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Title: Mitch Miller
Author: Masters, Edgar Lee, 1868-1950
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mitch Miller" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



MITCH MILLER

BY
EDGAR LEE MASTERS

Author Of
STARVED ROCK, SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY, ETC., ETC.

With Illustrations By
JOHN SLOAN

New York
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
1920

All rights reserved

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COPYRIGHT, 1920, By EDGAR LEE MASTERS.

Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1920.

Norwood Press

J. S. Cushing Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.

Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

To My Little Daughters
MADELINE AND MARCIA

-----------------------------------------------------------------------



MITCH MILLER

[Illustration: Mitch Miller]


Supposin' you was lyin' in a room and was asleep or pretty near asleep;
and bein' asleep you could hear people talkin' but it didn't mean
nothin' to you--just talk; and you kind of knew things was goin' on
around you, but still you was way off in your sleep and belonged to
yourself as a sleeper, and what was goin' on didn't make no difference
to you; and really, supposin' you was tryin' to get back into deeper
sleep before you heard these things. And then, supposin' now and then as
your eyes rolled back into your head while sleepin' you saw through the
lids--not tryin' to look, but your eyes just saw as they rolled past the
open place between the lids--and you saw squares of light and dark, or
maybe roundish blurs. And then supposin' sometimes you heard a noise,
and as it turned out it was somebody goin' in and out of the room, or
somebody closin' or openin' a door. And supposin' these here people were
not tip-toein' exactly, but were kind of watchin' and laughin' a little
maybe to see what you would do when you woke up. And finally one of your
eyes kind of opened and you saw your ma sittin' in the corner, sewin',
or peelin' apples maybe; and you saw your pa goin' out of a door, and
your sister came up to you and looked clost to see when you was goin' to
wake up. And supposin' after a bit you sat up and rubbed your eyes, and
looked around and you was in a room, and the room was in your ma's
house, and your ma sat there, sure enough, and your pa was goin' out of
the door, and your sister was lookin' at you. And supposin' then you
went out-doors and there was a yard and you saw the house from the
outside, and there was a house near and other houses, and a fence in
front, and wagons goin' by and people. And then supposin' by and by you
found out that a railroad ran right by the side fence, and a great big
black thing makin' a noise and blowin' out smoke came close to the fence
sometimes, and a man would be ridin' in a little house on top of this
big black thing, who talked to you, and laughed when you showed him a
pipe made out of a cork and a match, and a cherry-seed put in a
hollowed-out place of the cork for tobacco.

And then supposin' other children came around, and finally you went out
on to a sidewalk and saw lots of houses, and by and by ran away and saw
stores all around a lovely square and a great court house in the center.
And supposin' you found out that there was a river just under the hills
you could see beyond the railroad, and by and by you heard your folks
say Petersburg; and by and by you knew that was the name of this town.
And sometimes you could see more of the town, because your grandpa and
grandma came with a carriage and drove clear through the town so as to
get to the country and out to the farm where they lived.

And then supposin' one day all the things in the house was loaded on a
wagon and you rode with your ma up the hill to a better house and a
bigger yard with oak trees, and the things were put in the house and
you began to live here, and saw different houses around, and different
children came to play; and supposin' there was a girl named Cooster
McCoy that used to come to the fence and make faces and say awful words
which your ma told you was wicked and would make God punish you if you
said 'em: and then supposin' you began to hear your pa and ma talk of
Mr. Miller and what a wonderful man he was, and Mrs. Miller and what a
good woman she was, and about the Miller girls, how funny and smart they
was, and about Mitch Miller, the wonderfulest boy in town. And supposin'
you went with your ma to visit 'em and when you got there you saw Mr.
Miller readin' to Mrs. Miller, and you saw the Miller girls playin', and
you saw Mitch Miller chewin' gum and readin' a book, and was so taken
with the book he wouldn't play with you, but finally said he'd read to
you, and so began to read from a book which he said was "Tom Sawyer,"
which was all about a boy just our age. And supposin' you got the book
after a while and you read it too, but you understood it only because
after a while Mitch explained it to you.

Well, this is the way it began: first the room, then the house--then the
town in a way--and then Mitch--but I got acquainted with him really and
he became my friend as I tell about after a while. Only now I just tell
how things began to clear up as I came out of sleep, as you might say.

And onct when I was up to Mr. Miller's and he was readin' from
Shakespeare to Mrs. Miller he came to a place where it says, "Our little
life is rounded by a sleep." I remember this because Mr. Miller stopped
and began to talk about it; and Mitch looked up from readin' "Tom
Sawyer," and I began to think about the sleep I came out of, and how
things at first seemed kind of double and like you had taken so-and-so's
cure for consumption which ma says has opium in it. For when I took it
for a cold, things kind of swum around me like a circular looking-glass,
that you could see through somehow, and everything seemed kind of way
off and funny and somethin' to laugh at and not treat as real.

Well, at first, too, everything seemed alive--even sticks and stones;
and the broomstick I made into a gun seemed to have a life or kind of a
memory of somethin'. And when I told Mr. Miller this he says, you're a
savage, or you've been one in some other life, or else maybe you're
repeatin' the life of a savage, and he called it filogenesis, or
somethin' like that.

But anyway, your town comes to you at last; at least the town as it is
then and seems to you then with all the folks in it, and your relatives,
and all their ways and all the stories about 'em. And you get your place
and find your friends, and you find one friend as I found Mitch. And so
you're awake, or as much awake, we'll say, as you are at first in the
morning when you first stretch out of bed. And so you get ready for the
day and the next sleep----



CHAPTER I


I got acquainted with Mitch this way: In the first place when we moved
to Petersburg and got into our house and was settled, one day Bob
Pendleton came to see me. He said he'd come to call--that's the word he
used. You see right in front of our house was Mr. Montgomery's house--an
awful big brick house, with a big yard; and the back of it was in front
of our house with a tall hedge; but there was a place to go through the
hedge, through a grape arbor up to the house, and around to the front
yard. Next to Mr. Montgomery's yard was Bucky Gum's pasture where he
kept his cows. But if you stood down by the pasture away from Mr.
Montgomery's hedge, you could look across and see Mr. Pendleton's fine
brick house where Bob, this boy, lived. Mr. Pendleton kept a store and a
bank and was awful rich; and when Bob came to call on me my ma was
tickled most to death. She wanted me to have nice friends, boys who
would grow up and be prominent in the world. And when Bob first came she
went to the door and let him in and then came to me and made me wash and
comb my hair. So I went in and here was Bob.

He had on a new suit and shiny shoes and a bow necktie, and he had a
little ring on his finger. But he was so thin that he had to stand up
twice to make a shadow. So he set there and nothin' much was said. I was
afraid to ask him to swing, or to go to the barn, or anything. By and
by he asked me if I had read "Little Men." I said no. Then he asked me
if I had read the Pansy series. I said no to that; then he asked me if I
subscribed to "Our Youth," which was a boys' paper full of good stories
about nice girls and boys. I'd never heard of it. Then he asked me if I
liked to play ball, and of course I did. And he said he had a ball
ground in his orchard and to come over some time. Myrtle, my sister,
liked nice boys, but she thought Bob was not the right kind of nice. But
ma urged the friendship on me. And so it began.

And I must say Bob was a good boy, and I have no complaints to make; but
I didn't know Mitch then, and so didn't see the difference so much.
Well, Bob liked me and he kept havin' me over to his house. He had a big
yard with trees in it, and a fountain with a stone figure of a little
boy, not much clothes on, holdin' an urn. Bob's pa was the leadin'
member of the Baptist Church and awful strict; and as Mitch's father was
a Congregational preacher, Mr. Pendleton didn't like him on account of
differin' with him about baptism.

Bob's house was just full of fine things--oil paintings of his father
and mother, his sisters and himself; fine furniture all in horsehair;
lots of silver for the table; and they kept two girls and had had 'em
for years; and Mrs. Pendleton watched Bob very careful so he wouldn't
catch cold or anything, because he had a weak chest. And Bob would take
me down to his father's store where we got raisins and candy, and we
played ball in the orchard.

Everything Bob had was brand new, and you had to be careful of it. He
had a new ball; and on the day I met Mitch we was pitchin' ball--Bob and
me, in the orchard--and Bob kept saying to be careful and not let it
roll in the grass or get in the mud, that he wanted to keep it white and
clean. Well, of course, I missed now and then and Bob seemed displeased.
And when it rolled into the mud he came up and took the ball and wiped
it off and looked mad. Just then he said: "There comes that Mitch
Miller, and I think we'd better quit playin' anyway." I knew Mitch's
name and had seen him, but we hadn't run together yet.

Mitch climbed over the fence into the orchard, and Bob began to kind a
move away. I could see that Bob didn't want him, for he said, "Come on,
Arthur." Everybody called me Skeet, though my name was Arthur, which I
hated. Bob always called me Arthur and made me call him Robert, though
his nickname was "Shadder." When Bob said to come on to me, Mitch says,
"Wait a minute, Skeet, I've somethin' to tell you." So I said to Bob,
"Wait a minute, Robert," and Bob said, "You're comin' now or not at
all." That made me mad, so I stood there. Bob went on and Mitch came up.

[Illustration: Mitch Climbed over the Fence]

"Let him go," said Mitch. "You don't care, do you?"

"Not much," says I.

"Well, I hope not," says Mitch. "He's a sissy--spoiled by his ma. And
you don't call this any fun, do you, pitchin' ball with a ball so good
that you dassn't let it roll on the ground? Now, I've seen you around,
Skeet, and I like you, and if you like me, we'll be chums, and go havers
on everything, and if anybody fights you he'll have to fight me, and the
same way with me, and I'll bet we'll have more fun together in a day
than you could have with Shadder Pendleton in a year. Do you agree?" I
said, "Yes, I agree," for I liked Mitch--I liked his name, I liked his
way, and his face, his voice, everything about him right then; and I
knew what I was promisin'.

Mitch says, "Do you want to have some fun?" I says, "You bet I do."

"Well," Mitch says, "there's more goin' on in this town than you ever
saw, if you only keep your eyes open. But I'll bet Shadder never hears
of it, and if you run with him you'll never hear of it either. Do you
know what's goin' to happen to-day?" "No," says I.

"Well," says Mitch, "Jack Plunkett, who was town marshal here once, and
Ruddy Hedgpeth are goin' to have a fight to see which can whip the
other."

"Where?" says I.

"Down near Old Salem," says Mitch, "on the flat sand by the river, clost
to the mill. And I want to see it, and so do you."

"You bet I want to see it," I said.

So Mitch went on to tell me that Jack Plunkett had never been whipped
and neither had Ruddy Hedgpeth. They had whipped everybody but each
other. And each said he could whip the other. And last Saturday Ruddy
was in town and went around the square sayin' he could whip Jack, and
Jack heard it and sent back word he'd fight him a week off, on a
Saturday, and this is the Saturday. And Mitch said we'd better hurry so
as to get there before the fight was over, Old Salem bein' about a mile
from town.

By this time Shadder had walked out of the orchard and was pretty near
to the house and Mitch said, "Now he's gone, let him go, and come on. If
he ever says you left him, you can say he left you, for he did."

It was a spring day--it was April--and we walked as fast as we could,
runnin' part of the time. Mitch was wild about the country, about trees,
birds, the river and the fields. And he whistled and sang. On the way
out he began to talk to me about "Tom Sawyer," and asked me if I had
read the book. This was one of the books I _had_ read; so I said so. And
Mitch says, "Do you know we can do exactly what Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn
did?"

"What's that?" I said.

"Why, find treasure. It's just as surely here as anything. Of course
there ain't no caves around here, at least I don't know of any. But
think of the old houses--look at that old house down there by the ravine
that goes into the river across from Mr. Morris' wagon shop. Think of
those old houses clost to the Baptist Church; and think of the dead
limbs on the trees in Montgomery's woods. But of course if we go into
this, no one must know what we are doin'. We must keep still and if they
catch us diggin', we must lie. If you don't know how to lie very well,
Skeet, just listen to me and foller the story I tell."

I agreed to this. And Mitch went on.

"And by and by, we'll find treasure and divide it, for I have taken you
for my chum and half of mine is yours, and a half of yours is mine."

[Illustration: Looking down on the Sand Bank]

By this time we had come to a pretty high bank about a hundred yards
from the mill. We heard voices and looked down on the sand bank, and
there were about fifty men sittin' or standin' around. And there was my
pa. So I says, "I can't go down there, Mitch, my pa will whip me or
drive me away. I know for certain he wouldn't want me to see this."
"Well," says Mitch, "what's the difference? We're not more'n 75 feet
away from 'em and can see everything and hear everything if there's
anything to hear. So let's just lie down here in the grass and take it
easy, and look down on 'em and watch it." So we did. There seemed to be
some arrangin' of things. My pa seemed to be standin' clost to Ruddy
Hedgpeth and talkin' to him and kind of advisin' him or takin' care of
him. And George Montgomery was doin' the same for Jack Plunkett. Mitch
says, "They're the seconds."

"What's that?" says I.

"Why," says Mitch, "seconds see that everything is fair, and no
foolin'."

We could hear most everything they said, and they were talkin' about
whether Jack Plunkett could choke Ruddy Hedgpeth if he got him. My pa
said not; and Jack Plunkett said it was a fight to see who could whip
the other, and if he got Ruddy so he could lay his hands on him and
choke him until he gave up, that was fair and he insisted on it. Then
Ruddy and my pa stepped to one side and talked secret; and then my pa
said out loud that it was all right, and chokin' would not be barred;
but of course what one could do, the other could. Jack Plunkett laughed
at this an awful mockin' laugh, because he was the most terrible choker
in the county and felt he could get the best of anybody in a chokin'
match.

Then Jack and Ruddy began to undress, that is, they took off everything
but their pants. Jack had a beard and a big square face, and a chest as
thick as a horse and arms as big as a man's legs. And Ruddy was about as
big only a little shorter, but he wore no beard, but his face and chest
looked clean and slick and he was known to be an awful hard hitter. Then
they got out on a flat place, level and hard sand, and began, my pa and
George Montgomery takin' care of them and about fifty others watchin' as
I said.

They stood and eyed each other and walked around and watched for a
chance. Pretty soon Ruddy hit Jack on the chin and sent his head back
and Jack rushed on Ruddy and got his hands on him, but Ruddy slipped
away. Then Jack hit Ruddy, and Ruddy kind of wheeled around; and Jack
rushed for Ruddy again, and again got his hands on him, but they
slipped off. Then they seemed to get close together and just pound each
other; and pretty soon Ruddy hit Jack and knocked him down. But Jack got
right up and grabbed Ruddy and got an awful grip on him. "He's goin' to
choke him now. He'll get him now, sure." And they tusseled for a while,
Jack tryin' to get Ruddy's throat, but Ruddy always keepin' away, though
pretty near gettin' it. Finally Ruddy broke clear loose and hit Jack an
awful blow right in the chest. Then Jack went crazy mad. He rushed on
Ruddy and got him by the throat and began to choke him. Meanwhile Ruddy
was fightin' Jack's hands away and finally slipped 'em off again and as
Jack came for him, Ruddy hit him and knocked Jack down again. Then he
rushed on Jack and was about to choke him too, but Jack hopped up and
kind of run off a little, then turned around and made for Ruddy again
and struck Ruddy and knocked him into a heap. This was the first time
for Ruddy; and he got right up and as Jack came up, he just rained the
blows on Jack until Jack began to wilt and finally he came up with a
regular sledge hammer and Jack fell over on the sand flat on his back,
and lay there, his big white chest just goin' up and down like a
bellows. I forgot to say that Harold Carman was there; and every time
one was knocked down, he began to count. Mitch said if they counted 25
and you didn't get up, you was whipped. Well, this time Harold Carman
counted 25 and then went on and counted 50 and still Jack didn't get up,
but lay there his breast goin' up and down for air. Then everybody began
to laugh. And the fight was given to Ruddy Hedgpeth; and when it was,
Jack got up and picked up a club and started for Ruddy to kill him. So
all the men pitched on to Jack and began to hold him; and Jack was
bloody and was swearin' and sayin' he had been tricked and that he could
lick Ruddy with one hand in a fair fight. "Ruddy Hedgpeth is a coward,"
says Jack; "he put sweet oil on his chest and throat so I couldn't choke
him when I got my hands on him. He's a coward and I've been tricked."

My pa was not a very big man, but he warn't afraid of no one. And he
says: "Anything was fair, so as to whip, and you're whipped and you'd
better shut up." So Jack made for my pa and pa stooped down and picked
up a rock and stood his ground. The other men interfered; and George
Montgomery said the sweet oil was fair and they all turned on Jack and
he had to take his medicine. Then they broke up and started to climb the
bank; and Mitch and me ran into the woods at the side of the road and
waited until they went.

"How was that?" said Mitch.

"That was wonderful," says I.

"Well, you stick with me, and I'll show you a lot of things. Do you want
to dig for treasure with me?" I said, "Of course"; and Mitch says:
"We'll begin right away in Montgomery's woods. For I've been over there
lots, and there are sloughs of dead limbs and we're bound to find it.
I've got something on to-night. Mr. Bennett's daughter Nellie is goin'
to be married and we can get under the window and see it. It's the
grandest thing ever happened here. The wedding cake has diamonds on it,
and everybody that comes, that's invited, of course, is given some kind
of a gift, and Nellie has solid silver buckles on her shoes and a veil
that cost $50. I'll come for you," says Mitch. And so a little after
supper Mitch whistled for me, and we went to the Bennett house and
fooled around waiting.



CHAPTER II


Now Mr. Bennett had traded his farm for a store in town and was now a
merchant prince, my pa said. And he had built him a wonderful stone
house on a hill with a big yard around it. There was a house there
before, and of course lots of trees, bushes around, and walks; and he
had built a fine barn with lightning rods all over it with silver balls
that just glittered. And he had a span of horses that cost $1000 and a
wonderful carriage. He was awful rich. And Nellie was goin' to marry a
man which was from Chicago. Pa and ma were goin' to the wedding; and ma
could hardly get ready it took her so long to dress. She wore her silk
dress which her sister had given her, and looked prettier than I ever
saw her. Mitch and me had to sneak off because I was supposed to stay
with Myrtle and Little Billie, as Delia, our girl, wanted to go out.
Because I went, Delia had to stay, and she was as mad as hops.

But on the way over to Mr. Bennett's, Mitch told me that they had
brought colored waiters from Chicago, from the Palmer House, the finest
hotel in the world, where they had silver dollars in the floor. I
couldn't believe this, but he said he had talked to Harold Carman, who
had seen 'em with his own eyes, and counted 'em till he got tired. Mitch
said that they had an orchestra from Chicago and were goin' to dance,
that the wedding would cost $5000 which Mr. Bennett had offered to
Nellie in money, or to take it for the cost of the wedding; and she took
it for the wedding.

We climbed over the picket fence near the barn and dodged around past
the bushes until we got up to a window where we kind of scrouched down
and looked through lace curtains. There we saw everybody--all dressed up
and talkin' and laughin'; and there was my pa and ma. Ma was holdin' her
fan and talkin' to a man in a long black coat with all his white shirt
showin', and diamonds in the shirt and a white tie. She looked very
smilin' and different than when she talked to pa. Mitch's pa and ma
warn't there, not bein' invited. The orchestra was playin' wonderful
music; and finally all the people quit talkin'; the room got still, and
the orchestra began to play somethin' very beautiful; and pretty soon
Nellie Bennett came in holdin' the arm of Mr. Bennett, all in her veil
and white satin, but I couldn't see the buckles on her shoes. And then
the man she was goin' to marry--his name was Richard Hedges from
Chicago--stepped out, and they both stepped in front of the minister,
who was from Jacksonville, wearin' a black robe with white sash around
his neck; and the orchestra stopped playin'. But just then we heard a
twig or somethin' snap and we looked around quick and there was Doc Lyon
who read the Bible all the time and acted queer. My pa thought he was
crazy. And he began to say: "She doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians,
her neighbors, which were clothed with blue, governors and rulers, all
of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses. I will take
away thy nose and thy ears; and thy residue shall fall by the sword.
They shall also strip thee of thy clothes and take away thy fair
jewels."

Doc Lyon's voice sounded like he was talkin' out of a cistern, and I
grew sick at my stomach I was so scared. But both Mitch and me forgot
the wedding for the time and turned our heads. And pretty soon we saw
Doc Lyon kind of rolling a pistol over in his hand. We could see it. It
glittered in the light; but Mitch and me were lyin' in the shadow there,
and I don't believe he knew we were there. At least until I kind of lost
my balance and fell over against Mitch and bumped him against the house,
makin' a noise. We were scared to death, for we was afraid Doc Lyon
could now see us, and know us, and would come over to us, and do
something to us. Everybody was afraid of him, especially the boys. Well,
probably he didn't know who it was, or but what maybe it was a big dog.
So he stood a minute and then began to back off and finally turned and
ran away into the darkness. Then we looked in again, and by now the
minister was readin' from a book; and finally Mr. Hedges put a ring on
Nellie's finger; then they knelt down and the minister prayed. Then they
got up and kissed and the music started; and everybody stood in line to
shake Nellie's hand and Mr. Hedges' hand, and kiss Nellie. And there was
a lot of talk and laughin' and they began to dance. And Mitch whispered
to me we'd better go; that we'd seen it and we could get to my house so
as to let Delia go out and maybe square everything. So we took a
different way from what Doc Lyon did, and ran as fast as we could,
lookin' out for corners we turned, and got home. Delia was awful mad; it
was about 9 o'clock now and she couldn't go out. She said this wedding
was no wedding anyway; that Nellie Bennett was a heathen, havin' never
been baptized and that people that got married without bein' baptized
committed a sin. She was mad; but we edged around her, and finally she
made some butter scotch for us and promised not to tell on us; and so
did Myrtle and Little Billie.

Then Mitch and me began to talk about Doc Lyon and whether I shouldn't
tell my pa so as to have him arrested; that he was a dangerous
character. But how could I tell him without lettin' him know that we had
been to the weddin', and our havin' Delia fixed? Then Mitch thought if
we told and got my pa to arrest Doc Lyon and he got out, he would come
for us, or maybe do somethin' to my pa. Anyhow Myrtle broke her word and
told; but pa didn't say nothin' or do nothin'; he didn't talk much
sometimes and nobody knew what he was thinkin' about.

Well, finally, Delia took Myrtle and Little Billie up to bed, and Mitch
began to ask me if I knew about marriage. I had never seen anybody
married before, but I knew about it because when I was only 6, the first
day I went to school, a boy told me all about it, and it made me so
shamed I didn't know what to do. And I didn't believe it; and when I
told my ma, she said not to let boys tell me dirty lies, and to walk
away from 'em. But since that time I had thought about it, and heard
other things. I had heard my pa and ma say that Mrs. Rainey was in love
with Temple Scott and wanted to marry him, although already married to
Joe Rainey, her husband; and then you saw a lot of writin' on fences and
sidewalks and on the schoolhouse walls; and some of the girls and boys
said funny things sometimes. All the time it was plain enough that there
couldn't be a family without a father as well as a mother; the father
havin' to earn money, and the mother havin' to take care of the
children, and of course no children where there were no father and
mother, except orphans and things like that. Mitch and me talked this
over and he said that if any boy said any dirty thing to me, to hit him
one; and that if I'd come up some night, his pa would explain to me
about flowers and plants and show me what a wonderful thing flowers are
and how they mean everything when understood. And then he began to talk
of Zueline Hasson, and how she made him feel so happy and so in love
with everything, just because she was so beautiful, and her friendship
was so beautiful to him.

Then Mitch wanted to know if I'd heard that this Mr. Hedges was marryin'
Nellie Bennett for her money, and had come down from Chicago to get her
for her pa's money. I had heard my pa say that; and Mitch said, "I
believe it--there was too much splurge over there, and why wasn't some
man right here in this town good enough for Nellie?" After a while pa
and ma came home, and Mitch hearin' 'em slipped out, and I was up-stairs
by the time they came up, with my light out. So I heard pa and ma talk
in the next room.

Pa said: "Yep, you'll see it before six months. Mr. Bennett don't know
any more about runnin' a store than the man who got his farm knows about
runnin' a farm, which is nothin'. When men change their game, this way,
they always lose. And that ain't all. Mr. Bennett is topplin' now. His
house is mortgaged and he's hard up. But a fine house is always a bait
to young men; and old folks always put out a bait in order to marry
their daughters off."

Ma said: "Nothin' of the kind. They don't have to put out any bait. Look
at you--was there any bait about me?"

"No," says pa.

"Of course there wasn't," said ma. "And you went around sayin' it would
kill you if I didn't marry you--and besides I have your letters for it."

"Oh, well," says pa, "a fellow always does that."

"Yes," ma said, "you're right, a fellow always does that, bait or no
bait. And I think the way you talk about marriage sometimes is just
awful, and if the children heard you, you'd be raisin' up children that
suspicions marriage and every holy thing." And she went on to say that
there was something wrong with pa and with lots of men, who went around
cryin' and pretendin' to die, and then after they got the girl, talked
about baits, and about bein' fooled.

And pa said: "Do you know what a woman is?"

And ma said: "I don't know what you think she is."

"A woman," says pa, "is a bottle of wine. If you look at it and leave it
alone, never open it, the wine is as harmless as water. And if you leave
a woman alone, she can't do nothin' to you. She's just there on the
table or the shelf--harmless and just a woman, just like the bottle of
wine is just a bottle of wine. But if you get in love with her, that's
like drinkin' the wine; she gets hold of you, and you begin to talk and
tell your secrets, and make promises, and give your money away, just
like a drunk man. Then if you marry her, that's like getting over the
wine; you wake up and find you've been drunk and you wonder what you've
said, and if you remember, you smile at yourself, and your wife throws
up to you what you said and that you wrote her letters. And the man who
put wine, women and song together, put three things that was just the
same together."

And ma says: "No, a woman ain't a bottle of wine at all; a woman is a
bird."

"What kind?" says pa.

And ma says: "I don't know the name of the bird, but it roosts on the
back of the hippopotamus. The hippopotamus is big and clumsy like a man
and can't see very well, just like a man, and has lots of enemies like a
man; so when enemies come this here bird sets up an awful clatter and
squawkin' and that warns the hippopotamus and so he can run or defend
himself. And if it wasn't for women, men couldn't get along, because
they have to be warned and told things all the time, and given pointers
what to do and how to act, and what is goin' on around--and the fact is
women is brains, and men is just muscle."

And pa says, "How does this bird live, if it's on the back of the
hippopotamus all the time?" That kind of got ma, for she knew if the
bird got off the back of the hippopotamus to eat, it couldn't warn the
hippopotamus, and as the bird has to live, ma was kind of stumped, and
she says--"Oh, well the bird lives all right, it catches things that
flies by."

"It does?" says pa. "You don't know your botany--that bird feeds off of
the delicious insects that is on the back of the hippopotamus. So it
don't have to get off for food, the same as a woman. And that ain't
all," says pa; "men are performers and women is the audience; and women
just sit and look and criticize, or maybe applaud if they like the
performer; and men have to act their best, write the best books, and
make the best speeches, and get the most money so as to please women
which is the audience--and a woman can't do nothin' but applaud or
criticize, and stir up the men to do their best--just because men,
until they know better, want to please the women so as to get them for
wives or somethin'."

And so pa went on till ma said: "I've heard enough of this--" and she
went into the next room and slept with Little Billie.

And pa called out and said, "You ain't mad, are you?" And ma called
back, "Just keep to your own self and shut up."

But as I can't come back to this again, I'll say that Mr. Bennett did
fail and lose everything; and in about a year Nellie came back, her
husband havin' left her after her pa failed; and she began to clerk in
one of the stores, and is yet.



CHAPTER III


After I met Mitch and after we saw the fight and the wedding, we went
out to Montgomery's woods a few times in the afternoon when school was
over. But we couldn't do much, because first we read "Tom Sawyer" along
settin' on stumps and logs. We had to get the idea into our heads
better; at least I did, because now we was about to carry out what Tom
had done and wrote about--or what Mark Twain had wrote about for him. So
we'd no sooner dig a few spadefuls than it would be gettin' dark, and
we'd have to go home.

[Illustration: Sitting on Logs]

One evening it began to rain and then thunder and lightnin', and we
stood in a kind of shed for a bit, when all of a sudden I felt creepy
and tingly, and saw a flash, followed by awful thunder; and of course I
knew I had got a shock. Perry Strickland had been killed the summer
before just this a way; and it seemed like once in a while God just
launched out like you'd swat a fly, and took somebody; and of course
you couldn't tell who He was goin' to come after next. Things like this,
besides lots of other things, my grandpa's prayers and other things, had
made me think a lot of religion, so as to be ready if I was to be took
by lightnin' or drownin' or anything suddent. And some of the boys said
that if you was drowned and didn't have nothin' on, you'd be kept out of
heaven, and sent to a place of punishment. So it began to look like they
was a lot of things to think about and be careful of.

[Illustration: Almost Struck]

I hadn't told Mitch because I didn't know just how he'd take it, even if
he was a preacher's son; but I'd been goin' at nights sometimes down at
a revival or protracted meeting at the church, not Mr. Miller's, but
another church, a Baptist, I believe, or maybe Campbellite. And I had
listened to the revivalist and heard the singin' and the experience
speeches. And heard the revivalist say that you had to be immersed, that
baptized meant to be put clear under, and that sprinklin' wouldn't do.

So I got Mitch to go the next night after the wedding, to see what he
thought, but also to pay him back a little for takin' me to the fight
and to the wedding. We went in together and sat down pretty fur back,
and the meeting began. A man got up pretty fat and good natured, with a
voice that just went into you like when you push one key of the organ
down and keep pumpin'. And he said a long prayer and asked for light and
help, and for light to shine in the hearts of the people present, so as
to show 'em their sin; and to save people from death, and from sudden
death, and if they died, then that they might be ready and be saved. And
he asked for power to preach the gospel and for humbleness and
understanding to receive the gospel after it was preached. And so on for
a good while. And a good many said, "Amen." And then they sang "Angel
Voices Ever Singing." Then the revivalist asked for songs and somebody
called out, "Away in a Manger, No Crib for a Bed"; and they sang that.
He asked for another one--and somebody called out, "There Were Ninety
and Nine that Safely Lay." And somebody else wanted "I was a Wandering
Sheep." And so it went till you could kind of feel things workin' up
like when the lightning made me tingle. Then this revivalist preached a
bit and talked about salvation and baptism, and about believin' and
being baptized in order to be saved. Then they had another song, "Work,
for the Night is Coming"; and then the revivalist called for experience
speeches. And old John Doud, the photographer, got up first, right
away. He was bald and one of his eyes was out; he was fat and his mouth
watered. And he began to tell what religion had done for him; how before
he got religion nobody could live with him, he was so selfish and cross;
how he was mean to his wife, and how he drank sometimes. And now he was
all different; he was happy all the day and agreeable to everybody and
had been good to his wife before she died, and generous to everybody and
didn't care whether he had a dollar in his pocket or a coat on his back
so long as he could help somebody; and how he hated drink now--couldn't
bear the sight of it; and he was thankful and ready to die any minute
and go to the blest in heaven and meet his wife, who was there. Lots of
people talked right out loud while he was speakin' and said, "Yes,"
"That's it," "That's what it does for you," and such like. And he sat
down, but popped right up again and said there was a man in town who
needed the prayers of the church and he says, "You all know him--Joe
Pink." Of course we all knew Joe Pink, who was the honorariest man in
town, and a good deal in jail.

[Illustration: John Doud]

Then Harry Bailey got up. He'd had religion before several times. Every
winter he got it if there was a revival; and if somebody had a new way
of being baptized, he'd try it. He went on to say that he'd been
sprinkled and dipped; that he'd had the double baptism of bein'
sprinkled and dipped, but he'd never been really immersed--baptized; and
now he knew it was the only thing and he'd been livin' in sin all these
years. They said halleluyah to that, and everybody began to shake his
hand, and pat him on the back, till pretty soon he keeled over in a fit
like he had sometimes, and the revivalist said--"Just stand back--he may
have the gift of tongues and begin to prophesy." But Harry just laid
there kind a kickin' like a chicken with its head off and finally got up
and sat down ready to be received into the church when they had the
general baptism. They had a kind of tank under the pulpit, and when they
got enough to make it worth while, the revivalist put on rubber boots
and stepped down into this here tank and received 'em as they came to
him, puttin' 'em clear under and then takin' 'em out.

[Illustration: Mrs. Penny]

After Harry Bailey talked, Mrs. Penny talked. She said she could do more
washin' since she got into the church than ever, and that it had been
the makin' of her. John Cruzan, a fighter, said he hadn't wanted to hurt
a livin' soul since he was baptized. And so it went.

Mitch was settin' on the end of the seat next the aisle, and I was on
the inside. Pretty soon the revivalist came down and spied Mitch. He
just saw him as a boy, and didn't know who he was. Just then they were
singin' "Knockin', Knockin', Who is There?" And it was dreadful solemn,
some were moaning, others crying out, some were clappin' their hands,
and lots were being talked to to bring 'em over. So this revivalist
kneeled down and says to Mitch:

[Illustration: "Are You Saved, My Little Friend?"]

"Are you saved, my little friend?"

Mitch says, "Maybe, I don't know."

"Maybe," says he. "Well, don't you want to be certain to escape the
condemnation?"

"I'd like to," says Mitch.

"This is the accepted time, and you can't afford to say maybe, you must
say I am sure--I know it. What is your name?"

"Mitch Miller."

"Well, Mitch, have you had the advantages of a Bible training?"

"Yes, sir."

"You've read it a little?"

"All of it."

"Do you believe it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, then, why don't you stand up right now and say I believe it and
come into the church?"

"I'd like to hear more about it."

"What part of it?"

"Baptism."

"There's nothing more to say, Mitch. The Bible says believe and be
baptized. Baptized means to be immersed. The Bible doesn't say believe
and be sprinkled, or believe and be dipped. It says believe and be
baptized. You have it plain, and the duty is plain. You can come in now
while you are young and before the grasshopper is a burden, or you can
wait until the days of sin come about you, and your eyes are blinded
with scales and then try to come in. And maybe by that time you will
have lost interest and be hardened; or you may die in sin while saying
'maybe' and not 'I'm sure.' Now what do you say?"

And Mitch says, "I won't to-night anyway."

Then the revivalist said, "Do you remember the rich man to whom the Lord
said, 'Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee'?"

Mitch says, "Yes, he was braggin' about his barns and that he had food
laid up for many days. I'm not braggin' about anything; I'm not rich or
grown up, and that part of the Bible don't apply to me."

"Ah," said the revivalist, just like that, "it all applies to you and to
me--and it's Satan that tells it doesn't; and here you are a bright boy
that has read the Bible and you hesitate and argue while Jesus is
waitin'. But the time will come when Jesus won't wait--when the gates
will be shut. And Jesus will be in heaven with His own, and all the rest
will be in the pit, burning with eternal fire. Don't you believe this?"

Mitch says, "No."

"Then you don't believe the Bible. Who have you heard talk these
subjects?"

"My pa."

"What does he do, Mitchie?"

"He's a preacher."

The revivalist was stunned, and he looked at Mitch and kind of started
to get away from him. Then Mitch says: "My pa debated baptism with
another preacher last winter and beat him. I believe in sprinklin'. I've
been sprinkled, and I will let it stay that way until I'm convinced."

Then the revivalist says: "Take your chance, my little friend," and went
away. The meeting ended and we went home. To-morrow was Saturday, and we
were going to dig for treasure.



CHAPTER IV


Mitch and I had dug under pretty near every dead limb in Montgomery's
woods and hadn't found a trace of any treasure. We began in April when
the winds sang as they did in March. There were blackbirds around then
and that bird that sings "spring day." Mitch's father knew the names of
all the birds; but outside of crows, robins, jay-birds and things like
that we didn't know 'em--neither Mitch nor I. We didn't care, for what's
the use of knowing names of things? You can't pronounce 'em anyway, and
I've noticed people get queer studying such things, like Homer Jones who
gathered weeds and flowers and pinned long names on 'em.

When we began to dig, the sap was flowing out of the maple trees. And
once George Montgomery saw us digging. He had come over to empty his
buckets of sap to make some maple sugar. And he said, "What are you boys
doing?" and laughed and said--"Don't bother my buckets. If you want a
taste of sap take it, but don't get the buckets askew so they will
spill."

Mitch called back to him, "What do you say, George, if we find a
tea-kettle of money buried here sommers, buried by old Nancy Allen?" And
George said, "Take it along--but you'll dig the whole world up before
you do."

You see Mitch was foolin' because we didn't think Nancy Allen had left
her money there, if she had any. But Mitch didn't want to say that we
was followin' the direction of Tom Sawyer for treasure. We kept the book
hid under a log, and every now and then would take it out and read it to
see if we missed any of the points. If we had told George Montgomery
what we was doin', he would have laughed at us and told everybody, and
had the whole town laughin' at us. Because we knew nobody but us had any
faith in such things. But Mitch had faith and so had I. We agreed that
there was treasure to be found, and if we worked we believed we could
get it.

[Illustration: George Montgomery]

It was a good thing that Nancy Allen died that winter and that Mitch
said that, because it threw George off. Nobody believed in Tom Sawyer as
a real person but us--we did. We knew he was real. Mitch was going to
write a letter to him and send it to Hannibal, Missouri, for Mitch's dad
said there was no town of St. Petersburg in Missouri--and that Mark
Twain had used that name as a blind.

And just about then this here Nancy Allen disappeared. She was a funny
little woman about as big as a 'leven year old girl, and wore a shawl
around her head, and carried a cane and smoked a pipe. She allus came to
town with Old Bender and his wife which was a friend or somethin' of
Nancy, and a boy with a mouth as big as a colt's and as trembly, which
was Old Bender's boy. They all lived together near town, and used to
come in, first Old Bender, then his wife, then Nancy, then this boy
walkin' in file, and they'd go to the grocery store and set around all
day, and go home with bacon, tobacco and things.

[Illustration: The Bender Family]

I said Nancy disappeared in the winter. But there was snow and they
didn't come to town--so just when she died nobody knows. But as I said,
Mitch and I found her body right near a creek in Montgomery's woods in
April. The snow was gone, and there she lay, what was left of her,
wrapped up in her shawl. And no one knew how she got there or anything
about it.

Mitch was the most curious boy you ever saw. He had read sommers about
a singing bone--that if you take the bone of a person that has died like
this, and hollow it out so as to make it into kind of a horn, and blow
through it, a voice will come out of it and tell you how the person died
and where the money is that's left and everything. So when we found her,
Mitch was just about to take her arm bone which was stickin' through her
shawl to make a horn of when I says, "Don't, Mitch, you'll get into
trouble. That body must lie right there 'till the Corner comes." You see
my father was States Attorney and I'd heard him say that. So we left
Nancy just as she was and ran into town. I told my father, and the
Corner went out and took us along, and we told what we knew. Then they
took her body into town and got a jury and Mitch and I told about it,
and our names were printed in the paper.

There was a story around that Nancy Allen was a miser, and of course
they wondered how she died. And my pa got Old Bender in and
cross-questioned him a whole day, with Mitch and me hid on top of a
closet in the room. But Old Bender stuck to his story, that Nancy had
started out to visit one of the Watkinses near Montgomery's woods, and
probably got cold, or fainted or somethin'. Anyway, they let Old Bender
go, and after that he came into town walkin' first, then his wife, then
their boy, and Nancy gone.

They didn't find any money or anything. But George Montgomery was threw
clean off when Mitch said we're diggin' for Nancy's treasure. For Mitch
went on and said: "What was she doin' here in the woods? Goin' to see
the Watkinses? That's pretty thin. She was here to get her money, that's
what it was. And she fainted and froze to death. It's as plain as day.
My pa thinks so, and that ain't all, the States Attorney thinks so too,
doesn't he, Skeeters?" Of course I had to say yes, though I'd never
heard my pa say any such thing. George left us and went about his
buckets, and we went on diggin'. We saw George walk away and climb the
rail fence and disappear. Then Mitch flung down his spade and sat on the
log where we had "Tom Sawyer" hid and began to talk.

"Skeeters," he said, "just look how everything tallies. Tom's town was
St. Petersburg, and ours here is Petersburg. His town was on a river. So
is this town. We ain't got no Injun Joe, but how about Doc Lyon? Ain't
he just as mysterious and dangerous as Injun Joe? Then if these woods
don't look just like the woods Tom and Huck dug in, I'll eat my hat.
Look here!" Mitch pulled the book out and showed me, and sure enough
they were alike. "Then look at Old Taylor, the school teacher--ain't he
the livin' image of Tom's teacher? And our schoolhouses look alike. And
we ain't got any Aunt Polly, but look at your grandmother--she's the
livin' image of Aunt Polly and just like her. Things can't be just
alike, if they was, they wouldn't be two things, but only one. And I can
go through this town and pick out every character. I've thought it over.
The Welshman--that's George Montgomery's father. Nigger Jim--how about
Nigger Dick? He's older and drinks, but you must expect some
differences. And Mary--my sister Anne is just the same. Muff Potter--how
about Joe Pink?--allus in trouble and in jail and looks like Muff. And
the Sunday School's just the same, superintendent and all. And the
circus comes to town just as it did in Tom's town. And the County
Judge--no difference."

"Yes, but," I said, "your girl ain't the daughter of the County Judge
like Becky Thatcher was. And her name is Zueline and that sounds like
something beautiful not belonging to any town--but to some place I keep
dreaming about."

"Skeeters," said Mitch, "you make me mad sometimes. As I told you, it
can't be all alike. Now there's you--you ain't any more like Huckleberry
Finn than the Sunday School superintendent is, not sayin' that you're
him, for you're not. But it can't be all alike. I only say when it goes
this far that it means something. And while I think I'm just like Tom
Sawyer, for I can do everything he did, swim, fight, fish and hook
sugar, and read detective stories, you're not Huck, and because you're
not, it will be different in the end. We'll go along up to a certain
point, and then it will be you, maybe, that'll give it a different turn.
Maybe we'll get bigger treasure or somethin' better."

"I don't want no better luck than Tom and Huck had," said I. "But I
believe it will be different, for you're different from Tom, Mitch. For
one thing, you've read different things: The Arabian Nights, and Grimm's
Stories, and there's your father who's a preacher and all your sisters
and your mother who's so good natured and fat. These things will count
too. So I say, if I'm not Huck, you're not Tom, though we can go on for
treasure, and I see your argument mostly and believe in it."

Mitch grew awful serious and was still for a long while. Finally he
said: "Skeeters, I just live Tom Sawyer and dream about him. I don't
seem to think of anything else--and somehow I act him, and before I die,
I mean to see him. Yes, sir, this very summer you and I, if you're
game, will look on Tom Sawyer's face and take him by the hand."

"Why, Mitch," I said, "how can you do it? It must be more'n a hundred
miles from here to where Tom lives."

"You bet it is," said Mitch. "It's near two hundred miles. I looked it
up. But it's as easy as pie to get there. Look here--we can bum our way
or walk to Havaner--then we can get a job on a steamboat and go to St.
Louis--then we can bum or walk our way to Hannibal--and some fine
mornin' you and I will be standin' on the shore of the Mississippi--and
there'll be Tom and Huck, and you and me. And I'll say, 'Tom Sawyer, I'm
Mitch Miller, and this here is Skeeters Kirby.' How's that for fun? Just
think of it. I dream about this every night. And we'll strip and go
swimmin', and fish and all go up to McDougal's Cave. And what would you
say if we persuaded them to come back with us for a visit? Tom and Huck,
you and me all walkin' arm in arm down the streets here? Why, the town'd
go wild. And we'd go out to your grandmother's and stay all summer and
just roll in pie and cake and good things--and ride horses, and fly
kites. My--I just can't wait!"

So Mitch went on this way for quite a spell and then he switched and
said: "Skeeters, what do you dream about?" "Flyin'," says I. "No!" said
Mitch. "Do you really?" "As sure as you're livin'," I says. "Well, ain't
that funny," said Mitch, "so do I. But how do you do it, with wings or
how?" "No," I says, "I seem to reach up my hands and pull myself up, by
rounds on a ladder, ropes or somethin'; and I'm always trying to get
away from somethin'--like bears or sometimes it's a lion. But pa says
it means I'm an aspirin' nature and born to pull up in the world. But,"
says I to Mitch, "do you ever dream of the Judgment Day?"

[Illustration: The Judgment Day]

"Do I?" says Mitch. "You can better believe I do--and that's where my
flyin' comes in, only I drift like one of these here prairie chickens
about to light--I seem to be goin' down. And it was just last night I
dreamed of the Judgment Day. First everything was mixed: here was Injun
Joe and Doc Lyon, Joe Pink and Muff Potter, Aunt Polly and your
grandma--everybody in these two towns all together. And Tom Sawyer, Huck
Finn, Joe Harper, Becky, Zueline, and your folks and mine--all of us was
together. And then suddenly we seemed to be close to Bucky Gum's
pasture; the well became a kind of pipe stuck up out of the ground and
began to spout fire; and there was a great light in the sky and I saw
Jesus coming down out of the sky, and there was thunder. Then I began to
fly--drift down, and all of a sudden, kerplunk, I fell out of bed. And
pa says--'Hey, Mitch, what's the matter?' 'It's the Judgment Day,' I
says. 'Judgment nothin', says pa--'You've fallen out of bed. Get back in
bed and go to sleep--you were hollerin' like an Indian.' Then I heard
ma say to pa after a bit, 'Pa, you oughtn't to read so much of the Bible
before the children. It makes 'em nervous.' Now, Skeeters, what do you
dream about the Judgment Day?"

[Illustration: Whipping Kit O'Brien]

I was just about to tell him when I heard some one comin'. I looked up.
It was Kit O'Brien and Mike Kelly comin' from the slaughter house. They
had some liver and a bladder; and before we could square around Kit
O'Brien came up and knocked "Tom Sawyer" out of Mitch's hand. And then
it began. These boys belonged to a gang over the hill back of where, old
Moody lived, and we was always fightin'. Mitch and Kit had fit
before--and so had Mike and me. Mike licked me once and I licked him
once. But Mitch had given Kit an awful lickin' with no come back. So now
he thought his chance had come with Mike to help after disposin' of me.
So what did they do, both of 'em, but go quick for Mitch, thinkin', I
guess, to get rid of him and then lick me.

"No, you don't," says I; and I grabbed both of Mike's arms with my arms
and held him out for to wrestle. I was awful strong in the back and arms
and rangy, and nobody could trip me, and I could back up until I got a
feller comin' good and then give a swing and land him. So there we was
at it--I holdin' Mike, and Mitch and Kit squared off boxin' like mad. I
gave Mike the swing and tumbled him, and then lay on him and held him
down. But it was awful hard and he was gradually gettin' away from me,
and strikin' me in the chest and sometimes in the face. He had big fists
and an awful punch. Meantime I was watchin' Mitch and Kit as much as I
could and neither of 'em seemed to have much the best of it, when all of
a sudden I heard a voice say, "Stop that," and there was Henry Hill, the
town marshal, drivin' a lot of kids ahead of him. Well, we all stopped
fightin'. And what do you suppose? Jerry Sharp who had a garden near
Fillmore Creek had complained about the boys goin' in swimmin' where his
girls settin' out tomato plants could see. So the marshal had come down
and arrested 'em and was drivin' 'em into town.

He just added Mitch and me and Kit and Mike to the crowd and took us all
in. When we got to the calaboose, he unlocked the door and started to
put us in. Then he laughed and said, "Now go home." And so we hustled
away.



CHAPTER V


It warn't more'n a day or two after this that my pa said that Old
Bender's house had burned down the night before, and he thought maybe
the old feller had set it afire. You see the story still clung about
Nancy Allen, and maybe he'd killed her, and my pa bein' the States
Attorney started to look into it.

Mitch and me and Little Billie were sittin' on the steps listenin' to
Mitch readin' "Tom Sawyer," and my sister was there too. She always
seemed in the way somehow, because she looked so steady with big eyes
and every now and then would ask questions that Mitch couldn't answer or
no one. While we was sittin' there my pa drove up in a rig, and said he
was drivin' out to Bender's house that was burned, and wanted ma to go.
She couldn't, and so I spoke up and asked him to take Mitch and me, and
he said get in. Then Little Billie began to cry to go--but pa said no,
and I did. But when we got on the way, I saw tears in Mitch's eyes, and
he said, "I'll never go again and leave Little Billie. It ain't fair and
I can't stand it." Mitch was the tenderest hearted boy you ever see.

By and by we got out there, and sure enough the house was burned down,
all fallen into the cellar. And Old Bender was pokin' around, and his
wife and the boy with the big mouth. Nigger Dick was there cleanin'
things away. My pa had sent him out to do it. We began to fuss around
too and pa was askin' Old Bender how the fire started and all that.

[Illustration: Nigger Dick]

Well, sir, what do you suppose? I got down in the cellar and began to
scrape around and kick ashes and sticks around; and all at once I struck
iron or something, and I scraped off the ashes and things and there was
a soap kettle turned upside down, and sunk like in the dirt floor of the
cellar. I leaned down and tugged and pulled it up and inside was a lot
of cans, four or five, and inside the cans the greatest lot of money you
ever see. Great big copper coins and silver dollars and paper dollars.
Well, I was just paralyzed. I couldn't believe my eyes. Struck it, I
says to myself--struck it without any more trouble or worry, and no need
to see Tom Sawyer and find out how to find treasure. Here it was before
my eyes. After a bit I called out, "O, Mitch"--but he was around sommers
and didn't come till I called again. Then he peeked over into the cellar
and I just pointed and couldn't speak. Mitch slid down into the cellar
and bent over lookin' at the money, and turned to me and said, "Well,
Skeeters, this is all right for you--but not for me. You found it, and I
didn't. You've won out, but I've got to go on and find some for my own
self."

[Illustration: Struck It, I Says]

"Not on your life," says I. "What's mine is yours. And besides we came
here together--we've been working together; if we hadn't, you wouldn't
have been here, and I wouldn't. It's all because we've been chums and
huntin' together--and half of this is yours, just the same as half of it
would be mine if you'd happened to get in the cellar first."

Just then Mitch found a piece of paper with Nancy Allen written on it,
and a little bundle which he unwrapped and found inside a breast pin
with the initials N. A. on it, which showed that the money was Nancy
Allen's, saved from sellin' rags and paper. For we remembered when she
used to go about with a gunny sack pickin' up old rags, bottles and
things.

I was just puttin' the cans into the kettle when pa came up and saw me,
and says, "What you got?" Then he saw what it was. And Nigger Dick came
up and says, "Bless my soul!" And pa took the kettle up on the ground
and began to count the money. "That's mine," I said to pa; but he didn't
notice me, just went on countin' till he found out there was about
$2000.00. Then he said, "This money goes to the county. Nancy Allen
didn't have any relatives, and it goes to the county." Well, I began to
perk up and I said, "Ain't Mrs. Bender her sister--and if it ain't mine
for findin' it, why don't it go to her sister?" Pa said: "No, Mrs.
Bender ain't her sister, and I know she didn't have any relatives.
Anyway, we'll advertise and if no relatives claim the money, it goes to
the county."

I began to sniffle. And Mitch says: "Tell me, then, how Tom Sawyer and
Huck Finn got to keep what they found. Injun Joe had no relatives, and
Judge Thatcher knew the law, or was supposed to; and why didn't that
money go to the county?"

"Why, Mitch," said pa, "don't you know that's just a story? You don't
take that for true. You mustn't let a yarn like that get into your head
and fix your ideas about things. And it's a good lesson to both of you.
You'll find when you grow up that there'll be lots of prizes that are
just about to fall in your hands when some superior right takes 'em
away. And you'll find that everything that happens in boyhood and on the
school yard happens when you grow up, only on a bigger scale, and hurts
more. And you'll see that everything in life when you're grown is just a
repetition of what happens on the school yard--friendship, games,
battles, politics, everything."

By this time Nigger Dick had come up again and he said he'd found some
footprints coming to and going away from the house. It had rained the
night before and the marks had staid. So pa got Old Bender and made him
walk and compared the prints, but they wasn't the same. And pa said that
was a clew. For Old Bender claimed he woke up and found the house on
fire. So they took a box and turned it upside down over some of the
prints and then pa took the kettle and put it in the rig, and Old Bender
came up and said that he knew Nancy Allen had some money, but he didn't
know where she kept it. Then we drove away.

Pa was quiet, like he was thinkin'. But I could see Mitch was mad, not
that he expected any of the money, but because he wanted me to have it
and thought I deserved it.

We drove past the Old Salem mill comin' home. We'd fished there lots of
times, Mitch and I--not this summer yet, but other summers. We used to
sit on the dam and fish. And pa hadn't hardly said a word till we came
to the mill. Then he said, "If you boys are lookin' for treasure, why
don't you come here?" He knew we'd been diggin' in Montgomery's woods,
but didn't say nothin'. Then Mitch says, "Where would you dig--along
the shore or where? Or is there a cave around here?" Pa said "whoa" and
stopped the horses. He said, "Look up there. Don't that look like
Cardiff's hill in 'Tom Sawyer'?" "Well, it does," said Mitch.

Here was a high hill hanging right over the road and about twict as high
as the mill, or maybe more, with a road winding up to the top. And pa
says: "More treasure was found on the top of that hill than anywhere in
the world, and who knows, maybe some is left there yet. Now I'm going to
take Nancy Allen's money and put it in my vault in the court house. You
boys can't have it. It's against the law. But I promise you that any
treasure you find here, I'll let you keep."

I felt better now, and Mitch's eyes were standin' out of his head. Then
pa said, "Get up" to the horse, and we drove into Petersburg about a
mile. Mitch tried to get pa to say where it was best to dig; but pa
said: "You boys go out there--see what you can find, dig around too, if
you want to, and tell me what you find."

We got into town after a while and pa took the kettle with all the cans
out of the rig and we followed him into his office and saw him put 'em
into the vault and close the door and turn the knob. It was worse than
buryin' a pet dog to see this. It took away our hopes. But there was no
help for it. So we walked out and Mitch said, "If you'll come up to
supper, I'll come back to your house and stay all night." "That's a go,"
I said, "And besides to-morrow is Saturday, and you promised to help me
make garden, if I'd help you." And Mitch said all right, and so we went
to his house.

The Miller family was awful big, five girls and Mitch, and all the
healthiest children you ever saw, fat and rosy and full of fun; and we
had the best times there you ever knew of. And Mr. Miller was always
reading to Mrs. Miller, with all the children racin' through the house
and laughin'. It made no difference--he read right on; but sometimes
Mrs. Miller would look up from her sewin' and say, "Read that over,
Robert, I lost that," and that would be when the children made such a
noise you couldn't hear nothin'. So when we got to the house, there was
Mr. Miller, readin' English history to Mrs. Miller, and the children
already playin' blind man's buff, and makin' a terrible noise, though it
was before supper. Zueline Hasson had come over and was goin' to stay to
supper too. She was Angela Miller's friend besides bein' Mitch's
sweetheart. You ought to have seen Mitch look when he saw Zueline. He
just stood a minute like he was lookin' at an angel he was afraid of.

Pretty soon Mrs. Miller said she had to have a bucket of water, and
Mitch went to pump it, and Zueline went with him. The sun was down now,
but it was bright day, and the robins were singin' their heads off, and
the air smelt of grass and flowers. I stood at the kitchen window and
watched Mitch pump a cup of water for Zueline and hand it to her. And I
knew what it meant; for Mitch had told me that he couldn't be near her
without a lump comin' into his throat. He said it was like religion, for
Mitch had got religion too, and he'd seen lots of people get it, and he
knew what it was. And as for Zueline, she thought Mitch was the finest
boy in town, which he was.

By and by we set down to supper. There was nine of us, and the awfullest
gigglin' and talkin' you ever heard, even before Mr. Miller had hardly
finished sayin' grace. We had oatmeal and eggs and biscuits and jam and
milk; and Mr. Miller was talkin' English history to Mrs. Miller, no more
disturbed by us children than if we wasn't there. After that we played
blind man's buff. And every time Mitch could find Zueline, and trace her
about the room, though she didn't make any noise at all, and I knew he
couldn't see. It was almost spooky.

[Illustration: Mitch Pumps a Cup of Water]

Before we started to go Mitch said he had to feed Fanny, which was his
dog that he loved most to death.

Fanny was about to have some puppies, and he kept her in the barn. So we
made up a dish of things and went out to the barn, Mitch whistlin' all
the way and callin' to her. "That's funny," said Mitch. "She doesn't
answer. I wonder why." We got to the barn and opened the door and he
called again, but no Fanny. Then he went in and tramped around the
stalls but couldn't find her. So Mitch went back to the house for a
lantern and we looked all through the barn and finally all around the
barn. And pretty soon he saw her lyin' by the barn. She was dead--all
over blood. Somebody had run a great knife like a scythe or a
corn-cutter through her. And I never see a boy cry like Mitch did. He
ran back and told Zueline and she and all the children came out and most
of us cried. Then Mr. Miller came out, and Mrs. Miller, and Mr. Miller
said he believed Doc Lyon had done it--that he had seen him in the alley
in the afternoon. And Mitch said he'd kill Doc Lyon. And that scared
Mrs. Miller, and she said, "Keep away from him, Mitchie, he's gone crazy
over religion and he'll kill you." "It's a good day," said Mitch, "Skeet
loses his treasure, and my dog's killed--it's a good day." Then Zueline
took Mitch's hand and said, "Never mind, my pa's goin' to get me an
Ayrdale and I'll make him get two, one for you." So we threw a blanket
over Fanny and Mitch took Zueline home, and I went home and waited for
Mitch to come.

[Illustration: Crying for Fanny]

When he did come he was in better spirits. Zueline had cheered him up.
He said he worshiped her--that he'd kill any one who spoke a bad word
about her, and that he intended to protect her as long as he lived.

Then Mitch and me went to my house. It was now about ten o'clock, and pa
hadn't come home. There seemed to be a lot stirrin' someway, and ma
said, "Your father is very busy, and we'll all go to bed and not wait
for him. He has a key of his own." So pretty soon we were all in bed
with the lights out. And in about a minute we heard the latch in the
stairway door begin to rattle, and ma says, "What's that?" and called
down and said, "Is that you, pa?" No answer, just the rattlin'. Well, ma
had bolted the door on the inside, and whoever it was couldn't open the
door at once, but kept up the rattlin'. Then ma turned white and said,
"One of you boys must go for George Montgomery. I'll let one of you out
of the window and the other must stay here and help to fight." Mitch
said, "You go, Skeet, you're a faster runner than me, and maybe he'll
hop after you, whoever he is. I'll stay here and take a bed-slat and
brain him as he comes up the stairway." "No," says I, "I think it's more
dangerous to stay than to go--let's draw straws to see who goes."
Meantime ma took a sheet off the bed. We drew straws and the lot fell to
me to go. So ma let me down by the sheet. No sooner did I reach the
ground than bang went the dining room window and the man was after me.

I went over the first fence like a deer, the man after me. I ran up the
road, took the back fence of Montgomery's place, and ran up the arbor
way. I knew the land, the feller after me didn't. I lost him somewhere.
In a minute I was under George's window, calling. He was still up and he
came right down with his walking stick and a pistol, just as good
natured and comfortin' as he could be.

[Illustration: Catching Doc Lyon]

George went all through the house, but found no one. Then we went to the
barn, but found nothing. As we were coming back, I saw some one drop
down behind the raspberry bushes. George saw it too, and made for the
fellow. He fired at us. The bullet whizzed past Mitch's head, and we
dropped in the grass. But George went on, shooting as he went, and
finally got up to the fellow and struck his arm down as he was about to
fire. Then he grabbed him and took away his pistol. And there was Doc
Lyon!



CHAPTER VI


[Illustration: Dinah]

The next morning Nigger Dick came to beat carpets, for ma was cleanin'
house; and Mitch and me were makin' garden, and talkin' to Nigger Dick.
He was the funniest nigger you ever saw and the best hearted, except
when he was drunk, then he was cross and mumbled to himself. His wife
was Dinah who wore circle ear-rings and used to cook for the Bransons
when they had lots of company. The Bransons were the richest people in
town and had lots of parrots and poodles, and Mrs. Branson et snuff.
They was from Virginia, ma said; and Mitch and I used to talk to Dinah
over the back fence when she was cookin' there. She wore a red bandanna
around her head, and she used to say, "Look heah, you boys, if you see
that nigger drinkin', you come and tell me, cuz I ain't goin' to live
with him no more if he drinks." Then she'd hand us out cookies or
somethin', and say go along.

Nigger Dick was singin':

        Nicodemus was a slave of African birth,
        Who was bought for a purse full of gold,

and beatin' carpets, and doin' whatever ma told him. She kept changing
her mind and would say: "Here, Dick, help me with this picture. Now you
can leave that and set out this geranium. Here, Dick, that can go for a
while, go down to the barn and bring up that barrel there and put this
stuff in it."

Dick knew ma, and bein' disorderly himself, didn't care what he did, or
whether he finished anything. So he kept saying, "Yes'm," "Yes'm," and
workin' away. So every time Dick got near us, we'd talk to him and get
him to tell us about his father which was a slave, or about Kentucky.
Little Billie was playin' near us, for Mitch was makin' him a little
onion bed, and Dick was ridin' Little Billie on his shoulder, and he was
as gay as a jay-bird and singin'. One of his songs was:

        Oh, said a wood-pecker settin' on a tree,
        I once courted a fair ladee.
        She proved fickle and from me fled,
        And ever since then my head's been red.

And "Babylon is Fallin'" was another of his songs, and "Angel Gabriel."
Mitch would rather be around where Nigger Dick was than any one. He
almost laughed himself sick that mornin'.

Well, we told Nigger Dick about catchin' Doc Lyon; and we took him
around to where I had been let down by the sheet, and showed him how I
had run and jumped the fence to get away. Nigger Dick began to act
awful mysterious and say, "You can't fool this nigger," and he kept
goin' back and forth from the window to the fence, lookin' at the
ground. And by and by he went and asked ma if he could go down town. He
wanted to see my pa about somethin'. So he went off, and Mitch and I
went on makin' garden, till ma came and set us to work buildin' a flower
bed. That was one trouble with ma, you no sooner got started on one
thing than she changed her mind and wanted you to do somethin' else.
"Never mind," said Mitch, "we're havin' fun, whatever it is. But what do
you suppose your pa meant by sayin' that that hill above the Old Salem
mill had given up more treasure than any place in the world? Who got it?
Now pa says that Linkern lived there onct and kept store, but he didn't
get it. He was so poor that he used to have welts on his legs from
wearin' the same buckskin pants. That's what pa says. So if he didn't
get the treasure, who did? It couldn't be Mr. Branson, for he got his
start raisin' onions and peddlin' 'em here in town. All the same, your
pa must have meant somethin'. But I tell you, Skeet, we've lost this
Saturday, and it's too far to go after school. So I say let's go out
there next Saturday--start early and prospect around as they say--look
the land over. And keep goin' till we clean the place up, like we did
Montgomery's woods."

Just then pa and Nigger Dick drove up. Pa had a shoe in his hand and
went and began to put the shoe in the prints where Doc Lyon had run from
the window to the fence. "It fits," says Dick, and laughed, and I said
to pa, "What you got, Doc Lyon's shoe?" And pa said, kind of gruff and
absent minded, "Yes." "Well," says I, "You don't need any shoe to tell
it was Doc Lyon that chased me." Pa didn't answer me. He said, "Come
on, Dick," and they started for the buggy. Ma came runnin' to the door
and said, "Where you goin', Dick? The carpets must be cleaned and laid."
"I don't know," says Dick, "I'm in the hands of the law." "Back after
while," said pa, as he gave the horse a tap with the whip and drove off.

Ma stood in the door and said: "No order, no system, never anything
done. It's just too discouraging. Just as I get Dick and have him well
started at work, your pa comes and takes him off." Then she turned to us
and said, "Don't work any more on the flower bed. Come with me. I want
you boys to build a chicken coop. The old hen must be shut up to-night,
and you must hurry." Mitch smiled a little, but we went into the back
yard and got some lath and made the coop.

Well, after while Nigger Dick came back. They had driven out to Bender's
place and put the shoe in the footprints out there, and sure enough they
fit and pa had gone to the jail and quizzed Doc Lyon about the fire and
he had confessed and told everything. And that wasn't all. "Why," said
Nigger Dick, "that Doc Lyon is the devil himself. He killed Nancy
Allen--Yes, he did. He says so. And that ain't all. He killed your dog,
Mitch. And even that ain't all; all these cows that got cut so they
couldn't give milk, he cut 'em--yes sir, that devil cut 'em. And your pa
is goin' to have him hanged. And that ain't all. If he'd got up-stairs
last night, he'd a killed your ma. Yes, sir. He's the awfulest devil in
this county. And you see when he used to go to Sunday School and walk
the streets readin' the Bible, he was just playin' possum. He'd sold
himself to the devil and he was tryin' to hide it."

I said to Mitch, "Was Injun Joe ever in jail?" Mitch said: "Skeet, you
don't act like sense sometimes. You know dern well he was in jail. How
could he get into court if he wasn't in jail? Don't you remember when
Tom was testifyin' agin him that he broke loose and jumped through the
court house window and escaped, and nobody ever saw him again until Tom
found his body at the door of McDougal's cave?"

"Well," says I, "he might have been out on bail." "What's that?" said
Mitch. "I don't know," says I. "It's a way to keep from goin' to jail,
and since the book don't say that Injun Joe was in jail, I'll bet you he
never was. Poor old Muff Potter was in jail after the murder and he
didn't kill anybody. It was Injun Joe that did the killin'. And don't
you remember that Tom and Huck went to the jail one night and stood on
each other's backs so they could talk to Muff through the bars?" "I have
an idea," says Mitch, "let's go to the jail to-night and talk to Doc
Lyon. Your pa and Jasper Rutledge, the sheriff, are friends, and he
knows us. And besides, Joe Pink is in jail. Look at it: Joe Pink is Muff
Potter and Doc Lyon is Injun Joe, and we'll go to see 'em just like Tom
and Huck went to see Muff Potter. Only, as I said before, Skeet, you're
no more like Huck than my pa is like Nigger Dick."

"Well," says I, "it makes no difference. We'll go. For you can bet Doc
Lyon will never be free again, and we can look at him and ask him
questions, and see what he has to say."

We got down to the jail about dusk, and Mitch insisted on rollin' a barl
up to the window and climbin' up on it, so as to make it as much like
Tom Sawyer as possible. The window was too high for us to stand on each
other's backs. Just as we got the barl up, along comes Jasper Rutledge,
the sheriff, and he says, "Hey, what you boys doin'?" "We want to talk
to Doc Lyon," says I. "What about?" says he. "About my dog," says Mitch.
The sheriff looked at us curious for a minute and says, "If I let you
talk to him, will you promise not to tease him or get him mad?" "Yes,
Mr. Rutledge," both of us said. "Well then," said the sheriff, "don't
fool around with that barl; I'll let you inside the jail and you can
stand comfortable and talk to him." Mitch didn't know what to say to
this. He just toed the ground with his toe, and finally said, "We'd
rather stand on the barl, Mr. Rutledge." I knew what he meant. It
wouldn't be like Tom Sawyer to go inside. And the sheriff laughed and
said, "Well, I'll swan, have it your way. But mind you, I'm going to
hide and hear what is said, for I want to hear what he says about all
this devilish work. But if you tease him or say anything out of the way,
I'll stop it and drive you off."

So we promised and Mitch rolled the barl up to the winder and we both
stood on it and looked in. First thing we see was Joe Pink. He was in
there for bein' drunk, and beatin' his wife. And he went on to tell
about his life, how he'd most worked himself to death tryin' to support
her and the children, and how she couldn't cook, and how she never had
the meals ready, and how he'd come home so hungry he could eat glue, and
she'd be talkin' over the back fence with Laura Bates, and how he didn't
like her any more anyway, because she had lost most of her teeth, and
spluttered her words. Then he'd get drunk, he said, to forget. And just
then a voice said, "No drunkard shall enter the kingdom of heaven." It
was Doc Lyon in a separate place, behind another iron door. And Joe Pink
turned on him and said: "I suppose dog killers and house burners and
cow-cutters and murderers get in. They do, do they? Well, you can send
Joe Pink down to the devil. I don't want to go nowhere where you go--you
can bet on that."

[Illustration: Doc Lyon]

By this time we could see clear into the dark, and there stood Doc Lyon
quiet like, his hands holding the bars, awful white hands, and his eyes
bright like a snake's when it raises up to strike. Then Doc Lyon began
to talk. First he was talking about Mitch's dog. He said it wasn't
decent to have that dog around where children could see her, and that he
had killed her because God told him to. Then he began to talk the Bible
and talk about Ohalibah and say: "She doted on her lovers, on the
Assyrians, her neighbors, which were clothed with blue, governors and
rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.
And I will set my jealousy against thee, and they shall deal with thee
in fury; they shall take away thy nose and thine ears; and thy residue
shall fall by the sword. They shall also strip thee of thy clothes and
take away thy fair jewels." And so he went on for a long time. And Mitch
whispered to me, "He's quoting from Ezekiel"--Mitch had heard his pa
read it to his ma and he knew it.

Then Doc Lyon went on to talk about my ma, and to say that he didn't
mean to kill her, but only to cut off her ears and her nose, because she
was too pretty, and was an abomination to the Lord because she was so
pretty, and the Lord had told him to do it. And then he said the Lord
had told him to remove Nancy Allen because she lived with Old Bender and
his wife, and it wasn't right. He was awful crazy; for if ever there was
a harmless old couple and a harmless old woman, it was the Benders and
Nancy Allen. And why did he want to kill her for livin' with the
Benders? She had to live sommers, and didn't have any home of her own.

We didn't have to say hardly a word--Doc Lyon just went on and told
about settin' Bender's house on fire to purify the abomination of the
dwelling, he said, where Nancy Allen had lived.

We heard enough and slid off the barl. Then Jasper Rutledge came out and
said: "Can you boys remember what he said? For that's a free confession
he made, and you must testify, and I will. There'll be a hangin' in this
jail, before the snow flies."

I was so scared and shook up that I was afraid to sleep alone. So as we
went by, I asked ma if I could stay all night with Mitch. She said
"yes." So when we got to Mitch's home, Mr. Miller was readin' to Mrs.
Miller about Linkern and the girls were playing like mad. We forgot
everything, until finally Mitch motioned to me and we went out-doors.
Mitch said: "I was goin' to have a funeral over Fanny, but I can't stand
it, Skeet. Let's just you and I bury her, here by the barn." So we dug a
grave and buried Fanny, and Mitch cried. And then we went into the house
and went to bed.



CHAPTER VII


The next day was Sunday, and the wonderfulest day you ever saw. We had
an early breakfast, for Mr. Miller was drivin' into the country that day
to preach, and Mrs. Miller was goin' with him and the girls had to get
the dinner. So nobody had to go to Sunday School, and I could keep out
of it by not goin' home in time. A thought came to me and I said to
Mitch, "You never saw my grandpa's farm--we can walk out there before
noon and have dinner, and maybe get a lift on the way. And maybe grandpa
or some one will drive us in in the morning in time for school." Mitch
was crazy to go and see the farm; so we struck out, down through the
town, under the trestle bridge, up the hill, past Bucky Gum's big brick
house, past the fair grounds and along the straight road between the
wheat fields. It was wonderful, and we sang and threw clods at birds and
talked over plans about goin' to see Tom Sawyer. For Mitch said: "We'll
try this Old Salem place, and if that doesn't pan out, then we'll go to
Hannibal. Tom'll tell us; and if he can't, we'll see his crowd anyway
and have a good time. And besides, I'm lookin' forward now to somethin'.
I'm goin' to lose Zueline--I feel it all through. And if I do, it's time
to get away from here and forget."

"What do you mean by lose her?" says I. "You'll always be in the same
town and in the same school, and you'll always be friends."

"Oh, yes," said Mitch, "but that's just the trouble--to be in the same
town and the same school and not to have her the same. I've got a funny
feelin', Skeet--it's bound to happen. And anyway, if it don't, we must
be up and doin' and get the treasure and then square off for somethin'
else. And if I get it and all goes well, maybe Zueline and me will marry
and be happy here. That's the way I want it."

[Illustration: We Sang and Threw Clods]

It must have been two hours before we got to the edge of the wood where
Joe Gordon lived. And I showed Mitch the oak tree where Joe had peeled
off the bark to make tea for the rheumatism or somethin'. My grandma had
told me. Finally we crossed the bridge over the creek, and climbed the
hill. "There," I said to Mitch, "that's my grandpa's house. Ain't it
beautiful--and look at the red barn--and over there, there's the hills
of Mason County right by Salt Creek." Mitch's eyes fairly glowed; so
then we hurried on to get to the house, which was about half a mile.

[Illustration: Going through the Hired Man's Trunk]

There wasn't a soul at home but Willie Wallace, the hired man. He was
shavin' himself, goin' to see his girl, and he let us play on his Jews
harp and smell the cigars he had in his trunk, which he had perfumed
with cinnamon or somethin'. Grandpa and grandma had gone to Concord to
church, and Uncle Henry was in town seein' his girl, and the hired girl
was off for the day. We were hungry as wolves, so I took Mitch into the
pantry where we found a blackberry pie, and a crock of milk, rich with
cream. We ate the pie and drank the milk. Then I showed Mitch the barn
and the horses, and my saddle. I took him into the work house where the
tools were. I showed him the telephone I made which ran down to the
tenant's house. And we got out my uncle's wagon and played engine; and
went up into the attic to look for books. Mitch found a novel by Scott
and began to read; and that was the last of him. I went back to the work
house and pulled a kite I had made from the rafters and got it ready to
fly.

After while grandpa and grandma came from church and when grandma came
out of her room where she had changed her silk dress for a calico dress
in order to get dinner, I stepped out from a door and said, "Hello,
grandma." "Why, child," she said, "you almost scared me to pieces. What
are you doin' here? Where's your popie and your momie?" Then I told her
Mitch and I had walked out, and she took me into the kitchen and made me
help her. By and by she went into the pantry for somethin' and when she
came out she said: "Do you like blackberry pie, Skeet?" "Yes'm," I said.
"Well, I guess you do--and you like milk, too. And now you go down to
the cellar and get another crock of milk--do you hear? And if I hadn't
put the other pies in the cupboard in the dining room, there'd be no pie
for dinner." "No, grandma, we wouldn't eat more'n one--Mitch and I
wouldn't, honest we wouldn't."

Mitch came in, then, and grandma looked at him kind of close and
laughed, and asked him if he was goin' to be a preacher like his pa.
Well, a funny thing came out. Mr. Miller had preached at Concord that
morning, and grandma began to talk about the sermon and say it was the
most beautiful she ever heard. Pretty soon she went out of the room for
somethin', and Mitch said: "She's the livin' image of Aunt Polly--and so
she should be my grandma and not yours; for I'm Tom if anybody is, even
if you're not much like Huck."

Then we had dinner, and Mitch was readin' that novel while eatin', and
grandma kept sayin', "Eat your dinner, Mitch." He did eat, but he was
behind the rest of us.

We helped grandma with the dishes. Then she said, "You boys clear out
while I take a rest. And after while I'll show you some things." She
always took a nap after dinner, lying on a little couch under the two
windows in the settin' room, where the fire-place was, and the old
clock, and the mahogany chest that had come from North Carolina, given
her by her grandmother, and her red-bird in a cage. Grandpa always fell
asleep in his chair while reading the Petersburg _Observer_, which came
the day before.

So Mitch and I walked through the orchard, and when we came back, I
showed him the carriage with glass windows and the blue silk curtain;
and the white horses which grandpa always drove. But we didn't put in
the time very well, because we wanted grandma to wake up.

We went in the house at last, and they were talking together. I heard
grandpa say something about Doc Lyon. We'd almost forgot that by now.
But when we came in the room, grandma said, "Well, here you are," and
went over and got out her drawer that had her trinkets in it. She had
the greatest lot of pictures in rubber cases you ever saw; soldiers
which were dead, and folks who had married and moved away or had died;
and a watch which belonged to her son who was drowned before Mitch and I
was born; and a ribbon with Linkern's picture on it; and breast pins
with hair in 'em; and sticks of cinnamon. And by and by she went to her
closet and got some peach leather, which Mitch had never seen before.
And he thought it the best stuff he ever et. You make it by rolling
peaches into a thin leather and dryin' it, and puttin' sugar and things
in it. It's waxy like gum and chews awful well.

[Illustration: Grandma Showing her Treasures]

Then she got down her scrap book and read little things that Ben
Franklin said, about temperance and work, and study, and savin' money.
She asked Mitch if he had read the Bible through, and Mitch said yes,
for he had. "You haven't," she said to me--"if you'll read it through,
I'll give you five dollars." So I promised. "Now," she said, "you can do
it by fall if you're industrious. Work and play--play hard and work
hard, for the night cometh when no man can work." I never saw Mitch
happier than he was this afternoon. The time slipped by, and finally
grandma said to me to bring in the cows, she was goin' to milk. We began
to wonder how we'd get back to town. But we went for the cows just the
same and watched grandma milk, and helped her with the buckets, and
watched her feed her cats. Then we said we must go, at least after
supper. "How can you go?" said grandma, "you can't walk to-night. It's
too far. Willie Wallace is going in town early with a load of corn, and
you can ride." That suited us. So we had supper, fried mush and eggs and
milk. Then we had prayers; and grandma put us in the west room up-stairs
where there was a picture of Alfaratta, the Indian maid. And I think we
would be sleepin' yet if she hadn't come in to wake us.

We rode in with Willie Wallace and got to the school yard before eight
o'clock. Mitch and I agreed that this was the longest school day we ever
spent.



CHAPTER VIII


School interfered a good deal with huntin' treasure, but things happened
now and then to let us out. The professor looked exactly like Tom
Sawyer's teacher, except ours wore a beard. He seemed awful old and kind
of knotty and twisty. I think he must have been near sixty, and he had
been a preacher, and lost his pulpit and so turned to teachin'. We could
see he was pretty rusty about a lot of things. You can't fool boys much,
and you couldn't fool Mitch and me.

[Illustration: Professor Taylor]

The professor's name was Professor Taylor. He had a low forehead with
his hair lyin' flat like a wig--and creases across his forehead where he
had been worryin'. And one of his shoulders was kind of humped up and to
one side, and one of his hands had a stiff thumb. He couldn't keep order
in the school at all, because some of the big boys like Charley King and
George Heigold kept somethin' goin' all the time. And these big boys got
the rest of us into things like throwin' chalk and sometimes erasers,
or all together droppin' our geographies of a sudden. Then the professor
would tap the bell and say, "The tap of the bell is the voice of the
teacher--who dropped their geographies, who was it?" Then things would
get worse and there would be a noise like a political meetin'. Pa said
he warn't fit to run a school, but the directors kept him in because he
was related to the president of the board. And most every mornin' for
exercises he would read the 19th psalm, which says, "The law of the Lord
is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple," generally lookin' at me when he said "simple,"
because I couldn't learn very well. Then he would start the song with a
tuning fork, "Too-do" and generally somebody would cough like he had a
awful cold and so start the noise. Then lots would cough and he'd have
to wait before singin' "The Shades of Night Was Falling Fast." Then he
would talk to us about bein' good. And onct when Ella Stephens died over
at Springfield, where she had been for some kind of a operation, you
couldn't find out what, because nobody would say, he got up and said
that God would forgive Ella and all of us should pray for her. Most of
us cried, rememberin' Ella's red cheeks and how she used to laugh when
she came in the schoolroom. She was about 16.

And one mornin' school seemed to go all to pieces. This George Heigold
was studyin' geometry and he came to me and says, before school took up:
"When I go to the blackboard to demonstrate in geometry, I'll wink at
you and then you drop your reader or somethin', Mitch will do the same,
and then I'll get through, I'll show you. For I ain't studied the
lesson." I said "all right."

So when the geometry class was recitin', there was four in it, George
and Charley King, and Bertha Whitney and Mary Pitkin, the girls bein'
awful smart, and always havin' their lessons. The professor turned to
George Heigold and says: "George, you may demonstrate proposition
three." Then the professor gave Bertha proposition four, and Mary
proposition five, and Charley proposition six. But meantime George
didn't get up to draw his figure on the blackboard, though the rest did.
He was lookin' in the book so he could draw it; and finally the
professor said, "Did you hear me, George?" "Yes, sir," said George, "but
I was tryin' to think out a different way to demonstrate this here
proposition from the way the book says." And the professor says: "If you
demonstrate it the way the book does, that will be very well, and I'll
give you a hundred." So then George hopped right up and drew a fine
figure on the board and lettered it, and was just about to set down and
study the book, as I could see, because he was eyein' the professor and
expectin' that some of the others would be called on first, and while
the professor was watchin' somebody else demonstrate, he would study up.
But it happened wrong: George was called on first. So he got up, lookin'
at me to give me the wink, and he began: "Supposin' A-B is a straight
line, and supposin' B-C is a straight line, and supposin' C-D is a
straight line, and supposin' these here lines are all joined so as to
make a triangle." Then the professor got to his side and made it so
George couldn't see me to wink, and he says: "No, no, George." And
George says, "Very well, I have a original demonstration." And the
professor says: "Original, original--just follow the book, just follow
the book." Of course, George couldn't, and so he stepped back and gave
me the wink, and I dropped my reader, Mitch dropped his reader. Percy
Guyer, an awful nervous boy, started like, and flung his ink well off.
Then there was a lot of coughin' and some laughin', and the professor
went wild and says, "What is the matter? What can be the matter now?"
And he turned to George and says, in a mad way, "Take your seat." So
George did, and began to study the demonstration. And after while it got
quiet and the professor went on with Mary and Bertha who got a hundred.
Charley King got through fair, and probably got 75. And there sat George
and the class was about to be dismissed without George recitin', when
George raised his hand and said: "I'll do my best to demonstrate the way
you want me to. I don't want to lose my chance." So the professor just
smiled awful friendly on George and says "all right." And George got up
and recited perfect, according to the book and got 100. I never saw such
a boy as George Heigold; for once the professor got up an astronomy
class--the whole school mostly was in it--and he was teachin' us general
things about the stars and what they was made of. So one day the
professor called out quick as a test of what he had told us before:
"What element is found on the planet Mars that is not found anywhere
else in the universe?" And George Heigold who was sittin' way back
yelled out "Sapolio"--and the whole school went wild, into a roar of
laugh. While the professor marched up and down flippin' his coat tails
with his hands and sayin', "Who said Sapolio? Who said Sapolio?" But no
one told and he couldn't find out.

So on this day when George Heigold got a hundred in geometry, somethin'
else happened. It was a warm day and you could hear bees outside, and
the trees was beginnin' to show green. All of us was so sleepy we could
hardly stay awake, and I could look out of the window and see the river
and the hills on the other side, and I could even see people fishin'.
Well, near noon we all began to smell somethin' like onions, and it got
worse and worse, and seemed to come up from the registers, for Jas.
Walker, the janitor, was keepin' a little fire yet, or had for early
mornin'. And the professor got over the register and smelt and he says,
"Who put asoefetida in the furnace--who did such a cowherd thing as
that?" Nobody said nothin'. It was a surprise to me, and to Mitch, but
we were tickled for we could see what was comin'. The smell got worse
and worse, and Jas. Walker came runnin' through the room and lookin' in
registers. Then everybody began to cough in earnest, only George Heigold
coughed louder than a cow, and Bertha Whitney, bein' delicate, fainted
and there was a lot of runnin' to her, pickin' her up and fetchin' her
water. And the schoolroom went wild. The professor lost hold of
everything and got white and walked back and forth flappin' his coat
tails with his hands. Till finally he said, "School's dismissed for the
day." Then we all got up and busted out, singing and laughing. So Mitch
and me went to dinner and then hurried off to Old Salem to dig for
treasure.

[Illustration: Looking for Asafetida]

When we got to the mill, Jim Lally was already there and was fishin' and
had caught a big cat. They was bitin' good. And he says: "How did you
boys like the asoefetida?" We said "pretty well." And then he said, "If
anybody says I did that and you tell it, I'll lick you both, so you
can't stand up." Jim was 16 or 17 and big and we knew he meant it. But
Mitch laughed and said: "Why would we tell it? Ain't we off for the
afternoon the same as you?"

So we went up and dug, but didn't find nothin'. And finally while we was
diggin' away, all of a sudden I saw a big snake in the weeds, all
coiled, and Mitch didn't see it at first. For all of a sudden it kind of
sprang out like a spring you let loose and bit Mitch on the hand. Mitch
gave an awful cry and began to suck the place where the snake bit him. I
says, "Don't do that, Mitch, you have a tooth out, and the pisen will
get in you there. What's the use of takin' it out one place and puttin'
it in another?" I grabbed a stick then and killed the snake. Mitch got
pale and began to be sickish and I was scared to death. And we ran down
to the road as fast as we could. Just then a wagon came along, and I
hollered to the man; so he came over and lifted Mitch into the wagon and
laid him down, and we put the snake into the wagon too, for I had
carried it along; and the man whipped up his horses fast so as to get
into town for a doctor.

Mitch's hand didn't swell, but he kept gettin' sicker and sicker, and
was moanin' and about to die; and the man drove faster and faster, for
he said the snake was one of the most pisen. When we got to the square,
Mr. Miller happened to be walkin' along. And the man drew up and said to
Mr. Miller, "Here's your boy, bit by a snake." "What kind?" says Mr.
Miller, all excited. "Here he is," said the man, and held up the snake.
Mr. Miller says: "Oh, fiddlesticks! That's a blue racer, as harmless as
the peck of a chicken." Then he took hold of Mitch and shook him and
says: "Here, Mitch, this is all foolishness--you're just scart; that
snake ain't pisen. He can't hurt you more than a chicken." So Mitch sat
right up and looked at his hand which wasn't swelled. And he says: "I am
pisened, I'm sick." "Oh, shucks," said Mr. Miller. "It's just
imagination. Come into the drug store and get a soda."

Mitch climbed out of the wagon, kind of pale yet, but more sheepish and
went in and drank his soda and began to laugh. And Mr. Miller said,
"Where was you?" And Mitch said, "Down by the mill." And Mr. Miller
said, "Now, listen; you've had a scare, but there is only two snakes
around here that is pisen. One is the copperhead. You can tell him by
his bright copper-colored head and his strawberry body; the other is the
rattlesnake. You can tell him by his rattle. But if you don't be careful
foolin' around in the woods and dreamin' and not watchin' what you're
doin', one of them will bite you. Now look here, you go home and get in
the wood and help around the house." So Mitch says, "Come on, Skeet, and
help me, and for company." So I went and helped Mitch with his work.



CHAPTER IX


After that Saturday that we made garden, we tried our best to get out to
Old Salem on Saturdays, but something always happened, except one
Saturday. One time I had to make garden again, one time I had to help
Mitch make garden, another time pa and ma went to Pleasant Plains to a
picnic and I had to stay and take care of Little Billie, for Myrtle
went, because I had gone with pa and ma somewhere, I forget where it
was, and it was Myrtle's time. Somehow Myrtle was always in my way, but
ma said I was selfish and I suppose I was. Finally on the Saturday
before school let out, we went to Old Salem, taking two shovels and two
picks. We didn't do much, just looked around, and found a lot of
foundations where buildings had been when the village was there, and got
the lay of the land. We left our tools with the miller at the mill. He
said all right, but told us to wait for the next rainbow, and then
follow it up and get a bag of gold. "Never you mind," said Mitch.
"Others have found treasure and so can we." He told the miller we were
digging in the woods, because he said to me if it leaks out we're after
these old cellars and places, there'll be a slough of diggers out here
lookin' for treasure, and they'll get it before we do.

But first after school was out something interfered with our goin' on.
It was this: Robbins' Circus had come to town, and his son, who was
awful handsome, was a bareback rider, and had set the town wild, and
Zueline came to Mitch and made him get up a circus. That took time, for
we had to practice.

We went to the real circus, Mitch and me, and earned the money
ourselves. It was this way: Pa said, "You boys spend so much time
foolin' around about treasures, why don't you earn some money?" So
Mitch's pa made up a lot of pop-corn balls and we sold 'em on the street
and got money that way to see the show. It was the most beautiful circus
in the world--such lovely ladies, and a clown who sang "Never Take the
Horseshoe from the Door."

Then we got to work to get up our circus. Zueline had her Ayrdale and we
cooped him up for a lion; we put the cat in a box for a tiger, and the
rooster for an ostrich, and Mitch caught a snake, and I had my pony to
play Robbins' son, and Myrtle was goin' to be the woman who et fire.
Mitch practiced for the trapeze, and he had to practice a lot, for when
he was 4 or 5 years old, he cut his foot in two with an ax and after
that the toes were a little numb and didn't work as well as they did
before.

Mitch said that in Europe they had a royal box for queens and
princesses, so he built a kind of box for Zueline to sit in, and see the
circus, and draped it with rag carpets and put a mirror in it. It was
awful pretty.

Mitch was gate-keeper and manager. We had some bills printed by Onstott,
the printer, which said "Miller & Kirby's Renowned Circus and Menagerie"
and a lot of things, naming the performers and all that. But I must say
we had our troubles. First Kit O'Brien and his gang came down to break
up the show. He tried to come in without payin', but Mitch settled old
scores this time. He hit Kit a punch in the mouth and knocked out his
baby teeth, which were danglin' and needed to be pulled anyway. He bled
like a pig and ran up the hill hollerin', "I'll get even." But that
settled that.

Then Myrtle burned her mouth trying to chew cotton on fire, and Mitch's
toe went back on him while hangin' from the trapeze. He fell, but didn't
hurt himself much; only the audience laughed, even the princess Zueline
in the box. I rode the pony pretty well, but he was too big for the ring
in the barn, and Charley King who tried to sing "Never Take the
Horseshoe from the Door" forgot part of it, and had to back into the
corn crib which was the dressin' room.

Outside of these things, the show was a success--only this was the day
Mitch began to get acquainted with Charley King and George Heigold,
which was a bad thing, as I'll tell later.

So the circus was over and we took up the treasure again. Mitch said--we
mustn't let another thing interfere. And so we went to work at Old
Salem.

As I said, we found a lot of old foundations and we scraped and dug
around in all of 'em, mostly; and I never see so many snakes. Mitch
could take a snake by the tail and crack his head off like a whip; but I
was afraid to see him do it because there was hoop snakes around, and
their tails is pisen. Nigger Dick told me he saw one roll down hill one
time and just as it got to an oak tree, it took its tail out of its
mouth and struck the tree with the stinger of its tail. The next morning
all the leaves on the tree was withered. That is how pisen a hoop snake
is. Well, of course there was lots of black snakes and they can wrap
you. One wrapped Kit O'Brien once; and he waited till it got itself so
tight that you could see through its skin, then he touched it with a
knife and it bust in two and fell off of him.

Well, we didn't find a thing, though once when we struck some tin cans,
I thought sure we'd hit it.

By and by one day when we was diggin', I looked up and saw an old feller
standin' watchin' us. He was awful old, maybe more than eighty, and he
just looked at Mitch and me and finally said, "Lost somethin', boys?"
Mitch said: "I suppose you might say so till we find it." Then the old
feller said: "I hope you'll find it, for you look hot workin' here in
this hot sun, and you are workin', I declare." Mitch's face was red and
he looked earnest, and I suppose I did too.

I don't know whether the old feller had talked to the miller or what,
but finally he said, "'Tain't likely you'll find any treasure here. It's
all been taken away long ago. Every place is like a mine, it produces a
certain amount and that's all. This place produced great riches, boys,
but it's a worked out place now. It's a dead mine." Then he stopped a
minute and talked to himself a little and looked around and said: "Yep,
this is the foundation of the Rutledge Tavern where Linkern lived. Yep,
I know because right over there is where Dr. Allen lived; and over this
a way was preacher Cameron's house, and here was the road, and down
yonder was Linkern and Berry's store, and back thar was Offets store.
Yep, it all comes back to me now. There was more'n twenty houses here,
shops, stores, schoolhouses, and this tavern; and here Linkern lived,
and I've seen him many a time around here. And I'm glad to see you boys
diggin' here for you might find treasure. Peter Lukins, the shoemaker
had his place just three houses over, right there, and he was a miser,
and they thought he hid his money sommers around here."

"Well," said Mitch, under his breath, "no more cheating to the county.
Law or no law, if we find it there, your pa will never know it. We've
had one experience and that's enough." So he said out loud to the old
feller--"Where is Peter Lukins' place?" And the old feller said: "Climb
out of thar and I'll show you."

We walked over about a hundred yards maybe, and here was another
foundation all full of dead weeds and new weeds, and so grown up you
could hardly see the stones at first, and not a stick of timber left,
except a log lying outside the foundation. The older feller sat down and
began to talk.

"I left this country in '65," he said, "for California, and now I'm back
to Menard County, Illinois, to die and be buried with my people over at
Rock Creek. And I'm goin' about seein' the old places onct again. You
see, there ain't anything left of the village of Salem, but it all comes
back to me, and I can close my eyes and see the people that used to walk
around here, and see Linkern. And I'll tell you a story of a man who
found treasure here."

Mitch looked awful eager and bright-eyed, and the old feller twisted off
some tobacco and began to chew and get the thread of his story.

"It was this a way," he began. "There was a man here who was clerkin' in
one of the stores; and one day a feller drove up and said 'hallow' and
this clerk came out of the store and says, 'What is it?' The traveler
says, 'Here's a barl I have no use for and don't want to carry on my
wagon any furder, and I'll sell it to you.' And the clerk says, 'I ain't
got no use for the barl.' 'Well,' says the traveler, 'you can have it
for fifty cents, and it will accommodate me; and besides I don't want to
just throw it away.' So the clerk says all right, and gave him fifty
cents and took the barl in the store and put it in the corner. It was
kind of heavy too--had somethin' in it--had treasure in it, as you'll
see. And after a few days this here clerk took the barl and turned it
upside down and there was treasure."

"How much?" said Mitch. "Gee, but that was wonderful."

"Well," said the old feller, "you can believe it or not, it was treasure
too much to count. You've heard of a man bein' suddenly rich and not
realizin' it, or havin' somethin' given to him that he didn't know the
value of, and findin' out afterwards. It was just this way."

"Well," said Mitch, "why didn't he count it, right away, or was it
diamonds or rubies?"

"He couldn't count it all right there. It couldn't be done, because it
had to be weighed and tested and tried out, and put on the market; for
you might say some of it was rubies, and to know what rubies are worth
takes experience and time and a lot of things."

Mitch got more and more interested and I did too. Then the old feller
went on.

"But that ain't sayin' that this clerk didn't know it was treasure--he
did--but it was treasure that he had to put work on to bring out all its
value."

"Melt it up," said Mitch, "or polish it maybe."

"Yes," said the old feller, "melt it up and polish it, and put his elbow
grease on it. And nobody but him could do it. He couldn't hire it done.
For if he had, he'd a lost the treasure--the cost of doin' that would
have wasted all the treasure. And this the clerk knew. That's why he
didn't know what it was worth, though he knew it was worth a lot and he
was a happy man."

"Well," said Mitch, "what was it--tell me--I can't wait."

"Books," said the old feller--"two law books. Blackstone's
Commentaries."

"Oh, shucks," said Mitch.

"Shucks," said the old man. "Listen to me. Here you boys dig in the sun
like niggers for treasure, and you'll never find it that a way. It ain't
to be found. And if you did, it wouldn't amount to nothin'. But suppose
you get a couple of books into your head like Abe Linkern did, and
become a great lawyer, and a president, and a benefactor to your
fellows, then you have found treasure and given it too. And it was out
of that barl that Linkern became what he was. He found his treasure
there. He might have found it sommers else; but at least he found it
there. And you can't get treasure that's good that the good of you
wasn't put into it in getting it. Remember that. If you dug up treasure
here, what have you put into the getting of that treasure? Just your
work with the shovel and the pick--that's all--and you haven't got rich
doin' that. The money will go and you'll be where you was before. But if
there's good in you, and you put the good into what you find and make it
all it can be made, then you have found real treasure like Linkern did."

Mitch was quiet for a minute and then said: "Don't you 'spose the man
who sold the barl to Linkern knew the books was in there? Of course he
did. And if he did, why didn't he take the books and study and be
president? He couldn't, that's why. If you call books treasure, they
ain't unless they mean something to you. But take money or jewels, who
is there that they don't mean somethin' to? Nobody. Why there're
hundreds of books around our house, that would do things if they meant
anything. And I've found my book. It's 'Tom Sawyer.' And till I find
another I mean to stick by it, as fur as that goes. One book at a time."

I don't know where Mitch got all this talk. He was the wonderfulest boy
that ever lived, but besides he heard his pa talk things all the time,
and his pa could talk Greek and knew everything in the world.

We sat talkin' to this old feller till pretty near sundown, when we said
we must go. We threw the tools into Peter Lukins' cellar and started
off, leavin' the old feller standin'. When we got to the edge of the
hill which led down to the road by the river, we turned around and
looked, and saw the old feller standin' there still, black like against
the light of the sun. Mitch was awful serious.

"It must be awful to be old like that," said Mitch. "Did you hear what
he said--come back to Menard County to be buried with his folks--and all
his folks gone. How does a feller live when he comes to that? Nothin' to
do, nowhere really to go. Skeeters, sometimes I wisht I was dead. Even
this treasure business, as much fun as it is, is just a never endin'
trouble and worry. And I see everybody in the same fix, no matter who
they are, worryin' about somethin'. And while it seems I've lived for
ever and ever, and it looks thousands of miles back to the time I cut my
foot off, just the same, I seem to be close to the beginnin' too, and
sometimes I can just feel myself mixin' into the earth and bein'
nothin'."

"Don't you believe in heaven, Mitch?" says I.

"No," he says, "not very clear."

"And you a preacher's son!"

"That's just it," says Mitch. "A preacher's son is like a circus man's
son, young Robbins who was here. There's no mystery about it. Why, young
Robbins paid no attention to the horses, animals, the band--things we
went crazy about. And I see my father get ready for funerals and dig up
his old sermons for funerals and all that, till it looks just like any
trade to me. But besides, how can heaven be, and what's the use? No,
sir, I don't want to be buried with my folks--I want to be lost, like
your uncle was, and buried by the Indians way off where nobody knows."

Then Mitch switched and began to talk about Tom Sawyer again. He said
we're the age of Tom Sawyer; that Linkern was a grown man when he found
the books; that there was a time for everything, that as far as that's
concerned, Tom might be working on something else now, having found his
treasure. "Why, lookee, don't the book end up with Tom organizing a
robbers' gang to rob the rich--not harm anybody, mind you--but really do
good--take money away from them that got it wrong and don't need it, and
give it to the poor that can't get it and do need it?"

By this time we was clost to town. The road ran under a hill where there
was the old graveyard, where lots of soldiers was buried. "Do you
know," said Mitch, "them pictures your grandma had of soldiers stay in
my mind. They looked old and grown up with beards and everything; but
after all, they're not so old--and they went away and was killed and
lots of 'em are buried up there--some without names. Think of it, Skeet.
Suppose there should be a war again and you'd go, and be blown up so no
one could know you, and they'd put you in a grave with no stone."

"Ain't that what you want, Mitch?"

"Yes, but you're different, Skeet. And besides, it's different dyin'
natural and bein' buried by the Indians in a lovely place, and bein'
killed like an animal and dumped with a lot of others and no stone. If
every boy felt as I do, they'd never be another war. They couldn't get
me into a war except to defend the country, and it would have to be a
real defense. You know, Skeet, we came here from Missouri, where there
was awful times during the war; and my pa thinks the war could have been
avoided. He used to blame Linkern, but he don't no more. Say, did you
think of Linkern while we were diggin' to-day? I did. I could feel him.
The sky spoke about him, the still air spoke about him, the meadow larks
reminded me of him. Onct I thought I saw him."

"No, Mitch."

"Yes, sir--you see I see things, Skeet, sometimes spirits, and I hear
music most of the time, and the fact is, nobody knows me."

"Nor me," says I. "I'm a good deal lonelier than you are, Mitch Miller,
and nobody understands me either; and I have no girl. Girls seem to me
just like anything else--dogs or chickens--I don't mean no
disrespect--but you know."

By this time we'd got to Petersburg, and up to a certain corner, and
we'd been talking about Linkern so much that a lot of things came to me.
And I says: "See this corner, Mitch? I'll tell you somethin' about
it--maybe to-morrow."



CHAPTER X


The next day as I was helpin' Myrtle bury her doll, Mitch came by and
whistled. I had made a coffin out of a cigar box, and put glass in for a
window to look through at the doll's face, and we had just got the grave
filled. I went out to the front gate and there was Charley King and
George Heigold with Mitch. They were big boys about fourteen and knew a
lot of things we didn't. They hunted with real guns and roasted chickens
they hooked over in Fillmore's woods. They carried slings and knucks and
used to go around with grown men, sometimes Joe Pink. I didn't like to
have Mitch friends with these boys. It hurt me; and I was afraid of
something, and they were not very friendly to me for some reason. But a
few times I went to Charley King's to stay all night. His mother was a
strange woman. She petted Charley like the mother did in the "Fourth
Reader" whose boy was hanged because he had no raisin' and was given his
own way about everything. Mrs. King used to look at me and say I had
pretty eyes and take me on her lap and stroke my head. She was a queer
woman, and Charley's father was off somewhere, Chandlerville, or
somewhere, and they said they didn't live together. My ma stopped me
goin' to Mrs. King's, and so as Charley ran with George Heigold, that's
probably why I didn't like Mitch to be with them, as I wasn't very
friendly any more with Charley on account of this.

These two boys went off somewhere and left us when we got to the square.
And then I took Mitch to see something.

The tables was now turned. I did most of the talkin'--though Mitch was
more interestin' than me, and that's why he says more than I do in this
book. We went to that corner where we was the day before, and I says to
Mitch: "Look at this house partly in the street, and look at the street
how it jogs. Well, Linkern did that. You see he surveyed this whole town
of Petersburg. But as to this, this is how it happened. You see it was
after the Black Hawk War in 1836, and when Linkern came here to survey,
he found that Jemima Elmore, which was a widow of Linkern's friend in
the war, had a piece of land, and had built a house on it and was livin'
here with her children. And Linkern saw if the street run straight north
and south, a part of her house would be in the street. So to save
Jemima's house, he set his compass to make the line run a little furder
south. And so this is how the line got skewed and leaves this strip kind
of irregular, clear through the town, north and south. This is what I
call makin' a mistake that is all right, bein' good and bad at the same
time."

And Mitch says: "A man that will do that is my kind. And yet pa used to
say that freein' the slaves was not the thing; and maybe Linkern skewed
the line there and left a strip clear across the country that will
always be irregular and bad."

"Anyway," said Mitch, "do you know what I think? I think there ain't two
boys in the world that live in as good a town as this. What's Tom
Sawyer's town? Nothin' without Tom Sawyer--no great men but Tom Sawyer,
and he ain't a man yet. There ain't anybody in his book that can't be
matched by some one in this town--but there's no one in his book to
equal Linkern, and this is Linkern's town. And I've been thinkin' about
it."

I says: "There you have it, Mitch. It's true. We're the luckiest boys in
the world to live here where Linkern lived, and to hear about him from
people who knew him, to see this here house where he made a mistake,
though doin' his best, to hear about them books, and to walk over the
ground where he lived at Salem, and more than that, to have all this as
familiar to us as Nigger Dick or Joe Pink."

"It's too familiar," said Mitch. "My pa says we won't appreciate it or
understand it all for years to come."

So I went on tellin' Mitch how my grandpa hired Linkern once in a
lawsuit; then we went to the court house, for I wanted to show Mitch
some things I knew about.

The court house was a square brick building with a hall running through
it, and my pa's office, the coroner's office, the treasurer's office on
each side of the hall. And there was a big yard around the court house,
with watermelon rinds scattered over the grass; and a fence around the
yard and a hitch rack where the farmers tied their teams. And at one
side there was a separate building where the clerks of the courts had
their offices. I knew all the lay of the land. So I took Mitch into the
clerk's office and showed him papers which Linkern had written and
signed. At first he wouldn't believe it. So while we was lookin' at them
papers, John Armstrong came in to pay his taxes or somethin' and he knew
me because him and my pa had played together as boys. He was a brother
of Duff which Linkern had defended for murder, and I tried to get him
to tell Mitch and me about the trial, but he didn't have time, and he
said: "The next time you come to your grandpap's, come over to see me. I
live about 7 miles from your grandpap. And I'll tell you and play the
fiddle for you."

"When can we come?" says Mitch.

"Any time," says John.

"To-morrow," says Mitch.

"Wal, to-morrow I'm goin' to Havaner--But you just get your grandpap to
drive you and Mitch over some day, and we'll have a grand visit." So he
went away.

Then as we was comin' out of the clerk's office, Sheriff Rutledge
stepped up and read a subpoena to Mitch and me to appear before the
Grand Jury in August, about Doc Lyon.

"We won't be here," says Mitch.

"Why not?" says the sheriff. "Where'll you be?"

This stumped Mitch--he didn't want to say. The sheriff walked away and
Mitch says: "Now I see what we have to do. We must clean up that Peter
Lukins' cellar right off and get off to Hannibal to see Tom. One thing
will happen after another if we let it, and we'll never get away, and
never see Tom. I wish this here Doc Lyon was in Halifax."

Says I, "Who wanted to talk to him in the jail, you or me?"

"Why, I did," said Mitch.

"Well, then, you made the tangle, Mitch, and we'll have to stick. For
it's a jail offense to run away from a subpoena, my pa says so, and we
are witnesses, and will have to stick."

"Well, then," says Mitch, "if we do, and the whole month of August goes
by, and school commences before we get off, we'll throw the school and
go anyway. My mind is made up. Dern it, I never dreamed of gettin'
tangled in the law for a little thing like seein' Doc Lyon in jail. It's
awful. Look here, you go to your pa and get me off and get off
yourself."

I knew I couldn't do that, that pa wouldn't do it, and I said so. And
Mitch looked terribly worried. And he said, "Let's go out to Salem and
finish up Peter Lukins'--right now."

The air seemed to sing with the heat, and it was awful hot down in that
place among the weeds. We worked like beavers getting the weeds away so
we could pick into the stones and the dirt. My, it was hard work. And we
hadn't been there more'n an hour when I heard some one cryin' and
hollerin'. We looked over the edge of the cellar and here came Heine
Missman's brother, wringin' his hands and cryin', and actin' like he was
crazy. "Heine's drowned," he cried, "Heine's drowned."

We climbed out of the cellar as quick as we could and ran down to the
mill, for John, Heine's brother, said that Heine had stepped into the
mill race.

"Is the mill runnin'?" said Mitch.

"No," said John.

"Because if it is," said Mitch, "he's all ground up by now in the
wheels."

But the mill hadn't run that day, so if we could get Heine out, we could
save him maybe. John couldn't swim, nor Heine. And John said that Heine
had stepped into the race, thinkin' he could wade over to the dam, and
he went down and down, and then didn't come up any more. John had tried
to catch him by the hair, but couldn't.

We were good divers, both Mitch and me, and finally I dived and got a
hold of his shirt and brought him up. But he was all swelled, and blue
in the face, and was dead. He'd been in about an hour before we got him.

[Illustration: I Brought Heine Up]

Just then the miller came up and saw what had happened. He went and got
his wagon and put Heine's body in it, and we all drove into town; and
finally to Heine's house, where his mother fainted and cried so you
could hear her all over town.

Then Mitch and me started for home. Mitch was awful solemn and said,
"That might have been you or me, Skeet. What does it mean, anyway?
Here's Heine just growin' up, just been around this town with us boys a
few years, and now he's drowned and gone for good. Why, I can remember
when he wore short dresses, and now it's all over, and it looks like
life is just nuthin'."

Then, after a bit, he said, "I have a presentiment."

"What's that?" I asked.

"Why, it's when you know somethin' is goin' to happen."

"Do you mean somethin' 's goin' to happen, to you or me, Mitch?"

"Well, nothin' like drownin' or dyin'," said Mitch. "I don't get it that
way. But I just feel we'll never dig any more at Old Salem."

"But we ain't finished there," says I.

"That may be," he says, "but to-morrow is Sunday, and I've always
noticed that the next week after Sunday ain't the same."

We got to my gate now, and Mitch hardly said "good-by"--just went on
lookin' down at the ground. I watched him till he got up the hill and up
to Tom White's, then I turned in.



CHAPTER XI


Sunday School bothered me terribly, for a lot of reasons. I had to dress
up, for one thing, and in the summer time ma made me wear linen suits,
which was starched stiff by Delia, our girl. They had sharp edges which
scratched. And my hat was too small, and my shoes hurt. And the inside
of the church smelt like stale coffee grounds, and the teacher looked
hungry and kept parting her lips with a sound as if she was gettin'
ready to eat, or wanted to, and she trickled inside like the sound of
water or somethin'. Besides, there was no end to the Bible stories and
the golden texts.

Mitch and the Miller girls went just as if it was the thing to do, and
they didn't seem to mind it. It was a part of their life. But it was a
little different with Mitch after all, for sometimes he didn't go. He
went mostly, but he stayed away if he wanted to read, and his pa let him
alone. Mr. Miller was the best man you ever saw, and everybody loved
him.

It was this way with us children, ma made us go and pa said nothin'
about it unless she asked him to make us go, and then he'd say "go on
now." But he didn't go himself, or much to church either. I never
understood him, he was kind of a mystery.

[Illustration: Sunday school]

Well, on a Sunday in July me and Myrtle was dressed to go and waitin'
for ma to dress Little Billie. It was awful hot and looked like rain,
and my clothes scratched, my shoes hurt; but Myrtle was all quiet and
anxious to go. Little Billie was frettin', like he allus did. He didn't
want to go; and ma was just buttonin' his dress, and had the bowl near
to comb his hair out of. And he kept frettin' and sayin' he didn't want
to go. By and by ma shook him and said: "You never want to go. I never
see such heathen children. None of you want to go." "I do," says Myrtle.
"Yes," says ma, "you do. You're good. But Billie and Skeet make this
same trouble every Sunday." Then Little Billie began to cry worse, and
said his throat hurt him, and ma said, "Let me see." So she looked, and
his throat had white splotches, and she said, "Land of the livin'," and
began to undress him. His head was hot, too. So she put Myrtle and me
out of the room and told us to go and play, and we needn't go to Sunday
School. I changed back to my old clothes and went out under the oak
tree.

Pretty soon the doctor came--Doctor Holland. He drank a lot, but was the
smartest doctor in town, just the same. And he and pa quarreled
sometimes, but they were friends; for pa said Doc Holland meant no harm,
even when he threatened to kill, which he did lots of times, even my pa.
It turned out that Little Billie had the diphtheria and the next day he
was as sick as a child could be, and live. They did everything for him,
even got a kind of a lamp to blow carbolic acid in his throat; but he
got no better. And I never saw my pa so worked up; it showed us what
child he loved the most. He was about frantic and so was ma, and neither
of 'em slept at all, it seemed.

Of course while Little Billie was sick, we dropped the diggin' out at
Salem--I was helpin' around the house. And Mitch said he had no heart
for it. He came onct to see Little Billie and just looked at him and
began to cry and went away. Little Billie was unconscious and didn't
know Mitch.

And grandma came in and helped. She wanted to give Little Billie some
tea she could make from some weeds she'd heard about--but the doctor
said it wouldn't do any good. So she just helped and let ma and the
doctor run it; and the house just smelt of carbolic acid from that
spray-lamp, and Little Billie gettin' worse every day. Grandpa came in
onct, and went in and looked at him, and took his hand, and then just
walked out of the room, and stood out in the yard a bit, and bent down
and picked some leaves and began to pull 'em apart. I went out and said:
"Is he better, grandpa?" But he didn't answer for quite a spell. Then he
said--"The little feller's gone" and walked away.

So one night when he'd been sick about two weeks, it was about eight
o'clock, and all of a sudden Little Billie's eyes opened big. There had
been a lot of runnin' around that day; pa was cryin' and the doctor was
there all day. As I said, Little Billie opened his eyes big, and ma was
settin' right by the bed and pa was standin' there, and Myrtle and me
was standin' at the door lookin' in, for they wouldn't let us in the
room. Then all of a sudden Little Billie said, "Sing somethin', ma," and
she began to sing "Flee as a Bird to its Mountain," without her voice
breakin' or anything; but she'd only sang a little when she broke into a
great cry and pa cried, for Little Billie had died--just in a second, it
seemed. So Myrtle and me ran out-doors and began to cry, and I got down
in the grass and rolled and cried.

So I was lyin' there, lookin' up at the stars, quiet for a bit, and
pretty soon my pa called me, and said, "Come on with me." So we started
down town together to get the undertaker. And just as we got to Harris'
barn, there were clouds way up that looked like gates with the moon
shining between 'em, and I said to pa, "Is that where Little Billie went
through into heaven?" "Yep," said pa, just cold like, hard and cold as
if there warn't a thing to it, and he was half mad at me for askin' such
a question; then he went on: "Some day you'll understand--but life is
just a trouble and tangle. I've been messed up all my life; always
getting ready to do something, never really getting anything done. The
Civil War has made a lot of trouble--trouble and enemies for me, because
I didn't believe in it. And I've had to fight my way through, and work
like a slave and worry about money matters, and I've never found my
treasure any more than you boys have, or if I ever did, something took
it away, like you lost Nancy Allen's money. And now Little Billie is
dead, and I don't care what happens next."

Pa scared me with his talk; and when we got to the undertaker's, he
rattled the door, and old Moore came out, and pa said, "My little boy's
dead, come up," in a tired voice, or kind of hard, or somethin'.

Then there was the funeral. All the Miller children came and Zueline and
her mother, and lots of grown men who knew my father or loved Little
Billie for his own sake; and grandpa and grandma and Uncle Henry, and
John Armstrong drove clear in from his farm--only Mitch didn't come. And
I wasn't there, either, for now I had the diphtheria, too. Only they
told me about it; how Mr. Miller spoke so beautiful, how the tears
streamed down his face, as he talked, and how all the children cried.
And this was two days after Little Billie died, and I was out of my head
and havin' awful dreams.

At first when I took sick, I expected to die, of course, and I thought
about all my life, until I got cloudy and began to fly and talk wild. I
thought about all I was goin' to miss, never to see Mitch again, not to
see any more Christmases; but somehow, I didn't regret anything much I
had done and wasn't exactly afraid. I wasn't sorry about not likin'
Sunday School or anything--only it just seemed that I had never done
anything, or learned anything. We hadn't found the treasure--I had never
had a real friend but Mitch; I never loved a girl. I just seemed to
myself a shadow that had moved around seein' things, but not being seen,
and always alone and lonely, havin' my best times flyin' kites or when I
wasn't with Mitch. I didn't seem real to myself, and it got worse and
worse, until I got delirious and became a dozen boys, doin' every sort
of thing. And first thing I knew, my ma was feedin' me out of a spoon.
I was so weak I couldn't lift a hand. But I had come to and was on the
mend. It all seemed strange to wake up and find Little Billie gone and
remember back. Ma looked worn out and wouldn't answer questions about
Mitch or anything. I had been sick more'n two weeks, and all but died.
By and by I began to mend, and then I could sit up, and one day Mitch
came to see me. It was the first day I was dressed, and had begun to
walk a little.



CHAPTER XII


Ma brought Mitch in the room, and said: "Have a good visit now, for
we're goin' to send Skeet to the farm. He needs it, and I'm worn out.
Your grandpa is comin' on Saturday, and they want you out there for a
while, and it will do you good."

Mitch looked a minute and said: "I'll miss you, but there's nothing to
do here." Then when ma went out of the room, he said: "The jig's up at
Salem. I dug the Peter Lukins' cellar out, and there's nothing there,
and nothing at Salem. So it's us for Tom Sawyer." Then he fished some
letters out of his pocket and handed one to me to read. "This is your
writin', Mitch," I said. "I know it," says Mitch--"But wait, read this,
and I'll show you somethin'." This is what it said:

     "Dear Tom: My name is Mitch Miller, and I live here in
     Petersburg, as you'll see.  My chum is Skeet Kirby, a boy as
     good as Huckleberry Finn, but different, as you'll see when
     you meet him.  But you'll like him.  He's sick now, but he's
     true blue, and when he gets up, we want to come to see you.
     For we've dug for treasure all around here, and as fur as
     that goes, we found some, only the law took it away.  But
     what I want to say is that we know you have things to say
     that is not in your book, not only about treasure, but about
     a lot of things.  And anyway, we want to see you, and the
     Mississippi, and Huck, and your folks, and have a visit.
     Nobody knows that I'm writin' this letter, because they say
     here that you ain't real.  But I know better, and Skeet does,
     and so I've made up my mind to try this letter.  If you're
     real, write me and if you want us to come, say so, and we'll
     be there, if there's a way.  Next to Skeet, I love you and
     Huck more than anybody in the world, barrin' near relatives,
     for I think you're brave and plucky, and square, as anybody
     would who reads your book.  I want to meet Becky, too.

                                                "Your Friend,
                                                "Mitch Miller."

"Well," I said after readin' this, "when you goin' to send this?" "I
have sent it," said Mitch. "This is a copy kept for you to see. Yes,
sir, I've sent it, and here is Tom's letter to me."

He pulled a letter out all stamped and everything--stamped Hannibal,
Missouri, and handed it to me to take the letter out my own self, which
I did, and read:

     "Dear Mitch: It's all right for you to come down here and
     we'll be glad to see you--although you can't depend much on
     Huck for he's in trouble all the time with his pap.  The old
     man is lawin' with Judge Thatcher about Huck's money, and
     Huck ain't had any peace of mind since we found the treasure.
     Don't think I'm puttin' on airs, when I say that this findin'
     of treasure ain't what it's cracked up to be.  You see I
     ain't got my own money either.  Aunt Polly is my guardeen,
     and it's put away until I grow up and have some sense, as she
     says.  By that time, maybe I won't know what to do with it,
     or we'll be dead or some thin'.  You never can tell, and
     everything is so blamed uncertain.  But if I can help you and
     Skeet any way, I'll do it, and so will Huck.  Yours is the
     first letter I ever got, because everybody I know lives here,
     and I'm glad to hear from you.  So come along, and if we
     can't put you up here, we'll get the Widow Douglas to take
     you in.  And maybe if I can get you to give up this treasure
     huntin', which ain't much after all, you'll want to join the
     gang I'm formin'--that is if I really see that you and Skeet
     are the right kind.  I sign myself,

                                                "Your Friend,
                                                "Tom Sawyer."

"There," said Mitch--"how's that? And to show you it's Tom's writin',
I've brought the book along. Look here!" Mitch turned to where Tom wrote
on the shingle with blood, and sure enough the writin' was the same. Any
one could see it; and so Tom Sawyer was a real person, and it was
proved.

Then Mitch said: "Go out to your grandpa's and stay a week. That'll give
you time to get strong again. I'm ready to start now, but you ain't. We
may have to walk miles and miles, and you must be able to keep up a good
pace; for while we can hop some rides now and then, we'll have to do a
lot of walkin'. And then we'll have to sleep in barns, in hay-stacks,
and everywheres on the way, and pick up what we can eat by odd jobs,
maybe."

Says I, "I can get some money. My grandma will pay me for helpin' her.
And maybe I can have a couple of dollars by the time I'm fit to go."

Mitch says: "Charley King has the agency for the Springfield papers, and
he's goin' to divy with me for helpin' him deliver, and that way I can
get some money too. But shucks, as for that, we can turn tricks on the
way for money. All we need is hand-outs, and that's easy."

"Well, then," says I, "let me furnish the money. You just plan things
out and wait for me."

Mitch caught somethin' in my voice, and he said, "What makes you say
that? I'm square. I want to do my share on the money."

"Well," says I, "I don't like to have you goin' with Charley King. It
don't seem the thing to me. His folks don't seem right to me; and he's
older than you, and I'm afraid somethin' will happen. I have a funny
feelin' about that boy and about George Heigold, too."

"Oh, you're just ticklish," said Mitch, "and if you're afeard they can
win me away from you, don't think of it, for they can't, and no one
can."

All this time I'd forgot something. Here we was plannin' to go to
Hannibal in about a week, when it was clear out of the question, for it
was gettin' close to court time, and we was subpoened, Mitch and me, to
testify against Doc Lyon. It was clear crazy to think of goin' to
Hannibal and gettin' back in time. And I'd made up my mind to stick it
out--we couldn't run away for good. And if I had anything to say, I
wasn't goin' to let Mitch slump on that. Here was a chance to get rid of
a awful criminal, this Doc Lyon, and we could help, and it was our duty.
Pa had said so. So I spoke up and says to Mitch, "You've forgot
somethin', Mitch. We can't leave till this Doc Lyon matter is all
fixed."

"It's fixed," said Mitch.

"How?" says I.

"Doc Lyon fixed it his own self. He killed hisself in jail while you was
sick."

"What!" says I.

"Yep," says Mitch. "He's dead and buried, and we're out of the law, and
I say let's keep out. Let's never be a witness to anything again. We
ain't got time till we get this treasure. Do you promise?"

I said "yes."

Then Mitch took my hand and said, "A week from Saturday be down at the
corner where Linkern got the line wrong, and I'll have everything ready,
and we'll go."

So I promised, and Mitch said good-by and left.



CHAPTER XIII


I could hardly wait for Saturday to come, for there wasn't anything to
do. And everywheres in the house I saw somethin' that made me think of
Little Billie. There was his French harp, and the glass bank that Uncle
Harvey had given him; and onct I went into a closet and saw his hat
hangin' there yet, and I kept wonderin' if I had been a good brother to
him always. Of course there was the time I wouldn't let him go when Old
Bender's house was burned down, and that hurt me to think of it. But we
did carry him on our hands, Mitch and me, one time from the river. And
Mitch said he thought I'd been a good brother, and that Little Billie
thought so too. Ma said she just couldn't live with Little Billie
gone--Myrtle and me didn't answer, somehow. And one day I heard her
singin' at the piano--she and pa had joined the town troupe to sing
Pinafore. She was Little Buttercup, and pa was Dick Deadeye, and so they
practiced together. And I always, to this day, think of Little Billie
whenever I hear any one sing "The Nightingale Sighs for the Moon's
Bright Rays." These things always get mixed together and stay mixed, so
my ma says.

Well, Saturday came, and I went down to the square and found my grandpa
on the corner, talkin' temperance to a man and sayin' that he'd seen
slavery abolished and he hoped to live to see strong drink done away
with, that it was sure to come, the questions were just alike; and that
Linkern was against slavery and strong drink both, and if he was livin'
he would be in this new fight. And this other man kept sayin', "you're
right, you're right," and noddin' his head. So when my grandpa saw me,
his eyes grew wonderful kind, and he said, "Son, we're goin' right away.
Go put your things in the carriage. Your grandma is over at the store.
Go over and see her." I went over and found her, and she bought me some
jeans to work in and a blue shirt and some heavy shoes to walk through
the briars and thickets in, and she said, "Now, we're ready. Go and tell
your grandpa." I went back and grandpa was talkin' to another man, about
temperance, and sayin' to him that he'd seen slavery abolished and he
expected to live to see hard drink done away with. I told him grandma
was ready; and he said to go back and tell grandma to go to the harness
shop and wait, he had to come there for a halter, and he'd pick us up
there. I went back and told her and we went to the harness shop and
waited. But grandpa didn't come; and finally grandma said to go out and
see what was the matter, and I did, and found grandpa comin' out of the
bank. It looked like we'd never get started. But he said, "Come on, Son,
we must hurry. It may rain. My darlin', it looks like it." So I thought
we were off at last. And just then a man came up and spoke to him. And
they began to talk and I stood by restless and gettin' tired. They began
to talk temperance, too. And grandpa told him that he'd seen slavery
abolished and he hoped to live to see hard drink done away with. And the
man said it would come; and then they talked about the corn crop and
things, and finally grandpa got away from him and we started for the
harness shop. But when we got up to the big store, grandpa says, "Bless
me, I've forgot my spectacles at the jeweler's." And he turned around
and trotted back. I didn't know whether to foller him or to wait, or to
go on to the harness shop. I decided to foller him to keep him from
gettin' into more talks, if I could. I suppose he stopped or was stopped
a dozen times to talk; and he and the jeweler had a long talk. Mitch and
me never wasted time this a way. I couldn't understand it.

Then we got over to the hitchin' rack, and got into the carriage and
started for the harness shop. Grandma was fussed and began to scold, and
grandpa just laughed and said, "Hey! hey!" and went for his halter. He
and the harness maker had a considerable talk, and at last we got
started.

By this time I was tired clear out and fell asleep before we got to the
fair grounds and slept until we got to the hill where you first see the
farm house. And then when we drove into the lot, my Uncle Henry came to
take the horses. And I wondered and asked, "Where's Willie Wallace?"
"He's gone to work on the railroad. He's a brakeman now," said my uncle.
My heart sunk clear down, for I had expected to go fishin' with him, and
ride around the country while he was haulin' corn. And it made me sad to
think he was gone for good, and maybe at this very minute was in some
noisy, wicked place, like Peoria, with railroad men, conductors and
such. Anyway, he was gone, and they had no one in his place. And grandma
said, "It's a great mistake. He'll get killed, or get into bad company.
It's not a good thing to leave home and your place and go gallivantin'
around the country on the cars." But it seemed he wasn't so far away,
after all. He was on the C. P. which came through Atterberry, and I was
bettin' if we went there some day when the train came through we could
see him in the caboose, or runnin' on top of the cars, or couplin' and
sayin' "back her up," or motionin' to go ahead.

You can bet that grandma started to get me well. I had the softest bed
you ever see, and the best things to eat, and a horse to ride, and we
went visitin' around to the neighbors, and over to old Cy McDoel's who
was dyin' that summer and had been in bed a long while. He was about
ninety. I saw and heard my grandpa say to Cy, "I seen slavery abolished,
and I expect to live to see hard drink done away with." And Cy said,
"You will, but I won't. But it makes no difference. The Lord will have
His own way. Blessed be the name of the Lord." The flies was awful and
every now and then Cy's granddaughter came in to fan the flies off
him--but they came right back.

By Wednesday it seemed I'd been there a month. I had made kites and done
about everything, and I began to think of Saturday, when I'd see Mitch.
So on Thursday I said to grandma that I had to go by Saturday, and she
says, "Your popie said you was to stay all this month. You must get
well, and besides I want you here with me."

I began to see I was in for it, and what would Mitch say? He would be
waitin' for me on the corner where Linkern got the line wrong, and what
would he think? There was nothing to do but to run away or do somethin'
so they wouldn't want me any more. And I didn't want to do that, but I
pretty near stumbled into it. That afternoon I went out into the work
house and there I found all kinds of paint, red, white, blue and green.
So I began to paint pictures. Then I took to paintin' signs. I got a
nice board and painted a beer keg on it with a glass under the faucet
and beer runnin' in it, all white and foamy. Then I painted some
letters, "Billiards and Beer." It was a dandy sign--as good as you see
in town.

There was an outdoor cellar in the yard, and over the cellar a shed that
you could see from the road; so I nailed the sign up on the shed and
stood off and looked at it. I wasn't thinkin'--I wasn't tryin' to do a
thing. But it looked so funny considerin' that grandpa said that he'd
seen slavery abolished and he'd live to see hard drink done away with
too. And I just laughed. Grandma came out and said, "What you laughin'
at, Skeet?" Says I, "At the chickens." "Here," she says, "don't you feed
them poor dumb creatures red flannel again. Have you?" "No'm," I said.
"Well, if you do, I'll flax you," and she went into the kitchen.

That very afternoon a peddler came into the yard. He had an oilcloth
pack full of tablecloths, napkins, towels, suspenders, lead pencils,
laces, overalls, mirrors, combs--a lot of things. And he threw his pack
down and opened it up. Grandpa was carryin' slop to the pigs. It was
awful hot; you couldn't hardly breathe--except when you got in front of
the cellar door. Grandpa had no use for peddlers and never bought
nothin' of 'em, and he kept answerin' the peddler short and carryin'
slop, so as to keep away from hearin' him ask: "Any napkins, any
handkerchiefs, any combs?" Grandpa kept sayin', "Nope, nope, nope." I
was standing there and all at once I saw the peddler glue his eye on the
sign "Billiards and Beer"--so I thought somethin' was goin' to happen,
and went into the dinin' room and looked out of the window. Then the
peddler folded up his pack and strapped it, and turned to grandpa and
said, "I'll take a beer."

Grandpa didn't understand him. He didn't know about the sign, and if the
peddler had said, "I'll take a set of plush furniture," or "Give me a
barrel of coal oil," it would have meant just as much to him. Grandpa
looked at him as if he was crazy. "Do you keep it real cold?" said the
peddler. "What?" said my grandpa. "Why, the beer. Because that's the way
I like it. And come to think of it, I'll take a bucket. It's hotter'n
blazes and my throat is caked with dust."

[Illustration: "I'll Take a Beer"]

Then grandpa thought that the peddler was mad and was mockin' him
because he didn't buy anything, and that the peddler had heard about his
temperance work and was tryin' to be insultin'. So he said, "If you're
thirsty, here's plenty of slops."

So then the peddler flew all to pieces. "Well, this is what I'd like to
know. I want you to tell me. I want to know why you make fools of
people. I want to know what's the matter with me. You won't buy of me,
and you won't sell to me. And I'd like to know what I've done. I'm a
man, the same as you. And you've got beer to sell. And you have no right
to discriminate, even if I was a nigger, which I'm not. I've been
respectful to you, and I don't deserve this here treatment. And I won't
stand it. You've either got the right to sell it, or you ain't; and if
you ain't I'll have the law on you, and if you have, I want the
beer--that's what I want. I speak right out what I think. And what right
have you to put up a sign like that and attract people from the road if
you didn't mean to sell it?" And he pointed to the sign.

"What sign?" said grandpa, comin' around and lookin' up and seem' it.
"Tut, tut," said grandpa, completely dazed like. I run up-stairs and
hid, but I could hear. Then grandma came out and said: "Look here!
That's just a prank of our grandson. It's too bad! It's a shame. Sit
down and rest and I'll bring you somethin'." Grandpa went off sommers;
and pretty soon grandma came out with a glass clinkin' with ice, and
after a bit I heard the peddler say, "Is this blackberry wine?" And
grandma said, "Yes." And the peddler said: "Well, it's better'n beer,
and I thank ye. You've saved my life. And if you advertised this here,
you couldn't make enough of it." Then the peddler seemed to grow bolder
somehow and finally he came back to the wine and he said, "I suppose
your husband don't know you keep this." Grandma says: "There's certain
medicines I believe in--for people that need 'em. And now you feel well
enough to go on your way, and I wish you good luck."

So the peddler went off down the road.

And pretty soon grandma came up-stairs and said: "Your grandpa is awful
vexed. He'd most pull your hair. And you'd better stay here, and I'll
bring some supper to you after a bit, and we'll let this quiet down."

"Well, this is Thursday," says I, "and I'm goin' Saturday anyway. And
suppose I go to-night--I can walk in." Grandma says: "Your popie is
comin' in the morning on the way to Havaner, and you stay and see him.
And if he says you can go, why all right. Or maybe he'll take you to
Havaner with him." A thought went through my head! Why not go to Havaner
and get the lay of the land, see the steamboats and get ready to go to
Hannibal. So grandma brought me my supper, and I went to bed dreamin' of
the steamboats.



CHAPTER XIV


While I was at my grandpa's this time, my Aunt Melissa and Uncle Lemuel
came to visit on their way to Ohio. They lived in Iowa sommers and he
was a preacher and awful smart. He had been married before and his wife
died, and then he married my aunt. My pa said a preacher would never do
without a wife, especially if he was a Methodist. Besides being lonely,
my pa said Uncle Lemuel thought Aunt Melissa would inherit, and of
course the time comes when a preacher can't preach and must either go to
a preacher's home and be supported or else have help from his wife,
because they can't lay up much.

Well, Uncle Lemuel was awful smart. He didn't know Greek or Latin, but
he had read the translations and he knew the Bible from A to Z and he
could sing in a deep voice, and when he preached he made you scared and
ashamed. They petted me a lot--both Aunt Melissa and Uncle Lemuel. They
held me on their laps and stroked my head, and asked me about Sunday
School and whether I really loved Jesus or only just said so.

There was always a lot goin' on when they visited and I sat and watched.
In the first place, when they would come they had a lot of bags, carpet
bags and boxes, and you had to be awful particular of 'em, and the hired
man had to carry 'em to the house and Aunt Melissa would say be
careful, and if he dropped anything, there was an awful scare about it.
This time they got here just before dinner; and grandma had a big dinner
for 'em--lots of fried chicken and mashed potatoes, and you ought to see
Uncle Lemuel eat, and Aunt Melissa, too. You'd almost think they didn't
have food in Iowa.

[Illustration: Uncle Lemuel]

But first I noticed that grandpa always kind of shriveled when Uncle
Lemuel came. His voice was high compared to Uncle Lemuel's, besides he
didn't know so much, not even about the Bible, though grandpa hadn't
read anything else for 50 years except the prohibition paper. Well, of
course grandpa gave up to him the sayin' of grace, and Uncle Lemuel said
it in a voice that made the dishes kind of tremble, just like low
thunder, and we all looked down, except me. I looked out of one eye a
little to see him, and watch my grandma, who was lookin' down of course,
but with a look which said: "this is all very well, but here's the
dinner which I got and which is to be et. There's real things here
before us." Then after grace Uncle Lemuel would tell stories about
darkies and things--no swear words, sometimes kind of a funny point, and
grandpa would laugh, sometimes the hired man would laugh, sometimes
grandma would--not much though. And Aunt Melissa would just smile--she'd
heard it before, maybe. Then grandpa would ask Uncle Lemuel questions
about politics and church and things, and ask him what he thought would
happen. And Uncle Lemuel would talk and grandpa would say, "Yes," "Well,
well," "You don't say so," and things like that sometimes, awful
surprised. And all the time Uncle Lemuel would be eatin', and of course,
bein' a son-in-law, he could have as much as he liked; and they kept
passin' the chicken to him until the bones was just piled around his
plate.

This time they didn't bring their boy Archie. They had just one child,
and he was supposed to be awful bad, but they was givin' him a Christian
rearin' and expected to make a good man of him. My grandma said that one
time when they was here he forgot to say his prayers and sassed Aunt
Melissa when she spoke to him about it, and that Uncle Lemuel made her
get a strap and strop him. Uncle Lemuel stood at the head of the stair
and said to Aunt Melissa, "A little more, Melissa, a little harder." And
so they whipped him good, and after that he prayed and thanked God for
parents that wouldn't let him forget his prayers but made him say 'em.
And onct there was a Dutch boy that came over to play with Archie and
Archie got him out in the ice house and got a rope around his neck and
pulled him up. Archie was playin' hangin' and this Dutch boy was the
criminal and was bein' hanged for a crime. And grandma kind of heard a
noise or suspected somethin', so she came into the wood house and found
this here Dutch boy clawin' at the rope and kind of purple in the face,
and Archie standin' by pretendin' to hold a watch and be the sheriff.
Well, this time Uncle Lemuel whipped Archie with the strap; and after
that they made him pray, and put him in a dark room and kept him on
bread and water for a day. Then they let him out and he kissed his pa
and his ma and said he loved 'em and loved God and was all right now and
would never commit another sin while he lived.

But to come back to eatin' chicken, if you've ever seen bricks piled,
kind a thrown down in a pile around a mortar box, that's the way the
chicken bones looked around Uncle Lemuel's plate; and all the time there
was a lot of talk about the evil of intemperance and the curse of strong
drink, and grandpa said that he'd seen slavery abolished, and the time
would come when strong drink would be abolished too.

Then in the afternoon we generally had singin' and music; and Uncle
Lemuel played the piano and sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" in a
terrible deep voice, and all the rest joined as well as they could. And
then after while everybody would get to cryin' and Uncle Lemuel would
say that beyond the weepin' and the wailin' here there was a land of
pure delight where we would all be. And Uncle Lemuel would put his hand
on my head and ask me if I didn't believe it, and I said yes, I did,
though so far as my thoughts went, I didn't know much about it, and I
kept thinkin' of heaven as a place where dead folks suddently made alive
went around in their night-gowns not doin' very much, except just
smilin' sweet on each other and saying soft words.

Grandma always seemed kind of apart at these times, as if she believed
everything maybe, and approved of it, but kind of as if there was other
things which she had to think of and which kept her from takin' part as
much as Uncle Lemuel and Aunt Melissa, and even grandpa, who didn't have
anything else to do. For grandma always had the meals to get and the
cows to milk, and so much business like that to run; and she never shed
any tears except when she was really sayin' good-by to some one, or
maybe when she'd get to talkin' about some of the children which had
died and which she loved so much.

Of course there was always prayers at night, and in the morning prayers,
and readin' from the Bible, which Uncle Lemuel carried on, grandpa
standin' back for him. And I came in for a lot of talk about bein' a
good boy and man and never touchin' liquor or tobacco, or dancin' or
goin' to bad theaters and such like. And Uncle Lemuel talked to me about
this treasure huntin', for he'd heard it somehow. And he said to me to
lay up treasure in heaven where moths don't come nor thieves; and he
said that riches was nothin' because they could be lost so easy; but if
a man improved his character and learnt things, he couldn't lose 'em,
and no one could take your knowledge away from you, and you couldn't
lose it. And onct, while he was talkin' this away, he was tryin' to
remember the place in the Bible where there was a text he wanted to say
to me, and he couldn't remember the place; and he asked grandpa where it
was and grandpa couldn't remember, for you see grandpa was pretty old.
Grandpa had been kind of dozin' while Uncle Lemuel was talkin' to me,
but he woke up when Uncle Lemuel asked him where that text was and when
grandpa couldn't remember, he says to Uncle Lemuel: "I can't remember
like I used to, Lemuel, and a lot of it has gone out of my mind, which I
remember when somebody says it to me, maybe, but except for that, it's
gone. And sometimes I don't know folks that I've known always, and I
forget my specs, and leave my bank book in the wrong place, and make
mistakes adding up figures; for you see, as the good book says, things
change with us, the grinders become fewer, we lose our teeth; those that
looks out of the window are darkened, and we have to get stronger specs;
and the truth is we become children again, and if we had to live our
life over from that point, we'd have to learn a lot of things over
again, if not everything." And Uncle Lemuel said it was true, and for
that reason it proved God's mercy and love to take people to 'im when
they got this a way and not let 'em go on forever stumbling about in
this sad world.

Well, so it would be after a few days that Uncle Lemuel and Aunt Melissa
would have to go; for they always had important things to do in teaching
religion; and Uncle Lemuel had to lecture, and this time they was goin'
as far east as Ohio. And after singin' "God be with us till we Meet
Again" and prayers and everybody cryin' but grandma, they got ready to
go. Grandpa come up with the carriage and the white horses and grandma
was in the kitchen makin' up a box of lunch--fried chicken and brown
bread and preserves and cake, because Uncle Lemuel didn't like the lunch
counters along the way. And finally grandma came with the box, and Uncle
Lemuel and Aunt Melissa was standin' by the door waitin' and ready. So
she handed the box to 'em and kissed 'em, and Aunt Melissa cried some
more and so they went.

I stood at the door with grandma until they drove off, and then grandma
said to me: "Go put on your boots, Skeet, and we'll go over into the
woods and look for flowers. I need a change." So we did, and grandma
acted like a wild young girl, laughin' and tellin' stories and makin' a
lovely bouquet.



CHAPTER XV


The next mornin' when I got down to breakfast, everybody had et and
grandpa had gone down the road where the tenant was buildin' a fence. So
I took my kite and went way into the middle of the pasture and sent her
up. Then I lay on the grass and watched her sail and drift and looked
over at the Mason County Hills, that seemed so mysterious and quiet and
never ending. By and by I thought I heard somebody callin' me--and there
was. It was grandma. So I hollered back and drew in my kite, and went to
the house. And there was my pa. He looked so powerful, and his voice was
so deep, and he was so full of fun. You'd never thought he was the same
man who was beside hisself over Little Billie. And he was awful glad to
see me, and took me on his knee and pulled out a knife he had brought me
for a present. Of course grandpa wouldn't say anything about that sign
in front of my pa--it warn't the place and didn't fit in. But, anyway,
grandpa seemed himself again. So I sat down and listened to 'em talk.

Before they had got very far my grandpa said he'd seen slavery abolished
and the time warn't far off when hard drink would be done away with. I
was eyein' my pa close, for I knew he drank a beer now and then, and I
wanted to see what he'd say. But he didn't say nothin'. He just looked
calm, and as grandpa went right on talkin', it would have been
interruptin' if my pa did say anything. So he got over that place in
the conversation without any trouble. Later, just before dinner, I saw
grandma give pa a drink of blackberry wine and take a little herself.
She came from a different part of Kentucky from what grandpa did. And
yet they lived happy. It was because she was so smart and like a piece
of oiled leather that bends and don't crack.

Well, as I said, I sat listenin' to my pa and grandpa talk--awful
interesting too. Pa was tellin' about "Pinafore"; but grandpa kind o'
smiled in a forced way, because he didn't believe in shows. But pretty
soon it came out that Joe Rainey had been killed the night before, and
Temple Scott had killed him, which boarded at their house. And so I knew
there was another case. And I said to myself, it's lucky I was here, for
if I'd been in town, most likely Mitch and me would have been around
sommers and been witnesses, and got into another tangle, to keep us from
goin' to see Tom Sawyer.

It was this a way, as pa told it. Joe Rainey was drinkin' and he and
Temple Scott was always the best of friends, but when he was drinkin' he
always quarreled with Scott and threatened him. Then my pa says: "His
threats came to nothin'. He wouldn't harm a child. He's threatened me a
hundred times. I never paid any attention to him. Every one knows he was
harmless."

They were practicin' "Pinafore" at Joe Rainey's house--my pa, my ma, and
just as my pa was singin':

     The merry, merry maiden, the merry, merry maiden,
     The merry, merry maiden and the tar,

all of a sudden they heard a shot, and then another shot, and somebody
opened the door, and there was Joe Rainey lyin' on the porch, almost
dead--unconscious, and bleedin'. And Temple Scott had stood his ground
and said that Rainey had threatened to kill him, and had drawn his
pistol first, and that he shot him in self-defense. My grandpa
interrupted to talk about the sin of drink and what it makes people do.
Then pa went on to say that they searched Joe Rainey's pocket and
couldn't find his pistol; that later they searched the house and his
office and couldn't find his pistol, and the wonder was where it was.
And pa said he didn't believe he had a pistol, at least with him at the
time. But Mrs. Rainey said that her husband had come into the house
earlier in the evening and got the pistol. But pa said that Mrs. Rainey
was too sweet on Temple, and he didn't believe her, and he intended to
prosecute Temple Scott as hard as he could and hang him. Then he said
that this broke up the practicin' of "Pinafore," that Mrs. Rainey was
goin' to play Josephine, but now that her husband was killed, she
couldn't. That they all went home, and that the town was full of talk
over it, and where the pistol was if Joe Rainey ever had one.

Well, Joe Rainey had died about one o'clock that mornin', beggin' every
one not to let him fall asleep for fear he wouldn't wake up no more.
They had give him ether or somethin' and so he kept gettin' drowsier and
drowsier, and finally died in his sleep.

So my pa and grandpa talked till noon--most wonderful talk; and then we
had dinner and grandma told more funny stories than you ever heard, and
had the best time in the world. And after dinner, grandpa hitched up the
horses and drove pa to Atterberry to catch the train for Havaner. But pa
wouldn't take me. He says, "No, sir, you stay here and get well, and
mind your grandma and help her. If you don't, I'll whale you. And I'll
come for you a week from Saturday, maybe."

That settled that, I was afraid. "Well, then," I said, "will you tell
Mitch that I'll be back a week from Saturday?" He said he would, and I
made up my mind to it.

What do you suppose, when we got to Atterberry, there was Willie Wallace
in charge of a freight train which had side-tracked for the passenger
goin' to Havaner. You can't imagine how funny it seemed to see him
talkin' to the conductor and everything; and how funny it seemed that I
knowed him so well, since I had seen him plow and drive a team and all
that on the farm.

"How do you like it?" says I to Willie.

"No more farm for me," says Willie.

"Ain't you afeard? Ain't it dangerous?"

"Yes, it's dangerous," says he. "But look at the pay. And then look at
the fun. One night it's Springfield, the next night Peoria--always
somethin' new."

Just then the passenger train whistled, and Willie got up and began to
motion to the engineer on his train. I went back to the platform and
said good-by to pa. And then we drove back to the farm.



CHAPTER XVI


When we got back to the farm, who do you suppose was there? My ma and
Myrtle. She said she was just tired stayin' alone all the time--that pa
was always away; and now that Little Billie was dead, she couldn't stand
it. She said she never seed such a town as Petersburg was, that she had
half a mind to go back to Boston where she was born and raised. That she
didn't believe there was such characters in the whole world as Doc Lyon
and dozens of others in Petersburg, Joe Pink, and the hoodlums and
roughs, and she was afeard all the time some of 'em would kill pa for
bein' States Attorney. That it was just one murder after another, that
even she'd lost confidence in Mrs. Rainey, who had been her friend, and
couldn't understand the talk about Joe Rainey having a pistol when there
was no pistol. Then she said that's one part of the town; and the other
part was narrow as a knife blade, that they were talkin' of churchin'
Mr. Miller and drivin' him out of the pulpit and for nothin' except
sayin' that God was in everything, and that there wasn't room enough in
the world for anything but God. Sometimes Mr. Miller when he was
preachin', got to dreamin' and would wander way off. He had done this
when talkin' about God and give hisself away--that's what they said. And
what was he goin' to do with so many children and nothin' saved because
he never made nothin', and nothin' to do if he couldn't preach? Grandpa
said, "Well, where does that doctrine put old Satan?" And ma says, "Of
course it puts him out of the world, which I don't believe; there's too
much sin in the world to believe that; but anyway a man has a right to
his opinions without bein' persecuted for 'em."

All the time Myrtle was leanin' against ma, just like a cat, actin', I
thought. She did make me terrible mad sometimes. Grandpa couldn't see
through her. He petted her and went out and saddled a horse and put her
on it and led the horse around the lot for 'bout an hour, right in the
sun. And then she came in and began to honey around grandma and get
things. I saw the game was spoiled for me, and wanted the time to go by
so I could get away, or for somethin' to happen. Then about eleven
o'clock grandma came into the settin' room with apples to peel, and ma
helped her and they began to talk--and it was wonderful to listen, for
it was about Mitch and Zueline. Ma said she'd never seed such children,
such a boy as Mitch, that he would be a musician or a poet like
Longfellow when he grew up; that he was dreamin' all the time and
believed in fairy stories, and made everything real to hisself. Then she
said that Mitch thought so much of Zueline that it was enough to scare a
body; that if anything happened to her Mitch would go out of his head,
and if they was separated it would kill him, and she thought they would
be separated. That Mrs. Hasson thought of takin' a trip, and takin'
Zueline, but was keepin' it quiet. Grandma said it was silly for two
children to act that a way, or at least for Mitch to act that a way.
Zueline warn't doin' anything except just to be Zueline to Mitch--she
wasn't as much in love with Mitch as he was with her.

Then grandpa came in and said we'd all go to Bobtown the next day, that
his spring wagon was done and we'd go over and get it. It was an awful
ways, eighteen miles at least, and we'd have to start by six o'clock in
order to get there and get back, and take a lunch to eat on the way. I
suppose I had heard as much about Bobtown as any place in the world, but
never seen it. It was just in a straight line from the porch at
grandpa's, past Spotty Milt Stith's place, and just in the place between
the woods and where the sky came down beyond. So the next mornin' we was
off--grandpa and ma settin' in the front seat of the carriage; and me,
grandma and Myrtle in the back seat. And ma began right away to talk
about Petersburg, they agreed about hard drink and a lot of things.

But grandpa said that he'd been in the war and had seen two, and he'd
like to see war abolished with slavery and hard drink. He was in the
Black Hawk War, but that wasn't much; but the Mexican War was bad and
warn't necessary, and was unjust, even Linkern thought so, and had
stirred up a lot of hate. And he said the Civil War had left things bad.
It had killed off a lot of fine young men, and herded toughs into places
like Petersburg and stirred up all kinds of hate and bad feelin's, and
made people dishonest and tricky and careless and lazy--and we'd have to
stand the consequences for years to come in politics and everything. And
he said the way to avoid war was the same as a man would avoid fightin'
or killin' another man--you could do it mostly by usin' your mind and
bein' a civilized being and not standin' too much on your pride and all
that. But if you couldn't avoid it, then fight and fight hard.

It was pretty near eleven o'clock and we came in sight of a white
steeple and white houses, right amongst green trees--and sure enough it
was Bobtown. I was so excited I could hardly stand it. And I said: "It's
a downright shame that Mitch ain't here. He never saw Bobtown, and he's
there in Petersburg waitin' for me, and here I am havin' this wonderful
trip." We were just in a little grove, and grandpa stopped and unreined
the horses and fed 'em and said, "We'll have our lunch here." "Oh," says
I, "let's go on to Bobtown first." Grandpa laughed, for he knew I was
wild to go on. But he said, "By and by." So we spread the tablecloth on
the grass and had the lunch--and it was wonderful, fried chicken and
blackberry pie and about everything. Then we drove into Bobtown. Here
was a drug store, and a post-office and a billiard parlor, and a saloon
kept by Porky Jim Thomas, grandpa said; and a lot of white houses, and a
big store, and this wagon shop which was also a blacksmith shop. We
separated now. Grandma and ma and Myrtle went to the store, and grandpa
and me to the wagon shop.

The wagon maker was a big man with bushy hair and he was tickled to
death to see my grandpa. The wagon was all done, all except puttin' in a
few bolts. It shone like a lookin' glass, all varnished up with pretty
pictures on the sides, and the man said it would be ready in an hour. So
grandpa said he'd go to see a man about the temperance work, and I could
go with him or stay around. So I stayed to see the wagon finished.

I hadn't noticed a man sittin' on a bench in the shop and whittlin'; but
when grandpa was gone, he said to the blacksmith, "Ain't that Squire
Kirby?" (they called grandpa squire because he had been Justice of the
Peace onct); and the blacksmith said "yes"; and the man said: "I
suppose he's sincere. I suppose so, but that ain't the whole story. He
gets used by people who ain't sincere, who want law about temperance,
but don't want it about somethin' else. It's a hell of a country," he
went on, "everybody is talkin' about law and about enforcin' the law,
and everybody is breakin' the law himself. Take Porky Jim Thomas, they
make an awful fuss about his sellin' to habituals or anything, and look
at it: who sells Porky Jim adulterated stuff, who allows it to be sold
to him? Are the revenue agents obeyin' the law? No, they ain't. Go right
down the list. Congress don't obey the law--they don't obey the
constitution. Yet they're always talkin' law and denouncin' law
breakers. Do the judges obey the law? No, they don't--they talk about it
and make other folks obey what they say is the law. And everywhere you
go you hear about law breakers from people breakin' the law
themselves--they're all breakin' it, and them that's highest is breakin'
it most--and it's just like ants climbin' over each other--that's what
it's like--and it ain't worth a damn. Look what the city folks do to the
farmers. And take the mine owners--they don't obey the law, they don't
prop their ceilin's and protect their men as the law says. And now
they're goin' to strike over at Springfield, and you hear talk of the
law and they're goin' to call out the guards. And look at me--losin' my
farm through the law--just look anywhere you want and you'll see the
same thing--everybody hollerin' law and nobody obeyin' it himself."

"Lem," said the blacksmith, "you've been mad ever since the war."

"Wal, ain't I got a right to be? Here I was just a young feller and
hated slavery and loved liberty, and I was one of the first to
volunteer. Yes, sir, I went right into Petersburg when Cap Estil was
recruitin' and joined the army and me not more'n seventeen, and all
because I wanted to help free the country and put down rebellion, and
serve God. Yes, that's what a boy says to hisself, 'God and my country.'
You get into kind of a religion. Wal, what happened? They treat a
soldier worse'n a dog--they feed you like a dog and sleep you like a
dog. And they order you in danger worse'n a dog. What in hell are you,
anyway? Here you are, we'll say, with a couple of hundred, and the
captain thinks that by sacrificing a couple of hundred, he can do
somethin', turn a certain trick. It's like checkers, you make a
sacrifice to get into the king's row and come back stronger and clean up
the board. That's how I got it. They ordered us in when it was death to
go, and I got it through the lung, and here I am, no good to this here
day."

"Lem," says the blacksmith, "you talk like a democrat."

[Illustration: Like a Piece of Licorice]

"Wal, I ain't no democrat. I ain't nothin'. How can a man be anything?
Look at what they did. Look at the way the stay-at-homes made money.
Look at the grabs in the country, look at the money scandals, look at
the poor, look at the fellers goin' around in the name of the army
gettin' themselves elected to office. Just look at the country. Look at
me with just enough pension to keep body and soul together, and tryin'
to grub out a little farm. Why, look here, if the next generation knew
what we know about war, how they get it up, and how they get the young
fellers into it, and what it means after they get into it, you couldn't
get 'em into a war. That's the way to stop war. Pass the word along, so
the young fellers that can fight will know what they're a takin' a hold
of--and they won't fight. You can't burn a child that knows the fire.
These here pot-bellies that sit in banks, and these here loud-mouthed
orators that make speeches and say they wished they could go to war,
it's their only regret that they can't go, and die with the flag in
their hands--these fellers, damn 'em, can't make any headway if the boys
are on to the game. And, by God, furst thing you know they ain't anybody
to do the fightin' but the pot-bellies and the orators who want to die
but are too old to carry a gun, and so go around lamentin' their age,
the furst thing you know, nobody is left but 'em to fight. And then
there won't be no war, because they wouldn't fight. They are too
careful of their precious selves, and too afraid of hell, and have got
over believin' in God, or country, except the price of corn and cotton,
and so that ends war. And that's the way to end it, pass the word
along."

So he went on talkin' and the blacksmith was makin' a rod and he took it
out of the forge and put it on the anvil and it sputtered sparks, and he
pounded it around, and finally he took a chisel and cut off a piece, and
I watched it grow from dull red till it got black and looked like a
piece of licorice. So I went and picked it up. Gee! but it just cooked
my fingers, and I yelled. "Thar's your lesson," says Lem--"remember it.
Don't take hold of a hot thing till it gets cold. Thar's your lesson,
remember that as long as you live."

But I was cryin' and my grandpa came in and when he heard Lem talk, he
said Lem had been drinkin', poor feller, and was another victim of the
awful curse of drink. So he took me to the drug store and got somethin',
and by and by I was better and so we drove home to the farm.



CHAPTER XVII


It was only Tuesday, and the days just dragged by. It seemed Saturday
was a year off, when I was to see Mitch. I was out in the front yard
about nine o'clock and all the rest was in the house. My uncle came
along and began to sharpen a scythe on the grinder and I was turnin' it
for him. I was teasin' him to go to the river and fish and camp out over
night. He said it was too hot, and besides we needed another man, and
Willie Wallace was gone, and he couldn't get Bud Entrekin to go until
he'd hauled some corn. By and by he got the scythe sharp and went away
to cut weeds. While I was standin' there wonderin' what to do, I heard a
low whistle and looked over the fence and there was Mitch. He didn't
look very gay. He was covered with dust, had been walkin' since early
mornin'. He scrooched down behind the fence and whispered to me to come
over into the orchard. We got down in the grass by a tree, first lookin'
for snakes, and then Mitch said: "How much money you got?" I said, I
thought I could get two dollars anyway, and he said, "That's bully, I've
got 80 cents and that's enough." "What you goin' to do, Mitch, you're
not goin' to see Tom now, are you?" Says he: "The time has come. Go get
your money and we'll start right now."

He almost scared me, he was so quick and earnest. Then he said, "I've
got somethin' on my mind, a good deal on my mind. The time has come to
go. There's nothin' left but Old Salem, and we can finish that any
time--and let's go now and see Tom before anything else happens. Pretty
soon the summer'll be over, and things keep happenin'. We must go now."

So he made me go to the house for my money. I had to ask grandma for it,
and at first she wouldn't give it to me. She said I'd lose it. But I
teased her till she went to her closet and gave it to me. Then said she:
"You never let a body alone when you start. So here it is, and if you
lose it--you lose it."

I went back to the tree in the orchard where Mitch was. Then we walked
clear to the back of the orchard, clumb the rail fence, walked through
the meadow a roundabout way and came to the road on the other side of
the Tate farm. So here we struck out for Atterberry, so as to walk the
railroad to Havaner. We thought we could make Oakford before night.

When we got fairly started Mitch said, "Something terrible has happened
to me, Skeet--it's terrible."

"What?" says I.

"I can't talk about it now," says Mitch. "By and by I can, maybe. Of
course I'll tell you--I must tell some one. But it's that made me come
out here and see you, and not wait for Saturday. I just had to see you;
and it seemed the time had just come for us to go to see Tom."

I says: "Well, Mitch, you know me, and if I can do anything, you know
I'll do it. And maybe you'd better tell me right now."

"Well," says Mitch, "there's more'n one thing to tell--and both of 'em
had somethin' to do with me comin' to-day. I couldn't stand the town
another minute. I had to get away."

So we walked on and didn't get a lift or anything, and about eleven we
came to Atterberry. We went into the store to get a bottle of pop, and
while we was there, the train whistled, and the store-keeper says,
"That's number 2. She's on time."

You never see such luck. We went out and the freight train pulled in and
there was Willie Wallace. Well, he was that glad to see me. Here he was
with gloves on and a cap with a silver label which said "Brakeman," and
he was the happiest man you ever see.

I began to think what to say. We wanted to ride, but where was we goin',
and did our folks know it? If we told him we was runnin' away to see Tom
Sawyer, maybe he wouldn't let us on the train. So I began to play safe.
I told him Mitch and me was goin' to Havaner to see my pa who was there,
and come back with him to-morrow. Then I took out my two dollars and
showed him, and says, "That's for my fare, and Mitch has money, too."
Willie Wallace says: "You don't need no fare--just crawl up in the
cupola of the caboose, and it will be all right. I owe your grandpap a
lot for what he did for me in times past--and I'll pay part of it by
lettin' you ride."

Then Willie walked away to go into the depot; and Mitch says, "Derned if
I'm not proud of you, Skeet. That was a bully whack--and we've struck it
rich. Our luck has turned at last."

We climbed up into the cupola and took seats, swingin' seats they
was--and we could see all over the country--clean down to the woods
where the river was, and over the fields far away. And pretty soon we
was off, goin' like mad.

"What do you think of this?" says I.

"Why, Skeet," says Mitch, "did Tom Sawyer ever have anything like this?
He never did. And come to think of it, was there a railroad in Tom's
town? He never speaks of one. And nobody ever goes anywhere, except to
Coonville, which maybe was as far from Tom's town as Atterberry from
your grandpa's farm. Say, this is wonderful."

[Illustration: Willie Wallace Lets Us Ride]

And Mitch took off his hat and let the wind blow through his sweaty
hair. It was a wonderful day, and here we was, whizzin' right through
the country, lookin' down on the fields, and goin' so fast that
blackbirds flyin' alongside of us got way behind and couldn't keep up.
Then we could whirl around in our chairs and look through the windows of
the cupola all around the country.

We got to Oakford by and by and looked down on the men and boys standing
by the depot, their hands in their pockets, chewin' tobacco, whittlin',
jostlin' each other, laughin' and all that. Then the conductor came out
of the depot with tissue papers in his hand and gave the signal and we
started off. At Kilburn we did some switchin', put on a car with cattle
in it. And here the conductor saw us for the first time.

He started to come up in the cupola and the first thing he says was,
"Fares, please." "How much?" says I. "Where you goin'?" says he. "To
Havaner," I says. "Where did you get on?" "At Atterberry," I says. I
began to look for Willie Wallace, but he warn't anywhere around. Then
the conductor says, "One dollar." I pulled a dollar out and handed it to
him. Then he turned to Mitch and says, "You goin' to Havaner, too?"
Mitch says, "Yes, sir." "One dollar, please," says the conductor. Mitch
didn't have it--he only had 80 cents. So I gave my other dollar to the
conductor, and he climbed into the cupola and stayed a bit and then
climbed down and went away sommers.

Mitch says, "Well, that about cleans us out. We've got just 80 cents now
between us. I thought Willie Wallace was your friend."

"He is," says I, "but I never met this here conductor before."

"It looks like it," says Mitch. "And now who knows what this will do to
us? Suppose we have to pay our fare on the boat? That means we'll have
to lay over long enough in Havaner to earn the money. One thing
sometimes leads to another."

Just then Willie Wallace came through the caboose, and the train
stopped. I looked out and saw we was alongside a corn-crib--nothin'
else; but we began to back on to a switch, and pretty soon stopped. And
now it was so still that you could hear the crickets chirp in the grass.
It was a lonely country here--flat and sandy. Mitch and I got down and
went to the back platform to see what Willie Wallace was doin'. He was
standin' by the switch. And pretty soon the passenger train came
whizzin' by. And what do you suppose? There stood pa on the back
platform of the last car, smokin' a cigar and talkin' to a man.

We backed up and started on. Willie Wallace came into the caboose. Here
we was in a pickle. If I complained to Willie Wallace about the
conductor takin' two dollars for our fare, I was afraid he'd say, "Look
here, what's your pa doin' on that train goin' back to Petersburg? You
ain't goin' to Havaner to meet him--you're runnin' off--that's what you
are. And I'll put you off here and you can walk back, or I'll take you
to Havaner and give you over to the police." So I was afraid and I began
to edge.

Says I: "What time does that train get to Petersburg, Willie?"

"About an hour from here," says he.

"Where does it come from?"

"Peoria."

"Does it come through Havaner?"

"Why, of course it does; why?"

"Because," says I, "I thought I saw a friend of my pa's standin' on the
back platform."

"Who?" says Willie.

"Well, you don't know him," says I. "He's a friend of my pa's."

Willie didn't say nothin'.

Then I says, "Didn't you see a couple of men standin' on the back
platform?"

"No," says Willie. "I can't be watchin' things like that when I'm takin'
care of a switch and all that."

Mitch looked at me. We knew then it was all right. So I started in on
the money.

"Look here, Willie, this here conductor hit us for two dollars, a dollar
apiece for our fare to Havaner."

"No," says Willie.

"Honest, didn't he, Mitch?"

Mitch said, "Yep."

"Well, he must be foolin'," says Willie, "for the fare is only 60 cents
from Atterberry, and you'd go half fare at 30 cents."

Mitch says, "I've heard about conductors knockin' down, and this looks
like it to me. But what's two dollars? When we get to Havaner, Skeet's
pa will give him that twice over, if he wants it. So let it go, Skeet.
If a conductor wants to be mean enough to cheat a couple of boys, and
the railroad is mean enough to take the money, I say, let it go."

We hadn't gone more'n six miles anyway when the train stopped again.
Willie and the conductor went way up toward the engine, and we was
stalled here for most an hour. It was a hot box or somethin'. And we got
tired and we was as hungry as wolves, since we hadn't et anything since
morning.

Pretty soon Willie came in and says, "She's whistlin' for Havaner." We
curved around by a sand hill and drew up by the depot. The sun was just
above the tree tops. It had taken us hours and hours to come from
Atterberry, and Willie said it wasn't more'n forty miles. We hopped off
and started away.

"Here," said the conductor. "Here's the receipt for your fare." He
slipped the two dollars into my hand with a laugh, and we shook hands
with Willie Wallace and started up town.



CHAPTER XVIII


It seemed sad to part with Willie Wallace at the depot, but things was
changed. He wasn't rollickin' and free no more, but looked serious and
busy. Havaner was a big town, so there was a lot of switchin' to do, and
Willie just said, "Good luck, boys," and disappeared sommers between
cars. Then we started up the street, goin' to the steamboat landin'.

It must have been more'n a mile; and the sun was goin' down now and we
began to wonder about the night. By and by, after inquirin' several
times, we found the street that went to the landin' and hurried down.
Well, here was a river! How could the Mississippi be much bigger? It was
twict as big as the Sangamon, or bigger, and the big sycamore trees on
the other side looked a mile away. And here was a bridge way up in the
air crossin' the river for wagons and people, and furder down a railroad
bridge, and you could look up or down the river for miles. Says I to
Mitch, "How do you like this?" Says he, "Wal, sir, I just feel as if I
could fly, I am that happy." There was lots of house boats on the shore,
where fishermen lived; there was nets stretched out on the sand; and
some wound up on reels, and there was just sloughs of row boats, and a
good many people movin' around, and some dogs barkin', and the sun was
just gettin' behind the woods on the other side of the river.

So then we began to ask when there was a steamboat to St. Louis. And a
man said, "To-night. Hey, Bill," he called to another feller, "ain't the
_City of Peoria_ goin' down to-night?" The feller called back "yes."
Mitch's eyes just glowed. He just stepped aside and I did and he said,
"Now luck is with us." Then I said, "Let's ask somebody else about the
boat, we might as well be sure." Just then a big boy came along, about
eighteen, so we asked him. He was carryin' some fish and was in a hurry,
and he said, "No boat for a week, kids," and went right on. That took
the spirit out of us. So we went to a house-boat and asked a woman who
was cookin' supper and she said she didn't know whether the St. Louis
boat was a day late or not; that sometimes it was a day late, and if it
was, it wouldn't be in till day after to-morrow. Just then her husband
came up and heard us, and he said, "'Pears to me the boat went down last
night. I can't ricollect. We don't pay much attention to the boats,
havin' our own business to watch. But," says the man, "if you go up to
the hotel, they have a time card up there; or I'll tell you, go over
there to the landing, and look on the door of the office, and see if
there ain't a time card tacked up." So we hurried over there, but some
one had torn off the card, and the office was closed. Then we went up to
the hotel.

We could see into the dinin' room and see the waitress girls carryin'
trays and the food smelt wonderful, but it was fifty cents to eat and we
couldn't afford it. Anyway we came up to ask about the boat. There was a
gray-haired little feller standin' behind the desk, and awful busy with
people comin' and goin', and we stood there tryin' to get in a word; but
just as one of us would say, "What time--" a man would step up and say:
"I'm checkin' out," or "Let me have 201 again," or somethin' like that.
Finally nobody was there and Mitch got it out, "When does the steamboat
go to St. Louis?"

The little feller didn't look at Mitch, he looked at me stiddy a long
while. Then he looked at Mitch and back again at me. And he says: "Ain't
you the son of States Attorney Kirby?" He got me so quick I couldn't say
nothin', so I says, "Yes, sir." "Wal," says he, "I thought so. You look
like him. And I believe you boys are runnin' away. I think I'll turn you
over to the policeman."

So I stood there and said to myself, "It's ended--we're done." And I was
so scared I couldn't move. And just then Mitch began to talk, and he
says: "You can't, because we just talked to him ourselves, and asked him
about the boat, and he's gone home to supper, and he knows us and knows
where we're visitin' with my aunt here in Havaner. And if you don't want
to tell us when the boat comes in so we can go down and look at her and
really see a steamboat, all right."

Just then the bus backed up to the hotel and a lot of men got out with
satchels and came hurryin' in and writin' their names in the book and
gettin' rooms and things--and while the clerk was flustered with this
business, we sneaked out.

[Illustration: "Ain't You the Son of States Attorney Kirby?"]

So then we was pretty hungry and we went back to the river, I don't know
just why. But we came to the fisherman's boat again, where the woman was
cookin' supper, and said she, "Did you find out when the boat comes?"
And we said no, but we asked her if we could have some fried fish for a
nickel and she says "yes," and asked us in, and so Mitch and me sat with
the fambly and looked out of the little winder at the river and et all
the cat fish we wanted, with corn bread and onions and things. There was
a baby at the table and his nose kept runnin' and his ma just let it;
and besides there was a little girl with hands as little as a bird's and
black eyes and a pig tail, which made her hair as tight around her head
as a drum; and besides them, two boys and a man who boarded there and
the husband. And we could see the bed to one side and some cots. They
all lived here together, right on the river, with the mosquitoes and the
flies, which was awful. And at supper the man said: "Now ain't it funny
that nobody can tell about the boat! She's comin' in to-night from St.
Louis and will land about 11, like she allus does. And she goes back
to-morrow, or the next day, I forget which. Sometimes she changes her
schedule and don't go back till Saturday--and sometimes they get up an
excursion here to go up to Copperas Creek, and then she don't go back
until that's over. But when she gets in, just ask the captain, and he'll
know for sure."

[Illustration: Looking Straight up into the Sky]

After supper, we walked out by the river. We waited till about eight
o'clock and then took a swim, and I was beginnin' to think where we was
goin' to sleep. But Mitch had decided that. There was a shed near the
shore with the slant away from the river, and Mitch says, "That's the
place. The water moccasins won't bother us there, and the mosquitoes
won't, after a bit, and we can see down the river for miles, and see
the _City of Peoria_ when she first turns the bend down there." So we
got up on the shed and lay down lookin' straight up into the sky at the
stars. It was a clear night and as quiet as a graveyard, only now and
then we heard a voice, or a dog bark, or the dip of an oar in the river.
And Mitch lay with his hands under his head lookin' up at the stars and
not sayin' anything. After a while he says: "Skeet, I told you there was
somethin' on my mind, and there is. There's more than one thing on my
mind, but I'm just wonderin' whether I'll tell you all of it or not."

"Why not?" says I.

"Because about one thing I don't know what I'm goin' to do myself, and
if I talk about it, I'm likely to say I'll do this or that, and then if
I don't you'll wonder; and I believe until I know just what I'm goin' to
do, I'd better keep still. And as far as that goes, this goin' to see
Tom Sawyer might have something to do with it. We might not come
back--or get back in time for this thing that's in my mind. Although it
don't take long to come back. And so, considerin' everything, I decided
I'd take a chance, for we must see Tom Sawyer, Skeet; it must be and it
has to be now. You see I'm a little mixed up after all; and ain't grown
folks mixed up? I never see anybody more mixed about what to do than my
pa sometimes. But I'll tell you this much, Skeet, we wouldn't be here
to-night, and we wouldn't be on our way now to see Tom Sawyer if it
warn't for one thing."

"What's that?" says I.

"Zueline," says Mitch. Then Mitch began to shake, and I knew he was
cryin', and he took his hands from under his head and put them over his
eyes, and everything was so still it scared me. Then Mitch quit shakin'
and took his hands off his eyes and looked straight up and was still for
a long while. I couldn't guess what was the matter. Had Zueline died,
maybe, or gone visitin', or quarreled with Mitch? So after a bit I says:
"Well, Mitch, you know me--I'm true blue, and I'll stand by you, and if
you want to tell me, just tell me, and I'll never peach as long as I
live."

So Mitch says: "Well, Skeet, I have a different feelin' toward you from
what I have towards Zueline. You see I don't want to protect you, or
take care of you, and of course I'd fight for you, or help you any way I
could. But it's different with Zueline--I'd die for her, and sometimes I
want to, specially if she'd die at the same time, and our funerals could
be together and we could be buried in the same grave. I have the same
feelin' about her that I have when I look at them stars, I just get full
in the throat, and don't know what I am or where I am, or what to do."

"Well," says I, "I know that, Mitch, leastways I suspicioned it--or
somethin' like it, from the way you always treated Zueline, but tell me
what in the world has happened."

"The worst has happened," says Mitch. "They've taken her away from me."

"How do you mean?" says I.

"Well," says Mitch, "the day before I came out to the farm to get you,
Mrs. Hasson came over to see ma. I was out in the yard gettin' some
kindlin' for the wood box, and I saw Mrs. Hasson coming. She never comes
to see ma, and I wondered what it could be about. So I went up-stairs
and looked down into the settin' room through the pipe-hole in the
floor and heard everything they said. And this is about it.

"Mrs. Hasson began by sayin' to ma: 'I think you have a very remarkable
boy, and I don't want to see any harm come to him, and so I've come over
here, Mrs. Miller, to talk about your boy and Zueline.' 'What's the
matter?' says ma, in a scared way. 'Nothing,' says Mrs. Hasson, 'except
I never see a boy of his age so attached to a girl, so in love with
her,' she says, 'for that's it; and it won't do.' And ma says, 'I never
noticed it. Of course I knew they played together and was little
sweethearts like children will be. All the children play together just
like lambs, as you might say.' 'Well,' says Mrs. Hasson, 'they are
lambs; Zueline is a lamb and so is Mitch. But it's clear out of the way
for children to have such a deep feelin' for each other--it scares me.
And while I don't think Zueline feels exactly the same way, it's not the
thing for a girl of twelve to be so much taken up with a little boy; nor
for a little boy to be so completely absorbed in a little girl. So I've
come over to tell you that we must work together to separate 'em; and to
begin with, I'm goin' to take Zueline away for a visit, and that will
help to break it, and by the time she gets back, it will be over or
nearly so; and if it ain't, we must work together to keep them away from
each other. Zueline can't come here any more; and Mitchie mustn't come
to our house, and they mustn't go to parties where they meet.' So ma
said she thought so too."

Here Mitch grew still and he began to shake again, and I just lay there
and looked at the stars and waited. Finally Mitch started again:

"Skeet, when I heard this, I grew cold all over--my whole body got
prickly, my brain began to tingle, the sweat started out on my face, I
was just as weak as a cat. I just rolled over on my back as if I was
dead. It was just the same as if you said to a feller: 'you have just a
minute to live.' I lay there and heard 'em talk about church and a lot
of other things, and then I heard Mrs. Hasson say she had to go, and I
heard her walk out, and down the walk, and I heard the gate click. She
was gone. The thing was done. I had lost Zueline. And I'll never get
over it. It don't make no difference if I live to be a thousand years
old, I'll never get over it. I'll never love any one else; I'll never
feel the same again. And when I went down-stairs and began to carry in
the kindlin', ma came into the kitchen. And after a bit she said:
'Mitchie, I want you to do a lot in school this fall and winter. I want
you to put your mind on it, for I think you're goin' to be a man in the
world and I want you to get ready. And you mustn't waste so much time on
Zueline. She's just a little girl and you're just a little boy; and she
seems awful pretty to you now, but she ain't really pretty. She won't be
a pretty woman. I can see that now, but you can't. She's goin' to have
more or less of a hard face like her mother. And if she was the girl for
you, and I could see it, I wouldn't say this. But I know she isn't. She
won't be good enough for you. And, besides, this boy and girl business
is all foolishness and you must stop it. I've already told Mrs. Hasson
that I think it ought to be stopped.' Do you see how good ma was? She
wanted me to think it was her and not Mrs. Hasson that was interferin'.
But I was cold all through, and turned to stone like. My eyes felt hard
and tight like buttons, and I laughed--Yep, I really laughed, and said
to ma--'All right, ma. I'll obey you.' And she says: 'You're a good boy,
and I love you most to death.' So then I couldn't sleep that night, and
the next mornin' I started early for the farm, to get you to go now to
see Tom Sawyer; for when a thing like this happens, the only thing to do
is to go away, just as fur as you can."

Mitch had been talkin' slower and slower, and finally he gave a kind of
long breath, and I knew he was asleep. I crawled to the edge of the roof
and looked out at the river, at the red lanterns on the bridge which was
reflected in the water, at the river, which I could see movin' like a
tired snake, at the dark woods across the river. Then I slid back near
to Mitch and fell asleep too.



CHAPTER XIX


Something woke me up. I don't know what. I didn't know where I was at
first. There wasn't a sound except a dog barkin' way off. Mitch was
sound asleep. Pretty soon I thought I heard somethin' way down the
river. I kept lookin', past the bridge where the red lanterns hung, way
down into the darkness of the river, between the woods. And all of a
sudden I saw two lights, then more lights, then fire shot straight up
from smokestacks. It was a steamboat. It must be the _City of Peoria_,
from St. Louis.

I shook Mitch and got him to. He rubbed his eyes, then jumped up sudden
and strong. He stood up and looked. "Skeet," he says, "there she is. Who
knows Tom Sawyer may have seen her this week or last week? Tom Sawyer
may have been on her. What would you think if Tom Sawyer was actually on
her, takin' a trip? For he can go anywheres he wants to, havin' as much
money as he has."

So we stood up and watched her. And pretty soon we could hear her puff,
and see all the lights and see the fire and the sparks shoot out of the
smokestacks; and as far as I could see, there wasn't no one but Mitch
and me watchin' her and waitin' for her to come in. It seemed she'd
never get in. She puffed and blowed. The current must have been awful
strong. By and by we thought we could hear voices on her; we could hear
the bell. And finally she came under the bridge, blowin' smoke and
noise right against the floor of the bridge with a louder noise. That
was about a half a mile away, it seemed. And pretty soon then she swung
to right opposite the shed where we was, and nosed in. They threw down a
gang plank and the men began to work, niggers and such. We went down and
watched 'em. The captain came along, and Mitch says to me, "Now we got
to find out about the boat, and we've got to get a job on her and work
our way. We must hang on to our money as long as we can." So Mitch went
right up to the captain and says: "Can we get a job on this here boat,
me and my chum?"

The captain says, "What can you do?"

"We can do anything," says Mitch.

"Can you peel potatoes, and carry water, and wait on table?"

"Yes, sir," says Mitch.

"All right," says the captain. "You're hired; ten cents a day and board.
Report in the mornin' at six o'clock."

"I'm ready now," says Mitch.

"Report in the mornin'," says the captain.

Then Mitch says: "Why can't we go on board now, and go to bed and be
ready when six o'clock comes?"

Just then he began to holler at some niggers carryin' some boxes, and he
said to us, "Get out of the way there." We stepped aside, and the
niggers got between us and the captain, and when they was past the
captain had disappeared. We couldn't see him nowheres. There was a man
standin' there, a kind of boss, it seemed. So we asked him when the boat
was goin' back to St. Louis, and he said to-morrow at noon. Then another
boss spoke up and said, "No, we're goin' up to Copperas Creek, back
Saturday." "Who says so?" "Well, that's the talk." "You didn't get that
from the captain." "No, but that's the talk."

"Gee," said Mitch, "what wouldn't you give to sleep on her? We could
sleep on the deck. Let's wait and ask the captain."

We waited around for about an hour. But the captain didn't appear. Then
Mitch says: "Come on, Skeet, we're hired, we belong on this boat, we
have a right to get on her, let's climb around there up to the deck."

So we watched so nobody could see us. We climbed around, up the poles,
over the railing, and got on to the deck. It was way off toward the bow
and nobody was there. We looked at the river a bit. Things got quieter
and quieter. Finally we lay down on the deck and fell asleep.

[Illustration: Susie Skinner]

And pretty soon I began to feel it was gettin' daylight. I didn't sleep
very well. And by and by I felt somebody nudgin' me, and I opened my
eyes, and there stood a man in a white apron with a white cap on. And he
says, "Here, what you doin' here? You ain't got no right on this boat."
He nudged Mitch, and Mitch woke up. Then the man said, "Where do you
boys belong? Did you get on at Bath, or Beardstown?"

"We got on here," says Mitch. "We're hired. The captain hired us to peel
potatoes and carry water, and we're here ready to work."

"You are, are you?" says the cook, for it was the cook. "Well, then,
come along. It's half past five, and time to go to work."

He took us to the kitchen and set us to work. First we both peeled
potatoes. Then he set us doin' all sorts of things, carryin' dishes,
bringin' his terbaker, and I had to carry water; and finally he made me
wipe dishes which a girl was washin'. And such a lot of swearin' you
never heard in your life. The cook was singin' a song which went
somethin' like this, as far as I can remember:

     There was a little girl, and she lived with her mother,
     And the world all over couldn't find such a nother,
     Tum-a-ter-a-um-a lida bugaroo,
     Tum-a-ter-a-um-a lida bugaroo.

     She had hair on her head like thorns on the hedges,
     And the teeth in her jaws was a set of iron wedges,
     Tum-a-ter-a-um-a lida bugaroo,
     Tum-a-ter-a-um-a lida bugaroo.

And he was throwin' things into the skillet and callin' to the girl who
was washin' dishes. She wore slippers that slipped back and forth on her
feet; her apron was twisted; her hair was twisted in a little knot; she
had on a brass ring, and he called her Susie. Then he'd sing:

     There goes Susie Skinner,
     How in the hell you know?
     I know her by her apron strings,
     And her shoe strings draggin' on the floor,
     Gol dern her,
     And her shoe strings draggin' on the floor.

By and by breakfast was ready, and Mitch and me could hardly wait. We
couldn't eat till all the passengers was served, for they made us go in
and take away the soiled dishes. And so when it came our turn, we just
pitched into the liver and potatoes and the pancakes.

And it must have been about half past ten, and hot. It was hot like the
sun under a burning glass, and the river smelled and the dead fish. Only
a little breeze began to stir after a while, and then it was better. We
had nothin' to do now, and stood by the railin' lookin' at the kids on
shore. "Don't you bet they wish they were here?" said Mitch. "Well,
we've struck it, at last, and by Saturday, we'll see Tom Sawyer, and
tell him all about our trip."

I began to hear the sound of a fiddle, and a lot of laughin'; so Mitch
and me edged around the deck till we got toward the front right under
the little cupola where the wheel was, where the captain stood when the
boat was runnin'. And there sat a lot of men, the captain and several
others, with some glasses and beer bottles; and a white-haired man, his
name was Col. Lambkin, with his mustache curled and waxed up and all
white too, was dancin' as nimble as a boy. This fiddler was playin'
somethin' awful devilish and quick, and the rest was pattin' their hands
and feet while the old feller was dancin'. He was dressed in a fine,
tight fittin' coat and had on varnished shoes, and a panama hat with a
string buttoned into his lapel so his hat wouldn't blow away; and a
diamond in his necktie, and one on his hand that I could see glitter as
he danced.

We got up closer, and the captain saw us and said: "Come over here now
and do a jig--come on."

The fiddler stopped playin' and looked around. It was John Armstrong.
First he looked at me, then he looked down at the floor, kind a funny
like, and then he raised his eyes and looked at us again. We just stood
there, not knowin' what to do. Then John said: "Wal, boys, when did you
come?"

[Illustration: And There Sat a Lot of Men]

The captain said, "Do you know them kids, John?" John says: "Come over
here, boys, and I'll introduce you to the captain." We walked over. John
said: "This here is preacher Miller's boy over at Petersburg. And this
here is the son of States Attorney Kirby. You know Hardy Kirby." The
captain said "Yes." John went on, "Of course you do." And then the
captain says: "I hired 'em to peel potatoes; they're goin' to St. Louis
with me." "Is that so?" said John. "Well, they're good boys, and of
course you'll fotch 'em back when you get through with 'em." "I don't
know," says the captain, "I may sell 'em in St. Louis--or adopt 'em. I
ain't got no boys of my own, and if they prove all right, good workers,
I may keep 'em for good." John laughed. Kept laughin' at everything that
was said. And finally they drank more beer and all talked together; and
the old feller that was dancin' sat down, lit a fine cigar, and began to
tell about New York. It turned out he was the fish commissioner and
lived in Havaner; but he had traveled everywhere and was a regular
gentleman. And finally he says to the captain--"Sing the 'Missouri
Harmony.'" "I will," says the captain, "if John'll play the tune." So
John played it and the captain sang.

I forgot to say that I can't remember nothin', or commit anything to
memory. But I never see such a boy as Mitch. He could learn anything,
and that's how I happen to write these songs down here. He wrote 'em out
for me afterwards and handed 'em to me. Well, this is what the captain
sang:

     When in death I shall calm recline,
     O bear my heart to my mistress dear.

     Tell her it lived on smiles and wine
     Of brightest hue while it languished here.

     Bid her not shed one tear of sorrow,
     To sully a heart so brilliant and light,

     But balmy drops of the red grape borrow
     To bathe the relict from morn till night.

He sang it in kind of a sing song. Then John kept tellin' stories and
fiddlin'; and finally he struck up a tune that was more lively than
any, and the white-haired gentleman got up and danced faster and
gracefuler than ever. Then John told a story. Everybody was laughin'. By
this time the captain had Mitch on his knee, and you never did see such
fun and good friendship; and a man who'd been keepin' quiet except for
laughin' pulled me over to him and said, "You look like your dad. Your
dad is the best man in this county, the best lawyer and the best friend.
You be as good as your dad, and you're all right." I said, "Yes, sir,"
and was almost too happy to live.

Then the party kind a broke up. The old gentleman was talkin' to a fat
man, who was pretty full of beer; and John was talkin' to the captain.
Mitch and me just sat there and watched. Then I heard John ask the
captain, "When you goin' to pull out?" "Not till Saturday," said the
captain. "To-morrow or next day we may pull up to Copperas Creek; but we
won't go back till Saturday." "Wal," says John, "is that so? Not till a
Saturday?"

Mitch and me thought it was time to start to help with the dinner. So we
went away and the party seemed to break up. We got the potatoes peeled
and finally everything was cooked and all ready, and we was about to
help wait on the table as before, when one of the waiters came in and
said, "The captain wants to see you, boys." So we went in and there was
the captain at his own table with John and Col. Lambkin, and all the
rest of the men just ready to eat. And the captain says, "Here, boys,
come and sit here with us." So then we were at the captain's table, with
the waiters waitin' on us and lookin' kind of funny to see what had
happened and wonderin' why.

And at the dinner table John says: "Why don't you boys come home with
me, and then come back here a Saturday, and catch the boat? You must
visit me some time and why not now? There never was a better time."

The captain says: "That's the thing to do, boys. We're goin' up to
Copperas Creek and there ain't a thing in that. And you can go over and
have your visit, and John will bring you back. Your job will be waitin'
for you, and I promise you I'll take you to St. Louis and back to
Havaner."

"No," said Mitch, "we'll stick to our jobs." Then the captain says,
"You're fired till Saturday. I won't have you around till Saturday.
There's goin' to be an Odd Fellows' Excursion, and it's no place for
boys, and so you can make the best of it."

Then John said, "That's the thing to do, boys. I'll play the fiddle for
you; Aunt Caroline will be glad to see you, and we'll have a good time."

Mitch looked disappointed, but there we were. We couldn't stay on the
boat, there was nothin' to do in Havaner, so we gave up.

And by and by we left the boat, saying good-by to the captain, and went
with John over into town, and down to the court house to get his team to
go home.



CHAPTER XX


John went to the rack to untie his horses and Mitch and me was standin'
off waitin' to get in the wagon. Mitch said in kind of a low voice,
"This don't seem right to me. I've got a kind of feelin' we'll not come
back; that we'll miss the boat or somethin'. I feel a little as if we're
being tricked."

I said, "No, Mitch, how can it be? You don't think John Armstrong came
on purpose to the boat to catch us, do you?"

"No," said Mitch.

"He couldn't know we're on the boat. Well, then, where's the trick?"

Said Mitch, "Well, he knows our pas, he knows we'd started for St.
Louis, and maybe just as a good turn to our pas, he fixed it with the
captain to get us off the boat and bring us to his house."

Says I, "That can't be, Mitch. In the first place, he's wanted us to
visit him for a long while, and in the next place, what'd be the use of
him interferin' this way and takin' us to his house? He knows we could
steal out of the window to-night, or walk away to-morrow mornin'. It
ain't only six miles from his house to Havaner, and we can be back here
by Saturday in spite of anything."

Mitch says, "Yes, but suppose he telegraphs or somethin' to our folks,
and they come and get us."

"Well," says I, "if we see any sign of that, we'll sneak. Besides, John
don't know enough to telegraph. He never telegraphed in his life. And
the mail is too slow. I tell you what let's do, let's stay with John
to-night and to-morrow after dinner wander off and come back here."

"That's it," said Mitch. "That is what we'll do. But anyway you take it
the jig's up if they want it to be. Because they could catch us on the
boat if they wanted to. John knows we're goin' on the boat, and if he
peaches, why, we're caught."

John backed up the horses and we got in and so started off. Then Mitch
began to feel John out. As we passed the depot he says: "I suppose you
don't want to telegraph Aunt Caroline (that was John's wife) that we're
comin' and you've got company."

"Telegraph," says John, with a chuckle and a giggle. "Why, I never sent
a telegram in my life, and besides Aunt Caroline always has enough to
eat, and we have two spare beds, so what's the use of wastin' money on a
telegram?"

I nudged Mitch. A part of the way to John's we went along the edge of a
place where nothin' growed at all. There wasn't a weed or a tree. John
said it was the Mason County desert, and onct he got over in there and
got lost, that there wasn't a livin' thing in there, and not a crow ever
flew over it.

And then we came to Oakford--not as nice a town as Bobtown, the houses
not so white, and not the same well-kept look. But John had a fine
house, not very big, nice and comfortable with a big yard, and a brick
walk and flowers. It was right at the edge of town and his farm went way
off clear to the woods.

Aunt Caroline just said howdy and smiled and went into the kitchen; and
John went to the sink and washed out of a pan and we did, and then we
had supper; the most jellies I ever saw, and wild honey, and cold ham,
and fried chicken, and several kinds of bread, and cake and berries and
cream. So after that Mitch and me was about caught up on meals. John
talked all the time at supper and swore a good deal, about every other
word, not the worst swearin', but regular swearin'; and he kept tellin'
one thing and then another about folks around the country, things that
had happened. But all the time Aunt Caroline just set there and et and
never said a word.

After supper John said he'd go over and get Vangy to play the organ and
keep time for him. Says he, "You can't fiddle without a organ or
somethin' to keep time. That warn't no fiddlin' on the boat." So John
went out and that left us with Aunt Caroline, and she just cleaned up
the dishes awful nice and orderly, but never said nothin'--not a word.

John was gone at least half an hour. He came in then and said Vangy
would be over, then he went to a trunk and got out a Bible, and showed
it to us. And says he, "Linkern read out of this, by God." That was the
swear word he kept usin', and I don't like to use it, and won't again.
But when I say John swore, you'll know what I mean. "Yes, sir (swear
word), this is the Bible. It belongs (swear word) to old Aunt Sarie
Rutledge (swear word), and I borrowed it off'n her to show your pa one
time and never hain't took it back. Aunt Sarie is a relative of Jasper,
the Sheriff (swear word)." So he put that back. Then he showed us a
picture of Duff, his brother, which Linkern defended for murder, and a
picture of one of the jurymen what let Duff off, and a picture of his
mother's brother what was the greatest fiddler ever in the county. And
he showed us Duff's discharge from the army which Linkern wrote, and a
badge which Linkern had given to his mother onct. So then I said to
John, "Did you ever see Mr. Linkern?"

Said John, "Lots of times (swear word). I heard him make a speech over
at Havaner against Douglas. Douglas warn't there, but it were agin him
(swear word)."

Then Mitch said, "How did he look?" "Wal (swear word)," says John, "he
was just sottin' on the platform and he looked like he didn't have no
sense, kind a dull; and his legs was so long that his jints stuck up
above his ears like a grasshopper with his jints above his back. But
when he got up to talk, he changed. His face got lively like, and he
took everybody right off their feet."

So I, bein' the States Attorney's son, was interested in Duff's case,
and I asked John if he heard the trial.

"No, sir," said John, "I didn't. I had the ager and couldn't go. You see
he warn't tried at Havaner, but down at Beardstown, and the only time I
went thar was when I went to see Duff with my mother, while Duff was
thar in jail."

"Did you see him?" asked Mitch. "Yes (swear word)," said John, "he was
thar. He was sottin' thar, him and another feller. Thar they was in
jail. And I said to Duff, 'What's he in thar fur?' Said Duff: 'Stole one
of them Shanghai roosters (swear word) wuth five dollars; stand on thar
feet and pick corn off'n a table like that.'"

"How long was Duff in jail?" asked Mitch.

"Well, sir (swear word) he must have been thar most of the fall. I don't
recollect; and then they had the trial and Linkern cleared him with a
almanac."

"How's that?" says I.

"Wal (swear word), they was witnesses that swore they seed Duff hit this
feller with a sling-shot, and they seed it because the moon was bright
right at the meridian. And Linkern got every witness to go over it again
and say the moon was at the meridian, and that's why they seed Duff hit
this feller with a sling-shot; and after Linkern had got it all clear by
cross questionin' these witnesses, then he pulled out a almanac, and
says to the judge and the jury, 'Look here.' They looked and saw that
the moon warn't at the meridian, but was a settin' (swear word); and so
they couldn't have seed Duff hit him with a slung-shot. And Linkern put
a feller on the stand and axed him 'Did you ever make a slung-shot?'
'Yes,' says he. 'Tell me how,' says Linkern. 'Wal,' says he, 'I took a
egg shell and sunk one half of it in the sand; then I melted some zinc
and lead and poured it into the egg shell, and made two of these; then I
took a old boot and cut out some leather and sewed the leather around
these two halves with squirrel's hide; then I made a loop for the wrist
of squirrel's hide'; and then Linkern says, 'Look at this.' He handed a
slung-shot to the feller; and says, 'Take your knife and rip it open.'
So he did, and there fell out the two halves molded in this here egg
shell, and so the slung-shot belonged to this feller and didn't belong
to Duff at all. And they had found it thar where the fight was; but
every one fit that night (swear word). You see they were a-holdin' a
camp meetin', and about a mile off thar was a bar where they sold
drinks, and they'd go and get religion a little (swear word), and then
go and get some drinks, and so on back and forth, and so they fit. And
this here feller that was killed and Duff fit here onct right in
Oakford, because he pulled Duff off'n a barl where he was sleepin', and
Duff got up and whooped him."

By this time Vangy came in. And Mitch was in the best of spirits. I
never heard him laugh so much.

Vangy sat down to the organ, and John tuned up his fiddle, and they
started. Aunt Caroline came in then and sot down and began to knit, but
didn't say nothin'. John just drew a few times with his bow and then he
said: "This here is called 'Pete McCue's Straw Stack,' named after old
Peter McCue who lived down by Tar Creek. They had a dance thar and the
fellers hitched their horses clost to a straw stack in the lot and when
they came out the horses had et all the straw stack up. So they had been
a playin' this here tune and after that they called it 'Pete McCue's
Straw Stack.'"

Then John played it, tappin' his foot, and Vangy just made the organ
talk. She was as thin as a killdeer, and looked consumptive, but she
knew how to play the organ, you bet.

Then John began to laugh and he says, "Thar was a feller over near Salt
Creek named Clay Bailey, that tried to play the fiddle, but he never
played but one tune, and they called it 'Chaw Roast Beef.' He warn't a
very big man, but round chested and stout, and he came here onct when
Porky Jim Thomas was runnin' a saloon here, before he moved to Bobtown.
Wal, this here Clay Bailey was in thar havin' some drinks with the boys,
and all at onct a feller came in with his coat tail all chawed off, and
lookin' pretty blue and he said a bull dog had come fur him. Clay would
fight anything. And so he says to the stranger, 'You buy the drinks, and
I'll go out and whoop the bull.' 'All right,' says the stranger. So he
bought the drinks and Clay went out, follered by the hull crowd. The
bull belonged to one of the Watkinses and was in a wagon watchin'; so
Clay went right up to the wagon and the bull jumped for him. Clay caught
him by the ear and held him off with one hand and pounded him over the
heart with his fist, till the bull gave up. Then Clay flung him down
like, and the bull got up and run about 40 rods down to a walnut tree
and stood there and just bellered as if the moon was shinin'. Now,
Vangy, 'Chaw Roast Beef.'"

[Illustration: John Armstrong Plays the Fiddle]

So John played that and Mitch was rollin' from side to side in his chair
and laughin' fit to kill. Then John said, "I s'pose you boys never seed
no platform dancin'." We never had and wanted to know what it was. "Wal
(swear word)," says John, "they put up a platform and one after another
they get up on the platform and dance, and when they get real earnest
they take their shoes off. Jim Tate who went out to Kansas was the best
platform dancer we ever had around here. He came over one night to Old
Uncle Billy Bralin's whar my uncle was a fiddlin'--the best fiddler they
ever was here. And Jim heard him and got to jigglin' and finally he
looked in the room and he says, 'Clar the cheers out, I'm goin' to take
off my shoes and come down on her.' So they did, and while he was
dancin' his foot went through one of the holes in the puncheon floor and
skinned one of his shins. Up to then they had always called this piece
'Shoats in the Corn,' but after that they called it 'Skinnin' your
Shins.' Go ahead, Vangy." Then he played "Skinnin' your Shins," and
after that "Rocky Road to Jordan," "Way up to Tar Creek," "A Sly Wink at
Me," "All a Time a Goin' with the High Toned Gals," and a lot more that
I can't remember, and between every piece he'd tell a story.

Then John began to get tired, and it was about ten o'clock. So Vangy
went home, and we all went to bed. And after Mitch and me got in bed, I
heard him laughin' to himself, and I says, "What's the matter, Mitch?"
And he says, "This is the funniest thing I ever see, I wouldn't have
missed this for anything." Then we fell asleep.

The next mornin' Aunt Caroline had the wonderfulest breakfast you ever
saw: waffles, honey, bacon, eggs, and John just et and talked and kept
swearin'. And Aunt Caroline sat lookin' down at her plate eatin' and
didn't say nothin'--just looked calm and happy.

John seemed to have some kind of business that mornin'. Anyway he went
away for a bit and left us to ourselves lookin' about the place and
goin' over some photographs Aunt Caroline had. By and by Vangy came in
and John. And John got out the fiddle again, to play a piece he called
"Injun Puddin'" and so the fun was startin' all over again. There was a
knock at the door and Aunt Caroline went and opened it, and there stood
my pa and Mr. Miller. "Well, you young pirates," said my pa, as he came
in the room, "you're goin' down to see Tom Sawyer, are you, and run away
from your home?"

"They got a job on the steamboat, Hard," said John. "You can't interfere
with that, you know." And he laughed and swore.

"I'll get a switch to you, young man," my pa went on. "Mitchie, what
makes you do this?" asked Mr. Miller. "It does beat the world. Your
mother is worried almost to death."

Mitch looked down. I was still because I was scared. Pretty soon
everything got jolly again. John fiddled some more. They all told
stories, the funniest you ever heard, and everybody laughed. I saw Aunt
Caroline smile clear across her face. Then we had a grand dinner. And
when the train came in, my pa and Mr. Miller put us on and took us back
to Petersburg.

Of course John Armstrong tricked us, but when did he do it--and how? I
don't know.



CHAPTER XXI


Everything seemed changed now. My ma wasn't the same, the house wasn't
the same; Myrtle was talkin' about girls and boys I didn't know. Maud
Fisher had come back from Chicago where she had visited and Myrtle was
goin' up the hill to see her. Maud lived in a great brick house that
looked like a castle. Her pa was one of the richest men in town and they
lived splendid.

And Mitch was changed too. We hadn't found the treasure; we had been
cheated out of our trip to St. Louis, for they wouldn't let us go back
to Havaner to get the boat; we hadn't seen Tom Sawyer. And Mr. Miller
had told Mitch a lot of stories of Shakespeare and had set him to
readin', and Mitch had read a lot of it, and told me about Hamlet who
lost his father, and killed his step-father, and saw his mother drink
poison; and had lost his girl too, and lost everything. And Mitch says,
"Pa says that is about the way. This life is sorrow, you always lose,
you never win, and if you do, it's worse'n if you lost; and you're just
bein' put through a kind of schoolin' for somethin' else. For if you
have trouble, then you are made wise and kind, maybe, or at least you
can be; and so there's something after this life where you can use your
mind as it has been made better by this life."

Well, you see, I couldn't believe this. How about John Armstrong and
Col. Lambkin, and the captain? Warn't they happy? Wasn't my grandma
happy and my grandpa? There must be a way. Some folks must have luck,
even if others don't; so I did my best to cheer Mitch up.

But now we was separated a good deal. For to watch me, pa took me to his
office where I had to sit all day mostly, and tell where he was, if I
knew; and run errands, go over to the clerk's office for papers. And
just now there was a good deal to do for court was comin' on, and they
were getting ready to try Temple Scott for killin' Joe Rainey.

At last the judge came. He came right in to see my pa. He lived way off
in Jerseyville in a different county. I don't believe Mitch and me was
ever any gladder to see each other than pa and the judge. They talked
politics and cases and about makin' speeches to juries; and they agreed
that when you get up to talk you don't know what you are goin' to say,
but you get started and you know when you get the swing, and are really
cuttin' ice. So the judge was invited to our house for dinner, and ma
bought a new lamp for the center table on account of it; and Myrtle was
all dressed up, and so was I. And ma put on a lot of airs, stretchin'
things a lot about her folks and her do'n's in society and pa's
wonderful speeches--some the judge hadn't heard. And pa told some
stories that I had heard him tell before; and when the judge spoke,
every one was quiet and scared like, even pa seemed a little
embarrassed. The judge asked me if I was goin' to be a lawyer, and I
said no, a steamboat captain. Then they all laughed and pa said:
"There's a story about that that I'll tell you, judge." Then I blushed
and Myrtle giggled and ma looked mad, because she was really ashamed of
me.

And finally the court opened. I went up to see what it was like. There
sat the judge on a high seat. And different lawyers would get up and
say, "Docket number 8020" or somethin'. And the judge would turn over
the leaves of a book and say, "Kelly _vs._ Graves," or somethin' and
wait. Then the lawyer would say, "Default of Nora Kennedy" or somethin'.
Then the judge would write, and so on. And my pa acted as if he didn't
know the judge at all. He always said "your honor," and the judge didn't
call him Hardy like he did at our house, but always Mr. Kirby. Nobody
could tell they knew each other.

The town was chuck full of people. Watermelon rinds was all over the
court house yard and there was lots of fights and men gettin' drunk; and
after a few days, the court room was full of people watchin' the court
proceedings. It was lots better than a theater, though not so good as a
circus. I got hold of Mitch finally and he came and sat with me. He got
interested after a while, and whatever he got interested in, he watched
and liked better than anybody. But one day when we was there my pa got
up and told the judge he was ready to try Temple Scott for killin' Joe
Rainey. Then a little man, wearin' nose glasses, awful cunnin' lookin',
with a soft voice, which he could make deep when he wanted to, said he
was ready. He was Major Abbott, Temple Scott's lawyer. And so the case
started.

It went on several days with lots of witnesses testifyin'--all the
people who practiced "Pinafore" that night told about hearing the shots.
And this little lawyer whose name was Major Abbott, as I said, asked
every one, "How many shots did you hear?" Most of 'em said two; but some
said they couldn't remember; and he made some of 'em say they heard
three shots. They had found two bullets in Joe Rainey, and the point
seemed to be that the other shot was fired by Joe Rainey; for pa said to
me one day when we was walkin' home at noon that the defense was that
Joe Rainey fired at Temple Scott first.

[Illustration: Major Abbott]

Then Major Abbott cross-questioned the witnesses about whether they saw
Joe Rainey come into the house and go out just before he was killed. And
most of 'em said yes. And then he tried to get 'em to say that they saw
Joe Rainey go up-stairs and come down and go out; but none of 'em would
say this. Then he'd ask 'em if they didn't hear Joe Rainey say, "Where's
my pistol?" speakin' to his wife; and if she didn't say, "You can't have
it," and take hold of him, and if he didn't pull away from her and go
up-stairs and come down; and then if they didn't hear a shot as if it
was fired from the porch followed by two shots. But he couldn't get the
witnesses to say this, though he asked a lot of questions and worried
'em and tangled 'em about different things. And once in a while my pa
would say, "I object, your honor." And the judge would say mostly
"sustained," and Major Abbott would say, "Your honor will allow me an
exception." "Let it be noted," said the judge, and so on.

All the time Mitch kept twistin' in his seat and sayin', "He's tryin' to
get 'em to lie. That's what he's doin'."

[Illustration: Mrs. Rainey in Court]

Mrs. Rainey was in the court, sittin' behind the railing. Temple Scott
sat behind Major Abbott at the trial table. My pa was on the other side,
and Sheriff Rutledge kept runnin' in and out, bringin' in witnesses.
They had Temple Scott's pistol there with two chambers empty, and the
bullets which had been taken out of Joe Rainey's body, the same size as
in Temple Scott's pistol. And they had a statement which Joe Rainey had
made just before he died in which he swore that he didn't have no
pistol, that he came just inside the door, thinkin' he would go to bed
and leave Temple Scott, and then he came right out in order to quiet him
and tell him he didn't mean anything and was his friend.

"That's the truth," says Mitch, "and I'll bet on it." This statement of
Joe Rainey said that they had been playing cards and was friendly till
they got out on the street, when he asked Scott not to come around his
house any more, that he liked him and could be friends with him, but he
didn't want him to visit any more with Mrs. Rainey. Mitch says: "I heard
pa and ma talk about this and they said Temple Scott wanted to marry
Mrs. Rainey." Well, that seemed to kind of get in the case without
anybody testifyin' to it, exactly. The court room seemed to breathe that
idea, and on the streets it was talked.

Finally Major Abbott stated his side of the case, and he put Mrs. Rainey
on the witness stand, and she said Joe Rainey had come in the house and
asked for his pistol, that she took hold of him and said, "You mustn't
get your pistol," that he tore away from her and went up-stairs; and
came runnin' down, that he went out, that she heard a shot, and then
later two shots of a different sound, that they all rushed to the door
and found Joe Rainey lyin' on the porch floor bleedin' and unconscious.

[Illustration: On the Street It Was Talked]

And my pa cross-questioned her and she rared up and said that Joe Rainey
had brought Temple Scott to her house in the first place and introduced
him and wanted him to come, and had him to meals, and that this talk of
her carin' for Temple Scott was a base slander and the work of mean
enemies. And that no gentleman would hint of such a thing. And as far as
her testifyin' at all in the case, she wanted to see justice done, and
to do it she went through this disagreeable experience, which was enough
to kill anybody. Finally pa asked: "Where is Joe Rainey's pistol?" And
she got mad and said, "I don't know where it is--nobody knows."

"Nobody knows," my pa asked quiet like.

"Nobody that I know of," she answered.

"Oh," said my pa.

Then Major Abbott sneered: "You got what you didn't want then." And the
judge said: "Gentlemen, you must be courteous to each other. There has
been entirely too much personalities in this case and it must stop."

Major Abbott got up to argue. The judge says: "There's nothing before
the court, Major Abbott. Proceed with the case."

And Major Abbott said again: "Your honor will allow me an exception."

"Let it be noted," said the judge, and so on.

Other witnesses testified for Temple Scott and it all came to the same
thing. There was three shots, and some testified that Joe Rainey had
threatened Temple Scott. So pa made these witnesses or most of 'em say
that they had been threatened too by Joe Rainey, and didn't believe he
meant it, and that they warn't afraid of him. Finally Major Abbott got
up and said: "We had a witness who saw Joe Rainey's pistol lying by the
side of the porch, where it had evidently fallen out of his hand. But he
has disappeared and we can't find where he is. With that out of the
case, the defense rests."

Mitch began to get more and more nervous and to kind of talk to himself.

Then the judge asked, "Major Abbott, did you subpoena this witness?"

"No," said Major Abbott. "We should have done so, I confess, and I
intended to. But I talked to him, he seemed entirely willing to testify;
nevertheless I intended to subpoena him the first of the month and got
ready to do so, and found that he had disappeared."

"What's his name?" said my pa real quick.

"His name," said Major Abbott in a deep voice and very calm, "is Harold
Carman." That was the man who was takin' the part of one of the sailors
in "Pinafore"; and sure enough he had disappeared and no one knew where.

So Major Abbott sat down in a satisfied way. Mitch says, "Why don't
Temple Scott go on and tell that Joe Rainey shot at him?" "He don't have
to," says I; "pa says no man has to testify against hisself, and you
can't criticize him for it."

"Against hisself," said Mitch. "Why if he, Joe Rainey, shot at him
first, he'd be testifyin' for hisself, and not against hisself. He
darn't testify," says Mitch. "It's a lie. Joe Rainey didn't shoot at
him. I can just see right through this case."

I believed Mitch, for besides everything else, he was the smartest boy I
ever knew.

Then the judge asked pa--"Any rebuttal?" And pa says, "Just a few
things, your honor, but it's now ten minutes to twelve, and near
adjournin' time, and if your honor will indulge me, I'd like to have
court adjourn now till one o'clock."

So the court said very well, and Sheriff Rutledge adjourned the court,
and all the people began to go out.

And then I see for the first time that mornin' that Mr. Miller was in
the court room. He rose up as my pa came down the aisle and spoke to
him, and they walked away together and up the hill, goin' home together
with Mitch and me follerin'. When we got to our house pa says, "I'm
goin' up to Mr. Miller's for dinner, you tell your ma." And they all
went away together, Mr. Miller, my pa, and Mitch.



CHAPTER XXII


I got back to the court room about ten minutes to one and only a few was
there. It was awful interestin' now, and I couldn't keep away or hardly
wait for the next thing. Pretty soon Mitch came in and set by me. His
hair was combed slick, and he acted terribly quiet. Then the judge came
and my pa and court was opened. Pretty soon Mr. Miller came in and sat
with Mitch and me and after a while Mrs. Miller, who hadn't been there
before, and my ma was with her. The court room was so full you couldn't
breathe.

Then my pa got up and began to talk and he said he had some evidence
which was competent, but needed to be explained first to the judge, and
he thought they'd better go into the judge's room and talk about it
first. So the judge, my pa, and Major Abbott went to the judge's room
and closed the door, and the jury just waited and the audience began to
whisper and I looked across the room and saw John Armstrong. Everybody
was there except grandpa and grandma, Willie Wallace, my uncle and maybe
a few others.

After a while the judge, my pa and Major Abbott came out of the judge's
room. The judge got on the bench and said, "You may proceed, Mr. States
Attorney."

My pa turned around and looked down in the audience, and said in a loud
voice, "Mitchell Miller, take the witness stand, please."

I was knocked over. Here was Tom Sawyer right over again. Mitch was
goin' to testify. What on earth did he know? He'd never told me a word.

Mitch was dreadful pale, and so was Mr. Miller. But Mr. Miller says,
"Come on, my boy, and may God help you."

So they got up, and Mr. Miller walked with Mitch inside the railin' and
stood there, very sad, until Mitch took the witness chair, then he
walked back and sat down inside the railing.

All the jury was craning their necks now and the court room was so still
that the tickin' of the clock was scary.

It seemed as Mitch was only twelve, they had to ask him about whether he
knew what he was doin'. So my pa began this a way, after Mitch was
sworn.

"What is your name?"

"Mitchell Miller."

"How old are you?"

"Twelve years old."

"Do you understand the obligations of an oath?"

"I do, sir."

"What are they?"

"They are to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth."

"And if you don't tell the truth, what will happen to you?"

"I'll be punished."

"How?"

"By prison."

"What else?"

"By God."

"You believe in God, do you, Mitchie?" asked my pa in a quieter voice.

"I do," said Mitch.

"And a hereafter."

"I do."

"And that you'll be punished in the hereafter if you don't tell the
truth?"

"That's leading, your honor," interrupted Major Abbott.

"Yes," said the judge.

"Very well," said my pa.

"What else will happen to you if you don't tell the truth, Mitchell?"

"I'll be punished in the hereafter."

"Cross-examine," said my pa.

Then Major Abbott began in kind of a sneerin' voice.

"So you think you'll be punished in the hereafter?"

"Yes, sir."

"Why?"

"Why wouldn't I be for swearin' a man's life away?"

"For swearin' a man's life away," repeated Major Abbott, kind of
stunned.

"That's what I'm obliged to do," said Mitch.

"Well, one thing at a time, my boy," said the Major, a little
friendlier. "Tell me now who told you about the obligations of an oath."

"I've read about it," said Mitch.

"Where?"

"In Blackstone's Commentaries."

"Where did you ever hear of Blackstone's Commentaries?"

"First out at Old Salem, where Linkern lived."

The jury sat up straighter than ever.

"Who told you?"

"An old man."

"What's his name?"

"I don't know."

"When was that?"

"This summer, about a month ago."

"Well, did you ever read Blackstone's Commentaries?"

"Yes, sir, some."

"Where?"

"In Mr. Kirby's office."

"The States Attorney?"

"Yes, sir."

"When?"

"Since that old man told me."

"How did he happen to be talking about Blackstone's Commentaries?"

"He told me that Linkern found Blackstone's Commentaries in a barl."

There was a titter in the court room.

"Did you believe him?"

"Yes, sir."

"What were you doin' out there?"

"Diggin' for treasure."

"Oh, like Tom Sawyer?"

"Yes, sir."

"And so now you're testifyin' like Tom Sawyer?"

"Yes, sir."

"Don't you dream a good deal, my boy?"

"I don't know. I think a lot."

"You think, eh? What about, for instance?"

"Everything."

"Well, tell me a few things you think about."

"The world, life, books, Shakespeare."

"Shakespeare?"

"Yes, sir."

"I suppose you've heard your father talk Shakespeare?"

"Yes, sir."

"And so you think of that?"

"I've read lots of it, too."

"Shakespeare?"

"Yes, sir."

"Uh, huh! Can you tell me the name of the play where there is a fencer?"

"'Hamlet.'"

"'Hamlet'?"

"Yes, sir. I've committed to memory the speech of the ghost."

"Well, this isn't a theater, Mitchell, so you don't need to recite."

"No, sir."

"But now tell me, has your father talked to you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did you get from him this idea that you would be punished in the
hereafter if you didn't tell the truth?"

"Yes, and not exactly either. I believe that."

"Did he talk to you to-day?"

"Yes, sir."

"What did he say?"

"He told me to do my duty, that doing my duty was more'n findin'
treasure; that Linkern did his duty; that this was Linkern's county
right here, and that no boy who was raised here in this town could fail
to do his duty without insultin' the memory of Linkern."

"How did he come to say all that to you?"

"Because I'd stood this as long as I could. I've been in trouble about
this all summer, I really started out to see Tom Sawyer, partly to get
away from this, and I was troubled most of the time. And I sat here in
the court room and heard the witnesses. And at noon to-day I told my pa
what I knew, and he prayed with me, and told me I had to testify and
that I must tell the truth, and if I didn't I'd be punished, and even if
I kept still, I'd be punished and here I am."

"So here you are. Well, now to return a little, don't you have all kinds
of visions and dreams, Mitchie?"

"I do."

"Wait," says my pa, "that don't go to the witness' right to testify, but
only whether he's to be believed after he does testify."

"Yes," said the judge.

Then Major Abbott took another exception. There were some more
questions, and finally the judge said Mitch could tell his story. So my
pa settled down to business, and the jury waited anxious like. And this
is the way it went.

"Where were you on the night Joe Rainey was killed?"

"Up in a tree in his yard."

"What were you doin' there?"

"Listenin' to the music."

"Were you alone?"

"Yes, sir."

"You chum with my boy, don't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you know where he was that night?"

"Out to his grandpa's."

"How did you happen to be in that yard?"

"I was lonesome and I wanted to hear the music."

"Well, you go on now in your own way and tell what you saw and heard."

"I was lookin' from the tree through the window into the room. I could
see all of you. You was singin' the 'Merry, Merry Maiden.' Just then two
men came up the sidewalk. I got back of some thick limbs, limbs thick
with leaves, for fear they'd see me and say something and do something.
Pretty soon I saw it was Joe Rainey and Temple Scott."

"What were they saying to each other?"

"They was walkin' arm in arm, friendly like. And I heard Joe Rainey say:
'I've always been a good friend of yours, Temp, and I want to be still.
But you mustn't come to my house any more, especially when I'm not
there. You know why, and I want you to promise.' Then Mr. Scott said,
'You're always bringin' that up, why do you? It gets me mad.' Then Joe
Rainey says, 'My wife don't want you around, as far as that goes.' And
Temp said, 'You don't know what you're talkin' about.' And Joe Rainey
says, 'I do, and I'll go in and get her now and she'll come out here and
say to you just what I say.' 'No,' says Temp, 'you'll make her say it;
she must say it of her own free will.' They began to quarrel then."

"Don't say quarrel, tell us what they said."

"Well, Temp said, 'You're a liar, and nobody believes what you say.' And
Joe Rainey said, 'You're another liar, and if you didn't have a pistol
on you, I'd take it out of you right now. I'm goin' in for my wife.'
Then he tore away from Mr. Scott and went into the house, but came right
out again, and Mr. Scott began to shoot at Joe Rainey, and he fell down
on the porch."

"Then what happened?"

"Then everybody in the room screamed. And somebody came out and some
others and picked up Joe Rainey and carried him into the house."

"What did you do?"

"I still stayed in the tree."

"What for?"

"Well, I was kind of scared--then I wanted to see what they did with Joe
Rainey. I thought they might take him into the room where they had been
singin' and I could see him."

"Did you?"

"No, sir."

"Then what happened?"

"Well, while I was waiting, about ten minutes maybe, I heard some one
coming from the back of the house. It was a woman."

"What did she do?"

"She came up by the porch, knelt down kind of and ran back to the rear
of the house."

"What did you do then?"

"I waited a few minutes then I got down out of the tree and went over to
the porch and picked up what the woman had left there."

"What was it?"

"A pistol."

"Have you got the pistol?"

"Yes, sir."

"Will you hand it to me?"

"Yes, sir."

Mitch took a pistol out of his pocket and handed it to my pa.

Then Mrs. Rainey, who was still sittin' in the court room, fainted dead
away. And some women and a doctor came up and carried her out. Temple
Scott was white as death, and was leanin' his head on his hand and
lookin' down.

And then my pa went on.

"Where has this pistol been since that night?"

"Buried."

"Where?"

"In Montgomery's woods."

"How?"

"In a cigar box."

"Why did you bury it?"

"So it wouldn't rust--so as to hide it."

"Do you know who the woman was who put the pistol there?"

"Yes, sir."

"Who?"

"Mrs. Rainey."

"Then what did you do?"

"I still stayed in the tree."

"Did anything else happen?"

"Yes, sir."

"What?"

"In just a few minutes after Mrs. Rainey came out and left the pistol,
some men came out, one of 'em was Harold Carman, and they started to
look right by the edge of the porch. And one man says, 'Where is it?'
and another says, 'I don't see it,' and another says, 'Is this the
place?' And so they looked all around and then went back into the
house."

"Then what did you do?"

"I waited until everything was all right, then I climbed down out of the
tree, and got the pistol, and ran. And so I kept the pistol for a few
days; but I got worried havin' it around, so I put it in a cigar box
and went out to Montgomery's woods and buried it."

"And is this pistol you produced here, the same pistol you picked up,
and buried?"

"Yes."

"That's all," said my pa.

Then the judge said, "We'll suspend here for a little while." Mitch
started to leave the witness chair, but the judge said, "No, you must
stay where you are. You stand by him, Mr. Sheriff."

Then there was a kind of noise of the people in the room changin' their
seats and talkin'. And the word went around that Mrs. Rainey had died.



CHAPTER XXIII


That's what had happened. She had died. Her heart went back on her. But
my pa said they kept it away from the jury. And Mitch kept sittin' there
lookin' pretty tired. The jury wasn't allowed to leave; but just sat
there. And they passed 'em water. And the judge had gone out, probably
to see Mrs. Rainey. My pa went too, and Major Abbott. Then they all came
back together, and the judge got on the bench, and said to go on.

Major Abbott stood up and took off his nose glasses and began to kind of
shake 'em with his hand, and he looked at Mitch, and Mitch looked at
him, kind of scared, I thought. And then Major Abbott began.

"When did you first tell this story you've just told here?"

"Never before," says Mitch.

"Did you talk to the State's Attorney about it?"

"Yes, sir."

"When?"

"This noon."

"Then you did tell it before you told it here."

"Yes, sir."

"What made you say you'd never told it before, Mitchie?"

"I thought you meant in any court."

"Did you tell it to any one before you told it to the State's
Attorney?"

"Yes, sir."

"Who?"

"My pa."

"When?"

[Illustration: Major Abbott Cross-examining Mitch]

"This morning."

"Uh, huh. And did you tell it to any one else?'

"No, sir."

"At no time?"

"No, sir."

"At no time between the night that Joe Rainey was killed and until you
told your father this morning?"

"No, sir."

"Why did you keep it to yourself?"

"For a lot of reasons."

"Didn't you know it was your duty under the law to tell what you claimed
to know?"

"I kind of thought so."

"So then you were neglecting your duty and knew that you were?"

"Maybe so."

"And didn't you know that when a case is tried, the witnesses for one
side are all heard together, and then the witnesses for the other?"

"Well, I know that now."

"And that it's the exception for a witness to be heard after one side of
the case, the side he belongs to, has closed its testimony?"

"I know that now."

"And you waited until this case was practically over and then offered
yourself?"

"Yes, sir."

"You were never subpoenaed?"

"Not in this case."

"What case were you subpoenaed in?"

"Doc Lyon."

"Did you testify?"

"No, sir."

"Why?"

"He killed hisself."

"And that let you out?"

"Yes, sir."

"You've been reading a book called 'Tom Sawyer,' haven't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"And he testified in a case and made a sensation?"

"Yes, sir."

"And you're makin' a sensation?"

"I suppose so."

"Just like Tom Sawyer?"

"Yes, sir."

"And you like it, don't you, Mitchie?"

"No, sir--I hate it."

"You're playin' the same part Tom Sawyer played?"

"I don't know."

"Did you hate it when you hid the pistol and didn't tell any one?"

"Yes, sir."

"And did you hate it up to the time you told your father?"

"Yes, sir."

"And you hate it now?"

"Yes, sir--but it's my duty."

Major Scott said to the judge, "I move to strike out those words 'but
it's my duty.'" The judge said, "stricken out," then Major Abbott said:

"Just answer my question and don't volunteer anything. Now, Mitchie,
isn't it true that you have been digging for treasure this summer like
Tom Sawyer in the woods hereabouts, and at Old Salem?"

"Yes, sir."

"And you expected to find it?"

"Yes, sir, and we did."

"You did?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, tell me."

"We found more'n $2,000 in Old Man Bender's cellar, after his house
burned down."

"You're pretty rich, then?"

"No, the law took it away from us. It cheated to the county."

The audience broke into a laugh and the Sheriff called for order. Major
Abbott resumed.

"But after that you went on hunting for treasure, you and the son of the
State's Attorney?"

"Yes, sir."

"Have you ever heard that this is a community where some people have
visions?"

The judge said: "That's not proper, Major Abbott." And Major Abbott
said: "I thought the remark not out of form, considering that the son of
the distinguished State's Attorney has illusions too."

My pa said: "This is a good place to wake up, as you'll find." And Major
Abbott said: "When is waking up time?"

My pa says, "Now."

Then the people laughed and the jury and the Sheriff rapped for order
again.

"Well," said Major Abbott, "did you ever deceive anybody, Mitchie?"

Mitchie tugged with his hands, and said, "Yes, sir."

"You ran away to Havana and deceived your father, didn't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"You told him you were going out to a farm to see your chum?"

"Yes, sir--and I did."

"But you were really on your way to Havana to run away to St. Louis, and
see Tom Sawyer?"

"Yes, sir."

"So you did deceive your father?"

"Lookin' at it that way, I did."

"And don't you know that there is and never was such a boy as Tom
Sawyer?"

"I know there is."

"How do you know that?"

"I got a letter from him."

"How do you know he wrote it?"

"It was signed with his name."

"Don't you think somebody might deceive you by signing his name to a
letter?"

"Maybe."

"You never saw Tom Sawyer and never saw him write?"

"No, sir."

"And isn't it true that you don't know a thing about it?"

"I can't believe anybody would sign his name to a letter. Besides I
wrote him one and it reached him, because this letter was his answer."

"And are these your reasons for believing that Tom Sawyer lives and
wrote to you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you ever have dreams, Mitchie?"

"Lots."

"Didn't you dream about being up in this tree?"

"No, sir."

"Do you sometimes see dreams when you're not asleep--when it's day?"

"Sometimes."

"Didn't you pass the house of Joe Rainey the next morning after he was
killed?"

"I believe I did."

"And wasn't it then that you picked up this pistol?"

"No, sir."

"Did you know what it means, if it was true, to see a pistol put down by
a woman by this porch?"

"I think so."

"Tell me."

"Well, I thought it meant that somebody wanted to make it appear that
Joe Rainey had it."

"Well, then you knew it was your duty as a good boy to tell the
authorities--to tell the State's Attorney?"

"Yes, sir, I know it now."

"Didn't you know it then?"

"In a kind of way, but I was so taken up with the treasure and going to
see Tom Sawyer; and I had been subpoenaed in the Doc Lyon case and I
was afraid I would be subpoenaed in this case and kept here so I couldn't
go away."

"Your father is a preacher, isn't he?"

"Yes, sir."

"And you have been raised to tell the truth and do your duty?"

"Yes, sir--but the flesh is weak."

"And the flesh pots are tempting," said Major Abbott right quick, "and
you love treasure and love to live over the life of Tom Sawyer, a boy
who never lived?"

"I can't answer that."

"Why?"

"Well, I love treasure, that is I love to find it--but I'm not livin'
over Tom Sawyer's life any more than is natural."

"But it is true that you deceived your father, it is true you ran away,
it is true you meant to run away from the court--all this is true?"

"Yes, sir."

"And then all of a sudden you got this idea of duty?"

"Yes, sir--by reading 'Hamlet.'"

"'Hamlet'?"

"Yes, sir, he kept foolin' with his duty, and it taught me not to."

"Did your father tell you to say that?"

"No, sir."

"I thought the great example of Lincoln had influenced you?"

"It did."

"Have you read 'Hamlet'?"

"Yes, sir, I have."

"Did he live, too?"

"Yes, sir--everybody lives that was ever wrote about."

And so Major Abbott kept cross-questioning Mitch until Mitch's mouth got
dry and he had to have a glass of water. They handed it to him, and
Major Abbott stood there like a hunter trappin' an animal. He was so
cool and insultin' and kept comin' right after Mitch. Then he began
again:

"Did you ever hear of Lincoln running away?"

"No, sir."

"Or deceiving his father?"

"No, sir."

"Or his mother?"

"His mother was dead."

"Or neglecting his duty in any way?"

"No, sir, that's the reason his example is so good."

"Well, why didn't you follow it from the beginning?"

"I told you why--I don't pretend to be good like Linkern."

"You don't?"

"No, sir, sometimes I think I'm very bad."

"Don't you think you're very bad right now to come here and tell such a
story as this, after the State has closed its case, after all these
weeks?"

"No, sir."

"And you knew, too, Mitchie, that it was common talk here that Joe
Rainey tried to kill Temple Scott and shot at him first?"

"Yes, sir."

"And all the time you were keeping this to yourself for the sake of
treasure, and in order to have your own way, and run off?"

"Yes, sir."

"And you knew that your chum's father was elected here to enforce the
law, and that the guilty should be punished--all this you knew?"

"Yes, sir."

"And yet you did all that you did--all that you have told?"

"Yes, sir."

Well, then Major Abbott took another turn. He asked Mitch about the
tree, whether it was a cherry tree or an oak tree, and Mitch didn't
know. And he asked him how high up he was, and what the light was, and
whether anybody passing couldn't see him in the tree; and how tall the
woman was that put the pistol there, and how she was dressed; and where
Temple Scott and Joe Rainey was when he first saw them, and if he knew
Harold Carman, and what the names of the other people were who came
out; and what he did the day before, and the week before, and the week
after; and whether he didn't fight and whip Kit O'Brien, and everything
you ever heard of from the time Mitch was a baby. It took all the
afternoon. And when Mitch got off the witness stand he was kind of weak,
and his pa went up to him and led him out, and then they locked up the
jury to keep 'em from hearin' anything. And the case went over till the
next morning.

And the next mornin' we was all down there as before. When court took
up, Major Abbott and my pa and the judge went into the judge's room and
nobody knew what was said, the same as before, and when they came out,
Major Abbott said:

"Your honor, such unusual things have been done in this case that I am
compelled to do some myself. I shall call the defendant to the witness
stand." So he called Temple Scott and he went up and was questioned. He
went on to say that Joe Rainey called him an awful name, and said, "I'll
kill you, and I'll get my pistol." That Joe Rainey went in the house and
came out and fired, and that he fired then, and that he saw Joe Rainey's
pistol fall out of his hand right down by the porch somewheres; that
then he gave himself up, and that's all he knew.

My pa cross-questioned him awful hard for about an hour, and asked him
how he happened to have a pistol on him. He said he was afraid of Joe
Rainey on account of the threats. And then my pa asked him why he didn't
tell his story in the first place, and not wait till Mitch testified;
and he said he didn't have to, the law didn't require him to. And so it
went, and at last he got off the stand, and the case was closed. Then
the speeches began. My pa talked calm like, reviewin' the evidence and
so forth. And then Major Abbott got up and put a glass of water on the
table and wiped his glasses off and said, "May it please your honor,"
and began.

He said it was a privilege to be here in the community that Lincoln had
hallowed, and to stand in the very room he had stood in so many times,
pleading for right and justice, and to plead for right and justice too.
And that all his client wanted was justice; that he, as a defending
lawyer, was as much sworn to support the law as the State's Attorney,
and he wanted to see it enforced, and meant to have it enforced. And
with the help of the court and the jury, it would be enforced; and his
client who had been greatly wronged and barely escaped with his life
would be freed, and could go back to his family, and be a respected
member of the community.

Then after takin' up the case about the threats and everything, he began
on Mitch.

"Think of it, gentlemen," he said, "here is a boy who waits until the
case is closed, and we have a right to think that all they can bring
against my client has been brought, and then this boy turns up to swear
away his life. Let us be charitable, but let us be just. I must do my
duty and to do it, I must speak. Here is a boy who confesses that he
never told a word about what he saw until yesterday. He confesses that
he kept it to himself in order that he might hunt treasure and run away
from the orders of this court; he confesses that he has deceived his
father, that he has been truant and bad. Yes, and above all, gentlemen,
he confesses he has dreams and sees visions. He believes that a book, a
story, is true; that its characters are real; that a boy named Tom
Sawyer really lives; and he ran away to see him; and yet they ask you
to believe such a boy in the face of this evidence. Why, you wouldn't
convict a yellow dog on such testimony--you are men who know boys and
know life and its affairs, and you know this story is the result of a
pure dream. I'll be charitable; the boy is dreaming; he is a dreamy boy,
an imaginative boy, a wonderful boy--but he is not to be believed. He
never saw this at all. He was never in that tree. The chances are he
picked up this pistol the next morning after passing there--after those
people had come out and searched for the pistol--who had heard three
shots, one of one report, and two of a different report. Why they didn't
find the pistol, God only knows; and the witness who could testify to it
is gone and here we are. And if you ask who the other witnesses are, I
confess I don't know. We could have found their names if we could have
talked with Harold Carman; but he's gone. And here we are, yes, in the
community of Lincoln, but in a community where cowardly people and bad
people live, like other communities. I say this because these other
people, whoever they are, should have come forward and made themselves
known. It would have been gracious if some people had come forward to
tell the truth and save; and not leave it to a boy, and him alone, to
come forward, and condemn and seek to destroy."

Then he drew an awful picture of the gallows and the penitentiary, and
said, "Think of it. To be choked to death on the gallows. To be for
years behind prison bars; or to go home to your old father and mother
and be blessed, and be a blessing and get back your good name."

The jury cried, everybody nearly cried--everybody but Mitch who was
sittin' by me. Mitch says: "He's the dandiest liar I ever heard. I
almost admire him."

Then my pa got up and of all the speeches you ever heard! The shivers
just ran up and down my back. And in about five minutes he had that jury
so you could knock their eyes off with a stick. He had 'em right in his
hand. And he said:

"You dare to disbelieve this boy--you dare to! What does it mean? Harold
Carman ran away. But where are the others? Echo answers where. Major
Abbott stands up here and says that he doesn't know their names, that if
Harold Carman hadn't gone away, he'd know their names, and he gets
before the jury, as if he were testifying, the fact that Harold Carman
is away and what he would say if he were here. He slips that in; and
it's improper and he knows it. He may be a good lawyer, and he is, but
he isn't a witness in this case. And suppose you accept his word and
this story--what do you say? You say that in this community--call it the
community of Lincoln or of the devil, there are people so low, so
murderous in their hearts, that they will allow a fellow being to be
prosecuted and never come forward to tell what they know, which if they
told it, would clear Temple Scott before this jury on the spot. And that
isn't all, if you accept this story, you say that I haven't done my
duty; you say that the man you elected to enforce the law will use his
power to pervert the law; will fail to get all the facts before the
jury. Because you couldn't imagine that there are such witnesses who
came out looking for a pistol and I wouldn't have heard it and known
about it. And if I did, and didn't get them, I wouldn't be fit to be
your State's Attorney, or to hold any position of trust whatever. Where
is Harold Carman? It doesn't make any difference where he is. Where are
the others? They're not in this town or any other town. They're not any
more in being than Tom Sawyer; but they are unlike Tom Sawyer, for as a
piece of fiction he is real; and as fiction, these people are unreal and
don't convince."

And then my pa said: "Now, let's take up the pistol. Both sides here,
everybody agrees the pistol was there. The dispute is how it got there.
Consider this: Why would they come out and begin to look for a pistol?
Who told them to? Who told them to look by the porch? How did they know
before they got there where to look first? You've seen this pistol
here--it's Joe Rainey's pistol--and here is something my astute friend
overlooked; one of the cartridges is out--the rest are there--one is
clear out, not shot, exploded, with the shell left, but clear out. How
did that happen? Do you believe Mitchie Miller did that? Are you going
to ascribe to him such devilish cunning as that? No, gentlemen, the hand
that placed that pistol by the porch slipped the cartridge out first.
The hand that placed that pistol there depended upon the story of three
shots being fired, and in the insanity of the moment, slipped out a
cartridge; and for a very good reason. It couldn't be fired at such a
time. There were only two shots, according to the fair weight of the
evidence; there were two bullets found in Joe Rainey's body; and those
two bullets were fired by the hand of Temple Scott."

As my pa said this, his voice rose up so you could hear him all over
town. John Armstrong said you could have heard him clear to Oakford. The
audience just shivered when pa said this.

"Let me go on," said pa. "Let us assume Joe Rainey comes in and runs
up-stairs for his pistol and goes out. Well, they pick him up on the
porch and no pistol is on him. Then they come out and look, but find no
pistol. What would they have done? There would have been talk so loud
about that missing pistol that even Major Abbott could have heard
it--clear over to Jerseyville. Why was nothing said? Because the hand
that put that pistol there, the woman that put it there was terrified.
She was afraid that some one had seen her put it there; she knew some
one picked it up that she didn't want to have pick it up--she was afraid
it would turn up against her in the wrong hands. And she and this
crowd--whoever they were--if there was one, were afraid to go on with
the evidence they had started to manufacture. And this testimony of
Mitchie Miller is every word true. You saw his face, you heard him, you
know he wouldn't lie--and as for having visions--if he dreamed this, he
would be fit for an asylum, and every one of you could see it--and he
would be in an asylum."

Than pa just lit into Temple Scott. He said he was a coward, and he said
when Joe Rainey asked him not to come to his house any more, it was his
business to stay away. And that for himself he meant to stop lawlessness
in the town. He intended to do his duty so fully that people would be
afraid to break the law and take life. And then he said he had done his
duty, and now the jury had to do theirs, and he left the case with them.

And then the judge read a lot of instructions to the jury and Sheriff
Rutledge took 'em and locked 'em up and we sat and waited. They was out
all that day and all that night and all the next day. And we waited.
And finally toward evening they came in and told the judge they couldn't
agree. It seems, so pa said, two of the jurors was for hangin' and five
for the penitentiary, and five for acquittal. So they was discharged.
Temple Scott was held to the next term of court for another trial, and
court adjourned.



CHAPTER XXIV


So court bein' over, the town was dull again and all deserted.
Watermelon rinds and newspapers was all over the court house yard.
Hardly any farmers was in town. The stores seemed empty. And Mitch was
quieter than I ever saw him. He didn't look well. He was reading
Shakespeare; and I saw him go by with Charley King and George Heigold. I
began to feel that I was losin' him.

And one day my pa said, "How would you like to go to St. Louis on the
boat? Your ma and Myrtle are goin' over to visit Aunt Fannie, and Delia
is goin' to take a vacation, and I think I'll take you to St. Louis. I
need a rest too. Mitch and his pa are going along. Colonel Lambkin has
made up a party and John Armstrong will be along. It's the _City of
Peoria_, the same boat you boys tried to run away on. So we're goin'.
Come down town this afternoon and I'll get you a new suit and some shoes
and a hat. Get Mitch too, and I'll fit him out for the trip."

So I got Mitch and he was almost beside himself, he was that happy. And
we both got suits and shoes and hats. And the next morning took the
passenger train for Havaner. When we got to Oakford, John Armstrong got
in, and my pa was tickled to death to see him. John says: "They didn't
convict that feller?" Pa says, "No." "Wal," says John, "are you goin' to
try him again?" My pa says, "I don't know. It costs the county, and the
board may lay down on me. But I'll prosecute him if they stand for the
appropriation."

We were all sittin' together, for we turned the seats that a way. Mr.
Miller and Mitch facin' us, my pa and me in one of the seats, and John
Armstrong across the aisle, after he got on. And John says, "Wal, how
about that boy down that a way? Whar does he live?"

"Who?" says I.

"That boy you was runnin' away to see. Tom Sawyer, warn't it?"

And Mr. Miller said, "If he's at home, we'll see him--but he's away a
lot."

"He lives in St. Louis?" says John.

"No," says Mr. Miller, "but not far from there. That's right, ain't it,
Mitchie?"

Mitch says, "It's not very far, just up the river maybe a hundred miles,
at Hannibal."

"Are you goin' up thar?" says John.

"No," says my pa, "we expect to see him in St. Louis."

Then John says: "You had a big court this time with that murder trial
and all." Pa says, "Yes." "It does beat the world about the murders and
things around here. More'n what there used to be, 'pears to me."

Then Mr. Miller began to talk about the Civil War and he said: "It's a
bad thing for the country and will be for a long time. We got rid of
slavery, but we took on a lot of bad things while doin' it. You see it
killed off so many real Americans, the old stock, and in a few years
with all these foreigners brought in to work at the mines and mills, the
blood'll get mixed. And ideas about America will get mixed; and the
country will forget what it was, and what it was meant to be; and
they'll pass new laws to take care of changes. And pretty soon you won't
know the country. During the war we had to part with liberties to carry
on the war; and pretty soon we'll part with liberties in order to manage
these new stocks. And there's a lot of corruption in the country, people
gettin' rich off'n the tariff, and that'll make trouble."

John Armstrong was a Republican, and he didn't agree with Mr. Miller;
but my pa says, "We'll elect Cleveland this fall and then we'll save the
country."

My pa and Mr. Miller was both Democrats, but John was a Republican and
they had the best of him, bein' two to one. But John says, "Why, they
tell me that Cleveland wears a 6-7/8 hat and a eighteen collar and can
drink more whisky than Joe Pink."

"Well," says my pa, "if you elect Harrison, who'll be President--will he
be President or will Blaine? It will be Blaine, and why didn't you
nominate him and be done with it? It's because you dassent"--Then he
began to sing:

     "In Washington City, oh, what a great pity,
     There'll be no Harrison there."

Then we kind of changed seats around and Mr. Miller and my pa began to
talk together, while John was talkin' to Mitch and me, and pointin' out
the places of interest along the way. "Over thar," he says, "is whar
Slicky Bill Wilson used to live." "Thar's the Widow Watkins' farm."
"Right down thar is whar they held a camp meetin' onct and converted
more'n 80." And pretty soon we went over a bridge over a clear blue
stream, and John says: "That's Salt Creek, and just down thar about a
mile old Tom Giles used to live who raised quarter horses," and so on.

Then I heard Mr. Miller tell my pa that he was goin' to lose his church
for preachin' that sermon about God bein' in everything; that he was
sure of it. And he didn't know what to do. He couldn't teach school and
walk into the country, and he couldn't get a school to teach in town.
And he was worried and said with a big family like he had on his hands,
he was worried to death. That his father had had a big family and was
poor and worried too, and that he could see his own children poor and
havin' big families. And it looked just like the same story over and
over, world without end.

By and by we got to Kilburn and the engine broke down or somethin' and
we waited and waited. The conductor came in and said we'd better eat
here, because he didn't know when we'd get started. So we all got off
and went into the station where Mrs. Ruddy, the wife of the ticket
agent, had a restaurant. She looked like a hen in the early morning. Her
eyes were so quick and bright, and she kept goin' around askin' us to
have things. There was a jar of jelly on the table all sealed up, and
she said, "Won't you have some of the jell?" Mr. Miller said, "No, thank
you." But Mitch took up the jar and tried to get the top off. It would
have took a monkey wrench to get it off; so after tuggin' at it and not
bein' able to budge it, he put it down. Just then she came up and said,
"Do have some of the jell." Mitch began to laugh. Then pa took the jar
and he couldn't get the top off either, and he put it down. She came
back again and said, "Won't you have some of the jell, Mr. Armstrong?"
"I don't mind if I do," says John, and he took hold of the jar. Findin'
the top on, he tried to get it off. Then Mrs. Ruddy says, "Oh, the top
ain't off." I believe she knew it all the time. The remark sounded just
like a woman. So she went into the kitchen for an opener and came back
and said she couldn't find none. Then she took the jar and got her apron
about it and screwed up her face and tried her best. But the top
wouldn't budge. Mitch picked up the poker by the stove and says, "Hit it
with this, Mrs. Ruddy." And she says, "I'll break the jar. Just wait,
I'll set it in some hot water for a bit and then it'll come off." So she
disappeared with the jar. And while she was gone the conductor came in
and yelled, "All aboard." And pa laid down some money and we ran for the
train. Just as we was all on the platform and the train begin to move,
Mrs. Ruddy came to the station door and said somethin'. John began to
snicker and laugh, and says to pa, "Did you hear what she said--by God,
she says it's off--let's go back and have some jell."

This time when we got to Havaner we rode in the bus, Mitch with the
driver in front; and we rode pretty near down to the river's edge. And
there was the _City of Peoria_, all steamed up, smoke comin' out of her
stacks, and ready to go. We got on and there was Colonel Lambkin,
talking to the captain and the same fat man. And when the Colonel see my
pa, he smiled all over his face and got up and came over and shook his
hand, and put his arm around him and says, "You look a little peaked,
Hardy. We'll give you some rations that'll fatten you up. Whar's your
fiddle?" he says to John. John hadn't brought it; but by and by an
orchestra came on board, a man with a guitar and another with a fiddle,
and so we had music all the way. Colonel Lambkin seemed to just own the
boat. We steamed off after a bit and it was moonlight, and Mitch and me
sat on deck and watched the river, and the shores and everything we
could see. By and by Mitch said: "Do you remember when we were here and
lay on top of that shed and I told you about losin' Zueline, and that
there was somethin' else in my mind?"

"Yes," says I.

"Well," says Mitch, "you know what it was now, don't you?"

"I think so," says I.

"Of course it was that Rainey murder and findin' that pistol. And I'd
like to ask you, Skeet, if you think I dreamed that."

"No," says I.

"Well," says Mitch, "that lawyer did twist me around and he did make a
wonderful speech agin me. It sounded like the characters in Shakespeare
where one says something and you think that ends it; and then the other
says something and it has a different look altogether and seems truer
than what the other one said. But I hope to drop dead this minute,
Skeet, and fall into the river and be et by the fish if every word I
said ain't as true as the gospel."

"I know it," says I. And Mitchie says: "I wanted to tell you that night
what was on my mind; but somehow I couldn't."

Just then we became aware of voices near us, around a kind of corner.
And one voice was a woman's and another was a man's who was talkin' kind
of thick and kept repeatin' hisself. And Mitch says, "Wait--listen." So
we listened. And this man's voice said:

"What can I do, Gwen? I'll leave it to you. Ain't I done the right
thing? Have I harmed any one? But I might have, I know myself, and I
might have harmed some one as easy as that. I know what's what, and even
now I do, and when I have no drinks, I know better, and you'll see I
done the right thing. Why look at it--they rush on me there in all that
hurry and scare and say go out where it is--where his pistol is--right
by the side of the porch and you or some of you pick it up and bring it
back in the house. What did that mean? It meant some one knew where the
pistol was before anybody seen it--and you can't make me believe that
kind of a story would wash."

[Illustration: We Got up and Walked Past 'Em]

Then the woman said, "It did wash."

"It washed because they didn't have me there and try to fetch in this
story. I couldn't a stood cross-questioning a minute. That's why I say I
know what I can do."

Then the woman says: "He's goin' to be tried again and you'd better go
back and be a man. Mrs. Rainey died and it's time Temple Scott was dead
too."

"Listen," says Mitch, "did you hear that--that's Harold Carman. Come."

We got up and walked past 'em--there he was huddled close to a woman,
the moon almost shining in their faces. We heard the orchestra and went
around and found Colonel Lambkin dancing and everybody havin' a
wonderful time. My pa sat there so big and powerful and I was proud to
death of him.

Well, we had wonderful sleeps on board and we all sat at the captain's
table and had the most splendid meals--fish all the time if we wanted
it; and beefsteak, and all kinds of pie and everything. Mitch and me
went into the kitchen; but just to call and say "howdy" to Susie and the
cook.

It was on a morning when we hove in sight of St. Louis. There she was
stretched further than you could see, smoke all over her, rumblin', a
scary looking monster, seemed alive, seemed full of all kinds of
terrible things, but also awful beautiful, too. We got off the boat and
there was two or three policemen there. My pa and Colonel Lambkin
talked to 'em, and then just as Harold Carman came along, the policemen
took him. He scolded and made a fuss at first, but finally went along.
Of course we had told pa what we heard. But pa had seen him on the boat
anyway. So they just shipped him by train back to Petersburg and jailed
him--I think it was for forgin' a note, but anyway it was to testify.

We got over into town, and such a sight--sloughs of people, wagons,
carriages, street cars; sloughs of niggers--an awful noise everywheres.
Everybody in a hurry. And Mitch says: "Tom Sawyer lives near here, and
yet he was never in this town, at least if he was he writes nothing
about it. And look at us. We're here. I told you everything couldn't be
the same with me and you as it was with Tom and Huck. But just look,
Skeet. You could take Petersburg and set it down right here in this
square and nobody could find it. Why, I'll bet you this town is five
miles long, as far as from Petersburg to your grandpa's farm--just
think, five miles of houses." Mitch was terribly excited. And you can't
imagine how funny John Armstrong looked walkin' along in St. Louis. He
seemed out of place and looked strange. But my pa and Colonel Lambkin
was the same as the St. Louis people, and even Mitchie's pa in a general
way.

Well, we went around different places, and finally we went to a hotel
about a thousand times bigger than the hotel at Havaner. The office had
gilt all over it and marble pillars and a dome of blue and red glass. It
must have cost millions. When we went into the dining room John
Armstrong looked shamed a little like a boy standin' up to recite. And
we sat down at a table. Everybody said Colonel to Colonel Lambkin, and
seemed to know him and was awful polite to him; and the waiters laughed
at Mitch and me. And one of 'em stood by John and says: "Baked fish,
corn beef and cabbage, brisket of beef, pork tenderloin, roast goose and
turkey and cranberry sauce." John looked stunned like, and as if he
couldn't remember what the waiter said, and the waiter stood there
waitin' for John to speak, and finally John says, "Wal, bring me
whatever's the handiest for you."

My pa broke into the biggest laugh I ever heard him and turned to the
Colonel and said: "That story you told me keeps goin' through my mind."
And the Colonel laughed and said, "Ain't that a good one?" By this time
the waiter had repeated to John what they had and John said, "Wal, bring
me the pork tenderloin," and so the rest of us had our orders in and
pretty soon we had dinner and went out.

They took us to a ball game. You had to pay to get in. Nobody could look
over or look through the fence. It was all different from what it was at
home. And there was a pitcher there who looked like the pictures of
Edgar Allan Poe, and he could throw a curve clear around the batter
right into the catcher's hand. I saw him. And the score was three to
nothin,' not 18 to 25 as I had seen it at home.

And in the evening there was a torchlight procession for Cleveland, and
bands, and banners, and big pictures of Cleveland. "Look at him," said
John, "can't you see he wears a 18 collar?"

"Yes," says pa, "but no 6-7/8 hat."

"Wal," says John, "they've fixed the picture up." So then we went to
where a man made a speech. I forget his name, but he was a great man.
And he talked for more'n an hour, and finally got down to the fall of
Rome. And he says, "What made Rome fall? They tariff." And John says,
"That ain't the way they tell it to me. They say Caesar made Rome fall.
That's what I've always heard. And I don't believe it was the tariff. It
couldn't be." So pa says, "Listen to him, John." But John was kind of
restless and seemed to get a little mad. Then we went back to the hotel
and went to bed. And the next night the Colonel took all of us to a
minstrel show where they sang "Angel Gabriel." And the next morning we
got on the boat and pulled out. For where do you suppose? Why, up the
Mississippi. Yes, we saw her when we came in, but now we saw her for
miles and miles--wonderful, more'n a mile wide. And Mitch could hardly
speak, nor could I. And where do you suppose we was going? Why, to
Hannibal, to Tom's town. After all our waitin', after trying to run away
to see Tom Sawyer, here we was actually goin' there with our pas, and
John Armstrong, and the Colonel.

It turned out this way. We got to Hannibal, and the Colonel stayed with
the boat and John; and we said good-by and went over into town. The plan
was for us to cross the river from Hannibal over to Illinois, and there
take the Wabash train to Jacksonville and then home from there.

Mitch's pa began to make some inquiries and then we started for some
place. And pretty soon I looked up and saw a big sign "Tom Sawyer."
"Look, Mitch," says I. And he looked and stopped and our pas went on.
This sign was over a butcher shop. And I said: "Can it be true, Mitch,
that Tom Sawyer is keepin' a butcher shop? Is he old enough? And would
he do it? Is it in his line? He's rich and gettin' higher and higher up
in the world. What does this mean?"

[Illustration: Tom Sawyer]

We followed our pas into the shop. And Mr. Miller asked a boy, "Where's
Mr. Sawyer?" And the boy says, "He's in the back room." Just then a door
opened and a man came in, red-faced and plump and friendly. And Mitch's
pa says: "Are you Tom Sawyer?" And the man says, "That's me." And
Mitch's pa says: "I'm Mr. Miller from Petersburg and this is my boy
Mitchie, who wrote to you. And this is Mr. Kirby and his boy." And Tom
Sawyer laughed and says: "I hope I didn't make you any trouble. I kind a
heard I did. But this letter came to me from your boy, and I showed it
to the postmaster, and he laughed; and so I thought I'd have a little
fun, and I had it answered. You don't mind, do you, Mitchie?" And he
kind of put his hand on Mitchie's head. "Oh," says Mitch, "there might
be two persons with the same names." Tom Sawyer laughed and said, "Not
in this town--anyway I had that letter written you, Mitchie, and I'm
sorry now, since you took it in earnest. I meant no harm. There never
was any boy here of that name, and no Huckleberry Finn. It was all made
up, even though it does sound real and boys believe it. How'd you like
to have some bologna?" He gave both of us some. Then we talked a bit and
left.

After that Mitch wasn't interested in anything. He didn't want to see
the town; he just sat in front of the hotel, and our pas went around
lookin' up the places where Mark Twain had been, and talkin' to folks
who knew where Mark Twain got this character and the other for his book.
And finally Mitch said to me: "I had a dream last night, and now I know
what it means. I dreamed the engines on the trains wouldn't work any
more, or wouldn't work very well, and they had to hitch horses to the
engines to pull the trains. So everywhere you'd see an engine and a
train and at the head of the engine a team of horses, pullin' it and the
train. And it means that what was so beautiful and wonderful ain't true
and won't work and after all, you're just where you were, back with
horses, so to speak, and no engines; back in Petersburg, with all the
wonder of Tom Sawyer gone forever." And Mitch began to cry. I didn't
know what to say or to do. It was all true. There wasn't any Tom Sawyer;
and this town--why we couldn't find a thing like it was in the book.

Pretty soon our pas came back and Mitch says, "When you goin' to leave?"
"This afternoon," says my pa. Then Mitch says: "Let's go. I don't feel
well. I want to go home."

Then Mr. Miller tried to comfort Mitch and tell him that life was full
of disappointments; that everything that happens when you're a boy,
happens over when you're a man, just like it, but hurts worse. And that
people must dis-cip-line themselves to stand it, and make the most of
life, and do for others, and love God and keep His commandments. Mitch
didn't say nothin'. He just set quiet, every now and then brushin' a
tear out of his eye.

When our pas had walked away, Mitch says: "Now you see the whole thing,
Skeet. You've lost Tom as much as I have; but I've lost more'n you. I've
lost Zueline. Both in the same summer. I don't know what I'm goin' to
do. I want to go home."

And then Mitch said: "I'm mad at my pa. He ought not to brought me here.
He ought not to have showed us that butcher. It's too much. He ought to
have left us still believin' in the book."



CHAPTER XXV


We crossed the river and took the train. But the fun was over. Even our
pas was quiet. Mitch fell asleep in his father's arms. I couldn't talk,
somehow. The summer was fading, we could see that. We could hear the
crickets in the grass whenever the train stopped. Sleep was falling on
the earth. The fields were still and bare. No birds sang. And the train
moved on. And we were going home; and to what? No more digging for
treasure; no more belief in Tom Sawyer. School would commence soon. The
end of the world seemed near. I myself wanted to die; for if Mitch and
me had to keep goin' through this same thing until we was old like our
pas, what was the use? We got back to Petersburg; and Mitch and his pa
stepped off the train and started on before we got off. They stopped
after a little bit and waited for us. Then they went on; and when we got
to the square, they said good-by and started for home. And my pa went to
his office and took me.

When we got there we found a man in the hall, walkin' up and down. He'd
been there for three days waitin' for my pa. And so pa unlocked the
office and went in. The man follered and sat down. He was an old,
farmer-like feller, but it seemed he lived in a town down in Pike
County. He'd come up to get Nancy Allen's money, the treasure Mitch and
me had found. He said he was a third cousin of Nancy Allen's, and her
only livin' relative. Well, the advertisement that pa had put in the
paper for relatives had expired, and no one had turned up to claim the
money but this man. His name was Joe Allen, and he had his proofs with
him that he was Nancy Allen's third cousin. He said his wife was dead;
that he had no children; that he did a little draying in his town; that
he wanted to get a new wagon and a span of mules, cost about four
hundred dollars; and this money came in awful handy for him. Then he
looked around the room and saw pa's books. And he said that he never had
much schoolin', that he wanted schoolin' and never had it; and that if
he'd had it, he'd been a lawyer too, maybe, instead of running a dray.
And then pa went over to the safe and got the money, for he hadn't
turned it in to the treasury yet. He counted the money and left it on
the table. And then the man was interested in how it was found. And pa
told him and says: "This is one of the boys that found it; this is my
boy. And the other boy is preacher Miller's boy, one of our best
citizens," meaning Mr. Miller, of course, and not Mitch. "And they're
poor, and Mitch is one of the most wonderful boys you ever saw--very
smart and reads all kinds of books."

[Illustration: Counting the Treasure]

Then the man took the money and counted it and put it in his pocket. But
my pa says, "We'll have to do a lot of things about papers and receipts
and things before you can have the money." So the man took it out and
put it on the table; and then he counted it again. And finally he
separated it and handed part of it to my pa and says, "Count it." So pa
did. And the man says, "Is that a thousand dollars? I don't reckon very
well." "Yes," says pa. "It's a thousand dollars and ten dollars more."
And the man took the ten-dollar bill and put it on the other pile.

"Here," says the man, "take this thousand dollars and take your fee out
of it."

My pa says, "No--you don't owe me nothin'. The county pays me for my
work, and it wouldn't be right, and you need it more than I do."

"Well," says the man, "what I meant was for you to take your fee out of
it, and then split the difference between these two boys."

"No, you don't owe them nothing," says pa. My heart sank. I said "I--,"
and was about to say something, I don't know what; but pa waved at me to
keep still and says, "This money is yours, and if you'll come with me,
we'll attend to everything, and you can take it and go home."

Then the man said: "But you say one of these boys is poor and is smart.
And I know what it is to be poor when you're a boy, even if you're not
smart, as I warn't; and to want to get up in the world and not be able
to, as I have. And I know what it is to feel it all your life, what you
didn't have when a boy. And, as I said, I have no one in the world but
myself, and I don't need nothin'; and after I buy this wagon and span of
mules then I'll have more'n six hundred dollars to lend out. It's enough
for me. It makes me well fixed, with my house, which I own. And here I
have a good chance to do good to a couple of boys who found the money,
and may use their sheer to make men of 'em--and you just take this
$1,000 and if you don't want any of it, give it all to 'em."

Then he said, "Where is this boy, Mitch Miller? I'd like to see him. You
say he's a smart boy." So my pa says, "Run up and get him." And I
ran--ran all the way--breathless to tell Mitch that we had struck it at
last. When I got to his house, no one was there but a woman doin' the
washin'. She didn't know where any of the family was. That she saw Mitch
go away with his fishin' pole. So I ran back and told pa, and he says,
"Never mind--let it go--it's just as well." While I was gone, the man
and pa seemed to have come to terms. Pa was goin' to take the thousand
dollars. He did and gave the rest to the man and he said good-by and
went.

Then pa turned to me and says: "I'll put this in the safe. But mind you,
you're not to say a thing to Mitch or any one about it. It will be a
Christmas gift, which ain't far off. And if you tell, I'll keep your
half for my fee. I'll find it out, sure, if you tell. Promise me now
not to tell." And I promised.

Then pa locked the money up in the safe. And he said: "Go home, now; and
tell your ma I'll be home for supper. She's back from her visit and will
be glad to see you."

So I went home.



CHAPTER XXVI


There was days in here that I kind of forget. I remember Mr. Miller gave
Mitch a watch which he had always promised him, and it looked good, but
didn't run very well. So he was goin' to old Abe Zemple, which was a
mechanic, to fix it. But it seemed to run worse, if anything. One thing
that happened there was this: Old Zemple had a clock all apart, the
wheels and springs scattered all over the bench. Mitch saw this and for
fun he put a extra wheel on the bench with the rest. So when Old Zemple
was puttin' the clock together again he couldn't find no place for this
wheel; and finally he just left it out, and of course the clock run,
havin' all the wheels back in it that really belonged to it. He went
around town braggin' about puttin' a clock together with one wheel left
out, and it was just as good as if it had all the wheels, and that
showed that the factory didn't know about clocks.

[Illustration: Abe Zemple]

But it happened that in fixin' Mitch's watch, old Zemple had left out a
little pin, just a little pin that you could hardly see, and Old Zemple
found it out and put the pin in, and then the watch run. Old Zemple told
Mr. Miller about leavin' the wheel out of the clock, and Mr. Miller
said, "How do you explain it, Abe? You leave a big wheel out of a clock
and it runs; and you leave a little pin out of a watch and it won't run?
Somethin's wrong. Look into it, Abe. For I've noticed about people that
when they try to get somethin' extra into their lives, and fuss around
like you did with this wheel, tryin' to find a place for it, that they
don't need it, and do all right without it; and on the other hand, other
people lose somethin' so little it don't seem to count, and yet they
can't get along without it. But also sometimes a man thinks he's
improved on creation by leavin' somethin' out of his life, or gettin'
rid of somethin' in society, and it turns out that it didn't belong
there, just like this wheel. We get fooled a good deal; for you know, my
boy put that extra wheel on your bench." And then Old Zemple said,
gettin' mad--"Some boys have lost pins, or never had any. Their fathers
don't raise 'em up right." And Mr. Miller said: "This town is just full
of wheels that have nothin' to do with the clock. They either belong
somewhere else, or they are left-overs of other times--like Henry
Bannerman," referring to the man that spent all day every day walkin' up
and down on the stone floor back of the pillars of the court house.

I want to come back to Mitch's watch. But first I remember it was about
now that a troupe came to town playin' Rip Van Winkle, and Mr. Miller
and my pa took Mitch and me to see it. And as we came back home, pa said
to Mr. Miller: "Henry Bannerman is a kind of Rip Van Winkle--a extra
wheel--he's been asleep ten years, anyway." So Mitch and me began to beg
for the story about Henry Bannerman, which was that he drank until he
had a fever and when he came out of the fever, he was blurred like and
not keen like when he could recite Shakespeare and practice law fine. So
pa said that once when Henry first began to practice law again after
comin' out of the fever, he had a little office in the court house and
Alcibiades Watkins came in to see him about a boundary fence, and sat
down and told Henry about it, takin' about an hour. When Alcibiades
finished, Henry says, "Tell it to me over; it's a long story and
important and I want to get it right." So Alcibiades told it over. And
then Henry says, "You came to consult me, did you?" Alcibiades said
"yes." "Well," says Henry, "I'll have to charge you--I'll have to charge
you two dollars for the advice." And so Alcibiades took out two dollars
and handed it to Henry and waited for the advice. And Henry said: "Well,
Alcibiades, I have listened to you for two hours about this boundary,
and the boundary fence, and I don't know a thing about it, and my advice
to you is to go and see Mr. Kirby who can understand it and is a good
lawyer." So Alcibiades said, "Well, I know, but I came to you for
advice." "Yes," said Henry, "I know you did, and I have give it to
you--go and see Mr. Kirby--he's a good lawyer and will tell you what
more to do and how to do it. You see I'm not a barrister--I'm just a
solicitor."

So Mr. Miller and my pa talked, which was as much fun almost as the
show. They seemed to know everything and to kind of stand back of Mitch
and me, next to God, or somethin' strong that could keep any harm away.

But to come back to Mitch's watch. George Heigold had a piece of lead
with printing letters on one side, in copper. They called it a
stereotype, and it would print. And he wanted to trade Mitch for the
watch, so he offered his stereotype; and as Mitch was crazy about
printin' and books, Mitch traded and was glad of the chance. But when
Mr. Miller found it out, he said: "What did you do that for? That lead
stereotype ain't worth nothin'--and here you have traded off your watch
which I gave you. You know, I think you are goin' to be a author--for
authors give their time and everything they have to print things--and
this looks like the key to your life, and a sign of what your life is
goin' to be. So I think I'll begin with you and put you in the office of
the _Observer_ to learn the printer's trade, like Franklin."

Of course this stereotype would print; and Mitch printed with it a good
deal, but as it always printed the same thing, the fun soon died down,
and Mitch really wished he had his watch back.

So that's how Mitch began to set type and help run a newspaper. The
editor was Cassius Wilkinson, and a good deal of the time he was in
Springfield, and the rest he was talkin' politics or gettin' drunk. So
that the paper just run itself. The foreman was Dutchie Bale, who used
to go to the farm papers or the Chicago papers and just cut great pieces
out of 'em and set 'em in type for the paper; and as the editor didn't
care, and Dutchie didn't care what went into the paper, Mitch had a
chance to write for the paper himself; and also Mr. Miller slipped in
some wonderful things; and people began to say that the paper was
lookin' up. While Mr. Wilkinson, the editor, smiled and took the
compliments give him just like he deserved 'em. And onct Mitch printed
one of his poems about Salem, where one of the verses was:

     Down by the mill where Linkern lived,
     Where the waters whirl and swish,
     I love to sit when school is out,
     Catchin' a nice cat fish.

I don't believe Mitch worked on the newspaper more'n a week or ten days,
but lots happened; and I went down to see him a good deal to hear
Dutchie Bale talk and swear. He swore awful, especially on press day;
for the press nearly always broke down just as they started to print.
Then Dutchie would turn loose:

"Look at the old corn-sheller, look at the old cider mill, look at the
junk (all the time puttin' in the awfulest profanity). Here he's over at
Springfield, and me runnin' the paper and tryin' to print a paper on a
grindstone like this. I'm goin' to quit--I've had enough of this (more
terrible profanity)."

Mitch would be standin' there half scared and half laughin', and another
printer named Sandy Bill would be sayin': "Why don't you tighten that
bolt, Dutchie?" Then Dutchie would crawl under the press and start to do
what Sandy said, but findin' that the bolt was all right, he'd crawl out
again and maybe see Sandy kind of laughin'. So thinkin' Sandy was
foolin' him, they'd begin to quarrel; and maybe, it would end with
Dutchie throwin' a monkey wrench at Sandy and rushin' out of the room.
He'd come back later, for you couldn't really drive him off the place;
and maybe after a hour or two the paper would be printed.

Well, Mr. Miller had wrote a long poem about the Indians, and he began
to print it, and then somethin' happened. A man named Pemberton, which
they called the Jack of Clubs, and a man named Hockey, which they called
"Whistlin' Dick," had an awful fight by the corner store; and Mitch
wrote up the fight for the paper, the editor bein' in Springfield, and
Dutchie not carin' what was printed. Mitch called 'em human wind-mills;
and when the paper came out, everybody in town began to laugh and the
papers sold like hot cakes. Mr. Wilkinson was in Springfield and had
nothin' to do with it; but Whistlin' Dick thought Mr. Wilkinson had
wrote the piece and put it in. So he kept goin' to the depot waitin' for
Mr. Wilkinson to get off the train from Springfield. When he did, which
was in a day or two, he went right up to Mr. Wilkinson and hit him, and
then proceeded to lick him until he had enough, and got up and ran;
though he was sayin' all the time that he didn't write the piece and
didn't know nothin' about it. Then Mr. Wilkinson came to the office and
read the piece and Dutchie told him that Mitch wrote it. And that ended
Mitch as an editor. He was afraid to go back to the office anyway, in
addition to bein' fired.



CHAPTER XXVII


Mitch was now a changed boy and every one could see it. He didn't come
around as much as he used to. At first Mr. Miller set him to work to
learn the printer's trade as I have told. That kept him away from me;
but after he lost the job, still I didn't see him like I used to. I
looked him up a good deal, but he was mostly quiet. He didn't want to
fish, or to swim, or to go out to the farm--he just read, Shakespeare
and other books; lying in the grass by his house. And he wouldn't come
down to see me much, because he said it made him think of Little Billie.
And Zueline had gone away with her mother, they said to Springfield; and
if she'd been home, Mitch couldn't have seen her anyway. I was terrible
lonesome without Mitch and the days dragged, and I kept hearin' of him
bein' off with Charley King and George Heigold and it worried me.

Harold Carman had been put in jail, and then let out on bond, which held
him to testify in the Rainey case. And one day Mitch came to me and
says: "I'm really caught in this law. I've been to see your pa. I
thought I'd told my story once and that would do; but he says there'll
be a new jury that never has heard about the case or what I know; and
I'll have to tell it all over again. And with Harold Carman to tell
about their tryin' to get him to say he found a pistol, and my story,
they can convict Temple Scott. So I'm caught; and if we had ever so much
to do, and ever so much treasure to find, or trips to take, I'd have to
put it aside for this here law and testifyin'. And if they knew how I
hated it, they'd never ask me if I didn't like it, and like makin' a
sensation and actin' the part of Tom Sawyer."

"Pinafore" was played at last, and we all went, but when my pa sang the
"Merry, Merry Maiden and the Tar," Mitch got up and left the hall,
because, as he said to me afterward, it brought back that awful night
when Joe Rainey was killed. It must have affected others that way too;
that and the death of Mrs. Rainey, who had a part in the show. For they
only played two nights, instead of three, which they intended. Not
enough came to make it worth while.

Then one night I went up to see Mitch and the house seemed quieter. The
girls was playin' as before, but not so wild. Mr. Miller was readin' to
Mrs. Miller, English history or somethin'; but Mrs. Miller looked kind
of like she was tryin' to pay attention. She didn't act interested and
happy like she used to. Mitch told me then that his pa had been let out
of the church; that while we was gone to St. Louis the trustees met and
decided that they wanted a minister who would put a lot of go into the
church and get converts and make things hum; that the mortgage on the
church had to be met and they couldn't meet it without gettin' more
people interested in the church and church work. That may have been all
true; but just the same everybody said that Mr. Miller was let go
because he preached that sermon about God bein' in everything, which he
didn't mean except just as a person talks to hisself. He was dreamin',
like Mitch, when he said it.

So Mr. Miller was goin' to Springfield to see what he could do about
gettin' to sell books or maps or atlases, and quit preachin' till a
church turned up, or preach a little now and then, and marry folks when
he could, and preach at funerals. I heard Mr. Miller say to my pa that
he was worried about Mitch; that Mitch talked in his sleep and ground
his teeth, and talked about engines and horses and findin' pistols and
treasure, and ridin' on steamboats, and about Zueline and Tom Sawyer.
And he said he'd tried to get him to go out to the farm with me and ride
horses and get a change, but he wouldn't. He just read Shakespeare until
they hid the book; and then they found him readin' Burns; and once
Ingersoll's Lectures, which they also took away, because Mr. Miller
thought Mitch was too young.

About this time I was about a third through readin' the Bible to earn
that five dollars that grandma had promised me. And Mitch asked me what
I thought, and I said I didn't understand it much; but in parts it was
as wonderful as any book. And Mitch says, "Do you know what the Bible
is?" "No," I says; "what is it?" "Why," he says, "the Bible is the 'Tom
Sawyer' of grown folks. I know that now; so I don't have to go through
the trouble of findin' it out after I'm grown up and depended upon it
for a long while. There's the sky and the earth, and there are folks,
and we're more or less real to each other, and there's something back of
it. But I believe when you die, you're asleep--sound asleep--I almost
know it. And why we should wake up a bit and then go to sleep forever is
more than my pa knows or any person in the world knows."

Mitch scared me with his talk. He was so earnest and solemn and seemed
so sure.

One night when I was up to Mr. Miller's, it came up somehow what we was
goin' to do when we was grown up--Mitch and me--and Mrs. Miller thought
we should be taught somethin' to earn a livin' by; and that the schools
instead of teachin' so much, and teachin' Latin and Greek, which nobody
used, should teach practical things.

And Mr. Miller said, "Look out! That's comin' fast enough; it's on us
already. For back of the schools are the factories and places that
always want workers, and they're already usin' the schools to turn out
workers, boys who don't know much, or boys who know one thing. And it
makes no difference what happens to me--it's just as much or more to
know how to enjoy life and to enjoy it, as it is to be able to earn a
livin'. If you earn a livin' and don't know how to enjoy life, you're as
bad off as if you know how to enjoy life, but can't make a livin', or
not much of one. Look here, you boys: Anything that gives you pleasure,
like Greek and Latin, stories, history, doin' things, whatever they are,
for the sake of livin', are worth while. And you let yourselves go. And
don't be molded into a tool for somebody's use, and lose your own
individuality."

And that's the way he talked. And then he said it was all right to dig
for treasure if we wanted to, and to want to see the Mississippi River
and see Tom Sawyer, and he didn't blame us a bit for anything we had
done. "Yes," he says, "I'll take you to Springfield to-morrow; ask your
pa, Skeet, and come along."

I did; and the next morning we took the train for Springfield; and here
was a big town, not as big as St. Louis, but awful big. The capitol was
bigger'n any building in St. Louis, with a great dome and a flag. And
Mr. Miller took us out to see Lincoln's monument. Just when we got
there, two men in overalls came runnin' from the back of the tomb and
said a man--an old soldier--had just killed himself with a knife. So we
ran around and found him lyin' in a lot of blood. The men came back and
took a bottle of whisky out of his pocket, and a writing which said that
the prohibition party had been defeated, and if it had won he couldn't
have got whisky; and so he killed himself because the prohibition party
had been defeated. And Mitch says, "What a fool idea! If he wanted the
prohibition party defeated, why did he drink and buy whisky; and if he
drank and carried whisky in his pocket, why did he want the prohibition
party to win, and kill himself because it lost? He was crazy, wasn't he,
pa?"

And Mr. Miller said, "Not necessarily--that's sense as things go in the
world. Some people want whisky done away with so they can't get it their
own selves, and when they can't get a law for that, it disappoints 'em,
and they keep on drinkin' because they're disappointed, or kill
themselves because their disappointment is too much. For you can depend
upon it that any man that gets his mind too much fixed on any idea is
like a cross-eyed man killin' a steer with a sledgehammer; he hits whar
he's lookin', and hits wrong. Lincoln had a way of holdin' to an idea
without the idea draggin' him down and away from everything else."

They had carried the dead man off, so we went into the tomb to see the
curiosities. And there was more things than you could see: All kinds of
flags and framed things, pictures and writing and showcases with
pistols, and all sorts of trinkets, bullets, and knives; and a pair of
spectacles which Linkern had wore, and a piece of a rail he had split,
and books he'd read, and a piece of ribbon with his blood on it the
night he died, and a theater program and lots of other things.

Then we went out-doors and looked up at the monument, and it made me
dizzy to see the clouds sail over the top of it. And there was a figure
of Linkern in iron, and of soldiers in iron charging, and horses in
iron; besides mottoes cut in the stone and in iron. Then we went around
to the back again where the old soldier had killed himself. They had the
blood wiped up now. So we looked through the iron bars where a stone
coffin was, but Linkern wasn't in there, Mr. Miller said. For once they
had tried to steal him, and got the lead coffin out, and clear down the
hill that we could see; but they caught 'em. And after that they dug way
down and put Linkern there, and then poured mortar or concrete all over
him, clear up to the top; then laid the floor again and put this marble
coffin there, which was a dummy and had nothin' in it. So now nobody
could get Linkern forever and ever.

And then we came around in front again, and Mr. Miller looked up at the
statue of Linkern and began to study it, and he says: "I brought you
boys to Springfield and out here to learn and to get things into your
mind. You'll remember this trip as long as you live. It's the first time
you've ever been here, and you'll be here lots of times again, maybe;
but you'll always remember this time. Now, just look at Lincoln's face
and his body and tell me how anybody could see him and not see that he
was different from other men. Look how his face comes out in the bronze
and becomes wonderful, and then think if you can how a handsome face
would look in bronze--just the difference between a wonderful cliff or
mountain side, and a great, smooth, perfect bowlder. And yet, boys, that
man went right around here for twenty years, yes and more, all around
this town, all around Petersburg, up at Old Salem, all over the country,
practicing law, walking along the streets with people, talkin' with 'em
on the corners, sittin' by 'em by the cannon stove in the offices of the
hotels, sleepin' in the same rooms with 'em, as he did up at Petersburg
at the Menard House, when the grand jury had the loft and they put
Lincoln up there too, because there was no other place to put him."

"The Menard House," says Mitch; "do you mean that hotel there now?"

"The very same," said Mr. Miller; "didn't you know that?"

"No," says Mitch.

[Illustration: At Lincoln's Monument]

"Well, that shows you; you're like the people who lived when Lincoln
did, they didn't know him, some of them; and now you don't know the
places he went to and the country he lived in; and you'd never have gone
to Old Salem, if you hadn't gone there for treasure--would you, Mitch?"

Mitch said he didn't know, maybe not.

"Well," said Mr. Miller, "if you find Lincoln while tryin' to dig up a
few rotten dollars, it's all right anyway. Now, boys, look here, it
seems an awful time to you since Washington lived, since the Government
was founded--but it isn't. We're all here together, and when you get to
be old men, you'll see that you were born and lived in the beginning of
the republic. How will it look hereafter? Do you want to know--take a
history and look at it now. Let's see! Washington had just been dead ten
years when Lincoln was born; Lincoln had been dead eleven years when you
were born. When Lincoln was born, the Government had been founded just
twenty-three years, was just a little more than of age. It wasn't but
just eighty years old when Lincoln became president. Why, these figures
are nothing. Think about it. When did Juvenal live? About 42 A.D. When
did Virgil and Horace live, and Caesar and Augustus and Domitian? What
does forty years here or there mean when you're lookin' back over
hundreds of years or a thousand? And so I say, you boys were born in the
beginning of the republic, not a hundred years after it was started, and
if either of you ever get your names into the history, there it will be
beside Lincoln, and not far from Washington--for you were born ten years
after Lincoln died and not a hundred after Washington. Well, there you
are. You're young and the republic is young; and the chance is before
you to do for the country and help out, for we're havin' bad times now,
and they'll be worse. After every war, times is bad, and we're goin' to
have other wars and worse'n ever."

Then Mr. Miller said: "There's two kinds of men--at least two. One that
thinks and one that acts; or one that tells people what to do, and
others that listen and do it, or else have thought it out first
themselves, and do it. Well, look at Lincoln up there. Here he was over
at Old Salem running a store, surveyin'; then in politics a little, then
a lawyer; but mostly for twenty years he was thinkin' about the state of
the country, slavery and things; and he thought it all out. Then they
elected him president, and he acted out what he thought."

"Well, don't you suppose he could have got rich practicing law or
tradin' in land? He was a good lawyer--none better! Why didn't he get
fees and save and buy land during the twenty years he practiced law?
Because his mind was set on the country, on how to make the country
better, on being a shepherd of the people. The man who thinks of money
all the time, thinks of himself; and the man who thinks of the country
and wants to help it is thinking of what can be done for people and how
the country can find treasure in having better people, and better laws,
and better life and more of it. Yes, sir, boys, you'll find somewhere
that Lincoln said his ambition was to be well thought of by his fellow
citizens, and to deserve to be. And it never occurred to him that he
could do that by getting money."

"Don't you boys think I'm lecturin' you for huntin' for treasure, or
that I want either of you to grow up and be as poor as I am. I don't. I
want you to have sense and provide for yourselves; Lincoln did that; he
really had plenty after he got fairly started. But on the other hand,
gold as gold I hate, and I see it getting power in this country. Why, it
has it now. Look at Lincoln's face, what do you think he'd think of
what's happened since the war--the robbery, ruin and conquest of the
South, the money grabbing and privilege grabbing at the North, the money
deals in New York, the money scandals everywhere--the treasure-hunting
everywhere--and not a big man left in the country; none of the old, fine
characters left who built their lives on foundations of wisdom and
service and makin' the country better--none of these left to come
forward and take the country out of the hands of these vultures, wolves,
hyenas. And what are we going to have? Is money goin' to be the master
in this country, or is man goin' to be? I hate it--I hate it as Lincoln
hated it when he asked whether the dollar or the man should be put
first. And I hate it because it is brainless, spiritless. It cares for
nothing but itself. It is a snake that swallows and sleeps and wakes to
eat again. It is a despot; it is without love, genius, morality. It is
against people, against God, against the country. It is as wicked as
Nero, as gluttonous as a cormorant; and it makes cowards, slaves,
lick-spittles of some of the best of men. In this country, intended to
be of free men, where men could grow and come to the best that is in
them, already we find these laws and principles mocked--by what? By
gold, by riches; and we find talented men and good men compelled to step
aside for rich men; and rich men held higher than good and useful
lawyers, preachers or anything else. Well, there's Lincoln: and if never
again in the history of this country a rail-splitter, a boy who worked
up from nothing with his hands and his mind, comes to rulership, still
there's Lincoln, on whom no rich man could frown; and no big-bellied
capitalist could patronize or ignore or make step aside. Why, it's
great--it makes me happy, it gives me hope. And I can see for ages and
ages the face of Lincoln on books, on coins, on monuments; until some
day his face will be the symbol of the United States of America, when
the United States of America has rotted into the manure piles of history
with Tyre and Babylon, as it will if it doesn't turn back and be what
Lincoln was: a man who worked and thought, and whose idea was to have a
free field, just laws, and a democracy where to make a man and not make
a dollar is the first consideration."

And then Mr. Miller said: "Yes, this is a great monument and Lincoln was
a great man. You see when all the sap-heads and poets down in New
England and all over was hollerin' for nigger equality and to give the
nigger a vote and to marry him, and give him the same right as anybody,
Lincoln just kept cool; and he didn't even emancipate the nigger until
he had to in order to win the war. It was to win the war, understand. He
wasn't swept off his feet by anybody, orators or poets or
yawpers--nobody. But you'll see when you grow up what the difference is
between not havin' the nigger for a slave and allowin' him to vote and
marry you; and you'll see that what Lincoln said when he went over the
country debatin' with Douglas, speakin' at Havana, and right here in
Springfield and at Petersburg, too, he said to the last and acted on to
the last. It was after the war and after Lincoln was dead that these
here snifflers and scalawags got into power and pushed it over until
they gave the nigger the vote and all that. And if this country goes to
pieces because the good breeds have been killed off and die off, and the
country is run by the riff-raff, then Lincoln, say five hundred years
from now, will stand greater than he is to-day, unless the world can
then see that the nigger should have been kept a slave, so as to let
the wise and the intelligent have time to think better and work better
for the good of the country. For, boys, you can put it down that a
country ain't good that is run on the principle of countin' noses, and
lettin' everybody have a say just because he walks on two legs and can
talk instead of barkin' or waggin' his tail." And so Mr. Miller went on.

Then Mr. Miller said damn, or that something could be "damned." And
Mitch says, "Pa, did you know you swore?" And Mr. Miller says: "I
shouldn't have, and don't you follow my example. But sometimes I get so
mad about the country."

So we had seen the monument and walked away; and when we got a long way
from it, we turned around and looked at it for the last.

Then Mr. Miller said he was glad he was out of the church, that he had
tried to do certain things, but they wouldn't let him, and kept him in a
groove. And now he was going to sell atlases and geographies, and be a
free man, and maybe write a book. And he said: "The idea seems to be
that goodness, spirituality, is church. It isn't, and it never was; it
wasn't when the Savior came; He found goodness and spirituality in a lot
of things, in a free life, in the freedom of out-doors, and not in the
synagogues. Now, boys, believe in the Bible, in the Savior--I mean that;
but don't let that belief make you into a membership with those who live
for denial, for observation of injunctions, for abstinence from life,
more or less, for solemnity, for religion as business, and business as
religion, and religion for business. This is not goodness--not
spirituality. Lincoln was good and spiritual--he believed in the mind
and he used it. Wisdom, beauty, play, adventure, friendship, love,
fights for the right, and for your rights, travel, everything, anything
that keeps the mind going; and kindness, generosity, hospitality,
laughter, trips down the Mississippi, making cities beautiful and clean,
having fun,--all these things are spirituality and goodness. They are
religion--they are the religion of the Savior. They will make America;
and they ought to be Americanism."

So Mr. Miller went on. I can't remember half he said, but it was plain
he was worked up. Losin' his church or somethin' had set his thoughts
free; and everything considered, I think he wanted to give us some ideas
about things. And so after lookin' at Linkern's home, a frame house, not
very big, not fine, but a good house; and lookin' at the furniture and
things he had, we took the train back to Petersburg.



CHAPTER XXVIII


I could see plainer and plainer that I was losin' Mitch. There was
somethin' about having this business together of huntin' for treasure
that kept us chums; and now that was over and if we didn't get something
else, where would we end up? Mitch said that the trip to Springfield had
cured him of being mad at his pa for takin' us to Hannibal to see Tom
Sawyer the butcher. And he said: "Suppose you was at Old Salem fishin'
and you had a can of worms for bait, or thought you had, and you was
really out of worms. Which would be better, to set there and think you
had bait and go on believin' that until you began to catch fish and
needed lots of bait and found you hadn't none, or to find out you hadn't
none all of a sudden and then go get some in time for the fishin' that
got good? And so, wasn't it better to find out that Tom Sawyer didn't
live and find it out suddenly than to go along being fooled until
something serious happened, and be a fool to the end, and maybe lose
some good chance?" What I wanted to tell Mitch was that our case was
real, that we had found treasure and would get it on Christmas; but I
had promised my pa I wouldn't tell, and I didn't. I only said to Mitch:
"We're just as sure to get treasure as the sun shines." And Mitch said:
"Maybe, but not real treasure, not money, not jewels, or things like
that."

As I said, I was surely losin' Mitch, for he was goin' considerable now
with Charley King and George Heigold. I don't know what he found with
them to like; only they were older and as it turned out, he did things
with them that he and I never did. I tried my best to hold on to him,
but couldn't. Sometimes I'd think I wasn't losin' him, that it was just
fancy. Just the same things wasn't the same. The Miller family wasn't
the same; there wasn't as much fun up there; and now Mr. Miller was away
a good deal selling atlases; and sometimes when I was there of evenings
Mrs. Miller would be sittin' alone, no one reading to her, and the girls
kind of walkin' the rooms, and Mitch a good deal away of evenings, not
home like he always was before.

You see I had a pony all the time; but pa loaned him here and there, and
sometimes took him out to pasture across the river to a farmer's and
that's how it was I didn't ride him sometimes out to the farm. But now
he was in the barn, and as I didn't have Mitch, I rode about the country
by myself. And once went out to the farm for a few hours, comin' back to
town in a gallop all the way, to see how quick I could make it.

Finally I thought I'd go out to the farm on my pony and stay for a few
days, and go camping with my uncle over to Blue Lake. I was goin' the
next day and was out under the oak tree when Mitch came along. He seemed
stronger, bigger, more like Charley King and George Heigold; there was
somethin' about him kind of hard. He seemed as if he'd fight easier; he
was quick to talk back, he seemed to be learnin' about things I didn't
know. There was a different look in his eyes. He was changed. That's all
I know. Mitch set down in the grass and began to make traps out of
timothy to catch crickets. Somebody had taught him that. His face began
to change. He began to look friendlier and like himself again, except he
looked older and like he knew more. And then he began to talk:

"Skeet," he says, "I'm not Tom Sawyer, and I never was; never any more
than you was Huckleberry Finn. I know who I am now. Do you?"

"No," says I. "Who are you?"

"Well, I'll tell you, Skeet--I'm Hamlet."

"Hamlet--who was he?"

"Well," says Mitch, "he was a prince."

"Well, you ain't," says I.

"No, I ain't. But Hamlet could be just like me and not be the preacher's
son; and because he wasn't wouldn't make him different. Yes, sir, I'm
Hamlet. I've read the play and thought about it a lot. And I know now
who I am. And you, Skeet, are Horatio."

"Who was he?" says I.

"He was Hamlet's friend, just as you are my friend. And as far as that
goes, there was never any persons more alike in this world than you and
Horatio. You are good and steady, and don't change, and you are a good
friend, you have got sense, and you have no troubles of your own, and so
you can listen to mine, as Horatio listened to Hamlet's."

"What troubles have you?" says I.

"Lots," says Mitch, "that is general troubles--of course Zueline and
this here court worries. I've got to testify again. I'm tangled up just
like Hamlet was, and I want to get away like he did, and I can't. And it
teaches me that it ain't because I'm a boy that I can't get away, for
Hamlet was a man and he couldn't. He was getting old, most thirty, and
he couldn't do any more with his life than I can with mine--not as much,
maybe."

"And yet you say he was a prince."

"Yes, but what difference did that make? Did you ever see a chip get
caught in a little shallow in the river in the reeds; and then see it
get out of the shallow by the current changing or somethin', and then
see it start down the river all gay and free, and run into some brush
floatin', or get thrown against the logs to one side of the dam and held
there? Well, Hamlet was a prince, and he was just a chip caught by the
dam and couldn't budge and kept tryin' to and couldn't. This is what my
pa says the play means; but also I can see it for myself. I keep readin'
it and it gets clearer. And pa says it will never make any difference
how old I get, the play will be wonderfuler and wonderfuler, and is to
him; and that finally I'll wonder how any man could ever write such a
thing."

"But didn't Shakespeare--he wrote it, didn't he?--get it out of some
history?"

"Of course," says Mitch, "and didn't Linkern live, and right here in
this town, as you might say? But suppose somebody could write up Linkern
and use the very things that Linkern did and said, not as we hear 'em
around here, wonderful as they are; but write 'em up so that you'd know
what Linkern really was and why and all about it. For that matter, take
Doc Lyon. We know he was a lunatic, but why, and what for, and just what
it means to be a lunatic, I don't know and no one will know until some
Shakespeare writes him up. For that matter, some folks think that Hamlet
was a lunatic."

"Well, you ain't, Mitch," says I.

"No more than Hamlet was. He just was troubled and his mind kept
workin', and that's me. But what would you say if I was the son of Joe
Rainey and Mrs. Rainey?"

"How do you mean?" says I.

"Well, suppose I was their son, and suppose I knew that Mrs. Rainey, my
mother, wanted Joe Rainey, my father, dead, and put it into Temple
Scott's mind to kill my father, Joe Rainey; and then Temple Scott did
kill him, and then Mrs. Rainey, my mother, put a pistol down so as to
make it seem that my father, Joe Rainey, had carried a pistol. Suppose I
was their son and was up in the tree and saw what I saw, what would I
do?"

"Then you'd have to testify," said I.

"You don't know what you're sayin', Skeet. You don't see that I love my
father, and he's been murdered; and I love my mother, and she has really
murdered him. And if I testify against my mother, I get her hanged; and
if I don't testify against her, then I wrong my father that I love; my
mother goes free, and sometimes I hate her, because she is free, and my
father has been robbed of his life, and I do nothing to punish her and
Temple Scott for taking his life away. That's the worst of it; or maybe
it's just as bad because I'm tangled in law and can't do what I want to
do--can't be free to hunt treasure, we'll say, or do what I want to.
Don't you see what a fix I'm in? Then suppose with findin' out what my
mother is, the whole world changes for me--I get suspicious of my girl,
and won't marry her and everything goes bad and finally I get killed
myself, after killin' Temple Scott who's married my mother, we'll say,
and in a way cause my mother to die too."

"Well, of course all this can't be," says I, "for you're not the
Raineys' son;--they're both dead anyway; and Temple Scott will probably
be hanged, and no one will kill you--you'll grow up and get
married--not to Zueline--"

"No," says Mitch, "never to her. For I ain't suspicious of her--I'm just
done with her, just like Hamlet was done with Ophelia. I know her as he
knew Ophelia, though she's different from Ophelia. She's cold, Skeet,
and never understood me. I see that now. If she had, she'd never let her
mother keep her away from me. Nothin' can keep a girl away from you that
loves you. And I'll tell you something right now. Not long ago, I was
walkin' by her house on purpose and she came out goin' somewhere. I
tried to talk to her, and tell her that we could meet sometimes, maybe
down at Fillmore Springs, or take a little walk at dusk or early
evening; and that I wouldn't bother her much, only we'd understand that
by and by we'd get married and be together forever, and I'd go away
happy if I could have that hope. Well, she kind of turned on me and said
'no,' and hurried on. And, Skeet, when I saw that, when I saw that it
was her as well as her ma that wanted me away, and meant to keep away
from me--something kind of froze through me--or burned maybe, and then
froze--my heart got like a big stone, and I could see it just as if it
had been scalt and then turned white and shiny and kind of numb like my
foot I cut in two. I began to laugh and since then I have been changed;
and I'll never be the same again. My ma said it was foolish, that I was
just a little boy and I'd grow up and it would all be forgotten. But I
know better--I'm Hamlet--and I don't forget, and I never will. Do you
remember one time when you and I was out to your grandpa's farm and
Willie Wallace was settin' out trees?"

I said "yes."

"Well," says Mitch, "Willie Wallace that time cut a gash in a tree with
the pruner while handlin' it and settin' it out. And he says to us,
'That tree will never get over that. By and by it will be a big scar,
growin' big as the tree grows big, and grown over, maybe, but still a
scar; or worse, it may stay open more or less and rain and frost will
get in, and insects, and after a while it will be a great rotten place,
a hole for a snake or a rat, or maybe a bird.' Well, pa says that
Linkern lost Anne Rutledge and that he thinks Linkern's beautiful talk
and wonderful words came from losin' Anne Rutledge. I don't quite see
how--but if it did, then if a bird gets into the hole in the tree,
that's a sign that you say somethin' or write somethin' because you've
been gashed, just as pa says that Shakespeare wrote his wonderfulest
plays and sonnets because he'd lost a woman. And sometimes I think I'm
goin' to write something. I keep hearin' music all the time, and I try
to write words down, but they don't mean anything; they are silly; so I
tear 'em up."

[Illustration: La Belle Dame sans Merci]

So Mitch went on and he worried me. And I says: "Mitch, I'm goin' to say
somethin' to you! Do you like me as much as you used to?"

"Every bit," says he. "Why?"

"Because," says I, "you don't always act the same. And besides, you keep
goin' with Charley King and George Heigold--and--and--"

"And what?" says Mitch.

"And--I was afraid you liked 'em better'n me."

"Why," says Mitch, "them two boys is just grave diggers compared to
you--or Rosencrantz and Guildenstern--while you are Horatio all the
time."

He explained to me what he meant by this, which was that in "Hamlet,"
Hamlet talked to grave diggers and to two men named Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern, without givin' a snap for 'em compared to Horatio.

Then I said, "I'm goin' out to the farm to-morrow. School will begin in
about three weeks. I'm goin' out on my pony, and you can ride behind.
And you'd better come. We'll have a lot of fun, and my uncle is goin' to
take me campin' to Blue Lake." So Mitch said he'd go; and after a bit he
began to repeat something he'd committed to memory. He was settin' in
the grass, lookin' up at me, and his voice was so wonderful and sweet,
sayin' these words:

     O, what can ail thee, knight at arms,
     Alone and palely loitering?
     The sedge is withered from the lake,
     And no birds sing.

     O, what can ail thee, knight at arms,
     So haggard and so woe-begone?
     The squirrel's granary is full,
     And the harvest's done.

     "I met a lady in the meads
     Full beautiful, a faery's child.
     Her hair was long, her foot was light,
     And her eyes were wild.

     "I saw pale kings and warriors too,
     Pale princes, death pale were they all.
     They said 'La Belle Dame sans Merci
     Hath thee in thrall.'"

Mitch was goin' on with this when we heard some boys whistle. It was
Charley King and George Heigold. They called Mitch to the fence and
talked. Then Mitch called back and said, "I'm goin', Skeet--come for
me--what time?"

"I'll be up about seven," I said.

And Mitch climbed over the fence, and went with these boys.

I went up to the fence and follered them with my eyes till they turned
the corner by Harris' barn and was gone.



CHAPTER XXIX


The next morning I was on my pony and up to Mitch's house at seven, and
whistled and whistled. By and by one of the girls came out and said
Mitch had staid all night at Charley King's and wasn't home yet. So I
went over there; but he and Charley was up and gone already. Mrs. King
came to the door, came out and stood by the pony and petted him and said
I had pretty eyes, same as before. Then she said Charley and Mitch had
gone somewhere. She didn't know where. So I rode off and rode around a
bit and then I started for the farm, thinkin' that Mitch had treated me
mean--and why would he for Rosencrantz or Guildenstern? whichever
Charley King was. I was sure Mitch would turn up and the next day
grandpa was goin' to town early to be home by three o'clock, and he said
he'd bring Mitch out if he could find him.

My uncle now was in a mood to go camping to Blue Lake. So we got the
tent out and began to mend it where it needed it, and fix the ropes. We
took the guns and cleaned 'em, and I helped my uncle load a lot of
shells. We set aside some pie plates and cups and did a lot of tinkerin'
around. Grandma didn't want us to go. She was afraid we'd get drowned or
shoot ourselves, or that a storm would come up and we'd get struck by
lightning.

In the afternoon old Washington Engle came and he and grandpa sat under
the maple trees and talked old times, even about Indians, for they had
been in the Black Hawk War together, and they had seen the country grow
from buffalo grass to blue grass and clover. I sat there listenin'; and
pretty soon a buggy pulled up and somebody called in a loud voice and
laughed. It was John Armstrong and Aunt Caroline. They had drove over to
visit; and John had brought his fiddle to play some of the old things
for grandma--some of the things he had played years before when Aunt
Mary was sick and grandma was takin' care of her. Grandpa liked gospel
tunes, like "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," but grandma liked "Rocky Road to
Jordan" and "The Speckled Hen"; and John could play these and couldn't
play religious tunes worth a cent. And John told stories as before; and
he told about a man at Oakford who never had any money and always wanted
drinks. So he took a jug and filled it half full of water and went to
Porky Jim Thomas' saloon and asked for a half a gallon of alcohol, and
Porky Jim poured it in. Then this man said to Porky Jim, "Charge it,
please," and Porky Jim says: "Why, you ain't got a cent, and you never
pay anybody." So he took up the jug and poured out what he had poured in
and told the man to take the jug and go. And he did and had, of course,
a half gallon all mixed. John laughed terribly at his own story--the
women didn't laugh, nor grandpa. My uncle did, and I that's all.

Then Aunt Caroline helped grandma get supper and we had a lot of fun and
they drove home.

The next day grandpa started early for Petersburg, so as to be back by
three o'clock for something. And my uncle and me was getting ready
because we was goin' to drive to Blue Lake that night, pitch the camp,
and fish while it was quiet. So we had to grease the wagon and do a lot
of things. And grandpa was to bring Mitch.

Three o'clock looked like it never would come. But at last about three I
saw the white horses on the far hill, and then I saw them pulling hard
and slow up the near hill and I could see grandpa now but couldn't see
Mitch; and I watched and looked. Then I thought he was hid under the
seat; or had dropped off to walk and come in later and fool me.

Grandpa drove in the lot. His face was set. He looked serious. He didn't
look at me. He held the lines and looked straight ahead. I climbed on
the carriage and says, "Where's Mitch?" Just then my uncle came up to
unhitch the horses. My grandpa threw him the lines and grandpa got out
of the carriage. Then he said, speaking really to my uncle and not to
me:

"Mitchie Miller was killed this afternoon on the railroad."

"Grandpa!" I cried. "Grandpa!"

My grandfather's eyes were purple--they had grown deep and almost
terrible to see. And he said: "Yes, son," and hurried toward the house.

I went to the barn. I saddled and bridled my pony. I leaped into the
saddle and struck my heels into the pony's flanks, and away I went in a
run all the way to Petersburg--six miles and not a pause or a let up.

When I got there in a little more than half an hour, I found that they
had Mitch up at the house of Widow Morris. So I went there. He was still
alive--and they let me in. It was terrible. Such a smell of
ether--medicines. Such whisperings--such fullness in the room. The
doctor said we'd have to clear out, some of us. And some left. I staid
long enough to see Mitch. His eyes were closed. His face was yellow--I
could see blood. I turned sick and went out of the room. Just as I got
to the door I heard Mitch say, "Has pa come?" They said, "He's comin',
Mitchie, be patient, he's comin'." Then I stood by the door.

And pretty soon Mrs. Miller came and the girls and my mother and Myrtle
and most every one. It seemed Mr. Miller was away selling atlases, but
would be home soon, maybe, or maybe not till late, and maybe not till
to-morrow. All the girls cried like their hearts would break; and Mrs.
Miller knelt down by the bed, and Mitch says to her, "Where's pa?" And
she says, "He's comin', Mitchie." And then she choked and had to walk
away. They cleared the room now pretty much, and of course Mrs. Miller
allowed me to be in the room if I wanted to, and could stand it. But I
stood by the door, or just inside a little, for Mitch was talkin'.
Finally they let me go to the bedside, and Mitch saw me and says,
"Skeet," and then turned his head kind of over as if he wanted to say
something he couldn't bear to say.

Then Mitch began to talk more. "Don't row so fast," he'd say--"The
river's gettin' swifter. Take the horses from that engine. I'm goin' to
see Tom Sawyer--I can fly to him--fly--fly--fly--Zueline--it's you, is
it?"

Then he kind of woke up and says: "Is Zueline here?" And they said, "No,
but she was comin';" but she wasn't; she was out of town, and probably
wouldn't have come anyway. And then he said--"Get my pa--he must
forgive me before I die."

[Illustration: Mitch Saw Me and Says, "Skeet"]

By this time I knew how Mitch was hurt. He'd been with Charley King and
George Heigold, and they had been flippin' on the train. And Mitch was
ridin' on the side of a car with his foot hangin' down that he had cut
in two, draggin' against the wheel, which he didn't notice because his
foot was numb from being cut in two when he was four or five years old.
So the train gave a lurch and dragged him under; and the wheels cut him
at the hip. It couldn't be amputated by the doctor, and they couldn't
stop the bleedin'.

Then Mitch began to repeat all kinds of poetry from "Hamlet" and things
I didn't know; and he repeated what he had recited to me that day:

     "I saw pale kings and warriors too,
     Pale princes, death pale were they all.
     They said 'La Belle Dame sans Merci
     Hath thee in thrall.'"

And he talked about flyin', about treasure, about St. Louis, about Doc
Lyon, and Joe Rainey and the pistol; and once he talked as if he thought
he was testifyin' in court; and he said--"Now we're on the
Mississippi--how fast the boat goes--don't row so fast." But always he'd
come to and say, "Where's my pa?"

And after a bit there was a stir--Mr. Miller came--pushed his way
through. He was pale as ashes, all trembling, out of breath, for he'd
run up the hill. And he came to the bedside, but Mitch was dreaming
again, drifting and dreaming, and talking about boats, about money,
about Hamlet, about treasure, about pale kings and warriors and
death-pale princes. But pretty soon he says, "Where's my pa? Is he never
comin'?"

"I'm here," said Mr. Miller.

Mitch opened his eyes and looked at his father for about a minute and
saw his pa had come. He was pretty weak now and it was hard for him to
speak. But finally he said, "Take my hand--pa." And Mr. Miller took it.
And then nothin' was said for a while. And then Mitch spoke
again--"Forgive me, pa." And Mr. Miller, who was tryin' to keep from
cryin' so as not to worry Mitch, says, "Oh yes, Mitchie." And then Mitch
says: "Say a little prayer, pa." And Mr. Miller knelt by the bed to say
a prayer, and Mitch says--"Not out loud--just to yourself."

So Mr. Miller did, and then Mitch wandered again and he says, "Don't row
so fast." Then there was a terrible stillness. Mitch had died with them
words.

And my friend--my chum, was gone for good.



CHAPTER XXX


And then there was the funeral. It was held at Mr. Miller's house and
everybody was there; my grandpa, my grandma, my uncle, John Armstrong
and Aunt Caroline, Willie Wallace, Colonel Lambkin, Nigger Dick, Dinah,
my ma and Myrtle, all the Sunday School children, and George Montgomery.
Only Charley King and George Heigold wasn't there. They were afraid,
bein' partly responsible for Mitch's death. And when everybody was
seated and ready, Zueline and her ma came. They was all dressed up, and
everybody looked at 'em. Mr. Miller, of course, couldn't preach the
sermon for his own boy; so they sent for a wonderful preacher over at
Jacksonville and he talked for about an hour about pearly gates and the
golden streets of Paradise; and there was Mitch lyin' there, pale, his
eyes sealed, just asleep, but in such a deep, breathless sleep. And they
had the church choir there which sang. And one of the songs they sang
was:

     I will sing you a song of that beautiful land,
     Of the far away home of the soul,
     Where no storms ever beat on that glittering strand,
     While the years of eternity roll.

And the minister went on to say how good God was, how no sparrow falls
except He knows it, how all our hairs was numbered and how God loves
us, and would comfort the father and mother and brothers and sisters,
and little friends; and how if it hadn't been for the best, Mitch
wouldn't have died; and that God knew best and we didn't; and if we
could look ahead and see the dreadful things that would happen, we'd
know that God was good and wise to take Mitch away before they
happened--while he was yet a boy, and had had no trouble and all the
world was still beautiful to him. And he talked about sin and what
suffering does for people, how it makes 'em humble before God, and
respectful and at last saves 'em if they will heed the lessons and turn
to God. Everybody cried when the last song was sung, especially the
children, who sobbed out loud, and Mr. Miller and Mrs. Miller and the
Miller children--and I looked over at Zueline and her ma. Her ma was
just lookin' down. I thought I saw a tear in Zueline's eyes, but I'm not
sure. So we went out to the cemetery and they buried Mitch not far from
Little Billie. So it was all over. We began to separate and get into
carriages or walk. And pretty soon I was home. There was nothing there.
My ma went in and began to do something. Myrtle went out to the swing. I
went in the house but couldn't stand it; and then came out and hung on
the gate.

After a bit Charley King came along and asked me about everything. Pa
said Mitch had been running with Charley King and George Heigold, and
they got him into things too much for his age, flippin' cars and such
things, and that's how Mitch lost his life. You see I'd been scared
about this; I didn't want Mitch to go with 'em; I didn't know why; but
now it was clear.

And with everything else, it was Sunday, for Mitch had died Friday, four
or five hours after he was run over. And it was only a week now till
school would take up.

The next day I went down to the office with pa. I wanted to be close to
him; he was a man; he was strong, and I was lonesome and grievin', and
at night always dreamin' of Mitch. And after a while Mr. Miller came in,
and Mrs. Miller too. They looked terrible sad and pale. Here was Mr.
Miller out of a church and not makin' much, and here they had lost their
only boy.

So pa went over to his safe and got the $1000; he had it in two
envelopes, one marked with my name and one with Mitch's; and he came
back, holdin' 'em in his hand and he said: "You know that these boys
found that money that belonged to old Nancy Allen. Well, a fellow named
Joe Allen turned up here from Pike County--a third cousin of hers--and
her only livin' relative, and I had this money for him. But when I told
him that these boys had found it while lookin' for treasure, and what
kind of boys they were, the old fellow remembered his own boyhood, his
poverty, and all that and he wanted to do something for these boys. So
he made me take this thousand dollars to divide between 'em." Mrs.
Miller began to sob. And Mr. Miller's voice was broken, but he said,
"Hard, I never heard anything like this--never in my life." "Well,
here's the money," says pa; "and I made Skeet promise not to tell
anybody about it until we got ready to." He stopped; and I, not
thinkin', said: "It was to be a secret till Christmas."

Then Mrs. Miller broke down completely, and for several minutes nothin'
was said. My pa was cryin', so was I. So was Mr. Miller, and just then
the train came in, the same that had killed Mitch, and it seemed like
none of us could stand it.

After a bit pa says: "Of course, half of this money goes to you and Mrs.
Miller under the law, and the other half belongs to Skeet--but I'm not
going to let him take it. He doesn't need it. I can always take care of
him, and I'll inherit quite a lot, and he'll have that. And as far as
that goes, it wasn't his idea to hunt for treasure--he was just a helper
and followed up Mitchie's idea. So now here it is, and it goes with my
blessing and with Skeet's."

And I said, "Indeed it does." And pa handed the envelopes to Mr. Miller,
and he took 'em and fingered 'em in a nervous way and he says: "What
shall we do, ma?--we need the money, but somehow I don't like it, and I
won't take Skeet's share, would you?"

And she says, "No--never--I'd never take Skeet's share; that is
Mitchie's share and his too." "Here," he says, "here's the envelope
marked with Mitchie's name, you take this, Skeet, because you and
Mitchie worked together, and if you want to give me the envelope marked
with your name, I guess I'll take it--I seem to have to."

So that's the way it was done. And he said to pa: "Hard, there never was
a better man than you, or a better name or family than yours, or a
better boy than Skeet." Then the tears came in his eyes, and he and Mrs.
Miller left. And afterwards I said to pa, "I don't want this money. If I
could have had it with Mitch, if we could have spent it together for
velocipedes--and dogs, and sets of tools, for scroll saws, watches and
whatever we wanted, and soda water, when we wanted it, and bananas,
which we never had much because they cost ten cents apiece--for
anything, that would have been different. But now it's just so much rags
or paper, and I haven't got any use for it whatever. I am Huck Finn at
last--the money means nothing to me. It meant nothing to Huck, because
when he got it, he had to put on shoes and dress up. And now I've got
it, I've lost the only thing that made it worth while. I've lost Mitch
who made it interestin' to get, and would have made it interestin' to
spend."

Then I told pa I wanted to give it to the Miller girls, barrin' just a
few dollars to buy a present for ma and grandma and Myrtle, maybe--and I
wanted them to take enough to put up a stone at Mitch's grave with some
words on it, suitable to him.

So pa said he thought that was all right. And I took out $20 and we put
the rest in the bank in the names of the Miller girls--and that ended
the treasure.

So next Monday school commenced, and I sat in my seat lookin' out of the
window. Zueline had been taken to a girls' school in Springfield so as
to get her out of the common schools; and her mother had gone with her
to stay all winter. And every day the train came through that Mitch was
killed on. The days went by; the fall went by; the winter came. The snow
began to fall on Mitch's grave and Little Billie's; and still we went
on. Delia got the meals as before; the washwoman came and did the
washing on Monday; pa was buying wood for the stoves; we had to be
fitted out for winter. Grandma and grandpa came in to see us, cheerful
and kind as they always were. Once he carried a half a pig up the hill
and brought it to us; and they were always giving us things; and grandma
was always knitting me mittens and socks. They had lost a lot of
children, two little girls the same summer, a daughter who was grown, a
grown son who was drowned. They seemed to take Mitchie's death and
Little Billie's death as natural and to be stood. And they said it
wouldn't be long before we'd all be together, never to be separated; and
then we'd all be really happy.

And finally the December court came around and they tried Temple Scott.
Harold Carman testified to what he had said to the woman on the boat.
And Major Abbott was kerflummoxed and lost the case. Temple Scott got
fourteen years in prison--and that ended that. He went there and staid.

And then Christmas came and in the evening I went up to the Millers'.
The girls were playing about the same as before. Mr. Miller was reading
Shakespeare to Mrs. Miller and he looked up finally and said, "Ma, I've
just thought of an epitaph for Mitchie's stone--here it is in 'Hamlet':
'The rest is silence.'" And Mrs. Miller said "yes" and put her knitting
down to count stitches. The girls rushed into the room laughing and
chasing each other. And then I went home.

I had presents, but what was presents? My chum was gone. I thought of
the last Christmas when we was all together--Mitch was here then and
Little Billie. I couldn't enjoy anything. I crept up to bed and fell
asleep and dreamed of Mitch.

       *       *       *       *       *

You will be surprised to know how I came to write this story. But before
I tell you that I want to say that if Mitch had written it, it would
have been much better. I sit here, dipping my nose in the Gascon wine,
so to speak, as Thackeray wrote of himself; and I know now that Mitch
was a poet. He would have made poems out of his life and mine, beautiful
songs of this country, of Illinois, of the people we knew, of the
honest, kindly men and women we knew; the sweet-faced old women who were
born in Kentucky or Tennessee, or came here to Illinois early in their
youth; the strong, courtly, old-fashioned men, carrying with them the
early traditions of the republic, in their way Lincolns--honest, truth
telling, industrious, courageous Americans--plain and unlettered, many
of them, but full of the sterling virtues. Yes, he would have written
poems out of these people; and he would have done something more--he
would have given us symbols, songs of eternal truth, of unutterable
magic and profound meaning like "La Belle Dame sans Merci." I am sure he
would have done something of this kind--though it is idle to say he
would have written anything as immortal as that. You must only indulge
me in my partiality for Mitch, and my belief in his genius, and hope
with me that he might have done these great things.

And yet! And now why did I write this story? As I was sitting with my
nose in the Gascon wine, which is a strange figure, since there is no
Gascon wine here, and no wine of any sort, since a strange sort of
despot has got control of the country, for the time being only, I
hope--as I said, as I was sitting with my nose in the Gascon wine, I was
also reading, and I was alone. I have had chums, I have had companions,
but none like Mitch, never in all my life. And being alone, I was
reading--what do you suppose? I had been out for the evening, I had
found a book lying on the table of my host, I had looked in the book and
begun to read. My host saw I was intrigued and said, "Take it along." I
did, and was reading before going to bed. The book was the letters of
John Keats to Fannie Brawne.--Well, don't you suppose these letters made
me think of Mitch who had repeated "La Belle Dame sans Merci" to me and
was uttering some of its marvelous lines with his dying breath? But this
was not all. Let me quote one of Keats' letters to Fanny Brawne:

     "When you were in the habit of flirting with Brown, you would
     have left off, could your own heart have felt one half of one
     pang mine did. Brown is a good sort of man--he did not know he
     was doing me to death by inches. I feel the effect of every one of
     those hours in my side now; and for that cause, though he has done
     me many services, though I know his love and friendship for me,
     though at this moment I should be without pence were it not for his
     assistance, I will never see or speak to him, until we are both old
     men, if we are to be. I will resent my heart having been made a
     football. You will call this madness. I have heard you say that it
     was not unpleasant to wait a few years--you have amusements--your
     mind is away,--you have not brooded over one idea as I have, and
     how should you? You are to me an object intensely desirable--the
     air I breathe in a room empty of you is unhealthy. I am not the
     same to you--no--you can wait--you have a thousand activities--you
     can be happy without me. Any party, any thing to fill up the day
     has been enough. How have you passed this month? Who have you
     smiled with? All this may seem savage in me. You do not feel as I
     do--you do not know what it is to love--one day you may--your time
     is not come. Ask yourself how many unhappy hours Keats has caused
     you in loneliness. For myself I have been a martyr the whole time,
     and for this reason I speak; the confession is forced from me by
     the torture. I appeal to you by the blood of Christ you believe in.
     Do not write to me if you have done anything this month which it
     would have harried me to have seen. You may have altered--if you
     have not--if you still behave in dancing rooms and other societies
     as I have seen you--I do not want to live--if you have done so, I
     wish this coming night may be my last. I cannot live without you
     and not only you but chaste you; virtuous you. The sun rises and
     sets, the day passes, and you follow the bent of your inclinations
     to a certain extent--you have no conception of the quantity of
     miserable feeling that passes through me in a day--Be serious. Love
     is not a plaything--and again do not write unless you can do it
     with a crystal conscience. I would sooner die for want of you
     than--
                                                   "Yours forever,
                                                   "J. Keats."


Then I turned back a few pages in my disconnected way of reading this
book, and I found these words: Fannie Brawne to whom this agonized
letter of Keats' was written wrote to a Mr. Dilke ten years after Keats'
death in regard to a memoir proposed to the dead, and in the following
unconcerned and ignorant way:

     "The kindest act would be to let him rest forever in the
     obscurity to which circumstances have condemned him."

No remembrance here for Keats' adoration; no thrill that a human heart,
even if it had been the heart of an ordinary man, had poured out its
last devotion to hers; no pity for his obscurity, if it was such, his
untimely and tragic death; no recognition of his passion for beauty,
including his misguided passion for the beauty which was not in her; no
perception of the goodness in the man, the bravery of his heart; the
white fire of his spirit; no understanding of his greatness, even after
Byron had written that "Hyperion" was as sublime as Æschylus, and
Shelley had poured out in "Adonais" the grief and the passion of a
flaming indignation and scorn in one of the greatest of elegies; no
memory contemplating the agony of a dying youth stricken with
consumption, and torn with the tragic spectacle of defeated ambition.
"Let him rest forever in the obscurity to which circumstances have
condemned him."--These were her words in the face of all these things.

And so, reading these words of Fanny Brawne, my mind turned back to
Mitch, and his life rose before me and took shape in my mind, and I
wrote; just because he had had this boyhood love for Zueline and went
through that summer of torture for losing her. And I could see that he
might have suffered these pangs again; that over and over again,
perhaps, he might have poured out his passion in the endless search for
beauty and faith, and in the search for realization and glimpses of
eternal things through them, and that he would have never found them,
through woman; and so thinking I could look back upon his death at
twelve years of age with complacency, and almost with gladness.

But also if he had lived through as many years as I have lived, he would
have passed through the chaos, the dust, the hate, the untruth that
followed the Civil War. He would have seen an army organization
exercising a control in the affairs of the republic beyond its right,
and ideas that were dead and were never rightfully alive, keeping the
people of his country from pulling themselves out of poverties and
injustices, and from planting themselves upon the new soil of each
succeeding year and its needs. He would have seen wealth amass through
legalized privilege into the hands of treasure hunters; and he would
have seen these treasure hunters make and interpret the laws their own
way, and in behalf of the treasure they had and were seeking. He would
have seen his country go forth to free an island people, and then turn
and subjugate another island people as a part of the same war, and then
depart from the old ways into paths of world adventure and plunder. And
he would have seen his country spend ten times what it spent in the
Civil War and lose in battles or disease half as many young men as it
lost in the Civil War in the crusade of making the world safe for
democracy; and he would have seen democracy throttled and almost
destroyed at home, and democracy abroad helped no whit by this terrible
war. He would have seen that all these things happen for treasure--for
gold which cares nothing for laws, nothing for liberties, nothing for
beauty, nothing for human life, but always seeks its own everywhere and
always, which is its own increase and its own conservation. He would
have seen men jailed for nothing and sacred rights swept away by the
sneers of judges, and written safeguards of the people's liberties by
those very judges sworn to support, overthrown by them, at the bidding
of treasure hunters who stand back of hired orators, hired newspapers,
hired clergymen, hired lawyers, and hired officials. He would have seen
congresses uttering and acting upon lies, and his country bound together
with a network of elaborate falsehood.

The America his father hoped for and the America he would have hoped for
sits for the time being, anyway, in dullness and in dust. And so I am
not sorry that for these nearly thirty years, Mitchie Miller has been
dust, a part of the hill overlooking the Sangamon River, not far from
the deserted village of Old Salem--his dust at one with the hill and
sharing its own eternity!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Printed in the United States of America.

STARVED ROCK
TOWARDS THE GULF
THE GREAT VALLEY
SONGS AND SATIRES
SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY
With Additional Poems





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