head
to one side. He says, very low:
"Tramp -- tramp -- tramp; that's the dead; tramp -- tramp -- tramp;
they're coming after me; but I won't go. Oh, they're here! don't touch me --
don't! hands off -- they're cold; let go. Oh, let a poor devil alone!"
Then he went down on all fours and crawled off, begging them to let
him alone, and he rolled himself up in his blanket and wallowed in under the
old pine table, still a-begging; and then he went to crying. I could hear him
through the blanket.
By and by he rolled out and jumped up on his feet looking wild, and he
see me and went for me. He chased me round and round the place with a
clasp-knife, calling me the Angel of Death, and saying he would kill me, and
then I couldn't come for him no more. I begged, and told him I was only
Huck; but he laughed such a screechy laugh, and roared and cussed, and
kept on chasing me up. Once when I turned short and dodged under his
arm he made a grab and got me by the jacket between my shoulders, and I
thought I was gone; but I slid out of the jacket quick as lightning, and saved
myself. Pretty soon he was all tired out, and dropped down with his back
against the door, and said he would rest a minute and then kill me. He put
his knife under him, and said he would sleep and get strong, and then he
would see who was who.
"GIT up! What you 'bout?"
I opened my eyes and looked around, trying to make out where I was. It
was after sun-up, and I had been sound asleep. Pap was standing over me
looking sour and sick, too. He says:
"What you doin' with this gun?"
I judged he didn't know nothing about what he had been doing, so I says:
"Somebody tried to get in, so I was laying for him."
"Why didn't you roust me out?"
"Well, I tried to, but I couldn't; I couldn't budge you."
"Well, all right. Don't stand there palavering all day, but out with you
and see if there's a fish on the lines for breakfast. I'll be along in a
He unlocked the door, and I cleared out up the river-bank. I noticed
some pieces of limbs and such things floating down, and a sprinkling of bark;
so I knowed the river had begun to rise. I reckoned I would have great times
now if I was over at the town. The June rise used to be always luck for me;
because as soon as that rise begins here comes cordwood floating down, and
pieces of log rafts -- sometimes a dozen logs together; so all you have to
do is to catch them and sell them to the wood-yards and the sawmill.
I went along up the bank with one eye out for pap and t'other one out
for what the rise might fetch along. Well, all at once here comes a canoe;
just a beauty, too, about thirteen or fourteen foot long, riding high like a duck.
I shot head-first off of the bank like a frog, clothes and all on, and struck
out for the canoe. I just expected there'd be somebody laying down in it,
because people often done that to fool folks, and when a chap had pulled a
skiff out most to it they'd raise up and laugh at him. But it warn't so this
time. It was a drift-canoe sure enough, and I clumb in and paddled her ashore.
Thinks I, the old man will be glad when he sees this -- she's worth ten dollars.
But when I got to shore pap wasn't in sight yet, and as I was running her into
a little creek like a gully, all hung over with vines and willows, I struck
another idea: I judged I'd hide her good, and then, 'stead of taking to the
woods when I run off, I'd go down the river about fifty mile and camp in one
place for good, and not have such a rough time tramping on foot.
It was pretty close to the shanty, and I thought I heard the old man
coming all the time; but I got her hid; and then I out and looked around a bunch
of willows, and there was the old man down the path a piece just drawing a
bead on a bird with his gun. So he hadn't seen anything.
When he got along I was hard at it taking up a "trot" line. He abused me
a little for being so slow; but I told him I fell in the river, and that was
what made me so long. I knowed he would see I was wet, and then he would be
asking questions. We got five catfish off the lines and went home.
"Another time a man comes a-prowling round here you roust me out,
you hear? That man warn't here for no good. I'd a shot him. Next time you
roust me out, you hear?"
Then he dropped down and went to sleep again; but what he had been
saying give me the very idea I wanted. I says to myself, I can fix it now so
nobody won't think of following me.
About twelve o'clock we turned out and went along up the bank. The
river was coming up pretty fast, and lots of driftwood going by on the rise.
By and by along comes part of a log raft -- nine logs fast together. We went
out with the skiff and towed it ashore. Then we had dinner. Anybody but
pap would a waited and seen the day through, so as to catch more stuff;
but that warn't pap's style. Nine logs was enough for one time; he must
shove right over to town and sell. So he locked me in and took the skiff,
and started off towing the raft about half-past three. I judged he wouldn't
come back that night. I waited till I reckoned he had got a good start;
then I out with my saw, and went to work on that log again. Before he was
t'other side of the river I was out of the hole; him and his raft was just
a speck on the water away off yonder.
I took the sack of corn meal and took it to where the canoe was hid,
and shoved the vines and branches apart and put it in; then I done the same
with the side of bacon; then the whisky-jug. I took all the coffee and sugar
there was, and all the ammunition; I took the wadding; I took the bucket and
gourd; I took a dipper and a tin cup, and my old saw and two blankets, and
the skillet and the coffee-pot. I took fish-lines and matches and other
things -- everything that was worth a cent. I cleaned out the place. I wanted
an axe, but there wasn't any, only the one out at the woodpile, and I knowed
why I was going to leave that. I fetched out the gun, and now I was done.
I had wore the ground a good deal crawling out of the hole and dragging
out so many things. So I fixed that as good as I could from the outside by
scattering dust on the place, which covered up the smoothness and the
sawdust. Then I fixed the piece of log back into its place, and put two rocks
under it and one against it to hold it there, for it was bent up at that place
and didn't quite touch ground. If you stood four or five foot away and didn't
know it was sawed, you wouldn't never notice it; and besides, this was the
back of the cabin, and it warn't likely anybody would go fooling around there.
It was all grass clear to the canoe, so I hadn't left a track. I followed
around to see. I stood on the bank and looked out over the river. All safe.
So I took the gun and went up a piece into the woods, and was hunting around
for some birds when I see a wild pig; hogs soon went wild in them bottoms after
they had got away from the prairie farms. I shot this fellow and took him into
I took the axe and smashed in the door. I beat it and hacked it considerable
a-doing it. I fetched the pig in, and took him back nearly to the table and
hacked into his throat with the axe, and laid him down on the ground to bleed;
I say ground because it was ground -- hard packed, and no boards. Well, next I
took an old sack and put a lot of big rocks in it -- all I could drag -- and I
started it from the pig, and dragged it to the door and through the woods down
to the river and dumped it in, and down it sunk, out of sight. You could easy
see that something had been dragged over the ground. I did wish Tom Sawyer was
there; I knowed he would take an interest in this kind of business, and throw
in the fancy touches. Nobody could spread himself like Tom Sawyer in such a
thing as that.
Well, last I pulled out some of my hair, and blooded the axe good, and stuck
it on the back side, and slung the axe in the corner. Then I took up the pig
and held him to my breast with my jacket (so he couldn't drip) till I got a
good piece below the house and then dumped him into the river.
It was about dark now; so I dropped the canoe down the river under
some willows that hung over the bank, and waited for the moon to rise. I
made fast to a willow; then I took a bite to eat, and by and by laid down in
the canoe to smoke a pipe and lay out a plan. I says to myself, they'll
follow the track of that sackful of rocks to the shore and then drag the
river for me. And they'll follow that meal track to the lake and go browsing
down the creek that leads out of it to find the robbers that killed me and
took the things. They won't ever hunt the river for anything but my dead
carcass. They'll soon get tired of that, and won't bother no more about me.
All right; I can stop anywhere I want to. Jackson's Island is good enough
for me; I know that island pretty well, and nobody ever comes there. And
then I can paddle over to town nights, and slink around and pick up things
I want. Jackson's Island's the place.
I was pretty tired, and the first thing I knowed I was asleep. When I
woke up I didn't know where I was for a minute. I set up and looked around,
a little scared. Then I remembered. The river looked miles and miles across.
The moon was so bright I could a counted the drift logs that went a-slipping
along, black and still, hundreds of yards out from shore. Everything was
dead quiet, and it looked late, and smelt late. You know what I mean -- I
don't know the words to put it in.
I took a good gap and a stretch, and was just going to unhitch and start
when I heard a sound away over the water. I listened. Pretty soon I made
it out. It was that dull kind of a regular sound that comes from oars working
in rowlocks when it's a still night. I peeped out through the willow branches,
and there it was -- a skiff, away across the water. I couldn't tell how many
was in it. It kept a-coming, and when it was abreast of me I see there warn't
but one man in it. Think's I, maybe it's pap, though I warn't expecting him.
He dropped below me with the current, and by and by he came a-swinging up shore
in the easy water, and he went by so close I could a reached out the gun and
touched him. Well, it was pap, sure enough -- and sober, too, by the way he
laid his oars.
I didn't lose no time. The next minute I was a-spinning down stream soft
but quick in the shade of the bank. I made two mile and a half, and then
struck out a quarter of a mile or more towards the middle of the river,
because pretty soon I would be passing the ferry landing, and people might
see me and hail me. I got out amongst the driftwood, and then laid down in
the bottom of the canoe and let her float. I laid there, and had a good rest
and a smoke out of my pipe, looking away into the sky; not a cloud in it.
The sky looks ever so deep when you lay down on your back in the moonshine;
I never knowed it before. And how far a body can hear on the water such nights!
I heard people talking at the ferry landing. I heard what they said, too --
every word of it.
I went up and set down on a log at the head of the island, and looked
out on the big river and the black driftwood and away over to the town,
three mile away, where there was three or four lights twinkling. A
monstrous big lumber-raft was about a mile up stream, coming along down,
with a lantern in the middle of it. I watched it come creeping down, and
when it was most abreast of where I stood I heard a man say, "Stern oars,
there! heave her head to stabboard!" I heard that just as plain as if
the man was by my side.
There was a little gray in the sky now; so I stepped into the woods, and
laid down for a nap before breakfast.
THE sun was up so high when I waked that I judged it was after eight
o'clock. I laid there in the grass and the cool shade thinking about things,
and feeling rested and ruther comfortable and satisfied. I could see the sun
out at one or two holes, but mostly it was big trees all about, and gloomy
in there amongst them. There was freckled places on the ground where the
light sifted down through the leaves, and the freckled places swapped about
a little, showing there was a little breeze up there. A couple of squirrels
set on a limb and jabbered at me very friendly.
I was powerful lazy and comfortable -- didn't want to get up and cook
breakfast. Well, I was dozing off again when I thinks I hears a deep sound
of "boom!" away up the river. I rouses up, and rests on my elbow and listens;
pretty soon I hears it again. I hopped up, and went and looked out at a hole
in the leaves, and I see a bunch of smoke laying on the water a long ways up
-- about abreast the ferry. And there was the ferryboat full of people
floating along down. I knowed what was the matter now. "Boom!" I see the
white smoke squirt out of the ferryboat's side. You see, they was firing
cannon over the water, trying to make my carcass come to the top.
I was pretty hungry, but it warn't going to do for me to start a fire,
because they might see the smoke. So I set there and watched the cannon-
smoke and listened to the boom. The river was a mile wide there, and it always
looks pretty on a summer morning -- so I was having a good enough time
seeing them hunt for my remainders if I only had a bite to eat. Well, then I
happened to think how they always put quicksilver in loaves of bread and
float them off, because they always go right to the drownded carcass and
stop there. So, says I, I'll keep a lookout, and if any of them's floating
around after me I'll give them a show. I changed to the Illinois edge of the
island to see what luck I could have, and I warn't disappointed. A big double
loaf come along, and I most got it with a long stick, but my foot slipped and
she floated out further. Of course I was where the current set in the closest
to the shore -- I knowed enough for that. But by and by along comes another
one, and this time I won. I took out the plug and shook out the little dab of
quicksilver, and set my teeth in. It was "baker's bread" -- what the quality
eat; none of your low-down corn-pone.
I got a good place amongst the leaves, and set there on a log, munching
the bread and watching the ferry-boat, and very well satisfied. And then
something struck me. I says, now I reckon the widow or the parson or
somebody prayed that this bread would find me, and here it has gone and
done it. So there ain't no doubt but there is something in that thing -- that
is, there's something in it when a body like the widow or the parson prays,
but it don't work for me, and I reckon it don't work for only just the right kind.
I lit a pipe and had a good long smoke, and went on watching. The ferryboat
was floating with the current, and I allowed I'd have a chance to see who was
aboard when she come along, because she would come in close, where the bread
did. When she'd got pretty well along down towards me, I put out my pipe and
went to where I fished out the bread, and laid down behind a log on the bank in
a little open place. Where the log forked I could peep through.
By and by she come along, and she drifted in so close that they could a
run out a plank and walked ashore. Most everybody was on the boat. Pap, and
Judge Thatcher, and Bessie Thatcher, and Jo Harper, and Tom Sawyer, and his
old Aunt Polly, and Sid and Mary, and plenty more. Everybody was talking about the
murder, but the captain broke in and says:
"Look sharp, now; the current sets in the closest here, and maybe he's
washed ashore and got tangled amongst the brush at the water's edge. I hope
I didn't hope so. They all crowded up and leaned over the rails, nearly
in my face, and kept still, watching with all their might. I could see them
first-rate, but they couldn't see me. Then the captain sung out:
"Stand away!" and the cannon let off such a blast right before me that
it made me deef with the noise and pretty near blind with the smoke, and I
judged I was gone. If they'd a had some bullets in, I reckon they'd a got
the corpse they was after. Well, I see I warn't hurt, thanks to goodness.
I knowed I was all right now. Nobody else would come a-hunting after me.
I got my traps out of the canoe and made me a nice camp in the thick woods.
I made a kind of a tent out of my blankets to put my things under so the rain
couldn't get at them. I catched a catfish and haggled him open with my saw,
and towards sundown I started my camp fire and had supper. Then I set out a
line to catch some fish for breakfast.
When it was dark I set by my camp fire smoking, and feeling pretty well
satisfied; but by and by it got sort of lonesome, and so I went and set on
the bank and listened to the current swashing along, and counted the stars
and drift logs and rafts that come down, and then went to bed; there ain't
no better way to put in time when you are lonesome; you can't stay so, you
soon get over it.
And so for three days and nights. No difference -- just the same thing.
But the next day I went exploring around down through the island. I was boss
of it; it all belonged to me, so to say, and I wanted to know all about it;
but mainly I wanted to put in the time. I found plenty strawberries, ripe
and prime; and green summer grapes, and green razberries; and the green
blackberries was just beginning to show. They would all come handy by and
by, I judged.
Well, I went fooling along in the deep woods till I judged I warn't
far from the foot of the island. I had my gun along, but I hadn't shot
nothing; it was for protection; thought I would kill some game nigh home.
About this time I mighty near stepped on a good-sized snake, and it went
sliding off through the grass and flowers, and I after it, trying to get
a shot at it. I clipped along, and all of a sudden I bounded right on to
the ashes of a camp fire that was still smoking.
My heart jumped up amongst my lungs. I never waited for to look
further, but uncocked my gun and went sneaking back on my tiptoes as
fast as ever I could. Every now and then I stopped a second amongst the
thick leaves and listened, but my breath come so hard I couldn't hear
nothing else. I slunk along another piece further, then listened again;
and so on, and so on. If I see a stump, I took it for a man; if I trod
on a stick and broke it, it made me feel like a person had cut one of
my breaths in two and I only got half, and the short half, too.
When I got to camp I warn't feeling very brash, there warn't much
sand in my craw; but I says, this ain't no time to be fooling around.
So I got all my traps into my canoe again so as to have them out of
sight, and I put out the fire and scattered the ashes around to look
like an old last year's camp, and then clumb a tree.
I reckon I was up in the tree two hours; but I didn't see nothing,
I didn't hear nothing -- I only thought I heard and seen as much as a
thousand things. Well, I couldn't stay up there forever; so at last I
got down, but I kept in the thick woods and on the lookout all the
time. All I could get to eat was berries and what was left over from
By the time it was night I was pretty hungry. So when it was good
and dark I slid out from shore before moonrise and paddled over to the
Illinois bank -- about a quarter of a mile. I went out in the woods
and cooked a supper, and I had about made up my mind I would stay there
all night when I hear a plunkety-plunk, plunkety-plunk, and says to
myself, horses coming; and next I hear people's voices.
I didn't sleep much. I couldn't, somehow, for thinking. And every
time I waked up I thought somebody had me by the neck. So the sleep
didn't do me no good. By and by I says to myself, I can't live this
way; I'm a-going to find out who it is that's here on the island with
me; I'll find it out or bust. Well, I felt better right off.
So I took my paddle and slid out from shore just a step or two,
and then let the canoe drop along down amongst the shadows. The moon
was shining, and outside of the shadows it made it most as light as
day. I poked along well on to an hour, everything still as rocks and
sound asleep. Well, by this time I was most down to the foot of the
island. A little ripply, cool breeze begun to blow, and that was as
good as saying the night was about done. I give her a turn with the
paddle and brung her nose to shore; then I got my gun and slipped out
and into the edge of the woods. I sat down there on a log, and looked
out through the leaves. I see the moon go off watch, and the darkness
begin to blanket the river. But in a little while I see a pale streak
over the treetops, and knowed the day was coming. So I took my gun and
slipped off towards where I had run across that camp fire, stopping
every minute or two to listen. But I hadn't no luck somehow; I couldn't
seem to find the place. But by and by, sure enough, I catched a glimpse
of fire away through the trees. I went for it, cautious and slow. By and
by I was close enough to have a look, and there laid a man on the ground.
It most give me the fantods. He had a blanket around his head, and his
head was nearly in the fire. I set there behind a clump of bushes in
about six foot of him, and kept my eyes on him steady. It was getting
gray daylight now. Pretty soon he gapped and stretched himself and hove
off the blanket, and it was Miss Watson's Jim! I bet I was glad to see
him. I says:
"Hello, Jim!" and skipped out.
He bounced up and stared at me wild. Then he drops down on his
knees, and puts his hands together and says:
"Doan' hurt me -- don't! I hain't ever done no harm to a ghos'.
I alwuz liked dead people, en done all I could for 'em. You go en git
in de river agin, whah you b'longs, en doan' do nuffn to Ole Jim, 'at
'uz awluz yo' fren'."
Well, I warn't long making him understand I warn't dead. I was
ever so glad to see Jim. I warn't lonesome now. I told him I warn't
afraid of him telling the people where I was. I talked along, but he
only set there and looked at me; never said nothing. Then I says:
"It's good daylight. Le's get breakfast. Make up your camp fire
"What's de use er makin' up de camp fire to cook strawbries en
sich truck? But you got a gun, hain't you? Den we kin git sumfn better
"Strawberries and such truck," I says. "Is that what you live on?"
"I couldn' git nuffn else," he says.
"Why, how long you been on the island, Jim?"
"I come heah de night arter you's killed."
"What, all that time?"
"Yes -- indeedy."
"And ain't you had nothing but that kind of rubbage to eat?"
"No, sah -- nuffn else."
"Well, you must be most starved, ain't you?"
"I reck'n I could eat a hoss. I think I could. How long you
ben on de islan'?"
"Since the night I got killed."
"No! W'y, what has you lived on? But you got a gun. Oh, yes,
you got a gun. Dat's good. Now you kill sumfn en I'll make up de
So we went over to where the canoe was, and while he built
a fire in a grassy open place amongst the trees, I fetched meal
and bacon and coffee, and coffee-pot and frying-pan, and sugar
and tin cups, and the nigger was set back considerable, because
he reckoned it was all done with witchcraft. I catched a good
big catfish, too, and Jim cleaned him with his knife, and fried
When breakfast was ready we lolled on the grass and eat it
smoking hot. Jim laid it in with all his might, for he was most
about starved. Then when we had got pretty well stuffed, we laid
off and lazied. By and by Jim says:
"But looky here, Huck, who wuz it dat 'uz killed in dat
shanty ef it warn't you?"
Then I told him the whole thing, and he said it was smart.
He said Tom Sawyer couldn't get up no better plan than what I
had. Then I says:
"How do you come to be here, Jim, and how'd you get here?"
He looked pretty uneasy, and didn't say nothing for a
minute. Then he says:
"Maybe I better not tell."
"Well, dey's reasons. But you wouldn' tell on me ef I uz to
tell you, would you, Huck?"
"Blamed if I would, Jim."
"Well, I b'lieve you, Huck. I -- run off."
"But mind, you said you wouldn' tell -- you know you said
you wouldn' tell, Huck."
"Well, I did. I said I wouldn't, and I'll stick to it.
Honest injun, I will. People would call me a low-down Abolitionist
and despise me for keeping mum -- but that don't make no
difference. I ain't a-going to tell, and I ain't a-going back
there, anyways. So, now, le's know all about it."
"Well, you see, it 'uz dis way. Ole missus -- dat's Miss
Watson -- she pecks on me all de time, en treats me pooty rough,
but she awluz said she wouldn' sell me down to Orleans. But I
noticed dey wuz a nigger trader roun' de place considable lately,
en I begin to git oneasy. Well, one night I creeps to de do'
pooty late, en de do' warn't quite shet, en I hear old missus
tell de widder she gwyne to sell me down to Orleans, but she
didn' want to, but she could git eight hund'd dollars for me,
en it 'uz sich a big stack o' money she couldn' resis'.
"Well, when it come dark I tuck out up de river road, en went
'bout two mile er more to whah dey warn't no houses. I'd made
up my mine 'bout what I's agwyne to do. You see, ef I kep' on
tryin' to git away afoot, de dogs 'ud track me; ef I stole a
skift to cross over, dey'd miss dat skift, you see, en dey'd
know 'bout whah I'd lan' on de yuther side, en whah to pick
up my track. So I says, a raff is what I's arter; it doan'
make no track.
"I see a light a-comin' roun' de p'int bymeby, so I wade'
in en shove' a log ahead o' me en swum more'n half way acrost
de river, en got in 'mongst de drift-wood, en kep' my head
down low, en kinder swum agin de current tell de raff come along.
Den I swum to de stern uv it en tuck a-holt. It clouded up en
'uz pooty dark for a little while. So I clumb up en laid down
on de planks. De men 'uz all 'way yonder in de middle, whah de
lantern wuz. De river wuz a-risin', en dey wuz a good current;
so I reck'n'd 'at by fo' in de mawnin' I'd be twenty-five mile
down de river, en den I'd slip in jis b'fo' daylight en swim
asho', en take to de woods on de Illinois side.
"But I didn' have no luck. When we 'uz mos' down to de head
er de islan' a man begin to come aft wid de lantern, I see it
warn't no use fer to wait, so I slid overboard en struck out
fer de islan'. Well, I had a notion I could lan' mos' anywhers,
but I couldn't -- bank too bluff. I 'uz mos' to de foot er de
islan' b'fo' I found' a good place. I went into de woods en
jedged I wouldn' fool wid raffs no mo', long as dey move de
lantern roun' so. I had my pipe en a plug er dog-leg, en some
matches in my cap, en dey warn't wet, so I 'uz all right."
"And so you ain't had no meat nor bread to eat all this
time? Why didn't you get mud-turkles?"
"How you gwyne to git 'm? You can't slip up on um en grab
um; en how's a body gwyne to hit um wid a rock? How could
a body do it in de night? En I warn't gwyne to show mysef
on de bank in de daytime."
"Well, that's so. You've had to keep in the woods all the
time, of course. Did you hear 'em shooting the cannon?"
"Oh, yes. I knowed dey was arter you. I see um go by heah
-- watched um thoo de bushes."
Some young birds come along, flying a yard or two at a
time and lighting. Jim said it was a sign it was going to
rain. He said it was a sign when young chickens flew that
way, and so he reckoned it was the same way when young birds
done it. I was going to catch some of them, but Jim wouldn't
let me. He said it was death. He said his father laid mighty
sick once, and some of them catched a bird, and his old
granny said his father would die, and he did.
And Jim said you mustn't count the things you are going
to cook for dinner, because that would bring bad luck. The
same if you shook the table-cloth after sundown. And he
said if a man owned a beehive and that man died, the bees
must be told about it before sun-up next morning, or else
the bees would all weaken down and quit work and die. Jim
said bees wouldn't sting idiots; but I didn't believe that,
because I had tried them lots of times myself, and they
wouldn't sting me.
I had heard about some of these things before, but not
all of them. Jim knowed all kinds of signs. He said he knowed
most everything. I said it looked to me like all the signs
was about bad luck, and so I asked him if there warn't any
good-luck signs. He says:
"Mighty few -- an' dey ain't no use to a body. What you
want to know when good luck's a-comin' for? Want to keep
it off?" And he said: "Ef you's got hairy arms en a hairy
breas', it's a sign dat you's agwyne to be rich. Well,
dey's some use in a sign like dat, 'kase it's so fur ahead.
You see, maybe you's got to be po' a long time fust, en so
you might git discourage' en kill yo'sef 'f you didn' know
by de sign dat you gwyne to be rich bymeby."
"Have you got hairy arms and a hairy breast, Jim?"
"What's de use to ax dat question? Don't you see I has?"
"Well, are you rich?"
"No, but I ben rich wunst, and gwyne to be rich agin.
Wunst I had foteen dollars, but I tuck to specalat'n',
en got busted out."
“You know that one-laigged nigger dat b'longs to old Misto Bradish?
Well, he sot up a bank, en say anybody dat put in a dollar would git
fo' dollars mo' at de en' er de year. Well, all de niggers went in,
but dey didn't have much. I wuz de on'y one dat had much. So I stuck
out for mo' dan fo' dollars, en I said 'f I didn' git it I'd start
a bank mysef. Well, o' course dat nigger want' to keep me out er de
business, bekase he says dey warn't business 'nough for two banks,
so he say I could put in my five dollars en he pay me thirty-five at
de en' er de year.
"So I done it. Den I reck'n'd I'd inves' de thirty-five dollars
right off en keep things a-movin'. Dey wuz a nigger name' Bob, dat
had ketched a wood-flat, en his marster didn' know it; en I bought it
off'n him en told him to take de thirty-five dollars when de en' er
de year come; but somebody stole de wood-flat dat night, en nex day
de one-laigged nigger say de bank's busted. So dey didn' none uv us
git no money."
"What did you do with the ten cents, Jim?"
"Well, I 'uz gwyne to spen' it, but I had a dream, en de dream
tole me to give it to a nigger name' Balum -- Balum's Ass dey call
him for short; he's one er dem chuckleheads, you know. But he's lucky,
dey say, en I see I warn't lucky. De dream say let Balum inves' de
ten cents en he'd make a raise for me. Well, Balum he tuck de money,
en when he wuz in church he hear de preacher say dat whoever give to
de po' len' to de Lord, en boun' to git his money back a hund'd times.
So Balum he tuck en give de ten cents to de po', en laid low to see
what wuz gwyne to come of it."
"Well, what did come of it, Jim?"
"Nuffn never come of it. I couldn' manage to k'leck dat money no
way; en Balum he couldn'. I ain' gwyne to len' no mo' money 'dout I
see de security. Boun' to git yo' money back a hund'd times, de preacher
says! Ef I could git de ten cents back, I'd call it squah, en be glad
er de chanst."
"Well, it's all right anyway, Jim, long as you're going to be
rich again some time or other."
"Yes; en I's rich now, come to look at it. I owns mysef, en I's
wuth eight hund'd dollars. I wisht I had de money, I wouldn' want no
We spread the blankets inside for a carpet, and eat our dinner
in there. We put all the other things handy at the back of the cavern.
Pretty soon it darkened up, and begun to thunder and lighten; so the
birds was right about it. Directly it begun to rain, and it rained
like all fury, too, and I never see the wind blow so. It was one of
these regular summer storms. It would get so dark that it looked all
blue-black outside, and lovely; and the rain would thrash along by
so thick that the trees off a little ways looked dim and spider-webby;
and here would come a blast of wind that would bend the trees down
and turn up the pale under-side of the leaves; and then a perfect
ripper of a gust would follow along and set the branches to tossing
their arms as if they was just wild; and next, when it was just about
the bluest and blackest -- fst! it was as bright as glory, and you'd
have a little glimpse of tree-tops a-plunging about away off yonder
in the storm, hundreds of yards further than you could see before;
dark as sin again in a second, and now you'd hear the thunder let
go with an awful crash, and then go rumbling, grumbling, tumbling,
down the sky towards the under side of the world, like rolling empty
barrels down stairs -- where it's long stairs and they bounce a good
deal, you know.
"Jim, this is nice," I says. "I wouldn't want to be nowhere else
but here. Pass me along another hunk of fish and some hot corn-bread."
"Well, you wouldn't a ben here 'f it hadn't a ben for Jim. You'd a
ben down dah in de woods widout any dinner, en gittn' mos' drownded,
too; dat you would, honey. Chickens knows when it's gwyne to rain, en
so do de birds, chile."
Daytimes we paddled all over the island in the canoe, It was
mighty cool and shady in the deep woods, even if the sun was blazing
outside. We went winding in and out amongst the trees, and sometimes
the vines hung so thick we had to back away and go some other way.
Well, on every old broken-down tree you could see rabbits and snakes
and such things; and when the island had been overflowed a day or
two they got so tame, on account of being hungry, that you could
paddle right up and put your hand on them if you wanted to; but not
the snakes and turtles -- they would slide off in the water. The
ridge our cavern was in was full of them. We could a had pets enough
if we'd wanted them.
Another night when we was up at the head of the island, just
before daylight, here comes a frame-house down, on the west side.
She was a two-story, and tilted over considerable. We paddled out
and got aboard -- clumb in at an upstairs window. But it was too
dark to see yet, so we made the canoe fast and set in her to wait
The light begun to come before we got to the foot of the island.
Then we looked in at the window. We could make out a bed, and a table,
and two old chairs, and lots of things around about on the floor, and
there was clothes hanging against the wall. There was something laying
on the floor in the far corner that looked like a man. So Jim says:
But it didn't budge. So I hollered again, and then Jim says:
"De man ain't asleep -- he's dead. You hold still -- I'll go en see."
He went, and bent down and looked, and says:
"It's a dead man. Yes, indeedy; naked, too. He's ben shot in de back.
I reck'n he's ben dead two er three days. Come in, Huck, but doan' look at
his face -- it's too gashly."
We got an old tin lantern, and a butcher-knife without any
handle, and a bran-new Barlow knife worth two bits in any store,
and a lot of tallow candles, and a tin candlestick, and a gourd,
and a tin cup, and a ratty old bedquilt off the bed, and a reticule
with needles and pins and beeswax and buttons and thread and all
such truck in it, and a hatchet and some nails, and a fishline as
thick as my little finger with some monstrous hooks on it, and a
roll of buckskin, and a leather dog-collar, and a horseshoe, and
some vials of medicine that didn't have no label on them; and just
as we was leaving I found a tolerable good curry-comb, and Jim he
found a ratty old fiddle-bow, and a wooden leg. The straps was
broke off of it, but, barring that, it was a good enough leg,
though it was too long for me and not long enough for Jim, and
we couldn't find the other one, though we hunted all around.
We rummaged the clothes we'd got, and found eight dollars in silver
sewed up in the lining of an old blanket overcoat. Jim said he reckoned
the people in that house stole the coat, because if they'd a knowed
the money was there they wouldn't a left it. I said I reckoned they
killed him, too; but Jim didn't want to talk about that. I says:
"Now you think it's bad luck; but what did you say when I
fetched in the snake-skin that I found on the top of the ridge
day before yesterday? You said it was the worst bad luck in the
world to touch a snake-skin with my hands. Well, here's your bad
luck! We've raked in all this truck and eight dollars besides. I
wish we could have some bad luck like this every day, Jim."
"Never you mind, honey, never you mind. Don't you git too peart.
It's a-comin'. Mind I tell you, it's a-comin'."
It did come, too. It was a Tuesday that we had that talk. Well,
after dinner Friday we was laying around in the grass at the upper
end of the ridge, and got out of tobacco. I went to the cavern to
get some, and found a rattlesnake in there. I killed him, and curled
him up on the foot of Jim's blanket, ever so natural, thinking there'd
be some fun when Jim found him there. Well, by night I forgot all
about the snake, and when Jim flung himself down on the blanket while
I struck a light the snake's mate was there, and bit him.
He jumped up yelling, and the first thing the light showed was
the varmint curled up and ready for another spring. I laid him out in
a second with a stick, and Jim grabbed pap's whisky-jug and begun to
pour it down.
He was barefooted, and the snake bit him right on the heel. That
all comes of my being such a fool as to not remember that wherever
you leave a dead snake its mate always comes there and curls around
it. Jim told me to chop off the snake's head and throw it away, and
then skin the body and roast a piece of it. I done it, and he eat it
and said it would help cure him. He made me take off the rattles and
tie them around his wrist, too. He said that that would help. Then I
slid out quiet and throwed the snakes clear away amongst the bushes;
for I warn't going to let Jim find out it was all my fault, not if I
could help it.
Jim sucked and sucked at the jug, and now and then he got out of
his head and pitched around and yelled; but every time he come to
himself he went to sucking at the jug again. His foot swelled up pretty
big, and so did his leg; but by and by the drunk begun to come, and so
I judged he was all right; but I'd druther been bit with a snake than
He said he druther see the new moon over his left shoulder as
much as a thousand times than take up a snake-skin in his hand. Well,
I was getting to feel that way myself, though I've always reckoned
that looking at the new moon over your left shoulder is one of the
carelessest and foolishest things a body can do. Old Hank Bunker done
it once, and bragged about it; and in less than two years he got drunk
and fell off of the shot-tower, and spread himself out so that he was
just a kind of a layer, as you may say; and they slid him edgeways
between two barn doors for a coffin, and buried him so, so they say,
We couldn't handle him, of course; he would a flung us
into Illinois. We just set there and watched him rip and tear
around till he drownded. We found a brass button in his stomach
and a round ball, and lots of rubbage. We split the ball open
with the hatchet, and there was a spool in it. Jim said he'd had
it there a long time, to coat it over so and make a ball of it.
It was as big a fish as was ever catched in the Mississippi, I
reckon. Jim said he hadn't ever seen a bigger one. He would a
been worth a good deal over at the village. They peddle out such
a fish as that by the pound in the market-house there; everybody
buys some of him; his meat's as white as snow and makes a good
Next morning I said it was getting slow and dull, and I wanted
to get a stirring up some way. I said I reckoned I would slip over
the river and find out what was going on. Jim liked that notion;
but he said I must go in the dark and look sharp. Then he studied
it over and said, couldn't I put on some of them old things and
dress up like a girl? That was a good notion, too. So we shortened
up one of the calico gowns, and I turned up my trouser-legs to my
knees and got into it. Jim hitched it behind with the hooks, and
it was a fair fit. I put on the sun-bonnet and tied it under my
chin, and then for a body to look in and see my face was like
looking down a joint of stove-pipe. Jim said nobody would know
me, even in the daytime, hardly. I practiced around all day to
get the hang of the things, and by and by I could do pretty well
in them, only Jim said I didn't walk like a girl; and he said I
must quit pulling up my gown to get at my britches-pocket. I took
notice, and done better.
"COME in," says the woman, and I did. She says: "Take a cheer."
I done it. She looked me all over with her little shiny eyes, and
"What might your name be?"
"Where 'bouts do you live? In this neighborhood?'
"No'm. In Hookerville, seven mile below. I've walked all the way
and I'm all tired out."
"Hungry, too, I reckon. I'll find you something."
"No'm, I ain't hungry. I was so hungry I had to stop two miles below
here at a farm; so I ain't hungry no more. It's what makes me so late.
My mother's down sick, and out of money and everything, and I come to
tell my uncle Abner Moore. He lives at the upper end of the town, she
says. I hain't ever been here before. Do you know him?"
"No; but I don't know everybody yet. I haven't lived here quite two
weeks. It's a considerable ways to the upper end of the town. You
better stay here all night. Take off your bonnet."
"No," I says; "I'll rest a while, I reckon, and go on. I ain't afeared
of the dark."
"Well, next day they found out the nigger was gone; they found out
he hadn't ben seen sence ten o'clock the night the murder was done.
So then they put it on him, you see; and while they was full of it,
next day, back comes old Finn, and went boo-hooing to Judge Thatcher
to get money to hunt for the nigger all over Illinois with. The
judge gave him some, and that evening he got drunk, and was around
till after midnight with a couple of mighty hard-looking strangers,
and then went off with them. Well, he hain't come back sence, and
they ain't looking for him back till this thing blows over a little,
for people thinks now that he killed his boy and fixed things so
folks would think robbers done it, and then he'd get Huck's money
without having to bother a long time with a lawsuit. People do say
he warn't any too good to do it. Oh, he's sly, I reckon. If he
don't come back for a year he'll be all right. You can't prove
anything on him, you know; everything will be quieted down then,
and he'll walk in Huck's money as easy as nothing."
"Yes, I reckon so, 'm. I don't see nothing in the way of it.
Has everybody quit thinking the nigger done it?"
"Oh, no, not everybody. A good many thinks he done it. But
they'll get the nigger pretty soon now, and maybe they can
scare it out of him."
"Why, are they after him yet?"
"Well, you're innocent, ain't you! Does three hundred dollars lay
around every day for people to pick up?
"Three hundred dollars is a power of money. I wish my
mother could get it. Is your husband going over there to-night?"
"Oh, yes. He went up-town with the man I was telling you of,
to get a boat and see if they could borrow another gun. They'll
go over after midnight."
"Couldn't they see better if they was to wait till daytime?"
"Yes. And couldn't the nigger see better, too? After midnight
he'll likely be asleep, and they can slip around through the woods
and hunt up his camp fire all the better for the dark, if he's got
"I didn't think of that."
The woman kept looking at me pretty curious, and I didn't feel
a bit comfortable. Pretty soon she says:
"What did you say your name was, honey?"
"M -- Mary Williams."
Somehow it didn't seem to me that I said it was Mary before, so
I didn't look up -- seemed to me I said it was Sarah; so I felt sort
of cornered, and was afeared maybe I was looking it, too. I wished
the woman would say something more; the longer she set still the
uneasier I was. But now she says:
"Honey, I thought you said it was Sarah when you first come in?"
"Oh, yes'm, I did. Sarah Mary Williams. Sarah's my first name.
Some calls me Sarah, some calls me Mary."
"Oh, that's the way of it?"
"Ouch!" it hurt her arm so. Then she told me to try for the next one.
I wanted to be getting away before the old man got back, but of course
I didn't let on. I got the thing, and the first rat that showed his
nose I let drive, and if he'd a stayed where he was he'd a been a
tolerable sick rat. She said that was first-rate, and she reckoned I
would hive the next one. She went and got the lump of lead and fetched
it back, and brought along a hank of yarn which she wanted me to help
her with. I held up my two hands and she put the hank over them, and
went on talking about her and her husband's matters. But she broke
off to say:
"Keep your eye on the rats. You better have the lead in your lap,
So she dropped the lump into my lap just at that moment, and I
clapped my legs together on it and she went on talking. But only about
a minute. Then she took off the hank and looked me straight in the
face, and very pleasant, and says:
"Come, now, what's your real name?"
"Wh -- what, mum?"
"What's your real name? Is it Bill, or Tom, or Bob? -- or what
I reckon I shook like a leaf, and I didn't know hardly what to
do. But I says:
"Please to don't poke fun at a poor girl like me, mum. If I'm
in the way here, I'll --”
"No, you won't. Set down and stay where you are. I ain't
going to hurt you, and I ain't going to tell on you, nuther.
You just tell me your secret, and trust me. I'll keep it; and,
what's more, I'll help you. So'll my old man if you want him
to. You see, you're a runaway 'prentice, that's all. It ain't
anything. There ain't no harm in it. You've been treated bad,
and you made up your mind to cut. Bless you, child, I wouldn't
tell on you. Tell me all about it now, that's a good boy."
"Say, when a cow's laying down, which end of her gets up first?
Answer up prompt now -- don't stop to study over it. Which end
gets up first?"
"The hind end, mum."
"Well, then, a horse?"
"The for'rard end, mum."
"Which side of a tree does the moss grow on?"
"If fifteen cows is browsing on a hillside, how many of them
eats with their heads pointed the same direction?"
"The whole fifteen, mum."
"Well, I reckon you have lived in the country. I thought maybe
you was trying to hocus me again. What's your real name, now?"
"George Peters, mum."
"Well, try to remember it, George. Don't forget and tell me
it's Elexander before you go, and then get out by saying it's
George Elexander when I catch you. And don't go about women in
that old calico. You do a girl tolerable poor, but you might fool
men, maybe. Bless you, child, when you set out to thread a needle
don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold
the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a
woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way. And
when you throw at a rat or anything, hitch yourself up a tiptoe
and fetch your hand up over your head as awkward as you can,
and miss your rat about six or seven foot. Throw stiff-armed
from the shoulder, like there was a pivot there for it to turn
on, like a girl; not from the wrist and elbow, with your arm
out to one side, like a boy. And, mind you, when a girl tries
to catch anything in her lap she throws her knees apart; she
don't clap them together, the way you did when you catched the
lump of lead. Why, I spotted you for a boy when you was threading
the needle; and I contrived the other things just to make
certain. Now trot along to your uncle, Sarah Mary Williams
George Elexander Peters, and if you get into trouble you send
word to Mrs. Judith Loftus, which is me, and I'll do what I
can to get you out of it. Keep the river road all the way,
and next time you tramp take shoes and socks with you. The
river road's a rocky one, and your feet'll be in a condition
when you get to Goshen, I reckon."
If the men went to the island I just expect they found
the camp fire I built, and watched it all night for Jim to come.
Anyways, they stayed away from us, and if my building the fire
never fooled them it warn't no fault of mine. I played it as
low down on them as I could.
When the first streak of day began to show we tied up to a
towhead in a big bend on the Illinois side, and hacked off
cottonwood branches with the hatchet, and covered up the raft
with them so she looked like there had been a cave-in in the
bank there. A tow-head is a sandbar that has cottonwoods on it
as thick as harrow-teeth.
When it was beginning to come on dark we poked our heads out of
the cottonwood thicket, and looked up and down and across; nothing in
sight; so Jim took up some of the top planks of the raft and built a
snug wigwam to get under in blazing weather and rainy, and to keep
the things dry. Jim made a floor for the wigwam, and raised it a foot
or more above the level of the raft, so now the blankets and all the
traps was out of reach of steamboat waves. Right in the middle of the
wigwam we made a layer of dirt about five or six inches deep with a
frame around it for to hold it to its place; this was to build a fire
on in sloppy weather or chilly; the wigwam would keep it from being
This second night we run between seven and eight hours, with a
current that was making over four mile an hour. We catched fish and
talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It
was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on
our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn't ever feel like
talking loud, and it warn't often that we laughed -- only a little
kind of a low chuckle. We had mighty good weather as a general thing,
and nothing ever happened to us at all -- that night, nor the next,
nor the next.
Every night we passed towns, some of them away up on black
hillsides, nothing but just a shiny bed of lights; not a house could
you see. The fifth night we passed St. Louis, and it was like the
whole world lit up. In St. Petersburg they used to say there was
twenty or thirty thousand people in St. Louis, but I never believed
it till I see that wonderful spread of lights at two o'clock that
still night. There warn't a sound there; everybody was asleep.
Every night now I used to slip ashore towards ten o'clock at
some little village, and buy ten or fifteen cents' worth of meal or
bacon or other stuff to eat; and sometimes I lifted a chicken that
warn't roosting comfortable, and took him along. Pap always said,
take a chicken when you get a chance, because if you don't want him
yourself you can easy find somebody that does, and a good deed ain't
ever forgot. I never see pap when he didn't want the chicken himself,
but that is what he used to say, anyway.
Mornings before daylight I slipped into cornfields and borrowed
a watermelon, or a mushmelon, or a punkin, or some new corn, or things
of that kind. Pap always said it warn't no harm to borrow things if you
was meaning to pay them back some time; but the widow said it warn't
anything but a soft name for stealing, and no decent body would do it.
Jim said he reckoned the widow was partly right and pap was partly
right; so the best way would be for us to pick out two or three things
from the list and say we wouldn't borrow them any more -- then he
reckoned it wouldn't be no harm to borrow the others. So we talked it
over all one night, drifting along down the river, trying to make up
our minds whether to drop the watermelons, or the cantelopes, or the
mushmelons, or what. But towards daylight we got it all settled
satisfactory, and concluded to drop crabapples and p'simmons. We warn't
feeling just right before that, but it was all comfortable now. I was
glad the way it come out, too, because crabapples ain't ever good, and
the p'simmons wouldn't be ripe for two or three months yet.
We shot a water-fowl now and then that got up too early in the
morning or didn't go to bed early enough in the evening. Take it all
round, we lived pretty high.
Well, it being away in the night and stormy, and all so mysterious-like,
I felt just the way any other boy would a felt when I see that wreck laying
there so mournful and lonesome in the middle of the river. I wanted to get
aboard of her and slink around a little, and see what there was there. So I
"Le's land on her, Jim."
But Jim was dead against it at first. He says:
"I doan' want to go fool'n 'long er no wrack. We's doin' blame' well,
en we better let blame' well alone, as de good book says. Like as not dey's
a watchman on dat wrack."
"Watchman your grandmother," I says; "there ain't nothing to watch but
the texas and the pilot-house; and do you reckon anybody's going to resk his
life for a texas and a pilot-house such a night as this, when it's likely to
break up and wash off down the river any minute?" Jim couldn't say nothing to
that, so he didn't try. "And besides," I says, "we might borrow something
worth having out of the captain's stateroom. Seegars, I bet you -- and cost
five cents apiece, solid cash. Steamboat captains is always rich, and get
sixty dollars a month, and they don't care a cent what a thing costs, you
know, long as they want it. Stick a candle in your pocket; I can't rest,
Jim, till we give her a rummaging. Do you reckon Tom Sawyer would ever go by
this thing? Not for pie, he wouldn't. He'd call it an adventure -- that's what
he'd call it; and he'd land on that wreck if it was his last act. And wouldn't
he throw style into it? -- wouldn't he spread himself, nor nothing? Why, you'd
think it was Christopher C'lumbus discovering Kingdom-Come. I wish Tom
Sawyer was here."
"I'd like to! And I orter, too -- a mean skunk!"
The man on the floor would shrivel up and say, "Oh please don't,
Bill; I hain't ever goin' to tell."
And every time he said that the man with the lantern would
laugh and say:
"'Deed you ain't! You never said no truer thing 'n that, you bet
you." And once he said: "Hear him beg! and yit if we hadn't got the
best of him and tied him he'd a killed us both. And what for? Jist
for noth'n. Jist because we stood on our rights -- that's what for.
But I lay you ain't a-goin' to threaten nobody any more, Jim Turner.
Put up that pistol, Bill."
"He's said he'll tell, and he will. If we was to give both
our shares to him now it wouldn't make no difference after the
row and the way we've served him. Shore's you're born, he'll turn
State's evidence; now you hear me. I'm for putting him out of his
"So'm I," says Packard, very quiet.
"Blame it, I'd sorter begun to think you wasn't. Well, then,
that's all right. Le's go and do it."
"Hold on a minute; I hain't had my say yit. You listen to me.
Shooting's good, but there's quieter ways if the thing's got to be
done. But what I say is this: it ain't good sense to go court'n
around after a halter if you can git at what you're up to in some
way that's jist as good and at the same time don't bring you into
no resks. Ain't that so?"
"You bet it is. But how you goin' to manage it this time?"
"Well, my idea is this: we'll rustle around and gather up
whatever pickins we've overlooked in the state-rooms, and shove
for shore and hide the truck. Then we'll wait. Now I say it ain't
a-goin' to be more'n two hours befo' this wrack breaks up and
washes off down the river. See? He'll be drownded, and won't have
nobody to blame for it but his own self. I reckon that's a
considerble sight better 'n killin' of him. I'm unfavorable to
killin' a man as long as you can git aroun' it; it ain't good sense,
it ain't good morals. Ain't I right?"
"Yes, I reck'n you are. But s'pose she don't break up and wash off?"
"Well, we can wait the two hours anyway and see, can't we?"
"All right, then; come along."
So they started, and I lit out, all in a cold sweat, and scrambled
forward. It was dark as pitch there; but I said, in a kind of a
coarse whisper, "Jim!" and he answered up, right at my elbow, with
a sort of a moan, and I says:
"Quick, Jim, it ain't no time for fooling around and moaning;
there's a gang of murderers in yonder, and if we don't hunt up
their boat and set her drifting down the river so these fellows
can't get away from the wreck there's one of 'em going to be in a
bad fix. But if we find their boat we can put all of 'em in a bad
fix-for the sheriff 'll get 'em. Quick-hurry! I'll hunt the
labboard side, you hunt the stabboard. You start at the raft, and-"
"Oh, my lordy, lordy! raf'? Dey ain' no raf' no mo'; she done
broke loose en gone I-en here we is!"
WELL, I catched my breath and most fainted. Shut up on a wreck with
such a gang as that! But it warn't no time to be sentimentering. We'd got
to find that boat now -- had to have it for ourselves. So we went a-quaking
and shaking down the stabboard side, and slow work it was, too -- seemed
a week before we got to the stern. No sign of a boat. Jim said he didn't
believe he could go any further -- so scared he hadn't hardly any strength
left, he said. But I said, come on, if we get left on this wreck we are
in a fix, sure. So on we prowled again. We struck for the stern of the
texas, and found it, and then scrabbled along forwards on the skylight,
hanging on from shutter to shutter, for the edge of the skylight was in
the water. When we got pretty close to the cross-hall door there was the
skiff, sure enough! I could just barely see her. I felt ever so thankful.
We didn't touch an oar, and we didn't speak nor whisper, nor
hardly even breathe. We went gliding swift along, dead silent,
past the tip of the paddle-box, and past the stern; then in a
second or two more we was a hundred yards below the wreck, and
the darkness soaked her up, every last sign of her, and we was
safe, and knowed it.
When we was three or four hundred yards down-stream we see
the lantern show like a little spark at the texas door for a second,
and we knowed by that that the rascals had missed their boat, and
was beginning to understand that they was in just as much trouble
now as Jim Turner was.
I closed in above the shore light, and laid on my oars and floated.
As I went by I see it was a lantern hanging on the jackstaff of a
double-hull ferryboat. I skimmed around for the watchman, a-wondering
whereabouts he slept; and by and by I found him roosting on the bitts
forward, with his head down between his knees. I gave his shoulder
two or three little shoves, and begun to cry.
He stirred up in a kind of a startlish way; but when he see it was
only me he took a good gap and stretch, and then he says:
"Hello, what's up? Don't cry, bub. What's the trouble?"
"They're -- they're -- are you the watchman of the boat?"
"Yes," he says, kind of pretty-well-satisfied like. "I'm the
captain and the owner and the mate and the pilot and watchman
and head deck-hand; and sometimes I'm the freight and passengers.
I ain't as rich as old Jim Hornback, and I can't be so blame'
generous and good to Tom, Dick, and Harry as what he is, and slam
around money the way he does; but I've told him a many a time 't
I wouldn't trade places with him; for, says I, a sailor's life's
the life for me, and I'm derned if I'd live two mile out o' town,
where there ain't nothing ever goin' on, not for all his spondulicks
and as much more on top of it.
I struck for the light, but as soon as he turned the corner I
went back and got into my skiff and bailed her out, and then pulled
up shore in the easy water about six hundred yards, and tucked myself
in among some woodboats; for I couldn't rest easy till I could see
the ferryboat start. But take it all around, I was feeling ruther
comfortableon accounts of taking all this trouble for that gang,
for not many would a done it. I wished the widow knowed about it. I
judged she would be proud of me for helping these rapscallions,
because rapscallions and dead beats is the kind the widow and good
people takes the most interest in.
Well, before long here comes the wreck, dim and dusky, sliding
along down! A kind of cold shiver went through me, and then I struck
out for her. She was very deep, and I see in a minute there warn't
much chance for anybody being alive in her. I pulled all around her
and hollered a little, but there wasn't any answer; all dead still.
I felt a little bit heavy-hearted about the gang, but not much, for
I reckoned if they could stand it I could.
BY AND BY, when we got up, we turned over the truck the gang
had stole off of the wreck, and found boots, and blankets, and clothes,
and all sorts of other things, and a lot of books, and a spyglass, and
three boxes of seegars. We hadn't ever been this rich before in neither
of our lives. The seegars was prime. We laid off all the afternoon in
the woods talking, and me reading the books, and having a general good
time. I told Jim all about what happened inside the wreck and at the
ferryboat, and I said these kinds of things was adventures; but he said
he didn't want no more adventures. He said that when I went in the texas
and he crawled back to get on the raft and found her gone he nearly died,
because he judged it was all up with him anyway it could be fixed; for if
he didn't get saved he would get drownded; and if he did get saved, whoever
saved him would send him back home so as to get the reward, and then Miss
Watson would sell him South, sure. Well, he was right; he was most always
right; he had an uncommon level head for a nigger.
I read considerable to Jim about kings and dukes and earls and such,
and how gaudy they dressed, and how much style they put on, and called each
other your majesty, and your grace, and your lordship, and so on, 'stead of
mister; and Jim's eyes bugged out, and he was interested. He says:
"I didn' know dey was so many un um. I hain't hearn 'bout none un um,
skasely, but ole King Sollermun, onless you counts dem kings dat's in a pack
er k'yards. How much do a king git?"
"Get?" I says; "why, they get a thousand dollars a month if they want it;
they can have just as much as they want; everything belongs to them."
"Ain'that gay? En what dey got to do, Huck?"
"They don't do nothing! Why, how you talk! They just set around."
"No; is dat so?"
"Yes," says I, "and other times, when things is dull, they fuss with the
parlyment; and if everybody don't go just so he whacks their heads off. But
mostly they hang round the harem."
"Roun' de which?"
"What's de harem?"
"The place where he keeps his wives. Don't you know about the harem?
Solomon had one; he had about a million wives."
"Why, yes, dat's so; I -- I'd done forgot it. A harem's a bo'd'n-house,
I reck'n. Mos' likely dey has rackety times in de nussery. En I reck'n de
wives quarrels considable; en dat 'crease de racket. Yit dey say Sollermun
de wises' man dat ever live'. I doan' take no stock in dat. Bekase why: would
a wise man want to live in de mids' er sich a blim-blammin' all de time? No --
'deed he wouldn't. A wise man 'ud take en buil' a biler-factry; en den he could
shet down de biler-factry when he want to res'."
"Well, but he was the wisest man, anyway; because the widow she told
me so, her own self."
"I doan k'yer what de widder say, he warn't no wise man nuther. He had
some er de dad-fetchedes' ways I ever see. Does you know 'bout dat chile
dat he 'uz gwyne to chop in two?"
"Yes, the widow told me all about it."
"Well den! Warn' dat de beatenes' notion in de worl'? You jes' take en
look at it a minute. Dah's de stump, dah -- dat's one er de women; heah's
you -- dat's de yuther one; I's Sollermun; en dish yer dollar bill's de chile.
Bofe un you claims it. What does I do? Does I shin aroun' mongs' de neighbors
en fine out which un you de bill do b'long to, en han' it over to de right one,
all safe en soun', de way dat anybody dat had any gumption would? No; I take
en whack de bill in two, en give half un it to you, en de yuther half to de
yuther woman. Dat's de way Sollermun was gwyne to do wid de chile. Now I
want to ast you: what's de use er dat half a bill? -- can't buy noth'n wid it.
En what use is a half a chile? I wouldn' give a dern for a million un um."
"But hang it, Jim, you've clean missed the point -- blame it, you've
missed it a thousand mile."
"Who? Me? Go 'long. Doan' talk to me 'bout yo' pints. I reck'n I knows
sense when I sees it; en dey ain' no sense in sich doin's as dat. De 'spute
warn't 'bout a half a chile, de 'spute was 'bout a whole chile; en de man dat
think he kin settle a 'spute 'bout a whole chile wid a half a chile doan' know
enough to come in out'n de rain. Doan' talk to me 'bout Sollermun, Huck, I
knows him by de back."
"But I tell you you don't get the point."
"Blame de point! I reck'n I knows what I knows. En mine you, de real
pint is down furder -- it's down deeper. It lays in de way Sollermun was raised.
You take a man dat's got on'y one or two chillen; is dat man gwyne to be
waseful o' chillen? No, he ain't; he can't 'ford it. He know how to value 'em.
But you take a man dat's got 'bout five million chillen runnin' roun' de house,
en it's diffunt. He as soon chop a chile in two as a cat. Dey's plenty mo'. A
chile er two, mo' er less, warn't no consekens to Sollermun, dad fatch him!"
I never see such a nigger. If he got a notion in his head once, there warn't
no getting it out again. He was the most down on Solomon of any nigger I ever
see. So I went to talking about other kings, and let Solomon slide. I told about
Louis Sixteenth that got his head cut off in France long time ago; and about
his little boy the dolphin, that would a been a king, but they took and shut him
up in jail, and some say he died there.
"Po' little chap."
"But some says he got out and got away, and come to America."
"Dat's good! But he'll be pooty lonesome -- dey ain' no kings here, is
"Den he cain't git no situation. What he gwyne to do?"
"Well, I don't know. Some of them gets on the police, and some of them
learns people how to talk French."
"Why, Huck, doan' de French people talk de same way we does?"
"No, Jim; you couldn't understand a word they said -- not a single
"Well, now, I be ding-busted! How do dat come?"
"I don't know; but it's so. I got some of their jabber out of a book.
S'pose a man was to come to you and say Polly-voo-franzy -- what would
"I wouldn' think nuff'n; I'd take en bust him over de head -- dat is, if he
warn't white. I wouldn't 'low no nigger to call me dat."
"Shucks, it ain't calling you anything. It's only saying, do you know how
to talk French?"
"Well, den, why couldn't he say it?"
"Why, he is a-saying it. That's a Frenchman's way of saying it."
"Well, it's a blame ridicklous way, en I doan' want to hear no mo' 'bout it.
Dey ain' no sense in it."
"Looky here, Jim; does a cat talk like we do?"
"No, a cat don't."
"Well, does a cow?"
"No, a cow don't, nuther."
"Does a cat talk like a cow, or a cow talk like a cat?"
"No, dey don't."
"It's natural and right for 'em to talk different from each other, ain't it?"
"And ain't it natural and right for a cat and a cow to talk different from us?"
"Why, mos' sholy it is."
"Well, then, why ain't it natural and right for a Frenchman to talk different
from us? You answer me that."
"Is a cat a man, Huck?"
"Well, den, dey ain't no sense in a cat talkin' like a man. Is a cow a man? --
er is a cow a cat?"
"No, she ain't either of them."
"Well, den, she ain't got no business to talk like either one er the yuther
of 'em. Is a Frenchman a man?"
"WELL, den! Dad blame it, why doan' he talk like a man? You answer me
dat!" I see it warn't no use wasting words -- you can't learn a nigger to argue.
So I quit.
Well, the second night a fog begun to come on, and we made for a
towhead to tie to, for it wouldn't do to try to run in a fog; but when
I paddled ahead in the canoe, with the line to make fast, there warn't
anything but little saplings to tie to. I passed the line around one of
them right on the edge of the cut bank, but there was a stiff current,
and the raft come booming down so lively she tore it out by the roots
and away she went. I see the fog closing down, and it made me so sick
and scared I couldn't budge for most a half a minute it seemed to me --
and then there warn't no raft in sight; you couldn't see twenty yards.
I jumped into the canoe and run back to the stern, and grabbed the paddle
and set her back a stroke. But she didn't come. I was in such a hurry I
hadn't untied her. I got up and tried to untie her, but I was so excited
my hands shook so I couldn't hardly do anything with them.
As soon as I got started I took out after the raft, hot and heavy,
right down the towhead. That was all right as far as it went, but the
towhead warn't sixty yards long, and the minute I flew by the foot of it
I shot out into the solid white fog, and hadn't no more idea which way I
was going than a dead man.
Thinks I, it won't do to paddle; first I know I'll run into the bank
or a towhead or something; I got to set still and float, and yet it's mighty
fidgety business to have to hold your hands still at such a time. I whooped
and listened. Away down there somewheres I hears a small whoop, and up
comes my spirits. I went tearing after it, listening sharp to hear it again. The
next time it come I see I warn't heading for it, but heading away to the
right of it. And the next time I was heading away to the left of it -- and
not gaining on it much either, for I was flying around, this way and that and
t'other, but it was going straight ahead all the time.
I did wish the fool would think to beat a tin pan, and beat it all the
time, but he never did, and it was the still places between the whoops that
was making the trouble for me. Well, I fought along, and directly I hears the
whoop behind me. I was tangled good now. That was somebody else's whoop,
or else I was turned around.
The whooping went on, and in about a minute I come a-booming down
on a cut bank with smoky ghosts of big trees on it, and the current
throwed me off to the left and shot by, amongst a lot of snags that
fairly roared, the currrent was tearing by them so swift.
In another second or two it was solid white and still again. I set
perfectly still then, listening to my heart thump, and I reckon I didn't
draw a breath while it thumped a hundred.
I just give up then. I knowed what the matter was. That cut bank
was an island, and Jim had gone down t'other side of it. It warn't no
towhead that you could float by in ten minutes. It had the big timber
of a regular island; it might be five or six miles long and more than
half a mile wide.
I kept quiet, with my ears cocked, about fifteen minutes, I reckon.
I was floating along, of course, four or five miles an hour; but you don't
ever think of that. No, you feel like you are laying dead still on the
water; and if a little glimpse of a snag slips by you don't think to yourself
how fast you're going, but you catch your breath and think, my! how that
snag's tearing along. If you think it ain't dismal and lonesome out in a
fog that way by yourself in the night, you try it once -- you'll see.
Next, for about a half an hour, I whoops now and then; at last I hears
the answer a long ways off, and tries to follow it, but I couldn't do it,
and directly I judged I'd got into a nest of towheads, for I had little dim
glimpses of them on both sides of me -- sometimes just a narrow channel
between, and some that I couldn't see I knowed was there because I'd hear
the wash of the current against the old dead brush and trash that hung over
the banks. Well, I warn't long loosing the whoops down amongst the towheads;
and I only tried to chase them a little while, anyway, because it was worse
than chasing a Jack-o'-lantern. You never knowed a sound dodge around so,
and swap places so quick and so much.
I had to claw away from the bank pretty lively four or five times, to
keep from knocking the islands out of the river; and so I judged the raft
must be butting into the bank every now and then, or else it would get further
ahead and clear out of hearing -- it was floating a little faster than what I
Well, I seemed to be in the open river again by and by, but I couldn't
hear no sign of a whoop nowheres. I reckoned Jim had fetched up on a snag,
maybe, and it was all up with him. I was good and tired, so I laid down in
the canoe and said I wouldn't bother no more. I didn't want to go to sleep,
of course; but I was so sleepy I couldn't help it; so I thought I would take
jest one little cat-nap.
But I reckon it was more than a cat-nap, for when I waked up the
stars was shining bright, the fog was all gone, and I was spinning down a
big bend stern first. First I didn't know where I was; I thought I was dreaming;
and when things began to come back to me they seemed to come up dim
out of last week.
It was a monstrous big river here, with the tallest and the thickest
kind of timber on both banks; just a solid wall, as well as I could see by
the stars. I looked away down-stream, and seen a black speck on the water.
I took after it; but when I got to it it warn't nothing but a couple of sawlogs
made fast together. Then I see another speck, and chased that; then another,
and this time I was right. It was the raft.
"Goodness gracious, is dat you, Huck? En you ain' dead -- you ain'
drownded -- you's back agin? It's too good for true, honey, it's too good
for true. Lemme look at you chile, lemme feel o' you. No, you ain' dead!
you's back agin, 'live en soun', jis de same ole Huck -- de same ole Huck,
thanks to goodness!"
"What's the matter with you, Jim? You been a-drinking?"
"Drinkin'? Has I ben a-drinkin'? Has I had a chance to be a-drinkin'?"
"Well, then, what makes you talk so wild?"
"How does I talk wild?"
"How? Why, hain't you been talking about my coming back, and all that
stuff, as if I'd been gone away?"
"Huck -- Huck Finn, you look me in de eye; look me in de eye. Hain't
you ben gone away?"
"Gone away? Why, what in the nation do you mean? I hain't been gone
anywheres. Where would I go to?"
"Well, looky here, boss, dey's sumf'n wrong, dey is. Is I me, or who
is I? Is I heah, or whah is I? Now dat's what I wants to know."
"Well, I think you're here, plain enough, but I think you're a tangle-
headed old fool Jim."
"I is, is I? Well, you answer me dis: Didn't you tote out de line in
de canoe fer to make fas' to de tow-head?"
"No, I didn't. What tow-head? I hain't see no tow-head."
"You hain't seen no towhead? Looky here, didn't de line pull loose en
de raf' go a-hummin' down de river, en leave you en de canoe behine in de
"Why, de fog! -- de fog dat's been aroun' all night. En didn't you whoop,
en didn't I whoop, tell we got mix' up in de islands en one un us got los'
en t'other one was jis' as good as los', 'kase he didn' know whah he wuz?
En didn't I bust up agin a lot er dem islands en have a turrible time en
mos' git drownded? Now ain' dat so, boss -- ain't it so? You answer me dat."
"Well, this is too many for me, Jim. I hain't seen no fog, nor no
islands, nor no troubles, nor nothing. I been setting here talking with
you all night till you went to sleep about ten minutes ago, and I reckon
I done the same. You couldn't a got drunk in that time, so of course you've
"Dad fetch it, how is I gwyne to dream all dat in ten minutes?"
"Well, hang it all, you did dream it, because there didn't any of it
"But, Huck, it's all jis' as plain to me as -- "
"It don't make no difference how plain it is; there ain't nothing in it.
I know, because I've been here all the time."
Jim didn't say nothing for about five minutes, but set there studying over
it. Then he says:
"Well, den, I reck'n I did dream it, Huck; but dog my cats ef it ain't
de powerfullest dream I ever see. En I hain't ever had no dream b'fo' dat's
tired me like dis one."
"Oh, well, that's all right, because a dream does tire a body like
everything sometimes. But this one was a staving dream; tell me all about
So Jim went to work and told me the whole thing right through, just
as it happened, only he painted it up considerable. Then he said he must
start in and "'terpret" it, because it was sent for a warning. He said the
first towhead stood for a man that would try to do us some good, but the
current was another man that would get us away from him. The whoops was
warnings that would come to us every now and then, and if we didn't try
hard to make out to understand them they'd just take us into bad luck,
'stead of keeping us out of it.The lot of towheads was troubles we was
going to get into with quarrelsome people and all kinds of mean folks,
but if we minded our business and didn't talk back and aggravate them,
we would pull through and get out of the fog and into the big clear river,
which was the free States, and wouldn't have no more trouble.
It had clouded up pretty dark just after I got on to the raft, but
it was clearing up again now.
"Oh, well, that's all interpreted well enough as far as it goes,
Jim," I says; "but what does these things stand for?"
It was the leaves and rubbish on the raft and the smashed oar.
You could see them first-rate now.
Jim looked at the trash, and then looked at me, and back at the
trash again. He had got the dream fixed so strong in his head that he
couldn't seem to shake it loose and get the facts back into its place
again right away. But when he did get the thing straightened around he
looked at me steady without ever smiling, and says:
"What do dey stan' for? I'se gwyne to tell you. When I got all
wore out wid work, en wid de callin' for you, en went to sleep, my
heart wuz mos' broke bekase you wuz los', en I didn' k'yer no' mo'
what become er me en de raf'. En when I wake up en fine you back agin,
all safe en soun', de tears come, en I could a got down on my knees en
kiss yo' foot, I's so thankful. En all you wuz thinkin' 'bout wuz how
you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truck dah is trash; en
trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes
Then he got up slow and walked to the wigwam, and went in there
without saying anything but that. But that was enough. It made me feel
so mean I could almost kissed his foot to get him to take it back.
It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and
humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for
it afterwards, neither. I didn't do him no more mean tricks, and I
wouldn't done that one if I'd a knowed it would make him feel that way.
There warn't nothing to do now but to look out sharp for the
town, and not pass it without seeing it. He said he'd be mighty
sure to see it, because he'd be a free man the minute he seen it,
but if he missed it he'd be in a slave country again and no more
show for freedom. Every little while he jumps up and says:
"Dah she is?"
But it warn't. It was Jack-o'-lanterns, or lightning bugs; so
he set down again, and went to watching, same as before. Jim said
it made him all over trembly and feverish to be so close to freedom.
Well, I can tell you it made me all over trembly and feverish, too,
to hear him, because I begun to get it through my head that he was
most free -- and who was to blame for it? Why, me. I couldn't get
that out of my conscience, no how nor no way. It got to troubling
me so I couldn't rest; I couldn't stay still in one place. It hadn't
ever come home to me before, what this thing was that I was doing.
But now it did; and it stayed with me, and scorched me more and more.
I tried to make out to myself that I warn't to blame, because I didn't
run Jim off from his rightful owner; but it warn't no use, conscience
up and says, every time, "But you knowed he was running for his freedom,
and you could a paddled ashore and told somebody." That was so -- I
couldn't get around that noway. That was where it pinched. Conscience
says to me, "What had poor Miss Watson done to you that you could see
her nigger go off right under your eyes and never say one single word?
What did that poor old woman do to you that you could treat her so
mean? Why, she tried to learn you your book, she tried to learn you
your manners, she tried to be good to you every way she knowed how.
That's what she done."
Jim talked out loud all the time while I was talking to myself.
He was saying how the first thing he would do when he got to a free
State he would go to saving up money and never spend a single cent,
and when he got enough he would buy his wife, which was owned on a
farm close to where Miss Watson lived; and then they would both work
to buy the two children, and if their master wouldn't sell them,
they'd get an Ab'litionist to go and steal them.
It most froze me to hear such talk. He wouldn't ever dared to
talk such talk in his life before. Just see what a difference it
made in him the minute he judged he was about free. It was according
to the old saying, "Give a nigger an inch and he'll take an ell."
Thinks I, this is what comes of my not thinking. Here was this nigger,
which I had as good as helped to run away, coming right out flat-footed
and saying he would steal his children -- children that belonged to a
man I didn't even know; a man that hadn't ever done me no harm.
I was sorry to hear Jim say that, it was such a lowering of him.
My conscience got to stirring me up hotter than ever, until at last I
says to it, "Let up on me -- it ain't too late yet -- I'll paddle ashore
at the first light and tell." I felt easy and happy and light as a
feather right off. All my troubles was gone. I went to looking out
sharp for a light, and sort of singing to myself. By and by one showed.
Jim sings out:
"We's safe, Huck, we's safe! Jump up and crack yo' heels! Dat's de
good ole Cairo at las', I jis knows it!"
"I'll take the canoe and go and see, Jim. It mightn't be, you know."
He jumped and got the canoe ready, and put his old coat in the bottom
for me to set on, and give me the paddle; and as I shoved off, he says:
"Pooty soon I'll be a-shout'n' for joy, en I'll say, it's all on accounts
o' Huck; I's a free man, en I couldn't ever ben free ef it hadn' ben for
Huck; Huck done it. Jim won't ever forgit you, Huck; you's de bes' fren'
Jim's ever had; en you's de only fren' ole Jim's got now."
I was paddling off, all in a sweat to tell on him; but when he says this,
it seemed to kind of take the tuck all out of me. I went along slow then,
and I warn't right down certain whether I was glad I started or whether I
warn't. When I was fifty yards off, Jim says:
"Dah you goes, de ole true Huck; de on'y white genlman dat ever kep'
his promise to ole Jim."
"I reckon we'll go and see for ourselves."
"I wish you would," says I, "because it's pap that's there, and
maybe you'd help me tow the raft ashore where the light is. He's sick --
and so is mam and Mary Ann."
"Oh, the devil! we're in a hurry, boy. But I s'pose we've got to.
Come, buckle to your paddle, and let's get along."
I buckled to my paddle and they laid to their oars. When we had made
a stroke or two, I says:
"Pap'll be mighty much obleeged to you, I can tell you. Everybody
goes away when I want them to help me tow the raft ashore, and I can't
do it by myself."
"Well, that's infernal mean. Odd, too. Say, boy, what's the matter
with your father?"
"It's the -- a -- the -- well, it ain't anything much."
They stopped pulling. It warn't but a mighty little ways to the raft
now. One says:
"Boy, that's a lie. What IS the matter with your pap? Answer up
square now, and it'll be the better for you."
"I will, sir, I will, honest -- but don't leave us, please. It's the --
the -- Gentlemen, if you'll only pull ahead, and let me heave you the
headline, you won't have to come a-near the raft -- please do."
"Set her back, John, set her back!" says one. They backed water. "Keep
away, boy -- keep to looard. Confound it, I just expect the wind has
blowed it to us. Your pap's got the small-pox, and you know it precious
well. Why didn't you come out and say so? Do you want to spread it all
"Well," says I, a-blubbering, "I've told everybody before, and they
just went away and left us."
"Poor devil, there's something in that. We are right down sorry for
you, but we -- well, hang it, we don't want the small-pox, you see. Look
here, I'll tell you what to do. Don't you try to land by yourself, or
you'll smash everything to pieces. You float along down about twenty
miles, and you'll come to a town on the left-hand side of the river. It
will be long after sun-up then, and when you ask for help you tell them
your folks are all down with chills and fever. Don't be a fool again,
and let people guess what is the matter. Now we're trying to do you a
kindness; so you just put twenty miles between us, that's a good boy.
It wouldn't do any good to land yonder where the light is -- it's only
a wood-yard. Say, I reckon your father's poor, and I'm bound to say he's
in pretty hard luck. Here, I'll put a twenty-dollar gold piece on this
and you get it when it floats by. I feel mighty mean to leave you;
but my kingdom! it won't do to fool with small-pox, don't you see?"
"Hold on, Parker," says the other man, "here's a twenty to put on
the board for me. Good-bye, boy; you do as Mr. Parker told you, and
you'll be all right."
"That's so, my boy-good-bye, good-bye. If you see any runaway
niggers you get help and nab them, and you can make some money by it."
"Good-bye, sir," says I; "I won't let no runaway niggers get by me
if I can help it."
They went off and I got aboard the raft, feeling bad and low,
because I knowed very well I had done wrong, and I see it warn't no
use for me to try to learn to do right; a body that don't get started
right when he's little ain't got no show -- when the pinch comes
there ain't nothing to back him up and keep him to his work, and so
he gets beat. Then I thought a minute, and says to myself, hold on;
s'pose you'd a done right and give Jim up, would you felt better than
what you do now? No, says I, I'd feel bad -- I'd feel just the same
way I do now. Well, then, says I, what's the use you learning to do
right when it's troublesome to do right and ain't no trouble to do
wrong, and the wages is just the same? I was stuck. I couldn't answer
that. So I reckoned I wouldn't bother no more about it, but after this
always do whichever come handiest at the time.
I went into the wigwam; Jim warn't there. I looked all around;
he warn't anywhere. I says:
"Here I is, Huck. Is dey out o' sight yit? Don't talk loud."
He was in the river under the stern oar, with just his nose out.
I told him they were out of sight, so he come aboard. He says:
"I was a-listenin' to all de talk, en I slips into de river en
was gwyne to shove for sho' if dey come aboard. Den I was gwyne to
swim to de raf' agin when dey was gone. But lawsy, how you did fool
'em, Huck! Dat wuz de smartes' dodge! I tell you, chile, I'spec it
save' ole Jim -- ole Jim ain't going to forgit you for dat, honey."
That night about ten we hove in sight of the lights of a town away
down in a left-hand bend.
I went off in the canoe to ask about it. Pretty soon I found a man
out in the river with a skiff, setting a trot-line. I ranged up and
"Mister, is that town Cairo?"
"Cairo? no. You must be a blame' fool."
"What town is it, mister?"
"If you want to know, go and find out. If you stay here botherin'
around me for about a half a minute longer you'll get something you
I paddled to the raft. Jim was awful disappointed, but I said never
mind, Cairo would be the next place, I reckoned.
We passed another town before daylight, and I was going out again;
but it was high ground, so I didn't go. No high ground about Cairo,
Jim said. I had forgot it. We laid up for the day on a towhead
tolerable close to the left-hand bank. I begun to suspicion
something. So did Jim. I says:
"Maybe we went by Cairo in the fog that night."
"Doan' le's talk about it, Huck. Po' niggers can't have no luck.
I awluz 'spected dat rattlesnake-skin warn't done wid its work."
"I wish I'd never seen that snake-skin, Jim-I do wish I'd never laid
eyes on it."
"It ain't yo' fault, Huck; you didn' know. Don't you blame yo'self
Anybody that don't believe yet that it's foolishness to
handle a snake-skin, after all that that snake-skin done for
us, will believe it now if they read on and see what more it
done for us.
The place to buy canoes is off of rafts laying up at shore.
But we didn't see no rafts laying up; so we went along during
three hours and more. Well, the night got gray and ruther thick,
which is the next meanest thing to fog. You can't tell the shape
of the river, and you can't see no distance. It got to be very
late and still, and then along comes a steamboat up the river.
We lit the lantern, and judged she would see it. Up-stream boats
didn't generly come close to us; they go out and follow the bars
and hunt for easy water under the reefs; but nights like this
they bull right up the channel against the whole river.
We could hear her pounding along, but we didn't see her good
till she was close. She aimed right for us. Often they do that
and try to see how close they can come without touching; sometimes
the wheel bites off a sweep, and then the pilot sticks his head
out and laughs, and thinks he's mighty smart. Well, here she comes,
and we said she was going to try and shave us; but she didn't seem
to be sheering off a bit. She was a big one, and she was coming
in a hurry, too, looking like a black cloud with rows of glow-worms
around it; but all of a sudden she bulged out, big and scary, with
a long row of wide-open furnace doors shining like red-hot teeth,
and her monstrous bows and guards hanging right over us. There was
a yell at us, and a jingling of bells to stop the engines, a powwow
of cussing, and whistling of steam -- and as Jim went overboard on
one side and I on the other, she come smashing straight through the
I dived -- and I aimed to find the bottom, too, for a thirty-foot
wheel had got to go over me, and I wanted it to have plenty of room.
I could always stay under water a minute; this time I reckon I stayed
under a minute and a half. Then I bounced for the top in a hurry, for
I was nearly busting. I popped out to my armpits and blowed the water
out of my nose, and puffed a bit. Of course there was a booming current;
and of course that boat started her engines again ten seconds after
she stopped them, for they never cared much for raftsmen; so now she
was churning along up the river, out of sight in the thick weather,
though I could hear her.
"Why, bless you, Saul, the poor thing's as wet as he can be;
and don't you reckon it may be he's hungry?"
"True for you, Rachel -- I forgot."
So the old lady says:
"Betsy" (this was a nigger woman), "you fly around and get him
something to eat as quick as you can, poor thing; and one of you
girls go and wake up Buck and tell him -- oh, here he is himself.
Buck, take this little stranger and get the wet clothes off from
him and dress him up in some of yours that's dry."
Buck looked about as old as me -- thirteen or fourteen or along
there, though he was a little bigger than me. He hadn't on anything
but a shirt, and he was very frowzy-headed. He came in gaping and
digging one fist into his eyes, and he was dragging a gun along with
the other one. He says:
"Ain't they no Shepherdsons around?"
They said, no, 'twas a false alarm.
"Well," he says, "if they'd a ben some, I reckon I'd a got one."
They all laughed, and Bob says:
"Why, Buck, they might have scalped us all, you've been so slow
"Well, nobody come after me, and it ain't right I'm always kept
down; I don't get no show."
"Never mind, Buck, my boy," says the old man, "you'll have show
enough, all in good time, don't you fret about that. Go 'long with you
now, and do as your mother told you."
When we got up-stairs to his room he got me a coarse shirt and a
roundabout and pants of his, and I put them on. While I was at it he
asked me what my name was, but before I could tell him he started to
tell me about a bluejay and a young rabbit he had catched in the woods
day before yesterday, and he asked me where Moses was when the candle
went out. I said I didn't know; I hadn't heard about it before, no way.
"Well, guess," he says.
"How'm I going to guess," says I, "when I never heard tell of it before?"
"But you can guess, can't you? It's just as easy."
"Which candle?" I says.
"Why, any candle," he says.
"I don't know where he was," says I; "where was he?"
"Why, he was in the dark! That's where he was!"
"Well, if you knowed where he was, what did you ask me for?"
"Why, blame it, it's a riddle, don't you see? Say, how long are you
going to stay here? You got to stay always. We can just have booming
times -- they don't have no school now. Do you own a dog? I've got a dog
-- and he'll go in the river and bring out chips that you throw in. Do
you like to comb up Sundays, and all that kind of foolishness? You bet
I don't, but ma she makes me. Confound these ole britches! I reckon I'd
better put 'em on, but I'd ruther not, it's so warm. Are you all ready?
All right. Come along, old hoss."
Cold corn-pone, cold corn-beef, butter and buttermilk -- that is
what they had for me down there, and there ain't nothing better that ever
I've come across yet. Buck and his ma and all of them smoked cob pipes,
except the nigger woman, which was gone, and the two young women. They
all smoked and talked, and I eat and talked. The young women had quilts
around them, and their hair down their backs. They all asked me questions,
and I told them how pap and me and all the family was living on a little
farm down at the bottom of Arkansaw, and my sister Mary Ann run off and
got married and never was heard of no more, and Bill went to hunt them
and he warn't heard of no more, and Tom and Mort died, and then there
warn't nobody but just me and pap left, and he was just trimmed down to
nothing, on account of his troubles; so when he died I took what there
was left, because the farm didn't belong to us, and started up the river,
deck passage, and fell overboard; and that was how I come to be here.
So they said I could have a home there as long as I wanted it.
Well, there was a big outlandish parrot on each side of the
clock, made out of something like chalk, and painted up gaudy.
By one of the parrots was a cat made of crockery, and a crockery
dog by the other; and when you pressed down on them they squeaked,
but didn't open their mouths nor look different nor interested.
They squeaked through underneath. There was a couple of big
wild-turkey-wing fans spread out behind those things. On the table
in the middle of the room was a kind of a lovely crockery basket
that bad apples and oranges and peaches and grapes piled up in it,
which was much redder and yellower and prettier than real ones is,
but they warn't real because you could see where pieces had got
chipped off and showed the white chalk, or whatever it was, underneath.
This table had a cover made out of beautiful oilcloth, with a red
and blue spread-eagle painted on it, and a painted border all around.
It come all the way from Philadelphia, they said. There was some books,
too, piled up perfectly exact, on each corner of the table. One was a
big family Bible full of pictures. One was Pilgrim's Progress, about
a man that left his family, it didn't say why. I read considerable in
it now and then. The statements was interesting, but tough. Another
was Friendship's Offering, full of beautiful stuff and poetry; but I
didn't read the poetry. Another was Henry Clay's Speeches, and another
was Dr. Gunn's Family Medicine, which told you all about what to do
if a body was sick or dead. There was a hymn book, and a lot of other
books. And there was nice split-bottom chairs, and perfectly sound,
too -- not bagged down in the middle and busted, like an old basket.
They had pictures hung on the walls -- mainly Washingtons and
Lafayettes, and battles, and Highland Marys, and one called "Signing
the Declaration." There was some that they called crayons, which one
of the daughters which was dead made her own self when she was only
fifteen years old. They was different from any pictures I ever see
before -- blacker, mostly, than is common. One was a woman in a slim
black dress, belted small under the armpits, with bulges like a cabbage
in the middle of the sleeves, and a large black scoop-shovel bonnet
with a black veil, and white slim ankles crossed about with black tape,
and very wee black slippers, like a chisel, and she was leaning pensive
on a tombstone on her right elbow, under a weeping willow, and her other
hand hanging down her side holding a white handkerchief and a reticule,
and underneath the picture it said "Shall I Never See Thee More Alas."
Another one was a young lady with her hair all combed up straight to
the top of her head, and knotted there in front of a comb like a chair-
back, and she was crying into a handkerchief and had a dead bird laying
on its back in her other hand with its heels up, and underneath the
picture it said "I Shall Never Hear Thy Sweet Chirrup More Alas." There
was one where a young lady was at a window looking up at the moon, and
tears running down her cheeks; and she had an open letter in one hand
with black sealing wax showing on one edge of it, and she was mashing a
locket with a chain to it against her mouth, and underneath the picture
it said "And Art Thou Gone Yes Thou Art Gone Alas." These was all nice
pictures, I reckon, but I didn't somehow seem to take to them, because
if ever I was down a little they always give me the fan-tods. Everybody
was sorry she died, because she had laid out a lot more of these pictures
to do, and a body could see by what she had done what they had lost.
But I reckoned that with her disposition she was having a better time
in the graveyard. She was at work on what they said was her greatest
picture when she took sick, and every day and every night it was her
prayer to be allowed to live till she got it done, but she never got
the chance. It was a picture of a young woman in a long white gown,
standing on the rail of a bridge all ready to jump off, with her hair
all down her back, and looking up to the moon, with the tears running
down her face, and she had two arms folded across her breast, and two
arms stretched out in front, and two more reaching up towards the moon
-- and the idea was to see which pair would look best, and then scratch
out all the other arms; but, as I was saying, she died before she got
her mind made up, and now they kept this picture over the head of the
bed in her room, and every time her birthday come they hung flowers on
it. Other times it was hid with a little curtain. The young woman in
the picture had a kind of a nice sweet face, but there was so many
arms it made her look too spidery, seemed to me.
This young girl kept a scrap-book when she was alive, and used to
paste obituaries and accidents and cases of patient suffering in it
out of the Presbyterian Observer, and write poetry after them out of
her own head. It was very good poetry. This is what she wrote about a
boy by the name of Stephen Dowling Bots that fell down a well and was
ODE TO STEPHEN DOWLING BOTS, DEC'D
And did young Stephen sicken,
And did young Stephen die?
And did the sad hearts thicken,
And did the mourners cry?
No; such was not the fate of
Young Stephen Dowling Bots;
Though sad hearts round him thickened,
'Twas not from sickness' shots.
No whooping-cough did rack his frame,
Nor measles drear with spots;
Not these impaired the sacred name
Of Stephen Dowling Bots.
Despised love struck not with woe
That head of curly knots,
Nor stomach troubles laid him low,
Young Stephen Dowling Bots.
O no. Then list with tearful eye,
Whilst I his fate do tell.
His soul did from this cold world fly
By falling down a well.
They got him out and emptied him;
Alas it was too late;
His spirit was gone for to sport aloft
In the realms of the good and great.
If Emmeline Grangerford could make poetry like that before she
was fourteen, there ain't no telling what she could a done by and by.
Buck said she could rattle off poetry like nothing. She didn't ever
have to stop to think. He said she would slap down a line, and if she
couldn't find anything to rhyme with it would just scratch it out and
slap down another one, and go ahead. She warn't particular; she could
write about anything you choose to give her to write about just so it
was sadful. Every time a man died, or a woman died, or a child died,
she would be on hand with her "tribute" before he was cold. She called
them tributes. The neighbors said it was the doctor first, then Emmeline,
then the undertaker -- the undertaker never got in ahead of Emmeline
but once, and then she hung fire on a rhyme for the dead person's name,
which was Whistler. She warn't ever the same after that; she never
complained, but she kinder pined away and did not live long. Poor thing,
many's the time I made myself go up to the little room that used to be
hers and get out her poor old scrap-book and read in it when her
pictures had been aggravating me and I had soured on her a little. I
liked all that family, dead ones and all, and warn't going to let
anything come between us. Poor Emmeline made poetry about all the
dead people when she was alive, and it didn't seem right that there
warn't nobody to make some about her now she was gone; so I tried to
sweat out a verse or two myself, but I couldn't seem to make it go
somehow. They kept Emmeline's room trim and nice, and all the things
fixed in it just the way she liked to have them when she was alive,
and nobody ever slept there. The old lady took care of the room herself,
though there was plenty of niggers, and she sewed there a good deal
and read her Bible there mostly.
Well, as I was saying about the parlor, there was beautiful curtains
on the windows: white, with pictures painted on them of castles with
vines all down the walls, and cattle coming down to drink. There was a
little old piano, too, that had tin pans in it, I reckon, and nothing
was ever so lovely as to hear the young ladies sing "The Last Link is
Broken" and play "The Battle of Prague" on it. The walls of all the
rooms was plastered, and most had carpets on the floors, and the whole
house was whitewashed on the outside.
It was a double house, and the big open place betwixt them was
roofed and floored, and sometimes the table was set there in the middle
of the day, and it was a cool, comfortable place. Nothing couldn't be
better. And warn't the cooking good, and just bushels of it too!
COL. GRANGERFORD was a gentleman, you see. He was a
gentleman all over; and so was his family. He was well born, as the
saying is, and that's worth as much in a man as it is in a horse,
so the Widow Douglas said, and nobody ever denied that she was
of the first aristocracy in our town; and pap he always said it, too,
though he warn't no more quality than a mudcat himself. Col.
Grangerford was very tall and very slim, and had a darkish-paly
complexion, not a sign of red in it anywheres; he was clean shaved
every morning all over his thin face, and he had the thinnest kind
of lips, and the thinnest kind of nostrils, and a high nose, and heavy
eyebrows, and the blackest kind of eyes, sunk so deep back that
they seemed like they was looking out of caverns at you, as you
may say. His forehead was high, and his hair was black and straight
and hung to his shoulders. His hands was long and thin, and every
day of his life he put on a clean shirt and a full suit from head to
foot made out of linen so white it hurt your eyes to look at it;
and on Sundays he wore a blue tail-coat with brass buttons on it.
He carried a mahogany cane with a silver head to it. There warn't
no frivolishness about him, not a bit, and he warn't ever loud. He
was as kind as he could be -- you could feel that, you know, and
so you had confidence. Sometimes he smiled, and it was good to
see; but when he straightened himself up like a liberty-pole, and
the lightning begun to flicker out from under his eyebrows, you
wanted to climb a tree first, and find out what the matter was
afterwards. He didn't ever have to tell anybody to mind their
manners -- everybody was always good-mannered where he
was. Everybody loved to have him around, too; he was sunshine
most always -- I mean he made it seem like good weather. When he
turned into a cloudbank it was awful dark for half a minute, and that
was enough; there wouldn't nothing go wrong again for a week.
When him and the old lady come down in the morning all the
family got up out of their chairs and give them good-day, and didn't
set down again till they had set down. Then Tom and Bob went to the
sideboard where the decanter was, and mixed a glass of bitters and
handed it to him, and he held it in his hand and waited till Tom's
and Bob's was mixed, and then they bowed and said, "Our duty to you,
sir, and madam;" and they bowed the least bit in the world and said
thank you, and so they drank, all three, and Bob and Tom poured a
spoonful of water on the sugar and the mite of whisky or apple brandy
in the bottom of their tumblers, and give it to me and Buck, and we
drank to the old people too.
"Quick! Jump for the woods!"
We done it, and then peeped down the woods through the leaves.
Pretty soon a splendid young man come galloping down the road, setting
his horse easy and looking like a soldier. He had his gun across his
pommel. I had seen him before. It was young Harney Shepherdson. I heard
Buck's gun go off at my ear, and Harney's hat tumbled off from his head.
He grabbed his gun and rode straight to the place where we was hid. But
we didn't wait. We started through the woods on a run. The woods warn't
thick, so I looked over my shoulder to dodge the bullet, and twice I
seen Harney cover Buck with his gun; and then he rode away the way he
come -- to get his hat, I reckon, but I couldn't see. We never stopped
running till we got home. The old gentleman's eyes blazed a minute --
'twas pleasure, mainly, I judged -- then his face sort of smoothed down,
and he says, kind of gentle:
"I don't like that shooting from behind a bush. Why didn't you step
into the road, my boy?"
"The Shepherdsons don't, father. They always take advantage."
Miss Charlotte she held her head up like a queen while Buck was
telling his tale, and her nostrils spread and her eyes snapped. The two
young men looked dark, but never said nothing. Miss Sophia she turned
pale, but the color come back when she found the man warn't hurt.
Soon as I could get Buck down by the corn-cribs under the trees by
ourselves, I says:
"Did you want to kill him, Buck?"
"Well, I bet I did."
"What did he do to you?"
"Him? He never done nothing to me."
"Well, then, what did you want to kill him for?"
"Why, nothing -- only it's on account of the feud."
"What's a feud?"
"Why, where was you raised? Don't you know what a feud is?"
"Never heard of it before -- tell me about it."
"What was the trouble about, Buck? -- land?"
"I reckon maybe -- I don't know."
"Well, who done the shooting? Was it a Grangerford or a
"Laws, how do I know? It was so long ago."
"Don't anybody know?"
"Oh, yes, pa knows, I reckon, and some of the other old
people; but they don't know now what the row was about in the
"Has there been many killed, Buck?"
"Yes; right smart chance of funerals. But they don't always
kill. Pa's got a few buckshot in him; but he don't mind it 'cuz
he don't weigh much, anyway. Bob's been carved up some with a
bowie, and Tom's been hurt once or twice."
"Has anybody been killed this year, Buck?"
"Yes; we got one and they got one. 'Bout three months ago my
cousin Bud, fourteen year old, was riding through the woods on
t'other side of the river, and didn't have no weapon with him,
which was blame' foolishness, and in a lonesome place he hears
a horse a-coming behind him, and sees old Baldy Shepherdson
a-linkin' after him with his gun in his hand and his white hair
a-flying in the wind; and 'stead of jumping off and taking to
the brush, Bud 'lowed he could outrun him; so they had it, nip
and tuck, for five mile or more, the old man a-gaining all the
time; so at last Bud seen it warn't any use, so he stopped and
faced around so as to have the bullet holes in front, you know,
and the old man he rode up and shot him down. But he didn't git
much chance to enjoy his luck, for inside of a week our folks
laid him out."
"I reckon that old man was a coward, Buck."
"I reckon he warn't a coward. Not by a blame' sight. There
ain't a coward amongst them Shepherdsons -- not a one. And there
ain't no cowards amongst the Grangerfords either. Why, that old
man kep' up his end in a fight one day for half an hour against
three Grangerfords, and come out winner. They was all a-horseback;
he lit off of his horse and got behind a little woodpile, and kep'
his horse before him to stop the bullets; but the Grangerfords
stayed on their horses and capered around the old man, and peppered
away at him, and he peppered away at them. Him and his horse both
went home pretty leaky and crippled, but the Grangerfords had to
be fetched home -- and one of 'em was dead, and another died the
next day. No, sir; if a body's out hunting for cowards he don't
want to fool away any time amongst them Shepherdsons, becuz they
don't breed any of that kind."
Next Sunday we all went to church, about three mile, everybody
a-horseback. The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept
them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The
Shepherdsons done the same. It was pretty ornery preaching -- all
about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody
said it was a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home,
and had such a powerful lot to say about faith and good works and
free grace and preforeordestination, and I don't know what all,
that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run
Says I to myself, something's up; it ain't natural for a
girl to be in such a sweat about a Testament. So I give it a
shake, and out drops a little piece of paper with "Half-past
two" wrote on it with a pencil. I ransacked it, but couldn't
find anything else. I couldn't make anything out of that, so
I put the paper in the book again, and when I got home and
upstairs there was Miss Sophia in her door waiting for me. She
pulled me in and shut the door; then she looked in the Testament
till she found the paper, and as soon as she read it she looked
glad; and before a body could think she grabbed me and give me
a squeeze, and said I was the best boy in the world, and not to
tell anybody. She was mighty red in the face for a minute, and
her eyes lighted up, and it made her powerful pretty. I was a
good deal astonished, but when I got my breath I asked her what
the paper was about, and she asked me if I had read it, and I
said no, and she asked me if I could read writing, and I told her
"no, only coarse-hand," and then she said the paper warn't
anything but a book-mark to keep her place, and I might go and
I waked him up, and I reckoned it was going to be a grand
surprise to him to see me again, but it warn't. He nearly cried
he was so glad, but he warn't surprised. Said he swum along behind
me that night, and heard me yell every time, but dasn't answer,
because he didn't want nobody to pick him up and take him into
slavery again. Says he:
"I got hurt a little, en couldn't swim fas', so I wuz a
considable ways behine you towards de las'; when you landed I
reck'ned I could ketch up wid you on de lan' 'dout havin' to shout
at you, but when I see dat house I begin to go slow. I 'uz off too
fur to hear what dey say to you -- I wuz 'fraid o' de dogs; but
when it 'uz all quiet agin I knowed you's in de house, so I struck
out for de woods to wait for day. Early in de mawnin' some er de
niggers come along, gwyne to de fields, en dey tuk me en showed me
dis place, whah de dogs can't track me on accounts o' de water, en
dey brings me truck to eat every night, en tells me how you's a-gitt'n
"Why didn't you tell my Jack to fetch me here sooner, Jim?"
"Well, 'twarn't no use to 'sturb you, Huck, tell we could do sumfn --
but we's all right now. I ben a-buyin' pots en pans en vittles, as I
got a chanst, en a-patchin' up de raf' nights when -- "
"What raft, Jim?"
"Our ole raf'."
"You mean to say our old raft warn't smashed all to flinders?"
"No, she warn't. She was tore up a good deal -- one en' of her was;
but dey warn't no great harm done, on'y our traps was mos' all los'. Ef
we hadn' dive' so deep en swum so fur under water, en de night hadn' ben
so dark, en we warn't so sk'yerd, en ben sich punkin-heads, as de sayin'
is, we'd a seed de raf'. But it's jis' as well we didn't, 'kase now she's
all fixed up agin mos' as good as new, en we's got a new lot o' stuff,
in de place o' what 'uz los'."
"Why, how did you get hold of the raft again, Jim -- did you catch
"How I gwyne to ketch her en I out in de woods? No; some er de niggers
foun' her ketched on a snag along heah in de ben', en dey hid her in a
crick 'mongst de willows, endey wuz so much jawin' 'bout which un 'um
she b'long to de mos' dat I come to heah 'bout it pooty soon, so I ups en
settles de trouble by tellin' 'um she don't b'long to none uv um, but to
you en me; en I ast 'm if dey gwyne to grab a young white genlman's propaty,
en git a hid'n for it? Den I gin 'm ten cents apiece, en dey 'uz mighty
well satisfied, en wisht some mo' raf's 'ud come along en make 'm rich agin.
Dey's mighty good to me, dese niggers is, en whatever I wants 'm to do fur
me I doan' have to ast 'm twice, honey.Dat Jack's a good nigger, en pooty
"Well, den, Miss Sophia's run off! 'deed she has. She run off in de
night some time -- nobody don't know jis' when; run off to get married
to dat young Harney Shepherdson, you know -- leastways, so dey 'spec.
De fambly foun' it out 'bout half an hour ago -- maybe a little mo' -- en'
I tell you dey warn't no time los'. Sich another hurryin' up guns en
hosses you never see! De women folks has gone for to stir up de relations,
en ole Mars Saul en de boys tuck dey guns en rode up de river road for
to try to ketch dat young man en kill him 'fo' he kin git acrost de river
wid Miss Sophia. I reck'n dey's gwyne to be mighty rough times."
"Buck went off 'thout waking me up."
"Well, I reck'n he did! Dey warn't gwyne to mix you up in it. Mars
Buck he loaded up his gun en 'lowed he's gwyne to fetch home a Shepherdson
or bust. Well, dey'll be plenty un 'm dah, I reck'n, en you bet you he'll
fetch one ef he gits a chanst."
I took up the river road as hard as I could put. By and by I begin to
hear guns a good ways off. When I came in sight of the log store and the
woodpile where the steamboats lands I worked along under the trees and
brush till I got to a good place, and then I clumb up into the forks of
a cottonwood that was out of reach, and watched. There was a wood-rank
four foot high a little ways in front of the tree, and first I was going
to hide behind that; but maybe it was luckier I didn't.
The men ripped around awhile, and then rode away. As soon as they
was out of sight I sung out to Buck and told him. He didn't know what
to make of my voice coming out of the tree at first. He was awful
surprised. He told me to watch out sharp and let him know when the men
come in sight again; said they was up to some devilment or other --
wouldn't be gone long. I wished I was out of that tree, but I dasn't
come down. Buck begun to cry and rip, and 'lowed that him and his cousin
Joe (that was the other young chap) would make up for this day yet. He
said his father and his two brothers was killed, and two or three of the
enemy. Said the Shepherdsons laid for them in ambush. Buck said his father
and brothers ought to waited for their relations -- the Shepherdsons was
too strong for them. I asked him what was become of young Harney and Miss
Sophia. He said they'd got across the river and was safe. I was glad of
that; but the way Buck did take on because he didn't manage to kill Harney
that day he shot at him -- I hain't ever heard anything like it.
All of a sudden, bang! bang! bang! goes three or four guns -- the
men had slipped around through the woods and come in from behind without
their horses! The boys jumped for the river -- both of them hurt -- and as
they swum down the current the men run along the bank shooting at them and
singing out, "Kill them, kill them!" It made me so sick I most fell out of
the tree. I ain't a-going to tell all that happened -- it would make me
sick again if I was to do that. I wished I hadn't ever come ashore that
night to see such things. I ain't ever going to get shut of them -- lots of
times I dream about them.
I stayed in the tree till it begun to get dark, afraid to come down.
Sometimes I heard guns away off in the woods; and twice I seen little gangs
of men gallop past the log store with guns; so I reckoned the trouble was
still a-going on. I was mighty downhearted; so I made up my mind I wouldn't
ever go anear that house again, because I reckoned I was to blame, somehow.
I judged that that piece of paper meant that Miss Sophia was to meet Harney
somewheres at half-past two and run off; and I judged I ought to told her
father about that paper and the curious way she acted, and then maybe he
would a locked her up, and this awful mess wouldn't ever happened.
When I got down out of the tree I crept along down the river bank a
piece, and found the two bodies laying in the edge of the water, and tugged
at them till I got them ashore; then I covered up their faces, and got away
as quick as I could. I cried a little when I was covering up Buck's face,
for he was mighty good to me.
It was just dark now. I never went near the house, but struck through
the woods and made for the swamp. Jim warn't on his island, so I tramped
off in a hurry for the crick, and crowded through the willows, red-hot to
jump aboard and get out of that awful country. The raft was gone! My souls,
but I was scared! I couldn't get my breath for most a minute. Then I raised
a yell. A voice not twenty-five foot from me says:
"Good lan'! is dat you, honey? Doan' make no noise."
It was Jim's voice -- nothing ever sounded so good before. I run
along the bank a piece and got aboard, and Jim he grabbed me and hugged me,
he was so glad to see me. He says:
"Laws bless you, chile, I 'uz right down sho' you's dead agin.
Jack's been heah; he say he reck'n you's ben shot, kase you didn' come
home no mo'; so I's jes' dis minute a startin' de raf' down towards de
mouf er de crick, so's to be all ready for to shove out en leave soon as
Jack comes agin en tells me for certain you is dead. Lawsy, I's mighty
glad to git you back again, honey.
"All right -- that's mighty good; they won't find me, and they'll
think I've been killed, and floated down the river -- there's something
up there that 'll help them think so -- so don't you lose no time, Jim,
but just shove off for the big water as fast as ever you can."
I never felt easy till the raft was two mile below there and
out in the middle of the Mississippi. Then we hung up our signal lantern,
and judged that we was free and safe once more. I hadn't had a bite to
eat since yesterday, so Jim he got out some corn-dodgers and buttermilk,
and pork and cabbage and greens -- there ain't nothing in the world so
good when it's cooked right -- and whilst I eat my supper we talked and
had a good time. I was powerful glad to get away from the feuds, and so
was Jim to get away from the swamp. We said there warn't no home like a
raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a
raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.
TWO or three days and nights went by; I reckon I might say they
swum by, they slid along so quiet and smooth and lovely. Here is the
way we put in the time. It was a monstrous big river down there --
sometimes a mile and a half wide; we run nights, and laid up and hid
daytimes; soon as night was most gone we stopped navigating and tied
up -- nearly always in the dead water under a towhead; and then cut
young cottonwoods and willows, and hid the raft with them. Then we
set out the lines. Next we slid into the river and had a swim, so as to
freshen up and cool off; then we set down on the sandy bottom where
the water was about knee deep, and watched the daylight come. Not a
sound anywheres -- perfectly still -- just like the whole world was
asleep, only sometimes the bullfrogs a-cluttering, maybe. The first thing
to see, looking away over the water, was a kind of dull line -- that was
the woods on t'other side; you couldn't make nothing else out; then a
pale place in the sky; then more paleness spreading around; then the
river softened up away off, and warn't black any more, but gray;
you could see little dark spots drifting along ever so far away -- trading
scows, and such things; and long black streaks -- rafts; sometimes you
could hear a sweep screaking; or jumbled up voices, it was so still, and
sounds come so far; and by and by you could see a streak on the water
which you know by the look of the streak that there's a snag there in
a swift current which breaks on it and makes that streak look that way;
and you see the mist curl up off of the water, and the east reddens up,
and the river, and you make out a log-cabin in the edge of the woods,
away on the bank on t'other side of the river, being a woodyard, likely,
and piled by them cheats so you can throw a dog through it anywheres;
then the nice breeze springs up, and comes fanning you from over there,
so cool and fresh and sweet to smell on account of the woods and the
flowers; but sometimes not that way, because they've left dead fish laying
around, gars and such, and they do get pretty rank; and next you've got
the full day, and everything smiling in the sun, and the song-birds just
A little smoke couldn't be noticed now, so we would take some fish
off of the lines and cook up a hot breakfast. And afterwards we would
watch the lonesomeness of the river, and kind of lazy along, and by and
by lazy off to sleep. Wake up by and by, and look to see what done it, and
maybe see a steamboat coughing along up-stream, so far off towards
the other side you couldn't tell nothing about her only whether she was
a stern-wheel or side-wheel; then for about an hour there wouldn't be
nothing to hear nor nothing to see -- just solid lonesomeness. Next you'd
see a raft sliding by, away off yonder, and maybe a galoot on it chopping,
because they're most always doing it on a raft; you'd see the axe flash and
come down -- you don't hear nothing; you see that axe go up again, and
by the time it's above the man's head then you hear the k'chunk! -- it
had took all that time to come over the water. So we would put in the
day, lazying around, listening to the stillness. Once there was a thick
fog, and the rafts and things that went by was beating tin pans so the
steamboats wouldn't run over them. A scow or a raft went by so close
we could hear them talking and cussing and laughing -- heard them plain;
but we couldn't see no sign of them; it made you feel crawly; it was like
spirits carrying on that way in the air. Jim said he believed it was spirits;
but I says:
"No; spirits wouldn't say, 'Dern the dern fog.'"
Soon as it was night out we shoved; when we got her out to about
the middle we let her alone, and let her float wherever the current wanted
her to; then we lit the pipes, and dangled our legs in the water, and talked
about all kinds of things -- we was always naked, day and night, whenever
the mosquitoes would let us -- the new clothes Buck's folks made for me
was too good to be comfortable, and besides I didn't go much on clothes,
Sometimes we'd have that whole river all to ourselves for the longest
time. Yonder was the banks and the islands, across the water; and maybe a
spark -- which was a candle in a cabin window; and sometimes on the water
you could see a spark or two -- on a raft or a scow, you know; and maybe
you could hear a fiddle or a song coming over from one of them crafts. It's
lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and
we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether
they was made or only just happened. Jim he allowed they was made, but I
allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many.
Jim said the moon could a laid them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I
didn't say nothing against it, because I've seen a frog lay most as many, so
of course it could be done. We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and
see them streak down. Jim allowed they'd got spoiled and was hove out of
Once or twice of a night we would see a steamboat slipping along in the
dark, and now and then she would belch a whole world of sparks up out of her
chimbleys, and they would rain down in the river and look awful pretty; then
she would turn a corner and her lights would wink out and her powwow shut
off and leave the river still again; and by and by her waves would get to us, a
long time after she was gone, and joggle the raft a bit, and after that you
wouldn't hear nothing for you couldn't tell how long, except maybe frogs or
After midnight the people on shore went to bed, and then for two or three
hours the shores was black -- no more sparks in the cabin windows. These
sparks was our clock -- the first one that showed again meant morning was
coming, so we hunted a place to hide and tie up right away.
Just as I was passing a place where a kind of a cowpath crossed the crick,
here comes a couple of men tearing up the path as tight as they could foot
it. I thought I was a goner, for whenever anybody was after anybody I
judged it was me -- or maybe Jim. I was about to dig out from there in a
hurry, but they was pretty close to me then, and sung out and begged me
to save their lives -- said they hadn't been doing nothing, and was being
chased for it -- said there was men and dogs a-coming. They wanted to jump
right in, but I says:
"Don't you do it. I don't hear the dogs and horses yet; you've got time
to crowd through the brush and get up the crick a little ways; then you
take to the water and wade down to me and get in -- that'll throw the dogs
off the scent."
One of these fellows was about seventy or upwards, and had a bald
head and very gray whiskers. He had an old battered-up slouch hat on, and
a greasy blue woollen shirt, and ragged old blue jeans britches stuffed
into his boot-tops, and home-knit galluses -- no, he only had one. He had
an old long-tailed blue jeans coat with slick brass buttons flung over
his arm, and both of them had big, fat, ratty-looking carpet-bags.
The other fellow was about thirty, and dressed about as ornery. After
breakfast we all laid off and talked, and the first thing that come out
was that these chaps didn't know one another.
"What got you into trouble?" says the baldhead to t'other chap.
"Well, I'd been selling an article to take the tartar off the teeth --
and it does take it off, too, and generly the enamel along with it -- but
I stayed about one night longer than I ought to, and was just in the act
of sliding out when I ran across you on the trail this side of town, and
you told me they were coming, and begged me to help you to get off. So I
told you I was expecting trouble myself, and would scatter out with you.
That's the whole yarn -- what's yourn?
"Well, I'd ben a-running' a little temperance revival thar 'bout a
week, and was the pet of the women folks, big and little, for I was makin'
it mighty warm for the rummies, I tell you, and takin' as much as five or
six dollars a night -- ten cents a head, children and niggers free -- and
business a-growin' all the time, when somehow or another a little report
got around last night that I had a way of puttin' in my time with a private
jug on the sly. A nigger rousted me out this mornin', and told me the people
was getherin' on the quiet with their dogs and horses, and they'd be along
pretty soon and give me 'bout half an hour's start, and then run me down if
they could; and if they got me they'd tar and feather me and ride me on a
rail, sure. I didn't wait for no breakfast -- I warn't hungry."
"Old man," said the young one, "I reckon we might double-team it
together; what do you think?"
"I ain't undisposed. What's your line -- mainly?"
"Jour printer by trade; do a little in patent medicines; theater-actor --
tragedy, you know; take a turn to mesmerism and phrenology when there's a
chance; teach singing-geography school for a change; sling a lecture
sometimes -- oh, I do lots of things -- most anything that comes handy, so
it ain't work. What's your lay?"
"I've done considerble in the doctoring way in my time. Layin' on o'
hands is my best holt -- for cancer and paralysis, and sich things; and I
k'n tell a fortune pretty good when I've got somebody along to find out
the facts for me. Preachin's my line, too, and workin' camp-meetin's, and
Nobody never said anything for a while; then the young man hove a sigh
"What 're you alassin' about?" says the bald-head.
"To think I should have lived to be leading such a life, and be degraded
down into such company." And he begun to wipe the corner of his eye with a
"Dern your skin, ain't the company good enough for you?" says the
baldhead, pretty pert and uppish.
“Yes, it IS good enough for me; it's as good as I deserve; for who
fetched me so low when I was so high? I did myself. I don't blame you,
gentlemen -- far from it; I don't blame anybody. I deserve it all. Let the
cold world do its worst; one thing I know -- there's a grave somewhere for
me. The world may go on just as it's always done, and take everything from
me -- loved ones, property, everything; but it can't take that. Some day
I'll lie down in it and forget it all, and my poor broken heart will be at
rest." He went on a-wiping.
"Drot your pore broken heart," says the baldhead; "what are you heaving
your pore broken heart at us f'r? We hain't done nothing."
"No, I know you haven't. I ain't blaming you, gentlemen. I brought
myself down -- yes, I did it myself. It's right I should suffer --
perfectly right -- I don't make any moan."
"Brought you down from whar? Whar was you brought down from?"
"Ah, you would not believe me; the world never believes -- let it pass
-- 'tis no matter. The secret of my birth --”
"The secret of your birth! Do you mean to say --”
"Gentlemen," says the young man, very solemn, "I will reveal it to you,
for I feel I may have confidence in you. By rights I am a duke!"
Jim's eyes bugged out when he heard that; and I reckon mine did, too.
Then the baldhead says: "No! you can't mean it?"
"Yes. My great-grandfather, eldest son of the Duke of Bridgewater, fled
to this country about the end of the last century, to breathe the pure air
of freedom; married here, and died, leaving a son, his own father dying
about the same time. The second son of the late duke seized the titles and
estates -- the infant real duke was ignored. I am the lineal descendant of
that infant -- I am the rightful Duke of Bridgewater; and here am I,
forlorn, torn from my high estate, hunted of men, despised by the cold
world, ragged, worn, heart-broken, and degraded to the companionship of
felons on a raft!"
Jim pitied him ever so much, and so did I. We tried to comfort him,
but he said it warn't much use, he couldn't be much comforted; said if
we was a mind to acknowledge him, that would do him more good than most
anything else; so we said we would, if he would tell us how. He said we
ought to bow when we spoke to him, and say "Your Grace," or "My Lord,"
or "Your Lordship" -- and he wouldn't mind it if we called him plain
"Bridgewater," which, he said, was a title anyway, and not a name; and
one of us ought to wait on him at dinner, and do any little thing for
him he wanted done. Well, that was all easy, so we done it. All through
dinner Jim stood around and waited on him, and says, "Will yo' Grace
have some o' dis or some o' dat?" and so on, and a body could see it
was mighty pleasing to him.
But the old man got pretty silent by and by -- didn't have much to
say, and didn't look pretty comfortable over all that petting that was
going on around that duke. He seemed to have something on his mind. So,
along in the afternoon, he says:
"Looky here, Bilgewater," he says, "I'm nation sorry for you, but
you ain't the only person that's had troubles like that."
"No you ain't. You ain't the only person that's ben snaked down
wrongfully out'n a high place."
"No, you ain't the only person that's had a secret of his birth."
And, by jings, he begins to cry.
"Hold! What do you mean?"
"Bilgewater, kin I trust you?" says the old man, still sort of
"To the bitter death!" He took the old man by the hand and squeezed
it, and says, "That secret of your being: speak!"
"Bilgewater, I am the late Dauphin!"
You bet you, Jim and me stared this time. Then the duke says:
"You are what?"
"Yes, my friend, it is too true -- your eyes is lookin' at this very
moment on the pore disappeared Dauphin, Looy the Seventeen, son of Looy
the Sixteen and Marry Antonette."
"You! At your age! No! You mean you're the late Charlemagne; you must
be six or seven hundred years old, at the very least."
"Trouble has done it, Bilgewater, trouble has done it; trouble has
brung these gray hairs and this premature balditude. Yes, gentlemen, you
see before you, in blue jeans and misery, the wanderin', exiled,
trampled-on, and sufferin' rightful King of France."
Well, he cried and took on so that me and Jim didn't know hardly what
to do, we was so sorry -- and so glad and proud we'd got him with us,
too. So we set in, like we done before with the duke, and tried to
comfort him. But he said it warn't no use, nothing but to be dead and
done with it all could do him any good; though he said it often made
him feel easier and better for a while if people treated him according
to his rights, and got down on one knee to speak to him, and always
called him "Your Majesty," and waited on him first at meals, and didn't
set down in his presence till he asked them. So Jim and me set to
majestying him, and doing this and that and t'other for him, and standing
up till he told us we might set down. This done him heaps of good, and
so he got cheerful and comfortable. But the duke kind of soured on him,
and didn't look a bit satisfied with the way things was going; still,
the king acted real friendly towards him, and said the duke's great-
grandfather and all the other Dukes of Bilgewater was a good deal
thought of by his father, and was allowed to come to the palace
considerable; but the duke stayed huffy a good while, till by and by
the king says:
"Like as not we got to be together a blamed long time on this h-yer
raft, Bilgewater, and so what's the use o' your bein' sour? It 'll
only make things oncomfortable. It ain't my fault I warn't born a
duke, it ain't your fault you warn't born a king -- so what's the use
to worry? Make the best o' things the way you find 'em, says I --
that's my motto. This ain't no bad thing that we've struck here --
plenty grub and an easy life -- come, give us your hand, duke, and
le's all be friends."
THEY asked us considerable many questions; wanted to know what we
covered up the raft that way for, and laid by in the daytime instead
of running--was Jim a runaway nigger? Says I:
"Goodness sakes! would a runaway nigger run south?"
No, they allowed he wouldn't. I had to account for things some way, so
"My folks was living in Pike County, in Missouri, where I was born, and
they all died off but me and pa and my brother Ike. Pa, he 'lowed he'd
break up and go down and live with Uncle Ben, who's got a little one-horse
place on the river, forty-four mile below Orleans. Pa was pretty poor, and
had some debts; so when he'd squared up there warn't nothing left but sixteen
dollars and our nigger, Jim. That warn't enough to take us fourteen hundred
mile, deck passage nor no other way. Well, when the river rose pa had a
streak of luck one day; he ketched this piece of a raft; so we reckoned we'd
go down to Orleans on it. Pa's luck didn't hold out; a steamboat run over
the forrard corner of the raft one night, and we all went overboard and dove
under the wheel; Jim and me come up all right, but pa was drunk, and Ike was
only four years old, so they never come up no more. Well, for the next day or
two we had considerable trouble, because people was always coming out in skiffs
and trying to take Jim away from me, saying they believed he was a runaway nigger.
We don't run daytimes no more now; nights they don't bother us."
The duke says:
"Leave me alone to cipher out a way so we can run in the daytime if we want to.
I'll think the thing over--I'll invent a plan that'll fix it. We'll let it alone
for to-day, because of course we don't want to go by that town yonder in daylight--
it mightn't be healthy."
Towards night it begun to darken up and look like rain; the heat
lightning was squirting around low down in the sky, and the leaves
was beginning to shiver -- it was going to be pretty ugly, it was
easy to see that. So the duke and the king went to overhauling our
wigwam, to see what the beds was like. My bed was a straw tick --
better than Jim's, which was a cornshuck tick; there's always cobs
around about in a shuck tick, and they poke into you and hurt; and
when you roll over the dry shucks sound like you was rolling over
in a pile of dead leaves; it makes such a rustling that you wake up.
Well, the duke allowed he would take my bed; but the king allowed
he wouldn't. He says:
"I should a reckoned the difference in rank would a sejested to
you that a corn-shuck bed warn't just fitten for me to sleep on. Your
Grace 'll take the shuck bed yourself."
Jim and me was in a sweat again for a minute, being afraid there
was going to be some more trouble amongst them; so we was pretty glad
when the duke says:
"'Tis my fate to be always ground into the mire under the iron heel
of oppression. Misfortune has broken my once haughty spirit; I yield,
I submit; 'tis my fate. I am alone in the world -- let me suffer; can
It was my watch below till twelve, but I wouldn't a turned in
anyway if I'd had a bed, because a body don't see such a storm as that
every day in the week, not by a long sight. My souls, how the wind did
scream along! And every second or two there'd come a glare that lit up
the white-caps for a half a mile around, and you'd see the islands
looking dusty through the rain, and the trees thrashing around in the
wind; then comes a h-whack! -- bum! bum! bumble-umble-um-bum-bum-
bum-bum -- and the thunder would go rumbling and grumbling away, and
quit -- and then rip comes another flash and another sockdolager. The
waves most washed me off the raft sometimes, but I hadn't any clothes
on, and didn't mind. We didn't have no trouble about snags; the lightning
was glaring and flittering around so constant that we could see them
plenty soon enough to throw her head this way or that and miss them.
I had the middle watch, you know, but I was pretty sleepy by that
time, so Jim he said he would stand the first half of it for me; he was
always mighty good that way, Jim was. I crawled into the wigwam, but the
king and the duke had their legs sprawled around so there warn't no show
for me; so I laid outside -- I didn't mind the rain, because it was warm,
and the waves warn't running so high now. About two they come up again,
though, and Jim was going to call me; but he changed his mind, because
he reckoned they warn't high enough yet to do any harm; but he was
mistaken about that, for pretty soon all of a sudden along comes a
regular ripper and washed me overboard. It most killed Jim a-laughing.
He was the easiest nigger to laugh that ever was, anyway.
The duke went down into his carpetbag, and fetched up a lot of little
printed bills and read them out loud. One bill said, "The celebrated
Dr. Armand de Montalban, of Paris," would "lecture on the Science of
Phrenology" at such and such a place, on the blank day of blank, at
ten cents admission, and "furnish charts of character at twenty-five
cents apiece." The duke said that was him. In another bill he was the
"world-renowned Shakespearian tragedian, Garrick the Younger, of
Drury Lane, London." In other bills he had a lot of other names and
done other wonderful things, like finding water and gold with a
"divining-rod," "dissipating witch spells," and so on. By and by he
"But the histrionic muse is the darling. Have you ever trod the
"No," says the king.
"You shall, then, before you're three days older, Fallen Grandeur,"
says the duke. "The first good town we come to we'll hire a hall and
do the sword fight in Richard III. and the balcony scene in Romeo and
Juliet. How does that strike you?"
"I'm in, up to the hub, for anything that will pay, Bilgewater; but,
you see, I don't know nothing about play-actin', and hain't ever seen
much of it. I was too small when pap used to have 'em at the palace.
Do you reckon you can learn me?"
"All right. I'm jist a-freezn' for something fresh, anyway. Le's
commence right away."
So the duke he told him all about who Romeo was and who Juliet
was, and said he was used to being Romeo, so the king could be Juliet.
"But if Juliet's such a young gal, duke, my peeled head and my
white whiskers is goin' to look oncommon odd on her, maybe."
"No, don't you worry; these country jakes won't ever think of that.
Besides, you know, you'll be in costume, and that makes all the
difference in the world; Juliet's in a balcony, enjoying the moonlight
before she goes to bed, and she's got on her night-gown and her
ruffled nightcap. Here are the costumes for the parts."
He got out two or three curtain-calico suits, which he said was
meedyevil armor for Richard III. and t'other chap, and a long white
cotton nightshirt and a ruffled nightcap to match. The king was
satisfied; so the duke got out his book and read the parts over in
the most splendid spread-eagle way, prancing around and acting at
the same time, to show how it had got to be done; then he give the
book to the king and told him to get his part by heart.
The first shed we come to the preacher was lining out a hymn.
He lined out two lines, everybody sung it, and it was kind of grand
to hear it, there was so many of them and they done it in such a
rousing way; then he lined out two more for them to sing -- and so
on. The people woke up more and more, and sung louder and louder;
and towards the end some begun to groan, and some begun to shout.
Then the preacher begun to preach, and begun in earnest, too; and
went weaving first to one side of the platform and then the other,
and then a-leaning down over the front of it, with his arms and
his body going all the time, and shouting his words out with all
his might; and every now and then he would hold up his Bible and
spread it open, and kind of pass it around this way and that,
shouting, "It's the brazen serpent in the wilderness! Look upon
it and live!" And people would shout out, "Glory! -- A-a-men!"
And so he went on, and the people groaning and crying and saying
"Oh, come to the mourners' bench! come, black with sin! (amen!)
come, sick and sore! (amen!) come, lame and halt and blind! (amen!)
come, pore and needy, sunk in shame! (a-a-men!) come, all that's
worn and soiled and suffering! -- come with a broken spirit!
come with a contrite heart! come in your rags and sin and dirt!
the waters that cleanse is free, the door of heaven stands open --
oh, enter in and be at rest!" (a-a-men! glory, glory hallelujah!)
And so on. You couldn't make out what the preacher said any
more, on account of the shouting and crying. Folks got up
everywheres in the crowd, and worked their way just by main
strength to the mourners' bench, with the tears running down
their faces; and when all the mourners had got up there to the
front benches in a crowd, they sung and shouted and flung
themselves down on the straw, just crazy and wild.
He told them he was a pirate -- been a pirate for thirty years
out in the Indian Ocean -- and his crew was thinned out
considerable last spring in a fight, and he was home now to take
out some fresh men, and thanks to goodness he'd been robbed last
night and put ashore off of a steamboat without a cent, and he
was glad of it; it was the blessedest thing that ever happened
to him, because he was a changed man now, and happy for the first
time in his life; and, poor as he was, he was going to start right
off and work his way back to the Indian Ocean, and put in the rest
of his life trying to turn the pirates into the true path; for he
could do it better than anybody else, being acquainted with all
pirate crews in that ocean; and though it would take him a long
time to get there without money, he would get there anyway, and
every time he convinced a pirate he would say to him, "Don't you
thank me, don't you give me no credit; it all belongs to them dear
people in Pokeville camp-meeting, natural brothers and benefactors
of the race, and that dear preacher there, the truest friend a
pirate ever had!"
And then he busted into tears, and so did everybody. Then
somebody sings out, "Take up a collection for him, take up a
collection!" Well, a half a dozen made a jump to do it, but somebody
sings out, "Let him pass the hat around!" Then everybody said it,
the preacher too.
So the king went all through the crowd with his hat swabbing
his eyes, and blessing the people and praising them and thanking
them for being so good to the poor pirates away off there; and
every little while the prettiest kind of girls, with the tears
running down their cheeks, would up and ask him would he let
them kiss him for to remember him by; and he always done it;
and some of them he hugged and kissed as many as five or six
times -- and he was invited to stay a week; and everybody
wanted him to live in their houses, and said they'd think it
was an honor; but he said as this was the last day of the
camp-meeting he couldn't do no good, and besides he was in
a sweat to get to the Indian Ocean right off and go to work
on the pirates.
Then he showed us another little job he'd printed and hadn't
charged for, because it was for us. It had a picture of a runaway
nigger with a bundle on a stick over his shoulder, and "$200 reward"
under it. The reading was all about Jim, and just described him to a
dot. It said he run away from St. Jacques' plantation, forty mile
below New Orleans, last winter, and likely went north, and whoever
would catch him and send him back he could have the reward and
"Now," says the duke, "after to-night we can run in the daytime
if we want to. Whenever we see anybody coming we can tie Jim hand
and foot with a rope, and lay him in the wigwam and show this handbill
and say we captured him up the river, and were too poor to travel on a
steamboat, so we got this little raft on credit from our friends and
are going down to get the reward. Handcuffs and chains would look still
better on Jim, but it wouldn't go well with the story of us being so poor.
Too much like jewelry. Ropes are the correct thing -- we must preserve
the unities, as we say on the boards."
"Huck, does you reck'n we gwyne to run acrost any mo' kings on
"No," I says, "I reckon not."
"Well," says he, "dat's all right, den. I doan' mine one er two
kings, but dat's enough. Dis one's powerful drunk, en de duke ain' much
I found Jim had been trying to get him to talk French, so he could
hear what it was like; but he said he had been in this country so long,
and had so much trouble, he'd forgot it.
The duke had to learn him over and over again how to say every speech;
and he made him sigh, and put his hand on his heart, and after a while he
said he done it pretty well; "only," he says, "you mustn't bellow out Romeo!
that way, like a bull -- you must say it soft and sick and languishy, so --
R-o-o-meo! that is the idea; for Juliet's a dear sweet mere child of a girl,
you know, and she doesn't bray like a jackass."
So he went to marching up and down, thinking, and frowning horrible
every now and then; then he would hoist up his eyebrows; next he would
squeeze his hand on his forehead and stagger back and kind of moan; next
he would sigh, and next he'd let on to drop a tear. It was beautiful to
see him. By and by he got it. He told us to give attention. Then he
strikes a most noble attitude, with one leg shoved forwards, and his
arms stretched away up, and his head tilted back, looking up at the sky;
and then he begins to rip and rave and grit his teeth; and after that,
all through his speech, he howled, and spread around, and swelled up
his chest, and just knocked the spots out of any acting ever I see
before. This is the speech -- I learned it, easy enough, while he was
learning it to the king:
To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane,
But that the fear of something after death
Murders the innocent sleep,
Great nature's second course,
And makes us rather sling the arrows of outrageous fortune
Than fly to others that we know not of.
There's the respect must give us pause:
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The law's delay, and the quietus which his pangs might take,
In the dead waste and middle of the night, when churchyards yawn
In customary suits of solemn black,
But that the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns,
Breathes forth contagion on the world,
And thus the native hue of resolution, like the poor cat i' the adage,
Is sicklied o'er with care,
And all the clouds that lowered o'er our housetops,
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
But soft you, the fair Ophelia:
Ope not thy ponderous and marble jaws,
But get thee to a nunnery -- go!
Well, the old man he liked that speech, and he mighty soon got it so
he could do it first-rate. It seemed like he was just born for it; and
when he had his hand in and was excited, it was perfectly lovely the
way he would rip and tear and rair up behind when he was getting it
off. The first chance we got the duke he had some show-bills printed;
and after that, for two or three days as we floated along, the raft
was a most uncommon lively place, for there warn't nothing but sword
fighting and rehearsing -- as the duke called it -- going on all the
Then we went loafing around town. The stores and houses was most
all old, shackly, dried up frame concerns that hadn't ever been painted;
they was set up three or four foot above ground on stilts, so as to
be out of reach of the water when the river was over-flowed. The
houses had little gardens around them, but they didn't seem to raise
hardly anything in them but jimpson-weeds, and sunflowers, and ash
piles, and old curled-up boots and shoes, and pieces of bottles, and
rags, and played-out tinware. The fences was made of different kinds
of boards, nailed on at different times; and they leaned every which
way, and had gates that didn't generly have but one hinge -- a
leather one. Some of the fences had been white-washed some time or
another, but the duke said it was in Clumbus' time, like enough.
There was generly hogs in the garden, and people driving them out.
All the stores was along one street. They had white domestic
awnings in front, and the country people hitched their horses to
the awning-posts. There was empty drygoods boxes under the awnings,
and loafers roosting on them all day long, whittling them with their
Barlow knives; and chawing tobacco, and gaping and yawning and
stretching -- a mighty ornery lot. They generly had on yellow straw
hats most as wide as an umbrella, but didn't wear no coats nor
waistcoats, they called one another Bill, and Buck, and Hank, and
Joe, and Andy, and talked lazy and drawly, and used considerable
many cuss words. There was as many as one loafer leaning up against
every awning-post, and he most always had his hands in his britches-
pockets, except when he fetched them out to
lend a chaw of tobacco or scratch. What a body was hearing amongst
them all the time was:
"Gimme a chaw 'v tobacker, Hank "
"Cain't; I hain't got but one chaw left. Ask Bill."
Maybe Bill he gives him a chaw; maybe he lies and says he ain't
got none. Some of them kinds of loafers never has a cent in the
world, nor a chaw of tobacco of their own. They get all their
chawing by borrowing; they say to a fellow, "I wisht you'd len' me
a chaw, Jack, I jist this minute give Ben Thompson the last chaw
I had" -- which is a lie pretty much everytime; it don't fool
nobody but a stranger; but Jack ain't no stranger, so he says:
"You give him a chaw, did you? So did your sister's cat's
grandmother. You pay me back the chaws you've awready borry'd
off'n me, Lafe Buckner, then I'll loan you one or two ton of it,
and won't charge you no back intrust, nuther."
"Well, I did pay you back some of it wunst."
"Yes, you did -- 'bout six chaws. You borry'd store tobacker
and paid back nigger-head."
Store tobacco is flat black plug, but these fellows mostly chaws
the natural leaf twisted. When they borrow a chaw they don't generly
cut it off with a knife, but set the plug in between their teeth,
and gnaw with their teeth and tug at the plug with their hands till
they get it in two; then sometimes the one that owns the tobacco
looks mournful at it when it's handed back, and says, sarcastic:
"Here, gimme the chaw, and you take the plug."
All the streets and lanes was just mud; they warn't nothing
else but mud -- mud as black as tar and nigh about a foot deep in
some places, and two or three inches deep in all the places. The
hogs loafed and grunted around everywheres. You'd see a muddy sow
and a litter of pigs come lazying along the street and whollop
herself right down in the way, where folks had to walk around her,
and she'd stretch out and shut her eyes and wave her ears whilst
the pigs was milking her, and look as happy as if she was on salary.
And pretty soon you'd hear a loafer sing out, "Hi! so boy! sick him,
Tige!" and away the sow would go, squealing most horrible, with a
dog or two swinging to each ear, and three or four dozen more a-
coming; and then you would see all the loafers get up and watch
the thing out of sight, and laugh at the fun and look grateful for
the noise. Then they'd settle back again till there was a dog fight.
There couldn't anything wake them up all over, and make them happy
all over, like a dog fight -- unless it might be putting turpentine
on a stray dog and setting fire to him, or tying a tin pan to his
tail and see him run himself to death.
On the river front some of the houses was sticking out over the
bank, and they was bowed and bent, and about ready to tumble in,
The people had moved out of them. The bank was caved away under
one corner of some others, and that corner was hanging over.
People lived in them yet, but it was dangersome, because sometimes
a strip of land as wide as a house caves in at a time. Sometimes
a belt of land a quarter of a mile deep will start in and cave
along and cave along till it all caves into the river in one
summer. Such a town as that has to be always moving back, and back,
and back, because the river's always gnawing at it.
"Here comes old Boggs! -- in from the country for his little old
monthly drunk; here he comes, boys!"
All the loafers looked glad; I reckoned they was used to having
fun out of Boggs. One of them says:
"Wonder who he's a-gwyne to chaw up this time. If he'd a-chawed up
all the men he's ben a-gwyne to chaw up in the last twenty year he'd
have considerable ruputation now."
Another one says, "I wisht old Boggs 'd threaten me, 'cuz then I'd
know I warn't gwyne to die for a thousan' year."
Boggs comes a-tearing along on his horse, whooping and yelling
like an Injun, and singing out:
"Cler the track, thar. I'm on the waw-path, and the price uv
coffins is a-gwyne to raise."
He was drunk, and weaving about in his saddle; he was over fifty
year old, and had a very red face. Everybody yelled at him and
laughed at him and sassed him, and he sassed back, and said he'd
attend to them and lay them out in their regular turns, but he
couldn't wait now because he'd come to town to kill old Colonel
Sherburn, and his motto was, "Meat first, and spoon vittles to top
He see me, and rode up and says:
"Whar'd you come f'm, boy? You prepared to die?"
Then he rode on. I was scared, but a man says:
"He don't mean nothing; he's always a-carryin' on like that when
he's drunk. He's the best naturedest old fool in Arkansaw -- never
hurt nobody, drunk nor sober."
Boggs rode up before the biggest store in town, and bent his head
down so he could see under the curtain of the awning and yells:
"Come out here, Sherburn! Come out and meet the man you've swindled.
You're the houn' I'm after, and I'm a-gwyne to have you, too!"
And so he went on, calling Sherburn everything he could lay his
tongue to, and the whole street packed with people listening and
laughing and going on. By and by a proud-looking man about fifty-five
-- and he was a heap the best dressed man in that town, too -- steps
out of the store, and the crowd drops back on each side to let him
come. He says to Boggs, mighty ca'm and slow -- he says:
"I'm tired of this, but I'll endure it till one o'clock. Till one
o'clock, mind -- no longer. If you open your mouth against me only
once after that time you can't travel so far but I will find you."
Then he turns and goes in. The crowd looked mighty sober; nobody
stirred, and there warn't no more laughing. Boggs rode off
blackguarding Sherburn as loud as he could yell, all down the
street; and pretty soon back he comes and stops before the store,
still keeping it up. Some men crowded around him and tried to get
him to shut up, but he wouldn't; they told him it would be one
o'clock in about fifteen minutes, and so he must go home -- he must
go right away. But it didn't do no good. He cussed away with all his
might, and throwed his hat down in the mud and rode over it, and
pretty soon away he went a-raging down the street again, with his
gray hair a-flying. Everybody that could get a chance at him tried
their best to coax him off of his horse so they could lock him up
and get him sober; but it warn't no use -- up the street he would
tear again, and give Sherburn another cussing. By and by somebody says:
"Go for his daughter! -- quick, go for his daughter; sometimes
he'll listen to her. If anybody can persuade him, she can."
So somebody started on a run. I walked down street a ways
and stopped. In about five or ten minutes here comes Boggs again, but
not on his horse. He was a-reeling across the street towards me, bare-
headed, with a friend on both sides of him a-holt of his arms and
hurrying him along. He was quiet, and looked uneasy; and he warn't
hanging back any, but was doing some of the hurrying himself. Somebody
I looked over there to see who said it, and it was that Colonel
Sherburn. He was standing perfectly still in the street, and had a
pistol raised in his right hand -- not aiming it, but holding it out
with the barrel tilted up towards the sky. The same second I see a
young girl coming on the run, and two men with her. Boggs and the men
turned round to see who called him, and when they see the pistol the
men jumped to one side, and the pistol-barrel come down slow and steady
to a level -- both barrels cocked. Boggs throws up both of his hands
and says, "O Lord, don't shoot!" Bang! goes the first shot, and he
staggers back, clawing at the air -- bang! goes the second one, and he
tumbles backwards on to the ground, heavy and solid, with his arms
spread out. That young girl screamed out and comes rushing, and down
she throws herself on her father, crying, and saying, "Oh, he's killed
him, he's killed him!" The crowd closed up around them, and shouldered
and jammed one another, with their necks stretched, trying to see, and
people on the inside trying to shove them back and shouting, "Back, back!
give him air, give him air!"
Colonel Sherburn he tossed his pistol on to the ground, and turned
around on his heels and walked off.
They took Boggs to a little drug store, the crowd pressing around
just the same, and the whole town following, and I rushed and got a good
place at the window, where I was close to him and could see in. They
laid him on the floor and put one large Bible under his head, and opened
another one and spread it on his breast; but they tore open his shirt
first, and I seen where one of the bullets went in. He made about a dozen
long gasps, his breast lifting the Bible up when he drawed in his breath,
and letting it down again when he breathed it out -- and after that he
laid still; he was dead. Then they pulled his daughter away from him,
screaming and crying, and took her off. She was about sixteen, and very
sweet and gentle looking, but awful pale and scared.
One long, lanky man, with long hair and a big white fur stovepipe hat on
the back of his head, and a crooked-handled cane, marked out the places
on the ground where Boggs stood and where Sherburn stood, and the people
following him around from one place to t'other and watching everything he
done, and bobbing their heads to show they understood, and stooping a little
and resting their hands on their thighs to watch him mark the places on the
ground with his cane; and then he stood up straight and stiff where Sherburn
had stood, frowning and having his hat-brim down over his eyes, and sung out,
"Boggs!" and then fetched his cane down slow to a level, and says "Bang!"
staggered backwards, says "Bang!" again, and fell down flat on his back.
The people that had seen the thing said he done it perfect; said it was just
exactly the way it all happened. Then as much as a dozen people got out
their bottles and treated him.
THEY swarmed up towards Sherburn's house, a-whooping and raging
like Injuns, and everything had to clear the way or get run over and
tromped to mush, and it was awful to see. Children was heeling it ahead
of the mob, screaming and trying to get out of the way; and every window
along the road was full of women's heads, and there was nigger boys in
every tree, and bucks and wenches looking over every fence; and as soon
as the mob would get nearly to them they would break and skaddle back out
of reach. Lots of the women and girls was crying and taking on, scared most
They swarmed up in front of Sherburn's palings as thick as they could
jam together, and you couldn't hear yourself think for the noise. It was a
little twenty-foot yard. Some sung out "Tear down the fence! tear down the
fence!" Then there was a racket of ripping and tearing and smashing, and
down she goes, and the front wall of the crowd begins to roll in like a
Just then Sherburn steps out on to the roof of his little front porch,
with a double-barrel gun in his hand, and takes his stand, perfectly
ca'm and deliberate, not saying a word. The racket stopped, and the wave
Sherburn never said a word -- just stood there, looking down. The
stillness was awful creepy and uncomfortable. Sherburn run his eye slow
along the crowd; and wherever it struck the people tried a little to
outgaze him, but they couldn't; they dropped their eyes and looked sneaky.
Then pretty soon Sherburn sort of laughed; not the pleasant kind, but the
kind that makes you feel like when you are eating bread that's got sand
Then he says, slow and scornful:
"The idea of you lynching anybody! It's amusing. The idea of you
thinking you had pluck enough to lynch a man! Because you're brave enough
to tar and feather poor friendless cast-out women that come along here,
did that make you think you had grit enough to lay your hands on a man?
Why, a man's safe in the hands of ten thousand of your kind -- as long
as it's daytime and you're not behind him.
"Do I know you? I know you clear through. I was born and raised in
the South, and I've lived in the North; so I know the average all around.
The average man's a coward. In the North he lets anybody walk over him
that wants to, and goes home and prays for a humble spirit to bear it. In
the South one man all by himself, has stopped a stage full of men in the
daytime, and robbed the lot. Your newspapers call you a brave people so
much that you think you are braver than any other people -- whereas
you're just as brave, and no braver. Why don't your juries hang murderers?
Because they're afraid the man's friends will shoot them in the back, in
the dark -- and it's just what they would do.
"So they always acquit; and then a man goes in the night, with a
hundred masked cowards at his back and lynches the rascal. Your mistake
is, that you didn't bring a man with you; that's one mistake, and the
other is that you didn't come in the dark and fetch your masks. You
brought part of a man -- Buck Harkness, there -- and if you hadn't had
him to start you, you'd a taken it out in blowing.
"You didn't want to come. The average man don't like trouble and
danger. You don't like trouble and danger. But if only half a man -- like
Buck Harkness, there -- shouts 'Lynch him! lynch him!' you're afraid to
back down -- afraid you'll be found out to be what you are -- cowards
-- and so you raise a yell, and hang yourselves on to that half-a-man's
coat-tail, and come raging up here, swearing what big things you're going
to do. The pitifulest thing out is a mob; that's what an army is -- a mob;
they don't fight with courage that's born in them, but with courage that's
borrowed from their mass, and from their officers. But a mob without any
man at the head of it is beneath pitifulness. Now the thing for you to do
is to droop your tails and go home and crawl in a hole. If any real lynching's
going to be done it will be done in the dark, Southern fashion; and when they
come they'll bring their masks, and fetch a man along. Now leave -- and
take your half-a-man with you" -- tossing his gun up across his left arm
and cocking it when he says this.
The crowd washed back sudden, and then broke all apart, and went
tearing off every which way, and Buck Harkness he heeled it after them,
looking tolerable cheap. I could a stayed if I wanted to, but I didn't want to.
It was a real bully circus. It was the splendidest sight that ever
was when they all come riding in, two and two, a gentleman and lady,
side by side, the men just in their drawers and undershirts, and no
shoes nor stirrups, and resting their hands on their thighs easy and
comfortable -- there must a been twenty of them -- and every lady
with a lovely complexion, and perfectly beautiful, and looking just
like a gang of real sure-enough queens, and dressed in clothes that
cost millions of dollars, and just littered with diamonds. It was a
powerful fine sight; I never see anything so lovely. And then one by
one they got up and stood, and went a-weaving around the ring so
gentle and wavy and graceful, the men looking ever so tall and airy
and straight, with their heads bobbing and skimming along, away up
there under the tent-roof, and every lady's rose-leafy dress flapping
soft and silky around her hips, and she looking like the most
Well, all through the circus they done the most astonishing things; and
all the time that clown carried on so it most killed the people. The
ringmaster couldn't ever say a word to him but he was back at him quick
as a wink with the funniest things a body ever said; and how he ever
could think of so many of them, and so sudden and so pat, was what I
couldn't noway understand. Why, I couldn't a thought of them in a year.
And by and by a drunk man tried to get into the ring--said he wanted
to ride; said he could ride as well as anybody that ever was. They
argued and tried to keep him out, but he wouldn't listen, and the
whole show come to a standstill. Then the people begun to holler at
him and make fun of him, and that made him mad, and he begun to rip
and tear; so that stirred up the people, and a lot of men begun to
pile down off of the benches and swarm towards the ring, saying,
"Knock him down! throw him out!" and one or two women begun to scream.
So, then, the ringmaster he made a little speech, and said he hoped
there wouldn't be no disturbance, and if the man would promise he
wouldn't make no more trouble he would let him ride if he thought he
could stay on the horse. So everybody laughed and said all right, and
the man got on. The minute he was on, the horse begun to rip and tear
and jump and cavort around, with two circus men hanging on to his
bridle trying to hold him, and the drunk man hanging on to his neck,
and his heels flying in the air every jump, and the whole crowd of
people standing up shouting and laughing till tears rolled down. And
at last, sure enough, all the circus men could do, the horse broke
loose, and away he went like the very nation, round and round the
ring, with that sot laying down on him and hanging to his neck, with
first one leg hanging most to the ground on one side, and then t'other
one on t'other side, and the people just crazy. It warn't funny to me,
though; I was all of a tremble to see his danger. But pretty soon he
struggled up astraddle and grabbed the bridle, a-reeling this way and
that; and the next minute he sprung up and dropped the bridle and
stood! and the horse a-going like a house afire too. He just stood
up there, a-sailing around as easy and comfortable as if he warn't
ever drunk in his life -- and then he begun to pull off his clothes
and sling them. He shed them so thick they kind of clogged up the air,
and altogether he shed seventeen suits. And, then, there he was, slim
and handsome, and dressed the gaudiest and prettiest you ever saw, and
he lit into that horse with his whip and made him fairly hum -- and
finally skipped off, and made his bow and danced off to the dressing-
room, and everybody just a-howling with pleasure and astonishment.
So the duke said these Arkansaw lunkheads couldn't come up to
Shakespeare; what they wanted was low comedy -- and maybe something
ruther worse than low comedy, he reckoned. He said he could size their
style. So next morning he got some big sheets of wrapping paper and some
black paint, and drawed off some handbills, and stuck them up all over
the village. The bills said:
AT THE COURT HOUSE!
FOR 3 NIGHTS ONLY!
The World-Renowned Tragedians
DAVID GARRICK THE YOUNGER!
EDMUND KEAN THE ELDER!
Of the London and Continental
In their Thrilling Tragedy of
THE KING'S CAMELEOPARD,
THE ROYAL NONESUCH ! ! !
Admission 50 cents.
Then at the bottom was the biggest line of all, which said:
LADIES AND CHILDREN NOT ADMITTED.
"There," says he, "if that line don't fetch them, I don't know Arkansaw!"
When the place couldn't hold no more, the duke he quit tending door
and went around the back way and come on to the stage and stood up before
the curtain and made a little speech, and praised up this tragedy, and
said it was the most thrillingest one that ever was; and so he went on
a-bragging about the tragedy, and about Edmund Kean the Elder, which was
to play the main principal part in it; and at last when he'd got everybody's
expectations up high enough, he rolled up the curtain, and the next minute
the king come a-prancing out on all fours, naked; and he was painted all
over, ring-streaked-and-striped, all sorts of colors, as splendid as a
rainbow. And -- but never mind the rest of his outfit; it was just wild,
but it was awful funny. The people most killed themselves laughing; and
when the king got done capering and capered off behind the scenes, they
roared and clapped and stormed and haw-hawed till he come back and done
it over again, and after that they made him do it another time. Well, it
would make a cow laugh to see the shines that old idiot cut.
The third night the house was crammed again -- and they warn't new-comers
this time, but people that was at the show the other two nights. I stood
by the duke at the door, and I see that every man that went in had his
pockets bulging, or something muffled up under his coat -- and I see it
warn't no perfumery, neither, not by a long sight. I smelt sickly eggs by
the barrel, and rotten cabbages, and such things; and if I know the signs
of a dead cat being around, and I bet I do, there was sixty-four of them
went in. I shoved in there for a minute, but it was too various for me; I
couldn't stand it.
My, you ought to seen old Henry the Eight when he was in bloom. He was a
blossom. He used to marry a new wife every day, and chop off her head next
morning. And he would do it just as indifferent as if he was ordering up
eggs. 'Fetch up Nell Gwynn,' he says. They fetch her up. Next morning,
'Chop off her head!' And they chop it off. 'Fetch up Jane Shore,' he says;
and up she comes, Next morning, 'Chop off her head' -- and they chop it
off. 'Ring up Fair Rosamun.' Fair Rosamun answers the bell. Next morning,
'Chop off her head.' And he made every one of them tell him a tale every
night; and he kept that up till he had hogged a thousand and one tales
that way, and then he put them all in a book, and called it Domesday Book
-- which was a good name and stated the case. You don't know kings, Jim,
but I know them; and this old rip of ourn is one of the cleanest I've
struck in history.
S'pose people left money laying around where he was -- what did he
do? He collared it. S'pose he contracted to do a thing, and you paid him,
and didn't set down there and see that he done it -- what did he do?
He always done the other thing. S'pose he opened his mouth -- what then?
If he didn't shut it up powerful quick he'd lose a lie every time.
That's the kind of a bug Henry was; and if we'd a had him along 'stead
of our kings he'd a fooled that town a heap worse than ourn done. I don't
say that ourn is lambs, because they ain't, when you come right down to the
cold facts; but they ain't nothing to that old ram, anyway. All I say is,
kings is kings, and you got to make allowances. Take them all around,
they're a mighty ornery lot. It's the way they're raised."
"But dis one do smell so like de nation, Huck."
"Well, they all do, Jim. We can't help the way a king smells; history
don't tell no way."
"Now de duke, he's a tolerble likely man in some ways."
"Yes, a duke's different. But not very different. This one's a middling
hard lot for a duke. When he's drunk there ain't no near-sighted man could
tell him from a king."
"Well, anyways, I doan' hanker for no mo' un um, Huck. Dese is all I kin
"It's the way I feel, too, Jim. But we've got them on our hands, and we
got to remember what they are, and make allowances. Sometimes I wish we
could hear of a country that's out of kings."
When I waked up just at daybreak he was sitting there with his head
down betwixt his knees, moaning and mourning to himself. I didn't take
notice nor let on. I knowed what it was about. He was thinking about his
wife and his children, away up yonder, and he was low and homesick;
because he hadn't ever been away from home before in his life; and I do
believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for
their'n. It don't seem natural, but I reckon it's so. He was often moaning
and mourning that way nights, when he judged I was asleep, and saying,
"Po' little 'Lizabeth! po' little Johnny! it's mighty hard; I spec' I
ain't ever gwyne to see you no mo', no mo'!" He was a mighty good nigger,
"I treat my little 'Lizabeth so ornery. She warn't on'y 'bout fo' year
ole, en she tuck de sk'yarlet fever, en had a powful rough spell; but she
got well, en one day she was a-stannin' aroun', en I says to her, I says:
"'Shet de do'.'
"She never done it; jis' stood dah, kiner smilin' up at me. It make me
mad; en I says agin, mighty loud, I says:
"'Doan' you hear me? Shet de do'!'
"She jis stood de same way, kiner smilin' up. I was a-bilin'! I says:
"'I lay I make you mine!'
"En wid dat I fetch' her a slap side de head dat sont her a-sprawlin'.
Den I went into de yuther room, en 'uz gone 'bout ten minutes; en when I
come back dah was dat do' a-stannin' open yit, en dat chile stannin' mos'
right in it, a-lookin' down and mournin', en de tears runnin' down. My,
but I wuz mad! I was a-gwyne for de chile, but jis' den -- it was a do'
dat open innerds -- jis' den, 'long come de wind en slam it to, behine de
chile, ker-blam! -- en my lan', de chile never move'! My breff mos' hop
outer me; en I feel so -- so -- I doan' know how I feel. I crope out, all
a-tremblin', en crope aroun' en open de do' easy en slow, en poke my head
in behine de chile, sof' en still, en all uv a sudden I says pow! jis' as
loud as I could yell. She never budge! Oh, Huck, I bust out a-cryin' en
grab her up in my arms, en say, 'Oh, de po' little thing! De Lord God
Amighty fogive po' ole Jim, kaze he never gwyne to fogive hisself as
long's he live!' Oh, she was plumb deef en dumb, Huck, plumb deef en dumb
-- en I'd ben a-treat'n her so!"
He was uncommon bright, the duke was, and he soon struck it. He dressed
Jim up in King Lear's outfit -- it was a long curtain-calico gown, and a
white horse-hair wig and whiskers; and then he took his theater paint and
painted Jim's face and hands and ears and neck all over a dead, dull,
solid blue, like a man that's been drownded nine days. Blamed if he warn't
the horriblest looking outrage I ever see. Then the duke took and wrote
out a sign on a shingle so:
Sick Arab -- but harmless when not out of his head.
And he nailed that shingle to a lath, and stood the lath up four or
five foot in front of the wigwam. Jim was satisfied. He said it was a
sight better than lying tied a couple of years every day, and trembling
all over every time there was a sound. The duke told him to make himself
free and easy, and if anybody ever come meddling around, he must hop out
of the wigwam, and carry on a little, and fetch a howl or two like a wild
beast, and he reckoned they would light out and leave him alone. Which
was sound enough judgment; but you take the average man, and he wouldn't
wait for him to howl. Why, he didn't only look like he was dead, he
looked considerable more than that.
The king's duds was all black, and he did look real swell and starchy.
I never knowed how clothes could change a body before. Why, before, he l
ooked like the orneriest old rip that ever was; but now, when he'd take
off his new white beaver and make a bow and do a smile, he looked that
grand and good and pious that you'd say he had walked right out of the
ark, and maybe was old Leviticus himself.
"Seein' how I'm dressed, I reckon maybe I better arrive down from St.
Louis or Cincinnati, or some other big place. Go for the steamboat,
Huckleberry; we'll come down to the village on her."
I didn't have to be ordered twice to go and take a steamboat ride. I
fetched the shore a half a mile above the village, and then went scooting
along the bluff bank in the easy water. Pretty soon we come to a nice
innocent-looking young country jake setting on a log swabbing the sweat
off of his face, for it was powerful warm weather; and he had a couple
of big carpet-bags by him.
"Run her nose in shore," says the king. I done it. "Wher' you bound for,
"For the steamboat; going to Orleans."
"Git aboard," says the king. "Hold on a minute, my servant 'll he'p you
with them bags. Jump out and he'p the gentleman, Adolphus"--meaning me, I
No, my name's Blodgett--Elexander Blodgett--Reverend Elexander Blodgett, I
s'pose I must say, as I'm one o' the Lord's poor servants. But still I'm
jist as able to be sorry for Mr. Wilks for not arriving in time, all the
same, if he's missed anything by it--which I hope he hasn't."
"Well, he don't miss any property by it, because he'll get that all right;
but he's missed seeing his brother Peter die--which he mayn't mind, nobody
can tell as to that--but his brother would a give anything in this world to
see him before he died; never talked about nothing else all these three weeks;
hadn't seen him since they was boys together--and hadn't ever seen his brother
William at all--that's the deef and dumb one--William ain't more than thirty or
thirty-five. Peter and George were the only ones that come out here; George
was the married brother; him and his wife both died last year. Harvey and
William's the only ones that's left now; and, as I was saying, they haven't
got here in time."
Well, the old man went on asking questions till he just fairly emptied that
young fellow. Blamed if he didn't inquire about everybody and everything in
that blessed town, and all about the Wilkses; and about Peter's business--which
was a tanner; and about George's--which was a carpenter; and about Harvey's--
which was a dissentering minister; and so on, and so on. Then he says:
"What did you want to walk all the way up to the steamboat for?"
"Because she's a big Orleans boat, and I was afeard she mightn't stop there.
When they're deep they won't stop for a hail. A Cincinnati boat will, but
this is a St. Louis one."
"Was Peter Wilks well off?"
"Oh, yes, pretty well off. He had houses and land, and it's reckoned he left
three or four thousand in cash hid up som'ers."
"When did you say he died?"
"I didn't say, but it was last night."
"Funeral to-morrow, likely?"
"Yes, 'bout the middle of the day."
"Well, it's all terrible sad; but we've all got to go, one time or another.
So what we want to do is to be prepared; then we're all right."
"Yes, sir, it's the best way. Ma used to always say that."
I see what he was up to; but I never said nothing, of course. When I got
back with the duke we hid the canoe, and then they set down on a log, and the
king told him everything, just like the young fellow had said it--every last
word of it. And all the time he was a-doing it he tried to talk like an
Englishman; and he done it pretty well, too, for a slouch. I can't imitate
him, and so I ain't a-going to try to; but he really done it pretty good.
Then he says:
"How are you on the deef and dumb, Bilgewater?"
The duke said, leave him alone for that; said he had played a deef and dumb
person on the histronic boards. So then they waited for a steamboat.
About the middle of the afternoon a couple of little boats come along, but
they didn't come from high enough up the river; but at last there was a big
one, and they hailed her. She sent out her yawl, and we went aboard, and
she was from Cincinnati; and when they found we only wanted to go four or
five mile they was booming mad, and gave us a cussing, and said they wouldn't
land us. But the king was ca'm. He says:
"If gentlemen kin afford to pay a dollar a mile apiece to be took on and put
off in a yawl, a steamboat kin afford to carry 'em, can't it?"
So they softened down and said it was all right; and when we got to the village
they yawled us ashore. About two dozen men flocked down when they see the yawl
a-coming, and when the king says:
"Kin any of you gentlemen tell me wher' Mr. Peter Wilks lives?" they
give a glance at one another, and nodded their heads, as much as to say,
"What d' I tell you?" Then one of them says, kind of soft and gentle:
"I'm sorry. sir, but the best we can do is to tell you where he did
live yesterday evening."
Sudden as winking the ornery old cretur went an to smash, and fell up
against the man, and put his chin on his shoulder, and cried down his back,
"Alas, alas, our poor brother -- gone, and we never got to see him;
oh, it's too, too hard!"
Then he turns around, blubbering, and makes a lot of idiotic signs to
the duke on his hands, and blamed if he didn't drop a carpet-bag and bust
out a-crying. If they warn't the beatenest lot, them two frauds, that ever
Well, the men gathered around and sympathized with them, and said all
sorts of kind things to them, and carried their carpet-bags up the hill
for them, and let them lean on them and cry, and told the king all about
his brother's last moments, and the king he told it all over again on his
hands to the duke, and both of them took on about that dead tanner like
they'd lost the twelve disciples. Well, if ever I struck anything like it,
I'm a nigger. It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race.
When we got to the house the street in front of it was packed, and
the three girls was standing in the door. Mary Jane was red-headed, but that
don't make no difference, she was most awful beautiful, and her face and her
eyes was all lit up like glory, she was so glad her uncles was come. The
king he spread his arms, and Mary Jane she jumped for them, and the hare-lip
jumped for the duke, and there they had it! Everybody most, leastways women,
cried for joy to see them meet again at last and have such good times.
Then the king he hunched the duke private -- I see him do it -- and
then he looked around and see the coffin, over in the corner on two chairs;
so then him and the duke, with a hand across each other's shoulder, and
t'other hand to their eyes, walked slow and solemn over there, everybody
dropping back to give them room, and all the talk and noise stopping, people
saying "Sh!" and all the men taking their hats off and drooping their heads,
so you could a heard a pin fall. And when they got there they bent over and
looked in the coffin, and took one sight, and then they bust out a-crying so
you could a heard them to Orleans, most; and then they put their arms
around each other's necks, and hung their chins over each other's shoulders;
and then for three minutes, or maybe four, I never see two men leak the way
they done. And, mind you, everybody was doing the same; and the place was
that damp I never see anything like it. Then one of them got on one side of
the coffin, and t'other on t'other side, and they kneeled down and rested their
foreheads on the coffin, and let on to pray all to themselves. Well, when it
come to that it worked the crowd like you never see anything like it, and
everybody broke down and went to sobbing right out loud -- the poor girls, too;
and every woman, nearly, went up to the girls, without saying a word, and
kissed them, solemn, on the forehead, and then put their hand on their head,
and looked up towards the sky, with the tears running down, and then busted
out and went off sobbing and swabbing, and give the next woman a show. I
never see anything so disgusting.
Well, by and by the king he gets up and comes forward a little, and works
himself up and slobbers out a speech, all full of tears and flapdoodle about its
being a sore trial for him and his poor brother to lose the diseased, and to
miss seeing diseased alive after the long journey of four thousand mile, but it's
a trial that's sweetened and sanctified to us by this dear sympathy and these
holy tears, and so he thanks them out of his heart and out of his brother's heart,
because out of their mouths they can't, words being too weak and cold, and all
that kind of rot and slush, till it was just sickening; and then he blubbers out a
pious goody-goody Amen, and turns himself loose and goes to crying fit to bust.
And the minute the words were out of his mouth somebody over in the
crowd struck up the doxolojer, and everybody joined in with all their might,
and it just warmed you up and made you feel as good as church letting out.
Music is a good thing; and after all that soul-butter and hogwash I never
see it freshen up things so, and sound so honest and bully.
Rev. Hobson and Dr. Robinson was down to the end of the town a-hunting
together--that is, I mean the doctor was shipping a sick man to t'other
world, and the preacher was pinting him right. Lawyer Bell was away up
to Louisville on business. But the rest was on hand, and so they all
come and shook hands with the king and thanked him and talked to him;
and then they shook hands with the duke and didn't say nothing, but just
kept a-smiling and bobbing their heads like a passel of sapheads whilst
he made all sorts of signs with his hands and said "Goo-goo-goo-goo-goo"
all the time, like a baby that can't talk.
So the king he blattered along, and managed to inquire about pretty much
everybody and dog in town, by his name, and mentioned all sorts of little
things that happened one time or another in the town, or to George's family,
or to Peter. And he always let on that Peter wrote him the things; but that
was a lie: he got every blessed one of them out of that young flathead that
we canoed up to the steamboat.
Then Mary Jane she fetched the letter her father left behind, and the king
he read it out loud and cried over it. It give the dwelling-house and three
thousand dollars, gold, to the girls; and it give the tanyard (which was doing
a good business), along with some other houses and land (worth about seven
thousand), and three thousand dollars in gold to Harvey and William, and told
where the six thousand cash was hid down cellar. So these two frauds said
they'd go and fetch it up, and have everything square and above-board; and
told me to come with a candle. We shut the cellar door behind us, and when
they found the bag they spilt it out on the floor, and it was a lovely sight, all
them yaller-boys. My, the way the king's eyes did shine! He slaps the duke on
the shoulder and says:
"Oh, this ain't bully nor noth'n! Oh, no, I reckon not! Why, Biljy, it
beats the Nonesuch, don't it?"
The duke allowed it did. They pawed the yaller-boys, and sifted them
through their fingers and let them jingle down on the floor; and the king
"It ain't no use talkin'; bein' brothers to a rich dead man and
representatives of furrin heirs that's got left is the line for you and
me, Bilge. Thish yer comes of trust'n to Providence. It's the best way,
in the long run. I've tried 'em all, and ther' ain't no better way."
"Say," says the duke, "I got another idea. Le's go up stairs and
count this money, and then take and give it to the girls."
"Good land, duke, lemme hug you! It's the most dazzling idea 'at ever
a man struck. You have cert'nly got the most astonishin' head I ever see.
Oh, this is the boss dodge, ther' ain't no mistake 'bout it. Let 'em fetch
along their suspicions now if they want to -- this 'll lay 'em out."
When we got up-stairs everybody gethered around the table, and the
king he counted it and stacked it up, three hundred dollars in a pile -- twenty
elegant little piles. Everybody looked hungry at it, and licked their chops.
Then they raked it into the bag again, and I see the king begin to swell
himself up for another speech. He says:
"Friends all, my poor brother that lays yonder has done generous by
them that's left behind in the vale of sorrers. He has done generous by these
yer poor little lambs that he loved and sheltered, and that's left fatherless and
motherless. Yes, and we that knowed him knows that he would a done more
generous by 'em if he hadn't ben afeard o' woundin' his dear William and me.
Now, wouldn't he? Ther' ain't no question 'bout it in my mind. Well, then, what
kind o' brothers would it be that 'd stand in his way at sech a time? And what
kind o' uncles would it be that 'd rob -- yes, rob -- sech poor sweet lambs as
these 'at he loved so at sech a time? If I know William -- and I think I do --
he -- well, I'll jest ask him." He turns around and begins to make a lot of signs
to the duke with his hands, and the duke he looks at him stupid and leather-
headed a while; then all of a sudden he seems to catch his meaning, and jumps
for the king, goo-gooing with all his might for joy, and hugs him about fifteen
times before he lets up. Then the king says, "I knowed it; I reckon that 'll
convince anybody the way he feels about it. Here, Mary Jane, Susan, Joanner,
take the money -- take it all. It's the gift of him that lays yonder, cold but
Mary Jane she went for him, Susan and the hare-lip went for the duke,
and then such another hugging and kissing I never see yet. And everybody
crowded up with the tears in their eyes, and most shook the hands off of
them frauds, saying all the time:
"You dear good souls! -- how lovely! -- how could you!"
"I was your father's friend, and I'm your friend; and I warn you as
a friend, and an honest one that wants to protect you and keep you out of
harm and trouble, to turn your backs on that scoundrel and have nothing to
do with him, the ignorant tramp, with his idiotic Greek and Hebrew, as he
calls it. He is the thinnest kind of an impostor -- has come here with a
lot of empty names and facts which he picked up somewheres, and you take
them for proofs, and are helped to fool yourselves by these foolish friends
here, who ought to know better. Mary Jane Wilks, you know me for your
friend, and for your unselfish friend, too. Now listen to me; turn this
pitiful rascal out -- I beg you to do it. Will you?"
Mary Jane straightened herself up, and my, but she was handsome! She
"Here is my answer." She hove up the bag of money and put it in the
king's hands, and says, "Take this six thousand dollars, and invest for
me and my sisters any way you want to, and don't give us no receipt for it."
Then she put her arm around the king on one side, and Susan and the
hare-lip done the same on the other. Everybody clapped their hands and stomped
on the floor like a perfect storm, whilst the king held up his head and
smiled proud. The doctor says:
"All right; I wash my hands of the matter. But I warn you all that a
time 's coming when you're going to feel sick whenever you think of this day."
And away he went.
"All right, doctor," says the king, kinder mocking him; "we'll try and
get 'em to send for you;" which made them all laugh, and they said it was
a prime good hit.
There was an old hair trunk in one corner, and a guitar-box in
another, and all sorts of little knickknacks and jimcracks around, like
girls brisken up a room with. The king said it was all the more homely and
more pleasanter for these fixings,and so don't disturb them. The duke's
room was pretty small, but plenty good enough, and so was my cubby.
That night they had a big supper, and all them men and women was
there, and I stood behind the king and the duke's chairs and waited on them,
and the niggers waited on the rest. Mary Jane she set at the head of the table,
with Susan alongside of her, and said how bad the biscuits was, and how mean
the preserves was, and how ornery and tough the fried chickens was --and all
that kind of rot, the way women always do for to force out compliments; and
the people all knowed everything was tiptop, and said so -- said "How DO
you get biscuits to brown so nice?" and "Where, for the land's sake, DID
you get these amaz'n pickles?" and all that kind of humbug talky-talk, just
the way people always does at a supper, you know.
"Did you ever see the king?"
"Who? William Fourth? Well, I bet I have -- he goes to our church." I
knowed he was dead years ago, but I never let on. So when I says he goes
to our church, she says:
"What -- regular?"
"Yes -- regular. His pew's right over opposite ourn -- on t'other side the
"I thought he lived in London?"
"Well, he does. Where WOULD he live?"
"But I thought YOU lived in Sheffield?"
I see I was up a stump. I had to let on to get choked with a chicken bone,
so as to get time to think how to get down again. Then I says:
"I mean he goes to our church regular when he's in Sheffield. That's only
in the summer time, when he comes there to take the sea baths."
"Why, how you talk -- Sheffield ain't on the sea."
"Well, who said it was?"
"Why, you did."
"I DIDN'T nuther."
"I never said nothing of the kind."
"Well, what DID you say, then?"
"Said he come to take the sea BATHS -- that's what I said."
"Well, then, how's he going to take the sea baths if it ain't on the sea?"
"Looky here," I says; "did you ever see any Congress-water?"
"Well, did you have to go to Congress to get it?"
"Well, neither does William Fourth have to go to the sea to get a sea
"How does he get it, then?"
"Gets it the way people down here gets Congress-water -- in barrels.
There in the palace at Sheffield they've got furnaces, and he wants his
water hot. They can't bile that amount of water away off there at the sea.
They haven't got no conveniences for it."
"Oh, I see, now. You might a said that in the first place and saved time."
"Where do you set?"
"Why, in our pew."
"Why, OURN -- your Uncle Harvey's."
"His'n? What does HE want with a pew?"
"Wants it to set in. What did you RECKON he wanted with it?"
"Why, I thought he'd be in the pulpit."
Rot him, I forgot he was a preacher. I see I was up a stump again, so I
played another chicken bone and got another think. Then I says:
"Blame it, do you suppose there ain't but one preacher to a church?"
"Why, what do they want with more?"
"What! -- to preach before a king? I never did see such a girl as you.
They don't have no less than seventeen."
"Seventeen! My land! Why, I wouldn't set out such a string as that, not
if I NEVER got to glory. It must take 'em a week."
"Shucks, they don't ALL of 'em preach the same day -- only ONE of 'em."
"Well, then, what does the rest of 'em do?"
"Oh, nothing much. Loll around, pass the plate -- and one thing or another.
But mainly they don't do nothing."
"Well, then, what are they FOR?"
"Why, they're for STYLE. Don't you know nothing?"
"Well, I don't WANT to know no such foolishness as that. How is servants
treated in England? Do they treat 'em better 'n we treat our niggers?"
"NO! A servant ain't nobody there. They treat them worse than dogs."
"Don't they give 'em holidays, the way we do, Christmas and New Year's
week, and Fourth of July?"
"Oh, just listen! A body could tell YOU hain't ever been to England by
that. Why, Hare-l -- why, Joanna, they never see a holiday from year's
end to year's end; never go to the circus, nor theater, nor nigger
shows, nor nowheres."
"But YOU always went to church."
Well, I was gone up again. I forgot I was the old man's servant. But next
minute I whirled in on a kind of an explanation how a valley was different
from a common servant and HAD to go to church whether he wanted to or not,
and set with the family, on account of its being the law. But I didn't do
it pretty good, and when I got done I see she warn't satisfied.
"Honest injun, now, hain't you been telling me a lot of lies?"
"Honest injun," says I.
"None of it at all?"
"None of it at all. Not a lie in it," says I.
"Lay your hand on this book and say it."
I see it warn't nothing but a dictionary, so I laid my hand on it and
said it. So then she looked a little better satisfied, and says:
"Well, then, I'll believe some of it; but I hope to gracious if I'll
believe the rest."
"What is it you won't believe, Joe?" says Mary Jane, stepping in with
Susan behind her. "It ain't right nor kind for you to talk so to him,
and him a stranger and so far from his people. How would you like to
be treated so?"
"That's always your way, Maim--always sailing in to help somebody before
they're hurt. I hain't done nothing to him. He's told some stretchers,
I reckon, and I said I wouldn't swallow it all; and that's every bit and
grain I did say. I reckon he can stand a little thing like that, can't he?"
"I don't care whether 'twas little or whether 'twas big; he's here in our
house and a stranger, and it wasn't good of you to say it. If you was in
his place it would make you feel ashamed; and so you oughtn't to say a
thing to another person that will make them feel ashamed."
"Why, Mam, he said-"
"It don't make no difference what he SAID -- that ain't the thing. The
thing is for you to treat him KIND, and not be saying things to make him
remember he ain't in his own country and amongst his own folks."
I says to myself, THIS is a girl that I'm letting that old reptle rob her of
Then Susan SHE waltzed in; and if you'll believe me, she did give Hare-lip
hark from the tomb!
Says I to myself, and this is ANOTHER one that I'm letting him rob her of
Then Mary Jane she took another inning, and went in sweet and lovely again
-- which was her way; but when she got done there warn't hardly anything
left o' poor Hare-lip. So she hollered.
"All right, then," says the other girls; "you just ask his pardon."
She done it, too; and she done it beautiful. She done it so beautiful it was
good to hear; and I wished I could tell her a thousand lies, so she could do it
I says to myself, this is another one that I'm letting him rob her of
her money. And when she got through they all jest laid theirselves
out to make me feel at home and know I was amongst friends. I felt
so ornery and low down and mean that I says to myself, my mind's made
up; I'll hive that money for them or bust.
So then I lit out--for bed, I said, meaning some time or another. When
I got by myself I went to thinking the thing over. I says to myself,
shall I go to that doctor, private, and blow on these frauds? No--that
won't do. He might tell who told him; then the king and the duke would
make it warm for me. Shall I go, private, and tell Mary Jane? No--I
dasn't do it. Her face would give them a hint, sure; they've got the
money, and they'd slide right out and get away with it. If she was to
fetch in help I'd get mixed up in the business before it was done with,
I judge. No; there ain't no good way but one. I got to steal that
money, somehow; and I got to steal it some way that they won't suspicion
that I done it. They've got a good thing here, and they ain't a-going to
leave till they've played this family and this town for all they're worth,
so I'll find a chance time enough. I'll steal it and hide it; and by and
by, when I'm away down the river, I'll write a letter and tell Mary Jane
where it's hid. But I better hive it tonight if I can, because the doctor
maybe hasn't let up as much as he lets on he has; he might scare them out
of here yet.
So, thinks I, I'll go and search them rooms. Upstairs the hall was dark,
but I found the duke's room, and started to paw around it with my hands;
but I recollected it wouldn't be much like the king to let anybody else
take care of that money but his own self; so then I went to his room and
begun to paw around there.
"That we better glide out of this before three in the morning, and clip it down
the river with what we've got. Specially, seeing we got it so easy -- GIVEN back
to us, flung at our heads, as you may say, when of course we allowed to have to
steal it back. I'm for knocking off and lighting out."
That made me feel pretty bad. About an hour or two ago it would a been a little
different, but now it made me feel bad and disappointed, The king rips out and
"What! And not sell out the rest o' the property? March off like a passel of
fools and leave eight or nine thous'n' dollars' worth o' property layin' around
jest sufferin' to be scooped in? -- and all good, salable stuff, too."
The duke he grumbled; said the bag of gold was enough, and he didn't
want to go no deeper -- didn't want to rob a lot of orphans of EVERYTHING
"Why, how you talk!" says the king. "We sha'n't rob 'em of nothing at all
but jest this money. The people that BUYS the property is the suff'rers;
because as soon 's it's found out 'at we didn't own it -- which won't be long
after we've slid -- the sale won't be valid, and it 'll all go back to the estate.
These yer orphans 'll git their house back agin, and that's enough for
THEM; they're young and spry, and k'n easy earn a livin'. THEY ain't a-goin
to suffer. Why, jest think -- there's thous'n's and thous'n's that ain't nigh
so well off. Bless you, THEY ain't got noth'n' to complain of."
Well, the king he talked him blind; so at last he give in, and said all right,
but said he believed it was blamed foolishness to stay, and that doctor
hanging over them. But the king says:
"Cuss the doctor! What do we k'yer for HIM? Hain't we got all the fools in
town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?"
So they got ready to go down stairs again. The duke says:
"I don't think we put that money in a good place."
That cheered me up. I'd begun to think I warn't going to get a hint of no kind
to help me. The king says:
"Because Mary Jane 'll be in mourning from this out; and first you know the
nigger that does up the rooms will get an order to box these duds up and put
'em away; and do you reckon a nigger can run across money and not borrow
some of it?"
"Your head's level agin, duke," says the king; and he comes a-fumbling
under the curtain two or three foot from where I was. I stuck tight to the
wall and kept mighty still, though quivery; and I wondered what them
fellows would say to me if they catched me; and I tried to think what I'd
better do if they did catch me. But the king he got the bag before I could
think more than about a half a thought, and he never suspicioned I was
around. They took and shoved the bag through a rip in the straw tick that
was under the feather-bed, and crammed it in a foot or two amongst the
straw and said it was all right now, because a nigger only makes up the
feather-bed, and don't turn over the straw tick only about twice a year, and
so it warn't in no danger of getting stole now.
But I knowed better. I had it out of there before they was half-way
down stairs. I groped along up to my cubby, and hid it there till I
could get a chance to do better. I judged I better hide it outside of
the house somewheres, because if they missed it they would give the
house a good ransacking: I knowed that very well. Then I turned in,
with my clothes all on; but I couldn't a gone to sleep if I'd a wanted
to, I was in such a sweat to get through with the business. By and by
I heard the king and the duke come up; so I rolled off my pallet and
laid with my chin at the top of my ladder, and waited to see if anything
was going to happen. But nothing did.
So I held on till all the late sounds had quit and the early ones hadn't
begun yet; and then I slipped down the ladder.
I CREPT to their doors and listened; they was snoring. So I tiptoed along,
and got down stairs all right. 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.
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
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 keep-
ing 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
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.
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 Ididn't see no safe way for me to chip in and change the
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
So the next day after the funeral, along about noontime, 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.
"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 yet. 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 goodness."
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
"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.
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, crying. 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
"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.
"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-the-
Bible." 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 says:
"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!"
"Cert'nly. 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."
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 safe. 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."
"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
"Why, it's because you ain't one of these leatherface 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 --"
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 tonight or early in the morning."
"Gone to see a friend is all right, but I won't have my love given to
"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 it."
"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
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
"There, there, don't! Yes, I'll go before breakfast -- I'll be glad to.
And leave my sisters with them?"
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:
"GOODbye. 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 wouldpray for me; and if
ever I'd a thought it would do any good for me to pray for HER,
blamed if I wouldn'ta done it or bust.
I says; "I most forgot it. Well, Miss Mary Jane she told me to tell you
she's gone over there in a dreadful hurry -- one of them's sick."
"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
"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 your granny! They don't set up with people that's got the
"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
"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
"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
"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 toget it hitched on good."
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!"
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 downsorrowful 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.
So him and the new dummy started off; and the king he laughs, and
"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'sMIGHTY good! -- and mighty ingenious -- under the
"Gentlemen, I wish the money was there, for I ain't got no disposition to
throw anything in the wayof 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 practice. You do
it pretty awkward."
I didn't care nothing for the compliment, but I was glad to be let off, anyway.
"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.
"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 slution, 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 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:
"Peraps 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 didn't. I reckon he thought he'd keep the thing up
till he tired them people out, so they'd thin out,
"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 rat-
tling 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
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
"We'll do it!" they all shouted; "and if we don't find them marks we'll lynch
the whole gang!"
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 --
When they got there they swarmed into the graveyard and washed over
it like an overflow. 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.
"Out with you, Jim, and set her loose! Glory be to goodness, we're shut of
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
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.
WHEN they got aboard the king went for me, and shook me by the collar,
"Tryin' to give us the slip, was ye, you pup! Tired of our company,
"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 whis-
pers, '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 didn't."
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
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
"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 yourself."
"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
"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 out:
"'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
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
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 again.
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 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.
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 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
"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 says:
"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
"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
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 dollars.
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 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 pray. 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.
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
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.
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
"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 says.
"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.
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
"How can he blow? Hain't he run off?"
"No! That old fool sold him, and never divided with me, and the
"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
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
"All right," I says, "I can walk it in three days. And I'll start this very
"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,
That was the order I wanted, and that was the one I played for. I wanted
to be left free to work my plans.
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 whisper-
ing -- 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 alike. 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 kitchen. 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
"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 her. 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 after. 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
"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?"
"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-"It warn't the
grounding-that didn't keep us back but a little. We blowed out a
"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.
"Who'd you give the baggage to?"
"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 says:
"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.
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.
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 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 all?"
"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.
"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
"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 shot. 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. Tom
Sawyer a nigger-stealer!
"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."
"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, too. There was plenty other farmer-preachers like that, and
done the same way, down South.
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 Sawyer. 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."
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
"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."
"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,
"No, not till you've asked me first."
"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 days! 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.
But it was a mistake, Aunt Sally. This ain't no healthy place for a stranger to
"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 times.
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 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 world. 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 good. 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.
"Looky here, Huck, what fools we are to not think of it before! I bet I
know where Jim is."
"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?"
"What did you think the vittles was for?"
"For a dog."
"So 'd I. Well, it wasn't for a dog."
"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
"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:
"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 everybody. 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.
"Here's the ticket. This hole's big enough for Jim to get through if we
wrench off the board."
"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 Finn."
"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 around."
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. H
"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
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
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
"Why, de gracious sakes! do he know you genlmen?"
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
"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, anyway? 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."
IT would be most an hour yet till breakfast, so we left and struck down into
the woods; because Tom said we got to have some light to see how to dig by,
and a lantern makes too much, and might get us into trouble; what we must have
was a lot of them rotten chunks that's called fox-fire, and just makes a soft
kind of a glow when you lay them in a dark place. We fetched an armful and
hid it in the weeds, and set down to rest, and Tom says, kind of dissatisfied:
"Blame it, this whole thing is just as easy and awkward as it can be. And so
it makes it so rotten difficult to get up a difficult plan. There ain't no
watchman to be drugged-now there ought to be a watchman. There ain't even a
dog to give a sleeping-mixture to. And there's Jim chained by one leg, with
a ten-foot chain, to the leg of his bed: why, all you got to do is to lift
up the bedstead and slip off the chain. And Uncle Silas he trusts everybody;
sends the key to the punkin-headed nigger, and don't send nobody to watch the
nigger. Jim could a got out of that window-hole before this, only there
wouldn't be no use trying to travel with a ten-foot chain on his leg. Why,
drat it, Huck, it's the stupidest arrangement I ever see. You got to invent
all the difficulties. Well, we can't help it; we got to do the best we can
with the materials we've got. Anyhow, there's one thing-there's more honor in
getting him out through a lot of difficulties and dangers, where there warn't
one of them furnished to you by the people who it was their duty to furnish
them, and you had to contrive them all out of your own head. Now look at just
that one thing of the lantern. When you come down to the cold facts, we simply
got to let on that a lantern's resky. Why, we could work with a torchlight
procession if we wanted to, I believe. Now, whilst I think of it, we got to
hunt up something to make a saw out of the first chance we get."
"What do we want of a saw?"
"What do we want of it? Hain't we got to saw the leg of Jim's bed off, so as to
get the chain loose?"
"Why, you just said a body could lift up the bedstead and slip the chain off."
"Well, if that ain't just like you, Huck Finn. You can get up the infant-
schooliest ways of going at a thing. Why, hain't you ever read any books at
all?-Baron Trenck, nor Casanova, nor Benvenuto Chelleeny, nor Henri IV., nor
none of them heroes? Who ever heard of getting a prisoner loose in such an old-
maidy way as that? No; the way all the best authorities does is to saw the bed-
leg in two, and leave it just so, and swallow the sawdust, so it can't be found,
and put some dirt and grease around the sawed place so the very keenest seneskal
can't see no sign of it's being sawed, and thinks the bed-leg is perfectly sound.
Then, the night you're ready, fetch the leg a kick, down she goes; slip off your
chain, and there you are. Nothing to do but hitch your rope ladder to the
battlements, shin down it, break your leg in the moat-because a rope ladder is
nineteen foot too short, you know-and there's your horses and your trusty vassles,
and they scoop you up and fling you across a saddle, and away you go to your
native Langudoc, or Navarre, or wherever it is. It's gaudy, Huck. I wish there
was a moat to this cabin. If we get time, the night of the escape, we'll dig
"What do we want of a moat when we're going to snake him out from under the
But he never heard me. He had forgot me and everything else. He had his chin in
his hand, thinking. Pretty soon he sighs and shakes his head; then sighs again,
"No, it wouldn't do-there ain't necessity enough for it."
"For what?" I says.
"Why, to saw Jim's leg off," he says.
"Good land!" I says; "why, there ain't no necessity for it. And what would you
want to saw his leg off for, anyway?"
"Well, some of the best authorities has done it. They couldn't get the chain off,
so they just cut their hand off and shoved. And a leg would be better still. But
we got to let that go. There ain't necessity enough in this case; and, besides,
Jim's a nigger, and wouldn't understand the reasons for it, and how it's the custom
in Europe; so we'll let it go. But there's one thing-he can have a rope ladder; we
can tear up our sheets and make him a rope ladder easy enough. And we can send it
to him in a pie; it's mostly done that way. And I've et worse pies."
"Why, Tom Sawyer, how you talk," I says; "Jim ain't got no use for a rope ladder."
"He has got use for it. How you talk, you better say; you don't know nothing about
it. He's got to have a rope ladder; they all do."
"What in the nation can he do with it?"
"Do with it? He can hide it in his bed, can't he?" That's what they all do; and
he's got to, too. Huck, you don't ever seem to want to do anything that's regular;
you want to be starting something fresh all the time. S'pose he don't do nothing with
it? ain't it there in his bed, for a clew, after he's gone? and don't you reckon
they'll want clews? Of course they will. And you wouldn't leave them any? That
would be a pretty howdy-do, wouldn't it! I never heard of such a thing."
"Well," I says, "if it's in the regulations, and he's got to have it, all right, let
him have it; because I don't wish to go back on no regulations; but there's one thing,
Tom Sawyer-if we go to tearing up our sheets to make Jim a rope ladder, we're going
to get into trouble with Aunt Sally, just as sure as you're born. Now, the way I
look at it, a hickry-bark ladder don't cost nothing, and don't waste nothing, and is
just as good to load up a pie with, and hide in a straw tick, as any rag ladder you
can start; and as for Jim, he ain't had no experience, and so he don't care what kind
"Oh, shucks, Huck Finn, if I was as ignorant as you I'd keep still-that's what I'D do.
Who ever heard of a state prisoner escaping by a hickry-bark ladder? Why, it's
"Well, all right, Tom, fix it your own way; but if you'll take my advice, you'll let
me borrow a sheet off of the clothesline."
He said that would do. And that gave him another idea, and he says:
"Borrow a shirt, too."
"What do we want of a shirt, Tom?"
"Want it for Jim to keep a journal on."
"Journal your granny-Jim can't write."
"S'pose he can't write-he can make marks on the shirt, can't he, if we make him a
pen out of an old pewter spoon or a piece of an old iron barrel-hoop?"
"Why, Tom, we can pull a feather out of a goose and make him a better one; and
"Prisoners don't have geese running around the donjon-keep to pull pens out of, you
muggins. They always make their pens out of the hardest, toughest, troublesomest
piece of old brass candlestick or something like that they can get their hands on; and
it takes them weeks and weeks and months and months to file it out, too, because
they've got to do it by rubbing it on the wall. They wouldn't use a goose-quill if they
had it. It ain't regular."
"Well, then, what'll we make him the ink out of?"
"Many makes it out of iron-rust and tears; but that's the common sort and women;
the best authorities uses their own blood. Jim can do that; and when he wants to
send any little common ordinary mysterious message to let the world know where he's
captivated, he can write it on the bottom of a tin plate with a fork and throw it out
of the window. The Iron Mask always done that, and it's a blame' good way, too."
"Jim ain't got no tin plates. They feed him in a pan."
"That ain't nothing; we can get him some."
"Can't nobody read his plates."
"That ain't got anything to do with it, Huck Finn. All he's got to do is to write on
the plate and throw it out. You don't have to be able to read it. Why, half the time
you can't read anything a prisoner writes on a tin plate, or anywhere else."
"Well, then, what's the sense in wasting the plates?"
"Why, blame it all, it ain't the prisoner's plates."
"But it's somebody's plates, ain't it?"
"Well, spos'n it is? What does the prisoner care whose-"
He broke off there, because we heard the breakfast-horn blowing. So we cleared
out for the house.
Along during the morning I borrowed a sheet and a white shirt off of the
clothes-line; and I found an old sack and put them in it, and we went
down and got the fox-fire, and put that in too. I called it borrowing,
because that was what pap always called it; but Tom said it warn't
borrowing, it was stealing. He said we was representing prisoners; and
prisoners don't care how they get a thing so they get it, and nobody don't
blame them for it, either. It ain't no crime in a prisoner to steal the
thing he needs to get away with, Tom said; it's his right; and so, as
long as we was representing a prisoner, we had a perfect right to steal
anything on this place we had the least use for to get ourselves out of
prison with. He said if we warn't prisoners it would be a very different
thing, and nobody but a mean, ornery person would steal when he warn't a
prisoner. So we allowed we would steal everything there was that come
handy. And yet he made a mighty fuss, one day, after that, when I stole
a watermelon out of the nigger-patch and eat it; and he made me go and
give the niggers a dime without telling them what it was for. Tom said
that what he meant was, we could steal anything we needed. Well, I says,
I needed the watermelon. But he said I didn't need it to get out of
prison with; there's where the difference was. He said if I'd a wanted
it to hide a knife in, and smuggle it to Jim to kill the seneskal with,
it would a been all right. So I let it go at that, though I couldn't see
no advantage in my representing a prisoner if I got to set down and chaw
over a lot of gold-leaf distinctions like that every time I see a chance
to hog a watermelon.
"Tools for what?"
"Why, to dig with. We ain't a-going to gnaw him out, are we?"
"Ain't them old crippled picks and things in there good enough to
dig a nigger out with?" I says.
He turns on me, looking pitying enough to make a body cry, and
"Huck Finn, did you ever hear of a prisoner having picks and shovels,
and all the modern conveniences in his wardrobe to dig himself out
with? Now I want to ask you-if you got any reasonableness in you
at all-what kind of a show would that give him to be a hero? Why,
they might as well lend him the key and done with it. Picks and
shovels-why, they wouldn't furnish 'em to a king."
"Well, then," I says, "if we don't want the picks and shovels,
what do we want?"
"A couple of case-knives."
"To dig the foundations out from under that cabin with?"
"Confound it, it's foolish, Tom."
"It don't make no difference how foolish it is, it's the right way-
and it's the regular way. And there ain't no other way, that ever
I heard of, and I've read all the books that gives any information
about these things. They always dig out with a case-knife-and not
through dirt, mind you; generly it's through solid rock. And it
takes them weeks and weeks and weeks, and for ever and ever. Why,
look at one of them prisoners in the bottom dungeon of the Castle
Deef, in the harbor of Marseilles, that dug himself out that way;
how long was he at it, you reckon?"
"I don't know."
"I don't know. A month and a half."
"Thirty-seven year-and he come out in China. That's the kind.
I wish the bottom of this fortress was solid rock."
"Jim don't know nobody in China."
"What's that got to do with it? Neither did that other fellow.
But you're always a-wandering off on a side issue. Why can't you
stick to the main point?"
"All right-I don't care where he comes out, so he comes out; and
Jim don't, either, I reckon. But there's one thing, anyway-Jim's
too old to be dug out with a case-knife. He won't last."
"Yes he will last, too. You don't reckon it's going to take thirty-
seven years to dig out through a dirt foundation, do you?"
"How long will it take, Tom?"
"Well, we can't resk being as long as we ought to, because it mayn't
take very long for Uncle Silas to hear from down there by New Orleans.
He'll hear Jim ain't from there. Then his next move will be to
advertise Jim, or something like that. So we can't resk being as
long digging him out as we ought to. By rights I reckon we ought to
be a couple of years; but we can't. Things being so uncertain, what
I recommend is this: that we really dig right in, as quick as we can;
and after that, we can let on, to ourselves, that we was at it thirty-
seven years. Then we can snatch him out and rush him away the first
time there's an alarm. Yes, I reckon that 'll be the best way."
"Now, there's sense in that," I says. "Letting on don't cost nothing;
letting on ain't no trouble; and if it's any object, I don't mind
letting on we was at it a hundred and fifty year. It wouldn't strain
me none, after I got my hand in. So I'll mosey along now, and smouch
a couple of case-knives."
AS soon as we reckoned everybody was asleep that night we went down
the lightning-rod, and shut ourselves up in the lean-to, and got out our
pile of fox-fire, and went to work. We cleared everything out of the
way, about four or five foot along the middle of the bottom log. Tom
said he was right behind Jim's bed now, and we'd dig in under it,
and when we got through there couldn't nobody in the cabin ever know
there was any hole there, because Jim's counter-pin hung down most to
the ground, and you'd have to raise it up and look under to see the hole.
So we dug and dug with the case-knives till most midnight; and then we
was dog-tired, and our hands was blistered, and yet you couldn't see we'd
done anything hardly. At last I says:
"This ain't no thirty-seven year job; this is a thirty-eight year job, Tom
"I'll tell you. It ain't right, and it ain't moral, and I wouldn't like
it to get out; but there ain't only just the one way: we got to dig him
out with the picks, and let on it's case-knives."
"Now you're talking!" I says; "your head gets leveler and leveler all
the time, Tom Sawyer," I says. "Picks is the thing, moral or no moral;
and as for me, I don't care shucks for the morality of it, nohow. When
I start in to steal a nigger, or a watermelon, or a Sunday-school book,
I ain't no ways particular how it's done so it's done. What I want is my
nigger; or what I want is my watermelon; or what I want is my Sunday-school
book; and if a pick's the handiest thing, that's the thing I'm a-going to
dig that nigger or that watermelon or that Sunday-school book out with; and
I don't give a dead rat what the authorities thinks about it nuther."
"Well," he says, "there's excuse for picks and letting-on in a case like
this; if it warn't so, I wouldn't approve of it, nor I wouldn't stand by
and see the rules broke-because right is right, and wrong is wrong, and a
body ain't got no business doing wrong when he ain't ignorant and knows
better. It might answer for you to dig Jim out with a pick, without any
letting on, because you don't know no better; but it wouldn't for me,
because I do know better. Gimme a case-knife."
He had his own by him, but I handed him mine. He flung it down, and says:
"Gimme a case-knife."
I didn't know just what to do-but then I thought. I scratched around
amongst the old tools, and got a pickaxe and give it to him, and he took
it and went to work, and never said a word.
He was always just that particular. Full of principle.
"Now, the thing to study out is, how to get the things to Jim."
"Take them in through the hole," I says, "when we get it done."
He only just looked scornful, and said something about nobody ever heard
of such an idiotic idea, and then he went to studying. By and by he said
he had ciphered out two or three ways, but there warn't no need to decide
on any of them yet. Said we'd got to post Jim first.
That night we went down the lightning-rod a little after ten, and took
one of the candles along, and listened under the window-hole, and heard
Jim snoring; so we pitched it in, and it didn't wake him. Then we whirled
in with the pick and shovel, and in about two hours and a half the job was
done. We crept in under Jim's bed and into the cabin, and pawed around and
found the candle and lit it, and stood over Jim awhile, and found him
looking hearty and healthy, and then we woke him up gentle and gradual.
He was so glad to see us he most cried; and called us honey, and all the
pet names he could think of; and was for having us hunt up a cold-chisel
to cut the chain off of his leg with right away, and clearing out without
losing any time. But Tom he showed him how unregular it would be, and set
down and told him all about our plans, and how we could alter them in a
minute any time there was an alarm; and not to be the least afraid, because
we would see he got away, sure.
So he told Jim how we'd have to smuggle in the rope-ladder pie
and other large things by Nat, the nigger that fed him, and he must be
on the lookout, and not be surprised, and not let Nat see him open
them; and we would put small things in uncle's coat-pockets and he
must steal them out; and we would tie things to aunt's apron-strings
or put them in her apron-pocket, if we got a chance; and told him what
they would be and what they was for. And told him how to keep a
journal on the shirt with his blood, and all that. He told him
everything. Jim he couldn't see no sense in the most of it, but he
allowed we was white folks and knowed better than him; so he was
satisfied, and said he would do it all just as Tom said.
Jim had plenty corn-cob pipes and tobacco; so we had a right down
good sociable time; then we crawled out through the hole, and so home
to bed, with hands that looked like they'd been chawed. Tom was in
high spirits. He said it was the best fun he ever had in his life, and
the most intellectural; and said if he only could see his way to it we
would keep it up all the rest of our lives and leave Jim to our children
to get out; for he believed Jim would come to like it better and better
the more he got used to it. He said that in that way it could be strung
out to as much as eighty year, and would be the best time on record.
And he said it would make us all celebrated that had a hand in it.
Tom shoved a piece of candlestick into the middle of a corn-pone
that was in Jim's pan, and we went along with Nat to see how it
would work, and it just worked noble; when Jim bit into it it most
mashed all his teeth out; and there warn't ever anything could a
worked better. Tom said so himself. Jim he never let on but what it
was only just a piece of rock or something like that that's always
getting into bread, you know; but after that he never bit into
nothing but what he jabbed his fork into it in three or four places
And whilst we was a-standing there in the dimmish light, here
comes a couple of the hounds bulging in from under Jim's bed; and
they kept on piling in till there was eleven of them, and there warn't
hardly room in there to get your breath. By jings, we forgot to
fasten that lean-to door! The nigger Nat he only just hollered
"Witches" once, and keeled over on to the floor amongst the dogs,
and begun to groan like he was dying. Tom jerked the door open and
flung out a slab of Jim's meat, and the dogs went for it, and in
two seconds he was out himself and back again and shut the door,
and I knowed he'd fixed the other door too. Then he went to work on
the nigger, coaxing him and petting him, and asking him if he'd
been imagining he saw something again. He raised up, and blinked
his eyes around, and says:
"Mars Sid, you'll say I's a fool, but if I didn't b'lieve I see
most a million dogs, er devils, er some'n, I wisht I may die right
heah in dese tracks. I did, mos' sholy. Mars Sid, I felt um-I
felt um, sah; dey was all over me. Dad fetch it, I jis' wisht I
could git my han's on one er dem witches jis' wunst-on'y jis'
wunst-it's all I'd ast. But mos'ly I wisht dey'd lemme 'lone, I
"Well, I tell you what I think. What makes them come here just at
this runaway nigger's breakfast-time? It's because they're hungry;
that's the reason. You make them a witch pie; that's the thing for
you to do."
"But my lan', Mars Sid, how's I gwyne to make 'm a witch pie? I
doan' know how to make it. I hain't ever hearn er sich a thing b'fo'."
"Well, then, I'll have to make it myself."
"Will you do it, honey?-will you? I'll wusshup de groun' und' yo'
foot, I will!"
"All right, I'll do it, seeing it's you, and you've been good to us
and showed us the runaway nigger. But you got to be mighty careful.
When we come around, you turn your back; and then whatever we've put
in the pan, don't you let on you see it at all. And don't you look
when Jim unloads the pan-something might happen, I don't know what.
And above all, don't you handle the witch-things."
"Hannel 'M, Mars Sid? What is you a-talkin' 'bout? I wouldn' lay
de weight er my finger on um, not f'r ten hund'd thous'n billion
dollars, I wouldn't."
So then we went away and went to the rubbage-pile in the back
yard, where they keep the old boots, and rags, and pieces of bottles,
and wore-out tin things, and all such truck, and scratched around and
found an old tin washpan, and stopped up the holes as well as we
could, to bake the pie in, and took it down cellar and stole it full
of flour and started for breakfast, and found a couple of shingle-
nails that Tom said would be handy for a prisoner to scrabble his
name and sorrows on the dungeon walls with, and dropped one of them
in Aunt Sally's apron-pocket which was hanging on a chair, and t'other
we stuck in the band of Uncle Silas's hat, which was on the bureau,
because we heard the children say their pa and ma was going to the
runaway nigger's house this morning, and then went to breakfast, and
Tom dropped the pewter spoon in Uncle Silas's coat-pocket, and Aunt
Sally wasn't come yet, so we had to wait a little while.
And when she come she was hot and red and cross, and couldn't hardly
wait for the blessing; and then she went to sluicing out coffee with
one hand and cracking the handiest child's head with her thimble with
the other, and says:
"I've hunted high and I've hunted low, and it does beat all what has
become of your other shirt."
My heart fell down amongst my lungs and livers and things, and a hard
piece of corn-crust started down my throat after it and got met on the
road with a cough, and was shot across the table, and took one of the
children in the eye and curled him up like a fishing-worm, and let a
cry out of him the size of a warwhoop, and Tom he turned kinder blue
around the gills, and it all amounted to a considerable state of
things for about a quarter of a minute or as much as that, and I would
a sold out for half price if there was a bidder. But after that we was
all right again-it was the sudden surprise of it that knocked us so
kind of cold. Uncle Silas he says:
"It's most uncommon curious, I can't understand it. I know perfectly
well I took it off, because-"
"Because you hain't got but one on. Just listen at the man! I know you
took it off, and know it by a better way than your wool-gethering memory,
too, because it was on the clo's-line yesterday-I see it there myself.
"I know it, Sally, and I do try all I can. But it oughtn't to be altogether
my fault, because, you know, I don't see them nor have nothing to do with
them except when they're on me; and I don't believe I've ever lost one of
them off of me."
"Well, it ain't your fault if you haven't, Silas; you'd a done it if you
could, I reckon. And the shirt ain't all that's gone, nuther. Ther's a
spoon gone; and that ain't all. There was ten, and now ther's only nine.
The calf got the shirt, I reckon, but the calf never took the spoon, that's
"Why, what else is gone, Sally?"
"Ther's six candles gone-that's what. The rats could a got the candles,
and I reckon they did; I wonder they don't walk off with the whole place,
the way you're always going to stop their holes and don't do it; and if
they warn't fools they'd sleep in your hair, Silas-you'd never find it
out; but you can't lay the spoon on the rats, and that I know."
"Well, Sally, I'm in fault, and I acknowledge it; I've been remiss; but I
won't let to-morrow go by without stopping up them holes."
"Oh, I wouldn't hurry; next year 'll do. Matilda Angelina Araminta Phelps!"
Whack comes the thimble, and the child snatches her claws out of the sugar-
bowl without fooling around any. Just then the nigger woman steps on to
the passage, and says:
"Missus, dey's a sheet gone."
"A sheet gone! Well, for the land's sake!"
"I'll stop up them holes to-day," says Uncle Silas, looking sorrowful.
"Oh, do shet up!-s'pose the rats took the sheet? where's it gone, Lize?"
"Clah to goodness I hain't no notion, Miss' Sally. She wuz on de clo'sline
yistiddy, but she done gone: she ain' dah no mo' now."
"I reckon the world is coming to an end. I never see the beat of it in all
my born days. A shirt, and a sheet, and a spoon, and six can-"
"Missus," comes a young yaller wench, "dey's a brass cannelstick miss'n."
"Cler out from here, you hussy, er I'll take a skillet to ye!"
Well, she was just a-biling. I begun to lay for a chance; I reckoned I
would sneak out and go for the woods till the weather moderated. She kept
a-raging right along, running her insurrection all by herself, and everybody
else mighty meek and quiet; and at last Uncle Silas, looking kind of foolish,
fishes up that spoon out of his pocket. She stopped, with her mouth open and
her hands up; and as for me, I wished I was in Jeruslem or somewheres. But
not long, because she says:
"It's just as I expected. So you had it in your pocket all the time; and
like as not you've got the other things there, too. How'd it get there?"
"I reely don't know, Sally," he says, kind of apologizing, "or you know I
would tell. I was a-studying over my text in Acts Seventeen before breakfast,
and I reckon I put it in there, not noticing, meaning to put my Testament in,
and it must be so, because my Testament ain't in; but I'll go and see; and if
the Testament is where I had it, I'll know I didn't put it in, and that will
show that I laid the Testament down and took up the spoon, and-"
"Oh, for the land's sake! Give a body a rest! Go 'long now, the whole kit
and biling of ye; and don't come nigh me again till I've got back my peace of
I'D a heard her if she'd a said it to herself, let alone speaking it out; and
I'd a got up and obeyed her if I'd a been dead.
"Well, it ain't no use to send things by him no more, he ain't reliable."
Then he says: "But he done us a good turn with the spoon, anyway, without
knowing it, and so we'll go and do him one without him knowing it-stop up
There was a noble good lot of them down cellar, and it took us a whole hour,
but we done the job tight and good and shipshape. Then we heard steps on
the stairs, and blowed out our light and hid; and here comes the old man,
with a candle in one hand and a bundle of stuff in t'other, looking as absent-
minded as year before last. He went a mooning around, first to one rat-hole
and then another, till he'd been to them all. Then he stood about five
minutes, picking tallow-drip off of his candle and thinking. Then he turns
off slow and dreamy towards the stairs, saying:
"Well, for the life of me I can't remember when I done it. I could show her
now that I warn't to blame on account of the rats. But never mind-let it go.
I reckon it wouldn't do no good."
And so he went on a-mumbling up stairs, and then we left. He was a mighty
nice old man. And always is.
"Why, Aunt Sally, there ain't but nine spoons yet."
"Go 'long to your play, and don't bother me. I know better, I counted
"Well, I've counted them twice, Aunty, and I can't make but nine."
She looked out of all patience, but of course she come to count-anybody
"I declare to gracious ther' ain't but nine!" she says. "Why, what in
the world-plague take the things, I'll count 'm again."
So I slipped back the one I had, and when she got done counting, she says:
"Hang the troublesome rubbage, ther's ten now!" and she looked huffy and
bothered both. But Tom says:
"Why, Aunty, I don't think there's ten."
"You numskull, didn't you see me count 'm?"
"I know, but-"
"Well, I'll count 'm again."
So I smouched one, and they come out nine, same as the other time. Well,
she was in a tearing way-just a-trembling all over, she was so mad. But
she counted and counted till she got that addled she'd start to count in
the basket for a spoon sometimes; and so, three times they come out right,
and three times they come out wrong. Then she grabbed up the basket and
slammed it across the house and knocked the cat galley-west; and she said
cle'r out and let her have some peace, and if we come bothering around her
again betwixt that and dinner she'd skin us. So we had the odd spoon, and
dropped it in her apron-pocket whilst she was a-giving us our sailing
orders, and Jim got it all right, along with her shingle nail, before noon.
We was very well satisfied with this business, and Tom allowed it was worth
twice the trouble it took, because he said now she couldn't ever count them
spoons twice alike again to save her life; and wouldn't believe she'd
counted them right if she did; and said that after she'd about counted her
head off for the next three days he judged she'd give it up and offer to
kill anybody that wanted her to ever count them any more.
But that pie was a job; we had no end of trouble with that pie. We fixed
it up away down in the woods, and cooked it there; and we got it done at
last, and very satisfactory, too; but not all in one day; and we had to use
up three wash-pans full of flour before we got through, and we got burnt
pretty much all over, in places, and eyes put out with the smoke; because,
you see, we didn't want nothing but a crust, and we couldn't prop it up
right, and she would always cave in. But of course we thought of the right
way at last-which was to cook the ladder, too, in the pie. So then we laid
in with Jim the second night, and tore up the sheet all in little strings
and twisted them together, and long before daylight we had a lovely rope
that you could a hung a person with. We let on it took nine months to make
And in the forenoon we took it down to the woods, but it wouldn't go into
the pie. Being made of a whole sheet, that way, there was rope enough for
forty pies if we'd a wanted them, and plenty left over for soup, or sausage,
or anything you choose. We could a had a whole dinner.
But we didn't need it. All we needed was just enough for the pie, and so we
throwed the rest away. We didn't cook none of the pies in the wash-pan-afraid
the solder would melt; but Uncle Silas he had a noble brass warming-pan which
he thought considerable of, because it belonged to one of his ancesters with
a long wooden handle that come over from England with William the Conqueror
in the Mayflower or one of them early ships and was hid away up garret with a
lot of other old pots and things that was valuable, not on account of being
any account, because they warn't, but on account of them being relicts, you
know, and we snaked her out, private, and took her down there, but she failed
on the first pies, because we didn't know how, but she come up smiling on the
last one. We took and lined her with dough, and set her in the coals, and
loaded her up with rag rope, and put on a dough roof, and shut down the lid,
and put hot embers on top, and stood off five foot, with the long handle, cool
and comfortable, and in fifteen minutes she turned out a pie that was a
satisfaction to look at. But the person that et it would want to fetch a
couple of kags of toothpicks along, for if that rope ladder wouldn't cramp
him down to business I don't know nothing what I'm talking about, and lay him
in enough stomach-ache to last him till next time, too.
MAKING them pens was a distressid tough job, and so was the saw; and Jim
allowed the inscription was going to be the toughest of all. That's the
one which the prisoner has to scrabble on the wall. But he had to have
it; Tom said he'd got to; there warn't no case of a state prisoner not
scrabbling his inscription to leave behind, and his coat of arms.
"Look at Lady Jane Grey," he says; "look at Gilford Dudley; look at old
Northumberland! Why, Huck, s'pose it is considerble trouble?--what you
going to do?--how you going to get around it? Jim's got to do his
inscription and coat of arms. They all do."
"Why, Mars Tom, I hain't got no coat o' arm; I hain't got nuffn but dish
yer ole shirt, en you knows I got to keep de journal on dat."
"Oh, you don't understand, Jim; a coat of arms is very different."
"Well," I says, "Jim's right, anyway, when he says he ain't got no coat
of arms, because he hain't."
"I reckon I knowed that," Tom says, "but you bet he'll have one before
he goes out of this--because he's going out right, and there ain't going
to be no flaws in his record."
"On the scutcheon we'll have a bend or in the dexter base, a saltire murrey
in the fess, with a dog, couchant, for common charge, and under his foot a chain
embattled, for slavery, with a chevron vert in a chief engrailed, and three
invected lines on a field azure, with the nombril points rampant on a dancette
indented; crest, a runaway nigger, sable, with his bundle over his shoulder on
a bar sinister; and a couple of gules for supporters, which is you and me;
motto, Maggiore Fretta, Minore Otto. Got it out of a book--means the more haste
the less speed."
"Geewhillikins," I says, "but what does the rest of it mean?"
"We ain't got no time to bother over that," he says; "we got to dig in like all
"Well, anyway," I says, "what's some of it? What's a fess?"
"A fess--a fess is--you don't need to know what a fess is. I'll show him how
to make it when he gets to it."
"Shucks, Tom," I says, "I think you might tell a person. What's a bar sinister?"
"Oh, I don't know. But he's got to have it. All the nobility does."
That was just his way. If it didn't suit him to explain a thing to you, he
wouldn't do it. You might pump at him a week, it wouldn't make no difference.
1. Here a captive heart busted.
2. Here a poor prisoner, forsook by the world and friends, fretted his
3. Here a lonely heart broke, and a worn spirit went to its rest, after
thirty-seven years of solitary captivity.
4. Here, homeless and friendless, after thirty-seven years of bitter
captivity, perished a noble stranger, natural son of Louis XIV.
Tom's voice trembled whilst he was reading them, and he most broke down.
When he got done he couldn't no way make up his mind which one for Jim to
scrabble on to the wall, they was all so good; but at last he allowed he
would let him scrabble them all on. Jim said it would take him a year to
scrabble such a lot of truck on to the logs with a nail, and he didn't know
how to make letters, besides; but Tom said he would block them out for him,
and then he wouldn't have nothing to do but just follow the lines. Then
pretty soon he says:
"Come to think, the logs ain't a-going to do; they don't have log walls in
a dungeon: we got to dig the inscriptions into a rock. We'll fetch a rock."
"I know how to fix it. We got to have a rock for the coat of arms and
mournful inscriptions, and we can kill two birds with that same rock. There's
a gaudy big grindstone down at the mill, and we'll smouch it, and carve the
things on it, and file out the pens and the saw on it, too."
It warn't no slouch of an idea; and it warn't no slouch of a grindstone
nuther; but we allowed we'd tackle it. It warn't quite midnight yet, so we
cleared out for the mill, leaving Jim at work. We smouched the grindstone,
and set out to roll her home, but it was a most nation tough job. Sometimes,
do what we could, we couldn't keep her from falling over, and she come mighty
near mashing us every time. Tom said she was going to get one of us, sure,
before we got through. We got her half way; and then we was plumb played out,
and most drownded with sweat. We see it warn't no use; we got to go and fetch
Jim. So he raised up his bed and slid the chain off of the bed-leg, and wrapt
it round and round his neck, and we crawled out through our hole and down there,
and Jim and me laid into that grindstone and walked her along like nothing;
and Tom superintended. He could out-superintend any boy I ever see. He knowed
how to do everything.
Our hole was pretty big, but it warn't big enough to get the grindstone through;
but Jim he took the pick and soon made it big enough. Then Tom marked out them
things on it with the nail, and set Jim to work on them, with the nail for a
chisel and an iron bolt from the rubbage in the lean-to for a hammer, and told
him to work till the rest of his candle quit on him, and then he could go to bed,
and hide the grindstone under his straw tick and sleep on it. Then we helped him
fix his chain back on the bed-leg, and was ready for bed ourselves. But Tom
thought of something, and says:
"You got any spiders in here, Jim?"
"No, sah, thanks to goodness I hain't, Mars Tom."
"All right, we'll get you some."
"But bless you, honey, I doan' want none. I's afeard un um. I jis' 's soon have
Tom thought a minute or two, and says:
"It's a good idea. And I reckon it's been done. It must a been done; it stands to
reason. Yes, it's a prime good idea. Where could you keep it?"
"Keep what, Mars Tom?"
"Why, a rattlesnake."
"De goodness gracious alive, Mars Tom! Why, if dey was a rattlesnake to come in
heah I'd take en bust right out thoo dat log wall, I would, wid my head."
"Why, Jim, you wouldn't be afraid of it after a little. You could tame it."
"Yes--easy enough. Every animal is grateful for kindness and petting, and they
wouldn't think of hurting a person that pets them. Any book will tell you that.
You try--that's all I ask; just try for two or three days. Why, you can get him so,
in a little while, that he'll love you; and sleep with you; and won't stay away
from you a minute; and will let you wrap him round your neck and put his head in
"Please, Mars Tom--doan' talk so! I can't stan' it! He'd let me shove his head
in my mouf--fer a favor, hain't it? I lay he'd wait a pow'ful long time 'fo' I
ast him. En mo' en dat, I doan' want him to sleep wid me."
"Jim, don't act so foolish. A prisoner's got to have some kind of a dumb pet,
and if a rattlesnake hain't ever been tried, why, there's more glory to be gained
in your being the first to ever try it than any other way you could ever think of
to save your life."
"Why, Mars Tom, I doan' want no sich glory. Snake take 'n bite Jim's chin off,
den whah is de glory? No, sah, I doan' want no sich doin's."
"Blame it, can't you try? I only want you to try--you needn't keep it up if it
"But de trouble all done ef de snake bite me while I's a tryin' him. Mars Tom,
I's willin' to tackle mos' anything 'at ain't onreasonable, but ef you en Huck
fetches a rattlesnake in heah for me to tame, I's gwyne to leave, dat's shore."
"Well, then, let it go, let it go, if you're so bull-headed about it. We can
get you some garter-snakes, and you can tie some buttons on their tails, and let
on they're rattlesnakes, and I reckon that 'll have to do."
"I k'n stan' dem, Mars Tom, but blame' 'f I couldn' get along widout um, I tell
you dat. I never knowed b'fo' 't was so much bother and trouble to be a prisoner."
"Well, it always is when it's done right. You got any rats around here?"
"No, sah, I hain't seed none."
"Well, we'll get you some rats."
"Why, Mars Tom, I doan' want no rats. Dey's de dadblamedest creturs to 'sturb
a body, en rustle roun' over 'im, en bite his feet, when he's tryin' to sleep,
I ever see. No, sah, gimme g'yarter-snakes, 'f I's got to have 'm, but doan'
gimme no rats; I hain' got no use f'r um, skasely."
"But, Jim, you got to have 'em--they all do. So don't make no more fuss about
it. Prisoners ain't ever without rats. There ain't no instance of it. And they
train them, and pet them, and learn them tricks, and they get to be as sociable
as flies. But you got to play music to them. You got anything to play music on?"
"I ain' got nuffn but a coase comb en a piece o' paper, en a juice-harp; but I
reck'n dey wouldn' take no stock in a juice-harp."
"Yes they would they don't care what kind of music 'tis. A jews-harp's plenty
good enough for a rat. All animals like music--in a prison they dote on it.
Specially, painful music; and you can't get no other kind out of a jews-harp.
It always interests them; they come out to see what's the matter with you. Yes,
you're all right; you're fixed very well. You want to set on your bed nights
before you go to sleep, and early in the mornings, and play your jews-harp; play
'The Last Link is Broken'--that's the thing that 'll scoop a rat quicker 'n
anything else; and when you've played about two minutes you'll see all the rats,
and the snakes, and spiders, and things begin to feel worried about you, and come.
And they'll just fairly swarm over you, and have a noble good time."
"Yes, dey will, I reck'n, Mars Tom, but what kine er time is Jim havin'? Blest if
I kin see de pint. But I'll do it ef I got to. I reck'n I better keep de animals
satisfied, en not have no trouble in de house."
Tom waited to think it over, and see if there wasn't nothing else; and pretty
soon he says:
"Oh, there's one thing I forgot. Could you raise a flower here, do you reckon?"
"I doan know but maybe I could, Mars Tom; but it's tolable dark in heah, en I ain'
got no use f'r no flower, nohow, en she'd be a pow'ful sight o' trouble."
"Well, you try it, anyway. Some other prisoners has done it."
"One er dem big cat-tail-lookin' mullen-stalks would grow in heah, Mars Tom, I
reck'n, but she wouldn't be wuth half de trouble she'd coss."
"Don't you believe it. We'll fetch you a little one and you plant it in the corner
over there, and raise it. And don't call it mullen, call it Pitchiola--that's its
right name when it's in a prison. And you want to water it with your tears."
"Why, I got plenty spring water, Mars Tom."
"You don't want spring water; you want to water it with your tears. It's the way
they always do."
"Why, Mars Tom, I lay I kin raise one er dem mullen-stalks twyste wid spring water
whiles another man's a start'n one wid tears."
"That ain't the idea. You got to do it with tears."
"She'll die on my han's, Mars Tom, she sholy will; kase I doan' skasely ever cry."
So Tom was stumped. But he studied it over, and then said Jim would have to worry
along the best he could with an onion. He promised he would go to the nigger cabins
and drop one, private, in Jim's coffee-pot, in the morning. Jim said he would "jis' 's
soon have tobacker in his coffee;" and found so much fault with it, and with the work
and bother of raising the mullen, and jews-harping the rats, and petting and flattering
up the snakes and spiders and things, on top of all the other work he had to do on
pens, and inscriptions, and journals, and things, which made it more trouble and worry
and responsibility to be a prisoner than anything he ever undertook, that Tom most
lost all patience with him; and said he was just loadened down with more gaudier
chances than a prisoner ever had in the world to make a name for himself, and yet he
didn't know enough to appreciate them, and they was just about wasted on him. So
Jim he was sorry, and said he wouldn't behave so no more, and then me and Tom
shoved for bed.
IN the morning we went up to the village and bought a wire rat-trap and
fetched it down, and unstopped the best rat-hole, and in about an hour we
had fifteen of the bulliest kind of ones; and then we took it and put it
in a safe place under Aunt Sally's bed. B
ut while we was gone for spiders
little Thomas Franklin Benjamin Jefferson Elexander Phelps found it there,
and opened the door of it to see if the rats would come out, and they did;
and Aunt Sally she come in, and when we got back she was a-standing on top
of the bed raising Cain, and the rats was doing what they could to keep
off the dull times for her. So she took and dusted us both with the hickry,
and we was as much as two hours catching another fifteen or sixteen, drat
that meddlesome cub, and they warn't the likeliest, nuther, because the first
haul was the pick of the flock. I never see a likelier lot of rats than what
that first haul was.
We got a splendid stock of sorted spiders, and bugs, and frogs, and
caterpillars, and one thing or another; and we like to got a hornet's nest,
but we didn't. The family was at home. We didn't give it right up, but stayed
with them as long as we could; because we allowed we'd tire them out or they'd
got to tire us out, and they done it. Then we got allycumpain and rubbed on
the places, and was pretty near all right again, but couldn't set down
convenient. And so we went for the snakes, and grabbed a couple of dozen
garters and house-snakes, and put them in a bag, and put it in our room, and
by that time it was supper-time, and a rattling good honest day's work: and
hungry?-oh, no, I reckon not! And there warn't a blessed snake up there when
we went back-we didn't half tie the sack, and they worked out somehow, and
left. But it didn't matter much, because they was still on the premises
somewheres. So we judged we could get some of them again. No, there warn't
no real scarcity of snakes about the house for a considerable spell. You'd
see them dripping from the rafters and places every now and then; and they
generly landed in your plate, or down the back of your neck, and most of the
time where you didn't want them. Well, they was handsome and striped, and
there warn't no harm in a million of them; but that never made no difference
to Aunt Sally; she despised snakes, be the breed what they might, and she
couldn't stand them no way you could fix it; and every time one of them
flopped down on her, it didn't make no difference what she was doing, she
would just lay that work down and light out. I never see such a woman.
And you could hear her whoop to Jericho. You couldn't get her to take
a-holt of one of them with the tongs. And if she turned over and found
one in bed she would scramble out and lift a howl that you would think the
house was afire. She disturbed the old man so that he said he could most
wish there hadn't ever been no snakes created. Why, after every last snake
had been gone clear out of the house for as much as a week Aunt Sally warn't
over it yet; she warn't near over it; when she was setting thinking about
something you could touch her on the back of her neck with a feather and she
would jump right out of her stockings. It was very curious. But Tom said
all women was just so. He said they was made that way for some reason or
We got a licking every time one of our snakes come in her way, and she
allowed these lickings warn't nothing to what she would do if we ever loaded
up the place again with them. I didn't mind the lickings, because they
didn't amount to nothing; but I minded the trouble we had to lay in another
lot. But we got them laid in, and all the other things; and you never see
a cabin as blithesome as Jim's was when they'd all swarm out for music and
go for him. Jim didn't like the spiders, and the spiders didn't like Jim;
and so they'd lay for him, and make it mighty warm for him. And he said that
between the rats and the snakes and the grindstone there warn't no room in
bed for him, skasely; and when there was, a body couldn't sleep, it was so
lively, and it was always lively, he said, because they never all slept at
one time, but took turn about, so when the snakes was asleep the rats was
on deck, and when the rats turned in the snakes come on watch, so he always
had one gang under him, in his way, and t'other gang having a circus over him,
and if he got up to hunt a new place the spiders would take a chance at him
as he crossed over. He said if he ever got out this time he wouldn't ever be
a prisoner again, not for a salary.
Well, by the end of three weeks everything was in pretty good shape. The
shirt was sent in early, in a pie, and every time a rat bit Jim he would get
up and write a little in his journal whilst the ink was fresh; the pens was
made, the inscriptions and so on was all carved on the grindstone; the bed-leg
was sawed in two, and we had et up the sawdust, and it give us a most amazing
stomach-ache. We reckoned we was all going to die, but didn't. It was the
most undigestible sawdust I ever see; and Tom said the same.
So Tom said, now for the nonnamous letters.
"What's them?" I says.
"Warnings to the people that something is up. Sometimes it's done
one way, sometimes another. But there's always somebody spying around
that gives notice to the governor of the castle. When Louis XVI. was
going to light out of the Tooleries, a servant-girl done it. It's a
very good way, and so is the nonnamous letters. We'll use them both.
And it's usual for the prisoner's mother to change clothes with him,
and she stays in, and he slides out in her clothes. We'll do that,
"But looky here, Tom, what do we want to warn anybody for that
something's up? Let them find it out for themselves--it's their lookout."
"Yes, I know; but you can't depend on them. It's the way they've
acted from the very start--left us to do everything. They're so
confiding and mullet-headed they don't take notice of nothing at all.
So if we don't give them notice there won't be nobody nor nothing to
interfere with us, and so after all our hard work and trouble this
escape 'll go off perfectly flat; won't amount to nothing--won't be
nothing to it."
"Well, as for me, Tom, that's the way I'd like."
"Shucks!" he says, and looked disgusted. So I says:
"But I ain't going to make no complaint. Any way that suits you suits
me. What you going to do about the servant-girl?"
"You'll be her. You slide in, in the middle of the night, and hook
that yaller girl's frock."
"Why, Tom, that 'll make trouble next morning; because, of course, she
prob'bly hain't got any but that one."
"I know; but you don't want it but fifteen minutes, to carry the
nonnamous letter and shove it under the front door."
"All right, then, I'll do it; but I could carry it just as handy in my
"You wouldn't look like a servant-girl then, would you?"
"No, but there won't be nobody to see what I look like, anyway."
"That ain't got nothing to do with it. The thing for us to do is just
to do our duty, and not worry about whether anybody sees us do it or not.
Hain't you got no principle at all?"
"All right, I ain't saying nothing; I'm the servant-girl. Who's Jim's
"I'm his mother. I'll hook a gown from Aunt Sally."
"Well, then, you'll have to stay in the cabin when me and Jim leaves."
"Not much. I'll stuff Jim's clothes full of straw and lay it on his
bed to represent his mother in disguise, and Jim 'll take the nigger
woman's gown off of me and wear it, and we'll all evade together. When
a prisoner of style escapes it's called an evasion.
So Tom he wrote the nonnamous letter, and I smouched the yaller
wench's frock that night, and put it on, and shoved it under the front door,
the way Tom told me to. It said:
Beware. Trouble is brewing. Keep a sharp lookout. Unknown Friend.
Next night we stuck a picture, which Tom drawed in blood, of a skull
and crossbones on the front door; and next night another one of a coff
in on the back door. I never see a family in such a sweat. They
couldn't a been worse scared if the place had a been full of ghosts
laying for them behind everything and under the beds and shivering
through the air. If a door banged, Aunt Sally she jumped and said
"ouch!" if anything fell, she jumped and said "ouch!" if you happened
to touch her, when she warn't noticing, she done the same; she
couldn't face noway and be satisfied, because she allowed there was
something behind her every time--so she was always a-whirling around
sudden, and saying "ouch," and before she'd got two-thirds around
she'd whirl back again, and say it again; and she was afraid to go to
bed, but she dasn't set up. So the thing was working very well, Tom
said; he said he never see a thing work more satisfactory. He said it
showed it was done right.
So he said, now for the grand bulge! So the very next morning at the
streak of dawn we got another letter ready, and was wondering what we
better do with it, because we heard them say at supper they was going
to have a nigger on watch at both doors all night. Tom he went down
the lightning-rod to spy around; and the nigger at the back door was
asleep, and he stuck it in the back of his neck and come back. This
Don't betray me, I wish to be your friend. There is a desprate gang
of cutthroats from over in the Indian Territory going to steal your
runaway nigger to-night, and they have been trying to scare you so as
you will stay in the house and not bother them. I am one of the gang,
but have got religgion and wish to quit it and lead an honest life
again, and will betray the helish design. They will sneak down from
northards, along the fence, at midnight exact, with a false key, and
go in the nigger's cabin to get him. I am to be off a piece and blow a
tin horn if I see any danger; but stead of that I will baa like a sheep
soon as they get in and not blow at all; then whilst they are getting
his chains loose, you slip there and lock them in, and can kill them at
your leasure. Don't do anything but just the way I am telling you, if
you do they will suspicion something and raise whoop-jamboreehoo. I do
not wish any reward but to know I have done the right thing. Unknown
Tom put on Aunt Sally's dress that he stole and was going to start with
the lunch, but says:
"Where's the butter?"
"I laid out a hunk of it," I says, "on a piece of a corn-pone."
"Well, you left it laid out, then--it ain't here."
"We can get along without it," I says.
"We can get along with it, too," he says; "just you slide down cellar and fetch
it. And then mosey right down the lightning-rod and come along. I'll go and
stuff the straw into Jim's clothes to represent his mother in disguise, and be
ready to baa like a sheep and shove soon as you get there."
So out he went, and down cellar went I. The hunk of butter, big as a person's
fist, was where I had left it, so I took up the slab of corn-pone with it on,
and blowed out my light, and started up stairs very stealthy, and got up to
the main floor all right, but here comes Aunt Sally with a candle, and I
clapped the truck in my hat, and clapped my hat on my head, and the next
second she see me; and she says:
"You been down cellar?"
"What you been doing down there?"
"Well, then, what possessed you to go down there this time of night?"
"I don't know 'm."
"You don't know? Don't answer me that way. Tom, I want to know what you been
doing down there."
"I hain't been doing a single thing, Aunt Sally, I hope to gracious if I have."
I reckoned she'd let me go now, and as a generl thing she would; but I s'pose
there was so many strange things going on she was just in a sweat about every
little thing that warn't yard-stick straight; so she says, very decided:
"You just march into that setting-room and stay there till I come. You been
up to something you no business to, and I lay I'll find out what it is before
I'M done with you."
So she went away as I opened the door and walked into the setting-room. My,
but there was a crowd there! Fifteen farmers, and every one of them had a gun.
I was most powerful sick, and slunk to a chair and set down. They was setting
around, some of them talking a little, in a low voice, and all of them fidgety
and uneasy, but trying to look like they warn't; but I knowed they was, because
they was always taking off their hats, and putting them on, and scratching
their heads, and changing their seats, and fumbling with their buttons. I
warn't easy myself, but I didn't take my hat off, all the same.
I did wish Aunt Sally would come, and get done with me, and lick me, if she
wanted to, and let me get away and tell Tom how we'd overdone this thing, and
what a thundering hornet's-nest we'd got ourselves into, so we could stop
fooling around straight off, and clear out with Jim before these rips got out
of patience and come for us.
Aunty pegging away at the questions, and me a-shaking all over and ready to
sink down in my tracks I was that scared; and the place getting hotter and
hotter, and the butter beginning to melt and run down my neck and behind my
ears; and pretty soon, when one of them says, "I'M for going and getting in
the cabin first and right now, and catching them when they come," I most
dropped; and a streak of butter come a-trickling down my forehead, and Aunt
Sally she see it, and turns white as a sheet, and says:
"For the land's sake, what is the matter with the child? He's got the brain-
fever as shore as you're born, and they're oozing out!"
And everybody runs to see, and she snatches off my hat, and out comes the
bread and what was left of the butter, and she grabbed me, and hugged me, and
"Oh, what a turn you did give me! and how glad and grateful I am it ain't no
worse; for luck's against us, and it never rains but it pours, and when I see
that truck I thought we'd lost you, for I knowed by the color and all it was
just like your brains would be if-Dear, dear, whyd'nt you tell me that was what
you'd been down there for, I wouldn't a cared. Now cler out to bed, and don't
lemme see no more of you till morning!"
I was up stairs in a second, and down the lightning-rod in another one, and
shinning through the dark for the lean-to. I couldn't hardly get my words out,
I was so anxious; but I told Tom as quick as I could we must jump for it now,
and not a minute to lose-the house full of men, yonder, with guns!
His eyes just blazed; and he says:
"No!-is that so? ain't it bully! Why, Huck, if it was to do over again, I bet
I could fetch two hundred! If we could put it off till-"
"Hurry! Hurry!" I says. "Where's Jim?"
"Right at your elbow; if you reach out your arm you can touch him. He's dressed,
and everything's ready. Now we'll slide out and give the sheep-signal."
So we crept to the door, and Tom stopped us there and put his eye to the crack,
but couldn't make out nothing, it was so dark; and whispered and said he would
listen for the steps to get further, and when he nudged us Jim must glide out
first, and him last. So he set his ear to the crack and listened, and listened,
and listened, and the steps a-scraping around out there all the time; and at last
he nudged us, and we slid out, and stooped down, not breathing, and not making
the least noise, and slipped stealthy towards the fence in Injun file, and got to
it all right, and me and Jim over it; but Tom's britches catched fast on a splinter
on the top rail, and then he hear the steps coming, so he had to pull loose, which
snapped the splinter and made a noise; and as he dropped in our tracks and started
somebody sings out:
"Who's that? Answer, or I'll shoot!"
But we didn't answer; we just unfurled our heels and shoved. Then there was a
rush, and a Bang, Bang, Bang! and the bullets fairly whizzed around us! We heard
them sing out:
"Here they are! They've broke for the river! After 'em, boys, and turn loose
So here they come, full tilt. We could hear them because they wore boots and
yelled, but we didn't wear no boots and didn't yell. We was in the path to the
mill; and when they got pretty close on to us we dodged into the bush and let
them go by, and then dropped in behind them. They'd had all the dogs shut up,
so they wouldn't scare off the robbers; but by this time somebody had let them
loose, and here they come, making powwow enough for a million; but they was our
dogs; so we stopped in our tracks till they catched up; and when they see it
warn't nobody but us, and no excitement to offer them, they only just said howdy,
and tore right ahead towards the shouting and clattering; and then we up-steam
again, and whizzed along after them till we was nearly to the mill, and then
struck up through the bush to where my canoe was tied, and hopped in and pulled
for dear life towards the middle of the river, but didn't make no more noise than
we was obleeged to. Then we struck out, easy and comfortable, for the island
where my raft was; and we could hear them yelling and barking at each other all
up and down the bank, till we was so far away the sounds got dim and died out.
And when we stepped on to the raft I says:
"Now, old Jim, you're a free man again, and I bet you won't ever be a slave no
"En a mighty good job it wuz, too, Huck. It 'uz planned beautiful, en it 'uz
done beautiful; en dey ain't nobody kin git up a plan dat's mo' mixed-up en
splendid den what dat one wuz."
We was all glad as we could be, but Tom was the gladdest of all because he had
a bullet in the calf of his leg.
When me and Jim heard that we didn't feel so brash as what we did before. It was
hurting him considerable, and bleeding; so we laid him in the wigwam and tore up
one of the duke's shirts for to bandage him, but he says:
"Gimme the rags; I can do it myself. Don't stop now; don't fool around here, and
the evasion booming along so handsome; man the sweeps, and set her loose! Boys,
we done it elegant!--'deed we did. I wish we'd a had the handling of Louis XVI.,
there wouldn't a been no 'Son of Saint Louis, ascend to heaven!' wrote down in his
biography; no, sir, we'd a whooped him over the border--that's what we'd a done with
him-and done it just as slick as nothing at all, too. Man the sweeps--man the sweeps!"
But me and Jim was consulting--and thinking. And after we'd thought a minute, I says:
"Say it, Jim."
So he says:
"Well, den, dis is de way it look to me, Huck. Ef it wuz him dat 'uz bein' sot free,
en one er de boys wuz to git shot, would he say, 'Go on en save me, nemmine 'bout a
doctor f'r to save dis one?' Is dat like Mars Tom Sawyer? Would he say dat? You
bet he wouldn't! well, den, is Jim gywne to say it? No, sah--I doan' budge a step
out'n dis place 'dout a doctor, not if it's forty year!"
I knowed he was white inside, and I reckoned he'd say what he did say--so it was all
right now, and I told Tom I was a-going for a doctor. He raised considerable row
about it, but me and Jim stuck to it and wouldn't budge; so he was for crawling out
and setting the raft loose himself; but we wouldn't let him. Then he give us a
piece of his mind, but it didn't do no good.
So when he sees me getting the canoe ready, he says:
"Well, then, if you're bound to go, I'll tell you the way to do when you get to the
village. Shut the door and blindfold the doctor tight and fast, and make him swear
to be silent as the grave, and put a purse full of gold in his hand, and then take
and lead him all around the back alleys and everywheres in the dark, and then fetch
him here in the canoe, in a roundabout way amongst the islands, and search him and
take his chalk away from him, and don't give it back to him till you get him back
to the village, or else he will chalk this raft so he can find it again. It's the
way they all do."
So I said I would, and left, and Jim was to hide in the woods when he see the doctor
coming till he was gone again.
THE doctor was an old man; a very nice, kind-looking old man when I got him
up. I told him me and my brother was over on Spanish Island hunting
yesterday afternoon, and camped on a piece of a raft we found, and about
midnight he must a kicked his gun in his dreams, for it went off and shot
him in the leg, and we wanted him to go over there and fix it and not say
nothing about it, nor let anybody know, because we wanted to come home this
evening and surprise the folks.
"Who is your folks?" he says.
"The Phelpses, down yonder."
"Oh," he says. And after a minute, he says:
"How'd you say he got shot?"
"He had a dream," I says, "and it shot him."
"Singular dream," he says.
So he lit up his lantern, and got his saddle-bags, and we started. But when
he sees the canoe he didn't like the look of her--said she was big enough for
one, but didn't look pretty safe for two. I says:
"Oh, you needn't be afeard, sir, she carried the three of us easy enough."
"Why, me and Sid, and--and--and the guns; that's what I mean."
"Oh," he says.
I struck an idea pretty soon. I says to myself, spos'n he can't fix
that leg just in three shakes of a sheep's tail, as the saying is? spos'n
it takes him three or four days? What are we going to do?--lay around
there till he lets the cat out of the bag? No, sir; I know what I'll do.
I'll wait, and when he comes back if he says he's got to go any more I'll
get down there, too, if I swim; and we'll take and tie him, and keep him,
and shove out down the river; and when Tom's done with him we'll give him
what it's worth, or all we got, and then let him get ashore.
So then I crept into a lumber-pile to get some sleep; and next time I waked
up the sun was away up over my head! I shot out and went for the doctor's
house, but they told me he'd gone away in the night some time or other, and
warn't back yet. Well, thinks I, that looks powerful bad for Tom, and I'll
dig out for the island right off. So away I shoved, and turned the corner,
and nearly rammed my head into Uncle Silas's stomach! He says:
"Why, Tom! Where you been all this time, you rascal?"
"I hain't been nowheres," I says, "only just hunting for the runaway nigger--
me and Sid."
"Why, where ever did you go?" he says. "Your aunt's been mighty uneasy."
"She needn't," I says, "because we was all right. We followed the men and the
dogs, but they outrun us, and we lost them; but we thought we heard them on the
water, so we got a canoe and took out after them and crossed over, but couldn't
find nothing of them; so we cruised along up-shore till we got kind of tired and
beat out; and tied up the canoe and went to sleep, and never waked up till about
an hour ago;
When we got home Aunt Sally was that glad to see me she laughed and cried
both, and hugged me, and give me one of them lickings of hern that don't
amount to shucks, and said she'd serve Sid the same when he come.
And the place was plum full of farmers and farmers' wives, to dinner; and
such another clack a body never heard. Old Mrs. Hotchkiss was the worst;
her tongue was a-going all the time. She says:
"Well, Sister Phelps, I've ransacked that-air cabin over, an' I b'lieve
the nigger was crazy. I says to Sister Damrell--didn't I, Sister Damrell?-
s'I, he's crazy, s'I--them's the very words I said. You all hearn me: he's
crazy, s'I; everything shows it, s'I. Look at that-air grindstone, s'I;
want to tell me't any cretur 't's in his right mind 's a goin' to scrabble
all them crazy things onto a grindstone, s'I? Here sich 'n' sich a person
busted his heart; 'n' here so 'n' so pegged along for thirty-seven year,
'n' all that-natcherl son o' Louis somebody, 'n' sich everlast'n rubbage.
He's plumb crazy, s'I; it's what I says in the fust place, it's what I says
in the middle, 'n' it's what I says last 'n' all the time--the nigger's
crazy--crazy 's Nebokoodneezer, s'I."
"An' look at that-air ladder made out'n rags, Sister Hotchkiss," says old
Mrs. Damrell; "what in the name o' goodness could he ever want of-"
"The very words I was a-sayin' no longer ago th'n this minute to Sister
Utterback, 'n' she'll tell you so herself. Sh-she, look at that-air rag
ladder, sh-she; 'n' s'I, yes, look at it, s'I-what could he a-wanted of
it, s'I. Sh-she, Sister Hotchkiss, sh-she-"
"But how in the nation'd they ever git that grindstone in there, anyway?
'n' who dug that-air hole? 'n' who-"
"My very words, Brer Penrod! I was a-sayin'-pass that-air sasser o'
m'lasses, won't ye?--I was a-sayin' to Sister Dunlap, jist this minute,
how did they git that grindstone in there, s'I. Without help, mind you-
'thout help! that's wher 'tis. Don't tell me, s'I; there wuz help, s'I;
'n' ther' wuz a plenty help, too, s'I; ther's ben a dozen a-helpin' that
nigger, 'n' I lay I'd skin every last nigger on this place but I'd find
out who done it, s'I; 'n' moreover, s'I-"
"A dozen says you!--forty couldn't a done every thing that's been done.
Look at them case-knife saws and things, how tedious they've been made;
look at that bed-leg sawed off with 'm, a week's work for six men; look
at that nigger made out'n straw on the bed; and look at-"
"You may well say it, Brer Hightower! It's jist as I was a-sayin' to Brer
Phelps, his own self. S'e, what do you think of it, Sister Hotchkiss, s'e?
Think o' what, Brer Phelps, s'I? Think o' that bed-leg sawed off that a
way, s'e? think of it, s'I? I lay it never sawed itself off, s'I-somebody
sawed it, s'I; that's my opinion, take it or leave it, it mayn't be no
'count, s'I, but sich as 't is, it's my opinion, s'I, 'n' if any body k'n
start a better one, s'I, let him do it, s'I, that's all. I says to Sister
"Why, dog my cats, they must a ben a house-full o' niggers in there every
night for four weeks to a done all that work, Sister Phelps. Look at that
shirt-every last inch of it kivered over with secret African writ'n done with
blood! Must a ben a raft uv 'm at it right along, all the time, amost. Why,
I'd give two dollars to have it read to me; 'n' as for the niggers that wrote
it, I 'low I'd take 'n' lash 'm t'll-"
"People to help him, Brother Marples! Well, I reckon you'd think so if you'd
a been in this house for a while back. Why, they've stole everything they
could lay their hands on--and we a-watching all the time, mind you. They stole
that shirt right off o' the line! and as for that sheet they made the rag
ladder out of, ther' ain't no telling how many times they didn't steal that;
and flour, and candles, and candlesticks, and spoons, and the old warming-pan,
and most a thousand things that I disremember now, and my new calico dress;
and me and Silas and my Sid and Tom on the constant watch day and night, as I
was a-telling you, and not a one of us could catch hide nor hair nor sight nor
sound of them; and here at the last minute, lo and behold you, they slides
right in under our noses and fools us, and not only fools us but the Injun
Territory robbers too, and actuly gets away with that nigger safe and sound,
and that with sixteen men and twenty-two dogs right on their very heels at that
very time! I tell you, it just bangs anything I ever heard of. Why, sperits
couldn't a done better and been no smarter. And I reckon they must a been
sperits--because, you know our dogs, and ther' ain't no better; well, them dogs
never even got on the track of 'm once! You explain that to me if you can!--any
"Well, it does beat-"
"Laws alive, I never-"
"So help me, I wouldn't a be-"
"House-thieves as well as-"
"Goodnessgracioussakes, I'd a ben afeard to live in sich a-"
"'Fraid to live!-why, I was that scared I dasn't hardly go to bed, or get up, or
lay down, or set down, Sister Ridgeway. Why, they'd steal the very-why,
goodness sakes, you can guess what kind of a fluster I was in by the time
midnight come last night. I hope to gracious if I warn't afraid they'd steal
some o' the family! I was just to that pass I didn't have no reasoning
faculties no more. It looks foolish enough now, in the daytime;
Says I to myself, I can explain better how we come to not be in that room
this morning if I go out to one side and study over it a little. So I done it.
But I dasn't go fur, or she'd a sent for me. And when it was late in the day
the people all went, and then I come in and told her the noise and shooting
waked up me and "Sid," and the door was locked, and we wanted to see the fun,
so we went down the lightning-rod, and both of us got hurt a little, and we
didn't never want to try that no more. And then I went on and told her all
what I told Uncle Silas before; and then she said she'd forgive us, and maybe
it was all right enough anyway, and about what a body might expect of boys, for
all boys was a pretty harum-scarum lot as fur as she could see; and so, as long
as no harm hadn't come of it, she judged she better put in her time being
grateful we was alive and well and she had us still, stead of fretting over what
was past and done. So then she kissed me, and patted me on the head, and dropped
into a kind of a brown study; and pretty soon jumps up, and says:
"Why, lawsamercy, it's most night, and Sid not come yet! What has become of that
I see my chance; so I skips up and says:
"I'll run right up to town and get him," I says.
"No you won't," she says. "You'll stay right wher' you are; one's enough to be
lost at a time. If he ain't here to supper, your uncle 'll go."
Well, he warn't there to supper; so right after supper uncle went.
He come back about ten a little bit uneasy; hadn't run across Tom's track. Aunt
Sally was a good deal uneasy; but Uncle Silas he said there warn't no occasion to
be-boys will be boys, he said, and you'll see this one turn up in the morning all
sound and right. So she had to be satisfied. But she said she'd set up for him
a while anyway, and keep a light burning so he could see it.
And then when I went up to bed she come up with me and fetched her candle, and
tucked me in, and mothered me so good I felt mean, and like I couldn't look her in
the face; and she set down on the bed and talked with me a long time, and said what
a splendid boy Sid was, and didn't seem to want to ever stop talking about him; and
kept asking me every now and then if I reckoned he could a got lost, or hurt, or
maybe drownded, and might be laying at this minute somewheres suffering or dead,
and she not by him to help him, and so the tears would drip down silent, and I would
tell her that Sid was all right, and would be home in the morning, sure; and she
would squeeze my hand, or maybe kiss me, and tell me to say it again, and keep on
saying it, because it done her good, and she was in so much trouble. And when she
was going away she looked down in my eyes so steady and gentle, and says:
"The door ain't going to be locked, Tom, and there's the window and the rod; but
you'll be good, won't you? And you won't go? For my sake."
Laws knows I wanted to go bad enough to see about Tom, and was all intending to go;
but after that I wouldn't a went, not for kingdoms.
But she was on my mind and Tom was on my mind, so I slept very restless. And twice
I went down the rod away in the night, and slipped around front, and see her setting
there by her candle in the window with her eyes towards the road and the tears in
them; and I wished I could do something for her, but I couldn't, only to swear that
I wouldn't never do nothing to grieve her any more. And the third time I waked up
at dawn, and slid down, and she was there yet, and her candle was most out, and her
old gray head was resting on her hand, and she was asleep.
But before she could break it open she dropped it and run--for she see
something. And so did I. It was Tom Sawyer on a mattress; and that old
doctor; and Jim, in her calico dress, with his hands tied behind him; and
a lot of people. I hid the letter behind the first thing that come handy,
and rushed. She flung herself at Tom, crying, and says:
"Oh, he's dead, he's dead, I know he's dead!"
And Tom he turned his head a little, and muttered something or other,
which showed he warn't in his right mind; then she flung up her hands, and
"He's alive, thank God! And that's enough!" and she snatched a kiss of
him, and flew for the house to get the bed ready, and scattering orders
right and left at the niggers and everybody else, as fast as her tongue
could go, every jump of the way.
I followed the men to see what they was going to do with Jim; and the old
doctor and Uncle Silas followed after Tom into the house. The men was very
huffy, and some of them wanted to hang Jim for an example to all the other
niggers around there, so they wouldn't be trying to run away like Jim done,
and making such a raft of trouble, and keeping a whole family scared most
to death for days and nights. But the others said, don't do it, it wouldn't
answer at all; he ain't our nigger, and his owner would turn up and make us
pay for him, sure. So that cooled them down a little, because the people
that's always the most anxious for to hang a nigger that hain't done just
right is always the very ones that ain't the most anxious to pay for him
when they've got their satisfaction out of him.
They cussed Jim considerble, though, and give him a cuff or two side the
head once in a while, but Jim never said nothing, and he never let on to
know me, and they took him to the same cabin, and put his own clothes on
him, and chained him again, and not to no bed-leg this time, but to a big
staple drove into the bottom log, and chained his hands, too, and both legs,
and said he warn't to have nothing but bread and water to eat after this
till his owner come, or he was sold at auction because he didn't come in
a certain length of time, and filled up our hole, and said a couple of
farmers with guns must stand watch around about the cabin every night, and
a bulldog tied to the door in the daytime; and about this time they was
through with the job and was tapering off with a kind of generl good-bye
cussing, and then the old doctor comes and takes a look, and says:
"Don't be no rougher on him than you're obleeged to, because he ain't a bad
nigger. When I got to where I found the boy I see I couldn't cut the bullet
out without some help, and he warn't in no condition for me to leave to go
and get help; and he got a little worse and a little worse, and after a long
time he went out of his head, and wouldn't let me come a-nigh him any more,
and said if I chalked his raft he'd kill me, and no end of wild foolishness
like that, and I see I couldn't do anything at all with him; so I says, I
got to have help somehow; and the minute I says it out crawls this nigger
from somewheres and says he'll help, and he done it, too, and done it very
well. Of course I judged he must be a runaway nigger, and there I was! and
there I had to stick right straight along all the rest of the day and all
night. It was a fix, I tell you! I had a couple of patients with the chills,
and of course I'd of liked to run up to town and see them, but I dasn't,
because the nigger might get away, and then I'd be to blame; and yet never
a skiff come close enough for me to hail. So there I had to stick plumb
until daylight this morning; and I never see a nigger that was a better nuss
or faithfuller, and yet he was risking his freedom to do it, and was all
tired out, too, and I see plain enough he'd been worked main hard lately.
I liked the nigger for that; I tell you, gentlemen, a nigger like that is
worth a thousand dollars--and kind treatment, too. I had everything I needed,
and the boy was doing as well there as he would a done at home--better, maybe,
because it was so quiet; but there I was, with both of 'm on my hands, and
there I had to stick till about dawn this morning; then some men in a skiff
come by, and as good luck would have it the nigger was setting by the pallet
with his head propped on his knees sound asleep; so I motioned them in quiet,
and they slipped up on him and grabbed him and tied him before he knowed what
he was about, and we never had no trouble. And the boy being in a kind of a
flighty sleep, too, we muffled the oars and hitched the raft on, and towed
her over very nice and quiet, and the nigger never made the least row nor
said a word from the start. He ain't no bad nigger, gentlemen; that's what
I think about him."
"Well, it sounds very good, doctor, I'm obleeged to say."
Then the others softened up a little, too, and I was mighty thankful to that
old doctor for doing Jim that good turn; and I was glad it was according to
my judgment of him, too; because I thought he had a good heart in him and was
a good man the first time I see him. Then they all agreed that Jim had acted
very well, and was deserving to have some notice took of it, and reward. So
every one of them promised, right out and hearty, that they wouldn't cuss him
Then they come out and locked him up. I hoped they was going to say he could
have one or two of the chains took off, because they was rotten heavy, or could
have meat and greens with his bread and water; but they didn't think of it, and
I reckoned it warn't best for me to mix in, but I judged I'd get the doctor's
yarn to Aunt Sally somehow or other as soon as I'd got through the breakers that
was laying just ahead of me--explanations, I mean, of how I forgot to mention
about Sid being shot when I was telling how him and me put in that dratted night
paddling around hunting the runaway nigger.
Next morning I heard Tom was a good deal better, and they said Aunt Sally
was gone to get a nap. So I slips to the sick-room, and if I found him
awake I reckoned we could put up a yarn for the family that would wash.
But he was sleeping, and sleeping very peaceful, too; and pale, not fire-
faced the way he was when he come. So I set down and laid for him to wake.
In about half an hour Aunt Sally comes gliding in, and there I was, up a
stump again! She motioned me to be still, and set down by me, and begun
to whisper, and said we could all be joyful now, because all the symptoms
was first-rate, and he'd been sleeping like that for ever so long, and
looking better and peacefuller all the time, and ten to one he'd wake up
in his right mind.
So we set there watching, and by and by he stirs a bit, and opened his
eyes very natural, and takes a look, and says:
"Hello!--why, I'm at home! How's that? Where's the raft?"
"It's all right," I says.
"The same," I says, but couldn't say it pretty brash. But he never noticed,
"Good! Splendid! Now we're all right and safe! Did you tell Aunty?"
I was going to say yes; but she chipped in and says: "About what, Sid?"
"Why, about the way the whole thing was done."
"What whole thing?"
"Why, the whole thing. There ain't but one; how we set the runaway nigger
free--me and Tom."
"Good land! Set the run--What is the child talking about! Dear, dear, out of
his head again!"
"No, I ain't out of my head; I know all what I'm talking about. We did set
him free--me and Tom. We laid out to do it, and we done it. And we done it
elegant, too." He'd got a start, and she never checked him up, just set and
stared and stared, and let him clip along, and I see it warn't no use for me
to put in. "Why, Aunty, it cost us a power of work--weeks of it--hours and hours,
every night, whilst you was all asleep. And we had to steal candles, and the
sheet, and the shirt, and your dress, and spoons, and tin plates, and case-knives,
and the warming-pan, and the grindstone, and flour, and just no end of things,
and you can't think what work it was to make the saws, and pens, and inscriptions,
and one thing or another, and you can't think half the fun it was. And we had to
make up the pictures of coffins and things, and nonnamous letters from the robbers,
and get up and down the lightning-rod, and dig the hole into the cabin, and made
the rope ladder and send it in cooked up in a pie, and send in spoons and things
to work with in your apron pocket-"
"-and load up the cabin with rats and snakes and so on, for company for Jim; and
then you kept Tom here so long with the butter in his hat that you come near
spiling the whole business, because the men come before we was out of the cabin,
and we had to rush, and they heard us and let drive at us, and I got my share,
and we dodged out of the path and let them go by, and when the dogs come they
warn't interested in us, but went for the most noise, and we got our canoe, and
made for the raft, and was all safe, and Jim was a free man, and we done it all
by ourselves, and wasn't it bully, Aunty!"
"Well, I never heard the likes of it in all my born days! So it was you, you
little rapscallions, that's been making all this trouble, and turned everybody's
wits clean inside out and scared us all most to death. I've as good a notion as
ever I had in my life to take it out o' you this very minute. To think, here
I've been, night after night, a-you just get well once, you young scamp, and I
lay I'll tan the Old Harry out o' both o' ye!"
But Tom, he was so proud and joyful, he just couldn't hold in, and his tongue
just went it-she a-chipping in, and spitting fire all along, and both of them
going it at once, like a cat convention; and she says:
"Well, you get all the enjoyment you can out of it now, for mind I tell you if
I catch you meddling with him again-"
"Meddling with who?" Tom says, dropping his smile and looking surprised.
"With who? Why, the runaway nigger, of course. Who'd you reckon?"
Tom looks at me very grave, and says:
"Tom, didn't you just tell me he was all right? Hasn't he got away?"
"Him?" says Aunt Sally; "the runaway nigger? 'Deed he hasn't. They've got him
back, safe and sound, and he's in that cabin again, on bread and water, and
loaded down with chains, till he's claimed or sold!"
Tom rose square up in bed, with his eye hot, and his nostrils opening and
shutting like gills, and sings out to me:
"They hain't no right to shut him up! SHOVE!-and don't you lose a minute.
Turn him loose! he ain't no slave; he's as free as any cretur that walks
"What does the child mean?"
"I mean every word I say, Aunt Sally, and if somebody don't go, I'll go.
I've knowed him all his life, and so has Tom, there. Old Miss Watson died
two months ago, and she was ashamed she ever was going to sell him down the
river, and said so; and she set him free in her will."
"Then what on earth did you want to set him free for, seeing he was already
"Well, that is a question, I must say; and just like women! Why, I wanted
the adventure of it; and I'd a waded neck-deep in blood to--goodness alive,
If she warn't standing right there, just inside the door, looking as sweet
and contented as an angel half full of pie, I wish I may never!
Aunt Sally jumped for her, and most hugged the head off of her, and cried
over her, and I found a good enough place for me under the bed, for it was
getting pretty sultry for us, seemed to me. And I peeped out, and in a
little while Tom's Aunt Polly shook herself loose and stood there looking
across at Tom over her spectacles--kind of grinding him into the earth, you
know. And then she says:
"Yes, you better turn y'r head away--I would if I was you, Tom."
"Oh, deary me!" says Aunt Sally; "Is he changed so? Why, that ain't Tom,
it's Sid; Tom's--Tom's--why, where is Tom? He was here a minute ago."
"You mean where's Huck Finn--that's what you mean! I reckon I hain't raised
such a scamp as my Tom all these years not to know him when I see him.
That would be a pretty howdy-do. Come out from under that bed, Huck Finn."
So I done it. But not feeling brash.
Aunt Sally she was one of the mixed-upest-looking persons I ever see--except
one, and that was Uncle Silas, when he come in and they told it all to him.
It kind of made him drunk, as you may say, and he didn't know nothing at all
the rest of the day, and preached a prayer-meeting sermon that night that
gave him a rattling ruputation, because the oldest man in the world couldn't
a understood it. So Tom's Aunt Polly, she told all about who I was, and what;
and I had to up and tell how I was in such a tight place that when Mrs. Phelps
took me for Tom Sawyer--she chipped in and says, "Oh, go on and call me Aunt
Sally, I'm used to it now, and 'tain't no need to change"--that when Aunt Sally
took me for Tom Sawyer I had to stand it--there warn't no other way, and I
knowed he wouldn't mind, because it would be nuts for him, being a mystery,
and he'd make an adventure out of it, and be perfectly satisfied. And so it
turned out, and he let on to be Sid, and made things as soft as he could for
And his Aunt Polly she said Tom was right about old Miss Watson setting Jim
free in her will; and so, sure enough, Tom Sawyer had gone and took all that
trouble and bother to set a free nigger free! and I couldn't ever understand
before, until that minute and that talk, how he could help a body set a nigger
free with his bringing-up.
Well, Aunt Polly she said that when Aunt Sally wrote to her that Tom and Sid
had come all right and safe, she says to herself:
"Look at that, now! I might have expected it, letting him go off that way
without anybody to watch him. So now I got to go and trapse all the way down
the river, eleven hundred mile, and find out what that creetur's up to this time,
as long as I couldn't seem to get any answer out of you about it."
"Why, I never heard nothing from you," says Aunt Sally.
"Well, I wonder! Why, I wrote you twice to ask you what you could mean by Sid
"Well, I never got 'em, Sis."
Aunt Polly she turns around slow and severe, and says:
"Well-what?" he says, kind of pettish.
"Don't you what me, you impudent thing--hand out them letters."
"Them letters. I be bound, if I have to take a-holt of you I'll-"
"They're in the trunk. There, now. And they're just the same as they was
when I got them out of the office. I hain't looked into them, I hain't
touched them. But I knowed they'd make trouble, and I thought if you warn't
in no hurry, I'd-"
"Well, you do need skinning, there ain't no mistake about it. And I wrote
another one to tell you I was coming; and I s'pose he--"
"No, it come yesterday; I hain't read it yet, but it's all right, I've got
I wanted to offer to bet two dollars she hadn't, but I reckoned maybe it
was just as safe to not to. So I never said nothing.
Chapter The Last
THE first time I catched Tom private I asked him what was his idea, time
of the evasion?--what it was he'd planned to do if the evasion worked all
right and he managed to set a nigger free that was already free before?
And he said, what he had planned in his head from the start, if we got
Jim out all safe, was for us to run him down the river on the raft, and
have adventures plumb to the mouth of the river, and then tell him about
his being free, and take him back up home on a steamboat, in style, and
pay him for his lost time, and write word ahead and get out all the
niggers around, and have them waltz him into town with a torchlight
procession and a brass-band, and then he would be a hero, and so would
we. But I reckoned it was about as well the way it was.
We had Jim out of the chains in no time, and when Aunt Polly and Uncle
Silas and Aunt Sally found out how good he helped the doctor nurse Tom,
they made a heap of fuss over him, and fixed him up prime, and give him
all he wanted to eat, and a good time, and nothing to do. And we had him
up to the sick-room, and had a high talk; and Tom give Jim forty dollars
for being prisoner for us so patient, and doing it up so good, and Jim
was pleased most to death, and busted out, and says:
"Dah, now, Huck, what I tell you?--what I tell you up dah on Jackson
islan'? I tole you I got a hairy breas', en what's de sign un it; en
I tole you I ben rich wunst, en gwineter to be rich agin; en it's come
true; en heah she is! dah, now! doan' talk to me--signs is signs, mine
I tell you; en I knowed jis' 's well 'at I 'uz gwineter be rich agin as
I's a-stannin' heah dis minute!"
And then Tom he talked along and talked along, and says, le's all three
slide out of here one of these nights and get an outfit, and go for
howling adventures amongst the Injuns, over in the Territory, for a
couple of weeks or two; and I says, all right, that suits me, but I ain't
got no money for to buy the outfit, and I reckon I couldn't get none
from home, because it's likely pap's been back before now, and got it all
away from Judge Thatcher and drunk it up.
"No, he hain't," Tom says; "it's all there yet--six thousand dollars and
more; and your pap hain't ever been back since. Hadn't when I come away,
Jim says, kind of solemn:
"He ain't a-comin' back no mo', Huck."
"Nemmine why, Huck--but he ain't comin' back no mo."
But I kept at him; so at last he says:
"Doan' you 'member de house dat was float'n down de river, en dey wuz a
man in dah, kivered up, en I went in en unkivered him and didn' let you
come in? Well, den, you kin git yo' money when you wants it, kase dat wuz
Tom's most well now, and got his bullet around his neck on a watch-guard
for a watch, and is always seeing what time it is, and so there ain't
nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I'd a
knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn't a tackled it, and
ain't a-going to no more. But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory
ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize
me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.
THE END. YOURS TRULY, HUCK FINN.