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Title: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Author: Twain, Mark
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" ***




(Tom Sawyer’s Comrade)

By Mark Twain



CHAPTER I. Civilizing Huck.--Miss Watson.--Tom Sawyer Waits.

CHAPTER II. The Boys Escape Jim.--Torn Sawyer’s Gang.--Deep-laid Plans.

CHAPTER III. A Good Going-over.--Grace Triumphant.--“One of Tom Sawyers’s

CHAPTER IV. Huck and the Judge.--Superstition.

CHAPTER V. Huck’s Father.--The Fond Parent.--Reform.

CHAPTER VI. He Went for Judge Thatcher.--Huck Decided to Leave.--Political
Economy.--Thrashing Around.

CHAPTER VII. Laying for Him.--Locked in the Cabin.--Sinking the

CHAPTER VIII. Sleeping in the Woods.--Raising the Dead.--Exploring the
Island.--Finding Jim.--Jim’s Escape.--Signs.--Balum.

CHAPTER IX. The Cave.--The Floating House.

CHAPTER X. The Find.--Old Hank Bunker.--In Disguise.

CHAPTER XI. Huck and the Woman.--The Search.--Prevarication.--Going to

CHAPTER XII. Slow Navigation.--Borrowing Things.--Boarding the Wreck.--The
Plotters.--Hunting for the Boat.

CHAPTER XIII. Escaping from the Wreck.--The Watchman.--Sinking.

CHAPTER XIV. A General Good Time.--The Harem.--French.

CHAPTER XV. Huck Loses the Raft.--In the Fog.--Huck Finds the Raft.--Trash.

CHAPTER XVI. Expectation.--A White Lie.--Floating Currency.--Running by
Cairo.--Swimming Ashore.

CHAPTER XVII. An Evening Call.--The Farm in Arkansaw.--Interior
Decorations.--Stephen Dowling Bots.--Poetical Effusions.

CHAPTER XVIII. Col. Grangerford.--Aristocracy.--Feuds.--The
Testament.--Recovering the Raft.--The Wood--pile.--Pork and Cabbage.

CHAPTER XIX. Tying Up Day--times.--An Astronomical Theory.--Running a
Temperance Revival.--The Duke of Bridgewater.--The Troubles of Royalty.

CHAPTER XX. Huck Explains.--Laying Out a Campaign.--Working the
Camp--meeting.--A Pirate at the Camp--meeting.--The Duke as a Printer.

CHAPTER XXI. Sword Exercise.--Hamlet’s Soliloquy.--They Loafed Around
Town.--A Lazy Town.--Old Boggs.--Dead.

CHAPTER XXII. Sherburn.--Attending the Circus.--Intoxication in the
Ring.--The Thrilling Tragedy.

CHAPTER XXIII. Sold.--Royal Comparisons.--Jim Gets Home-sick.

CHAPTER XXIV. Jim in Royal Robes.--They Take a Passenger.--Getting
Information.--Family Grief.

CHAPTER XXV. Is It Them?--Singing the “Doxologer.”--Awful Square--Funeral
Orgies.--A Bad Investment .

CHAPTER XXVI. A Pious King.--The King’s Clergy.--She Asked His
Pardon.--Hiding in the Room.--Huck Takes the Money.

CHAPTER XXVII. The Funeral.--Satisfying Curiosity.--Suspicious of
Huck,--Quick Sales and Small.

CHAPTER XXVIII. The Trip to England.--“The Brute!”--Mary Jane Decides to
Leave.--Huck Parting with Mary Jane.--Mumps.--The Opposition Line.

CHAPTER XXIX. Contested Relationship.--The King Explains the Loss.--A
Question of Handwriting.--Digging up the Corpse.--Huck Escapes.

CHAPTER XXX. The King Went for Him.--A Royal Row.--Powerful Mellow.

CHAPTER XXXI. Ominous Plans.--News from Jim.--Old Recollections.--A Sheep
Story.--Valuable Information.

CHAPTER XXXII. Still and Sunday--like.--Mistaken Identity.--Up a Stump.--In
a Dilemma.

CHAPTER XXXIII. A Nigger Stealer.--Southern Hospitality.--A Pretty Long
Blessing.--Tar and Feathers.

CHAPTER XXXIV. The Hut by the Ash Hopper.--Outrageous.--Climbing the
Lightning Rod.--Troubled with Witches.

CHAPTER XXXV. Escaping Properly.--Dark Schemes.--Discrimination in
Stealing.--A Deep Hole.

CHAPTER XXXVI. The Lightning Rod.--His Level Best.--A Bequest to
Posterity.--A High Figure.

CHAPTER XXXVII. The Last Shirt.--Mooning Around.--Sailing Orders.--The
Witch Pie.

CHAPTER XXXVIII. The Coat of Arms.--A Skilled Superintendent.--Unpleasant
Glory.--A Tearful Subject.

CHAPTER XXXIX. Rats.--Lively Bed--fellows.--The Straw Dummy.

CHAPTER XL. Fishing.--The Vigilance Committee.--A Lively Run.--Jim Advises
a Doctor.

CHAPTER XLI. The Doctor.--Uncle Silas.--Sister Hotchkiss.--Aunt Sally in

CHAPTER XLII. Tom Sawyer Wounded.--The Doctor’s Story.--Tom
Confesses.--Aunt Polly Arrives.--Hand Out Them Letters    .

CHAPTER THE LAST. Out of Bondage.--Paying the Captive.--Yours Truly, Huck


The Widows

Moses and the “Bulrushers”

Miss Watson

Huck Stealing Away

They Tip-toed Along


Tom Sawyer’s Band of Robbers  

Huck Creeps into his Window

Miss Watson’s Lecture

The Robbers Dispersed

Rubbing the Lamp

! ! ! !

Judge Thatcher surprised

Jim Listening


Huck and his Father

Reforming the Drunkard

Falling from Grace

The Widows

Moses and the “Bulrushers”

Miss Watson

Huck Stealing Away

They Tip-toed Along


Tom Sawyer’s Band of Robbers  

Huck Creeps into his Window

Miss Watson’s Lecture

The Robbers Dispersed

Rubbing the Lamp

! ! ! !

Judge Thatcher surprised

Jim Listening


Huck and his Father

Reforming the Drunkard

Falling from Grace

Getting out of the Way

Solid Comfort

Thinking it Over

Raising a Howl

“Git Up”

The Shanty

Shooting the Pig

Taking a Rest

In the Woods

Watching the Boat

Discovering the Camp Fire

Jim and the Ghost

Misto Bradish’s Nigger

Exploring the Cave

In the Cave

Jim sees a Dead Man

They Found Eight Dollars

Jim and the Snake

Old Hank Bunker

“A Fair Fit”

“Come In”

“Him and another Man”

She puts up a Snack

“Hump Yourself”

On the Raft

He sometimes Lifted a Chicken

“Please don’t, Bill”

“It ain’t Good Morals”

“Oh! Lordy, Lordy!”

In a Fix

“Hello, What’s Up?”

The Wreck

We turned in and Slept

Turning over the Truck

Solomon and his Million Wives

The story of “Sollermun”

“We Would Sell the Raft”

Among the Snags

Asleep on the Raft

“Something being Raftsman”

“Boy, that’s a Lie”

“Here I is, Huck”

Climbing up the Bank

“Who’s There?”


“It made Her look Spidery”

“They got him out and emptied Him”  

The House

Col. Grangerford

Young Harney Shepherdson

Miss Charlotte

“And asked me if I Liked Her”

“Behind the Wood-pile”

Hiding Day-times

“And Dogs a-Coming”

“By rights I am a Duke!”

“I am the Late Dauphin”

Tail Piece

On the Raft

The King as Juliet

“Courting on the Sly”

“A Pirate for Thirty Years”

Another little Job


Hamlet’s Soliloquy

“Gimme a Chaw”

A Little Monthly Drunk

The Death of Boggs

Sherburn steps out

A Dead Head

He shed Seventeen Suits


Their Pockets Bulged

Henry the Eighth in Boston Harbor



He fairly emptied that Young Fellow

“Alas, our Poor Brother”

“You Bet it is”


Making up the “Deffisit”

Going for him

The Doctor

The Bag of Money

The Cubby

Supper with the Hare-Lip

Honest Injun

The Duke looks under the Bed

Huck takes the Money

A Crack in the Dining-room Door

The Undertaker

“He had a Rat!”

“Was you in my Room?”


In Trouble


How to Find Them

He Wrote

Hannah with the Mumps

The Auction

The True Brothers

The Doctor leads Huck

The Duke Wrote

“Gentlemen, Gentlemen!”

“Jim Lit Out”

The King shakes Huck

The Duke went for Him

Spanish Moss

“Who Nailed Him?”


He gave him Ten Cents

Striking for the Back Country

Still and Sunday-like

She hugged him tight

“Who do you reckon it is?”

“It was Tom Sawyer”

“Mr. Archibald Nichols, I presume?”

A pretty long Blessing

Traveling By Rail


A Simple Job


Getting Wood

One of the Best Authorities

The Breakfast-Horn

Smouching the Knives

Going down the Lightning-Rod

Stealing spoons

Tom advises a Witch Pie

The Rubbage-Pile

“Missus, dey’s a Sheet Gone”

In a Tearing Way

One of his Ancestors

Jim’s Coat of Arms

A Tough Job

Buttons on their Tails


Keeping off Dull Times

Sawdust Diet

Trouble is Brewing


Every one had a Gun

Tom caught on a Splinter

Jim advises a Doctor

The Doctor

Uncle Silas in Danger

Old Mrs. Hotchkiss

Aunt Sally talks to Huck

Tom Sawyer wounded

The Doctor speaks for Jim

Tom rose square up in Bed

“Hand out them Letters”

Out of Bondage

Tom’s Liberality

Yours Truly


IN this book a number of dialects are used, to wit:  the Missouri negro
dialect; the extremest form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect; the
ordinary “Pike County” dialect; and four modified varieties of this
last. The shadings have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by
guesswork; but painstakingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and
support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech.

I make this explanation for the reason that without it many readers
would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and
not succeeding.



Scene:  The Mississippi Valley Time:  Forty to fifty years ago


YOU don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The
Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter.  That book was made
by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.  There was things
which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.  That is nothing.  I
never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt
Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary.  Aunt Polly--Tom’s Aunt Polly, she
is--and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which
is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.

Now the way that the book winds up is this:  Tom and me found the money
that the robbers hid in the cave, and it made us rich.  We got six
thousand dollars apiece--all gold.  It was an awful sight of money when
it was piled up.  Well, Judge Thatcher he took it and put it out
at interest, and it fetched us a dollar a day apiece all the year
round--more than a body could tell what to do with.  The Widow Douglas
she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was
rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular
and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn’t stand
it no longer I lit out.  I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead
again, and was free and satisfied.  But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and
said he was going to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I
would go back to the widow and be respectable.  So I went back.

The widow she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb, and she
called me a lot of other names, too, but she never meant no harm by
it. She put me in them new clothes again, and I couldn’t do nothing but
sweat and sweat, and feel all cramped up.  Well, then, the old thing
commenced again.  The widow rung a bell for supper, and you had to come
to time. When you got to the table you couldn’t go right to eating, but
you had to wait for the widow to tuck down her head and grumble a little
over the victuals, though there warn’t really anything the matter with
them,--that is, nothing only everything was cooked by itself.  In a
barrel of odds and ends it is different; things get mixed up, and the
juice kind of swaps around, and the things go better.

After supper she got out her book and learned me about Moses and the
Bulrushers, and I was in a sweat to find out all about him; but by and
by she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so
then I didn’t care no more about him, because I don’t take no stock in
dead people.

Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow to let me.  But she
wouldn’t.  She said it was a mean practice and wasn’t clean, and I must
try to not do it any more.  That is just the way with some people.  They
get down on a thing when they don’t know nothing about it.  Here she was
a-bothering about Moses, which was no kin to her, and no use to anybody,
being gone, you see, yet finding a power of fault with me for doing a
thing that had some good in it.  And she took snuff, too; of course that
was all right, because she done it herself.

Her sister, Miss Watson, a tolerable slim old maid, with goggles on,
had just come to live with her, and took a set at me now with a
spelling-book. She worked me middling hard for about an hour, and then
the widow made her ease up.  I couldn’t stood it much longer.  Then for
an hour it was deadly dull, and I was fidgety.  Miss Watson would say,
“Don’t put your feet up there, Huckleberry;” and “Don’t scrunch up
like that, Huckleberry--set up straight;” and pretty soon she would
say, “Don’t gap and stretch like that, Huckleberry--why don’t you try to
behave?”  Then she told me all about the bad place, and I said I wished
I was there. She got mad then, but I didn’t mean no harm.  All I wanted
was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn’t particular.
 She said it was wicked to say what I said; said she wouldn’t say it for
the whole world; she was going to live so as to go to the good place.
 Well, I couldn’t see no advantage in going where she was going, so I
made up my mind I wouldn’t try for it.  But I never said so, because it
would only make trouble, and wouldn’t do no good.

Now she had got a start, and she went on and told me all about the good
place.  She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all
day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever.  So I didn’t think
much of it. But I never said so.  I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer
would go there, and she said not by a considerable sight.  I was glad
about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.

Miss Watson she kept pecking at me, and it got tiresome and lonesome.
 By and by they fetched the niggers in and had prayers, and then
everybody was off to bed.  I went up to my room with a piece of candle,
and put it on the table.  Then I set down in a chair by the window and
tried to think of something cheerful, but it warn’t no use.  I felt
so lonesome I most wished I was dead.  The stars were shining, and the
leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away
off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a
dog crying about somebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying
to whisper something to me, and I couldn’t make out what it was, and so
it made the cold shivers run over me. Then away out in the woods I heard
that kind of a sound that a ghost makes when it wants to tell about
something that’s on its mind and can’t make itself understood, and so
can’t rest easy in its grave, and has to go about that way every night
grieving.  I got so down-hearted and scared I did wish I had some
company.  Pretty soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder, and I
flipped it off and it lit in the candle; and before I could budge it
was all shriveled up.  I didn’t need anybody to tell me that that was
an awful bad sign and would fetch me some bad luck, so I was scared
and most shook the clothes off of me. I got up and turned around in my
tracks three times and crossed my breast every time; and then I tied
up a little lock of my hair with a thread to keep witches away.  But
I hadn’t no confidence.  You do that when you’ve lost a horseshoe that
you’ve found, instead of nailing it up over the door, but I hadn’t ever
heard anybody say it was any way to keep off bad luck when you’d killed
a spider.

I set down again, a-shaking all over, and got out my pipe for a smoke;
for the house was all as still as death now, and so the widow wouldn’t
know. Well, after a long time I heard the clock away off in the town
go boom--boom--boom--twelve licks; and all still again--stiller than
ever. Pretty soon I heard a twig snap down in the dark amongst the
trees--something was a stirring.  I set still and listened.  Directly I
could just barely hear a “me-yow! me-yow!” down there.  That was good!
 Says I, “me-yow! me-yow!” as soft as I could, and then I put out the
light and scrambled out of the window on to the shed.  Then I slipped
down to the ground and crawled in among the trees, and, sure enough,
there was Tom Sawyer waiting for me.


WE went tiptoeing along a path amongst the trees back towards the end of
the widow’s garden, stooping down so as the branches wouldn’t scrape our
heads. When we was passing by the kitchen I fell over a root and made
a noise.  We scrouched down and laid still.  Miss Watson’s big nigger,
named Jim, was setting in the kitchen door; we could see him pretty
clear, because there was a light behind him.  He got up and stretched
his neck out about a minute, listening.  Then he says:

“Who dah?”

He listened some more; then he come tiptoeing down and stood right
between us; we could a touched him, nearly.  Well, likely it was
minutes and minutes that there warn’t a sound, and we all there so close
together.  There was a place on my ankle that got to itching, but I
dasn’t scratch it; and then my ear begun to itch; and next my back,
right between my shoulders.  Seemed like I’d die if I couldn’t scratch.
 Well, I’ve noticed that thing plenty times since.  If you are with
the quality, or at a funeral, or trying to go to sleep when you ain’t
sleepy--if you are anywheres where it won’t do for you to scratch, why
you will itch all over in upwards of a thousand places. Pretty soon Jim

“Say, who is you?  Whar is you?  Dog my cats ef I didn’ hear sumf’n.
Well, I know what I’s gwyne to do:  I’s gwyne to set down here and
listen tell I hears it agin.”

So he set down on the ground betwixt me and Tom.  He leaned his back up
against a tree, and stretched his legs out till one of them most touched
one of mine.  My nose begun to itch.  It itched till the tears come into
my eyes.  But I dasn’t scratch.  Then it begun to itch on the inside.
Next I got to itching underneath.  I didn’t know how I was going to set
still. This miserableness went on as much as six or seven minutes; but
it seemed a sight longer than that.  I was itching in eleven different
places now.  I reckoned I couldn’t stand it more’n a minute longer,
but I set my teeth hard and got ready to try.  Just then Jim begun
to breathe heavy; next he begun to snore--and then I was pretty soon
comfortable again.

Tom he made a sign to me--kind of a little noise with his mouth--and we
went creeping away on our hands and knees.  When we was ten foot off Tom
whispered to me, and wanted to tie Jim to the tree for fun.  But I said
no; he might wake and make a disturbance, and then they’d find out I
warn’t in. Then Tom said he hadn’t got candles enough, and he would slip
in the kitchen and get some more.  I didn’t want him to try.  I said Jim
might wake up and come.  But Tom wanted to resk it; so we slid in there
and got three candles, and Tom laid five cents on the table for pay.
Then we got out, and I was in a sweat to get away; but nothing would do
Tom but he must crawl to where Jim was, on his hands and knees, and play
something on him.  I waited, and it seemed a good while, everything was
so still and lonesome.

As soon as Tom was back we cut along the path, around the garden fence,
and by and by fetched up on the steep top of the hill the other side of
the house.  Tom said he slipped Jim’s hat off of his head and hung it
on a limb right over him, and Jim stirred a little, but he didn’t wake.
Afterwards Jim said the witches be witched him and put him in a trance,
and rode him all over the State, and then set him under the trees again,
and hung his hat on a limb to show who done it.  And next time Jim told
it he said they rode him down to New Orleans; and, after that, every
time he told it he spread it more and more, till by and by he said they
rode him all over the world, and tired him most to death, and his back
was all over saddle-boils.  Jim was monstrous proud about it, and he
got so he wouldn’t hardly notice the other niggers.  Niggers would come
miles to hear Jim tell about it, and he was more looked up to than any
nigger in that country.  Strange niggers would stand with their mouths
open and look him all over, same as if he was a wonder.  Niggers is
always talking about witches in the dark by the kitchen fire; but
whenever one was talking and letting on to know all about such things,
Jim would happen in and say, “Hm!  What you know ‘bout witches?” and
that nigger was corked up and had to take a back seat.  Jim always kept
that five-center piece round his neck with a string, and said it was a
charm the devil give to him with his own hands, and told him he could
cure anybody with it and fetch witches whenever he wanted to just by
saying something to it; but he never told what it was he said to it.
 Niggers would come from all around there and give Jim anything they
had, just for a sight of that five-center piece; but they wouldn’t touch
it, because the devil had had his hands on it.  Jim was most ruined for
a servant, because he got stuck up on account of having seen the devil
and been rode by witches.

Well, when Tom and me got to the edge of the hilltop we looked away down
into the village and could see three or four lights twinkling, where
there was sick folks, maybe; and the stars over us was sparkling ever
so fine; and down by the village was the river, a whole mile broad, and
awful still and grand.  We went down the hill and found Jo Harper and
Ben Rogers, and two or three more of the boys, hid in the old tanyard.
 So we unhitched a skiff and pulled down the river two mile and a half,
to the big scar on the hillside, and went ashore.

We went to a clump of bushes, and Tom made everybody swear to keep the
secret, and then showed them a hole in the hill, right in the thickest
part of the bushes.  Then we lit the candles, and crawled in on our
hands and knees.  We went about two hundred yards, and then the cave
opened up. Tom poked about amongst the passages, and pretty soon ducked
under a wall where you wouldn’t a noticed that there was a hole.  We
went along a narrow place and got into a kind of room, all damp and
sweaty and cold, and there we stopped.  Tom says:

“Now, we’ll start this band of robbers and call it Tom Sawyer’s Gang.
Everybody that wants to join has got to take an oath, and write his name
in blood.”

Everybody was willing.  So Tom got out a sheet of paper that he had
wrote the oath on, and read it.  It swore every boy to stick to the
band, and never tell any of the secrets; and if anybody done anything to
any boy in the band, whichever boy was ordered to kill that person and
his family must do it, and he mustn’t eat and he mustn’t sleep till he
had killed them and hacked a cross in their breasts, which was the sign
of the band. And nobody that didn’t belong to the band could use that
mark, and if he did he must be sued; and if he done it again he must be
killed.  And if anybody that belonged to the band told the secrets, he
must have his throat cut, and then have his carcass burnt up and the
ashes scattered all around, and his name blotted off of the list with
blood and never mentioned again by the gang, but have a curse put on it
and be forgot forever.

Everybody said it was a real beautiful oath, and asked Tom if he got
it out of his own head.  He said, some of it, but the rest was out of
pirate-books and robber-books, and every gang that was high-toned had

Some thought it would be good to kill the _families_ of boys that told
the secrets.  Tom said it was a good idea, so he took a pencil and wrote
it in. Then Ben Rogers says:

“Here’s Huck Finn, he hain’t got no family; what you going to do ‘bout

“Well, hain’t he got a father?” says Tom Sawyer.

“Yes, he’s got a father, but you can’t never find him these days.  He
used to lay drunk with the hogs in the tanyard, but he hain’t been seen
in these parts for a year or more.”

They talked it over, and they was going to rule me out, because they
said every boy must have a family or somebody to kill, or else it
wouldn’t be fair and square for the others.  Well, nobody could think of
anything to do--everybody was stumped, and set still.  I was most ready
to cry; but all at once I thought of a way, and so I offered them Miss
Watson--they could kill her.  Everybody said:

“Oh, she’ll do.  That’s all right.  Huck can come in.”

Then they all stuck a pin in their fingers to get blood to sign with,
and I made my mark on the paper.

“Now,” says Ben Rogers, “what’s the line of business of this Gang?”

“Nothing only robbery and murder,” Tom said.

“But who are we going to rob?--houses, or cattle, or--”

“Stuff! stealing cattle and such things ain’t robbery; it’s burglary,”
 says Tom Sawyer.  “We ain’t burglars.  That ain’t no sort of style.  We
are highwaymen.  We stop stages and carriages on the road, with masks
on, and kill the people and take their watches and money.”

“Must we always kill the people?”

“Oh, certainly.  It’s best.  Some authorities think different, but
mostly it’s considered best to kill them--except some that you bring to
the cave here, and keep them till they’re ransomed.”

“Ransomed?  What’s that?”

“I don’t know.  But that’s what they do.  I’ve seen it in books; and so
of course that’s what we’ve got to do.”

“But how can we do it if we don’t know what it is?”

“Why, blame it all, we’ve _got_ to do it.  Don’t I tell you it’s in the
books?  Do you want to go to doing different from what’s in the books,
and get things all muddled up?”

“Oh, that’s all very fine to _say_, Tom Sawyer, but how in the nation
are these fellows going to be ransomed if we don’t know how to do it
to them?--that’s the thing I want to get at.  Now, what do you reckon it

“Well, I don’t know.  But per’aps if we keep them till they’re ransomed,
it means that we keep them till they’re dead.”

“Now, that’s something _like_.  That’ll answer.  Why couldn’t you said
that before?  We’ll keep them till they’re ransomed to death; and a
bothersome lot they’ll be, too--eating up everything, and always trying
to get loose.”

“How you talk, Ben Rogers.  How can they get loose when there’s a guard
over them, ready to shoot them down if they move a peg?”

“A guard!  Well, that _is_ good.  So somebody’s got to set up all night
and never get any sleep, just so as to watch them.  I think that’s
foolishness. Why can’t a body take a club and ransom them as soon as
they get here?”

“Because it ain’t in the books so--that’s why.  Now, Ben Rogers, do you
want to do things regular, or don’t you?--that’s the idea.  Don’t you
reckon that the people that made the books knows what’s the correct
thing to do?  Do you reckon _you_ can learn ‘em anything?  Not by a good
deal. No, sir, we’ll just go on and ransom them in the regular way.”

“All right.  I don’t mind; but I say it’s a fool way, anyhow.  Say, do
we kill the women, too?”

“Well, Ben Rogers, if I was as ignorant as you I wouldn’t let on.  Kill
the women?  No; nobody ever saw anything in the books like that.  You
fetch them to the cave, and you’re always as polite as pie to them;
and by and by they fall in love with you, and never want to go home any

“Well, if that’s the way I’m agreed, but I don’t take no stock in it.
Mighty soon we’ll have the cave so cluttered up with women, and fellows
waiting to be ransomed, that there won’t be no place for the robbers.
But go ahead, I ain’t got nothing to say.”

Little Tommy Barnes was asleep now, and when they waked him up he was
scared, and cried, and said he wanted to go home to his ma, and didn’t
want to be a robber any more.

So they all made fun of him, and called him cry-baby, and that made him
mad, and he said he would go straight and tell all the secrets.  But
Tom give him five cents to keep quiet, and said we would all go home and
meet next week, and rob somebody and kill some people.

Ben Rogers said he couldn’t get out much, only Sundays, and so he wanted
to begin next Sunday; but all the boys said it would be wicked to do it
on Sunday, and that settled the thing.  They agreed to get together and
fix a day as soon as they could, and then we elected Tom Sawyer first
captain and Jo Harper second captain of the Gang, and so started home.

I clumb up the shed and crept into my window just before day was
breaking. My new clothes was all greased up and clayey, and I was


WELL, I got a good going-over in the morning from old Miss Watson on
account of my clothes; but the widow she didn’t scold, but only cleaned
off the grease and clay, and looked so sorry that I thought I would
behave awhile if I could.  Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet
and prayed, but nothing come of it.  She told me to pray every day, and
whatever I asked for I would get it.  But it warn’t so.  I tried it.
Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks.  It warn’t any good to me without
hooks.  I tried for the hooks three or four times, but somehow I
couldn’t make it work.  By and by, one day, I asked Miss Watson to
try for me, but she said I was a fool.  She never told me why, and I
couldn’t make it out no way.

I set down one time back in the woods, and had a long think about it.
 I says to myself, if a body can get anything they pray for, why don’t
Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork?  Why can’t the widow get
back her silver snuffbox that was stole?  Why can’t Miss Watson fat up?
No, says I to my self, there ain’t nothing in it.  I went and told the
widow about it, and she said the thing a body could get by praying for
it was “spiritual gifts.”  This was too many for me, but she told me
what she meant--I must help other people, and do everything I could for
other people, and look out for them all the time, and never think about
myself. This was including Miss Watson, as I took it.  I went out in the
woods and turned it over in my mind a long time, but I couldn’t see no
advantage about it--except for the other people; so at last I reckoned
I wouldn’t worry about it any more, but just let it go.  Sometimes the
widow would take me one side and talk about Providence in a way to make
a body’s mouth water; but maybe next day Miss Watson would take hold
and knock it all down again.  I judged I could see that there was two
Providences, and a poor chap would stand considerable show with the
widow’s Providence, but if Miss Watson’s got him there warn’t no help
for him any more.  I thought it all out, and reckoned I would belong
to the widow’s if he wanted me, though I couldn’t make out how he was
a-going to be any better off then than what he was before, seeing I was
so ignorant, and so kind of low-down and ornery.

Pap he hadn’t been seen for more than a year, and that was comfortable
for me; I didn’t want to see him no more.  He used to always whale me
when he was sober and could get his hands on me; though I used to take
to the woods most of the time when he was around.  Well, about this time
he was found in the river drownded, about twelve mile above town, so
people said.  They judged it was him, anyway; said this drownded man was
just his size, and was ragged, and had uncommon long hair, which was all
like pap; but they couldn’t make nothing out of the face, because it had
been in the water so long it warn’t much like a face at all.  They said
he was floating on his back in the water.  They took him and buried him
on the bank.  But I warn’t comfortable long, because I happened to think
of something.  I knowed mighty well that a drownded man don’t float on
his back, but on his face.  So I knowed, then, that this warn’t pap, but
a woman dressed up in a man’s clothes.  So I was uncomfortable again.
 I judged the old man would turn up again by and by, though I wished he

We played robber now and then about a month, and then I resigned.  All
the boys did.  We hadn’t robbed nobody, hadn’t killed any people, but
only just pretended.  We used to hop out of the woods and go charging
down on hog-drivers and women in carts taking garden stuff to market,
but we never hived any of them.  Tom Sawyer called the hogs “ingots,”
 and he called the turnips and stuff “julery,” and we would go to the
cave and powwow over what we had done, and how many people we had killed
and marked.  But I couldn’t see no profit in it.  One time Tom sent a
boy to run about town with a blazing stick, which he called a slogan
(which was the sign for the Gang to get together), and then he said he
had got secret news by his spies that next day a whole parcel of Spanish
merchants and rich A-rabs was going to camp in Cave Hollow with two
hundred elephants, and six hundred camels, and over a thousand “sumter”
 mules, all loaded down with di’monds, and they didn’t have only a guard
of four hundred soldiers, and so we would lay in ambuscade, as he called
it, and kill the lot and scoop the things.  He said we must slick up
our swords and guns, and get ready.  He never could go after even a
turnip-cart but he must have the swords and guns all scoured up for it,
though they was only lath and broomsticks, and you might scour at them
till you rotted, and then they warn’t worth a mouthful of ashes more
than what they was before.  I didn’t believe we could lick such a crowd
of Spaniards and A-rabs, but I wanted to see the camels and elephants,
so I was on hand next day, Saturday, in the ambuscade; and when we got
the word we rushed out of the woods and down the hill.  But there warn’t
no Spaniards and A-rabs, and there warn’t no camels nor no elephants.
 It warn’t anything but a Sunday-school picnic, and only a primer-class
at that.  We busted it up, and chased the children up the hollow; but we
never got anything but some doughnuts and jam, though Ben Rogers got
a rag doll, and Jo Harper got a hymn-book and a tract; and then the
teacher charged in, and made us drop everything and cut.

 I didn’t see no di’monds, and I told Tom Sawyer so.  He said there was
loads of them there, anyway; and he said there was A-rabs there, too,
and elephants and things.  I said, why couldn’t we see them, then?  He
said if I warn’t so ignorant, but had read a book called Don Quixote, I
would know without asking.  He said it was all done by enchantment.  He
said there was hundreds of soldiers there, and elephants and treasure,
and so on, but we had enemies which he called magicians; and they had
turned the whole thing into an infant Sunday-school, just out of spite.
 I said, all right; then the thing for us to do was to go for the
magicians.  Tom Sawyer said I was a numskull.

“Why,” said he, “a magician could call up a lot of genies, and they
would hash you up like nothing before you could say Jack Robinson.  They
are as tall as a tree and as big around as a church.”

“Well,” I says, “s’pose we got some genies to help _us_--can’t we lick
the other crowd then?”

“How you going to get them?”

“I don’t know.  How do _they_ get them?”

“Why, they rub an old tin lamp or an iron ring, and then the genies
come tearing in, with the thunder and lightning a-ripping around and the
smoke a-rolling, and everything they’re told to do they up and do it.
 They don’t think nothing of pulling a shot-tower up by the roots, and
belting a Sunday-school superintendent over the head with it--or any
other man.”

“Who makes them tear around so?”

“Why, whoever rubs the lamp or the ring.  They belong to whoever rubs
the lamp or the ring, and they’ve got to do whatever he says.  If he
tells them to build a palace forty miles long out of di’monds, and fill
it full of chewing-gum, or whatever you want, and fetch an emperor’s
daughter from China for you to marry, they’ve got to do it--and they’ve
got to do it before sun-up next morning, too.  And more:  they’ve got
to waltz that palace around over the country wherever you want it, you

“Well,” says I, “I think they are a pack of flat-heads for not keeping
the palace themselves ‘stead of fooling them away like that.  And what’s
more--if I was one of them I would see a man in Jericho before I would
drop my business and come to him for the rubbing of an old tin lamp.”

“How you talk, Huck Finn.  Why, you’d _have_ to come when he rubbed it,
whether you wanted to or not.”

“What! and I as high as a tree and as big as a church?  All right, then;
I _would_ come; but I lay I’d make that man climb the highest tree there
was in the country.”

“Shucks, it ain’t no use to talk to you, Huck Finn.  You don’t seem to
know anything, somehow--perfect saphead.”

I thought all this over for two or three days, and then I reckoned I
would see if there was anything in it.  I got an old tin lamp and an
iron ring, and went out in the woods and rubbed and rubbed till I sweat
like an Injun, calculating to build a palace and sell it; but it warn’t
no use, none of the genies come.  So then I judged that all that stuff
was only just one of Tom Sawyer’s lies.  I reckoned he believed in the
A-rabs and the elephants, but as for me I think different.  It had all
the marks of a Sunday-school.


WELL, three or four months run along, and it was well into the winter
now. I had been to school most all the time and could spell and read and
write just a little, and could say the multiplication table up to six
times seven is thirty-five, and I don’t reckon I could ever get any
further than that if I was to live forever.  I don’t take no stock in
mathematics, anyway.

At first I hated the school, but by and by I got so I could stand it.
Whenever I got uncommon tired I played hookey, and the hiding I got next
day done me good and cheered me up.  So the longer I went to school the
easier it got to be.  I was getting sort of used to the widow’s ways,
too, and they warn’t so raspy on me.  Living in a house and sleeping in
a bed pulled on me pretty tight mostly, but before the cold weather I
used to slide out and sleep in the woods sometimes, and so that was a
rest to me.  I liked the old ways best, but I was getting so I liked the
new ones, too, a little bit. The widow said I was coming along slow but
sure, and doing very satisfactory.  She said she warn’t ashamed of me.

One morning I happened to turn over the salt-cellar at breakfast.
 I reached for some of it as quick as I could to throw over my left
shoulder and keep off the bad luck, but Miss Watson was in ahead of me,
and crossed me off. She says, “Take your hands away, Huckleberry; what
a mess you are always making!”  The widow put in a good word for me, but
that warn’t going to keep off the bad luck, I knowed that well enough.
 I started out, after breakfast, feeling worried and shaky, and
wondering where it was going to fall on me, and what it was going to be.
 There is ways to keep off some kinds of bad luck, but this wasn’t one
of them kind; so I never tried to do anything, but just poked along
low-spirited and on the watch-out.

I went down to the front garden and clumb over the stile where you go
through the high board fence.  There was an inch of new snow on the
ground, and I seen somebody’s tracks.  They had come up from the quarry
and stood around the stile a while, and then went on around the garden
fence.  It was funny they hadn’t come in, after standing around so.  I
couldn’t make it out.  It was very curious, somehow.  I was going to
follow around, but I stooped down to look at the tracks first.  I didn’t
notice anything at first, but next I did.  There was a cross in the left
boot-heel made with big nails, to keep off the devil.

I was up in a second and shinning down the hill.  I looked over my
shoulder every now and then, but I didn’t see nobody.  I was at Judge
Thatcher’s as quick as I could get there.  He said:

“Why, my boy, you are all out of breath.  Did you come for your

“No, sir,” I says; “is there some for me?”

“Oh, yes, a half-yearly is in last night--over a hundred and fifty
dollars.  Quite a fortune for you.  You had better let me invest it
along with your six thousand, because if you take it you’ll spend it.”

“No, sir,” I says, “I don’t want to spend it.  I don’t want it at
all--nor the six thousand, nuther.  I want you to take it; I want to give
it to you--the six thousand and all.”

He looked surprised.  He couldn’t seem to make it out.  He says:

“Why, what can you mean, my boy?”

I says, “Don’t you ask me no questions about it, please.  You’ll take
it--won’t you?”

He says:

“Well, I’m puzzled.  Is something the matter?”

“Please take it,” says I, “and don’t ask me nothing--then I won’t have to
tell no lies.”

He studied a while, and then he says:

“Oho-o!  I think I see.  You want to _sell_ all your property to me--not
give it.  That’s the correct idea.”

Then he wrote something on a paper and read it over, and says:

“There; you see it says ‘for a consideration.’  That means I have bought
it of you and paid you for it.  Here’s a dollar for you.  Now you sign

So I signed it, and left.

Miss Watson’s nigger, Jim, had a hair-ball as big as your fist, which
had been took out of the fourth stomach of an ox, and he used to do
magic with it.  He said there was a spirit inside of it, and it knowed
everything.  So I went to him that night and told him pap was here
again, for I found his tracks in the snow.  What I wanted to know was,
what he was going to do, and was he going to stay?  Jim got out his
hair-ball and said something over it, and then he held it up and dropped
it on the floor.  It fell pretty solid, and only rolled about an inch.
 Jim tried it again, and then another time, and it acted just the same.
 Jim got down on his knees, and put his ear against it and listened.
 But it warn’t no use; he said it wouldn’t talk. He said sometimes it
wouldn’t talk without money.  I told him I had an old slick counterfeit
quarter that warn’t no good because the brass showed through the silver
a little, and it wouldn’t pass nohow, even if the brass didn’t show,
because it was so slick it felt greasy, and so that would tell on it
every time.  (I reckoned I wouldn’t say nothing about the dollar I got
from the judge.) I said it was pretty bad money, but maybe the hair-ball
would take it, because maybe it wouldn’t know the difference.  Jim smelt
it and bit it and rubbed it, and said he would manage so the hair-ball
would think it was good.  He said he would split open a raw Irish potato
and stick the quarter in between and keep it there all night, and next
morning you couldn’t see no brass, and it wouldn’t feel greasy no more,
and so anybody in town would take it in a minute, let alone a hair-ball.
 Well, I knowed a potato would do that before, but I had forgot it.

Jim put the quarter under the hair-ball, and got down and listened
again. This time he said the hair-ball was all right.  He said it
would tell my whole fortune if I wanted it to.  I says, go on.  So the
hair-ball talked to Jim, and Jim told it to me.  He says:

“Yo’ ole father doan’ know yit what he’s a-gwyne to do.  Sometimes he
spec he’ll go ‘way, en den agin he spec he’ll stay.  De bes’ way is to
res’ easy en let de ole man take his own way.  Dey’s two angels hoverin’
roun’ ‘bout him.  One uv ‘em is white en shiny, en t’other one is black.
De white one gits him to go right a little while, den de black one sail
in en bust it all up.  A body can’t tell yit which one gwyne to fetch
him at de las’.  But you is all right.  You gwyne to have considable
trouble in yo’ life, en considable joy.  Sometimes you gwyne to git
hurt, en sometimes you gwyne to git sick; but every time you’s gwyne
to git well agin.  Dey’s two gals flyin’ ‘bout you in yo’ life.  One
uv ‘em’s light en t’other one is dark. One is rich en t’other is po’.
 You’s gwyne to marry de po’ one fust en de rich one by en by.  You
wants to keep ‘way fum de water as much as you kin, en don’t run no
resk, ‘kase it’s down in de bills dat you’s gwyne to git hung.”

When I lit my candle and went up to my room that night there sat pap his
own self!


I had shut the door to.  Then I turned around and there he was.  I used
to be scared of him all the time, he tanned me so much.  I reckoned I
was scared now, too; but in a minute I see I was mistaken--that is, after
the first jolt, as you may say, when my breath sort of hitched, he being
so unexpected; but right away after I see I warn’t scared of him worth
bothring about.

He was most fifty, and he looked it.  His hair was long and tangled and
greasy, and hung down, and you could see his eyes shining through
like he was behind vines.  It was all black, no gray; so was his long,
mixed-up whiskers.  There warn’t no color in his face, where his face
showed; it was white; not like another man’s white, but a white to make
a body sick, a white to make a body’s flesh crawl--a tree-toad white, a
fish-belly white.  As for his clothes--just rags, that was all.  He had
one ankle resting on t’other knee; the boot on that foot was busted, and
two of his toes stuck through, and he worked them now and then.  His hat
was laying on the floor--an old black slouch with the top caved in, like
a lid.

I stood a-looking at him; he set there a-looking at me, with his chair
tilted back a little.  I set the candle down.  I noticed the window was
up; so he had clumb in by the shed.  He kept a-looking me all over.  By
and by he says:

“Starchy clothes--very.  You think you’re a good deal of a big-bug,
_don’t_ you?”

“Maybe I am, maybe I ain’t,” I says.

“Don’t you give me none o’ your lip,” says he.  “You’ve put on
considerable many frills since I been away.  I’ll take you down a peg
before I get done with you.  You’re educated, too, they say--can read and
write.  You think you’re better’n your father, now, don’t you, because
he can’t?  _I’ll_ take it out of you.  Who told you you might meddle
with such hifalut’n foolishness, hey?--who told you you could?”

“The widow.  She told me.”

“The widow, hey?--and who told the widow she could put in her shovel
about a thing that ain’t none of her business?”

“Nobody never told her.”

“Well, I’ll learn her how to meddle.  And looky here--you drop that
school, you hear?  I’ll learn people to bring up a boy to put on airs
over his own father and let on to be better’n what _he_ is.  You lemme
catch you fooling around that school again, you hear?  Your mother
couldn’t read, and she couldn’t write, nuther, before she died.  None
of the family couldn’t before _they_ died.  I can’t; and here you’re
a-swelling yourself up like this.  I ain’t the man to stand it--you hear?
Say, lemme hear you read.”

I took up a book and begun something about General Washington and the
wars. When I’d read about a half a minute, he fetched the book a whack
with his hand and knocked it across the house.  He says:

“It’s so.  You can do it.  I had my doubts when you told me.  Now looky
here; you stop that putting on frills.  I won’t have it.  I’ll lay for
you, my smarty; and if I catch you about that school I’ll tan you good.
First you know you’ll get religion, too.  I never see such a son.”

He took up a little blue and yaller picture of some cows and a boy, and

“What’s this?”

“It’s something they give me for learning my lessons good.”

He tore it up, and says:

“I’ll give you something better--I’ll give you a cowhide.”

He set there a-mumbling and a-growling a minute, and then he says:

“_Ain’t_ you a sweet-scented dandy, though?  A bed; and bedclothes; and
a look’n’-glass; and a piece of carpet on the floor--and your own father
got to sleep with the hogs in the tanyard.  I never see such a son.  I
bet I’ll take some o’ these frills out o’ you before I’m done with you.
Why, there ain’t no end to your airs--they say you’re rich.  Hey?--how’s

“They lie--that’s how.”

“Looky here--mind how you talk to me; I’m a-standing about all I can
stand now--so don’t gimme no sass.  I’ve been in town two days, and I
hain’t heard nothing but about you bein’ rich.  I heard about it
away down the river, too.  That’s why I come.  You git me that money
to-morrow--I want it.”

“I hain’t got no money.”

“It’s a lie.  Judge Thatcher’s got it.  You git it.  I want it.”

“I hain’t got no money, I tell you.  You ask Judge Thatcher; he’ll tell
you the same.”

“All right.  I’ll ask him; and I’ll make him pungle, too, or I’ll know
the reason why.  Say, how much you got in your pocket?  I want it.”

“I hain’t got only a dollar, and I want that to--”

“It don’t make no difference what you want it for--you just shell it

He took it and bit it to see if it was good, and then he said he was
going down town to get some whisky; said he hadn’t had a drink all day.
When he had got out on the shed he put his head in again, and cussed
me for putting on frills and trying to be better than him; and when I
reckoned he was gone he come back and put his head in again, and told me
to mind about that school, because he was going to lay for me and lick
me if I didn’t drop that.

Next day he was drunk, and he went to Judge Thatcher’s and bullyragged
him, and tried to make him give up the money; but he couldn’t, and then
he swore he’d make the law force him.

The judge and the widow went to law to get the court to take me away
from him and let one of them be my guardian; but it was a new judge that
had just come, and he didn’t know the old man; so he said courts mustn’t
interfere and separate families if they could help it; said he’d druther
not take a child away from its father.  So Judge Thatcher and the widow
had to quit on the business.

That pleased the old man till he couldn’t rest.  He said he’d cowhide
me till I was black and blue if I didn’t raise some money for him.  I
borrowed three dollars from Judge Thatcher, and pap took it and got
drunk, and went a-blowing around and cussing and whooping and carrying
on; and he kept it up all over town, with a tin pan, till most midnight;
then they jailed him, and next day they had him before court, and jailed
him again for a week.  But he said _he_ was satisfied; said he was boss
of his son, and he’d make it warm for _him_.

When he got out the new judge said he was a-going to make a man of him.
So he took him to his own house, and dressed him up clean and nice, and
had him to breakfast and dinner and supper with the family, and was just
old pie to him, so to speak.  And after supper he talked to him about
temperance and such things till the old man cried, and said he’d been
a fool, and fooled away his life; but now he was a-going to turn over
a new leaf and be a man nobody wouldn’t be ashamed of, and he hoped the
judge would help him and not look down on him.  The judge said he could
hug him for them words; so he cried, and his wife she cried again; pap
said he’d been a man that had always been misunderstood before, and the
judge said he believed it.  The old man said that what a man wanted
that was down was sympathy, and the judge said it was so; so they cried
again.  And when it was bedtime the old man rose up and held out his
hand, and says:

“Look at it, gentlemen and ladies all; take a-hold of it; shake it.
There’s a hand that was the hand of a hog; but it ain’t so no more; it’s
the hand of a man that’s started in on a new life, and’ll die before
he’ll go back.  You mark them words--don’t forget I said them.  It’s a
clean hand now; shake it--don’t be afeard.”

So they shook it, one after the other, all around, and cried.  The
judge’s wife she kissed it.  Then the old man he signed a pledge--made
his mark. The judge said it was the holiest time on record, or something
like that. Then they tucked the old man into a beautiful room, which was
the spare room, and in the night some time he got powerful thirsty and
clumb out on to the porch-roof and slid down a stanchion and traded his
new coat for a jug of forty-rod, and clumb back again and had a good old
time; and towards daylight he crawled out again, drunk as a fiddler, and
rolled off the porch and broke his left arm in two places, and was most
froze to death when somebody found him after sun-up.  And when they come
to look at that spare room they had to take soundings before they could
navigate it.

The judge he felt kind of sore.  He said he reckoned a body could reform
the old man with a shotgun, maybe, but he didn’t know no other way.


WELL, pretty soon the old man was up and around again, and then he went
for Judge Thatcher in the courts to make him give up that money, and he
went for me, too, for not stopping school.  He catched me a couple of
times and thrashed me, but I went to school just the same, and dodged
him or outrun him most of the time.  I didn’t want to go to school much
before, but I reckoned I’d go now to spite pap.  That law trial was a
slow business--appeared like they warn’t ever going to get started on it;
so every now and then I’d borrow two or three dollars off of the judge
for him, to keep from getting a cowhiding.  Every time he got money he
got drunk; and every time he got drunk he raised Cain around town; and
every time he raised Cain he got jailed.  He was just suited--this kind
of thing was right in his line.

He got to hanging around the widow’s too much and so she told him at
last that if he didn’t quit using around there she would make trouble
for him. Well, _wasn’t_ he mad?  He said he would show who was Huck
Finn’s boss.  So he watched out for me one day in the spring, and
catched me, and took me up the river about three mile in a skiff, and
crossed over to the Illinois shore where it was woody and there warn’t
no houses but an old log hut in a place where the timber was so thick
you couldn’t find it if you didn’t know where it was.

He kept me with him all the time, and I never got a chance to run off.
We lived in that old cabin, and he always locked the door and put the
key under his head nights.  He had a gun which he had stole, I reckon,
and we fished and hunted, and that was what we lived on.  Every little
while he locked me in and went down to the store, three miles, to the
ferry, and traded fish and game for whisky, and fetched it home and got
drunk and had a good time, and licked me.  The widow she found out where
I was by and by, and she sent a man over to try to get hold of me; but
pap drove him off with the gun, and it warn’t long after that till I was
used to being where I was, and liked it--all but the cowhide part.

It was kind of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable all day, smoking
and fishing, and no books nor study.  Two months or more run along, and
my clothes got to be all rags and dirt, and I didn’t see how I’d ever
got to like it so well at the widow’s, where you had to wash, and eat on
a plate, and comb up, and go to bed and get up regular, and be forever
bothering over a book, and have old Miss Watson pecking at you all the
time.  I didn’t want to go back no more.  I had stopped cussing, because
the widow didn’t like it; but now I took to it again because pap hadn’t
no objections.  It was pretty good times up in the woods there, take it
all around.

But by and by pap got too handy with his hick’ry, and I couldn’t stand
it. I was all over welts.  He got to going away so much, too, and
locking me in.  Once he locked me in and was gone three days.  It was
dreadful lonesome.  I judged he had got drownded, and I wasn’t ever
going to get out any more.  I was scared.  I made up my mind I would fix
up some way to leave there.  I had tried to get out of that cabin many
a time, but I couldn’t find no way.  There warn’t a window to it big
enough for a dog to get through.  I couldn’t get up the chimbly; it
was too narrow.  The door was thick, solid oak slabs.  Pap was pretty
careful not to leave a knife or anything in the cabin when he was away;
I reckon I had hunted the place over as much as a hundred times; well, I
was most all the time at it, because it was about the only way to put in
the time.  But this time I found something at last; I found an old rusty
wood-saw without any handle; it was laid in between a rafter and the
clapboards of the roof. I greased it up and went to work.  There was an
old horse-blanket nailed against the logs at the far end of the cabin
behind the table, to keep the wind from blowing through the chinks and
putting the candle out.  I got under the table and raised the blanket,
and went to work to saw a section of the big bottom log out--big enough
to let me through.  Well, it was a good long job, but I was getting
towards the end of it when I heard pap’s gun in the woods.  I got rid of
the signs of my work, and dropped the blanket and hid my saw, and pretty
soon pap come in.

Pap warn’t in a good humor--so he was his natural self.  He said he was
down town, and everything was going wrong.  His lawyer said he reckoned
he would win his lawsuit and get the money if they ever got started on
the trial; but then there was ways to put it off a long time, and Judge
Thatcher knowed how to do it. And he said people allowed there’d be
another trial to get me away from him and give me to the widow for my
guardian, and they guessed it would win this time.  This shook me up
considerable, because I didn’t want to go back to the widow’s any more
and be so cramped up and sivilized, as they called it.  Then the old man
got to cussing, and cussed everything and everybody he could think of,
and then cussed them all over again to make sure he hadn’t skipped any,
and after that he polished off with a kind of a general cuss all round,
including a considerable parcel of people which he didn’t know the names
of, and so called them what’s-his-name when he got to them, and went
right along with his cussing.

He said he would like to see the widow get me.  He said he would watch
out, and if they tried to come any such game on him he knowed of a place
six or seven mile off to stow me in, where they might hunt till they
dropped and they couldn’t find me.  That made me pretty uneasy again,
but only for a minute; I reckoned I wouldn’t stay on hand till he got
that chance.

The old man made me go to the skiff and fetch the things he had
got. There was a fifty-pound sack of corn meal, and a side of bacon,
ammunition, and a four-gallon jug of whisky, and an old book and two
newspapers for wadding, besides some tow.  I toted up a load, and went
back and set down on the bow of the skiff to rest.  I thought it all
over, and I reckoned I would walk off with the gun and some lines, and
take to the woods when I run away.  I guessed I wouldn’t stay in one
place, but just tramp right across the country, mostly night times, and
hunt and fish to keep alive, and so get so far away that the old man nor
the widow couldn’t ever find me any more.  I judged I would saw out and
leave that night if pap got drunk enough, and I reckoned he would.  I
got so full of it I didn’t notice how long I was staying till the old
man hollered and asked me whether I was asleep or drownded.

I got the things all up to the cabin, and then it was about dark.  While
I was cooking supper the old man took a swig or two and got sort of
warmed up, and went to ripping again.  He had been drunk over in town,
and laid in the gutter all night, and he was a sight to look at.  A body
would a thought he was Adam--he was just all mud.  Whenever his liquor
begun to work he most always went for the govment, this time he says:

“Call this a govment! why, just look at it and see what it’s like.
Here’s the law a-standing ready to take a man’s son away from him--a
man’s own son, which he has had all the trouble and all the anxiety
and all the expense of raising.  Yes, just as that man has got that
son raised at last, and ready to go to work and begin to do suthin’ for
_him_ and give him a rest, the law up and goes for him.  And they call
_that_ govment!  That ain’t all, nuther.  The law backs that old Judge
Thatcher up and helps him to keep me out o’ my property.  Here’s what
the law does:  The law takes a man worth six thousand dollars and
up’ards, and jams him into an old trap of a cabin like this, and lets
him go round in clothes that ain’t fitten for a hog. They call that
govment!  A man can’t get his rights in a govment like this. Sometimes
I’ve a mighty notion to just leave the country for good and all. Yes,
and I _told_ ‘em so; I told old Thatcher so to his face.  Lots of ‘em
heard me, and can tell what I said.  Says I, for two cents I’d leave the
blamed country and never come a-near it agin.  Them’s the very words.  I
says look at my hat--if you call it a hat--but the lid raises up and the
rest of it goes down till it’s below my chin, and then it ain’t rightly
a hat at all, but more like my head was shoved up through a jint o’
stove-pipe.  Look at it, says I--such a hat for me to wear--one of the
wealthiest men in this town if I could git my rights.

“Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful.  Why, looky here.
There was a free nigger there from Ohio--a mulatter, most as white as
a white man.  He had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the
shiniest hat; and there ain’t a man in that town that’s got as fine
clothes as what he had; and he had a gold watch and chain, and a
silver-headed cane--the awfulest old gray-headed nabob in the State.  And
what do you think?  They said he was a p’fessor in a college, and could
talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything.  And that ain’t the
wust. They said he could _vote_ when he was at home.  Well, that let me
out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to?  It was ‘lection day,
and I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn’t too drunk to get
there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where
they’d let that nigger vote, I drawed out.  I says I’ll never vote agin.
 Them’s the very words I said; they all heard me; and the country may
rot for all me--I’ll never vote agin as long as I live.  And to see the
cool way of that nigger--why, he wouldn’t a give me the road if I hadn’t
shoved him out o’ the way.  I says to the people, why ain’t this nigger
put up at auction and sold?--that’s what I want to know.  And what do you
reckon they said? Why, they said he couldn’t be sold till he’d been in
the State six months, and he hadn’t been there that long yet.  There,
now--that’s a specimen.  They call that a govment that can’t sell a free
nigger till he’s been in the State six months.  Here’s a govment that
calls itself a govment, and lets on to be a govment, and thinks it is a
govment, and yet’s got to set stock-still for six whole months before
it can take a hold of a prowling, thieving, infernal, white-shirted free
nigger, and--”

Pap was agoing on so he never noticed where his old limber legs was
taking him to, so he went head over heels over the tub of salt pork and
barked both shins, and the rest of his speech was all the hottest kind
of language--mostly hove at the nigger and the govment, though he give
the tub some, too, all along, here and there.  He hopped around the
cabin considerable, first on one leg and then on the other, holding
first one shin and then the other one, and at last he let out with his
left foot all of a sudden and fetched the tub a rattling kick.  But it
warn’t good judgment, because that was the boot that had a couple of his
toes leaking out of the front end of it; so now he raised a howl that
fairly made a body’s hair raise, and down he went in the dirt, and
rolled there, and held his toes; and the cussing he done then laid over
anything he had ever done previous.  He said so his own self afterwards.
 He had heard old Sowberry Hagan in his best days, and he said it laid
over him, too; but I reckon that was sort of piling it on, maybe.

After supper pap took the jug, and said he had enough whisky there
for two drunks and one delirium tremens.  That was always his word.  I
judged he would be blind drunk in about an hour, and then I would steal
the key, or saw myself out, one or t’other.  He drank and drank, and
tumbled down on his blankets by and by; but luck didn’t run my way.
 He didn’t go sound asleep, but was uneasy.  He groaned and moaned and
thrashed around this way and that for a long time.  At last I got so
sleepy I couldn’t keep my eyes open all I could do, and so before I
knowed what I was about I was sound asleep, and the candle burning.

I don’t know how long I was asleep, but all of a sudden there was an
awful scream and I was up.  There was pap looking wild, and skipping
around every which way and yelling about snakes.  He said they was
crawling up his legs; and then he would give a jump and scream, and say
one had bit him on the cheek--but I couldn’t see no snakes.  He started
and run round and round the cabin, hollering “Take him off! take him
off! he’s biting me on the neck!”  I never see a man look so wild in the
eyes. Pretty soon he was all fagged out, and fell down panting; then he
rolled over and over wonderful fast, kicking things every which way,
and striking and grabbing at the air with his hands, and screaming and
saying there was devils a-hold of him.  He wore out by and by, and laid
still a while, moaning.  Then he laid stiller, and didn’t make a sound.
 I could hear the owls and the wolves away off in the woods, and it
seemed terrible still.  He was laying over by the corner. By and by he
raised up part way and listened, with his head to one side.  He says,
very low:

“Tramp--tramp--tramp; that’s the dead; tramp--tramp--tramp; they’re coming
after me; but I won’t go.  Oh, they’re here! don’t touch me--don’t! hands
off--they’re cold; let go.  Oh, let a poor devil alone!”

Then he went down on all fours and crawled off, begging them to let him
alone, and he rolled himself up in his blanket and wallowed in under the
old pine table, still a-begging; and then he went to crying.  I could
hear him through the blanket.

By and by he rolled out and jumped up on his feet looking wild, and he
see me and went for me.  He chased me round and round the place with a
clasp-knife, calling me the Angel of Death, and saying he would kill me,
and then I couldn’t come for him no more.  I begged, and told him I
was only Huck; but he laughed _such_ a screechy laugh, and roared and
cussed, and kept on chasing me up.  Once when I turned short and
dodged under his arm he made a grab and got me by the jacket between my
shoulders, and I thought I was gone; but I slid out of the jacket quick
as lightning, and saved myself. Pretty soon he was all tired out, and
dropped down with his back against the door, and said he would rest a
minute and then kill me. He put his knife under him, and said he would
sleep and get strong, and then he would see who was who.

So he dozed off pretty soon.  By and by I got the old split-bottom chair
and clumb up as easy as I could, not to make any noise, and got down the
gun.  I slipped the ramrod down it to make sure it was loaded, then I
laid it across the turnip barrel, pointing towards pap, and set down
behind it to wait for him to stir.  And how slow and still the time did
drag along.


“GIT up!  What you ‘bout?”

I opened my eyes and looked around, trying to make out where I was.  It
was after sun-up, and I had been sound asleep.  Pap was standing over me
looking sour and sick, too.  He says:

“What you doin’ with this gun?”

I judged he didn’t know nothing about what he had been doing, so I says:

“Somebody tried to get in, so I was laying for him.”

“Why didn’t you roust me out?”

“Well, I tried to, but I couldn’t; I couldn’t budge you.”

“Well, all right.  Don’t stand there palavering all day, but out with
you and see if there’s a fish on the lines for breakfast.  I’ll be along
in a minute.”

He unlocked the door, and I cleared out up the river-bank.  I noticed
some pieces of limbs and such things floating down, and a sprinkling of
bark; so I knowed the river had begun to rise.  I reckoned I would have
great times now if I was over at the town.  The June rise used to be
always luck for me; because as soon as that rise begins here comes
cordwood floating down, and pieces of log rafts--sometimes a dozen logs
together; so all you have to do is to catch them and sell them to the
wood-yards and the sawmill.

I went along up the bank with one eye out for pap and t’other one out
for what the rise might fetch along.  Well, all at once here comes a
canoe; just a beauty, too, about thirteen or fourteen foot long, riding
high like a duck.  I shot head-first off of the bank like a frog,
clothes and all on, and struck out for the canoe.  I just expected
there’d be somebody laying down in it, because people often done that
to fool folks, and when a chap had pulled a skiff out most to it they’d
raise up and laugh at him.  But it warn’t so this time.  It was a
drift-canoe sure enough, and I clumb in and paddled her ashore.  Thinks
I, the old man will be glad when he sees this--she’s worth ten dollars.
 But when I got to shore pap wasn’t in sight yet, and as I was running
her into a little creek like a gully, all hung over with vines and
willows, I struck another idea:  I judged I’d hide her good, and then,
‘stead of taking to the woods when I run off, I’d go down the river
about fifty mile and camp in one place for good, and not have such a
rough time tramping on foot.

It was pretty close to the shanty, and I thought I heard the old man
coming all the time; but I got her hid; and then I out and looked around
a bunch of willows, and there was the old man down the path a piece just
drawing a bead on a bird with his gun.  So he hadn’t seen anything.

When he got along I was hard at it taking up a “trot” line.  He abused
me a little for being so slow; but I told him I fell in the river, and
that was what made me so long.  I knowed he would see I was wet, and
then he would be asking questions.  We got five catfish off the lines
and went home.

While we laid off after breakfast to sleep up, both of us being about
wore out, I got to thinking that if I could fix up some way to keep pap
and the widow from trying to follow me, it would be a certainer thing
than trusting to luck to get far enough off before they missed me; you
see, all kinds of things might happen.  Well, I didn’t see no way for a
while, but by and by pap raised up a minute to drink another barrel of
water, and he says:

“Another time a man comes a-prowling round here you roust me out, you
hear? That man warn’t here for no good.  I’d a shot him.  Next time you
roust me out, you hear?”

Then he dropped down and went to sleep again; but what he had been
saying give me the very idea I wanted.  I says to myself, I can fix it
now so nobody won’t think of following me.

About twelve o’clock we turned out and went along up the bank.  The
river was coming up pretty fast, and lots of driftwood going by on the
rise. By and by along comes part of a log raft--nine logs fast together.
 We went out with the skiff and towed it ashore.  Then we had dinner.
Anybody but pap would a waited and seen the day through, so as to catch
more stuff; but that warn’t pap’s style.  Nine logs was enough for one
time; he must shove right over to town and sell.  So he locked me in and
took the skiff, and started off towing the raft about half-past three.
 I judged he wouldn’t come back that night.  I waited till I reckoned he
had got a good start; then I out with my saw, and went to work on that
log again.  Before he was t’other side of the river I was out of the
hole; him and his raft was just a speck on the water away off yonder.

I took the sack of corn meal and took it to where the canoe was hid, and
shoved the vines and branches apart and put it in; then I done the same
with the side of bacon; then the whisky-jug.  I took all the coffee and
sugar there was, and all the ammunition; I took the wadding; I took the
bucket and gourd; I took a dipper and a tin cup, and my old saw and two
blankets, and the skillet and the coffee-pot.  I took fish-lines and
matches and other things--everything that was worth a cent.  I cleaned
out the place.  I wanted an axe, but there wasn’t any, only the one out
at the woodpile, and I knowed why I was going to leave that.  I fetched
out the gun, and now I was done.

I had wore the ground a good deal crawling out of the hole and dragging
out so many things.  So I fixed that as good as I could from the outside
by scattering dust on the place, which covered up the smoothness and the
sawdust.  Then I fixed the piece of log back into its place, and put two
rocks under it and one against it to hold it there, for it was bent up
at that place and didn’t quite touch ground.  If you stood four or five
foot away and didn’t know it was sawed, you wouldn’t never notice
it; and besides, this was the back of the cabin, and it warn’t likely
anybody would go fooling around there.

It was all grass clear to the canoe, so I hadn’t left a track.  I
followed around to see.  I stood on the bank and looked out over the
river.  All safe.  So I took the gun and went up a piece into the woods,
and was hunting around for some birds when I see a wild pig; hogs soon
went wild in them bottoms after they had got away from the prairie
farms. I shot this fellow and took him into camp.

I took the axe and smashed in the door.  I beat it and hacked it
considerable a-doing it.  I fetched the pig in, and took him back nearly
to the table and hacked into his throat with the axe, and laid him down
on the ground to bleed; I say ground because it was ground--hard packed,
and no boards.  Well, next I took an old sack and put a lot of big rocks
in it--all I could drag--and I started it from the pig, and dragged it to
the door and through the woods down to the river and dumped it in, and
down it sunk, out of sight.  You could easy see that something had been
dragged over the ground.  I did wish Tom Sawyer was there; I knowed he
would take an interest in this kind of business, and throw in the fancy
touches.  Nobody could spread himself like Tom Sawyer in such a thing as

Well, last I pulled out some of my hair, and blooded the axe good, and
stuck it on the back side, and slung the axe in the corner.  Then I
took up the pig and held him to my breast with my jacket (so he couldn’t
drip) till I got a good piece below the house and then dumped him into
the river.  Now I thought of something else.  So I went and got the bag
of meal and my old saw out of the canoe, and fetched them to the house.
 I took the bag to where it used to stand, and ripped a hole in the
bottom of it with the saw, for there warn’t no knives and forks on the
place--pap done everything with his clasp-knife about the cooking.  Then
I carried the sack about a hundred yards across the grass and through
the willows east of the house, to a shallow lake that was five mile wide
and full of rushes--and ducks too, you might say, in the season.  There
was a slough or a creek leading out of it on the other side that went
miles away, I don’t know where, but it didn’t go to the river.  The meal
sifted out and made a little track all the way to the lake.  I dropped
pap’s whetstone there too, so as to look like it had been done by
accident. Then I tied up the rip in the meal sack with a string, so it
wouldn’t leak no more, and took it and my saw to the canoe again.

It was about dark now; so I dropped the canoe down the river under some
willows that hung over the bank, and waited for the moon to rise.  I
made fast to a willow; then I took a bite to eat, and by and by laid
down in the canoe to smoke a pipe and lay out a plan.  I says to myself,
they’ll follow the track of that sackful of rocks to the shore and then
drag the river for me.  And they’ll follow that meal track to the lake
and go browsing down the creek that leads out of it to find the robbers
that killed me and took the things.  They won’t ever hunt the river for
anything but my dead carcass. They’ll soon get tired of that, and won’t
bother no more about me.  All right; I can stop anywhere I want to.
Jackson’s Island is good enough for me; I know that island pretty well,
and nobody ever comes there.  And then I can paddle over to town nights,
and slink around and pick up things I want. Jackson’s Island’s the

I was pretty tired, and the first thing I knowed I was asleep.  When
I woke up I didn’t know where I was for a minute.  I set up and looked
around, a little scared.  Then I remembered.  The river looked miles and
miles across.  The moon was so bright I could a counted the drift logs
that went a-slipping along, black and still, hundreds of yards out from
shore. Everything was dead quiet, and it looked late, and _smelt_ late.
You know what I mean--I don’t know the words to put it in.

I took a good gap and a stretch, and was just going to unhitch and start
when I heard a sound away over the water.  I listened.  Pretty soon I
made it out.  It was that dull kind of a regular sound that comes from
oars working in rowlocks when it’s a still night.  I peeped out through
the willow branches, and there it was--a skiff, away across the water.
 I couldn’t tell how many was in it.  It kept a-coming, and when it was
abreast of me I see there warn’t but one man in it.  Think’s I, maybe
it’s pap, though I warn’t expecting him.  He dropped below me with the
current, and by and by he came a-swinging up shore in the easy water,
and he went by so close I could a reached out the gun and touched him.
 Well, it _was_ pap, sure enough--and sober, too, by the way he laid his

I didn’t lose no time.  The next minute I was a-spinning down stream
soft but quick in the shade of the bank.  I made two mile and a half,
and then struck out a quarter of a mile or more towards the middle of
the river, because pretty soon I would be passing the ferry landing, and
people might see me and hail me.  I got out amongst the driftwood, and
then laid down in the bottom of the canoe and let her float.

 I laid there, and had a good rest and a smoke out of my pipe, looking
away into the sky; not a cloud in it.  The sky looks ever so deep when
you lay down on your back in the moonshine; I never knowed it before.
 And how far a body can hear on the water such nights!  I heard people
talking at the ferry landing. I heard what they said, too--every word
of it.  One man said it was getting towards the long days and the short
nights now.  T’other one said _this_ warn’t one of the short ones, he
reckoned--and then they laughed, and he said it over again, and they
laughed again; then they waked up another fellow and told him, and
laughed, but he didn’t laugh; he ripped out something brisk, and said
let him alone.  The first fellow said he ‘lowed to tell it to his
old woman--she would think it was pretty good; but he said that warn’t
nothing to some things he had said in his time. I heard one man say it
was nearly three o’clock, and he hoped daylight wouldn’t wait more than
about a week longer.  After that the talk got further and further away,
and I couldn’t make out the words any more; but I could hear the mumble,
and now and then a laugh, too, but it seemed a long ways off.

I was away below the ferry now.  I rose up, and there was Jackson’s
Island, about two mile and a half down stream, heavy timbered and
standing up out of the middle of the river, big and dark and solid, like
a steamboat without any lights.  There warn’t any signs of the bar at
the head--it was all under water now.

It didn’t take me long to get there.  I shot past the head at a ripping
rate, the current was so swift, and then I got into the dead water and
landed on the side towards the Illinois shore.  I run the canoe into
a deep dent in the bank that I knowed about; I had to part the willow
branches to get in; and when I made fast nobody could a seen the canoe
from the outside.

I went up and set down on a log at the head of the island, and looked
out on the big river and the black driftwood and away over to the town,
three mile away, where there was three or four lights twinkling.  A
monstrous big lumber-raft was about a mile up stream, coming along down,
with a lantern in the middle of it.  I watched it come creeping down,
and when it was most abreast of where I stood I heard a man say, “Stern
oars, there! heave her head to stabboard!”  I heard that just as plain
as if the man was by my side.

There was a little gray in the sky now; so I stepped into the woods, and
laid down for a nap before breakfast.


THE sun was up so high when I waked that I judged it was after eight
o’clock.  I laid there in the grass and the cool shade thinking about
things, and feeling rested and ruther comfortable and satisfied.  I
could see the sun out at one or two holes, but mostly it was big trees
all about, and gloomy in there amongst them.  There was freckled places
on the ground where the light sifted down through the leaves, and the
freckled places swapped about a little, showing there was a little
breeze up there.  A couple of squirrels set on a limb and jabbered at me
very friendly.

I was powerful lazy and comfortable--didn’t want to get up and cook
breakfast.  Well, I was dozing off again when I thinks I hears a deep
sound of “boom!” away up the river.  I rouses up, and rests on my elbow
and listens; pretty soon I hears it again.  I hopped up, and went and
looked out at a hole in the leaves, and I see a bunch of smoke laying
on the water a long ways up--about abreast the ferry.  And there was the
ferryboat full of people floating along down.  I knowed what was the
matter now.  “Boom!” I see the white smoke squirt out of the ferryboat’s
side.  You see, they was firing cannon over the water, trying to make my
carcass come to the top.

I was pretty hungry, but it warn’t going to do for me to start a fire,
because they might see the smoke.  So I set there and watched the
cannon-smoke and listened to the boom.  The river was a mile wide there,
and it always looks pretty on a summer morning--so I was having a good
enough time seeing them hunt for my remainders if I only had a bite to
eat. Well, then I happened to think how they always put quicksilver in
loaves of bread and float them off, because they always go right to the
drownded carcass and stop there.  So, says I, I’ll keep a lookout, and
if any of them’s floating around after me I’ll give them a show.  I
changed to the Illinois edge of the island to see what luck I could
have, and I warn’t disappointed.  A big double loaf come along, and I
most got it with a long stick, but my foot slipped and she floated out
further.  Of course I was where the current set in the closest to the
shore--I knowed enough for that.  But by and by along comes another one,
and this time I won.  I took out the plug and shook out the little dab
of quicksilver, and set my teeth in.  It was “baker’s bread”--what the
quality eat; none of your low-down corn-pone.

I got a good place amongst the leaves, and set there on a log, munching
the bread and watching the ferry-boat, and very well satisfied.  And
then something struck me.  I says, now I reckon the widow or the parson
or somebody prayed that this bread would find me, and here it has gone
and done it.  So there ain’t no doubt but there is something in that
thing--that is, there’s something in it when a body like the widow or the
parson prays, but it don’t work for me, and I reckon it don’t work for
only just the right kind.

I lit a pipe and had a good long smoke, and went on watching.  The
ferryboat was floating with the current, and I allowed I’d have a chance
to see who was aboard when she come along, because she would come in
close, where the bread did.  When she’d got pretty well along down
towards me, I put out my pipe and went to where I fished out the bread,
and laid down behind a log on the bank in a little open place.  Where
the log forked I could peep through.

By and by she come along, and she drifted in so close that they could
a run out a plank and walked ashore.  Most everybody was on the boat.
 Pap, and Judge Thatcher, and Bessie Thatcher, and Jo Harper, and Tom
Sawyer, and his old Aunt Polly, and Sid and Mary, and plenty more.
 Everybody was talking about the murder, but the captain broke in and

“Look sharp, now; the current sets in the closest here, and maybe he’s
washed ashore and got tangled amongst the brush at the water’s edge.  I
hope so, anyway.”

I didn’t hope so.  They all crowded up and leaned over the rails, nearly
in my face, and kept still, watching with all their might.  I could see
them first-rate, but they couldn’t see me.  Then the captain sung out:

“Stand away!” and the cannon let off such a blast right before me that
it made me deef with the noise and pretty near blind with the smoke, and
I judged I was gone.  If they’d a had some bullets in, I reckon they’d
a got the corpse they was after.  Well, I see I warn’t hurt, thanks to
goodness. The boat floated on and went out of sight around the shoulder
of the island.  I could hear the booming now and then, further and
further off, and by and by, after an hour, I didn’t hear it no more.
 The island was three mile long.  I judged they had got to the foot, and
was giving it up.  But they didn’t yet a while.  They turned around
the foot of the island and started up the channel on the Missouri side,
under steam, and booming once in a while as they went.  I crossed over
to that side and watched them. When they got abreast the head of the
island they quit shooting and dropped over to the Missouri shore and
went home to the town.

I knowed I was all right now.  Nobody else would come a-hunting after
me. I got my traps out of the canoe and made me a nice camp in the thick
woods.  I made a kind of a tent out of my blankets to put my things
under so the rain couldn’t get at them.  I catched a catfish and haggled
him open with my saw, and towards sundown I started my camp fire and had
supper.  Then I set out a line to catch some fish for breakfast.

When it was dark I set by my camp fire smoking, and feeling pretty well
satisfied; but by and by it got sort of lonesome, and so I went and set
on the bank and listened to the current swashing along, and counted the
stars and drift logs and rafts that come down, and then went to bed;
there ain’t no better way to put in time when you are lonesome; you
can’t stay so, you soon get over it.

And so for three days and nights.  No difference--just the same thing.
But the next day I went exploring around down through the island.  I was
boss of it; it all belonged to me, so to say, and I wanted to know
all about it; but mainly I wanted to put in the time.  I found plenty
strawberries, ripe and prime; and green summer grapes, and green
razberries; and the green blackberries was just beginning to show.  They
would all come handy by and by, I judged.

Well, I went fooling along in the deep woods till I judged I warn’t
far from the foot of the island.  I had my gun along, but I hadn’t shot
nothing; it was for protection; thought I would kill some game nigh
home. About this time I mighty near stepped on a good-sized snake,
and it went sliding off through the grass and flowers, and I after
it, trying to get a shot at it. I clipped along, and all of a sudden I
bounded right on to the ashes of a camp fire that was still smoking.

My heart jumped up amongst my lungs.  I never waited for to look
further, but uncocked my gun and went sneaking back on my tiptoes as
fast as ever I could.  Every now and then I stopped a second amongst the
thick leaves and listened, but my breath come so hard I couldn’t hear
nothing else.  I slunk along another piece further, then listened again;
and so on, and so on.  If I see a stump, I took it for a man; if I trod
on a stick and broke it, it made me feel like a person had cut one of my
breaths in two and I only got half, and the short half, too.

When I got to camp I warn’t feeling very brash, there warn’t much sand
in my craw; but I says, this ain’t no time to be fooling around.  So I
got all my traps into my canoe again so as to have them out of sight,
and I put out the fire and scattered the ashes around to look like an
old last year’s camp, and then clumb a tree.

I reckon I was up in the tree two hours; but I didn’t see nothing,
I didn’t hear nothing--I only _thought_ I heard and seen as much as a
thousand things.  Well, I couldn’t stay up there forever; so at last I
got down, but I kept in the thick woods and on the lookout all the
time. All I could get to eat was berries and what was left over from

By the time it was night I was pretty hungry.  So when it was good
and dark I slid out from shore before moonrise and paddled over to the
Illinois bank--about a quarter of a mile.  I went out in the woods and
cooked a supper, and I had about made up my mind I would stay there
all night when I hear a _plunkety-plunk, plunkety-plunk_, and says
to myself, horses coming; and next I hear people’s voices.  I got
everything into the canoe as quick as I could, and then went creeping
through the woods to see what I could find out.  I hadn’t got far when I
hear a man say:

“We better camp here if we can find a good place; the horses is about
beat out.  Let’s look around.”

I didn’t wait, but shoved out and paddled away easy.  I tied up in the
old place, and reckoned I would sleep in the canoe.

I didn’t sleep much.  I couldn’t, somehow, for thinking.  And every time
I waked up I thought somebody had me by the neck.  So the sleep didn’t
do me no good.  By and by I says to myself, I can’t live this way; I’m
a-going to find out who it is that’s here on the island with me; I’ll
find it out or bust.  Well, I felt better right off.

So I took my paddle and slid out from shore just a step or two, and
then let the canoe drop along down amongst the shadows.  The moon was
shining, and outside of the shadows it made it most as light as day.
 I poked along well on to an hour, everything still as rocks and sound
asleep. Well, by this time I was most down to the foot of the island.  A
little ripply, cool breeze begun to blow, and that was as good as saying
the night was about done.  I give her a turn with the paddle and brung
her nose to shore; then I got my gun and slipped out and into the edge
of the woods.  I sat down there on a log, and looked out through the
leaves.  I see the moon go off watch, and the darkness begin to blanket
the river. But in a little while I see a pale streak over the treetops,
and knowed the day was coming.  So I took my gun and slipped off towards
where I had run across that camp fire, stopping every minute or two
to listen.  But I hadn’t no luck somehow; I couldn’t seem to find the
place.  But by and by, sure enough, I catched a glimpse of fire away
through the trees.  I went for it, cautious and slow.  By and by I was
close enough to have a look, and there laid a man on the ground.  It
most give me the fan-tods. He had a blanket around his head, and his
head was nearly in the fire.  I set there behind a clump of bushes, in
about six foot of him, and kept my eyes on him steady.  It was getting
gray daylight now.  Pretty soon he gapped and stretched himself and hove
off the blanket, and it was Miss Watson’s Jim!  I bet I was glad to see
him.  I says:

“Hello, Jim!” and skipped out.

He bounced up and stared at me wild.  Then he drops down on his knees,
and puts his hands together and says:

“Doan’ hurt me--don’t!  I hain’t ever done no harm to a ghos’.  I alwuz
liked dead people, en done all I could for ‘em.  You go en git in de
river agin, whah you b’longs, en doan’ do nuffn to Ole Jim, ‘at ‘uz
awluz yo’ fren’.”

Well, I warn’t long making him understand I warn’t dead.  I was ever so
glad to see Jim.  I warn’t lonesome now.  I told him I warn’t afraid of
_him_ telling the people where I was.  I talked along, but he only set
there and looked at me; never said nothing.  Then I says:

“It’s good daylight.  Le’s get breakfast.  Make up your camp fire good.”

“What’s de use er makin’ up de camp fire to cook strawbries en sich
truck? But you got a gun, hain’t you?  Den we kin git sumfn better den

“Strawberries and such truck,” I says.  “Is that what you live on?”

“I couldn’ git nuffn else,” he says.

“Why, how long you been on the island, Jim?”

“I come heah de night arter you’s killed.”

“What, all that time?”


“And ain’t you had nothing but that kind of rubbage to eat?”

“No, sah--nuffn else.”

“Well, you must be most starved, ain’t you?”

“I reck’n I could eat a hoss.  I think I could. How long you ben on de

“Since the night I got killed.”

“No!  W’y, what has you lived on?  But you got a gun.  Oh, yes, you got
a gun.  Dat’s good.  Now you kill sumfn en I’ll make up de fire.”

So we went over to where the canoe was, and while he built a fire in
a grassy open place amongst the trees, I fetched meal and bacon and
coffee, and coffee-pot and frying-pan, and sugar and tin cups, and the
nigger was set back considerable, because he reckoned it was all done
with witchcraft. I catched a good big catfish, too, and Jim cleaned him
with his knife, and fried him.

When breakfast was ready we lolled on the grass and eat it smoking hot.
Jim laid it in with all his might, for he was most about starved.  Then
when we had got pretty well stuffed, we laid off and lazied.  By and by
Jim says:

“But looky here, Huck, who wuz it dat ‘uz killed in dat shanty ef it
warn’t you?”

Then I told him the whole thing, and he said it was smart.  He said Tom
Sawyer couldn’t get up no better plan than what I had.  Then I says:

“How do you come to be here, Jim, and how’d you get here?”

He looked pretty uneasy, and didn’t say nothing for a minute.  Then he

“Maybe I better not tell.”

“Why, Jim?”

“Well, dey’s reasons.  But you wouldn’ tell on me ef I uz to tell you,
would you, Huck?”

“Blamed if I would, Jim.”

“Well, I b’lieve you, Huck.  I--_I run off_.”


“But mind, you said you wouldn’ tell--you know you said you wouldn’ tell,

“Well, I did.  I said I wouldn’t, and I’ll stick to it.  Honest _injun_,
I will.  People would call me a low-down Abolitionist and despise me for
keeping mum--but that don’t make no difference.  I ain’t a-going to tell,
and I ain’t a-going back there, anyways.  So, now, le’s know all about

“Well, you see, it ‘uz dis way.  Ole missus--dat’s Miss Watson--she pecks
on me all de time, en treats me pooty rough, but she awluz said she
wouldn’ sell me down to Orleans.  But I noticed dey wuz a nigger trader
roun’ de place considable lately, en I begin to git oneasy.  Well, one
night I creeps to de do’ pooty late, en de do’ warn’t quite shet, en I
hear old missus tell de widder she gwyne to sell me down to Orleans, but
she didn’ want to, but she could git eight hund’d dollars for me, en it
‘uz sich a big stack o’ money she couldn’ resis’.  De widder she try to
git her to say she wouldn’ do it, but I never waited to hear de res’.  I
lit out mighty quick, I tell you.

“I tuck out en shin down de hill, en ‘spec to steal a skift ‘long de
sho’ som’ers ‘bove de town, but dey wuz people a-stirring yit, so I hid
in de ole tumble-down cooper-shop on de bank to wait for everybody to
go ‘way. Well, I wuz dah all night.  Dey wuz somebody roun’ all de time.
 ‘Long ‘bout six in de mawnin’ skifts begin to go by, en ‘bout eight er
nine every skift dat went ‘long wuz talkin’ ‘bout how yo’ pap come over
to de town en say you’s killed.  Dese las’ skifts wuz full o’ ladies en
genlmen a-goin’ over for to see de place.  Sometimes dey’d pull up at
de sho’ en take a res’ b’fo’ dey started acrost, so by de talk I got to
know all ‘bout de killin’.  I ‘uz powerful sorry you’s killed, Huck, but
I ain’t no mo’ now.

“I laid dah under de shavin’s all day.  I ‘uz hungry, but I warn’t
afeard; bekase I knowed ole missus en de widder wuz goin’ to start to
de camp-meet’n’ right arter breakfas’ en be gone all day, en dey knows
I goes off wid de cattle ‘bout daylight, so dey wouldn’ ‘spec to see me
roun’ de place, en so dey wouldn’ miss me tell arter dark in de evenin’.
De yuther servants wouldn’ miss me, kase dey’d shin out en take holiday
soon as de ole folks ‘uz out’n de way.

“Well, when it come dark I tuck out up de river road, en went ‘bout two
mile er more to whah dey warn’t no houses.  I’d made up my mine ‘bout
what I’s agwyne to do.  You see, ef I kep’ on tryin’ to git away afoot,
de dogs ‘ud track me; ef I stole a skift to cross over, dey’d miss dat
skift, you see, en dey’d know ‘bout whah I’d lan’ on de yuther side, en
whah to pick up my track.  So I says, a raff is what I’s arter; it doan’
_make_ no track.

“I see a light a-comin’ roun’ de p’int bymeby, so I wade’ in en shove’
a log ahead o’ me en swum more’n half way acrost de river, en got in
‘mongst de drift-wood, en kep’ my head down low, en kinder swum agin de
current tell de raff come along.  Den I swum to de stern uv it en tuck
a-holt.  It clouded up en ‘uz pooty dark for a little while.  So I clumb
up en laid down on de planks.  De men ‘uz all ‘way yonder in de middle,
whah de lantern wuz.  De river wuz a-risin’, en dey wuz a good current;
so I reck’n’d ‘at by fo’ in de mawnin’ I’d be twenty-five mile down de
river, en den I’d slip in jis b’fo’ daylight en swim asho’, en take to
de woods on de Illinois side.

“But I didn’ have no luck.  When we ‘uz mos’ down to de head er de
islan’ a man begin to come aft wid de lantern, I see it warn’t no use
fer to wait, so I slid overboard en struck out fer de islan’.  Well, I
had a notion I could lan’ mos’ anywhers, but I couldn’t--bank too bluff.
 I ‘uz mos’ to de foot er de islan’ b’fo’ I found’ a good place.  I went
into de woods en jedged I wouldn’ fool wid raffs no mo’, long as dey
move de lantern roun’ so.  I had my pipe en a plug er dog-leg, en some
matches in my cap, en dey warn’t wet, so I ‘uz all right.”

“And so you ain’t had no meat nor bread to eat all this time?  Why
didn’t you get mud-turkles?”

“How you gwyne to git ‘m?  You can’t slip up on um en grab um; en how’s
a body gwyne to hit um wid a rock?  How could a body do it in de night?
 En I warn’t gwyne to show mysef on de bank in de daytime.”

“Well, that’s so.  You’ve had to keep in the woods all the time, of
course. Did you hear ‘em shooting the cannon?”

“Oh, yes.  I knowed dey was arter you.  I see um go by heah--watched um
thoo de bushes.”

Some young birds come along, flying a yard or two at a time and
lighting. Jim said it was a sign it was going to rain.  He said it was
a sign when young chickens flew that way, and so he reckoned it was the
same way when young birds done it.  I was going to catch some of them,
but Jim wouldn’t let me.  He said it was death.  He said his father laid
mighty sick once, and some of them catched a bird, and his old granny
said his father would die, and he did.

And Jim said you mustn’t count the things you are going to cook for
dinner, because that would bring bad luck.  The same if you shook the
table-cloth after sundown.  And he said if a man owned a beehive
and that man died, the bees must be told about it before sun-up next
morning, or else the bees would all weaken down and quit work and die.
 Jim said bees wouldn’t sting idiots; but I didn’t believe that, because
I had tried them lots of times myself, and they wouldn’t sting me.

I had heard about some of these things before, but not all of them.  Jim
knowed all kinds of signs.  He said he knowed most everything.  I said
it looked to me like all the signs was about bad luck, and so I asked
him if there warn’t any good-luck signs.  He says:

“Mighty few--an’ _dey_ ain’t no use to a body.  What you want to know
when good luck’s a-comin’ for?  Want to keep it off?”  And he said:  “Ef
you’s got hairy arms en a hairy breas’, it’s a sign dat you’s agwyne
to be rich. Well, dey’s some use in a sign like dat, ‘kase it’s so fur
ahead. You see, maybe you’s got to be po’ a long time fust, en so you
might git discourage’ en kill yo’sef ‘f you didn’ know by de sign dat
you gwyne to be rich bymeby.”

“Have you got hairy arms and a hairy breast, Jim?”

“What’s de use to ax dat question?  Don’t you see I has?”

“Well, are you rich?”

“No, but I ben rich wunst, and gwyne to be rich agin.  Wunst I had
foteen dollars, but I tuck to specalat’n’, en got busted out.”

“What did you speculate in, Jim?”

“Well, fust I tackled stock.”

“What kind of stock?”

“Why, live stock--cattle, you know.  I put ten dollars in a cow.  But
I ain’ gwyne to resk no mo’ money in stock.  De cow up ‘n’ died on my

“So you lost the ten dollars.”

“No, I didn’t lose it all.  I on’y los’ ‘bout nine of it.  I sole de
hide en taller for a dollar en ten cents.”

“You had five dollars and ten cents left.  Did you speculate any more?”

“Yes.  You know that one-laigged nigger dat b’longs to old Misto
Bradish? Well, he sot up a bank, en say anybody dat put in a dollar
would git fo’ dollars mo’ at de en’ er de year.  Well, all de niggers
went in, but dey didn’t have much.  I wuz de on’y one dat had much.  So
I stuck out for mo’ dan fo’ dollars, en I said ‘f I didn’ git it I’d
start a bank mysef. Well, o’ course dat nigger want’ to keep me out er
de business, bekase he says dey warn’t business ‘nough for two banks, so
he say I could put in my five dollars en he pay me thirty-five at de en’
er de year.

“So I done it.  Den I reck’n’d I’d inves’ de thirty-five dollars right
off en keep things a-movin’.  Dey wuz a nigger name’ Bob, dat had
ketched a wood-flat, en his marster didn’ know it; en I bought it off’n
him en told him to take de thirty-five dollars when de en’ er de
year come; but somebody stole de wood-flat dat night, en nex day de
one-laigged nigger say de bank’s busted.  So dey didn’ none uv us git no

“What did you do with the ten cents, Jim?”

“Well, I ‘uz gwyne to spen’ it, but I had a dream, en de dream tole me
to give it to a nigger name’ Balum--Balum’s Ass dey call him for short;
he’s one er dem chuckleheads, you know.  But he’s lucky, dey say, en I
see I warn’t lucky.  De dream say let Balum inves’ de ten cents en he’d
make a raise for me.  Well, Balum he tuck de money, en when he wuz in
church he hear de preacher say dat whoever give to de po’ len’ to de
Lord, en boun’ to git his money back a hund’d times.  So Balum he tuck
en give de ten cents to de po’, en laid low to see what wuz gwyne to
come of it.”

“Well, what did come of it, Jim?”

“Nuffn never come of it.  I couldn’ manage to k’leck dat money no way;
en Balum he couldn’.  I ain’ gwyne to len’ no mo’ money ‘dout I see de
security.  Boun’ to git yo’ money back a hund’d times, de preacher says!
Ef I could git de ten _cents_ back, I’d call it squah, en be glad er de

“Well, it’s all right anyway, Jim, long as you’re going to be rich again
some time or other.”

“Yes; en I’s rich now, come to look at it.  I owns mysef, en I’s wuth
eight hund’d dollars.  I wisht I had de money, I wouldn’ want no mo’.”


I wanted to go and look at a place right about the middle of the island
that I’d found when I was exploring; so we started and soon got to it,
because the island was only three miles long and a quarter of a mile

This place was a tolerable long, steep hill or ridge about forty foot
high. We had a rough time getting to the top, the sides was so steep and
the bushes so thick.  We tramped and clumb around all over it, and by
and by found a good big cavern in the rock, most up to the top on the
side towards Illinois.  The cavern was as big as two or three rooms
bunched together, and Jim could stand up straight in it.  It was cool in
there. Jim was for putting our traps in there right away, but I said we
didn’t want to be climbing up and down there all the time.

Jim said if we had the canoe hid in a good place, and had all the traps
in the cavern, we could rush there if anybody was to come to the island,
and they would never find us without dogs.  And, besides, he said them
little birds had said it was going to rain, and did I want the things to
get wet?

So we went back and got the canoe, and paddled up abreast the cavern,
and lugged all the traps up there.  Then we hunted up a place close by
to hide the canoe in, amongst the thick willows.  We took some fish off
of the lines and set them again, and begun to get ready for dinner.

The door of the cavern was big enough to roll a hogshead in, and on one
side of the door the floor stuck out a little bit, and was flat and a
good place to build a fire on.  So we built it there and cooked dinner.

We spread the blankets inside for a carpet, and eat our dinner in there.
We put all the other things handy at the back of the cavern.  Pretty
soon it darkened up, and begun to thunder and lighten; so the birds was
right about it.  Directly it begun to rain, and it rained like all fury,
too, and I never see the wind blow so.  It was one of these regular
summer storms.  It would get so dark that it looked all blue-black
outside, and lovely; and the rain would thrash along by so thick that
the trees off a little ways looked dim and spider-webby; and here would
come a blast of wind that would bend the trees down and turn up the
pale underside of the leaves; and then a perfect ripper of a gust would
follow along and set the branches to tossing their arms as if they
was just wild; and next, when it was just about the bluest and
blackest--_FST_! it was as bright as glory, and you’d have a little
glimpse of tree-tops a-plunging about away off yonder in the storm,
hundreds of yards further than you could see before; dark as sin again
in a second, and now you’d hear the thunder let go with an awful crash,
and then go rumbling, grumbling, tumbling, down the sky towards the
under side of the world, like rolling empty barrels down stairs--where
it’s long stairs and they bounce a good deal, you know.

“Jim, this is nice,” I says.  “I wouldn’t want to be nowhere else but
here. Pass me along another hunk of fish and some hot corn-bread.”

“Well, you wouldn’t a ben here ‘f it hadn’t a ben for Jim.  You’d a ben
down dah in de woods widout any dinner, en gittn’ mos’ drownded, too;
dat you would, honey.  Chickens knows when it’s gwyne to rain, en so do
de birds, chile.”

The river went on raising and raising for ten or twelve days, till at
last it was over the banks.  The water was three or four foot deep on
the island in the low places and on the Illinois bottom.  On that side
it was a good many miles wide, but on the Missouri side it was the same
old distance across--a half a mile--because the Missouri shore was just a
wall of high bluffs.

Daytimes we paddled all over the island in the canoe, It was mighty cool
and shady in the deep woods, even if the sun was blazing outside.  We
went winding in and out amongst the trees, and sometimes the vines hung
so thick we had to back away and go some other way.  Well, on every old
broken-down tree you could see rabbits and snakes and such things; and
when the island had been overflowed a day or two they got so tame, on
account of being hungry, that you could paddle right up and put your
hand on them if you wanted to; but not the snakes and turtles--they would
slide off in the water.  The ridge our cavern was in was full of them.
We could a had pets enough if we’d wanted them.

One night we catched a little section of a lumber raft--nice pine planks.
It was twelve foot wide and about fifteen or sixteen foot long, and
the top stood above water six or seven inches--a solid, level floor.  We
could see saw-logs go by in the daylight sometimes, but we let them go;
we didn’t show ourselves in daylight.

Another night when we was up at the head of the island, just before
daylight, here comes a frame-house down, on the west side.  She was
a two-story, and tilted over considerable.  We paddled out and got
aboard--clumb in at an upstairs window.  But it was too dark to see yet,
so we made the canoe fast and set in her to wait for daylight.

The light begun to come before we got to the foot of the island.  Then
we looked in at the window.  We could make out a bed, and a table, and
two old chairs, and lots of things around about on the floor, and there
was clothes hanging against the wall.  There was something laying on the
floor in the far corner that looked like a man.  So Jim says:

“Hello, you!”

But it didn’t budge.  So I hollered again, and then Jim says:

“De man ain’t asleep--he’s dead.  You hold still--I’ll go en see.”

He went, and bent down and looked, and says:

“It’s a dead man.  Yes, indeedy; naked, too.  He’s ben shot in de back.
I reck’n he’s ben dead two er three days.  Come in, Huck, but doan’ look
at his face--it’s too gashly.”

I didn’t look at him at all.  Jim throwed some old rags over him, but
he needn’t done it; I didn’t want to see him.  There was heaps of old
greasy cards scattered around over the floor, and old whisky bottles,
and a couple of masks made out of black cloth; and all over the walls
was the ignorantest kind of words and pictures made with charcoal.
 There was two old dirty calico dresses, and a sun-bonnet, and some
women’s underclothes hanging against the wall, and some men’s clothing,
too.  We put the lot into the canoe--it might come good.  There was a
boy’s old speckled straw hat on the floor; I took that, too.  And there
was a bottle that had had milk in it, and it had a rag stopper for a
baby to suck.  We would a took the bottle, but it was broke.  There was
a seedy old chest, and an old hair trunk with the hinges broke.  They
stood open, but there warn’t nothing left in them that was any account.
 The way things was scattered about we reckoned the people left in a
hurry, and warn’t fixed so as to carry off most of their stuff.

We got an old tin lantern, and a butcher-knife without any handle, and
a bran-new Barlow knife worth two bits in any store, and a lot of tallow
candles, and a tin candlestick, and a gourd, and a tin cup, and a ratty
old bedquilt off the bed, and a reticule with needles and pins and
beeswax and buttons and thread and all such truck in it, and a hatchet
and some nails, and a fishline as thick as my little finger with some
monstrous hooks on it, and a roll of buckskin, and a leather dog-collar,
and a horseshoe, and some vials of medicine that didn’t have no label
on them; and just as we was leaving I found a tolerable good curry-comb,
and Jim he found a ratty old fiddle-bow, and a wooden leg.  The straps
was broke off of it, but, barring that, it was a good enough leg, though
it was too long for me and not long enough for Jim, and we couldn’t find
the other one, though we hunted all around.

And so, take it all around, we made a good haul.  When we was ready to
shove off we was a quarter of a mile below the island, and it was pretty
broad day; so I made Jim lay down in the canoe and cover up with the
quilt, because if he set up people could tell he was a nigger a good
ways off.  I paddled over to the Illinois shore, and drifted down most
a half a mile doing it.  I crept up the dead water under the bank, and
hadn’t no accidents and didn’t see nobody.  We got home all safe.


AFTER breakfast I wanted to talk about the dead man and guess out how he
come to be killed, but Jim didn’t want to.  He said it would fetch bad
luck; and besides, he said, he might come and ha’nt us; he said a man
that warn’t buried was more likely to go a-ha’nting around than one
that was planted and comfortable.  That sounded pretty reasonable, so
I didn’t say no more; but I couldn’t keep from studying over it and
wishing I knowed who shot the man, and what they done it for.

We rummaged the clothes we’d got, and found eight dollars in silver
sewed up in the lining of an old blanket overcoat.  Jim said he reckoned
the people in that house stole the coat, because if they’d a knowed the
money was there they wouldn’t a left it.  I said I reckoned they killed
him, too; but Jim didn’t want to talk about that.  I says:

“Now you think it’s bad luck; but what did you say when I fetched in the
snake-skin that I found on the top of the ridge day before yesterday?
You said it was the worst bad luck in the world to touch a snake-skin
with my hands.  Well, here’s your bad luck!  We’ve raked in all this
truck and eight dollars besides.  I wish we could have some bad luck
like this every day, Jim.”

“Never you mind, honey, never you mind.  Don’t you git too peart.  It’s
a-comin’.  Mind I tell you, it’s a-comin’.”

It did come, too.  It was a Tuesday that we had that talk.  Well, after
dinner Friday we was laying around in the grass at the upper end of the
ridge, and got out of tobacco.  I went to the cavern to get some, and
found a rattlesnake in there.  I killed him, and curled him up on the
foot of Jim’s blanket, ever so natural, thinking there’d be some fun
when Jim found him there.  Well, by night I forgot all about the snake,
and when Jim flung himself down on the blanket while I struck a light
the snake’s mate was there, and bit him.

He jumped up yelling, and the first thing the light showed was the
varmint curled up and ready for another spring.  I laid him out in a
second with a stick, and Jim grabbed pap’s whisky-jug and begun to pour
it down.

He was barefooted, and the snake bit him right on the heel.  That all
comes of my being such a fool as to not remember that wherever you leave
a dead snake its mate always comes there and curls around it.  Jim told
me to chop off the snake’s head and throw it away, and then skin the
body and roast a piece of it.  I done it, and he eat it and said it
would help cure him. He made me take off the rattles and tie them around
his wrist, too.  He said that that would help.  Then I slid out quiet
and throwed the snakes clear away amongst the bushes; for I warn’t going
to let Jim find out it was all my fault, not if I could help it.

Jim sucked and sucked at the jug, and now and then he got out of his
head and pitched around and yelled; but every time he come to himself he
went to sucking at the jug again.  His foot swelled up pretty big, and
so did his leg; but by and by the drunk begun to come, and so I judged
he was all right; but I’d druther been bit with a snake than pap’s

Jim was laid up for four days and nights.  Then the swelling was all
gone and he was around again.  I made up my mind I wouldn’t ever take
a-holt of a snake-skin again with my hands, now that I see what had come
of it. Jim said he reckoned I would believe him next time.  And he said
that handling a snake-skin was such awful bad luck that maybe we hadn’t
got to the end of it yet.  He said he druther see the new moon over his
left shoulder as much as a thousand times than take up a snake-skin
in his hand.  Well, I was getting to feel that way myself, though I’ve
always reckoned that looking at the new moon over your left shoulder is
one of the carelessest and foolishest things a body can do.  Old Hank
Bunker done it once, and bragged about it; and in less than two years he
got drunk and fell off of the shot-tower, and spread himself out so
that he was just a kind of a layer, as you may say; and they slid him
edgeways between two barn doors for a coffin, and buried him so, so
they say, but I didn’t see it.  Pap told me.  But anyway it all come of
looking at the moon that way, like a fool.

Well, the days went along, and the river went down between its banks
again; and about the first thing we done was to bait one of the big
hooks with a skinned rabbit and set it and catch a catfish that was
as big as a man, being six foot two inches long, and weighed over two
hundred pounds. We couldn’t handle him, of course; he would a flung us
into Illinois.  We just set there and watched him rip and tear around
till he drownded.  We found a brass button in his stomach and a round
ball, and lots of rubbage.  We split the ball open with the hatchet,
and there was a spool in it.  Jim said he’d had it there a long time, to
coat it over so and make a ball of it.  It was as big a fish as was ever
catched in the Mississippi, I reckon.  Jim said he hadn’t ever seen
a bigger one.  He would a been worth a good deal over at the village.
 They peddle out such a fish as that by the pound in the market-house
there; everybody buys some of him; his meat’s as white as snow and makes
a good fry.

Next morning I said it was getting slow and dull, and I wanted to get a
stirring up some way.  I said I reckoned I would slip over the river and
find out what was going on.  Jim liked that notion; but he said I
must go in the dark and look sharp.  Then he studied it over and said,
couldn’t I put on some of them old things and dress up like a girl?
 That was a good notion, too.  So we shortened up one of the calico
gowns, and I turned up my trouser-legs to my knees and got into it.  Jim
hitched it behind with the hooks, and it was a fair fit.  I put on the
sun-bonnet and tied it under my chin, and then for a body to look in
and see my face was like looking down a joint of stove-pipe.  Jim said
nobody would know me, even in the daytime, hardly.  I practiced around
all day to get the hang of the things, and by and by I could do pretty
well in them, only Jim said I didn’t walk like a girl; and he said
I must quit pulling up my gown to get at my britches-pocket.  I took
notice, and done better.

I started up the Illinois shore in the canoe just after dark.

I started across to the town from a little below the ferry-landing, and
the drift of the current fetched me in at the bottom of the town.  I
tied up and started along the bank.  There was a light burning in a
little shanty that hadn’t been lived in for a long time, and I wondered
who had took up quarters there.  I slipped up and peeped in at the
window.  There was a woman about forty year old in there knitting by
a candle that was on a pine table.  I didn’t know her face; she was a
stranger, for you couldn’t start a face in that town that I didn’t know.
 Now this was lucky, because I was weakening; I was getting afraid I had
come; people might know my voice and find me out.  But if this woman had
been in such a little town two days she could tell me all I wanted to
know; so I knocked at the door, and made up my mind I wouldn’t forget I
was a girl.


“COME in,” says the woman, and I did.  She says:  “Take a cheer.”

I done it.  She looked me all over with her little shiny eyes, and says:

“What might your name be?”

“Sarah Williams.”

“Where ‘bouts do you live?  In this neighborhood?’

“No’m.  In Hookerville, seven mile below.  I’ve walked all the way and
I’m all tired out.”

“Hungry, too, I reckon.  I’ll find you something.”

“No’m, I ain’t hungry.  I was so hungry I had to stop two miles below
here at a farm; so I ain’t hungry no more.  It’s what makes me so late.
My mother’s down sick, and out of money and everything, and I come to
tell my uncle Abner Moore.  He lives at the upper end of the town, she
says.  I hain’t ever been here before.  Do you know him?”

“No; but I don’t know everybody yet.  I haven’t lived here quite two
weeks. It’s a considerable ways to the upper end of the town.  You
better stay here all night.  Take off your bonnet.”

“No,” I says; “I’ll rest a while, I reckon, and go on.  I ain’t afeared
of the dark.”

She said she wouldn’t let me go by myself, but her husband would be in
by and by, maybe in a hour and a half, and she’d send him along with me.
Then she got to talking about her husband, and about her relations up
the river, and her relations down the river, and about how much better
off they used to was, and how they didn’t know but they’d made a mistake
coming to our town, instead of letting well alone--and so on and so on,
till I was afeard I had made a mistake coming to her to find out what
was going on in the town; but by and by she dropped on to pap and the
murder, and then I was pretty willing to let her clatter right along.
 She told about me and Tom Sawyer finding the six thousand dollars (only
she got it ten) and all about pap and what a hard lot he was, and what
a hard lot I was, and at last she got down to where I was murdered.  I

“Who done it?  We’ve heard considerable about these goings on down in
Hookerville, but we don’t know who ‘twas that killed Huck Finn.”

“Well, I reckon there’s a right smart chance of people _here_ that’d
like to know who killed him.  Some think old Finn done it himself.”

“No--is that so?”

“Most everybody thought it at first.  He’ll never know how nigh he come
to getting lynched.  But before night they changed around and judged it
was done by a runaway nigger named Jim.”

“Why _he_--”

I stopped.  I reckoned I better keep still.  She run on, and never
noticed I had put in at all:

“The nigger run off the very night Huck Finn was killed.  So there’s a
reward out for him--three hundred dollars.  And there’s a reward out for
old Finn, too--two hundred dollars.  You see, he come to town the
morning after the murder, and told about it, and was out with ‘em on the
ferryboat hunt, and right away after he up and left.  Before night they
wanted to lynch him, but he was gone, you see.  Well, next day they
found out the nigger was gone; they found out he hadn’t ben seen sence
ten o’clock the night the murder was done.  So then they put it on him,
you see; and while they was full of it, next day, back comes old Finn,
and went boo-hooing to Judge Thatcher to get money to hunt for the
nigger all over Illinois with. The judge gave him some, and that evening
he got drunk, and was around till after midnight with a couple of mighty
hard-looking strangers, and then went off with them.  Well, he hain’t
come back sence, and they ain’t looking for him back till this thing
blows over a little, for people thinks now that he killed his boy and
fixed things so folks would think robbers done it, and then he’d get
Huck’s money without having to bother a long time with a lawsuit.
 People do say he warn’t any too good to do it.  Oh, he’s sly, I reckon.
 If he don’t come back for a year he’ll be all right.  You can’t prove
anything on him, you know; everything will be quieted down then, and
he’ll walk in Huck’s money as easy as nothing.”

“Yes, I reckon so, ‘m.  I don’t see nothing in the way of it.  Has
everybody quit thinking the nigger done it?”

“Oh, no, not everybody.  A good many thinks he done it.  But they’ll get
the nigger pretty soon now, and maybe they can scare it out of him.”

“Why, are they after him yet?”

“Well, you’re innocent, ain’t you!  Does three hundred dollars lay
around every day for people to pick up?  Some folks think the nigger
ain’t far from here.  I’m one of them--but I hain’t talked it around.  A
few days ago I was talking with an old couple that lives next door in
the log shanty, and they happened to say hardly anybody ever goes to
that island over yonder that they call Jackson’s Island.  Don’t anybody
live there? says I. No, nobody, says they.  I didn’t say any more, but
I done some thinking.  I was pretty near certain I’d seen smoke over
there, about the head of the island, a day or two before that, so I says
to myself, like as not that nigger’s hiding over there; anyway, says
I, it’s worth the trouble to give the place a hunt.  I hain’t seen any
smoke sence, so I reckon maybe he’s gone, if it was him; but husband’s
going over to see--him and another man.  He was gone up the river; but he
got back to-day, and I told him as soon as he got here two hours ago.”

I had got so uneasy I couldn’t set still.  I had to do something with my
hands; so I took up a needle off of the table and went to threading
it. My hands shook, and I was making a bad job of it.  When the woman
stopped talking I looked up, and she was looking at me pretty curious
and smiling a little.  I put down the needle and thread, and let on to
be interested--and I was, too--and says:

“Three hundred dollars is a power of money.  I wish my mother could get
it. Is your husband going over there to-night?”

“Oh, yes.  He went up-town with the man I was telling you of, to get a
boat and see if they could borrow another gun.  They’ll go over after

“Couldn’t they see better if they was to wait till daytime?”

“Yes.  And couldn’t the nigger see better, too?  After midnight he’ll
likely be asleep, and they can slip around through the woods and hunt up
his camp fire all the better for the dark, if he’s got one.”

“I didn’t think of that.”

The woman kept looking at me pretty curious, and I didn’t feel a bit
comfortable.  Pretty soon she says,

“What did you say your name was, honey?”

“M--Mary Williams.”

Somehow it didn’t seem to me that I said it was Mary before, so I didn’t
look up--seemed to me I said it was Sarah; so I felt sort of cornered,
and was afeared maybe I was looking it, too.  I wished the woman would
say something more; the longer she set still the uneasier I was.  But
now she says:

“Honey, I thought you said it was Sarah when you first come in?”

“Oh, yes’m, I did.  Sarah Mary Williams.  Sarah’s my first name.  Some
calls me Sarah, some calls me Mary.”

“Oh, that’s the way of it?”


I was feeling better then, but I wished I was out of there, anyway.  I
couldn’t look up yet.

Well, the woman fell to talking about how hard times was, and how poor
they had to live, and how the rats was as free as if they owned the
place, and so forth and so on, and then I got easy again.  She was right
about the rats. You’d see one stick his nose out of a hole in the corner
every little while.  She said she had to have things handy to throw at
them when she was alone, or they wouldn’t give her no peace.  She showed
me a bar of lead twisted up into a knot, and said she was a good shot
with it generly, but she’d wrenched her arm a day or two ago, and didn’t
know whether she could throw true now.  But she watched for a chance,
and directly banged away at a rat; but she missed him wide, and said
“Ouch!” it hurt her arm so.  Then she told me to try for the next one.
 I wanted to be getting away before the old man got back, but of course
I didn’t let on.  I got the thing, and the first rat that showed his
nose I let drive, and if he’d a stayed where he was he’d a been a
tolerable sick rat.  She said that was first-rate, and she reckoned I
would hive the next one.  She went and got the lump of lead and fetched
it back, and brought along a hank of yarn which she wanted me to help
her with.  I held up my two hands and she put the hank over them, and
went on talking about her and her husband’s matters.  But she broke off
to say:

“Keep your eye on the rats.  You better have the lead in your lap,

So she dropped the lump into my lap just at that moment, and I clapped
my legs together on it and she went on talking.  But only about a
minute. Then she took off the hank and looked me straight in the face,
and very pleasant, and says:

“Come, now, what’s your real name?”

“Wh--what, mum?”

“What’s your real name?  Is it Bill, or Tom, or Bob?--or what is it?”

I reckon I shook like a leaf, and I didn’t know hardly what to do.  But
I says:

“Please to don’t poke fun at a poor girl like me, mum.  If I’m in the
way here, I’ll--”

“No, you won’t.  Set down and stay where you are.  I ain’t going to hurt
you, and I ain’t going to tell on you, nuther.  You just tell me your
secret, and trust me.  I’ll keep it; and, what’s more, I’ll help
you. So’ll my old man if you want him to.  You see, you’re a runaway
‘prentice, that’s all.  It ain’t anything.  There ain’t no harm in it.
You’ve been treated bad, and you made up your mind to cut.  Bless you,
child, I wouldn’t tell on you.  Tell me all about it now, that’s a good

So I said it wouldn’t be no use to try to play it any longer, and I
would just make a clean breast and tell her everything, but she musn’t
go back on her promise.  Then I told her my father and mother was dead,
and the law had bound me out to a mean old farmer in the country thirty
mile back from the river, and he treated me so bad I couldn’t stand it
no longer; he went away to be gone a couple of days, and so I took my
chance and stole some of his daughter’s old clothes and cleared out, and
I had been three nights coming the thirty miles.  I traveled nights,
and hid daytimes and slept, and the bag of bread and meat I carried from
home lasted me all the way, and I had a-plenty.  I said I believed my
uncle Abner Moore would take care of me, and so that was why I struck
out for this town of Goshen.

“Goshen, child?  This ain’t Goshen.  This is St. Petersburg.  Goshen’s
ten mile further up the river.  Who told you this was Goshen?”

“Why, a man I met at daybreak this morning, just as I was going to turn
into the woods for my regular sleep.  He told me when the roads forked I
must take the right hand, and five mile would fetch me to Goshen.”

“He was drunk, I reckon.  He told you just exactly wrong.”

“Well, he did act like he was drunk, but it ain’t no matter now.  I got
to be moving along.  I’ll fetch Goshen before daylight.”

“Hold on a minute.  I’ll put you up a snack to eat.  You might want it.”

So she put me up a snack, and says:

“Say, when a cow’s laying down, which end of her gets up first?  Answer
up prompt now--don’t stop to study over it.  Which end gets up first?”

“The hind end, mum.”

“Well, then, a horse?”

“The for’rard end, mum.”

“Which side of a tree does the moss grow on?”

“North side.”

“If fifteen cows is browsing on a hillside, how many of them eats with
their heads pointed the same direction?”

“The whole fifteen, mum.”

“Well, I reckon you _have_ lived in the country.  I thought maybe you
was trying to hocus me again.  What’s your real name, now?”

“George Peters, mum.”

“Well, try to remember it, George.  Don’t forget and tell me it’s
Elexander before you go, and then get out by saying it’s George
Elexander when I catch you.  And don’t go about women in that old
calico.  You do a girl tolerable poor, but you might fool men, maybe.
 Bless you, child, when you set out to thread a needle don’t hold the
thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and
poke the thread at it; that’s the way a woman most always does, but a
man always does t’other way.  And when you throw at a rat or anything,
hitch yourself up a tiptoe and fetch your hand up over your head as
awkward as you can, and miss your rat about six or seven foot. Throw
stiff-armed from the shoulder, like there was a pivot there for it to
turn on, like a girl; not from the wrist and elbow, with your arm out
to one side, like a boy.  And, mind you, when a girl tries to catch
anything in her lap she throws her knees apart; she don’t clap them
together, the way you did when you catched the lump of lead.  Why, I
spotted you for a boy when you was threading the needle; and I contrived
the other things just to make certain.  Now trot along to your uncle,
Sarah Mary Williams George Elexander Peters, and if you get into trouble
you send word to Mrs. Judith Loftus, which is me, and I’ll do what I can
to get you out of it.  Keep the river road all the way, and next time
you tramp take shoes and socks with you. The river road’s a rocky one,
and your feet’ll be in a condition when you get to Goshen, I reckon.”

I went up the bank about fifty yards, and then I doubled on my tracks
and slipped back to where my canoe was, a good piece below the house.  I
jumped in, and was off in a hurry.  I went up-stream far enough to
make the head of the island, and then started across.  I took off the
sun-bonnet, for I didn’t want no blinders on then.  When I was about the
middle I heard the clock begin to strike, so I stops and listens; the
sound come faint over the water but clear--eleven.  When I struck the
head of the island I never waited to blow, though I was most winded, but
I shoved right into the timber where my old camp used to be, and started
a good fire there on a high and dry spot.

Then I jumped in the canoe and dug out for our place, a mile and a half
below, as hard as I could go.  I landed, and slopped through the timber
and up the ridge and into the cavern.  There Jim laid, sound asleep on
the ground.  I roused him out and says:

“Git up and hump yourself, Jim!  There ain’t a minute to lose.  They’re
after us!”

Jim never asked no questions, he never said a word; but the way he
worked for the next half an hour showed about how he was scared.  By
that time everything we had in the world was on our raft, and she was
ready to be shoved out from the willow cove where she was hid.  We
put out the camp fire at the cavern the first thing, and didn’t show a
candle outside after that.

I took the canoe out from the shore a little piece, and took a look;
but if there was a boat around I couldn’t see it, for stars and shadows
ain’t good to see by.  Then we got out the raft and slipped along down
in the shade, past the foot of the island dead still--never saying a


IT must a been close on to one o’clock when we got below the island at
last, and the raft did seem to go mighty slow.  If a boat was to come
along we was going to take to the canoe and break for the Illinois
shore; and it was well a boat didn’t come, for we hadn’t ever thought to
put the gun in the canoe, or a fishing-line, or anything to eat.  We
was in ruther too much of a sweat to think of so many things.  It warn’t
good judgment to put _everything_ on the raft.

If the men went to the island I just expect they found the camp fire I
built, and watched it all night for Jim to come.  Anyways, they stayed
away from us, and if my building the fire never fooled them it warn’t no
fault of mine.  I played it as low down on them as I could.

When the first streak of day began to show we tied up to a towhead in a
big bend on the Illinois side, and hacked off cottonwood branches with
the hatchet, and covered up the raft with them so she looked like there
had been a cave-in in the bank there.  A tow-head is a sandbar that has
cottonwoods on it as thick as harrow-teeth.

We had mountains on the Missouri shore and heavy timber on the Illinois
side, and the channel was down the Missouri shore at that place, so we
warn’t afraid of anybody running across us.  We laid there all day,
and watched the rafts and steamboats spin down the Missouri shore, and
up-bound steamboats fight the big river in the middle.  I told Jim all
about the time I had jabbering with that woman; and Jim said she was
a smart one, and if she was to start after us herself she wouldn’t set
down and watch a camp fire--no, sir, she’d fetch a dog.  Well, then, I
said, why couldn’t she tell her husband to fetch a dog?  Jim said he
bet she did think of it by the time the men was ready to start, and he
believed they must a gone up-town to get a dog and so they lost all that
time, or else we wouldn’t be here on a towhead sixteen or seventeen mile
below the village--no, indeedy, we would be in that same old town again.
 So I said I didn’t care what was the reason they didn’t get us as long
as they didn’t.

When it was beginning to come on dark we poked our heads out of the
cottonwood thicket, and looked up and down and across; nothing in sight;
so Jim took up some of the top planks of the raft and built a snug
wigwam to get under in blazing weather and rainy, and to keep the things
dry. Jim made a floor for the wigwam, and raised it a foot or more above
the level of the raft, so now the blankets and all the traps was out of
reach of steamboat waves.  Right in the middle of the wigwam we made a
layer of dirt about five or six inches deep with a frame around it for
to hold it to its place; this was to build a fire on in sloppy weather
or chilly; the wigwam would keep it from being seen.  We made an extra
steering-oar, too, because one of the others might get broke on a snag
or something. We fixed up a short forked stick to hang the old lantern
on, because we must always light the lantern whenever we see a steamboat
coming down-stream, to keep from getting run over; but we wouldn’t have
to light it for up-stream boats unless we see we was in what they call
a “crossing”; for the river was pretty high yet, very low banks being
still a little under water; so up-bound boats didn’t always run the
channel, but hunted easy water.

This second night we run between seven and eight hours, with a current
that was making over four mile an hour.  We catched fish and talked,
and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness.  It was kind of
solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs looking
up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud, and it
warn’t often that we laughed--only a little kind of a low chuckle.  We
had mighty good weather as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to
us at all--that night, nor the next, nor the next.

Every night we passed towns, some of them away up on black hillsides,
nothing but just a shiny bed of lights; not a house could you see.  The
fifth night we passed St. Louis, and it was like the whole world lit up.
In St. Petersburg they used to say there was twenty or thirty thousand
people in St. Louis, but I never believed it till I see that wonderful
spread of lights at two o’clock that still night.  There warn’t a sound
there; everybody was asleep.

Every night now I used to slip ashore towards ten o’clock at some little
village, and buy ten or fifteen cents’ worth of meal or bacon or other
stuff to eat; and sometimes I lifted a chicken that warn’t roosting
comfortable, and took him along.  Pap always said, take a chicken when
you get a chance, because if you don’t want him yourself you can easy
find somebody that does, and a good deed ain’t ever forgot.  I never see
pap when he didn’t want the chicken himself, but that is what he used to
say, anyway.

Mornings before daylight I slipped into cornfields and borrowed a
watermelon, or a mushmelon, or a punkin, or some new corn, or things of
that kind.  Pap always said it warn’t no harm to borrow things if you
was meaning to pay them back some time; but the widow said it warn’t
anything but a soft name for stealing, and no decent body would do it.
 Jim said he reckoned the widow was partly right and pap was partly
right; so the best way would be for us to pick out two or three things
from the list and say we wouldn’t borrow them any more--then he reckoned
it wouldn’t be no harm to borrow the others.  So we talked it over all
one night, drifting along down the river, trying to make up our minds
whether to drop the watermelons, or the cantelopes, or the mushmelons,
or what.  But towards daylight we got it all settled satisfactory, and
concluded to drop crabapples and p’simmons.  We warn’t feeling just
right before that, but it was all comfortable now.  I was glad the way
it come out, too, because crabapples ain’t ever good, and the p’simmons
wouldn’t be ripe for two or three months yet.

We shot a water-fowl now and then that got up too early in the morning
or didn’t go to bed early enough in the evening.  Take it all round, we
lived pretty high.

The fifth night below St. Louis we had a big storm after midnight, with
a power of thunder and lightning, and the rain poured down in a solid
sheet. We stayed in the wigwam and let the raft take care of itself.
When the lightning glared out we could see a big straight river ahead,
and high, rocky bluffs on both sides.  By and by says I, “Hel-_lo_, Jim,
looky yonder!” It was a steamboat that had killed herself on a rock.
 We was drifting straight down for her.  The lightning showed her very
distinct.  She was leaning over, with part of her upper deck above
water, and you could see every little chimbly-guy clean and clear, and a
chair by the big bell, with an old slouch hat hanging on the back of it,
when the flashes come.

Well, it being away in the night and stormy, and all so mysterious-like,
I felt just the way any other boy would a felt when I see that wreck
laying there so mournful and lonesome in the middle of the river.  I
wanted to get aboard of her and slink around a little, and see what
there was there.  So I says:

“Le’s land on her, Jim.”

But Jim was dead against it at first.  He says:

“I doan’ want to go fool’n ‘long er no wrack.  We’s doin’ blame’ well,
en we better let blame’ well alone, as de good book says.  Like as not
dey’s a watchman on dat wrack.”

“Watchman your grandmother,” I says; “there ain’t nothing to watch but
the texas and the pilot-house; and do you reckon anybody’s going to resk
his life for a texas and a pilot-house such a night as this, when
it’s likely to break up and wash off down the river any minute?”  Jim
couldn’t say nothing to that, so he didn’t try.  “And besides,” I says,
“we might borrow something worth having out of the captain’s stateroom.
 Seegars, I bet you--and cost five cents apiece, solid cash.  Steamboat
captains is always rich, and get sixty dollars a month, and _they_ don’t
care a cent what a thing costs, you know, long as they want it.  Stick a
candle in your pocket; I can’t rest, Jim, till we give her a rummaging.
 Do you reckon Tom Sawyer would ever go by this thing?  Not for pie, he
wouldn’t. He’d call it an adventure--that’s what he’d call it; and he’d
land on that wreck if it was his last act.  And wouldn’t he throw style
into it?--wouldn’t he spread himself, nor nothing?  Why, you’d think it
was Christopher C’lumbus discovering Kingdom-Come.  I wish Tom Sawyer
_was_ here.”

Jim he grumbled a little, but give in.  He said we mustn’t talk any more
than we could help, and then talk mighty low.  The lightning showed us
the wreck again just in time, and we fetched the stabboard derrick, and
made fast there.

The deck was high out here.  We went sneaking down the slope of it to
labboard, in the dark, towards the texas, feeling our way slow with our
feet, and spreading our hands out to fend off the guys, for it was so
dark we couldn’t see no sign of them.  Pretty soon we struck the forward
end of the skylight, and clumb on to it; and the next step fetched us in
front of the captain’s door, which was open, and by Jimminy, away down
through the texas-hall we see a light! and all in the same second we
seem to hear low voices in yonder!

Jim whispered and said he was feeling powerful sick, and told me to come
along.  I says, all right, and was going to start for the raft; but just
then I heard a voice wail out and say:

“Oh, please don’t, boys; I swear I won’t ever tell!”

Another voice said, pretty loud:

“It’s a lie, Jim Turner.  You’ve acted this way before.  You always want
more’n your share of the truck, and you’ve always got it, too, because
you’ve swore ‘t if you didn’t you’d tell.  But this time you’ve said
it jest one time too many.  You’re the meanest, treacherousest hound in
this country.”

By this time Jim was gone for the raft.  I was just a-biling with
curiosity; and I says to myself, Tom Sawyer wouldn’t back out now,
and so I won’t either; I’m a-going to see what’s going on here.  So I
dropped on my hands and knees in the little passage, and crept aft
in the dark till there warn’t but one stateroom betwixt me and the
cross-hall of the texas.  Then in there I see a man stretched on the
floor and tied hand and foot, and two men standing over him, and one
of them had a dim lantern in his hand, and the other one had a pistol.
 This one kept pointing the pistol at the man’s head on the floor, and

“I’d _like_ to!  And I orter, too--a mean skunk!”

The man on the floor would shrivel up and say, “Oh, please don’t, Bill;
I hain’t ever goin’ to tell.”

And every time he said that the man with the lantern would laugh and

“‘Deed you _ain’t!_  You never said no truer thing ‘n that, you bet
you.” And once he said:  “Hear him beg! and yit if we hadn’t got the
best of him and tied him he’d a killed us both.  And what _for_?  Jist
for noth’n. Jist because we stood on our _rights_--that’s what for.  But
I lay you ain’t a-goin’ to threaten nobody any more, Jim Turner.  Put
_up_ that pistol, Bill.”

Bill says:

“I don’t want to, Jake Packard.  I’m for killin’ him--and didn’t he kill
old Hatfield jist the same way--and don’t he deserve it?”

“But I don’t _want_ him killed, and I’ve got my reasons for it.”

“Bless yo’ heart for them words, Jake Packard!  I’ll never forgit you
long’s I live!” says the man on the floor, sort of blubbering.

Packard didn’t take no notice of that, but hung up his lantern on a nail
and started towards where I was there in the dark, and motioned Bill
to come.  I crawfished as fast as I could about two yards, but the boat
slanted so that I couldn’t make very good time; so to keep from getting
run over and catched I crawled into a stateroom on the upper side.
 The man came a-pawing along in the dark, and when Packard got to my
stateroom, he says:

“Here--come in here.”

And in he come, and Bill after him.  But before they got in I was up
in the upper berth, cornered, and sorry I come.  Then they stood there,
with their hands on the ledge of the berth, and talked.  I couldn’t see
them, but I could tell where they was by the whisky they’d been having.
 I was glad I didn’t drink whisky; but it wouldn’t made much difference
anyway, because most of the time they couldn’t a treed me because I
didn’t breathe.  I was too scared.  And, besides, a body _couldn’t_
breathe and hear such talk.  They talked low and earnest.  Bill wanted
to kill Turner.  He says:

“He’s said he’ll tell, and he will.  If we was to give both our shares
to him _now_ it wouldn’t make no difference after the row and the way
we’ve served him.  Shore’s you’re born, he’ll turn State’s evidence; now
you hear _me_.  I’m for putting him out of his troubles.”

“So’m I,” says Packard, very quiet.

“Blame it, I’d sorter begun to think you wasn’t.  Well, then, that’s all
right.  Le’s go and do it.”

“Hold on a minute; I hain’t had my say yit.  You listen to me.
Shooting’s good, but there’s quieter ways if the thing’s _got_ to be
done. But what I say is this:  it ain’t good sense to go court’n around
after a halter if you can git at what you’re up to in some way that’s
jist as good and at the same time don’t bring you into no resks.  Ain’t
that so?”

“You bet it is.  But how you goin’ to manage it this time?”

“Well, my idea is this:  we’ll rustle around and gather up whatever
pickins we’ve overlooked in the staterooms, and shove for shore and hide
the truck. Then we’ll wait.  Now I say it ain’t a-goin’ to be more’n two
hours befo’ this wrack breaks up and washes off down the river.  See?
He’ll be drownded, and won’t have nobody to blame for it but his own
self.  I reckon that’s a considerble sight better ‘n killin’ of him.
 I’m unfavorable to killin’ a man as long as you can git aroun’ it; it
ain’t good sense, it ain’t good morals.  Ain’t I right?”

“Yes, I reck’n you are.  But s’pose she _don’t_ break up and wash off?”

“Well, we can wait the two hours anyway and see, can’t we?”

“All right, then; come along.”

So they started, and I lit out, all in a cold sweat, and scrambled
forward. It was dark as pitch there; but I said, in a kind of a coarse
whisper, “Jim!” and he answered up, right at my elbow, with a sort of a
moan, and I says:

“Quick, Jim, it ain’t no time for fooling around and moaning; there’s a
gang of murderers in yonder, and if we don’t hunt up their boat and set
her drifting down the river so these fellows can’t get away from the
wreck there’s one of ‘em going to be in a bad fix.  But if we find their
boat we can put _all_ of ‘em in a bad fix--for the sheriff ‘ll get ‘em.
Quick--hurry!  I’ll hunt the labboard side, you hunt the stabboard. You
start at the raft, and--”

“Oh, my lordy, lordy!  _raf’_?  Dey ain’ no raf’ no mo’; she done broke
loose en gone I--en here we is!”


WELL, I catched my breath and most fainted.  Shut up on a wreck with
such a gang as that!  But it warn’t no time to be sentimentering.  We’d
_got_ to find that boat now--had to have it for ourselves.  So we went
a-quaking and shaking down the stabboard side, and slow work it was,
too--seemed a week before we got to the stern.  No sign of a boat.  Jim
said he didn’t believe he could go any further--so scared he hadn’t
hardly any strength left, he said.  But I said, come on, if we get left
on this wreck we are in a fix, sure.  So on we prowled again.  We struck
for the stern of the texas, and found it, and then scrabbled along
forwards on the skylight, hanging on from shutter to shutter, for the
edge of the skylight was in the water.  When we got pretty close to the
cross-hall door there was the skiff, sure enough!  I could just barely
see her.  I felt ever so thankful.  In another second I would a been
aboard of her, but just then the door opened.  One of the men stuck his
head out only about a couple of foot from me, and I thought I was gone;
but he jerked it in again, and says:

“Heave that blame lantern out o’ sight, Bill!”

He flung a bag of something into the boat, and then got in himself and
set down.  It was Packard.  Then Bill _he_ come out and got in.  Packard
says, in a low voice:

“All ready--shove off!”

I couldn’t hardly hang on to the shutters, I was so weak.  But Bill

“Hold on--‘d you go through him?”

“No.  Didn’t you?”

“No.  So he’s got his share o’ the cash yet.”

“Well, then, come along; no use to take truck and leave money.”

“Say, won’t he suspicion what we’re up to?”

“Maybe he won’t.  But we got to have it anyway. Come along.”

So they got out and went in.

The door slammed to because it was on the careened side; and in a half
second I was in the boat, and Jim come tumbling after me.  I out with my
knife and cut the rope, and away we went!

We didn’t touch an oar, and we didn’t speak nor whisper, nor hardly even
breathe.  We went gliding swift along, dead silent, past the tip of the
paddle-box, and past the stern; then in a second or two more we was a
hundred yards below the wreck, and the darkness soaked her up, every
last sign of her, and we was safe, and knowed it.

When we was three or four hundred yards down-stream we see the lantern
show like a little spark at the texas door for a second, and we knowed
by that that the rascals had missed their boat, and was beginning to
understand that they was in just as much trouble now as Jim Turner was.

Then Jim manned the oars, and we took out after our raft.  Now was the
first time that I begun to worry about the men--I reckon I hadn’t
had time to before.  I begun to think how dreadful it was, even for
murderers, to be in such a fix.  I says to myself, there ain’t no
telling but I might come to be a murderer myself yet, and then how would
I like it?  So says I to Jim:

“The first light we see we’ll land a hundred yards below it or above
it, in a place where it’s a good hiding-place for you and the skiff, and
then I’ll go and fix up some kind of a yarn, and get somebody to go for
that gang and get them out of their scrape, so they can be hung when
their time comes.”

But that idea was a failure; for pretty soon it begun to storm again,
and this time worse than ever.  The rain poured down, and never a light
showed; everybody in bed, I reckon.  We boomed along down the river,
watching for lights and watching for our raft.  After a long time the
rain let up, but the clouds stayed, and the lightning kept whimpering,
and by and by a flash showed us a black thing ahead, floating, and we
made for it.

It was the raft, and mighty glad was we to get aboard of it again.  We
seen a light now away down to the right, on shore.  So I said I would
go for it. The skiff was half full of plunder which that gang had stole
there on the wreck.  We hustled it on to the raft in a pile, and I told
Jim to float along down, and show a light when he judged he had gone
about two mile, and keep it burning till I come; then I manned my oars
and shoved for the light.  As I got down towards it three or four more
showed--up on a hillside.  It was a village.  I closed in above the shore
light, and laid on my oars and floated.  As I went by I see it was a
lantern hanging on the jackstaff of a double-hull ferryboat.  I skimmed
around for the watchman, a-wondering whereabouts he slept; and by and
by I found him roosting on the bitts forward, with his head down between
his knees.  I gave his shoulder two or three little shoves, and begun to

He stirred up in a kind of a startlish way; but when he see it was only
me he took a good gap and stretch, and then he says:

“Hello, what’s up?  Don’t cry, bub.  What’s the trouble?”

I says:

“Pap, and mam, and sis, and--”

Then I broke down.  He says:

“Oh, dang it now, _don’t_ take on so; we all has to have our troubles,
and this ‘n ‘ll come out all right.  What’s the matter with ‘em?”

“They’re--they’re--are you the watchman of the boat?”

“Yes,” he says, kind of pretty-well-satisfied like.  “I’m the captain
and the owner and the mate and the pilot and watchman and head
deck-hand; and sometimes I’m the freight and passengers.  I ain’t as
rich as old Jim Hornback, and I can’t be so blame’ generous and good
to Tom, Dick, and Harry as what he is, and slam around money the way he
does; but I’ve told him a many a time ‘t I wouldn’t trade places with
him; for, says I, a sailor’s life’s the life for me, and I’m derned if
_I’d_ live two mile out o’ town, where there ain’t nothing ever goin’
on, not for all his spondulicks and as much more on top of it.  Says I--”

I broke in and says:

“They’re in an awful peck of trouble, and--”

“_Who_ is?”

“Why, pap and mam and sis and Miss Hooker; and if you’d take your
ferryboat and go up there--”

“Up where?  Where are they?”

“On the wreck.”

“What wreck?”

“Why, there ain’t but one.”

“What, you don’t mean the Walter Scott?”


“Good land! what are they doin’ _there_, for gracious sakes?”

“Well, they didn’t go there a-purpose.”

“I bet they didn’t!  Why, great goodness, there ain’t no chance for ‘em
if they don’t git off mighty quick!  Why, how in the nation did they
ever git into such a scrape?”

“Easy enough.  Miss Hooker was a-visiting up there to the town--”

“Yes, Booth’s Landing--go on.”

“She was a-visiting there at Booth’s Landing, and just in the edge of
the evening she started over with her nigger woman in the horse-ferry
to stay all night at her friend’s house, Miss What-you-may-call-her I
disremember her name--and they lost their steering-oar, and swung
around and went a-floating down, stern first, about two mile, and
saddle-baggsed on the wreck, and the ferryman and the nigger woman and
the horses was all lost, but Miss Hooker she made a grab and got aboard
the wreck.  Well, about an hour after dark we come along down in our
trading-scow, and it was so dark we didn’t notice the wreck till we was
right on it; and so _we_ saddle-baggsed; but all of us was saved but
Bill Whipple--and oh, he _was_ the best cretur!--I most wish ‘t it had
been me, I do.”

“My George!  It’s the beatenest thing I ever struck.  And _then_ what
did you all do?”

“Well, we hollered and took on, but it’s so wide there we couldn’t
make nobody hear.  So pap said somebody got to get ashore and get help
somehow. I was the only one that could swim, so I made a dash for it,
and Miss Hooker she said if I didn’t strike help sooner, come here and
hunt up her uncle, and he’d fix the thing.  I made the land about a mile
below, and been fooling along ever since, trying to get people to do
something, but they said, ‘What, in such a night and such a current?
There ain’t no sense in it; go for the steam ferry.’  Now if you’ll go

“By Jackson, I’d _like_ to, and, blame it, I don’t know but I will; but
who in the dingnation’s a-going’ to _pay_ for it?  Do you reckon your

“Why _that’s_ all right.  Miss Hooker she tole me, _particular_, that
her uncle Hornback--”

“Great guns! is _he_ her uncle?  Looky here, you break for that light
over yonder-way, and turn out west when you git there, and about a
quarter of a mile out you’ll come to the tavern; tell ‘em to dart you
out to Jim Hornback’s, and he’ll foot the bill.  And don’t you fool
around any, because he’ll want to know the news.  Tell him I’ll have
his niece all safe before he can get to town.  Hump yourself, now; I’m
a-going up around the corner here to roust out my engineer.”

I struck for the light, but as soon as he turned the corner I went back
and got into my skiff and bailed her out, and then pulled up shore in
the easy water about six hundred yards, and tucked myself in among
some woodboats; for I couldn’t rest easy till I could see the ferryboat
start. But take it all around, I was feeling ruther comfortable on
accounts of taking all this trouble for that gang, for not many would
a done it.  I wished the widow knowed about it.  I judged she would be
proud of me for helping these rapscallions, because rapscallions and
dead beats is the kind the widow and good people takes the most interest

Well, before long here comes the wreck, dim and dusky, sliding along
down! A kind of cold shiver went through me, and then I struck out for
her.  She was very deep, and I see in a minute there warn’t much chance
for anybody being alive in her.  I pulled all around her and hollered
a little, but there wasn’t any answer; all dead still.  I felt a little
bit heavy-hearted about the gang, but not much, for I reckoned if they
could stand it I could.

Then here comes the ferryboat; so I shoved for the middle of the river
on a long down-stream slant; and when I judged I was out of eye-reach
I laid on my oars, and looked back and see her go and smell around the
wreck for Miss Hooker’s remainders, because the captain would know her
uncle Hornback would want them; and then pretty soon the ferryboat give
it up and went for the shore, and I laid into my work and went a-booming
down the river.

It did seem a powerful long time before Jim’s light showed up; and when
it did show it looked like it was a thousand mile off.  By the time I
got there the sky was beginning to get a little gray in the east; so we
struck for an island, and hid the raft, and sunk the skiff, and turned
in and slept like dead people.


BY and by, when we got up, we turned over the truck the gang had stole
off of the wreck, and found boots, and blankets, and clothes, and all
sorts of other things, and a lot of books, and a spyglass, and three
boxes of seegars.  We hadn’t ever been this rich before in neither of
our lives.  The seegars was prime.  We laid off all the afternoon in the
woods talking, and me reading the books, and having a general good
time. I told Jim all about what happened inside the wreck and at the
ferryboat, and I said these kinds of things was adventures; but he said
he didn’t want no more adventures.  He said that when I went in the
texas and he crawled back to get on the raft and found her gone he
nearly died, because he judged it was all up with _him_ anyway it could
be fixed; for if he didn’t get saved he would get drownded; and if he
did get saved, whoever saved him would send him back home so as to get
the reward, and then Miss Watson would sell him South, sure.  Well, he
was right; he was most always right; he had an uncommon level head for a

I read considerable to Jim about kings and dukes and earls and such, and
how gaudy they dressed, and how much style they put on, and called each
other your majesty, and your grace, and your lordship, and so on, ‘stead
of mister; and Jim’s eyes bugged out, and he was interested.  He says:

“I didn’ know dey was so many un um.  I hain’t hearn ‘bout none un um,
skasely, but ole King Sollermun, onless you counts dem kings dat’s in a
pack er k’yards.  How much do a king git?”

“Get?”  I says; “why, they get a thousand dollars a month if they want
it; they can have just as much as they want; everything belongs to

“_Ain’_ dat gay?  En what dey got to do, Huck?”

“_They_ don’t do nothing!  Why, how you talk! They just set around.”

“No; is dat so?”

“Of course it is.  They just set around--except, maybe, when there’s a
war; then they go to the war.  But other times they just lazy around; or
go hawking--just hawking and sp--Sh!--d’ you hear a noise?”

We skipped out and looked; but it warn’t nothing but the flutter of a
steamboat’s wheel away down, coming around the point; so we come back.

“Yes,” says I, “and other times, when things is dull, they fuss with the
parlyment; and if everybody don’t go just so he whacks their heads off.
But mostly they hang round the harem.”

“Roun’ de which?”


“What’s de harem?”

“The place where he keeps his wives.  Don’t you know about the harem?
Solomon had one; he had about a million wives.”

“Why, yes, dat’s so; I--I’d done forgot it.  A harem’s a bo’d’n-house, I
reck’n.  Mos’ likely dey has rackety times in de nussery.  En I reck’n
de wives quarrels considable; en dat ‘crease de racket.  Yit dey say
Sollermun de wises’ man dat ever live’.  I doan’ take no stock in
dat. Bekase why: would a wise man want to live in de mids’ er sich a
blim-blammin’ all de time?  No--‘deed he wouldn’t.  A wise man ‘ud take
en buil’ a biler-factry; en den he could shet _down_ de biler-factry
when he want to res’.”

“Well, but he _was_ the wisest man, anyway; because the widow she told
me so, her own self.”

“I doan k’yer what de widder say, he _warn’t_ no wise man nuther.  He
had some er de dad-fetchedes’ ways I ever see.  Does you know ‘bout dat
chile dat he ‘uz gwyne to chop in two?”

“Yes, the widow told me all about it.”

“_Well_, den!  Warn’ dat de beatenes’ notion in de worl’?  You jes’
take en look at it a minute.  Dah’s de stump, dah--dat’s one er de women;
heah’s you--dat’s de yuther one; I’s Sollermun; en dish yer dollar bill’s
de chile.  Bofe un you claims it.  What does I do?  Does I shin aroun’
mongs’ de neighbors en fine out which un you de bill _do_ b’long to, en
han’ it over to de right one, all safe en soun’, de way dat anybody dat
had any gumption would?  No; I take en whack de bill in _two_, en give
half un it to you, en de yuther half to de yuther woman.  Dat’s de way
Sollermun was gwyne to do wid de chile.  Now I want to ast you:  what’s
de use er dat half a bill?--can’t buy noth’n wid it.  En what use is a
half a chile?  I wouldn’ give a dern for a million un um.”

“But hang it, Jim, you’ve clean missed the point--blame it, you’ve missed
it a thousand mile.”

“Who?  Me?  Go ‘long.  Doan’ talk to me ‘bout yo’ pints.  I reck’n I
knows sense when I sees it; en dey ain’ no sense in sich doin’s as
dat. De ‘spute warn’t ‘bout a half a chile, de ‘spute was ‘bout a whole
chile; en de man dat think he kin settle a ‘spute ‘bout a whole chile
wid a half a chile doan’ know enough to come in out’n de rain.  Doan’
talk to me ‘bout Sollermun, Huck, I knows him by de back.”

“But I tell you you don’t get the point.”

“Blame de point!  I reck’n I knows what I knows.  En mine you, de _real_
pint is down furder--it’s down deeper.  It lays in de way Sollermun was
raised.  You take a man dat’s got on’y one or two chillen; is dat man
gwyne to be waseful o’ chillen?  No, he ain’t; he can’t ‘ford it.  _He_
know how to value ‘em.  But you take a man dat’s got ‘bout five million
chillen runnin’ roun’ de house, en it’s diffunt.  _He_ as soon chop a
chile in two as a cat. Dey’s plenty mo’.  A chile er two, mo’ er less,
warn’t no consekens to Sollermun, dad fatch him!”

I never see such a nigger.  If he got a notion in his head once, there
warn’t no getting it out again.  He was the most down on Solomon of
any nigger I ever see.  So I went to talking about other kings, and let
Solomon slide.  I told about Louis Sixteenth that got his head cut off
in France long time ago; and about his little boy the dolphin, that
would a been a king, but they took and shut him up in jail, and some say
he died there.

“Po’ little chap.”

“But some says he got out and got away, and come to America.”

“Dat’s good!  But he’ll be pooty lonesome--dey ain’ no kings here, is
dey, Huck?”


“Den he cain’t git no situation.  What he gwyne to do?”

“Well, I don’t know.  Some of them gets on the police, and some of them
learns people how to talk French.”

“Why, Huck, doan’ de French people talk de same way we does?”

“_No_, Jim; you couldn’t understand a word they said--not a single word.”

“Well, now, I be ding-busted!  How do dat come?”

“I don’t know; but it’s so.  I got some of their jabber out of a book.
S’pose a man was to come to you and say Polly-voo-franzy--what would you

“I wouldn’ think nuff’n; I’d take en bust him over de head--dat is, if he
warn’t white.  I wouldn’t ‘low no nigger to call me dat.”

“Shucks, it ain’t calling you anything.  It’s only saying, do you know
how to talk French?”

“Well, den, why couldn’t he _say_ it?”

“Why, he _is_ a-saying it.  That’s a Frenchman’s _way_ of saying it.”

“Well, it’s a blame ridicklous way, en I doan’ want to hear no mo’ ‘bout
it.  Dey ain’ no sense in it.”

“Looky here, Jim; does a cat talk like we do?”

“No, a cat don’t.”

“Well, does a cow?”

“No, a cow don’t, nuther.”

“Does a cat talk like a cow, or a cow talk like a cat?”

“No, dey don’t.”

“It’s natural and right for ‘em to talk different from each other, ain’t


“And ain’t it natural and right for a cat and a cow to talk different
from _us_?”

“Why, mos’ sholy it is.”

“Well, then, why ain’t it natural and right for a _Frenchman_ to talk
different from us?  You answer me that.”

“Is a cat a man, Huck?”


“Well, den, dey ain’t no sense in a cat talkin’ like a man.  Is a cow a
man?--er is a cow a cat?”

“No, she ain’t either of them.”

“Well, den, she ain’t got no business to talk like either one er the
yuther of ‘em.  Is a Frenchman a man?”


“_Well_, den!  Dad blame it, why doan’ he _talk_ like a man?  You answer
me _dat_!”

I see it warn’t no use wasting words--you can’t learn a nigger to argue.
So I quit.


WE judged that three nights more would fetch us to Cairo, at the bottom
of Illinois, where the Ohio River comes in, and that was what we was
after.  We would sell the raft and get on a steamboat and go way up the
Ohio amongst the free States, and then be out of trouble.

Well, the second night a fog begun to come on, and we made for a towhead
to tie to, for it wouldn’t do to try to run in a fog; but when I paddled
ahead in the canoe, with the line to make fast, there warn’t anything
but little saplings to tie to.  I passed the line around one of them
right on the edge of the cut bank, but there was a stiff current, and
the raft come booming down so lively she tore it out by the roots and
away she went.  I see the fog closing down, and it made me so sick and
scared I couldn’t budge for most a half a minute it seemed to me--and
then there warn’t no raft in sight; you couldn’t see twenty yards.  I
jumped into the canoe and run back to the stern, and grabbed the paddle
and set her back a stroke.  But she didn’t come.  I was in such a hurry
I hadn’t untied her.  I got up and tried to untie her, but I was so
excited my hands shook so I couldn’t hardly do anything with them.

As soon as I got started I took out after the raft, hot and heavy, right
down the towhead.  That was all right as far as it went, but the towhead
warn’t sixty yards long, and the minute I flew by the foot of it I shot
out into the solid white fog, and hadn’t no more idea which way I was
going than a dead man.

Thinks I, it won’t do to paddle; first I know I’ll run into the bank
or a towhead or something; I got to set still and float, and yet it’s
mighty fidgety business to have to hold your hands still at such a time.
 I whooped and listened.  Away down there somewheres I hears a small
whoop, and up comes my spirits.  I went tearing after it, listening
sharp to hear it again.  The next time it come I see I warn’t heading
for it, but heading away to the right of it.  And the next time I was
heading away to the left of it--and not gaining on it much either, for
I was flying around, this way and that and t’other, but it was going
straight ahead all the time.

I did wish the fool would think to beat a tin pan, and beat it all the
time, but he never did, and it was the still places between the whoops
that was making the trouble for me.  Well, I fought along, and directly
I hears the whoop _behind_ me.  I was tangled good now.  That was
somebody else’s whoop, or else I was turned around.

I throwed the paddle down.  I heard the whoop again; it was behind me
yet, but in a different place; it kept coming, and kept changing its
place, and I kept answering, till by and by it was in front of me again,
and I knowed the current had swung the canoe’s head down-stream, and I
was all right if that was Jim and not some other raftsman hollering.
 I couldn’t tell nothing about voices in a fog, for nothing don’t look
natural nor sound natural in a fog.

The whooping went on, and in about a minute I come a-booming down on a
cut bank with smoky ghosts of big trees on it, and the current throwed
me off to the left and shot by, amongst a lot of snags that fairly
roared, the currrent was tearing by them so swift.

In another second or two it was solid white and still again.  I set
perfectly still then, listening to my heart thump, and I reckon I didn’t
draw a breath while it thumped a hundred.

I just give up then.  I knowed what the matter was.  That cut bank
was an island, and Jim had gone down t’other side of it.  It warn’t no
towhead that you could float by in ten minutes.  It had the big timber
of a regular island; it might be five or six miles long and more than
half a mile wide.

I kept quiet, with my ears cocked, about fifteen minutes, I reckon.  I
was floating along, of course, four or five miles an hour; but you don’t
ever think of that.  No, you _feel_ like you are laying dead still on
the water; and if a little glimpse of a snag slips by you don’t think to
yourself how fast _you’re_ going, but you catch your breath and think,
my! how that snag’s tearing along.  If you think it ain’t dismal and
lonesome out in a fog that way by yourself in the night, you try it
once--you’ll see.

Next, for about a half an hour, I whoops now and then; at last I hears
the answer a long ways off, and tries to follow it, but I couldn’t do
it, and directly I judged I’d got into a nest of towheads, for I had
little dim glimpses of them on both sides of me--sometimes just a narrow
channel between, and some that I couldn’t see I knowed was there because
I’d hear the wash of the current against the old dead brush and trash
that hung over the banks.  Well, I warn’t long loosing the whoops down
amongst the towheads; and I only tried to chase them a little while,
anyway, because it was worse than chasing a Jack-o’-lantern.  You never
knowed a sound dodge around so, and swap places so quick and so much.

I had to claw away from the bank pretty lively four or five times, to
keep from knocking the islands out of the river; and so I judged the
raft must be butting into the bank every now and then, or else it would
get further ahead and clear out of hearing--it was floating a little
faster than what I was.

Well, I seemed to be in the open river again by and by, but I couldn’t
hear no sign of a whoop nowheres.  I reckoned Jim had fetched up on a
snag, maybe, and it was all up with him.  I was good and tired, so I
laid down in the canoe and said I wouldn’t bother no more.  I didn’t
want to go to sleep, of course; but I was so sleepy I couldn’t help it;
so I thought I would take jest one little cat-nap.

But I reckon it was more than a cat-nap, for when I waked up the stars
was shining bright, the fog was all gone, and I was spinning down a
big bend stern first.  First I didn’t know where I was; I thought I was
dreaming; and when things began to come back to me they seemed to come
up dim out of last week.

It was a monstrous big river here, with the tallest and the thickest
kind of timber on both banks; just a solid wall, as well as I could see
by the stars.  I looked away down-stream, and seen a black speck on the
water. I took after it; but when I got to it it warn’t nothing but a
couple of sawlogs made fast together.  Then I see another speck, and
chased that; then another, and this time I was right.  It was the raft.

When I got to it Jim was setting there with his head down between his
knees, asleep, with his right arm hanging over the steering-oar.  The
other oar was smashed off, and the raft was littered up with leaves and
branches and dirt.  So she’d had a rough time.

I made fast and laid down under Jim’s nose on the raft, and began to
gap, and stretch my fists out against Jim, and says:

“Hello, Jim, have I been asleep?  Why didn’t you stir me up?”

“Goodness gracious, is dat you, Huck?  En you ain’ dead--you ain’
drownded--you’s back agin?  It’s too good for true, honey, it’s too good
for true. Lemme look at you chile, lemme feel o’ you.  No, you ain’
dead! you’s back agin, ‘live en soun’, jis de same ole Huck--de same ole
Huck, thanks to goodness!”

“What’s the matter with you, Jim?  You been a-drinking?”

“Drinkin’?  Has I ben a-drinkin’?  Has I had a chance to be a-drinkin’?”

“Well, then, what makes you talk so wild?”

“How does I talk wild?”

“_How_?  Why, hain’t you been talking about my coming back, and all that
stuff, as if I’d been gone away?”

“Huck--Huck Finn, you look me in de eye; look me in de eye.  _Hain’t_ you
ben gone away?”

“Gone away?  Why, what in the nation do you mean?  I hain’t been gone
anywheres.  Where would I go to?”

“Well, looky here, boss, dey’s sumf’n wrong, dey is.  Is I _me_, or who
_is_ I? Is I heah, or whah _is_ I?  Now dat’s what I wants to know.”

“Well, I think you’re here, plain enough, but I think you’re a
tangle-headed old fool, Jim.”

“I is, is I?  Well, you answer me dis:  Didn’t you tote out de line in
de canoe fer to make fas’ to de tow-head?”

“No, I didn’t.  What tow-head?  I hain’t see no tow-head.”

“You hain’t seen no towhead?  Looky here, didn’t de line pull loose en
de raf’ go a-hummin’ down de river, en leave you en de canoe behine in
de fog?”

“What fog?”

“Why, de fog!--de fog dat’s been aroun’ all night.  En didn’t you whoop,
en didn’t I whoop, tell we got mix’ up in de islands en one un us got
los’ en t’other one was jis’ as good as los’, ‘kase he didn’ know whah
he wuz? En didn’t I bust up agin a lot er dem islands en have a turrible
time en mos’ git drownded?  Now ain’ dat so, boss--ain’t it so?  You
answer me dat.”

“Well, this is too many for me, Jim.  I hain’t seen no fog, nor no
islands, nor no troubles, nor nothing.  I been setting here talking with
you all night till you went to sleep about ten minutes ago, and I reckon
I done the same.  You couldn’t a got drunk in that time, so of course
you’ve been dreaming.”

“Dad fetch it, how is I gwyne to dream all dat in ten minutes?”

“Well, hang it all, you did dream it, because there didn’t any of it

“But, Huck, it’s all jis’ as plain to me as--”

“It don’t make no difference how plain it is; there ain’t nothing in it.
I know, because I’ve been here all the time.”

Jim didn’t say nothing for about five minutes, but set there studying
over it.  Then he says:

“Well, den, I reck’n I did dream it, Huck; but dog my cats ef it ain’t
de powerfullest dream I ever see.  En I hain’t ever had no dream b’fo’
dat’s tired me like dis one.”

“Oh, well, that’s all right, because a dream does tire a body like
everything sometimes.  But this one was a staving dream; tell me all
about it, Jim.”

So Jim went to work and told me the whole thing right through, just as
it happened, only he painted it up considerable.  Then he said he must
start in and “‘terpret” it, because it was sent for a warning.  He said
the first towhead stood for a man that would try to do us some good, but
the current was another man that would get us away from him.  The whoops
was warnings that would come to us every now and then, and if we didn’t
try hard to make out to understand them they’d just take us into bad
luck, ‘stead of keeping us out of it.  The lot of towheads was troubles
we was going to get into with quarrelsome people and all kinds of mean
folks, but if we minded our business and didn’t talk back and aggravate
them, we would pull through and get out of the fog and into the big
clear river, which was the free States, and wouldn’t have no more

It had clouded up pretty dark just after I got on to the raft, but it
was clearing up again now.

“Oh, well, that’s all interpreted well enough as far as it goes, Jim,” I
says; “but what does _these_ things stand for?”

It was the leaves and rubbish on the raft and the smashed oar.  You
could see them first-rate now.

Jim looked at the trash, and then looked at me, and back at the trash
again.  He had got the dream fixed so strong in his head that he
couldn’t seem to shake it loose and get the facts back into its place
again right away.  But when he did get the thing straightened around he
looked at me steady without ever smiling, and says:

“What do dey stan’ for?  I’se gwyne to tell you.  When I got all wore
out wid work, en wid de callin’ for you, en went to sleep, my heart wuz
mos’ broke bekase you wuz los’, en I didn’ k’yer no’ mo’ what become
er me en de raf’.  En when I wake up en fine you back agin, all safe
en soun’, de tears come, en I could a got down on my knees en kiss yo’
foot, I’s so thankful. En all you wuz thinkin’ ‘bout wuz how you could
make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie.  Dat truck dah is _trash_; en trash
is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren’s en makes ‘em

Then he got up slow and walked to the wigwam, and went in there without
saying anything but that.  But that was enough.  It made me feel so mean
I could almost kissed _his_ foot to get him to take it back.

It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble
myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it
afterwards, neither.  I didn’t do him no more mean tricks, and I
wouldn’t done that one if I’d a knowed it would make him feel that way.


WE slept most all day, and started out at night, a little ways behind a
monstrous long raft that was as long going by as a procession.  She had
four long sweeps at each end, so we judged she carried as many as thirty
men, likely.  She had five big wigwams aboard, wide apart, and an open
camp fire in the middle, and a tall flag-pole at each end.  There was a
power of style about her.  It _amounted_ to something being a raftsman
on such a craft as that.

We went drifting down into a big bend, and the night clouded up and got
hot.  The river was very wide, and was walled with solid timber on
both sides; you couldn’t see a break in it hardly ever, or a light.  We
talked about Cairo, and wondered whether we would know it when we got to
it.  I said likely we wouldn’t, because I had heard say there warn’t but
about a dozen houses there, and if they didn’t happen to have them lit
up, how was we going to know we was passing a town?  Jim said if the two
big rivers joined together there, that would show.  But I said maybe
we might think we was passing the foot of an island and coming into the
same old river again. That disturbed Jim--and me too.  So the question
was, what to do?  I said, paddle ashore the first time a light showed,
and tell them pap was behind, coming along with a trading-scow, and
was a green hand at the business, and wanted to know how far it was to
Cairo.  Jim thought it was a good idea, so we took a smoke on it and

There warn’t nothing to do now but to look out sharp for the town, and
not pass it without seeing it.  He said he’d be mighty sure to see it,
because he’d be a free man the minute he seen it, but if he missed it
he’d be in a slave country again and no more show for freedom.  Every
little while he jumps up and says:

“Dah she is?”

But it warn’t.  It was Jack-o’-lanterns, or lightning bugs; so he set
down again, and went to watching, same as before.  Jim said it made him
all over trembly and feverish to be so close to freedom.  Well, I can
tell you it made me all over trembly and feverish, too, to hear him,
because I begun to get it through my head that he _was_ most free--and
who was to blame for it?  Why, _me_.  I couldn’t get that out of my
conscience, no how nor no way. It got to troubling me so I couldn’t
rest; I couldn’t stay still in one place.  It hadn’t ever come home to
me before, what this thing was that I was doing.  But now it did; and it
stayed with me, and scorched me more and more.  I tried to make out to
myself that I warn’t to blame, because I didn’t run Jim off from his
rightful owner; but it warn’t no use, conscience up and says, every
time, “But you knowed he was running for his freedom, and you could a
paddled ashore and told somebody.”  That was so--I couldn’t get around
that noway.  That was where it pinched.  Conscience says to me, “What
had poor Miss Watson done to you that you could see her nigger go off
right under your eyes and never say one single word?  What did that poor
old woman do to you that you could treat her so mean?  Why, she tried to
learn you your book, she tried to learn you your manners, she tried to
be good to you every way she knowed how.  _That’s_ what she done.”

I got to feeling so mean and so miserable I most wished I was dead.  I
fidgeted up and down the raft, abusing myself to myself, and Jim was
fidgeting up and down past me.  We neither of us could keep still.
 Every time he danced around and says, “Dah’s Cairo!” it went through me
like a shot, and I thought if it _was_ Cairo I reckoned I would die of

Jim talked out loud all the time while I was talking to myself.  He was
saying how the first thing he would do when he got to a free State he
would go to saving up money and never spend a single cent, and when he
got enough he would buy his wife, which was owned on a farm close to
where Miss Watson lived; and then they would both work to buy the
two children, and if their master wouldn’t sell them, they’d get an
Ab’litionist to go and steal them.

It most froze me to hear such talk.  He wouldn’t ever dared to talk such
talk in his life before.  Just see what a difference it made in him the
minute he judged he was about free.  It was according to the old saying,
“Give a nigger an inch and he’ll take an ell.”  Thinks I, this is what
comes of my not thinking.  Here was this nigger, which I had as good
as helped to run away, coming right out flat-footed and saying he would
steal his children--children that belonged to a man I didn’t even know; a
man that hadn’t ever done me no harm.

I was sorry to hear Jim say that, it was such a lowering of him.  My
conscience got to stirring me up hotter than ever, until at last I says
to it, “Let up on me--it ain’t too late yet--I’ll paddle ashore at the
first light and tell.”  I felt easy and happy and light as a feather
right off.  All my troubles was gone.  I went to looking out sharp for a
light, and sort of singing to myself.  By and by one showed.  Jim sings

“We’s safe, Huck, we’s safe!  Jump up and crack yo’ heels!  Dat’s de
good ole Cairo at las’, I jis knows it!”

I says:

“I’ll take the canoe and go and see, Jim.  It mightn’t be, you know.”

He jumped and got the canoe ready, and put his old coat in the bottom
for me to set on, and give me the paddle; and as I shoved off, he says:

“Pooty soon I’ll be a-shout’n’ for joy, en I’ll say, it’s all on
accounts o’ Huck; I’s a free man, en I couldn’t ever ben free ef it
hadn’ ben for Huck; Huck done it.  Jim won’t ever forgit you, Huck;
you’s de bes’ fren’ Jim’s ever had; en you’s de _only_ fren’ ole Jim’s
got now.”

I was paddling off, all in a sweat to tell on him; but when he says
this, it seemed to kind of take the tuck all out of me.  I went along
slow then, and I warn’t right down certain whether I was glad I started
or whether I warn’t.  When I was fifty yards off, Jim says:

“Dah you goes, de ole true Huck; de on’y white genlman dat ever kep’ his
promise to ole Jim.”

Well, I just felt sick.  But I says, I _got_ to do it--I can’t get _out_
of it.  Right then along comes a skiff with two men in it with guns, and
they stopped and I stopped.  One of them says:

“What’s that yonder?”

“A piece of a raft,” I says.

“Do you belong on it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Any men on it?”

“Only one, sir.”

“Well, there’s five niggers run off to-night up yonder, above the head
of the bend.  Is your man white or black?”

I didn’t answer up prompt.  I tried to, but the words wouldn’t come. I
tried for a second or two to brace up and out with it, but I warn’t man
enough--hadn’t the spunk of a rabbit.  I see I was weakening; so I just
give up trying, and up and says:

“He’s white.”

“I reckon we’ll go and see for ourselves.”

“I wish you would,” says I, “because it’s pap that’s there, and maybe
you’d help me tow the raft ashore where the light is.  He’s sick--and so
is mam and Mary Ann.”

“Oh, the devil! we’re in a hurry, boy.  But I s’pose we’ve got to.
 Come, buckle to your paddle, and let’s get along.”

I buckled to my paddle and they laid to their oars.  When we had made a
stroke or two, I says:

“Pap’ll be mighty much obleeged to you, I can tell you.  Everybody goes
away when I want them to help me tow the raft ashore, and I can’t do it
by myself.”

“Well, that’s infernal mean.  Odd, too.  Say, boy, what’s the matter
with your father?”

“It’s the--a--the--well, it ain’t anything much.”

They stopped pulling.  It warn’t but a mighty little ways to the raft
now. One says:

“Boy, that’s a lie.  What _is_ the matter with your pap?  Answer up
square now, and it’ll be the better for you.”

“I will, sir, I will, honest--but don’t leave us, please.  It’s
the--the--Gentlemen, if you’ll only pull ahead, and let me heave you the
headline, you won’t have to come a-near the raft--please do.”

“Set her back, John, set her back!” says one.  They backed water.  “Keep
away, boy--keep to looard.  Confound it, I just expect the wind has
blowed it to us.  Your pap’s got the small-pox, and you know it precious
well.  Why didn’t you come out and say so?  Do you want to spread it all

“Well,” says I, a-blubbering, “I’ve told everybody before, and they just
went away and left us.”

“Poor devil, there’s something in that.  We are right down sorry for
you, but we--well, hang it, we don’t want the small-pox, you see.  Look
here, I’ll tell you what to do.  Don’t you try to land by yourself, or
you’ll smash everything to pieces.  You float along down about twenty
miles, and you’ll come to a town on the left-hand side of the river.  It
will be long after sun-up then, and when you ask for help you tell them
your folks are all down with chills and fever.  Don’t be a fool again,
and let people guess what is the matter.  Now we’re trying to do you a
kindness; so you just put twenty miles between us, that’s a good boy.
 It wouldn’t do any good to land yonder where the light is--it’s only a
wood-yard. Say, I reckon your father’s poor, and I’m bound to say he’s
in pretty hard luck.  Here, I’ll put a twenty-dollar gold piece on this
board, and you get it when it floats by.  I feel mighty mean to leave
you; but my kingdom! it won’t do to fool with small-pox, don’t you see?”

“Hold on, Parker,” says the other man, “here’s a twenty to put on the
board for me.  Good-bye, boy; you do as Mr. Parker told you, and you’ll
be all right.”

“That’s so, my boy--good-bye, good-bye.  If you see any runaway niggers
you get help and nab them, and you can make some money by it.”

“Good-bye, sir,” says I; “I won’t let no runaway niggers get by me if I
can help it.”

They went off and I got aboard the raft, feeling bad and low, because I
knowed very well I had done wrong, and I see it warn’t no use for me
to try to learn to do right; a body that don’t get _started_ right when
he’s little ain’t got no show--when the pinch comes there ain’t nothing
to back him up and keep him to his work, and so he gets beat.  Then I
thought a minute, and says to myself, hold on; s’pose you’d a done right
and give Jim up, would you felt better than what you do now?  No, says
I, I’d feel bad--I’d feel just the same way I do now.  Well, then, says
I, what’s the use you learning to do right when it’s troublesome to do
right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?
 I was stuck.  I couldn’t answer that.  So I reckoned I wouldn’t bother
no more about it, but after this always do whichever come handiest at
the time.

I went into the wigwam; Jim warn’t there.  I looked all around; he
warn’t anywhere.  I says:


“Here I is, Huck.  Is dey out o’ sight yit?  Don’t talk loud.”

He was in the river under the stern oar, with just his nose out.  I told
him they were out of sight, so he come aboard.  He says:

“I was a-listenin’ to all de talk, en I slips into de river en was gwyne
to shove for sho’ if dey come aboard.  Den I was gwyne to swim to de
raf’ agin when dey was gone.  But lawsy, how you did fool ‘em, Huck!
 Dat _wuz_ de smartes’ dodge!  I tell you, chile, I’spec it save’ ole
Jim--ole Jim ain’t going to forgit you for dat, honey.”

Then we talked about the money.  It was a pretty good raise--twenty
dollars apiece.  Jim said we could take deck passage on a steamboat
now, and the money would last us as far as we wanted to go in the free
States. He said twenty mile more warn’t far for the raft to go, but he
wished we was already there.

Towards daybreak we tied up, and Jim was mighty particular about hiding
the raft good.  Then he worked all day fixing things in bundles, and
getting all ready to quit rafting.

That night about ten we hove in sight of the lights of a town away down
in a left-hand bend.

I went off in the canoe to ask about it.  Pretty soon I found a man out
in the river with a skiff, setting a trot-line.  I ranged up and says:

“Mister, is that town Cairo?”

“Cairo? no.  You must be a blame’ fool.”

“What town is it, mister?”

“If you want to know, go and find out.  If you stay here botherin’
around me for about a half a minute longer you’ll get something you
won’t want.”

I paddled to the raft.  Jim was awful disappointed, but I said never
mind, Cairo would be the next place, I reckoned.

We passed another town before daylight, and I was going out again; but
it was high ground, so I didn’t go.  No high ground about Cairo, Jim
said. I had forgot it.  We laid up for the day on a towhead tolerable
close to the left-hand bank.  I begun to suspicion something.  So did
Jim.  I says:

“Maybe we went by Cairo in the fog that night.”

He says:

“Doan’ le’s talk about it, Huck.  Po’ niggers can’t have no luck.  I
awluz ‘spected dat rattlesnake-skin warn’t done wid its work.”

“I wish I’d never seen that snake-skin, Jim--I do wish I’d never laid
eyes on it.”

“It ain’t yo’ fault, Huck; you didn’ know.  Don’t you blame yo’self
‘bout it.”

When it was daylight, here was the clear Ohio water inshore, sure
enough, and outside was the old regular Muddy!  So it was all up with

We talked it all over.  It wouldn’t do to take to the shore; we couldn’t
take the raft up the stream, of course.  There warn’t no way but to wait
for dark, and start back in the canoe and take the chances.  So we slept
all day amongst the cottonwood thicket, so as to be fresh for the work,
and when we went back to the raft about dark the canoe was gone!

We didn’t say a word for a good while.  There warn’t anything to
say.  We both knowed well enough it was some more work of the
rattlesnake-skin; so what was the use to talk about it?  It would only
look like we was finding fault, and that would be bound to fetch more
bad luck--and keep on fetching it, too, till we knowed enough to keep

By and by we talked about what we better do, and found there warn’t no
way but just to go along down with the raft till we got a chance to buy
a canoe to go back in.  We warn’t going to borrow it when there warn’t
anybody around, the way pap would do, for that might set people after

So we shoved out after dark on the raft.

Anybody that don’t believe yet that it’s foolishness to handle a
snake-skin, after all that that snake-skin done for us, will believe it
now if they read on and see what more it done for us.

The place to buy canoes is off of rafts laying up at shore.  But we
didn’t see no rafts laying up; so we went along during three hours and
more.  Well, the night got gray and ruther thick, which is the next
meanest thing to fog.  You can’t tell the shape of the river, and you
can’t see no distance. It got to be very late and still, and then along
comes a steamboat up the river.  We lit the lantern, and judged she
would see it.  Up-stream boats didn’t generly come close to us; they
go out and follow the bars and hunt for easy water under the reefs; but
nights like this they bull right up the channel against the whole river.

We could hear her pounding along, but we didn’t see her good till she
was close.  She aimed right for us.  Often they do that and try to see
how close they can come without touching; sometimes the wheel bites off
a sweep, and then the pilot sticks his head out and laughs, and thinks
he’s mighty smart.  Well, here she comes, and we said she was going to
try and shave us; but she didn’t seem to be sheering off a bit.  She
was a big one, and she was coming in a hurry, too, looking like a black
cloud with rows of glow-worms around it; but all of a sudden she bulged
out, big and scary, with a long row of wide-open furnace doors shining
like red-hot teeth, and her monstrous bows and guards hanging right
over us.  There was a yell at us, and a jingling of bells to stop the
engines, a powwow of cussing, and whistling of steam--and as Jim went
overboard on one side and I on the other, she come smashing straight
through the raft.

I dived--and I aimed to find the bottom, too, for a thirty-foot wheel
had got to go over me, and I wanted it to have plenty of room.  I could
always stay under water a minute; this time I reckon I stayed under a
minute and a half.  Then I bounced for the top in a hurry, for I was
nearly busting.  I popped out to my armpits and blowed the water out of
my nose, and puffed a bit.  Of course there was a booming current; and
of course that boat started her engines again ten seconds after she
stopped them, for they never cared much for raftsmen; so now she was
churning along up the river, out of sight in the thick weather, though I
could hear her.

I sung out for Jim about a dozen times, but I didn’t get any answer;
so I grabbed a plank that touched me while I was “treading water,” and
struck out for shore, shoving it ahead of me.  But I made out to see
that the drift of the current was towards the left-hand shore, which
meant that I was in a crossing; so I changed off and went that way.

It was one of these long, slanting, two-mile crossings; so I was a good
long time in getting over.  I made a safe landing, and clumb up the
bank. I couldn’t see but a little ways, but I went poking along over
rough ground for a quarter of a mile or more, and then I run across a
big old-fashioned double log-house before I noticed it.  I was going to
rush by and get away, but a lot of dogs jumped out and went to howling
and barking at me, and I knowed better than to move another peg.


IN about a minute somebody spoke out of a window without putting his
head out, and says:

“Be done, boys!  Who’s there?”

I says:

“It’s me.”

“Who’s me?”

“George Jackson, sir.”

“What do you want?”

“I don’t want nothing, sir.  I only want to go along by, but the dogs
won’t let me.”

“What are you prowling around here this time of night for--hey?”

“I warn’t prowling around, sir, I fell overboard off of the steamboat.”

“Oh, you did, did you?  Strike a light there, somebody.  What did you
say your name was?”

“George Jackson, sir.  I’m only a boy.”

“Look here, if you’re telling the truth you needn’t be afraid--nobody’ll
hurt you.  But don’t try to budge; stand right where you are.  Rouse out
Bob and Tom, some of you, and fetch the guns.  George Jackson, is there
anybody with you?”

“No, sir, nobody.”

I heard the people stirring around in the house now, and see a light.
The man sung out:

“Snatch that light away, Betsy, you old fool--ain’t you got any sense?
Put it on the floor behind the front door.  Bob, if you and Tom are
ready, take your places.”

“All ready.”

“Now, George Jackson, do you know the Shepherdsons?”

“No, sir; I never heard of them.”

“Well, that may be so, and it mayn’t.  Now, all ready.  Step forward,
George Jackson.  And mind, don’t you hurry--come mighty slow.  If there’s
anybody with you, let him keep back--if he shows himself he’ll be shot.
Come along now.  Come slow; push the door open yourself--just enough to
squeeze in, d’ you hear?”

I didn’t hurry; I couldn’t if I’d a wanted to.  I took one slow step at
a time and there warn’t a sound, only I thought I could hear my heart.
 The dogs were as still as the humans, but they followed a little behind
me. When I got to the three log doorsteps I heard them unlocking and
unbarring and unbolting.  I put my hand on the door and pushed it a
little and a little more till somebody said, “There, that’s enough--put
your head in.” I done it, but I judged they would take it off.

The candle was on the floor, and there they all was, looking at me, and
me at them, for about a quarter of a minute:  Three big men with guns
pointed at me, which made me wince, I tell you; the oldest, gray
and about sixty, the other two thirty or more--all of them fine and
handsome--and the sweetest old gray-headed lady, and back of her two
young women which I couldn’t see right well.  The old gentleman says:

“There; I reckon it’s all right.  Come in.”

As soon as I was in the old gentleman he locked the door and barred it
and bolted it, and told the young men to come in with their guns, and
they all went in a big parlor that had a new rag carpet on the floor,
and got together in a corner that was out of the range of the front
windows--there warn’t none on the side.  They held the candle, and took a
good look at me, and all said, “Why, _he_ ain’t a Shepherdson--no, there
ain’t any Shepherdson about him.”  Then the old man said he hoped I
wouldn’t mind being searched for arms, because he didn’t mean no harm by
it--it was only to make sure.  So he didn’t pry into my pockets, but only
felt outside with his hands, and said it was all right.  He told me to
make myself easy and at home, and tell all about myself; but the old
lady says:

“Why, bless you, Saul, the poor thing’s as wet as he can be; and don’t
you reckon it may be he’s hungry?”

“True for you, Rachel--I forgot.”

So the old lady says:

“Betsy” (this was a nigger woman), “you fly around and get him something
to eat as quick as you can, poor thing; and one of you girls go and wake
up Buck and tell him--oh, here he is himself.  Buck, take this little
stranger and get the wet clothes off from him and dress him up in some
of yours that’s dry.”

Buck looked about as old as me--thirteen or fourteen or along there,
though he was a little bigger than me.  He hadn’t on anything but a
shirt, and he was very frowzy-headed.  He came in gaping and digging one
fist into his eyes, and he was dragging a gun along with the other one.
He says:

“Ain’t they no Shepherdsons around?”

They said, no, ‘twas a false alarm.

“Well,” he says, “if they’d a ben some, I reckon I’d a got one.”

They all laughed, and Bob says:

“Why, Buck, they might have scalped us all, you’ve been so slow in

“Well, nobody come after me, and it ain’t right I’m always kept down; I
don’t get no show.”

“Never mind, Buck, my boy,” says the old man, “you’ll have show enough,
all in good time, don’t you fret about that.  Go ‘long with you now, and
do as your mother told you.”

When we got up-stairs to his room he got me a coarse shirt and a
roundabout and pants of his, and I put them on.  While I was at it he
asked me what my name was, but before I could tell him he started to
tell me about a bluejay and a young rabbit he had catched in the woods
day before yesterday, and he asked me where Moses was when the candle
went out.  I said I didn’t know; I hadn’t heard about it before, no way.

“Well, guess,” he says.

“How’m I going to guess,” says I, “when I never heard tell of it

“But you can guess, can’t you?  It’s just as easy.”

“_Which_ candle?”  I says.

“Why, any candle,” he says.

“I don’t know where he was,” says I; “where was he?”

“Why, he was in the _dark_!  That’s where he was!”

“Well, if you knowed where he was, what did you ask me for?”

“Why, blame it, it’s a riddle, don’t you see?  Say, how long are you
going to stay here?  You got to stay always.  We can just have booming
times--they don’t have no school now.  Do you own a dog?  I’ve got a
dog--and he’ll go in the river and bring out chips that you throw in.  Do
you like to comb up Sundays, and all that kind of foolishness?  You bet
I don’t, but ma she makes me.  Confound these ole britches!  I reckon
I’d better put ‘em on, but I’d ruther not, it’s so warm.  Are you all
ready? All right.  Come along, old hoss.”

Cold corn-pone, cold corn-beef, butter and buttermilk--that is what they
had for me down there, and there ain’t nothing better that ever I’ve
come across yet.  Buck and his ma and all of them smoked cob pipes,
except the nigger woman, which was gone, and the two young women.  They
all smoked and talked, and I eat and talked.  The young women had
quilts around them, and their hair down their backs.  They all asked me
questions, and I told them how pap and me and all the family was living
on a little farm down at the bottom of Arkansaw, and my sister Mary Ann
run off and got married and never was heard of no more, and Bill went
to hunt them and he warn’t heard of no more, and Tom and Mort died,
and then there warn’t nobody but just me and pap left, and he was just
trimmed down to nothing, on account of his troubles; so when he died
I took what there was left, because the farm didn’t belong to us, and
started up the river, deck passage, and fell overboard; and that was how
I come to be here.  So they said I could have a home there as long as I
wanted it.  Then it was most daylight and everybody went to bed, and I
went to bed with Buck, and when I waked up in the morning, drat it all,
I had forgot what my name was. So I laid there about an hour trying to
think, and when Buck waked up I says:

“Can you spell, Buck?”

“Yes,” he says.

“I bet you can’t spell my name,” says I.

“I bet you what you dare I can,” says he.

“All right,” says I, “go ahead.”

“G-e-o-r-g-e J-a-x-o-n--there now,” he says.

“Well,” says I, “you done it, but I didn’t think you could.  It ain’t no
slouch of a name to spell--right off without studying.”

I set it down, private, because somebody might want _me_ to spell it
next, and so I wanted to be handy with it and rattle it off like I was
used to it.

It was a mighty nice family, and a mighty nice house, too.  I hadn’t
seen no house out in the country before that was so nice and had so much
style.  It didn’t have an iron latch on the front door, nor a wooden one
with a buckskin string, but a brass knob to turn, the same as houses in
town. There warn’t no bed in the parlor, nor a sign of a bed; but heaps
of parlors in towns has beds in them.  There was a big fireplace that
was bricked on the bottom, and the bricks was kept clean and red by
pouring water on them and scrubbing them with another brick; sometimes
they wash them over with red water-paint that they call Spanish-brown,
same as they do in town.  They had big brass dog-irons that could hold
up a saw-log. There was a clock on the middle of the mantelpiece, with
a picture of a town painted on the bottom half of the glass front, and
a round place in the middle of it for the sun, and you could see the
pendulum swinging behind it.  It was beautiful to hear that clock tick;
and sometimes when one of these peddlers had been along and scoured her
up and got her in good shape, she would start in and strike a hundred
and fifty before she got tuckered out.  They wouldn’t took any money for

Well, there was a big outlandish parrot on each side of the clock,
made out of something like chalk, and painted up gaudy.  By one of the
parrots was a cat made of crockery, and a crockery dog by the other;
and when you pressed down on them they squeaked, but didn’t open
their mouths nor look different nor interested.  They squeaked through
underneath.  There was a couple of big wild-turkey-wing fans spread out
behind those things.  On the table in the middle of the room was a kind
of a lovely crockery basket that had apples and oranges and peaches and
grapes piled up in it, which was much redder and yellower and prettier
than real ones is, but they warn’t real because you could see where
pieces had got chipped off and showed the white chalk, or whatever it
was, underneath.

This table had a cover made out of beautiful oilcloth, with a red and
blue spread-eagle painted on it, and a painted border all around.  It
come all the way from Philadelphia, they said.  There was some books,
too, piled up perfectly exact, on each corner of the table.  One was a
big family Bible full of pictures.  One was Pilgrim’s Progress, about a
man that left his family, it didn’t say why.  I read considerable in it
now and then.  The statements was interesting, but tough.  Another was
Friendship’s Offering, full of beautiful stuff and poetry; but I didn’t
read the poetry.  Another was Henry Clay’s Speeches, and another was Dr.
Gunn’s Family Medicine, which told you all about what to do if a body
was sick or dead.  There was a hymn book, and a lot of other books.  And
there was nice split-bottom chairs, and perfectly sound, too--not bagged
down in the middle and busted, like an old basket.

They had pictures hung on the walls--mainly Washingtons and Lafayettes,
and battles, and Highland Marys, and one called “Signing the
Declaration.” There was some that they called crayons, which one of the
daughters which was dead made her own self when she was only
fifteen years old.  They was different from any pictures I ever see
before--blacker, mostly, than is common.  One was a woman in a slim black
dress, belted small under the armpits, with bulges like a cabbage in
the middle of the sleeves, and a large black scoop-shovel bonnet with
a black veil, and white slim ankles crossed about with black tape, and
very wee black slippers, like a chisel, and she was leaning pensive on a
tombstone on her right elbow, under a weeping willow, and her other hand
hanging down her side holding a white handkerchief and a reticule,
and underneath the picture it said “Shall I Never See Thee More Alas.”
  Another one was a young lady with her hair all combed up straight
to the top of her head, and knotted there in front of a comb like a
chair-back, and she was crying into a handkerchief and had a dead bird
laying on its back in her other hand with its heels up, and underneath
the picture it said “I Shall Never Hear Thy Sweet Chirrup More Alas.”
  There was one where a young lady was at a window looking up at the
moon, and tears running down her cheeks; and she had an open letter in
one hand with black sealing wax showing on one edge of it, and she was
mashing a locket with a chain to it against her mouth, and underneath
the picture it said “And Art Thou Gone Yes Thou Art Gone Alas.”  These
was all nice pictures, I reckon, but I didn’t somehow seem to take
to them, because if ever I was down a little they always give me the
fan-tods.  Everybody was sorry she died, because she had laid out a lot
more of these pictures to do, and a body could see by what she had done
what they had lost.  But I reckoned that with her disposition she was
having a better time in the graveyard.  She was at work on what they
said was her greatest picture when she took sick, and every day and
every night it was her prayer to be allowed to live till she got it
done, but she never got the chance.  It was a picture of a young woman
in a long white gown, standing on the rail of a bridge all ready to jump
off, with her hair all down her back, and looking up to the moon, with
the tears running down her face, and she had two arms folded across her
breast, and two arms stretched out in front, and two more reaching up
towards the moon--and the idea was to see which pair would look best,
and then scratch out all the other arms; but, as I was saying, she died
before she got her mind made up, and now they kept this picture over the
head of the bed in her room, and every time her birthday come they hung
flowers on it.  Other times it was hid with a little curtain.  The young
woman in the picture had a kind of a nice sweet face, but there was so
many arms it made her look too spidery, seemed to me.

This young girl kept a scrap-book when she was alive, and used to paste
obituaries and accidents and cases of patient suffering in it out of the
Presbyterian Observer, and write poetry after them out of her own head.
It was very good poetry. This is what she wrote about a boy by the name
of Stephen Dowling Bots that fell down a well and was drownded:


And did young Stephen sicken,    And did young Stephen die? And did the
sad hearts thicken,    And did the mourners cry?

No; such was not the fate of    Young Stephen Dowling Bots; Though sad
hearts round him thickened,    ‘Twas not from sickness’ shots.

No whooping-cough did rack his frame,    Nor measles drear with spots;
Not these impaired the sacred name    Of Stephen Dowling Bots.

Despised love struck not with woe    That head of curly knots, Nor
stomach troubles laid him low,    Young Stephen Dowling Bots.

O no. Then list with tearful eye,    Whilst I his fate do tell. His soul
did from this cold world fly    By falling down a well.

They got him out and emptied him;    Alas it was too late; His spirit
was gone for to sport aloft    In the realms of the good and great.

If Emmeline Grangerford could make poetry like that before she was
fourteen, there ain’t no telling what she could a done by and by.  Buck
said she could rattle off poetry like nothing.  She didn’t ever have to
stop to think.  He said she would slap down a line, and if she couldn’t
find anything to rhyme with it would just scratch it out and slap down
another one, and go ahead. She warn’t particular; she could write about
anything you choose to give her to write about just so it was sadful.
Every time a man died, or a woman died, or a child died, she would be on
hand with her “tribute” before he was cold.  She called them tributes.
The neighbors said it was the doctor first, then Emmeline, then the
undertaker--the undertaker never got in ahead of Emmeline but once, and
then she hung fire on a rhyme for the dead person’s name, which was
Whistler.  She warn’t ever the same after that; she never complained,
but she kinder pined away and did not live long.  Poor thing, many’s the
time I made myself go up to the little room that used to be hers and get
out her poor old scrap-book and read in it when her pictures had been
aggravating me and I had soured on her a little.  I liked all that
family, dead ones and all, and warn’t going to let anything come between
us.  Poor Emmeline made poetry about all the dead people when she was
alive, and it didn’t seem right that there warn’t nobody to make some
about her now she was gone; so I tried to sweat out a verse or two
myself, but I couldn’t seem to make it go somehow.  They kept Emmeline’s
room trim and nice, and all the things fixed in it just the way she
liked to have them when she was alive, and nobody ever slept there.
 The old lady took care of the room herself, though there was plenty
of niggers, and she sewed there a good deal and read her Bible there

Well, as I was saying about the parlor, there was beautiful curtains on
the windows:  white, with pictures painted on them of castles with vines
all down the walls, and cattle coming down to drink.  There was a little
old piano, too, that had tin pans in it, I reckon, and nothing was ever
so lovely as to hear the young ladies sing “The Last Link is Broken”
 and play “The Battle of Prague” on it.  The walls of all the rooms was
plastered, and most had carpets on the floors, and the whole house was
whitewashed on the outside.

It was a double house, and the big open place betwixt them was roofed
and floored, and sometimes the table was set there in the middle of the
day, and it was a cool, comfortable place.  Nothing couldn’t be better.
 And warn’t the cooking good, and just bushels of it too!


COL.  Grangerford was a gentleman, you see.  He was a gentleman all
over; and so was his family.  He was well born, as the saying is, and
that’s worth as much in a man as it is in a horse, so the Widow Douglas
said, and nobody ever denied that she was of the first aristocracy
in our town; and pap he always said it, too, though he warn’t no more
quality than a mudcat himself.  Col.  Grangerford was very tall and
very slim, and had a darkish-paly complexion, not a sign of red in it
anywheres; he was clean shaved every morning all over his thin face, and
he had the thinnest kind of lips, and the thinnest kind of nostrils, and
a high nose, and heavy eyebrows, and the blackest kind of eyes, sunk so
deep back that they seemed like they was looking out of caverns at
you, as you may say.  His forehead was high, and his hair was black and
straight and hung to his shoulders. His hands was long and thin, and
every day of his life he put on a clean shirt and a full suit from head
to foot made out of linen so white it hurt your eyes to look at it;
and on Sundays he wore a blue tail-coat with brass buttons on it.  He
carried a mahogany cane with a silver head to it.  There warn’t no
frivolishness about him, not a bit, and he warn’t ever loud.  He was
as kind as he could be--you could feel that, you know, and so you had
confidence.  Sometimes he smiled, and it was good to see; but when he
straightened himself up like a liberty-pole, and the lightning begun to
flicker out from under his eyebrows, you wanted to climb a tree first,
and find out what the matter was afterwards.  He didn’t ever have to
tell anybody to mind their manners--everybody was always good-mannered
where he was.  Everybody loved to have him around, too; he was sunshine
most always--I mean he made it seem like good weather.  When he turned
into a cloudbank it was awful dark for half a minute, and that was
enough; there wouldn’t nothing go wrong again for a week.

When him and the old lady come down in the morning all the family got
up out of their chairs and give them good-day, and didn’t set down again
till they had set down.  Then Tom and Bob went to the sideboard where
the decanter was, and mixed a glass of bitters and handed it to him, and
he held it in his hand and waited till Tom’s and Bob’s was mixed, and
then they bowed and said, “Our duty to you, sir, and madam;” and _they_
bowed the least bit in the world and said thank you, and so they drank,
all three, and Bob and Tom poured a spoonful of water on the sugar and
the mite of whisky or apple brandy in the bottom of their tumblers, and
give it to me and Buck, and we drank to the old people too.

Bob was the oldest and Tom next--tall, beautiful men with very broad
shoulders and brown faces, and long black hair and black eyes.  They
dressed in white linen from head to foot, like the old gentleman, and
wore broad Panama hats.

Then there was Miss Charlotte; she was twenty-five, and tall and proud
and grand, but as good as she could be when she warn’t stirred up; but
when she was she had a look that would make you wilt in your tracks,
like her father.  She was beautiful.

So was her sister, Miss Sophia, but it was a different kind.  She was
gentle and sweet like a dove, and she was only twenty.

Each person had their own nigger to wait on them--Buck too.  My nigger
had a monstrous easy time, because I warn’t used to having anybody do
anything for me, but Buck’s was on the jump most of the time.

This was all there was of the family now, but there used to be
more--three sons; they got killed; and Emmeline that died.

The old gentleman owned a lot of farms and over a hundred niggers.
Sometimes a stack of people would come there, horseback, from ten or
fifteen mile around, and stay five or six days, and have such junketings
round about and on the river, and dances and picnics in the woods
daytimes, and balls at the house nights.  These people was mostly
kinfolks of the family.  The men brought their guns with them.  It was a
handsome lot of quality, I tell you.

There was another clan of aristocracy around there--five or six
families--mostly of the name of Shepherdson.  They was as high-toned
and well born and rich and grand as the tribe of Grangerfords.  The
Shepherdsons and Grangerfords used the same steamboat landing, which was
about two mile above our house; so sometimes when I went up there with a
lot of our folks I used to see a lot of the Shepherdsons there on their
fine horses.

One day Buck and me was away out in the woods hunting, and heard a horse
coming.  We was crossing the road.  Buck says:

“Quick!  Jump for the woods!”

We done it, and then peeped down the woods through the leaves.  Pretty
soon a splendid young man come galloping down the road, setting his
horse easy and looking like a soldier.  He had his gun across his
pommel.  I had seen him before.  It was young Harney Shepherdson.  I
heard Buck’s gun go off at my ear, and Harney’s hat tumbled off from his
head.  He grabbed his gun and rode straight to the place where we was
hid.  But we didn’t wait.  We started through the woods on a run.  The
woods warn’t thick, so I looked over my shoulder to dodge the bullet,
and twice I seen Harney cover Buck with his gun; and then he rode away
the way he come--to get his hat, I reckon, but I couldn’t see.  We never
stopped running till we got home.  The old gentleman’s eyes blazed a
minute--‘twas pleasure, mainly, I judged--then his face sort of smoothed
down, and he says, kind of gentle:

“I don’t like that shooting from behind a bush.  Why didn’t you step
into the road, my boy?”

“The Shepherdsons don’t, father.  They always take advantage.”

Miss Charlotte she held her head up like a queen while Buck was telling
his tale, and her nostrils spread and her eyes snapped.  The two young
men looked dark, but never said nothing.  Miss Sophia she turned pale,
but the color come back when she found the man warn’t hurt.

Soon as I could get Buck down by the corn-cribs under the trees by
ourselves, I says:

“Did you want to kill him, Buck?”

“Well, I bet I did.”

“What did he do to you?”

“Him?  He never done nothing to me.”

“Well, then, what did you want to kill him for?”

“Why, nothing--only it’s on account of the feud.”

“What’s a feud?”

“Why, where was you raised?  Don’t you know what a feud is?”

“Never heard of it before--tell me about it.”

“Well,” says Buck, “a feud is this way:  A man has a quarrel with
another man, and kills him; then that other man’s brother kills _him_;
then the other brothers, on both sides, goes for one another; then the
_cousins_ chip in--and by and by everybody’s killed off, and there ain’t
no more feud.  But it’s kind of slow, and takes a long time.”

“Has this one been going on long, Buck?”

“Well, I should _reckon_!  It started thirty year ago, or som’ers along
there.  There was trouble ‘bout something, and then a lawsuit to settle
it; and the suit went agin one of the men, and so he up and shot the
man that won the suit--which he would naturally do, of course.  Anybody

“What was the trouble about, Buck?--land?”

“I reckon maybe--I don’t know.”

“Well, who done the shooting?  Was it a Grangerford or a Shepherdson?”

“Laws, how do I know?  It was so long ago.”

“Don’t anybody know?”

“Oh, yes, pa knows, I reckon, and some of the other old people; but they
don’t know now what the row was about in the first place.”

“Has there been many killed, Buck?”

“Yes; right smart chance of funerals.  But they don’t always kill.  Pa’s
got a few buckshot in him; but he don’t mind it ‘cuz he don’t weigh
much, anyway.  Bob’s been carved up some with a bowie, and Tom’s been
hurt once or twice.”

“Has anybody been killed this year, Buck?”

“Yes; we got one and they got one.  ‘Bout three months ago my cousin
Bud, fourteen year old, was riding through the woods on t’other side
of the river, and didn’t have no weapon with him, which was blame’
foolishness, and in a lonesome place he hears a horse a-coming behind
him, and sees old Baldy Shepherdson a-linkin’ after him with his gun in
his hand and his white hair a-flying in the wind; and ‘stead of jumping
off and taking to the brush, Bud ‘lowed he could out-run him; so they
had it, nip and tuck, for five mile or more, the old man a-gaining all
the time; so at last Bud seen it warn’t any use, so he stopped and faced
around so as to have the bullet holes in front, you know, and the old
man he rode up and shot him down.  But he didn’t git much chance to
enjoy his luck, for inside of a week our folks laid _him_ out.”

“I reckon that old man was a coward, Buck.”

“I reckon he _warn’t_ a coward.  Not by a blame’ sight.  There ain’t a
coward amongst them Shepherdsons--not a one.  And there ain’t no cowards
amongst the Grangerfords either.  Why, that old man kep’ up his end in a
fight one day for half an hour against three Grangerfords, and come
out winner.  They was all a-horseback; he lit off of his horse and got
behind a little woodpile, and kep’ his horse before him to stop the
bullets; but the Grangerfords stayed on their horses and capered around
the old man, and peppered away at him, and he peppered away at them.
 Him and his horse both went home pretty leaky and crippled, but the
Grangerfords had to be _fetched_ home--and one of ‘em was dead, and
another died the next day.  No, sir; if a body’s out hunting for cowards
he don’t want to fool away any time amongst them Shepherdsons, becuz
they don’t breed any of that _kind_.”

Next Sunday we all went to church, about three mile, everybody
a-horseback. The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept
them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall.  The
Shepherdsons done the same.  It was pretty ornery preaching--all about
brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was
a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and had such
a powerful lot to say about faith and good works and free grace and
preforeordestination, and I don’t know what all, that it did seem to me
to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet.

About an hour after dinner everybody was dozing around, some in their
chairs and some in their rooms, and it got to be pretty dull.  Buck and
a dog was stretched out on the grass in the sun sound asleep.  I went up
to our room, and judged I would take a nap myself.  I found that sweet
Miss Sophia standing in her door, which was next to ours, and she took
me in her room and shut the door very soft, and asked me if I liked her,
and I said I did; and she asked me if I would do something for her and
not tell anybody, and I said I would.  Then she said she’d forgot her
Testament, and left it in the seat at church between two other books,
and would I slip out quiet and go there and fetch it to her, and not say
nothing to nobody.  I said I would. So I slid out and slipped off up the
road, and there warn’t anybody at the church, except maybe a hog or two,
for there warn’t any lock on the door, and hogs likes a puncheon floor
in summer-time because it’s cool.  If you notice, most folks don’t go to
church only when they’ve got to; but a hog is different.

Says I to myself, something’s up; it ain’t natural for a girl to be in
such a sweat about a Testament.  So I give it a shake, and out drops a
little piece of paper with “HALF-PAST TWO” wrote on it with a pencil.  I
ransacked it, but couldn’t find anything else.  I couldn’t make anything
out of that, so I put the paper in the book again, and when I got home
and upstairs there was Miss Sophia in her door waiting for me.  She
pulled me in and shut the door; then she looked in the Testament till
she found the paper, and as soon as she read it she looked glad; and
before a body could think she grabbed me and give me a squeeze, and
said I was the best boy in the world, and not to tell anybody.  She was
mighty red in the face for a minute, and her eyes lighted up, and it
made her powerful pretty.  I was a good deal astonished, but when I got
my breath I asked her what the paper was about, and she asked me if I
had read it, and I said no, and she asked me if I could read writing,
and I told her “no, only coarse-hand,” and then she said the paper
warn’t anything but a book-mark to keep her place, and I might go and
play now.

I went off down to the river, studying over this thing, and pretty soon
I noticed that my nigger was following along behind.  When we was out
of sight of the house he looked back and around a second, and then comes
a-running, and says:

“Mars Jawge, if you’ll come down into de swamp I’ll show you a whole
stack o’ water-moccasins.”

Thinks I, that’s mighty curious; he said that yesterday.  He oughter
know a body don’t love water-moccasins enough to go around hunting for
them. What is he up to, anyway?  So I says:

“All right; trot ahead.”

I followed a half a mile; then he struck out over the swamp, and waded
ankle deep as much as another half-mile.  We come to a little flat piece
of land which was dry and very thick with trees and bushes and vines,
and he says:

“You shove right in dah jist a few steps, Mars Jawge; dah’s whah dey is.
I’s seed ‘m befo’; I don’t k’yer to see ‘em no mo’.”

Then he slopped right along and went away, and pretty soon the trees hid
him.  I poked into the place a-ways and come to a little open patch
as big as a bedroom all hung around with vines, and found a man laying
there asleep--and, by jings, it was my old Jim!

I waked him up, and I reckoned it was going to be a grand surprise to
him to see me again, but it warn’t.  He nearly cried he was so glad, but
he warn’t surprised.  Said he swum along behind me that night, and heard
me yell every time, but dasn’t answer, because he didn’t want nobody to
pick _him_ up and take him into slavery again.  Says he:

“I got hurt a little, en couldn’t swim fas’, so I wuz a considable ways
behine you towards de las’; when you landed I reck’ned I could ketch
up wid you on de lan’ ‘dout havin’ to shout at you, but when I see dat
house I begin to go slow.  I ‘uz off too fur to hear what dey say to
you--I wuz ‘fraid o’ de dogs; but when it ‘uz all quiet agin I knowed
you’s in de house, so I struck out for de woods to wait for day.  Early
in de mawnin’ some er de niggers come along, gwyne to de fields, en dey
tuk me en showed me dis place, whah de dogs can’t track me on accounts
o’ de water, en dey brings me truck to eat every night, en tells me how
you’s a-gitt’n along.”

“Why didn’t you tell my Jack to fetch me here sooner, Jim?”

“Well, ‘twarn’t no use to ‘sturb you, Huck, tell we could do sumfn--but
we’s all right now.  I ben a-buyin’ pots en pans en vittles, as I got a
chanst, en a-patchin’ up de raf’ nights when--”

“_What_ raft, Jim?”

“Our ole raf’.”

“You mean to say our old raft warn’t smashed all to flinders?”

“No, she warn’t.  She was tore up a good deal--one en’ of her was; but
dey warn’t no great harm done, on’y our traps was mos’ all los’.  Ef we
hadn’ dive’ so deep en swum so fur under water, en de night hadn’ ben
so dark, en we warn’t so sk’yerd, en ben sich punkin-heads, as de sayin’
is, we’d a seed de raf’.  But it’s jis’ as well we didn’t, ‘kase now
she’s all fixed up agin mos’ as good as new, en we’s got a new lot o’
stuff, in de place o’ what ‘uz los’.”

“Why, how did you get hold of the raft again, Jim--did you catch her?”

“How I gwyne to ketch her en I out in de woods?  No; some er de niggers
foun’ her ketched on a snag along heah in de ben’, en dey hid her in a
crick ‘mongst de willows, en dey wuz so much jawin’ ‘bout which un ‘um
she b’long to de mos’ dat I come to heah ‘bout it pooty soon, so I ups
en settles de trouble by tellin’ ‘um she don’t b’long to none uv um, but
to you en me; en I ast ‘m if dey gwyne to grab a young white genlman’s
propaty, en git a hid’n for it?  Den I gin ‘m ten cents apiece, en dey
‘uz mighty well satisfied, en wisht some mo’ raf’s ‘ud come along en
make ‘m rich agin. Dey’s mighty good to me, dese niggers is, en whatever
I wants ‘m to do fur me I doan’ have to ast ‘m twice, honey.  Dat Jack’s
a good nigger, en pooty smart.”

“Yes, he is.  He ain’t ever told me you was here; told me to come, and
he’d show me a lot of water-moccasins.  If anything happens _he_ ain’t
mixed up in it.  He can say he never seen us together, and it ‘ll be the

I don’t want to talk much about the next day.  I reckon I’ll cut it
pretty short.  I waked up about dawn, and was a-going to turn over and
go to sleep again when I noticed how still it was--didn’t seem to be
anybody stirring.  That warn’t usual.  Next I noticed that Buck was
up and gone. Well, I gets up, a-wondering, and goes down stairs--nobody
around; everything as still as a mouse.  Just the same outside.  Thinks
I, what does it mean?  Down by the wood-pile I comes across my Jack, and

“What’s it all about?”

Says he:

“Don’t you know, Mars Jawge?”

“No,” says I, “I don’t.”

“Well, den, Miss Sophia’s run off! ‘deed she has.  She run off in de
night some time--nobody don’t know jis’ when; run off to get married
to dat young Harney Shepherdson, you know--leastways, so dey ‘spec.  De
fambly foun’ it out ‘bout half an hour ago--maybe a little mo’--en’ I
_tell_ you dey warn’t no time los’.  Sich another hurryin’ up guns
en hosses _you_ never see!  De women folks has gone for to stir up de
relations, en ole Mars Saul en de boys tuck dey guns en rode up de
river road for to try to ketch dat young man en kill him ‘fo’ he kin
git acrost de river wid Miss Sophia.  I reck’n dey’s gwyne to be mighty
rough times.”

“Buck went off ‘thout waking me up.”

“Well, I reck’n he _did_!  Dey warn’t gwyne to mix you up in it.
 Mars Buck he loaded up his gun en ‘lowed he’s gwyne to fetch home a
Shepherdson or bust. Well, dey’ll be plenty un ‘m dah, I reck’n, en you
bet you he’ll fetch one ef he gits a chanst.”

I took up the river road as hard as I could put.  By and by I begin to
hear guns a good ways off.  When I come in sight of the log store and
the woodpile where the steamboats lands I worked along under the trees
and brush till I got to a good place, and then I clumb up into the
forks of a cottonwood that was out of reach, and watched.  There was a
wood-rank four foot high a little ways in front of the tree, and first I
was going to hide behind that; but maybe it was luckier I didn’t.

There was four or five men cavorting around on their horses in the open
place before the log store, cussing and yelling, and trying to get at
a couple of young chaps that was behind the wood-rank alongside of the
steamboat landing; but they couldn’t come it.  Every time one of them
showed himself on the river side of the woodpile he got shot at.  The
two boys was squatting back to back behind the pile, so they could watch
both ways.

By and by the men stopped cavorting around and yelling.  They started
riding towards the store; then up gets one of the boys, draws a steady
bead over the wood-rank, and drops one of them out of his saddle.  All
the men jumped off of their horses and grabbed the hurt one and started
to carry him to the store; and that minute the two boys started on the
run.  They got half way to the tree I was in before the men noticed.
Then the men see them, and jumped on their horses and took out after
them.  They gained on the boys, but it didn’t do no good, the boys had
too good a start; they got to the woodpile that was in front of my tree,
and slipped in behind it, and so they had the bulge on the men again.
One of the boys was Buck, and the other was a slim young chap about
nineteen years old.

The men ripped around awhile, and then rode away.  As soon as they was
out of sight I sung out to Buck and told him.  He didn’t know what
to make of my voice coming out of the tree at first.  He was awful
surprised.  He told me to watch out sharp and let him know when the
men come in sight again; said they was up to some devilment or
other--wouldn’t be gone long.  I wished I was out of that tree, but I
dasn’t come down.  Buck begun to cry and rip, and ‘lowed that him and
his cousin Joe (that was the other young chap) would make up for this
day yet.  He said his father and his two brothers was killed, and two
or three of the enemy.  Said the Shepherdsons laid for them in
ambush.  Buck said his father and brothers ought to waited for their
relations--the Shepherdsons was too strong for them.  I asked him what
was become of young Harney and Miss Sophia.  He said they’d got across
the river and was safe.  I was glad of that; but the way Buck did take
on because he didn’t manage to kill Harney that day he shot at him--I
hain’t ever heard anything like it.

All of a sudden, bang! bang! bang! goes three or four guns--the men had
slipped around through the woods and come in from behind without their
horses!  The boys jumped for the river--both of them hurt--and as they
swum down the current the men run along the bank shooting at them and
singing out, “Kill them, kill them!”  It made me so sick I most fell out
of the tree.  I ain’t a-going to tell _all_ that happened--it would make
me sick again if I was to do that.  I wished I hadn’t ever come ashore
that night to see such things.  I ain’t ever going to get shut of
them--lots of times I dream about them.

I stayed in the tree till it begun to get dark, afraid to come down.
Sometimes I heard guns away off in the woods; and twice I seen little
gangs of men gallop past the log store with guns; so I reckoned the
trouble was still a-going on.  I was mighty downhearted; so I made up my
mind I wouldn’t ever go anear that house again, because I reckoned I
was to blame, somehow. I judged that that piece of paper meant that Miss
Sophia was to meet Harney somewheres at half-past two and run off; and
I judged I ought to told her father about that paper and the curious way
she acted, and then maybe he would a locked her up, and this awful mess
wouldn’t ever happened.

When I got down out of the tree I crept along down the river bank a
piece, and found the two bodies laying in the edge of the water, and
tugged at them till I got them ashore; then I covered up their faces,
and got away as quick as I could.  I cried a little when I was covering
up Buck’s face, for he was mighty good to me.

It was just dark now.  I never went near the house, but struck through
the woods and made for the swamp.  Jim warn’t on his island, so I
tramped off in a hurry for the crick, and crowded through the willows,
red-hot to jump aboard and get out of that awful country.  The raft was
gone!  My souls, but I was scared!  I couldn’t get my breath for most
a minute. Then I raised a yell.  A voice not twenty-five foot from me

“Good lan’! is dat you, honey?  Doan’ make no noise.”

It was Jim’s voice--nothing ever sounded so good before.  I run along the
bank a piece and got aboard, and Jim he grabbed me and hugged me, he was
so glad to see me.  He says:

“Laws bless you, chile, I ‘uz right down sho’ you’s dead agin.  Jack’s
been heah; he say he reck’n you’s ben shot, kase you didn’ come home no
mo’; so I’s jes’ dis minute a startin’ de raf’ down towards de mouf er
de crick, so’s to be all ready for to shove out en leave soon as Jack
comes agin en tells me for certain you _is_ dead.  Lawsy, I’s mighty
glad to git you back again, honey.”

I says:

“All right--that’s mighty good; they won’t find me, and they’ll think
I’ve been killed, and floated down the river--there’s something up there
that ‘ll help them think so--so don’t you lose no time, Jim, but just
shove off for the big water as fast as ever you can.”

I never felt easy till the raft was two mile below there and out in
the middle of the Mississippi.  Then we hung up our signal lantern, and
judged that we was free and safe once more.  I hadn’t had a bite to eat
since yesterday, so Jim he got out some corn-dodgers and buttermilk,
and pork and cabbage and greens--there ain’t nothing in the world so good
when it’s cooked right--and whilst I eat my supper we talked and had a
good time.  I was powerful glad to get away from the feuds, and so was
Jim to get away from the swamp.  We said there warn’t no home like a
raft, after all.  Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a
raft don’t.  You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.


TWO or three days and nights went by; I reckon I might say they swum by,
they slid along so quiet and smooth and lovely.  Here is the way we put
in the time.  It was a monstrous big river down there--sometimes a mile
and a half wide; we run nights, and laid up and hid daytimes; soon as
night was most gone we stopped navigating and tied up--nearly always
in the dead water under a towhead; and then cut young cottonwoods and
willows, and hid the raft with them.  Then we set out the lines.  Next
we slid into the river and had a swim, so as to freshen up and cool
off; then we set down on the sandy bottom where the water was about knee
deep, and watched the daylight come.  Not a sound anywheres--perfectly
still--just like the whole world was asleep, only sometimes the bullfrogs
a-cluttering, maybe.  The first thing to see, looking away over the
water, was a kind of dull line--that was the woods on t’other side; you
couldn’t make nothing else out; then a pale place in the sky; then more
paleness spreading around; then the river softened up away off, and
warn’t black any more, but gray; you could see little dark spots
drifting along ever so far away--trading scows, and such things; and
long black streaks--rafts; sometimes you could hear a sweep screaking; or
jumbled up voices, it was so still, and sounds come so far; and by and
by you could see a streak on the water which you know by the look of the
streak that there’s a snag there in a swift current which breaks on it
and makes that streak look that way; and you see the mist curl up off
of the water, and the east reddens up, and the river, and you make out a
log-cabin in the edge of the woods, away on the bank on t’other side of
the river, being a woodyard, likely, and piled by them cheats so you can
throw a dog through it anywheres; then the nice breeze springs up, and
comes fanning you from over there, so cool and fresh and sweet to smell
on account of the woods and the flowers; but sometimes not that way,
because they’ve left dead fish laying around, gars and such, and they
do get pretty rank; and next you’ve got the full day, and everything
smiling in the sun, and the song-birds just going it!

A little smoke couldn’t be noticed now, so we would take some fish off
of the lines and cook up a hot breakfast.  And afterwards we would watch
the lonesomeness of the river, and kind of lazy along, and by and by
lazy off to sleep.  Wake up by and by, and look to see what done it, and
maybe see a steamboat coughing along up-stream, so far off towards the
other side you couldn’t tell nothing about her only whether she was
a stern-wheel or side-wheel; then for about an hour there wouldn’t be
nothing to hear nor nothing to see--just solid lonesomeness.  Next
you’d see a raft sliding by, away off yonder, and maybe a galoot on it
chopping, because they’re most always doing it on a raft; you’d see the
axe flash and come down--you don’t hear nothing; you see that axe go
up again, and by the time it’s above the man’s head then you hear the
_k’chunk_!--it had took all that time to come over the water.  So we
would put in the day, lazying around, listening to the stillness.  Once
there was a thick fog, and the rafts and things that went by was beating
tin pans so the steamboats wouldn’t run over them.  A scow or a
raft went by so close we could hear them talking and cussing and
laughing--heard them plain; but we couldn’t see no sign of them; it made
you feel crawly; it was like spirits carrying on that way in the air.
 Jim said he believed it was spirits; but I says:

“No; spirits wouldn’t say, ‘Dern the dern fog.’”

Soon as it was night out we shoved; when we got her out to about the
middle we let her alone, and let her float wherever the current wanted
her to; then we lit the pipes, and dangled our legs in the water, and
talked about all kinds of things--we was always naked, day and night,
whenever the mosquitoes would let us--the new clothes Buck’s folks made
for me was too good to be comfortable, and besides I didn’t go much on
clothes, nohow.

Sometimes we’d have that whole river all to ourselves for the longest
time. Yonder was the banks and the islands, across the water; and maybe
a spark--which was a candle in a cabin window; and sometimes on the water
you could see a spark or two--on a raft or a scow, you know; and maybe
you could hear a fiddle or a song coming over from one of them crafts.
It’s lovely to live on a raft.  We had the sky up there, all speckled
with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and
discuss about whether they was made or only just happened.  Jim he
allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would
have took too long to _make_ so many.  Jim said the moon could a _laid_
them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn’t say nothing
against it, because I’ve seen a frog lay most as many, so of course it
could be done. We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them
streak down.  Jim allowed they’d got spoiled and was hove out of the

Once or twice of a night we would see a steamboat slipping along in the
dark, and now and then she would belch a whole world of sparks up out
of her chimbleys, and they would rain down in the river and look awful
pretty; then she would turn a corner and her lights would wink out and
her powwow shut off and leave the river still again; and by and by her
waves would get to us, a long time after she was gone, and joggle the
raft a bit, and after that you wouldn’t hear nothing for you couldn’t
tell how long, except maybe frogs or something.

After midnight the people on shore went to bed, and then for two or
three hours the shores was black--no more sparks in the cabin windows.
 These sparks was our clock--the first one that showed again meant
morning was coming, so we hunted a place to hide and tie up right away.

One morning about daybreak I found a canoe and crossed over a chute to
the main shore--it was only two hundred yards--and paddled about a mile
up a crick amongst the cypress woods, to see if I couldn’t get some
berries. Just as I was passing a place where a kind of a cowpath crossed
the crick, here comes a couple of men tearing up the path as tight as
they could foot it.  I thought I was a goner, for whenever anybody was
after anybody I judged it was _me_--or maybe Jim.  I was about to dig out
from there in a hurry, but they was pretty close to me then, and sung
out and begged me to save their lives--said they hadn’t been doing
nothing, and was being chased for it--said there was men and dogs
a-coming.  They wanted to jump right in, but I says:

“Don’t you do it.  I don’t hear the dogs and horses yet; you’ve got time
to crowd through the brush and get up the crick a little ways; then you
take to the water and wade down to me and get in--that’ll throw the dogs
off the scent.”

They done it, and soon as they was aboard I lit out for our towhead,
and in about five or ten minutes we heard the dogs and the men away off,
shouting. We heard them come along towards the crick, but couldn’t
see them; they seemed to stop and fool around a while; then, as we got
further and further away all the time, we couldn’t hardly hear them at
all; by the time we had left a mile of woods behind us and struck the
river, everything was quiet, and we paddled over to the towhead and hid
in the cottonwoods and was safe.

One of these fellows was about seventy or upwards, and had a bald head
and very gray whiskers.  He had an old battered-up slouch hat on, and
a greasy blue woollen shirt, and ragged old blue jeans britches stuffed
into his boot-tops, and home-knit galluses--no, he only had one.  He had
an old long-tailed blue jeans coat with slick brass buttons flung over
his arm, and both of them had big, fat, ratty-looking carpet-bags.

The other fellow was about thirty, and dressed about as ornery.  After
breakfast we all laid off and talked, and the first thing that come out
was that these chaps didn’t know one another.

“What got you into trouble?” says the baldhead to t’other chap.

“Well, I’d been selling an article to take the tartar off the teeth--and
it does take it off, too, and generly the enamel along with it--but I
stayed about one night longer than I ought to, and was just in the act
of sliding out when I ran across you on the trail this side of town, and
you told me they were coming, and begged me to help you to get off.  So
I told you I was expecting trouble myself, and would scatter out _with_
you. That’s the whole yarn--what’s yourn?

“Well, I’d ben a-running’ a little temperance revival thar ‘bout a week,
and was the pet of the women folks, big and little, for I was makin’ it
mighty warm for the rummies, I _tell_ you, and takin’ as much as five
or six dollars a night--ten cents a head, children and niggers free--and
business a-growin’ all the time, when somehow or another a little report
got around last night that I had a way of puttin’ in my time with a
private jug on the sly.  A nigger rousted me out this mornin’, and told
me the people was getherin’ on the quiet with their dogs and horses, and
they’d be along pretty soon and give me ‘bout half an hour’s start,
and then run me down if they could; and if they got me they’d tar
and feather me and ride me on a rail, sure.  I didn’t wait for no
breakfast--I warn’t hungry.”

“Old man,” said the young one, “I reckon we might double-team it
together; what do you think?”

“I ain’t undisposed.  What’s your line--mainly?”

“Jour printer by trade; do a little in patent medicines;
theater-actor--tragedy, you know; take a turn to mesmerism and phrenology
when there’s a chance; teach singing-geography school for a change;
sling a lecture sometimes--oh, I do lots of things--most anything that
comes handy, so it ain’t work.  What’s your lay?”

“I’ve done considerble in the doctoring way in my time.  Layin’ on o’
hands is my best holt--for cancer and paralysis, and sich things; and I
k’n tell a fortune pretty good when I’ve got somebody along to find out
the facts for me.  Preachin’s my line, too, and workin’ camp-meetin’s,
and missionaryin’ around.”

Nobody never said anything for a while; then the young man hove a sigh
and says:


“What ‘re you alassin’ about?” says the bald-head.

“To think I should have lived to be leading such a life, and be degraded
down into such company.”  And he begun to wipe the corner of his eye
with a rag.

“Dern your skin, ain’t the company good enough for you?” says the
baldhead, pretty pert and uppish.

“Yes, it _is_ good enough for me; it’s as good as I deserve; for who
fetched me so low when I was so high?  I did myself.  I don’t blame
_you_, gentlemen--far from it; I don’t blame anybody.  I deserve it
all.  Let the cold world do its worst; one thing I know--there’s a grave
somewhere for me. The world may go on just as it’s always done, and take
everything from me--loved ones, property, everything; but it can’t take
that. Some day I’ll lie down in it and forget it all, and my poor broken
heart will be at rest.”  He went on a-wiping.

“Drot your pore broken heart,” says the baldhead; “what are you heaving
your pore broken heart at _us_ f’r?  _we_ hain’t done nothing.”

“No, I know you haven’t.  I ain’t blaming you, gentlemen.  I brought
myself down--yes, I did it myself.  It’s right I should suffer--perfectly
right--I don’t make any moan.”

“Brought you down from whar?  Whar was you brought down from?”

“Ah, you would not believe me; the world never believes--let it pass--‘tis
no matter.  The secret of my birth--”

“The secret of your birth!  Do you mean to say--”

“Gentlemen,” says the young man, very solemn, “I will reveal it to you,
for I feel I may have confidence in you.  By rights I am a duke!”

Jim’s eyes bugged out when he heard that; and I reckon mine did, too.
Then the baldhead says:  “No! you can’t mean it?”

“Yes.  My great-grandfather, eldest son of the Duke of Bridgewater, fled
to this country about the end of the last century, to breathe the pure
air of freedom; married here, and died, leaving a son, his own father
dying about the same time.  The second son of the late duke seized the
titles and estates--the infant real duke was ignored.  I am the lineal
descendant of that infant--I am the rightful Duke of Bridgewater; and
here am I, forlorn, torn from my high estate, hunted of men, despised
by the cold world, ragged, worn, heart-broken, and degraded to the
companionship of felons on a raft!”

Jim pitied him ever so much, and so did I. We tried to comfort him, but
he said it warn’t much use, he couldn’t be much comforted; said if we
was a mind to acknowledge him, that would do him more good than most
anything else; so we said we would, if he would tell us how.  He said we
ought to bow when we spoke to him, and say “Your Grace,” or “My Lord,”
 or “Your Lordship”--and he wouldn’t mind it if we called him plain
“Bridgewater,” which, he said, was a title anyway, and not a name; and
one of us ought to wait on him at dinner, and do any little thing for
him he wanted done.

Well, that was all easy, so we done it.  All through dinner Jim stood
around and waited on him, and says, “Will yo’ Grace have some o’ dis or
some o’ dat?” and so on, and a body could see it was mighty pleasing to

But the old man got pretty silent by and by--didn’t have much to say, and
didn’t look pretty comfortable over all that petting that was going on
around that duke.  He seemed to have something on his mind.  So, along
in the afternoon, he says:

“Looky here, Bilgewater,” he says, “I’m nation sorry for you, but you
ain’t the only person that’s had troubles like that.”


“No you ain’t.  You ain’t the only person that’s ben snaked down
wrongfully out’n a high place.”


“No, you ain’t the only person that’s had a secret of his birth.”  And,
by jings, _he_ begins to cry.

“Hold!  What do you mean?”

“Bilgewater, kin I trust you?” says the old man, still sort of sobbing.

“To the bitter death!”  He took the old man by the hand and squeezed it,
and says, “That secret of your being:  speak!”

“Bilgewater, I am the late Dauphin!”

You bet you, Jim and me stared this time.  Then the duke says:

“You are what?”

“Yes, my friend, it is too true--your eyes is lookin’ at this very moment
on the pore disappeared Dauphin, Looy the Seventeen, son of Looy the
Sixteen and Marry Antonette.”

“You!  At your age!  No!  You mean you’re the late Charlemagne; you must
be six or seven hundred years old, at the very least.”

“Trouble has done it, Bilgewater, trouble has done it; trouble has brung
these gray hairs and this premature balditude.  Yes, gentlemen, you
see before you, in blue jeans and misery, the wanderin’, exiled,
trampled-on, and sufferin’ rightful King of France.”

Well, he cried and took on so that me and Jim didn’t know hardly what to
do, we was so sorry--and so glad and proud we’d got him with us, too.
 So we set in, like we done before with the duke, and tried to comfort
_him_. But he said it warn’t no use, nothing but to be dead and done
with it all could do him any good; though he said it often made him feel
easier and better for a while if people treated him according to his
rights, and got down on one knee to speak to him, and always called him
“Your Majesty,” and waited on him first at meals, and didn’t set down
in his presence till he asked them. So Jim and me set to majestying him,
and doing this and that and t’other for him, and standing up till he
told us we might set down.  This done him heaps of good, and so he
got cheerful and comfortable.  But the duke kind of soured on him, and
didn’t look a bit satisfied with the way things was going; still,
the king acted real friendly towards him, and said the duke’s
great-grandfather and all the other Dukes of Bilgewater was a good
deal thought of by _his_ father, and was allowed to come to the palace
considerable; but the duke stayed huffy a good while, till by and by the
king says:

“Like as not we got to be together a blamed long time on this h-yer
raft, Bilgewater, and so what’s the use o’ your bein’ sour?  It ‘ll only
make things oncomfortable.  It ain’t my fault I warn’t born a duke,
it ain’t your fault you warn’t born a king--so what’s the use to worry?
 Make the best o’ things the way you find ‘em, says I--that’s my motto.
 This ain’t no bad thing that we’ve struck here--plenty grub and an easy
life--come, give us your hand, duke, and le’s all be friends.”

The duke done it, and Jim and me was pretty glad to see it.  It took
away all the uncomfortableness and we felt mighty good over it, because
it would a been a miserable business to have any unfriendliness on the
raft; for what you want, above all things, on a raft, is for everybody
to be satisfied, and feel right and kind towards the others.

It didn’t take me long to make up my mind that these liars warn’t no
kings nor dukes at all, but just low-down humbugs and frauds.  But I
never said nothing, never let on; kept it to myself; it’s the best way;
then you don’t have no quarrels, and don’t get into no trouble.  If they
wanted us to call them kings and dukes, I hadn’t no objections, ‘long as
it would keep peace in the family; and it warn’t no use to tell Jim, so
I didn’t tell him.  If I never learnt nothing else out of pap, I learnt
that the best way to get along with his kind of people is to let them
have their own way.


THEY asked us considerable many questions; wanted to know what we
covered up the raft that way for, and laid by in the daytime instead of
running--was Jim a runaway nigger?  Says I:

“Goodness sakes! would a runaway nigger run _south_?”

No, they allowed he wouldn’t.  I had to account for things some way, so
I says:

“My folks was living in Pike County, in Missouri, where I was born, and
they all died off but me and pa and my brother Ike.  Pa, he ‘lowed
he’d break up and go down and live with Uncle Ben, who’s got a little
one-horse place on the river, forty-four mile below Orleans.  Pa was
pretty poor, and had some debts; so when he’d squared up there warn’t
nothing left but sixteen dollars and our nigger, Jim.  That warn’t
enough to take us fourteen hundred mile, deck passage nor no other way.
 Well, when the river rose pa had a streak of luck one day; he ketched
this piece of a raft; so we reckoned we’d go down to Orleans on it.
 Pa’s luck didn’t hold out; a steamboat run over the forrard corner of
the raft one night, and we all went overboard and dove under the wheel;
Jim and me come up all right, but pa was drunk, and Ike was only four
years old, so they never come up no more.  Well, for the next day or
two we had considerable trouble, because people was always coming out in
skiffs and trying to take Jim away from me, saying they believed he was
a runaway nigger.  We don’t run daytimes no more now; nights they don’t
bother us.”

The duke says:

“Leave me alone to cipher out a way so we can run in the daytime if we
want to.  I’ll think the thing over--I’ll invent a plan that’ll fix it.
We’ll let it alone for to-day, because of course we don’t want to go by
that town yonder in daylight--it mightn’t be healthy.”

Towards night it begun to darken up and look like rain; the heat
lightning was squirting around low down in the sky, and the leaves was
beginning to shiver--it was going to be pretty ugly, it was easy to see
that.  So the duke and the king went to overhauling our wigwam, to see
what the beds was like.  My bed was a straw tick better than Jim’s,
which was a corn-shuck tick; there’s always cobs around about in a shuck
tick, and they poke into you and hurt; and when you roll over the dry
shucks sound like you was rolling over in a pile of dead leaves; it
makes such a rustling that you wake up.  Well, the duke allowed he would
take my bed; but the king allowed he wouldn’t.  He says:

“I should a reckoned the difference in rank would a sejested to you that
a corn-shuck bed warn’t just fitten for me to sleep on.  Your Grace ‘ll
take the shuck bed yourself.”

Jim and me was in a sweat again for a minute, being afraid there was
going to be some more trouble amongst them; so we was pretty glad when
the duke says:

“‘Tis my fate to be always ground into the mire under the iron heel of
oppression.  Misfortune has broken my once haughty spirit; I yield, I
submit; ‘tis my fate.  I am alone in the world--let me suffer; can bear

We got away as soon as it was good and dark.  The king told us to stand
well out towards the middle of the river, and not show a light till we
got a long ways below the town.  We come in sight of the little bunch of
lights by and by--that was the town, you know--and slid by, about a half
a mile out, all right.  When we was three-quarters of a mile below we
hoisted up our signal lantern; and about ten o’clock it come on to rain
and blow and thunder and lighten like everything; so the king told us
to both stay on watch till the weather got better; then him and the duke
crawled into the wigwam and turned in for the night.  It was my watch
below till twelve, but I wouldn’t a turned in anyway if I’d had a bed,
because a body don’t see such a storm as that every day in the week, not
by a long sight.  My souls, how the wind did scream along!  And every
second or two there’d come a glare that lit up the white-caps for a half
a mile around, and you’d see the islands looking dusty through the rain,
and the trees thrashing around in the wind; then comes a H-WHACK!--bum!
bum! bumble-umble-um-bum-bum-bum-bum--and the thunder would go rumbling
and grumbling away, and quit--and then RIP comes another flash and
another sockdolager.  The waves most washed me off the raft sometimes,
but I hadn’t any clothes on, and didn’t mind.  We didn’t have no trouble
about snags; the lightning was glaring and flittering around so constant
that we could see them plenty soon enough to throw her head this way or
that and miss them.

I had the middle watch, you know, but I was pretty sleepy by that time,
so Jim he said he would stand the first half of it for me; he was always
mighty good that way, Jim was.  I crawled into the wigwam, but the king
and the duke had their legs sprawled around so there warn’t no show for
me; so I laid outside--I didn’t mind the rain, because it was warm, and
the waves warn’t running so high now.  About two they come up again,
though, and Jim was going to call me; but he changed his mind, because
he reckoned they warn’t high enough yet to do any harm; but he was
mistaken about that, for pretty soon all of a sudden along comes a
regular ripper and washed me overboard.  It most killed Jim a-laughing.
 He was the easiest nigger to laugh that ever was, anyway.

I took the watch, and Jim he laid down and snored away; and by and by
the storm let up for good and all; and the first cabin-light that showed
I rousted him out, and we slid the raft into hiding quarters for the

The king got out an old ratty deck of cards after breakfast, and him
and the duke played seven-up a while, five cents a game.  Then they got
tired of it, and allowed they would “lay out a campaign,” as they called
it. The duke went down into his carpet-bag, and fetched up a lot of
little printed bills and read them out loud.  One bill said, “The
celebrated Dr. Armand de Montalban, of Paris,” would “lecture on the
Science of Phrenology” at such and such a place, on the blank day of
blank, at ten cents admission, and “furnish charts of character at
twenty-five cents apiece.”  The duke said that was _him_.  In another
bill he was the “world-renowned Shakespearian tragedian, Garrick the
Younger, of Drury Lane, London.”  In other bills he had a lot of other
names and done other wonderful things, like finding water and gold with
a “divining-rod,” “dissipating witch spells,” and so on.  By and by he

“But the histrionic muse is the darling.  Have you ever trod the boards,

“No,” says the king.

“You shall, then, before you’re three days older, Fallen Grandeur,” says
the duke.  “The first good town we come to we’ll hire a hall and do the
sword fight in Richard III. and the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet.
How does that strike you?”

“I’m in, up to the hub, for anything that will pay, Bilgewater; but, you
see, I don’t know nothing about play-actin’, and hain’t ever seen much
of it.  I was too small when pap used to have ‘em at the palace.  Do you
reckon you can learn me?”


“All right.  I’m jist a-freezn’ for something fresh, anyway.  Le’s
commence right away.”

So the duke he told him all about who Romeo was and who Juliet was, and
said he was used to being Romeo, so the king could be Juliet.

“But if Juliet’s such a young gal, duke, my peeled head and my white
whiskers is goin’ to look oncommon odd on her, maybe.”

“No, don’t you worry; these country jakes won’t ever think of that.
Besides, you know, you’ll be in costume, and that makes all the
difference in the world; Juliet’s in a balcony, enjoying the moonlight
before she goes to bed, and she’s got on her night-gown and her ruffled
nightcap.  Here are the costumes for the parts.”

He got out two or three curtain-calico suits, which he said was
meedyevil armor for Richard III. and t’other chap, and a long white
cotton nightshirt and a ruffled nightcap to match.  The king was
satisfied; so the duke got out his book and read the parts over in the
most splendid spread-eagle way, prancing around and acting at the same
time, to show how it had got to be done; then he give the book to the
king and told him to get his part by heart.

There was a little one-horse town about three mile down the bend, and
after dinner the duke said he had ciphered out his idea about how to run
in daylight without it being dangersome for Jim; so he allowed he would
go down to the town and fix that thing.  The king allowed he would go,
too, and see if he couldn’t strike something.  We was out of coffee, so
Jim said I better go along with them in the canoe and get some.

When we got there there warn’t nobody stirring; streets empty, and
perfectly dead and still, like Sunday.  We found a sick nigger sunning
himself in a back yard, and he said everybody that warn’t too young or
too sick or too old was gone to camp-meeting, about two mile back in the
woods.  The king got the directions, and allowed he’d go and work that
camp-meeting for all it was worth, and I might go, too.

The duke said what he was after was a printing-office.  We found it;
a little bit of a concern, up over a carpenter shop--carpenters and
printers all gone to the meeting, and no doors locked.  It was a dirty,
littered-up place, and had ink marks, and handbills with pictures of
horses and runaway niggers on them, all over the walls.  The duke shed
his coat and said he was all right now.  So me and the king lit out for
the camp-meeting.

We got there in about a half an hour fairly dripping, for it was a most
awful hot day.  There was as much as a thousand people there from
twenty mile around.  The woods was full of teams and wagons, hitched
everywheres, feeding out of the wagon-troughs and stomping to keep
off the flies.  There was sheds made out of poles and roofed over with
branches, where they had lemonade and gingerbread to sell, and piles of
watermelons and green corn and such-like truck.

The preaching was going on under the same kinds of sheds, only they was
bigger and held crowds of people.  The benches was made out of outside
slabs of logs, with holes bored in the round side to drive sticks into
for legs. They didn’t have no backs.  The preachers had high platforms
to stand on at one end of the sheds.  The women had on sun-bonnets;
and some had linsey-woolsey frocks, some gingham ones, and a few of the
young ones had on calico.  Some of the young men was barefooted, and
some of the children didn’t have on any clothes but just a tow-linen
shirt.  Some of the old women was knitting, and some of the young folks
was courting on the sly.

The first shed we come to the preacher was lining out a hymn.  He lined
out two lines, everybody sung it, and it was kind of grand to hear it,
there was so many of them and they done it in such a rousing way; then
he lined out two more for them to sing--and so on.  The people woke up
more and more, and sung louder and louder; and towards the end some
begun to groan, and some begun to shout.  Then the preacher begun to
preach, and begun in earnest, too; and went weaving first to one side of
the platform and then the other, and then a-leaning down over the front
of it, with his arms and his body going all the time, and shouting his
words out with all his might; and every now and then he would hold up
his Bible and spread it open, and kind of pass it around this way and
that, shouting, “It’s the brazen serpent in the wilderness!  Look upon
it and live!”  And people would shout out, “Glory!--A-a-_men_!”  And so
he went on, and the people groaning and crying and saying amen:

“Oh, come to the mourners’ bench! come, black with sin! (_Amen_!) come,
sick and sore! (_Amen_!) come, lame and halt and blind! (_Amen_!) come,
pore and needy, sunk in shame! (_A-A-Men_!) come, all that’s worn and
soiled and suffering!--come with a broken spirit! come with a contrite
heart! come in your rags and sin and dirt! the waters that cleanse
is free, the door of heaven stands open--oh, enter in and be at rest!”
 (_A-A-Men_!  _Glory, Glory Hallelujah!_)

And so on.  You couldn’t make out what the preacher said any more, on
account of the shouting and crying.  Folks got up everywheres in the
crowd, and worked their way just by main strength to the mourners’
bench, with the tears running down their faces; and when all the
mourners had got up there to the front benches in a crowd, they sung and
shouted and flung themselves down on the straw, just crazy and wild.

Well, the first I knowed the king got a-going, and you could hear him
over everybody; and next he went a-charging up on to the platform, and
the preacher he begged him to speak to the people, and he done it.  He
told them he was a pirate--been a pirate for thirty years out in the
Indian Ocean--and his crew was thinned out considerable last spring in
a fight, and he was home now to take out some fresh men, and thanks to
goodness he’d been robbed last night and put ashore off of a steamboat
without a cent, and he was glad of it; it was the blessedest thing that
ever happened to him, because he was a changed man now, and happy for
the first time in his life; and, poor as he was, he was going to start
right off and work his way back to the Indian Ocean, and put in the rest
of his life trying to turn the pirates into the true path; for he could
do it better than anybody else, being acquainted with all pirate crews
in that ocean; and though it would take him a long time to get there
without money, he would get there anyway, and every time he convinced
a pirate he would say to him, “Don’t you thank me, don’t you give me no
credit; it all belongs to them dear people in Pokeville camp-meeting,
natural brothers and benefactors of the race, and that dear preacher
there, the truest friend a pirate ever had!”

And then he busted into tears, and so did everybody.  Then somebody
sings out, “Take up a collection for him, take up a collection!”  Well,
a half a dozen made a jump to do it, but somebody sings out, “Let _him_
pass the hat around!”  Then everybody said it, the preacher too.

So the king went all through the crowd with his hat swabbing his eyes,
and blessing the people and praising them and thanking them for being
so good to the poor pirates away off there; and every little while the
prettiest kind of girls, with the tears running down their cheeks, would
up and ask him would he let them kiss him for to remember him by; and he
always done it; and some of them he hugged and kissed as many as five or
six times--and he was invited to stay a week; and everybody wanted him to
live in their houses, and said they’d think it was an honor; but he said
as this was the last day of the camp-meeting he couldn’t do no good, and
besides he was in a sweat to get to the Indian Ocean right off and go to
work on the pirates.

When we got back to the raft and he come to count up he found he had
collected eighty-seven dollars and seventy-five cents.  And then he had
fetched away a three-gallon jug of whisky, too, that he found under a
wagon when he was starting home through the woods.  The king said,
take it all around, it laid over any day he’d ever put in in the
missionarying line.  He said it warn’t no use talking, heathens don’t
amount to shucks alongside of pirates to work a camp-meeting with.

The duke was thinking _he’d_ been doing pretty well till the king come
to show up, but after that he didn’t think so so much.  He had set
up and printed off two little jobs for farmers in that
printing-office--horse bills--and took the money, four dollars.  And he
had got in ten dollars’ worth of advertisements for the paper, which he
said he would put in for four dollars if they would pay in advance--so
they done it. The price of the paper was two dollars a year, but he took
in three subscriptions for half a dollar apiece on condition of them
paying him in advance; they were going to pay in cordwood and onions as
usual, but he said he had just bought the concern and knocked down the
price as low as he could afford it, and was going to run it for cash.
 He set up a little piece of poetry, which he made, himself, out of
his own head--three verses--kind of sweet and saddish--the name of it was,
“Yes, crush, cold world, this breaking heart”--and he left that all set
up and ready to print in the paper, and didn’t charge nothing for it.
 Well, he took in nine dollars and a half, and said he’d done a pretty
square day’s work for it.

Then he showed us another little job he’d printed and hadn’t charged
for, because it was for us.  It had a picture of a runaway nigger with
a bundle on a stick over his shoulder, and “$200 reward” under it.  The
reading was all about Jim, and just described him to a dot.  It said
he run away from St. Jacques’ plantation, forty mile below New Orleans,
last winter, and likely went north, and whoever would catch him and send
him back he could have the reward and expenses.

“Now,” says the duke, “after to-night we can run in the daytime if we
want to.  Whenever we see anybody coming we can tie Jim hand and foot
with a rope, and lay him in the wigwam and show this handbill and say we
captured him up the river, and were too poor to travel on a steamboat,
so we got this little raft on credit from our friends and are going down
to get the reward.  Handcuffs and chains would look still better on Jim,
but it wouldn’t go well with the story of us being so poor.  Too much
like jewelry.  Ropes are the correct thing--we must preserve the unities,
as we say on the boards.”

We all said the duke was pretty smart, and there couldn’t be no trouble
about running daytimes.  We judged we could make miles enough that night
to get out of the reach of the powwow we reckoned the duke’s work in
the printing office was going to make in that little town; then we could
boom right along if we wanted to.

We laid low and kept still, and never shoved out till nearly ten
o’clock; then we slid by, pretty wide away from the town, and didn’t
hoist our lantern till we was clear out of sight of it.

When Jim called me to take the watch at four in the morning, he says:

“Huck, does you reck’n we gwyne to run acrost any mo’ kings on dis

“No,” I says, “I reckon not.”

“Well,” says he, “dat’s all right, den.  I doan’ mine one er two kings,
but dat’s enough.  Dis one’s powerful drunk, en de duke ain’ much

I found Jim had been trying to get him to talk French, so he could hear
what it was like; but he said he had been in this country so long, and
had so much trouble, he’d forgot it.


IT was after sun-up now, but we went right on and didn’t tie up.  The
king and the duke turned out by and by looking pretty rusty; but after
they’d jumped overboard and took a swim it chippered them up a good
deal. After breakfast the king he took a seat on the corner of the raft,
and pulled off his boots and rolled up his britches, and let his legs
dangle in the water, so as to be comfortable, and lit his pipe, and went
to getting his Romeo and Juliet by heart.  When he had got it pretty
good him and the duke begun to practice it together.  The duke had to
learn him over and over again how to say every speech; and he made him
sigh, and put his hand on his heart, and after a while he said he done
it pretty well; “only,” he says, “you mustn’t bellow out _Romeo_!
that way, like a bull--you must say it soft and sick and languishy,
so--R-o-o-meo! that is the idea; for Juliet’s a dear sweet mere child of
a girl, you know, and she doesn’t bray like a jackass.”

Well, next they got out a couple of long swords that the duke made out
of oak laths, and begun to practice the sword fight--the duke called
himself Richard III.; and the way they laid on and pranced around
the raft was grand to see.  But by and by the king tripped and fell
overboard, and after that they took a rest, and had a talk about all
kinds of adventures they’d had in other times along the river.

After dinner the duke says:

“Well, Capet, we’ll want to make this a first-class show, you know, so
I guess we’ll add a little more to it.  We want a little something to
answer encores with, anyway.”

“What’s onkores, Bilgewater?”

The duke told him, and then says:

“I’ll answer by doing the Highland fling or the sailor’s hornpipe; and
you--well, let me see--oh, I’ve got it--you can do Hamlet’s soliloquy.”

“Hamlet’s which?”

“Hamlet’s soliloquy, you know; the most celebrated thing in Shakespeare.
Ah, it’s sublime, sublime!  Always fetches the house.  I haven’t got
it in the book--I’ve only got one volume--but I reckon I can piece it out
from memory.  I’ll just walk up and down a minute, and see if I can call
it back from recollection’s vaults.”

So he went to marching up and down, thinking, and frowning horrible
every now and then; then he would hoist up his eyebrows; next he would
squeeze his hand on his forehead and stagger back and kind of moan; next
he would sigh, and next he’d let on to drop a tear.  It was beautiful
to see him. By and by he got it.  He told us to give attention.  Then
he strikes a most noble attitude, with one leg shoved forwards, and his
arms stretched away up, and his head tilted back, looking up at the sky;
and then he begins to rip and rave and grit his teeth; and after that,
all through his speech, he howled, and spread around, and swelled up his
chest, and just knocked the spots out of any acting ever I see before.
 This is the speech--I learned it, easy enough, while he was learning it
to the king:

To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin That makes calamity of
so long life; For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do come
to Dunsinane, But that the fear of something after death Murders the
innocent sleep, Great nature’s second course, And makes us rather sling
the arrows of outrageous fortune Than fly to others that we know not of.
There’s the respect must give us pause: Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I
would thou couldst; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The
oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, The law’s delay, and the
quietus which his pangs might take. In the dead waste and middle of the
night, when churchyards yawn In customary suits of solemn black, But
that the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns,
Breathes forth contagion on the world, And thus the native hue of
resolution, like the poor cat i’ the adage, Is sicklied o’er with care.
And all the clouds that lowered o’er our housetops, With this
regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action. ‘Tis a
consummation devoutly to be wished. But soft you, the fair Ophelia: Ope
not thy ponderous and marble jaws. But get thee to a nunnery—go!

Well, the old man he liked that speech, and he mighty soon got it so he
could do it first rate. It seemed like he was just born for it; and when
he had his hand in and was excited, it was perfectly lovely the way he
would rip and tear and rair up behind when he was getting it off.

The first chance we got, the duke he had some show bills printed; and
after that, for two or three days as we floated along, the raft was a
most uncommon lively place, for there warn’t nothing but sword-fighting
and rehearsing--as the duke called it--going on all the time. One morning,
when we was pretty well down the State of Arkansaw, we come in sight
of a little one-horse town in a big bend; so we tied up about
three-quarters of a mile above it, in the mouth of a crick which was
shut in like a tunnel by the cypress trees, and all of us but Jim took
the canoe and went down there to see if there was any chance in that
place for our show.

We struck it mighty lucky; there was going to be a circus there that
afternoon, and the country people was already beginning to come in, in
all kinds of old shackly wagons, and on horses. The circus would leave
before night, so our show would have a pretty good chance. The duke he
hired the court house, and we went around and stuck up our bills. They
read like this:

Shaksperean Revival!!!

Wonderful Attraction!

For One Night Only! The world renowned tragedians,

David Garrick the younger, of Drury Lane Theatre, London,


Edmund Kean the elder, of the Royal Haymarket Theatre, Whitechapel,
Pudding Lane, Piccadilly, London, and the Royal Continental Theatres, in
their sublime Shaksperean Spectacle entitled The Balcony Scene in

Romeo and Juliet!!!

Romeo...................................... Mr. Garrick.

Juliet..................................... Mr. Kean.

Assisted by the whole strength of the company!

New costumes, new scenery, new appointments!


The thrilling, masterly, and blood-curdling Broad-sword conflict In
Richard III.!!!

Richard III................................ Mr. Garrick.

Richmond................................... Mr. Kean.


(by special request,)

Hamlet’s Immortal Soliloquy!!

By the Illustrious Kean!

Done by him 300 consecutive nights in Paris!

For One Night Only,

On account of imperative European engagements!

Admission 25 cents; children and servants, 10 cents.

Then we went loafing around the town. The stores and houses was most all
old shackly dried-up frame concerns that hadn’t ever been painted; they
was set up three or four foot above ground on stilts, so as to be out of
reach of the water when the river was overflowed. The houses had little
gardens around them, but they didn’t seem to raise hardly anything in
them but jimpson weeds, and sunflowers, and ash-piles, and old curled-up
boots and shoes, and pieces of bottles, and rags, and played-out
tin-ware. The fences was made of different kinds of boards, nailed on
at different times; and they leaned every which-way, and had gates that
didn’t generly have but one hinge--a leather one. Some of the fences
had been whitewashed, some time or another, but the duke said it was in
Clumbus’s time, like enough. There was generly hogs in the garden, and
people driving them out.

All the stores was along one street.  They had white domestic awnings in
front, and the country people hitched their horses to the awning-posts.
There was empty drygoods boxes under the awnings, and loafers roosting
on them all day long, whittling them with their Barlow knives; and
chawing tobacco, and gaping and yawning and stretching--a mighty ornery
lot. They generly had on yellow straw hats most as wide as an umbrella,
but didn’t wear no coats nor waistcoats, they called one another Bill,
and Buck, and Hank, and Joe, and Andy, and talked lazy and drawly, and
used considerable many cuss words.  There was as many as one loafer
leaning up against every awning-post, and he most always had his hands
in his britches-pockets, except when he fetched them out to lend a chaw
of tobacco or scratch.  What a body was hearing amongst them all the
time was:

“Gimme a chaw ‘v tobacker, Hank.”

“Cain’t; I hain’t got but one chaw left.  Ask Bill.”

Maybe Bill he gives him a chaw; maybe he lies and says he ain’t got
none. Some of them kinds of loafers never has a cent in the world, nor a
chaw of tobacco of their own.  They get all their chawing by borrowing;
they say to a fellow, “I wisht you’d len’ me a chaw, Jack, I jist this
minute give Ben Thompson the last chaw I had”--which is a lie pretty
much everytime; it don’t fool nobody but a stranger; but Jack ain’t no
stranger, so he says:

“_You_ give him a chaw, did you?  So did your sister’s cat’s
grandmother. You pay me back the chaws you’ve awready borry’d off’n me,
Lafe Buckner, then I’ll loan you one or two ton of it, and won’t charge
you no back intrust, nuther.”

“Well, I _did_ pay you back some of it wunst.”

“Yes, you did--‘bout six chaws.  You borry’d store tobacker and paid back

Store tobacco is flat black plug, but these fellows mostly chaws the
natural leaf twisted.  When they borrow a chaw they don’t generly cut it
off with a knife, but set the plug in between their teeth, and gnaw with
their teeth and tug at the plug with their hands till they get it in
two; then sometimes the one that owns the tobacco looks mournful at it
when it’s handed back, and says, sarcastic:

“Here, gimme the _chaw_, and you take the _plug_.”

All the streets and lanes was just mud; they warn’t nothing else _but_
mud--mud as black as tar and nigh about a foot deep in some places,
and two or three inches deep in _all_ the places.  The hogs loafed and
grunted around everywheres.  You’d see a muddy sow and a litter of pigs
come lazying along the street and whollop herself right down in the way,
where folks had to walk around her, and she’d stretch out and shut her
eyes and wave her ears whilst the pigs was milking her, and look as
happy as if she was on salary. And pretty soon you’d hear a loafer
sing out, “Hi!  _so_ boy! sick him, Tige!” and away the sow would go,
squealing most horrible, with a dog or two swinging to each ear, and
three or four dozen more a-coming; and then you would see all the
loafers get up and watch the thing out of sight, and laugh at the fun
and look grateful for the noise.  Then they’d settle back again till
there was a dog fight.  There couldn’t anything wake them up all over,
and make them happy all over, like a dog fight--unless it might be
putting turpentine on a stray dog and setting fire to him, or tying a
tin pan to his tail and see him run himself to death.

On the river front some of the houses was sticking out over the bank,
and they was bowed and bent, and about ready to tumble in. The people
had moved out of them.  The bank was caved away under one corner of some
others, and that corner was hanging over.  People lived in them yet, but
it was dangersome, because sometimes a strip of land as wide as a house
caves in at a time.  Sometimes a belt of land a quarter of a mile deep
will start in and cave along and cave along till it all caves into the
river in one summer. Such a town as that has to be always moving back,
and back, and back, because the river’s always gnawing at it.

The nearer it got to noon that day the thicker and thicker was the
wagons and horses in the streets, and more coming all the time.
 Families fetched their dinners with them from the country, and eat them
in the wagons.  There was considerable whisky drinking going on, and I
seen three fights.  By and by somebody sings out:

“Here comes old Boggs!--in from the country for his little old monthly
drunk; here he comes, boys!”

All the loafers looked glad; I reckoned they was used to having fun out
of Boggs.  One of them says:

“Wonder who he’s a-gwyne to chaw up this time.  If he’d a-chawed up all
the men he’s ben a-gwyne to chaw up in the last twenty year he’d have
considerable ruputation now.”

Another one says, “I wisht old Boggs ‘d threaten me, ‘cuz then I’d know
I warn’t gwyne to die for a thousan’ year.”

Boggs comes a-tearing along on his horse, whooping and yelling like an
Injun, and singing out:

“Cler the track, thar.  I’m on the waw-path, and the price uv coffins is
a-gwyne to raise.”

He was drunk, and weaving about in his saddle; he was over fifty year
old, and had a very red face.  Everybody yelled at him and laughed at
him and sassed him, and he sassed back, and said he’d attend to them and
lay them out in their regular turns, but he couldn’t wait now because
he’d come to town to kill old Colonel Sherburn, and his motto was, “Meat
first, and spoon vittles to top off on.”

He see me, and rode up and says:

“Whar’d you come f’m, boy?  You prepared to die?”

Then he rode on.  I was scared, but a man says:

“He don’t mean nothing; he’s always a-carryin’ on like that when he’s
drunk.  He’s the best naturedest old fool in Arkansaw--never hurt nobody,
drunk nor sober.”

Boggs rode up before the biggest store in town, and bent his head down
so he could see under the curtain of the awning and yells:

“Come out here, Sherburn! Come out and meet the man you’ve swindled.
You’re the houn’ I’m after, and I’m a-gwyne to have you, too!”

And so he went on, calling Sherburn everything he could lay his tongue
to, and the whole street packed with people listening and laughing and
going on.  By and by a proud-looking man about fifty-five--and he was a
heap the best dressed man in that town, too--steps out of the store, and
the crowd drops back on each side to let him come.  He says to Boggs,
mighty ca’m and slow--he says:

“I’m tired of this, but I’ll endure it till one o’clock.  Till one
o’clock, mind--no longer.  If you open your mouth against me only once
after that time you can’t travel so far but I will find you.”

Then he turns and goes in.  The crowd looked mighty sober; nobody
stirred, and there warn’t no more laughing.  Boggs rode off
blackguarding Sherburn as loud as he could yell, all down the street;
and pretty soon back he comes and stops before the store, still keeping
it up.  Some men crowded around him and tried to get him to shut up,
but he wouldn’t; they told him it would be one o’clock in about fifteen
minutes, and so he _must_ go home--he must go right away.  But it didn’t
do no good.  He cussed away with all his might, and throwed his hat down
in the mud and rode over it, and pretty soon away he went a-raging down
the street again, with his gray hair a-flying. Everybody that could get
a chance at him tried their best to coax him off of his horse so they
could lock him up and get him sober; but it warn’t no use--up the street
he would tear again, and give Sherburn another cussing.  By and by
somebody says:

“Go for his daughter!--quick, go for his daughter; sometimes he’ll listen
to her.  If anybody can persuade him, she can.”

So somebody started on a run.  I walked down street a ways and stopped.
In about five or ten minutes here comes Boggs again, but not on his
horse.  He was a-reeling across the street towards me, bare-headed, with
a friend on both sides of him a-holt of his arms and hurrying him along.
He was quiet, and looked uneasy; and he warn’t hanging back any, but was
doing some of the hurrying himself.  Somebody sings out:


I looked over there to see who said it, and it was that Colonel
Sherburn. He was standing perfectly still in the street, and had a
pistol raised in his right hand--not aiming it, but holding it out with
the barrel tilted up towards the sky.  The same second I see a young
girl coming on the run, and two men with her.  Boggs and the men turned
round to see who called him, and when they see the pistol the men
jumped to one side, and the pistol-barrel come down slow and steady to
a level--both barrels cocked. Boggs throws up both of his hands and says,
“O Lord, don’t shoot!”  Bang! goes the first shot, and he staggers back,
clawing at the air--bang! goes the second one, and he tumbles backwards
on to the ground, heavy and solid, with his arms spread out.  That young
girl screamed out and comes rushing, and down she throws herself on her
father, crying, and saying, “Oh, he’s killed him, he’s killed him!”  The
crowd closed up around them, and shouldered and jammed one another, with
their necks stretched, trying to see, and people on the inside trying to
shove them back and shouting, “Back, back! give him air, give him air!”

Colonel Sherburn he tossed his pistol on to the ground, and turned
around on his heels and walked off.

They took Boggs to a little drug store, the crowd pressing around just
the same, and the whole town following, and I rushed and got a good
place at the window, where I was close to him and could see in.  They
laid him on the floor and put one large Bible under his head, and opened
another one and spread it on his breast; but they tore open his shirt
first, and I seen where one of the bullets went in.  He made about a
dozen long gasps, his breast lifting the Bible up when he drawed in his
breath, and letting it down again when he breathed it out--and after that
he laid still; he was dead.  Then they pulled his daughter away from
him, screaming and crying, and took her off.  She was about sixteen, and
very sweet and gentle looking, but awful pale and scared.

Well, pretty soon the whole town was there, squirming and scrouging and
pushing and shoving to get at the window and have a look, but people
that had the places wouldn’t give them up, and folks behind them was
saying all the time, “Say, now, you’ve looked enough, you fellows;
‘tain’t right and ‘tain’t fair for you to stay thar all the time, and
never give nobody a chance; other folks has their rights as well as

There was considerable jawing back, so I slid out, thinking maybe
there was going to be trouble.  The streets was full, and everybody was
excited. Everybody that seen the shooting was telling how it happened,
and there was a big crowd packed around each one of these fellows,
stretching their necks and listening.  One long, lanky man, with long
hair and a big white fur stovepipe hat on the back of his head, and a
crooked-handled cane, marked out the places on the ground where Boggs
stood and where Sherburn stood, and the people following him around from
one place to t’other and watching everything he done, and bobbing their
heads to show they understood, and stooping a little and resting their
hands on their thighs to watch him mark the places on the ground with
his cane; and then he stood up straight and stiff where Sherburn had
stood, frowning and having his hat-brim down over his eyes, and sung
out, “Boggs!” and then fetched his cane down slow to a level, and says
“Bang!” staggered backwards, says “Bang!” again, and fell down flat on
his back. The people that had seen the thing said he done it perfect;
said it was just exactly the way it all happened.  Then as much as a
dozen people got out their bottles and treated him.

Well, by and by somebody said Sherburn ought to be lynched.  In about a
minute everybody was saying it; so away they went, mad and yelling, and
snatching down every clothes-line they come to to do the hanging with.


THEY swarmed up towards Sherburn’s house, a-whooping and raging like
Injuns, and everything had to clear the way or get run over and tromped
to mush, and it was awful to see.  Children was heeling it ahead of the
mob, screaming and trying to get out of the way; and every window along
the road was full of women’s heads, and there was nigger boys in every
tree, and bucks and wenches looking over every fence; and as soon as the
mob would get nearly to them they would break and skaddle back out of
reach.  Lots of the women and girls was crying and taking on, scared
most to death.

They swarmed up in front of Sherburn’s palings as thick as they could
jam together, and you couldn’t hear yourself think for the noise.  It
was a little twenty-foot yard.  Some sung out “Tear down the fence! tear
down the fence!”  Then there was a racket of ripping and tearing and
smashing, and down she goes, and the front wall of the crowd begins to
roll in like a wave.

Just then Sherburn steps out on to the roof of his little front porch,
with a double-barrel gun in his hand, and takes his stand, perfectly
ca’m and deliberate, not saying a word.  The racket stopped, and the
wave sucked back.

Sherburn never said a word--just stood there, looking down.  The
stillness was awful creepy and uncomfortable.  Sherburn run his eye slow
along the crowd; and wherever it struck the people tried a little to
out-gaze him, but they couldn’t; they dropped their eyes and looked
sneaky. Then pretty soon Sherburn sort of laughed; not the pleasant
kind, but the kind that makes you feel like when you are eating bread
that’s got sand in it.

Then he says, slow and scornful:

“The idea of _you_ lynching anybody!  It’s amusing.  The idea of you
thinking you had pluck enough to lynch a _man_!  Because you’re brave
enough to tar and feather poor friendless cast-out women that come along
here, did that make you think you had grit enough to lay your hands on a
_man_?  Why, a _man’s_ safe in the hands of ten thousand of your kind--as
long as it’s daytime and you’re not behind him.

“Do I know you?  I know you clear through. I was born and raised in the
South, and I’ve lived in the North; so I know the average all around.
The average man’s a coward.  In the North he lets anybody walk over him
that wants to, and goes home and prays for a humble spirit to bear it.
In the South one man all by himself, has stopped a stage full of men
in the daytime, and robbed the lot.  Your newspapers call you a
brave people so much that you think you are braver than any other
people--whereas you’re just _as_ brave, and no braver.  Why don’t your
juries hang murderers?  Because they’re afraid the man’s friends will
shoot them in the back, in the dark--and it’s just what they _would_ do.

“So they always acquit; and then a _man_ goes in the night, with a
hundred masked cowards at his back and lynches the rascal.  Your mistake
is, that you didn’t bring a man with you; that’s one mistake, and the
other is that you didn’t come in the dark and fetch your masks.  You
brought _part_ of a man--Buck Harkness, there--and if you hadn’t had him
to start you, you’d a taken it out in blowing.

“You didn’t want to come.  The average man don’t like trouble and
danger. _You_ don’t like trouble and danger.  But if only _half_ a
man--like Buck Harkness, there--shouts ‘Lynch him! lynch him!’ you’re
afraid to back down--afraid you’ll be found out to be what you
are--_cowards_--and so you raise a yell, and hang yourselves on to that
half-a-man’s coat-tail, and come raging up here, swearing what big
things you’re going to do. The pitifulest thing out is a mob; that’s
what an army is--a mob; they don’t fight with courage that’s born in
them, but with courage that’s borrowed from their mass, and from their
officers.  But a mob without any _man_ at the head of it is _beneath_
pitifulness.  Now the thing for _you_ to do is to droop your tails and
go home and crawl in a hole.  If any real lynching’s going to be done it
will be done in the dark, Southern fashion; and when they come they’ll
bring their masks, and fetch a _man_ along.  Now _leave_--and take your
half-a-man with you”--tossing his gun up across his left arm and cocking
it when he says this.

The crowd washed back sudden, and then broke all apart, and went tearing
off every which way, and Buck Harkness he heeled it after them, looking
tolerable cheap.  I could a stayed if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to.

I went to the circus and loafed around the back side till the watchman
went by, and then dived in under the tent.  I had my twenty-dollar gold
piece and some other money, but I reckoned I better save it, because
there ain’t no telling how soon you are going to need it, away from
home and amongst strangers that way.  You can’t be too careful.  I ain’t
opposed to spending money on circuses when there ain’t no other way, but
there ain’t no use in _wasting_ it on them.

It was a real bully circus.  It was the splendidest sight that ever was
when they all come riding in, two and two, a gentleman and lady, side
by side, the men just in their drawers and undershirts, and no shoes
nor stirrups, and resting their hands on their thighs easy and
comfortable--there must a been twenty of them--and every lady with a
lovely complexion, and perfectly beautiful, and looking just like a gang
of real sure-enough queens, and dressed in clothes that cost millions of
dollars, and just littered with diamonds.  It was a powerful fine sight;
I never see anything so lovely.  And then one by one they got up
and stood, and went a-weaving around the ring so gentle and wavy and
graceful, the men looking ever so tall and airy and straight, with their
heads bobbing and skimming along, away up there under the tent-roof, and
every lady’s rose-leafy dress flapping soft and silky around her hips,
and she looking like the most loveliest parasol.

And then faster and faster they went, all of them dancing, first one
foot out in the air and then the other, the horses leaning more and
more, and the ringmaster going round and round the center-pole, cracking
his whip and shouting “Hi!--hi!” and the clown cracking jokes behind
him; and by and by all hands dropped the reins, and every lady put her
knuckles on her hips and every gentleman folded his arms, and then how
the horses did lean over and hump themselves!  And so one after the
other they all skipped off into the ring, and made the sweetest bow I
ever see, and then scampered out, and everybody clapped their hands and
went just about wild.

Well, all through the circus they done the most astonishing things; and
all the time that clown carried on so it most killed the people.  The
ringmaster couldn’t ever say a word to him but he was back at him quick
as a wink with the funniest things a body ever said; and how he ever
_could_ think of so many of them, and so sudden and so pat, was what I
couldn’t noway understand. Why, I couldn’t a thought of them in a year.
And by and by a drunk man tried to get into the ring--said he wanted to
ride; said he could ride as well as anybody that ever was.  They argued
and tried to keep him out, but he wouldn’t listen, and the whole show
come to a standstill.  Then the people begun to holler at him and make
fun of him, and that made him mad, and he begun to rip and tear; so that
stirred up the people, and a lot of men begun to pile down off of the
benches and swarm towards the ring, saying, “Knock him down! throw him
out!” and one or two women begun to scream.  So, then, the ringmaster
he made a little speech, and said he hoped there wouldn’t be no
disturbance, and if the man would promise he wouldn’t make no more
trouble he would let him ride if he thought he could stay on the horse.
 So everybody laughed and said all right, and the man got on. The minute
he was on, the horse begun to rip and tear and jump and cavort around,
with two circus men hanging on to his bridle trying to hold him, and the
drunk man hanging on to his neck, and his heels flying in the air every
jump, and the whole crowd of people standing up shouting and laughing
till tears rolled down.  And at last, sure enough, all the circus men
could do, the horse broke loose, and away he went like the very nation,
round and round the ring, with that sot laying down on him and hanging
to his neck, with first one leg hanging most to the ground on one side,
and then t’other one on t’other side, and the people just crazy.  It
warn’t funny to me, though; I was all of a tremble to see his danger.
 But pretty soon he struggled up astraddle and grabbed the bridle,
a-reeling this way and that; and the next minute he sprung up and
dropped the bridle and stood! and the horse a-going like a house afire
too.  He just stood up there, a-sailing around as easy and comfortable
as if he warn’t ever drunk in his life--and then he begun to pull off his
clothes and sling them.  He shed them so thick they kind of clogged up
the air, and altogether he shed seventeen suits. And, then, there he
was, slim and handsome, and dressed the gaudiest and prettiest you
ever saw, and he lit into that horse with his whip and made him fairly
hum--and finally skipped off, and made his bow and danced off to
the dressing-room, and everybody just a-howling with pleasure and

Then the ringmaster he see how he had been fooled, and he _was_ the
sickest ringmaster you ever see, I reckon.  Why, it was one of his own
men!  He had got up that joke all out of his own head, and never let on
to nobody. Well, I felt sheepish enough to be took in so, but I wouldn’t
a been in that ringmaster’s place, not for a thousand dollars.  I don’t
know; there may be bullier circuses than what that one was, but I
never struck them yet. Anyways, it was plenty good enough for _me_; and
wherever I run across it, it can have all of _my_ custom every time.

Well, that night we had _our_ show; but there warn’t only about twelve
people there--just enough to pay expenses.  And they laughed all the
time, and that made the duke mad; and everybody left, anyway, before
the show was over, but one boy which was asleep.  So the duke said these
Arkansaw lunkheads couldn’t come up to Shakespeare; what they wanted
was low comedy--and maybe something ruther worse than low comedy, he
reckoned.  He said he could size their style.  So next morning he got
some big sheets of wrapping paper and some black paint, and drawed off
some handbills, and stuck them up all over the village.  The bills said:


WELL, all day him and the king was hard at it, rigging up a stage and
a curtain and a row of candles for footlights; and that night the house
was jam full of men in no time.  When the place couldn’t hold no more,
the duke he quit tending door and went around the back way and come on
to the stage and stood up before the curtain and made a little speech,
and praised up this tragedy, and said it was the most thrillingest one
that ever was; and so he went on a-bragging about the tragedy, and about
Edmund Kean the Elder, which was to play the main principal part in it;
and at last when he’d got everybody’s expectations up high enough, he
rolled up the curtain, and the next minute the king come a-prancing
out on all fours, naked; and he was painted all over,
ring-streaked-and-striped, all sorts of colors, as splendid as a
rainbow.  And--but never mind the rest of his outfit; it was just wild,
but it was awful funny. The people most killed themselves laughing; and
when the king got done capering and capered off behind the scenes, they
roared and clapped and stormed and haw-hawed till he come back and done
it over again, and after that they made him do it another time. Well, it
would make a cow laugh to see the shines that old idiot cut.

Then the duke he lets the curtain down, and bows to the people, and says
the great tragedy will be performed only two nights more, on accounts of
pressing London engagements, where the seats is all sold already for it
in Drury Lane; and then he makes them another bow, and says if he has
succeeded in pleasing them and instructing them, he will be deeply
obleeged if they will mention it to their friends and get them to come
and see it.

Twenty people sings out:

“What, is it over?  Is that _all_?”

The duke says yes.  Then there was a fine time.  Everybody sings
out, “Sold!” and rose up mad, and was a-going for that stage and them
tragedians.  But a big, fine looking man jumps up on a bench and shouts:

“Hold on!  Just a word, gentlemen.”  They stopped to listen.  “We are
sold--mighty badly sold.  But we don’t want to be the laughing stock of
this whole town, I reckon, and never hear the last of this thing as long
as we live.  _No_.  What we want is to go out of here quiet, and talk
this show up, and sell the _rest_ of the town!  Then we’ll all be in the
same boat.  Ain’t that sensible?” (“You bet it is!--the jedge is right!”
 everybody sings out.) “All right, then--not a word about any sell.  Go
along home, and advise everybody to come and see the tragedy.”

Next day you couldn’t hear nothing around that town but how splendid
that show was.  House was jammed again that night, and we sold this
crowd the same way.  When me and the king and the duke got home to the
raft we all had a supper; and by and by, about midnight, they made Jim
and me back her out and float her down the middle of the river, and
fetch her in and hide her about two mile below town.

The third night the house was crammed again--and they warn’t new-comers
this time, but people that was at the show the other two nights.  I
stood by the duke at the door, and I see that every man that went in had
his pockets bulging, or something muffled up under his coat--and I see it
warn’t no perfumery, neither, not by a long sight.  I smelt sickly eggs
by the barrel, and rotten cabbages, and such things; and if I know the
signs of a dead cat being around, and I bet I do, there was sixty-four
of them went in.  I shoved in there for a minute, but it was too various
for me; I couldn’t stand it.  Well, when the place couldn’t hold no more
people the duke he give a fellow a quarter and told him to tend door
for him a minute, and then he started around for the stage door, I after
him; but the minute we turned the corner and was in the dark he says:

“Walk fast now till you get away from the houses, and then shin for the
raft like the dickens was after you!”

I done it, and he done the same.  We struck the raft at the same time,
and in less than two seconds we was gliding down stream, all dark and
still, and edging towards the middle of the river, nobody saying a
word. I reckoned the poor king was in for a gaudy time of it with the
audience, but nothing of the sort; pretty soon he crawls out from under
the wigwam, and says:

“Well, how’d the old thing pan out this time, duke?”  He hadn’t been
up-town at all.

We never showed a light till we was about ten mile below the village.
Then we lit up and had a supper, and the king and the duke fairly
laughed their bones loose over the way they’d served them people.  The
duke says:

“Greenhorns, flatheads!  I knew the first house would keep mum and let
the rest of the town get roped in; and I knew they’d lay for us the
third night, and consider it was _their_ turn now.  Well, it _is_ their
turn, and I’d give something to know how much they’d take for it.  I
_would_ just like to know how they’re putting in their opportunity.
 They can turn it into a picnic if they want to--they brought plenty

Them rapscallions took in four hundred and sixty-five dollars in that
three nights.  I never see money hauled in by the wagon-load like that
before.  By and by, when they was asleep and snoring, Jim says:

“Don’t it s’prise you de way dem kings carries on, Huck?”

“No,” I says, “it don’t.”

“Why don’t it, Huck?”

“Well, it don’t, because it’s in the breed.  I reckon they’re all

“But, Huck, dese kings o’ ourn is reglar rapscallions; dat’s jist what
dey is; dey’s reglar rapscallions.”

“Well, that’s what I’m a-saying; all kings is mostly rapscallions, as
fur as I can make out.”

“Is dat so?”

“You read about them once--you’ll see.  Look at Henry the Eight; this ‘n
‘s a Sunday-school Superintendent to _him_.  And look at Charles Second,
and Louis Fourteen, and Louis Fifteen, and James Second, and Edward
Second, and Richard Third, and forty more; besides all them Saxon
heptarchies that used to rip around so in old times and raise Cain.  My,
you ought to seen old Henry the Eight when he was in bloom.  He _was_ a
blossom.  He used to marry a new wife every day, and chop off her head
next morning.  And he would do it just as indifferent as if he was
ordering up eggs.  ‘Fetch up Nell Gwynn,’ he says.  They fetch her up.
Next morning, ‘Chop off her head!’  And they chop it off.  ‘Fetch up
Jane Shore,’ he says; and up she comes, Next morning, ‘Chop off her
head’--and they chop it off.  ‘Ring up Fair Rosamun.’  Fair Rosamun
answers the bell.  Next morning, ‘Chop off her head.’  And he made every
one of them tell him a tale every night; and he kept that up till he had
hogged a thousand and one tales that way, and then he put them all in a
book, and called it Domesday Book--which was a good name and stated the
case.  You don’t know kings, Jim, but I know them; and this old rip
of ourn is one of the cleanest I’ve struck in history.  Well, Henry he
takes a notion he wants to get up some trouble with this country. How
does he go at it--give notice?--give the country a show?  No.  All of a
sudden he heaves all the tea in Boston Harbor overboard, and whacks
out a declaration of independence, and dares them to come on.  That was
_his_ style--he never give anybody a chance.  He had suspicions of his
father, the Duke of Wellington.  Well, what did he do?  Ask him to show
up?  No--drownded him in a butt of mamsey, like a cat.  S’pose people
left money laying around where he was--what did he do?  He collared it.
 S’pose he contracted to do a thing, and you paid him, and didn’t set
down there and see that he done it--what did he do?  He always done the
other thing. S’pose he opened his mouth--what then?  If he didn’t shut it
up powerful quick he’d lose a lie every time.  That’s the kind of a bug
Henry was; and if we’d a had him along ‘stead of our kings he’d a fooled
that town a heap worse than ourn done.  I don’t say that ourn is lambs,
because they ain’t, when you come right down to the cold facts; but they
ain’t nothing to _that_ old ram, anyway.  All I say is, kings is kings,
and you got to make allowances.  Take them all around, they’re a mighty
ornery lot. It’s the way they’re raised.”

“But dis one do _smell_ so like de nation, Huck.”

“Well, they all do, Jim.  We can’t help the way a king smells; history
don’t tell no way.”

“Now de duke, he’s a tolerble likely man in some ways.”

“Yes, a duke’s different.  But not very different.  This one’s
a middling hard lot for a duke.  When he’s drunk there ain’t no
near-sighted man could tell him from a king.”

“Well, anyways, I doan’ hanker for no mo’ un um, Huck.  Dese is all I
kin stan’.”

“It’s the way I feel, too, Jim.  But we’ve got them on our hands, and we
got to remember what they are, and make allowances.  Sometimes I wish we
could hear of a country that’s out of kings.”

What was the use to tell Jim these warn’t real kings and dukes?  It
wouldn’t a done no good; and, besides, it was just as I said:  you
couldn’t tell them from the real kind.

I went to sleep, and Jim didn’t call me when it was my turn.  He often
done that.  When I waked up just at daybreak he was sitting there with
his head down betwixt his knees, moaning and mourning to himself.  I
didn’t take notice nor let on.  I knowed what it was about.  He was
thinking about his wife and his children, away up yonder, and he was low
and homesick; because he hadn’t ever been away from home before in his
life; and I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white
folks does for their’n.  It don’t seem natural, but I reckon it’s so.
 He was often moaning and mourning that way nights, when he judged I
was asleep, and saying, “Po’ little ‘Lizabeth! po’ little Johnny! it’s
mighty hard; I spec’ I ain’t ever gwyne to see you no mo’, no mo’!”  He
was a mighty good nigger, Jim was.

But this time I somehow got to talking to him about his wife and young
ones; and by and by he says:

“What makes me feel so bad dis time ‘uz bekase I hear sumpn over yonder
on de bank like a whack, er a slam, while ago, en it mine me er de time
I treat my little ‘Lizabeth so ornery.  She warn’t on’y ‘bout fo’ year
ole, en she tuck de sk’yarlet fever, en had a powful rough spell; but
she got well, en one day she was a-stannin’ aroun’, en I says to her, I

“‘Shet de do’.’

“She never done it; jis’ stood dah, kiner smilin’ up at me.  It make me
mad; en I says agin, mighty loud, I says:

“‘Doan’ you hear me?  Shet de do’!’

“She jis stood de same way, kiner smilin’ up.  I was a-bilin’!  I says:

“‘I lay I _make_ you mine!’

“En wid dat I fetch’ her a slap side de head dat sont her a-sprawlin’.
Den I went into de yuther room, en ‘uz gone ‘bout ten minutes; en when
I come back dah was dat do’ a-stannin’ open _yit_, en dat chile stannin’
mos’ right in it, a-lookin’ down and mournin’, en de tears runnin’ down.
 My, but I _wuz_ mad!  I was a-gwyne for de chile, but jis’ den--it was a
do’ dat open innerds--jis’ den, ‘long come de wind en slam it to, behine
de chile, ker-BLAM!--en my lan’, de chile never move’!  My breff mos’
hop outer me; en I feel so--so--I doan’ know HOW I feel.  I crope out,
all a-tremblin’, en crope aroun’ en open de do’ easy en slow, en poke my
head in behine de chile, sof’ en still, en all uv a sudden I says POW!
jis’ as loud as I could yell.  _She never budge!_  Oh, Huck, I bust out
a-cryin’ en grab her up in my arms, en say, ‘Oh, de po’ little thing!
 De Lord God Amighty fogive po’ ole Jim, kaze he never gwyne to fogive
hisself as long’s he live!’  Oh, she was plumb deef en dumb, Huck, plumb
deef en dumb--en I’d ben a-treat’n her so!”


NEXT day, towards night, we laid up under a little willow towhead out in
the middle, where there was a village on each side of the river, and the
duke and the king begun to lay out a plan for working them towns.  Jim
he spoke to the duke, and said he hoped it wouldn’t take but a few
hours, because it got mighty heavy and tiresome to him when he had to
lay all day in the wigwam tied with the rope.  You see, when we left him
all alone we had to tie him, because if anybody happened on to him all
by himself and not tied it wouldn’t look much like he was a runaway
nigger, you know. So the duke said it _was_ kind of hard to have to lay
roped all day, and he’d cipher out some way to get around it.

He was uncommon bright, the duke was, and he soon struck it.  He dressed
Jim up in King Lear’s outfit--it was a long curtain-calico gown, and a
white horse-hair wig and whiskers; and then he took his theater paint
and painted Jim’s face and hands and ears and neck all over a dead,
dull, solid blue, like a man that’s been drownded nine days.  Blamed if
he warn’t the horriblest looking outrage I ever see.  Then the duke took
and wrote out a sign on a shingle so:

Sick Arab--but harmless when not out of his head.

And he nailed that shingle to a lath, and stood the lath up four or five
foot in front of the wigwam.  Jim was satisfied.  He said it was a sight
better than lying tied a couple of years every day, and trembling all
over every time there was a sound.  The duke told him to make himself
free and easy, and if anybody ever come meddling around, he must hop
out of the wigwam, and carry on a little, and fetch a howl or two like
a wild beast, and he reckoned they would light out and leave him alone.
 Which was sound enough judgment; but you take the average man, and he
wouldn’t wait for him to howl.  Why, he didn’t only look like he was
dead, he looked considerable more than that.

These rapscallions wanted to try the Nonesuch again, because there was
so much money in it, but they judged it wouldn’t be safe, because maybe
the news might a worked along down by this time.  They couldn’t hit no
project that suited exactly; so at last the duke said he reckoned he’d
lay off and work his brains an hour or two and see if he couldn’t put up
something on the Arkansaw village; and the king he allowed he would drop
over to t’other village without any plan, but just trust in Providence
to lead him the profitable way--meaning the devil, I reckon.  We had all
bought store clothes where we stopped last; and now the king put his’n
on, and he told me to put mine on.  I done it, of course.  The king’s
duds was all black, and he did look real swell and starchy.  I never
knowed how clothes could change a body before.  Why, before, he looked
like the orneriest old rip that ever was; but now, when he’d take off
his new white beaver and make a bow and do a smile, he looked that grand
and good and pious that you’d say he had walked right out of the ark,
and maybe was old Leviticus himself.  Jim cleaned up the canoe, and I
got my paddle ready.  There was a big steamboat laying at the shore away
up under the point, about three mile above the town--been there a couple
of hours, taking on freight.  Says the king:

“Seein’ how I’m dressed, I reckon maybe I better arrive down from St.
Louis or Cincinnati, or some other big place.  Go for the steamboat,
Huckleberry; we’ll come down to the village on her.”

I didn’t have to be ordered twice to go and take a steamboat ride.
 I fetched the shore a half a mile above the village, and then went
scooting along the bluff bank in the easy water.  Pretty soon we come to
a nice innocent-looking young country jake setting on a log swabbing the
sweat off of his face, for it was powerful warm weather; and he had a
couple of big carpet-bags by him.

“Run her nose in shore,” says the king.  I done it.  “Wher’ you bound
for, young man?”

“For the steamboat; going to Orleans.”

“Git aboard,” says the king.  “Hold on a minute, my servant ‘ll he’p you
with them bags.  Jump out and he’p the gentleman, Adolphus”--meaning me,
I see.

I done so, and then we all three started on again.  The young chap was
mighty thankful; said it was tough work toting his baggage such weather.
He asked the king where he was going, and the king told him he’d come
down the river and landed at the other village this morning, and now he
was going up a few mile to see an old friend on a farm up there.  The
young fellow says:

“When I first see you I says to myself, ‘It’s Mr. Wilks, sure, and he
come mighty near getting here in time.’  But then I says again, ‘No, I
reckon it ain’t him, or else he wouldn’t be paddling up the river.’  You
_ain’t_ him, are you?”

“No, my name’s Blodgett--Elexander Blodgett--_Reverend_ Elexander
Blodgett, I s’pose I must say, as I’m one o’ the Lord’s poor servants.
 But still I’m jist as able to be sorry for Mr. Wilks for not arriving
in time, all the same, if he’s missed anything by it--which I hope he

“Well, he don’t miss any property by it, because he’ll get that all
right; but he’s missed seeing his brother Peter die--which he mayn’t
mind, nobody can tell as to that--but his brother would a give anything
in this world to see _him_ before he died; never talked about nothing
else all these three weeks; hadn’t seen him since they was boys
together--and hadn’t ever seen his brother William at all--that’s the deef
and dumb one--William ain’t more than thirty or thirty-five.  Peter and
George were the only ones that come out here; George was the married
brother; him and his wife both died last year.  Harvey and William’s the
only ones that’s left now; and, as I was saying, they haven’t got here
in time.”

“Did anybody send ‘em word?”

“Oh, yes; a month or two ago, when Peter was first took; because Peter
said then that he sorter felt like he warn’t going to get well this
time. You see, he was pretty old, and George’s g’yirls was too young to
be much company for him, except Mary Jane, the red-headed one; and so he
was kinder lonesome after George and his wife died, and didn’t seem
to care much to live.  He most desperately wanted to see Harvey--and
William, too, for that matter--because he was one of them kind that can’t
bear to make a will.  He left a letter behind for Harvey, and said he’d
told in it where his money was hid, and how he wanted the rest of the
property divided up so George’s g’yirls would be all right--for George
didn’t leave nothing.  And that letter was all they could get him to put
a pen to.”

“Why do you reckon Harvey don’t come?  Wher’ does he live?”

“Oh, he lives in England--Sheffield--preaches there--hasn’t ever been in
this country.  He hasn’t had any too much time--and besides he mightn’t a
got the letter at all, you know.”

“Too bad, too bad he couldn’t a lived to see his brothers, poor soul.
You going to Orleans, you say?”

“Yes, but that ain’t only a part of it.  I’m going in a ship, next
Wednesday, for Ryo Janeero, where my uncle lives.”

“It’s a pretty long journey.  But it’ll be lovely; wisht I was a-going.
Is Mary Jane the oldest?  How old is the others?”

“Mary Jane’s nineteen, Susan’s fifteen, and Joanna’s about
fourteen--that’s the one that gives herself to good works and has a

“Poor things! to be left alone in the cold world so.”

“Well, they could be worse off.  Old Peter had friends, and they
ain’t going to let them come to no harm.  There’s Hobson, the Babtis’
preacher; and Deacon Lot Hovey, and Ben Rucker, and Abner Shackleford,
and Levi Bell, the lawyer; and Dr. Robinson, and their wives, and the
widow Bartley, and--well, there’s a lot of them; but these are the ones
that Peter was thickest with, and used to write about sometimes, when
he wrote home; so Harvey ‘ll know where to look for friends when he gets

Well, the old man went on asking questions till he just fairly emptied
that young fellow.  Blamed if he didn’t inquire about everybody and
everything in that blessed town, and all about the Wilkses; and about
Peter’s business--which was a tanner; and about George’s--which was a
carpenter; and about Harvey’s--which was a dissentering minister; and so
on, and so on.  Then he says:

“What did you want to walk all the way up to the steamboat for?”

“Because she’s a big Orleans boat, and I was afeard she mightn’t stop
there.  When they’re deep they won’t stop for a hail.  A Cincinnati boat
will, but this is a St. Louis one.”

“Was Peter Wilks well off?”

“Oh, yes, pretty well off.  He had houses and land, and it’s reckoned he
left three or four thousand in cash hid up som’ers.”

“When did you say he died?”

“I didn’t say, but it was last night.”

“Funeral to-morrow, likely?”

“Yes, ‘bout the middle of the day.”

“Well, it’s all terrible sad; but we’ve all got to go, one time or
another. So what we want to do is to be prepared; then we’re all right.”

“Yes, sir, it’s the best way.  Ma used to always say that.”

When we struck the boat she was about done loading, and pretty soon she
got off.  The king never said nothing about going aboard, so I lost
my ride, after all.  When the boat was gone the king made me paddle up
another mile to a lonesome place, and then he got ashore and says:

“Now hustle back, right off, and fetch the duke up here, and the new
carpet-bags.  And if he’s gone over to t’other side, go over there and
git him.  And tell him to git himself up regardless.  Shove along, now.”

I see what _he_ was up to; but I never said nothing, of course.  When
I got back with the duke we hid the canoe, and then they set down on a
log, and the king told him everything, just like the young fellow had
said it--every last word of it.  And all the time he was a-doing it he
tried to talk like an Englishman; and he done it pretty well, too, for
a slouch. I can’t imitate him, and so I ain’t a-going to try to; but he
really done it pretty good.  Then he says:

“How are you on the deef and dumb, Bilgewater?”

The duke said, leave him alone for that; said he had played a deef
and dumb person on the histronic boards.  So then they waited for a

About the middle of the afternoon a couple of little boats come along,
but they didn’t come from high enough up the river; but at last there
was a big one, and they hailed her.  She sent out her yawl, and we went
aboard, and she was from Cincinnati; and when they found we only wanted
to go four or five mile they was booming mad, and gave us a cussing, and
said they wouldn’t land us.  But the king was ca’m.  He says:

“If gentlemen kin afford to pay a dollar a mile apiece to be took on and
put off in a yawl, a steamboat kin afford to carry ‘em, can’t it?”

So they softened down and said it was all right; and when we got to the
village they yawled us ashore.  About two dozen men flocked down when
they see the yawl a-coming, and when the king says:

“Kin any of you gentlemen tell me wher’ Mr. Peter Wilks lives?” they
give a glance at one another, and nodded their heads, as much as to say,
“What d’ I tell you?”  Then one of them says, kind of soft and gentle:

“I’m sorry sir, but the best we can do is to tell you where he _did_
live yesterday evening.”

Sudden as winking the ornery old cretur went an to smash, and fell up
against the man, and put his chin on his shoulder, and cried down his
back, and says:

“Alas, alas, our poor brother--gone, and we never got to see him; oh,
it’s too, too hard!”

Then he turns around, blubbering, and makes a lot of idiotic signs to
the duke on his hands, and blamed if he didn’t drop a carpet-bag and
bust out a-crying.  If they warn’t the beatenest lot, them two frauds,
that ever I struck.

Well, the men gathered around and sympathized with them, and said all
sorts of kind things to them, and carried their carpet-bags up the hill
for them, and let them lean on them and cry, and told the king all about
his brother’s last moments, and the king he told it all over again on
his hands to the duke, and both of them took on about that dead tanner
like they’d lost the twelve disciples.  Well, if ever I struck anything
like it, I’m a nigger. It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human


THE news was all over town in two minutes, and you could see the people
tearing down on the run from every which way, some of them putting on
their coats as they come.  Pretty soon we was in the middle of a crowd,
and the noise of the tramping was like a soldier march.  The windows and
dooryards was full; and every minute somebody would say, over a fence:

“Is it _them_?”

And somebody trotting along with the gang would answer back and say:

“You bet it is.”

When we got to the house the street in front of it was packed, and the
three girls was standing in the door.  Mary Jane _was_ red-headed, but
that don’t make no difference, she was most awful beautiful, and her
face and her eyes was all lit up like glory, she was so glad her uncles
was come. The king he spread his arms, and Mary Jane she jumped for
them, and the hare-lip jumped for the duke, and there they had it!
 Everybody most, leastways women, cried for joy to see them meet again
at last and have such good times.

Then the king he hunched the duke private--I see him do it--and then he
looked around and see the coffin, over in the corner on two chairs; so
then him and the duke, with a hand across each other’s shoulder, and
t’other hand to their eyes, walked slow and solemn over there, everybody
dropping back to give them room, and all the talk and noise stopping,
people saying “Sh!” and all the men taking their hats off and drooping
their heads, so you could a heard a pin fall.  And when they got there
they bent over and looked in the coffin, and took one sight, and then
they bust out a-crying so you could a heard them to Orleans, most; and
then they put their arms around each other’s necks, and hung their chins
over each other’s shoulders; and then for three minutes, or maybe four,
I never see two men leak the way they done.  And, mind you, everybody
was doing the same; and the place was that damp I never see anything
like it. Then one of them got on one side of the coffin, and t’other on
t’other side, and they kneeled down and rested their foreheads on the
coffin, and let on to pray all to themselves.  Well, when it come
to that it worked the crowd like you never see anything like it, and
everybody broke down and went to sobbing right out loud--the poor girls,
too; and every woman, nearly, went up to the girls, without saying a
word, and kissed them, solemn, on the forehead, and then put their hand
on their head, and looked up towards the sky, with the tears running
down, and then busted out and went off sobbing and swabbing, and give
the next woman a show.  I never see anything so disgusting.

Well, by and by the king he gets up and comes forward a little, and
works himself up and slobbers out a speech, all full of tears and
flapdoodle about its being a sore trial for him and his poor brother
to lose the diseased, and to miss seeing diseased alive after the long
journey of four thousand mile, but it’s a trial that’s sweetened and
sanctified to us by this dear sympathy and these holy tears, and so he
thanks them out of his heart and out of his brother’s heart, because out
of their mouths they can’t, words being too weak and cold, and all that
kind of rot and slush, till it was just sickening; and then he blubbers
out a pious goody-goody Amen, and turns himself loose and goes to crying
fit to bust.

And the minute the words were out of his mouth somebody over in the
crowd struck up the doxolojer, and everybody joined in with all their
might, and it just warmed you up and made you feel as good as church
letting out. Music is a good thing; and after all that soul-butter and
hogwash I never see it freshen up things so, and sound so honest and

Then the king begins to work his jaw again, and says how him and his
nieces would be glad if a few of the main principal friends of the
family would take supper here with them this evening, and help set up
with the ashes of the diseased; and says if his poor brother laying
yonder could speak he knows who he would name, for they was names that
was very dear to him, and mentioned often in his letters; and so he will
name the same, to wit, as follows, vizz.:--Rev. Mr. Hobson, and Deacon
Lot Hovey, and Mr. Ben Rucker, and Abner Shackleford, and Levi Bell, and
Dr. Robinson, and their wives, and the widow Bartley.

Rev. Hobson and Dr. Robinson was down to the end of the town a-hunting
together--that is, I mean the doctor was shipping a sick man to t’other
world, and the preacher was pinting him right.  Lawyer Bell was away up
to Louisville on business.  But the rest was on hand, and so they all
come and shook hands with the king and thanked him and talked to him;
and then they shook hands with the duke and didn’t say nothing, but just
kept a-smiling and bobbing their heads like a passel of sapheads whilst
he made all sorts of signs with his hands and said “Goo-goo--goo-goo-goo”
 all the time, like a baby that can’t talk.

So the king he blattered along, and managed to inquire about pretty
much everybody and dog in town, by his name, and mentioned all sorts
of little things that happened one time or another in the town, or to
George’s family, or to Peter.  And he always let on that Peter wrote him
the things; but that was a lie:  he got every blessed one of them out of
that young flathead that we canoed up to the steamboat.

Then Mary Jane she fetched the letter her father left behind, and the
king he read it out loud and cried over it.  It give the dwelling-house
and three thousand dollars, gold, to the girls; and it give the tanyard
(which was doing a good business), along with some other houses and
land (worth about seven thousand), and three thousand dollars in gold
to Harvey and William, and told where the six thousand cash was hid down
cellar.  So these two frauds said they’d go and fetch it up, and have
everything square and above-board; and told me to come with a candle.
 We shut the cellar door behind us, and when they found the bag
they spilt it out on the floor, and it was a lovely sight, all them
yaller-boys.  My, the way the king’s eyes did shine!  He slaps the duke
on the shoulder and says:

“Oh, _this_ ain’t bully nor noth’n!  Oh, no, I reckon not!  Why,
_bully_, it beats the Nonesuch, _don’t_ it?”

The duke allowed it did.  They pawed the yaller-boys, and sifted them
through their fingers and let them jingle down on the floor; and the
king says:

“It ain’t no use talkin’; bein’ brothers to a rich dead man and
representatives of furrin heirs that’s got left is the line for you and
me, Bilge.  Thish yer comes of trust’n to Providence.  It’s the best
way, in the long run.  I’ve tried ‘em all, and ther’ ain’t no better

Most everybody would a been satisfied with the pile, and took it on
trust; but no, they must count it.  So they counts it, and it comes out
four hundred and fifteen dollars short.  Says the king:

“Dern him, I wonder what he done with that four hundred and fifteen

They worried over that awhile, and ransacked all around for it.  Then
the duke says:

“Well, he was a pretty sick man, and likely he made a mistake--I reckon
that’s the way of it.  The best way’s to let it go, and keep still about
it.  We can spare it.”

“Oh, shucks, yes, we can _spare_ it.  I don’t k’yer noth’n ‘bout
that--it’s the _count_ I’m thinkin’ about.  We want to be awful square
and open and above-board here, you know.  We want to lug this h-yer
money up stairs and count it before everybody--then ther’ ain’t noth’n
suspicious.  But when the dead man says ther’s six thous’n dollars, you
know, we don’t want to--”

“Hold on,” says the duke.  “Le’s make up the deffisit,” and he begun to
haul out yaller-boys out of his pocket.

“It’s a most amaz’n’ good idea, duke--you _have_ got a rattlin’ clever
head on you,” says the king.  “Blest if the old Nonesuch ain’t a heppin’
us out agin,” and _he_ begun to haul out yaller-jackets and stack them

It most busted them, but they made up the six thousand clean and clear.

“Say,” says the duke, “I got another idea.  Le’s go up stairs and count
this money, and then take and _give it to the girls_.”

“Good land, duke, lemme hug you!  It’s the most dazzling idea ‘at ever a
man struck.  You have cert’nly got the most astonishin’ head I ever see.
Oh, this is the boss dodge, ther’ ain’t no mistake ‘bout it.  Let ‘em
fetch along their suspicions now if they want to--this ‘ll lay ‘em out.”

When we got up-stairs everybody gethered around the table, and the king
he counted it and stacked it up, three hundred dollars in a pile--twenty
elegant little piles.  Everybody looked hungry at it, and licked their
chops.  Then they raked it into the bag again, and I see the king begin
to swell himself up for another speech.  He says:

“Friends all, my poor brother that lays yonder has done generous by
them that’s left behind in the vale of sorrers.  He has done generous by
these yer poor little lambs that he loved and sheltered, and that’s left
fatherless and motherless.  Yes, and we that knowed him knows that he
would a done _more_ generous by ‘em if he hadn’t ben afeard o’ woundin’
his dear William and me.  Now, _wouldn’t_ he?  Ther’ ain’t no question
‘bout it in _my_ mind.  Well, then, what kind o’ brothers would it be
that ‘d stand in his way at sech a time?  And what kind o’ uncles would
it be that ‘d rob--yes, _rob_--sech poor sweet lambs as these ‘at he loved
so at sech a time?  If I know William--and I _think_ I do--he--well, I’ll
jest ask him.” He turns around and begins to make a lot of signs to
the duke with his hands, and the duke he looks at him stupid and
leather-headed a while; then all of a sudden he seems to catch his
meaning, and jumps for the king, goo-gooing with all his might for joy,
and hugs him about fifteen times before he lets up.  Then the king says,
“I knowed it; I reckon _that ‘ll_ convince anybody the way _he_ feels
about it.  Here, Mary Jane, Susan, Joanner, take the money--take it
_all_.  It’s the gift of him that lays yonder, cold but joyful.”

Mary Jane she went for him, Susan and the hare-lip went for the
duke, and then such another hugging and kissing I never see yet.  And
everybody crowded up with the tears in their eyes, and most shook the
hands off of them frauds, saying all the time:

“You _dear_ good souls!--how _lovely_!--how _could_ you!”

Well, then, pretty soon all hands got to talking about the diseased
again, and how good he was, and what a loss he was, and all that; and
before long a big iron-jawed man worked himself in there from outside,
and stood a-listening and looking, and not saying anything; and nobody
saying anything to him either, because the king was talking and they was
all busy listening.  The king was saying--in the middle of something he’d
started in on--

“--they bein’ partickler friends o’ the diseased.  That’s why they’re
invited here this evenin’; but tomorrow we want _all_ to come--everybody;
for he respected everybody, he liked everybody, and so it’s fitten that
his funeral orgies sh’d be public.”

And so he went a-mooning on and on, liking to hear himself talk, and
every little while he fetched in his funeral orgies again, till the duke
he couldn’t stand it no more; so he writes on a little scrap of paper,
“_Obsequies_, you old fool,” and folds it up, and goes to goo-gooing and
reaching it over people’s heads to him.  The king he reads it and puts
it in his pocket, and says:

“Poor William, afflicted as he is, his _heart’s_ aluz right.  Asks me
to invite everybody to come to the funeral--wants me to make ‘em all
welcome.  But he needn’t a worried--it was jest what I was at.”

Then he weaves along again, perfectly ca’m, and goes to dropping in his
funeral orgies again every now and then, just like he done before.  And
when he done it the third time he says:

“I say orgies, not because it’s the common term, because it
ain’t--obsequies bein’ the common term--but because orgies is the right
term. Obsequies ain’t used in England no more now--it’s gone out.  We
say orgies now in England.  Orgies is better, because it means the thing
you’re after more exact.  It’s a word that’s made up out’n the Greek
_orgo_, outside, open, abroad; and the Hebrew _jeesum_, to plant, cover
up; hence in_ter._  So, you see, funeral orgies is an open er public

He was the _worst_ I ever struck.  Well, the iron-jawed man he laughed
right in his face.  Everybody was shocked.  Everybody says, “Why,
_doctor_!” and Abner Shackleford says:

“Why, Robinson, hain’t you heard the news?  This is Harvey Wilks.”

The king he smiled eager, and shoved out his flapper, and says:

“Is it my poor brother’s dear good friend and physician?  I--”

“Keep your hands off of me!” says the doctor.  “_You_ talk like an
Englishman, _don’t_ you?  It’s the worst imitation I ever heard.  _You_
Peter Wilks’s brother!  You’re a fraud, that’s what you are!”

Well, how they all took on!  They crowded around the doctor and tried to
quiet him down, and tried to explain to him and tell him how Harvey ‘d
showed in forty ways that he _was_ Harvey, and knowed everybody by name,
and the names of the very dogs, and begged and _begged_ him not to hurt
Harvey’s feelings and the poor girl’s feelings, and all that.  But it
warn’t no use; he stormed right along, and said any man that pretended
to be an Englishman and couldn’t imitate the lingo no better than what
he did was a fraud and a liar.  The poor girls was hanging to the king
and crying; and all of a sudden the doctor ups and turns on _them_.  He

“I was your father’s friend, and I’m your friend; and I warn you as a
friend, and an honest one that wants to protect you and keep you out of
harm and trouble, to turn your backs on that scoundrel and have nothing
to do with him, the ignorant tramp, with his idiotic Greek and Hebrew,
as he calls it.  He is the thinnest kind of an impostor--has come here
with a lot of empty names and facts which he picked up somewheres, and
you take them for _proofs_, and are helped to fool yourselves by these
foolish friends here, who ought to know better.  Mary Jane Wilks, you
know me for your friend, and for your unselfish friend, too.  Now listen
to me; turn this pitiful rascal out--I _beg_ you to do it.  Will you?”

Mary Jane straightened herself up, and my, but she was handsome!  She

“_Here_ is my answer.”  She hove up the bag of money and put it in the
king’s hands, and says, “Take this six thousand dollars, and invest for
me and my sisters any way you want to, and don’t give us no receipt for

Then she put her arm around the king on one side, and Susan and the
hare-lip done the same on the other.  Everybody clapped their hands and
stomped on the floor like a perfect storm, whilst the king held up his
head and smiled proud.  The doctor says:

“All right; I wash _my_ hands of the matter.  But I warn you all that a
time ‘s coming when you’re going to feel sick whenever you think of this
day.” And away he went.

“All right, doctor,” says the king, kinder mocking him; “we’ll try and
get ‘em to send for you;” which made them all laugh, and they said it
was a prime good hit.


WELL, when they was all gone the king he asks Mary Jane how they was off
for spare rooms, and she said she had one spare room, which would do for
Uncle William, and she’d give her own room to Uncle Harvey, which was
a little bigger, and she would turn into the room with her sisters and
sleep on a cot; and up garret was a little cubby, with a pallet in it.
The king said the cubby would do for his valley--meaning me.

So Mary Jane took us up, and she showed them their rooms, which was
plain but nice.  She said she’d have her frocks and a lot of other traps
took out of her room if they was in Uncle Harvey’s way, but he said
they warn’t.  The frocks was hung along the wall, and before them was
a curtain made out of calico that hung down to the floor.  There was an
old hair trunk in one corner, and a guitar-box in another, and all sorts
of little knickknacks and jimcracks around, like girls brisken up a room
with.  The king said it was all the more homely and more pleasanter for
these fixings, and so don’t disturb them.  The duke’s room was pretty
small, but plenty good enough, and so was my cubby.

That night they had a big supper, and all them men and women was there,
and I stood behind the king and the duke’s chairs and waited on them,
and the niggers waited on the rest.  Mary Jane she set at the head of
the table, with Susan alongside of her, and said how bad the biscuits
was, and how mean the preserves was, and how ornery and tough the fried
chickens was--and all that kind of rot, the way women always do for to
force out compliments; and the people all knowed everything was tiptop,
and said so--said “How _do_ you get biscuits to brown so nice?” and
“Where, for the land’s sake, _did_ you get these amaz’n pickles?” and
all that kind of humbug talky-talk, just the way people always does at a
supper, you know.

And when it was all done me and the hare-lip had supper in the kitchen
off of the leavings, whilst the others was helping the niggers clean up
the things.  The hare-lip she got to pumping me about England, and blest
if I didn’t think the ice was getting mighty thin sometimes.  She says:

“Did you ever see the king?”

“Who?  William Fourth?  Well, I bet I have--he goes to our church.”  I
knowed he was dead years ago, but I never let on.  So when I says he
goes to our church, she says:


“Yes--regular.  His pew’s right over opposite ourn--on t’other side the

“I thought he lived in London?”

“Well, he does.  Where _would_ he live?”

“But I thought _you_ lived in Sheffield?”

I see I was up a stump.  I had to let on to get choked with a chicken
bone, so as to get time to think how to get down again.  Then I says:

“I mean he goes to our church regular when he’s in Sheffield.  That’s
only in the summer time, when he comes there to take the sea baths.”

“Why, how you talk--Sheffield ain’t on the sea.”

“Well, who said it was?”

“Why, you did.”

“I _didn’t_ nuther.”

“You did!”

“I didn’t.”

“You did.”

“I never said nothing of the kind.”

“Well, what _did_ you say, then?”

“Said he come to take the sea _baths_--that’s what I said.”

“Well, then, how’s he going to take the sea baths if it ain’t on the

“Looky here,” I says; “did you ever see any Congress-water?”


“Well, did you have to go to Congress to get it?”

“Why, no.”

“Well, neither does William Fourth have to go to the sea to get a sea

“How does he get it, then?”

“Gets it the way people down here gets Congress-water--in barrels.  There
in the palace at Sheffield they’ve got furnaces, and he wants his water
hot.  They can’t bile that amount of water away off there at the sea.
They haven’t got no conveniences for it.”

“Oh, I see, now.  You might a said that in the first place and saved

When she said that I see I was out of the woods again, and so I was
comfortable and glad.  Next, she says:

“Do you go to church, too?”


“Where do you set?”

“Why, in our pew.”

“_Whose_ pew?”

“Why, _ourn_--your Uncle Harvey’s.”

“His’n?  What does _he_ want with a pew?”

“Wants it to set in.  What did you _reckon_ he wanted with it?”

“Why, I thought he’d be in the pulpit.”

Rot him, I forgot he was a preacher.  I see I was up a stump again, so I
played another chicken bone and got another think.  Then I says:

“Blame it, do you suppose there ain’t but one preacher to a church?”

“Why, what do they want with more?”

“What!--to preach before a king?  I never did see such a girl as you.
They don’t have no less than seventeen.”

“Seventeen!  My land!  Why, I wouldn’t set out such a string as that,
not if I _never_ got to glory.  It must take ‘em a week.”

“Shucks, they don’t _all_ of ‘em preach the same day--only _one_ of ‘em.”

“Well, then, what does the rest of ‘em do?”

“Oh, nothing much.  Loll around, pass the plate--and one thing or
another.  But mainly they don’t do nothing.”

“Well, then, what are they _for_?”

“Why, they’re for _style_.  Don’t you know nothing?”

“Well, I don’t _want_ to know no such foolishness as that.  How is
servants treated in England?  Do they treat ‘em better ‘n we treat our

“_No_!  A servant ain’t nobody there.  They treat them worse than dogs.”

“Don’t they give ‘em holidays, the way we do, Christmas and New Year’s
week, and Fourth of July?”

“Oh, just listen!  A body could tell _you_ hain’t ever been to England
by that.  Why, Hare-l--why, Joanna, they never see a holiday from year’s
end to year’s end; never go to the circus, nor theater, nor nigger
shows, nor nowheres.”

“Nor church?”

“Nor church.”

“But _you_ always went to church.”

Well, I was gone up again.  I forgot I was the old man’s servant.  But
next minute I whirled in on a kind of an explanation how a valley was
different from a common servant and _had_ to go to church whether he
wanted to or not, and set with the family, on account of its being the
law.  But I didn’t do it pretty good, and when I got done I see she
warn’t satisfied.  She says:

“Honest injun, now, hain’t you been telling me a lot of lies?”

“Honest injun,” says I.

“None of it at all?”

“None of it at all.  Not a lie in it,” says I.

“Lay your hand on this book and say it.”

I see it warn’t nothing but a dictionary, so I laid my hand on it and
said it.  So then she looked a little better satisfied, and says:

“Well, then, I’ll believe some of it; but I hope to gracious if I’ll
believe the rest.”

“What is it you won’t believe, Joe?” says Mary Jane, stepping in with
Susan behind her.  “It ain’t right nor kind for you to talk so to him,
and him a stranger and so far from his people.  How would you like to be
treated so?”

“That’s always your way, Maim--always sailing in to help somebody before
they’re hurt.  I hain’t done nothing to him.  He’s told some stretchers,
I reckon, and I said I wouldn’t swallow it all; and that’s every bit
and grain I _did_ say.  I reckon he can stand a little thing like that,
can’t he?”

“I don’t care whether ‘twas little or whether ‘twas big; he’s here in
our house and a stranger, and it wasn’t good of you to say it.  If you
was in his place it would make you feel ashamed; and so you oughtn’t to
say a thing to another person that will make _them_ feel ashamed.”

“Why, Mam, he said--”

“It don’t make no difference what he _said_--that ain’t the thing.  The
thing is for you to treat him _kind_, and not be saying things to make
him remember he ain’t in his own country and amongst his own folks.”

I says to myself, _this_ is a girl that I’m letting that old reptile rob
her of her money!

Then Susan _she_ waltzed in; and if you’ll believe me, she did give
Hare-lip hark from the tomb!

Says I to myself, and this is _another_ one that I’m letting him rob her
of her money!

Then Mary Jane she took another inning, and went in sweet and lovely
again--which was her way; but when she got done there warn’t hardly
anything left o’ poor Hare-lip.  So she hollered.

“All right, then,” says the other girls; “you just ask his pardon.”

She done it, too; and she done it beautiful.  She done it so beautiful
it was good to hear; and I wished I could tell her a thousand lies, so
she could do it again.

I says to myself, this is _another_ one that I’m letting him rob her of
her money.  And when she got through they all jest laid theirselves
out to make me feel at home and know I was amongst friends.  I felt so
ornery and low down and mean that I says to myself, my mind’s made up;
I’ll hive that money for them or bust.

So then I lit out--for bed, I said, meaning some time or another.  When
I got by myself I went to thinking the thing over.  I says to myself,
shall I go to that doctor, private, and blow on these frauds?  No--that
won’t do. He might tell who told him; then the king and the duke would
make it warm for me.  Shall I go, private, and tell Mary Jane?  No--I
dasn’t do it. Her face would give them a hint, sure; they’ve got the
money, and they’d slide right out and get away with it.  If she was to
fetch in help I’d get mixed up in the business before it was done with,
I judge.  No; there ain’t no good way but one.  I got to steal that
money, somehow; and I got to steal it some way that they won’t suspicion
that I done it. They’ve got a good thing here, and they ain’t a-going
to leave till they’ve played this family and this town for all they’re
worth, so I’ll find a chance time enough. I’ll steal it and hide it; and
by and by, when I’m away down the river, I’ll write a letter and tell
Mary Jane where it’s hid.  But I better hive it tonight if I can,
because the doctor maybe hasn’t let up as much as he lets on he has; he
might scare them out of here yet.

So, thinks I, I’ll go and search them rooms.  Upstairs the hall was
dark, but I found the duke’s room, and started to paw around it with
my hands; but I recollected it wouldn’t be much like the king to let
anybody else take care of that money but his own self; so then I went to
his room and begun to paw around there.  But I see I couldn’t do nothing
without a candle, and I dasn’t light one, of course.  So I judged I’d
got to do the other thing--lay for them and eavesdrop.  About that time
I hears their footsteps coming, and was going to skip under the bed; I
reached for it, but it wasn’t where I thought it would be; but I touched
the curtain that hid Mary Jane’s frocks, so I jumped in behind that and
snuggled in amongst the gowns, and stood there perfectly still.

They come in and shut the door; and the first thing the duke done was to
get down and look under the bed.  Then I was glad I hadn’t found the bed
when I wanted it.  And yet, you know, it’s kind of natural to hide under
the bed when you are up to anything private.  They sets down then, and
the king says:

“Well, what is it?  And cut it middlin’ short, because it’s better for
us to be down there a-whoopin’ up the mournin’ than up here givin’ ‘em a
chance to talk us over.”

“Well, this is it, Capet.  I ain’t easy; I ain’t comfortable.  That
doctor lays on my mind.  I wanted to know your plans.  I’ve got a
notion, and I think it’s a sound one.”

“What is it, duke?”

“That we better glide out of this before three in the morning, and clip
it down the river with what we’ve got.  Specially, seeing we got it so
easy--_given_ back to us, flung at our heads, as you may say, when of
course we allowed to have to steal it back.  I’m for knocking off and
lighting out.”

That made me feel pretty bad.  About an hour or two ago it would a been
a little different, but now it made me feel bad and disappointed, The
king rips out and says:

“What!  And not sell out the rest o’ the property?  March off like
a passel of fools and leave eight or nine thous’n’ dollars’ worth o’
property layin’ around jest sufferin’ to be scooped in?--and all good,
salable stuff, too.”

The duke he grumbled; said the bag of gold was enough, and he didn’t
want to go no deeper--didn’t want to rob a lot of orphans of _everything_
they had.

“Why, how you talk!” says the king.  “We sha’n’t rob ‘em of nothing at
all but jest this money.  The people that _buys_ the property is the
suff’rers; because as soon ‘s it’s found out ‘at we didn’t own it--which
won’t be long after we’ve slid--the sale won’t be valid, and it ‘ll all
go back to the estate.  These yer orphans ‘ll git their house back agin,
and that’s enough for _them_; they’re young and spry, and k’n easy
earn a livin’.  _they_ ain’t a-goin to suffer.  Why, jest think--there’s
thous’n’s and thous’n’s that ain’t nigh so well off.  Bless you, _they_
ain’t got noth’n’ to complain of.”

Well, the king he talked him blind; so at last he give in, and said all
right, but said he believed it was blamed foolishness to stay, and that
doctor hanging over them.  But the king says:

“Cuss the doctor!  What do we k’yer for _him_?  Hain’t we got all the
fools in town on our side?  And ain’t that a big enough majority in any

So they got ready to go down stairs again.  The duke says:

“I don’t think we put that money in a good place.”

That cheered me up.  I’d begun to think I warn’t going to get a hint of
no kind to help me.  The king says:


“Because Mary Jane ‘ll be in mourning from this out; and first you know
the nigger that does up the rooms will get an order to box these duds
up and put ‘em away; and do you reckon a nigger can run across money and
not borrow some of it?”

“Your head’s level agin, duke,” says the king; and he comes a-fumbling
under the curtain two or three foot from where I was.  I stuck tight to
the wall and kept mighty still, though quivery; and I wondered what them
fellows would say to me if they catched me; and I tried to think what
I’d better do if they did catch me.  But the king he got the bag before
I could think more than about a half a thought, and he never suspicioned
I was around.  They took and shoved the bag through a rip in the straw
tick that was under the feather-bed, and crammed it in a foot or two
amongst the straw and said it was all right now, because a nigger only
makes up the feather-bed, and don’t turn over the straw tick only about
twice a year, and so it warn’t in no danger of getting stole now.

But I knowed better.  I had it out of there before they was half-way
down stairs.  I groped along up to my cubby, and hid it there till I
could get a chance to do better.  I judged I better hide it outside
of the house somewheres, because if they missed it they would give the
house a good ransacking:  I knowed that very well.  Then I turned in,
with my clothes all on; but I couldn’t a gone to sleep if I’d a wanted
to, I was in such a sweat to get through with the business.  By and by I
heard the king and the duke come up; so I rolled off my pallet and laid
with my chin at the top of my ladder, and waited to see if anything was
going to happen.  But nothing did.

So I held on till all the late sounds had quit and the early ones hadn’t
begun yet; and then I slipped down the ladder.


I crept to their doors and listened; they was snoring.  So I tiptoed
along, and got down stairs all right.  There warn’t a sound anywheres.
 I peeped through a crack of the dining-room door, and see the men that
was watching the corpse all sound asleep on their chairs.  The door
was open into the parlor, where the corpse was laying, and there was a
candle in both rooms. I passed along, and the parlor door was open; but
I see there warn’t nobody in there but the remainders of Peter; so I
shoved on by; but the front door was locked, and the key wasn’t there.
 Just then I heard somebody coming down the stairs, back behind me.  I
run in the parlor and took a swift look around, and the only place I
see to hide the bag was in the coffin.  The lid was shoved along about
a foot, showing the dead man’s face down in there, with a wet cloth over
it, and his shroud on.  I tucked the money-bag in under the lid, just
down beyond where his hands was crossed, which made me creep, they was
so cold, and then I run back across the room and in behind the door.

The person coming was Mary Jane.  She went to the coffin, very soft, and
kneeled down and looked in; then she put up her handkerchief, and I see
she begun to cry, though I couldn’t hear her, and her back was to me.  I
slid out, and as I passed the dining-room I thought I’d make sure them
watchers hadn’t seen me; so I looked through the crack, and everything
was all right.  They hadn’t stirred.

I slipped up to bed, feeling ruther blue, on accounts of the thing
playing out that way after I had took so much trouble and run so much
resk about it.  Says I, if it could stay where it is, all right; because
when we get down the river a hundred mile or two I could write back to
Mary Jane, and she could dig him up again and get it; but that ain’t the
thing that’s going to happen; the thing that’s going to happen is, the
money ‘ll be found when they come to screw on the lid.  Then the king
‘ll get it again, and it ‘ll be a long day before he gives anybody
another chance to smouch it from him. Of course I _wanted_ to slide
down and get it out of there, but I dasn’t try it.  Every minute it was
getting earlier now, and pretty soon some of them watchers would begin
to stir, and I might get catched--catched with six thousand dollars in my
hands that nobody hadn’t hired me to take care of.  I don’t wish to be
mixed up in no such business as that, I says to myself.

When I got down stairs in the morning the parlor was shut up, and the
watchers was gone.  There warn’t nobody around but the family and the
widow Bartley and our tribe.  I watched their faces to see if anything
had been happening, but I couldn’t tell.

Towards the middle of the day the undertaker come with his man, and they
set the coffin in the middle of the room on a couple of chairs, and then
set all our chairs in rows, and borrowed more from the neighbors till
the hall and the parlor and the dining-room was full.  I see the coffin
lid was the way it was before, but I dasn’t go to look in under it, with
folks around.

Then the people begun to flock in, and the beats and the girls took
seats in the front row at the head of the coffin, and for a half an hour
the people filed around slow, in single rank, and looked down at the
dead man’s face a minute, and some dropped in a tear, and it was
all very still and solemn, only the girls and the beats holding
handkerchiefs to their eyes and keeping their heads bent, and sobbing a
little.  There warn’t no other sound but the scraping of the feet on
the floor and blowing noses--because people always blows them more at a
funeral than they do at other places except church.

When the place was packed full the undertaker he slid around in his
black gloves with his softy soothering ways, putting on the last
touches, and getting people and things all ship-shape and comfortable,
and making no more sound than a cat.  He never spoke; he moved people
around, he squeezed in late ones, he opened up passageways, and done
it with nods, and signs with his hands.  Then he took his place over
against the wall. He was the softest, glidingest, stealthiest man I ever
see; and there warn’t no more smile to him than there is to a ham.

They had borrowed a melodeum--a sick one; and when everything was ready
a young woman set down and worked it, and it was pretty skreeky and
colicky, and everybody joined in and sung, and Peter was the only one
that had a good thing, according to my notion.  Then the Reverend Hobson
opened up, slow and solemn, and begun to talk; and straight off the most
outrageous row busted out in the cellar a body ever heard; it was only
one dog, but he made a most powerful racket, and he kept it up right
along; the parson he had to stand there, over the coffin, and wait--you
couldn’t hear yourself think.  It was right down awkward, and nobody
didn’t seem to know what to do.  But pretty soon they see that
long-legged undertaker make a sign to the preacher as much as to say,
“Don’t you worry--just depend on me.”  Then he stooped down and begun
to glide along the wall, just his shoulders showing over the people’s
heads.  So he glided along, and the powwow and racket getting more and
more outrageous all the time; and at last, when he had gone around two
sides of the room, he disappears down cellar.  Then in about two seconds
we heard a whack, and the dog he finished up with a most amazing howl or
two, and then everything was dead still, and the parson begun his solemn
talk where he left off.  In a minute or two here comes this undertaker’s
back and shoulders gliding along the wall again; and so he glided and
glided around three sides of the room, and then rose up, and shaded his
mouth with his hands, and stretched his neck out towards the preacher,
over the people’s heads, and says, in a kind of a coarse whisper, “_He
had a rat_!”  Then he drooped down and glided along the wall again to
his place.  You could see it was a great satisfaction to the people,
because naturally they wanted to know.  A little thing like that don’t
cost nothing, and it’s just the little things that makes a man to be
looked up to and liked.  There warn’t no more popular man in town than
what that undertaker was.

Well, the funeral sermon was very good, but pison long and tiresome; and
then the king he shoved in and got off some of his usual rubbage, and
at last the job was through, and the undertaker begun to sneak up on the
coffin with his screw-driver.  I was in a sweat then, and watched him
pretty keen. But he never meddled at all; just slid the lid along as
soft as mush, and screwed it down tight and fast.  So there I was!  I
didn’t know whether the money was in there or not.  So, says I, s’pose
somebody has hogged that bag on the sly?--now how do I know whether
to write to Mary Jane or not? S’pose she dug him up and didn’t find
nothing, what would she think of me? Blame it, I says, I might get
hunted up and jailed; I’d better lay low and keep dark, and not write at
all; the thing’s awful mixed now; trying to better it, I’ve worsened it
a hundred times, and I wish to goodness I’d just let it alone, dad fetch
the whole business!

They buried him, and we come back home, and I went to watching faces
again--I couldn’t help it, and I couldn’t rest easy.  But nothing come of
it; the faces didn’t tell me nothing.

The king he visited around in the evening, and sweetened everybody up,
and made himself ever so friendly; and he give out the idea that his
congregation over in England would be in a sweat about him, so he must
hurry and settle up the estate right away and leave for home.  He was
very sorry he was so pushed, and so was everybody; they wished he could
stay longer, but they said they could see it couldn’t be done.  And he
said of course him and William would take the girls home with them; and
that pleased everybody too, because then the girls would be well fixed
and amongst their own relations; and it pleased the girls, too--tickled
them so they clean forgot they ever had a trouble in the world; and told
him to sell out as quick as he wanted to, they would be ready.  Them
poor things was that glad and happy it made my heart ache to see them
getting fooled and lied to so, but I didn’t see no safe way for me to
chip in and change the general tune.

Well, blamed if the king didn’t bill the house and the niggers and all
the property for auction straight off--sale two days after the funeral;
but anybody could buy private beforehand if they wanted to.

So the next day after the funeral, along about noon-time, the girls’ joy
got the first jolt.  A couple of nigger traders come along, and the king
sold them the niggers reasonable, for three-day drafts as they called
it, and away they went, the two sons up the river to Memphis, and their
mother down the river to Orleans.  I thought them poor girls and them
niggers would break their hearts for grief; they cried around each
other, and took on so it most made me down sick to see it.  The girls
said they hadn’t ever dreamed of seeing the family separated or sold
away from the town.  I can’t ever get it out of my memory, the sight of
them poor miserable girls and niggers hanging around each other’s necks
and crying; and I reckon I couldn’t a stood it all, but would a had
to bust out and tell on our gang if I hadn’t knowed the sale warn’t no
account and the niggers would be back home in a week or two.

The thing made a big stir in the town, too, and a good many come out
flatfooted and said it was scandalous to separate the mother and the
children that way.  It injured the frauds some; but the old fool he
bulled right along, spite of all the duke could say or do, and I tell
you the duke was powerful uneasy.

Next day was auction day.  About broad day in the morning the king and
the duke come up in the garret and woke me up, and I see by their look
that there was trouble.  The king says:

“Was you in my room night before last?”

“No, your majesty”--which was the way I always called him when nobody but
our gang warn’t around.

“Was you in there yisterday er last night?”

“No, your majesty.”

“Honor bright, now--no lies.”

“Honor bright, your majesty, I’m telling you the truth.  I hain’t been
a-near your room since Miss Mary Jane took you and the duke and showed
it to you.”

The duke says:

“Have you seen anybody else go in there?”

“No, your grace, not as I remember, I believe.”

“Stop and think.”

I studied awhile and see my chance; then I says:

“Well, I see the niggers go in there several times.”

Both of them gave a little jump, and looked like they hadn’t ever
expected it, and then like they _had_.  Then the duke says:

“What, all of them?”

“No--leastways, not all at once--that is, I don’t think I ever see them
all come _out_ at once but just one time.”

“Hello!  When was that?”

“It was the day we had the funeral.  In the morning.  It warn’t early,
because I overslept.  I was just starting down the ladder, and I see

“Well, go on, _go_ on!  What did they do?  How’d they act?”

“They didn’t do nothing.  And they didn’t act anyway much, as fur as I
see. They tiptoed away; so I seen, easy enough, that they’d shoved in
there to do up your majesty’s room, or something, s’posing you was up;
and found you _warn’t_ up, and so they was hoping to slide out of the
way of trouble without waking you up, if they hadn’t already waked you

“Great guns, _this_ is a go!” says the king; and both of them looked
pretty sick and tolerable silly.  They stood there a-thinking and
scratching their heads a minute, and the duke he bust into a kind of a
little raspy chuckle, and says:

“It does beat all how neat the niggers played their hand.  They let on
to be _sorry_ they was going out of this region!  And I believed they
_was_ sorry, and so did you, and so did everybody.  Don’t ever tell _me_
any more that a nigger ain’t got any histrionic talent.  Why, the way
they played that thing it would fool _anybody_.  In my opinion, there’s
a fortune in ‘em.  If I had capital and a theater, I wouldn’t want a
better lay-out than that--and here we’ve gone and sold ‘em for a song.
 Yes, and ain’t privileged to sing the song yet.  Say, where _is_ that
song--that draft?”

“In the bank for to be collected.  Where _would_ it be?”

“Well, _that’s_ all right then, thank goodness.”

Says I, kind of timid-like:

“Is something gone wrong?”

The king whirls on me and rips out:

“None o’ your business!  You keep your head shet, and mind y’r own
affairs--if you got any.  Long as you’re in this town don’t you forgit
_that_--you hear?”  Then he says to the duke, “We got to jest swaller it
and say noth’n’:  mum’s the word for _us_.”

As they was starting down the ladder the duke he chuckles again, and

“Quick sales _and_ small profits!  It’s a good business--yes.”

The king snarls around on him and says:

“I was trying to do for the best in sellin’ ‘em out so quick.  If the
profits has turned out to be none, lackin’ considable, and none to
carry, is it my fault any more’n it’s yourn?”

“Well, _they’d_ be in this house yet and we _wouldn’t_ if I could a got
my advice listened to.”

The king sassed back as much as was safe for him, and then swapped
around and lit into _me_ again.  He give me down the banks for not
coming and _telling_ him I see the niggers come out of his room acting
that way--said any fool would a _knowed_ something was up.  And then
waltzed in and cussed _himself_ awhile, and said it all come of him not
laying late and taking his natural rest that morning, and he’d be
blamed if he’d ever do it again.  So they went off a-jawing; and I felt
dreadful glad I’d worked it all off on to the niggers, and yet hadn’t
done the niggers no harm by it.


BY and by it was getting-up time.  So I come down the ladder and started
for down-stairs; but as I come to the girls’ room the door was open, and
I see Mary Jane setting by her old hair trunk, which was open and she’d
been packing things in it--getting ready to go to England.  But she
had stopped now with a folded gown in her lap, and had her face in her
hands, crying.  I felt awful bad to see it; of course anybody would.  I
went in there and says:

“Miss Mary Jane, you can’t a-bear to see people in trouble, and I
can’t--most always.  Tell me about it.”

So she done it.  And it was the niggers--I just expected it.  She said
the beautiful trip to England was most about spoiled for her; she didn’t
know _how_ she was ever going to be happy there, knowing the mother and
the children warn’t ever going to see each other no more--and then busted
out bitterer than ever, and flung up her hands, and says:

“Oh, dear, dear, to think they ain’t _ever_ going to see each other any

“But they _will_--and inside of two weeks--and I _know_ it!” says I.

Laws, it was out before I could think!  And before I could budge she
throws her arms around my neck and told me to say it _again_, say it
_again_, say it _again_!

I see I had spoke too sudden and said too much, and was in a close
place. I asked her to let me think a minute; and she set there, very
impatient and excited and handsome, but looking kind of happy and
eased-up, like a person that’s had a tooth pulled out.  So I went to
studying it out.  I says to myself, I reckon a body that ups and tells
the truth when he is in a tight place is taking considerable many resks,
though I ain’t had no experience, and can’t say for certain; but it
looks so to me, anyway; and yet here’s a case where I’m blest if it
don’t look to me like the truth is better and actuly _safer_ than a lie.
 I must lay it by in my mind, and think it over some time or other, it’s
so kind of strange and unregular. I never see nothing like it.  Well, I
says to myself at last, I’m a-going to chance it; I’ll up and tell the
truth this time, though it does seem most like setting down on a kag of
powder and touching it off just to see where you’ll go to. Then I says:

“Miss Mary Jane, is there any place out of town a little ways where you
could go and stay three or four days?”

“Yes; Mr. Lothrop’s.  Why?”

“Never mind why yet.  If I’ll tell you how I know the niggers will see
each other again inside of two weeks--here in this house--and _prove_ how
I know it--will you go to Mr. Lothrop’s and stay four days?”

“Four days!” she says; “I’ll stay a year!”

“All right,” I says, “I don’t want nothing more out of _you_ than just
your word--I druther have it than another man’s kiss-the-Bible.”  She
smiled and reddened up very sweet, and I says, “If you don’t mind it,
I’ll shut the door--and bolt it.”

Then I come back and set down again, and says:

“Don’t you holler.  Just set still and take it like a man.  I got to
tell the truth, and you want to brace up, Miss Mary, because it’s a
bad kind, and going to be hard to take, but there ain’t no help for
it.  These uncles of yourn ain’t no uncles at all; they’re a couple of
frauds--regular dead-beats.  There, now we’re over the worst of it, you
can stand the rest middling easy.”

It jolted her up like everything, of course; but I was over the shoal
water now, so I went right along, her eyes a-blazing higher and higher
all the time, and told her every blame thing, from where we first struck
that young fool going up to the steamboat, clear through to where she
flung herself on to the king’s breast at the front door and he kissed
her sixteen or seventeen times--and then up she jumps, with her face
afire like sunset, and says:

“The brute!  Come, don’t waste a minute--not a _second_--we’ll have them
tarred and feathered, and flung in the river!”

Says I:

“Cert’nly.  But do you mean _before_ you go to Mr. Lothrop’s, or--”

“Oh,” she says, “what am I _thinking_ about!” she says, and set right
down again.  “Don’t mind what I said--please don’t--you _won’t,_ now,
_will_ you?” Laying her silky hand on mine in that kind of a way that
I said I would die first.  “I never thought, I was so stirred up,” she
says; “now go on, and I won’t do so any more.  You tell me what to do,
and whatever you say I’ll do it.”

“Well,” I says, “it’s a rough gang, them two frauds, and I’m fixed so
I got to travel with them a while longer, whether I want to or not--I
druther not tell you why; and if you was to blow on them this town would
get me out of their claws, and I’d be all right; but there’d be another
person that you don’t know about who’d be in big trouble.  Well, we
got to save _him_, hain’t we?  Of course.  Well, then, we won’t blow on

Saying them words put a good idea in my head.  I see how maybe I could
get me and Jim rid of the frauds; get them jailed here, and then leave.
But I didn’t want to run the raft in the daytime without anybody aboard
to answer questions but me; so I didn’t want the plan to begin working
till pretty late to-night.  I says:

“Miss Mary Jane, I’ll tell you what we’ll do, and you won’t have to stay
at Mr. Lothrop’s so long, nuther.  How fur is it?”

“A little short of four miles--right out in the country, back here.”

“Well, that ‘ll answer.  Now you go along out there, and lay low
till nine or half-past to-night, and then get them to fetch you home
again--tell them you’ve thought of something.  If you get here before
eleven put a candle in this window, and if I don’t turn up wait _till_
eleven, and _then_ if I don’t turn up it means I’m gone, and out of the
way, and safe. Then you come out and spread the news around, and get
these beats jailed.”

“Good,” she says, “I’ll do it.”

“And if it just happens so that I don’t get away, but get took up along
with them, you must up and say I told you the whole thing beforehand,
and you must stand by me all you can.”

“Stand by you! indeed I will.  They sha’n’t touch a hair of your head!”
 she says, and I see her nostrils spread and her eyes snap when she said
it, too.

“If I get away I sha’n’t be here,” I says, “to prove these rapscallions
ain’t your uncles, and I couldn’t do it if I _was_ here.  I could swear
they was beats and bummers, that’s all, though that’s worth something.
Well, there’s others can do that better than what I can, and they’re
people that ain’t going to be doubted as quick as I’d be.  I’ll tell you
how to find them.  Gimme a pencil and a piece of paper.  There--‘Royal
Nonesuch, Bricksville.’  Put it away, and don’t lose it.  When the
court wants to find out something about these two, let them send up to
Bricksville and say they’ve got the men that played the Royal Nonesuch,
and ask for some witnesses--why, you’ll have that entire town down here
before you can hardly wink, Miss Mary.  And they’ll come a-biling, too.”

I judged we had got everything fixed about right now.  So I says:

“Just let the auction go right along, and don’t worry.  Nobody don’t
have to pay for the things they buy till a whole day after the auction
on accounts of the short notice, and they ain’t going out of this till
they get that money; and the way we’ve fixed it the sale ain’t going to
count, and they ain’t going to get no money.  It’s just like the way
it was with the niggers--it warn’t no sale, and the niggers will be
back before long.  Why, they can’t collect the money for the _niggers_
yet--they’re in the worst kind of a fix, Miss Mary.”

“Well,” she says, “I’ll run down to breakfast now, and then I’ll start
straight for Mr. Lothrop’s.”

“‘Deed, _that_ ain’t the ticket, Miss Mary Jane,” I says, “by no manner
of means; go _before_ breakfast.”


“What did you reckon I wanted you to go at all for, Miss Mary?”

“Well, I never thought--and come to think, I don’t know.  What was it?”

“Why, it’s because you ain’t one of these leather-face people.  I don’t
want no better book than what your face is.  A body can set down and
read it off like coarse print.  Do you reckon you can go and face your
uncles when they come to kiss you good-morning, and never--”

“There, there, don’t!  Yes, I’ll go before breakfast--I’ll be glad to.
And leave my sisters with them?”

“Yes; never mind about them.  They’ve got to stand it yet a while.  They
might suspicion something if all of you was to go.  I don’t want you to
see them, nor your sisters, nor nobody in this town; if a neighbor was
to ask how is your uncles this morning your face would tell something.
 No, you go right along, Miss Mary Jane, and I’ll fix it with all of
them. I’ll tell Miss Susan to give your love to your uncles and say
you’ve went away for a few hours for to get a little rest and change, or
to see a friend, and you’ll be back to-night or early in the morning.”

“Gone to see a friend is all right, but I won’t have my love given to

“Well, then, it sha’n’t be.”  It was well enough to tell _her_ so--no
harm in it.  It was only a little thing to do, and no trouble; and it’s
the little things that smooths people’s roads the most, down here below;
it would make Mary Jane comfortable, and it wouldn’t cost nothing.  Then
I says:  “There’s one more thing--that bag of money.”

“Well, they’ve got that; and it makes me feel pretty silly to think
_how_ they got it.”

“No, you’re out, there.  They hain’t got it.”

“Why, who’s got it?”

“I wish I knowed, but I don’t.  I _had_ it, because I stole it from
them; and I stole it to give to you; and I know where I hid it, but I’m
afraid it ain’t there no more.  I’m awful sorry, Miss Mary Jane, I’m
just as sorry as I can be; but I done the best I could; I did honest.  I
come nigh getting caught, and I had to shove it into the first place I
come to, and run--and it warn’t a good place.”

“Oh, stop blaming yourself--it’s too bad to do it, and I won’t allow
it--you couldn’t help it; it wasn’t your fault.  Where did you hide it?”

I didn’t want to set her to thinking about her troubles again; and I
couldn’t seem to get my mouth to tell her what would make her see that
corpse laying in the coffin with that bag of money on his stomach.  So
for a minute I didn’t say nothing; then I says:

“I’d ruther not _tell_ you where I put it, Miss Mary Jane, if you don’t
mind letting me off; but I’ll write it for you on a piece of paper, and
you can read it along the road to Mr. Lothrop’s, if you want to.  Do you
reckon that ‘ll do?”

“Oh, yes.”

So I wrote:  “I put it in the coffin.  It was in there when you was
crying there, away in the night.  I was behind the door, and I was
mighty sorry for you, Miss Mary Jane.”

It made my eyes water a little to remember her crying there all by
herself in the night, and them devils laying there right under her own
roof, shaming her and robbing her; and when I folded it up and give it
to her I see the water come into her eyes, too; and she shook me by the
hand, hard, and says:

“_Good_-bye.  I’m going to do everything just as you’ve told me; and if
I don’t ever see you again, I sha’n’t ever forget you and I’ll think of
you a many and a many a time, and I’ll _pray_ for you, too!”--and she was

Pray for me!  I reckoned if she knowed me she’d take a job that was more
nearer her size.  But I bet she done it, just the same--she was just that
kind.  She had the grit to pray for Judus if she took the notion--there
warn’t no back-down to her, I judge.  You may say what you want to, but
in my opinion she had more sand in her than any girl I ever see; in
my opinion she was just full of sand.  It sounds like flattery, but it
ain’t no flattery.  And when it comes to beauty--and goodness, too--she
lays over them all.  I hain’t ever seen her since that time that I see
her go out of that door; no, I hain’t ever seen her since, but I reckon
I’ve thought of her a many and a many a million times, and of her saying
she would pray for me; and if ever I’d a thought it would do any good
for me to pray for _her_, blamed if I wouldn’t a done it or bust.

Well, Mary Jane she lit out the back way, I reckon; because nobody see
her go.  When I struck Susan and the hare-lip, I says:

“What’s the name of them people over on t’other side of the river that
you all goes to see sometimes?”

They says:

“There’s several; but it’s the Proctors, mainly.”

“That’s the name,” I says; “I most forgot it.  Well, Miss Mary Jane she
told me to tell you she’s gone over there in a dreadful hurry--one of
them’s sick.”

“Which one?”

“I don’t know; leastways, I kinder forget; but I thinks it’s--”

“Sakes alive, I hope it ain’t _Hanner_?”

“I’m sorry to say it,” I says, “but Hanner’s the very one.”

“My goodness, and she so well only last week!  Is she took bad?”

“It ain’t no name for it.  They set up with her all night, Miss Mary
Jane said, and they don’t think she’ll last many hours.”

“Only think of that, now!  What’s the matter with her?”

I couldn’t think of anything reasonable, right off that way, so I says:


“Mumps your granny!  They don’t set up with people that’s got the

“They don’t, don’t they?  You better bet they do with _these_ mumps.
 These mumps is different.  It’s a new kind, Miss Mary Jane said.”

“How’s it a new kind?”

“Because it’s mixed up with other things.”

“What other things?”

“Well, measles, and whooping-cough, and erysiplas, and consumption, and
yaller janders, and brain-fever, and I don’t know what all.”

“My land!  And they call it the _mumps_?”

“That’s what Miss Mary Jane said.”

“Well, what in the nation do they call it the _mumps_ for?”

“Why, because it _is_ the mumps.  That’s what it starts with.”

“Well, ther’ ain’t no sense in it.  A body might stump his toe, and take
pison, and fall down the well, and break his neck, and bust his brains
out, and somebody come along and ask what killed him, and some numskull
up and say, ‘Why, he stumped his _toe_.’  Would ther’ be any sense
in that? _No_.  And ther’ ain’t no sense in _this_, nuther.  Is it

“Is it _ketching_?  Why, how you talk.  Is a _harrow_ catching--in the
dark? If you don’t hitch on to one tooth, you’re bound to on another,
ain’t you? And you can’t get away with that tooth without fetching the
whole harrow along, can you?  Well, these kind of mumps is a kind of a
harrow, as you may say--and it ain’t no slouch of a harrow, nuther, you
come to get it hitched on good.”

“Well, it’s awful, I think,” says the hare-lip.  “I’ll go to Uncle
Harvey and--”

“Oh, yes,” I says, “I _would_.  Of _course_ I would.  I wouldn’t lose no

“Well, why wouldn’t you?”

“Just look at it a minute, and maybe you can see.  Hain’t your uncles
obleegd to get along home to England as fast as they can?  And do you
reckon they’d be mean enough to go off and leave you to go all that
journey by yourselves?  _you_ know they’ll wait for you.  So fur, so
good. Your uncle Harvey’s a preacher, ain’t he?  Very well, then; is a
_preacher_ going to deceive a steamboat clerk? is he going to deceive
a _ship clerk?_--so as to get them to let Miss Mary Jane go aboard?  Now
_you_ know he ain’t.  What _will_ he do, then?  Why, he’ll say, ‘It’s a
great pity, but my church matters has got to get along the best way they
can; for my niece has been exposed to the dreadful pluribus-unum mumps,
and so it’s my bounden duty to set down here and wait the three months
it takes to show on her if she’s got it.’  But never mind, if you think
it’s best to tell your uncle Harvey--”

“Shucks, and stay fooling around here when we could all be having good
times in England whilst we was waiting to find out whether Mary Jane’s
got it or not?  Why, you talk like a muggins.”

“Well, anyway, maybe you’d better tell some of the neighbors.”

“Listen at that, now.  You do beat all for natural stupidness.  Can’t
you _see_ that _they’d_ go and tell?  Ther’ ain’t no way but just to not
tell anybody at _all_.”

“Well, maybe you’re right--yes, I judge you _are_ right.”

“But I reckon we ought to tell Uncle Harvey she’s gone out a while,
anyway, so he won’t be uneasy about her?”

“Yes, Miss Mary Jane she wanted you to do that.  She says, ‘Tell them to
give Uncle Harvey and William my love and a kiss, and say I’ve run over
the river to see Mr.’--Mr.--what _is_ the name of that rich family your
uncle Peter used to think so much of?--I mean the one that--”

“Why, you must mean the Apthorps, ain’t it?”

“Of course; bother them kind of names, a body can’t ever seem to
remember them, half the time, somehow.  Yes, she said, say she has run
over for to ask the Apthorps to be sure and come to the auction and buy
this house, because she allowed her uncle Peter would ruther they had
it than anybody else; and she’s going to stick to them till they say
they’ll come, and then, if she ain’t too tired, she’s coming home; and
if she is, she’ll be home in the morning anyway.  She said, don’t say
nothing about the Proctors, but only about the Apthorps--which ‘ll be
perfectly true, because she is going there to speak about their buying
the house; I know it, because she told me so herself.”

“All right,” they said, and cleared out to lay for their uncles, and
give them the love and the kisses, and tell them the message.

Everything was all right now.  The girls wouldn’t say nothing because
they wanted to go to England; and the king and the duke would ruther
Mary Jane was off working for the auction than around in reach of
Doctor Robinson.  I felt very good; I judged I had done it pretty neat--I
reckoned Tom Sawyer couldn’t a done it no neater himself.  Of course he
would a throwed more style into it, but I can’t do that very handy, not
being brung up to it.

Well, they held the auction in the public square, along towards the end
of the afternoon, and it strung along, and strung along, and the old man
he was on hand and looking his level pisonest, up there longside of the
auctioneer, and chipping in a little Scripture now and then, or a little
goody-goody saying of some kind, and the duke he was around goo-gooing
for sympathy all he knowed how, and just spreading himself generly.

But by and by the thing dragged through, and everything was
sold--everything but a little old trifling lot in the graveyard.  So
they’d got to work that off--I never see such a girafft as the king was
for wanting to swallow _everything_.  Well, whilst they was at it a
steamboat landed, and in about two minutes up comes a crowd a-whooping
and yelling and laughing and carrying on, and singing out:

“_Here’s_ your opposition line! here’s your two sets o’ heirs to old
Peter Wilks--and you pays your money and you takes your choice!”


THEY was fetching a very nice-looking old gentleman along, and a
nice-looking younger one, with his right arm in a sling.  And, my souls,
how the people yelled and laughed, and kept it up.  But I didn’t see no
joke about it, and I judged it would strain the duke and the king some
to see any.  I reckoned they’d turn pale.  But no, nary a pale did
_they_ turn. The duke he never let on he suspicioned what was up, but
just went a goo-gooing around, happy and satisfied, like a jug that’s
googling out buttermilk; and as for the king, he just gazed and gazed
down sorrowful on them new-comers like it give him the stomach-ache in
his very heart to think there could be such frauds and rascals in the
world.  Oh, he done it admirable.  Lots of the principal people
gethered around the king, to let him see they was on his side.  That old
gentleman that had just come looked all puzzled to death.  Pretty
soon he begun to speak, and I see straight off he pronounced _like_ an
Englishman--not the king’s way, though the king’s _was_ pretty good for
an imitation.  I can’t give the old gent’s words, nor I can’t imitate
him; but he turned around to the crowd, and says, about like this:

“This is a surprise to me which I wasn’t looking for; and I’ll
acknowledge, candid and frank, I ain’t very well fixed to meet it and
answer it; for my brother and me has had misfortunes; he’s broke his
arm, and our baggage got put off at a town above here last night in the
night by a mistake.  I am Peter Wilks’ brother Harvey, and this is his
brother William, which can’t hear nor speak--and can’t even make signs to
amount to much, now’t he’s only got one hand to work them with.  We are
who we say we are; and in a day or two, when I get the baggage, I can
prove it. But up till then I won’t say nothing more, but go to the hotel
and wait.”

So him and the new dummy started off; and the king he laughs, and
blethers out:

“Broke his arm--_very_ likely, _ain’t_ it?--and very convenient, too,
for a fraud that’s got to make signs, and ain’t learnt how.  Lost
their baggage! That’s _mighty_ good!--and mighty ingenious--under the

So he laughed again; and so did everybody else, except three or four,
or maybe half a dozen.  One of these was that doctor; another one was
a sharp-looking gentleman, with a carpet-bag of the old-fashioned kind
made out of carpet-stuff, that had just come off of the steamboat and
was talking to him in a low voice, and glancing towards the king now and
then and nodding their heads--it was Levi Bell, the lawyer that was gone
up to Louisville; and another one was a big rough husky that come along
and listened to all the old gentleman said, and was listening to the
king now. And when the king got done this husky up and says:

“Say, looky here; if you are Harvey Wilks, when’d you come to this

“The day before the funeral, friend,” says the king.

“But what time o’ day?”

“In the evenin’--‘bout an hour er two before sundown.”

“_How’d_ you come?”

“I come down on the Susan Powell from Cincinnati.”

“Well, then, how’d you come to be up at the Pint in the _mornin_’--in a

“I warn’t up at the Pint in the mornin’.”

“It’s a lie.”

Several of them jumped for him and begged him not to talk that way to an
old man and a preacher.

“Preacher be hanged, he’s a fraud and a liar.  He was up at the Pint
that mornin’.  I live up there, don’t I?  Well, I was up there, and
he was up there.  I see him there.  He come in a canoe, along with Tim
Collins and a boy.”

The doctor he up and says:

“Would you know the boy again if you was to see him, Hines?”

“I reckon I would, but I don’t know.  Why, yonder he is, now.  I know
him perfectly easy.”

It was me he pointed at.  The doctor says:

“Neighbors, I don’t know whether the new couple is frauds or not; but if
_these_ two ain’t frauds, I am an idiot, that’s all.  I think it’s our
duty to see that they don’t get away from here till we’ve looked into
this thing. Come along, Hines; come along, the rest of you.  We’ll take
these fellows to the tavern and affront them with t’other couple, and I
reckon we’ll find out _something_ before we get through.”

It was nuts for the crowd, though maybe not for the king’s friends; so
we all started.  It was about sundown.  The doctor he led me along by
the hand, and was plenty kind enough, but he never let go my hand.

We all got in a big room in the hotel, and lit up some candles, and
fetched in the new couple.  First, the doctor says:

“I don’t wish to be too hard on these two men, but I think they’re
frauds, and they may have complices that we don’t know nothing about.
 If they have, won’t the complices get away with that bag of gold Peter
Wilks left?  It ain’t unlikely.  If these men ain’t frauds, they won’t
object to sending for that money and letting us keep it till they prove
they’re all right--ain’t that so?”

Everybody agreed to that.  So I judged they had our gang in a pretty
tight place right at the outstart.  But the king he only looked
sorrowful, and says:

“Gentlemen, I wish the money was there, for I ain’t got no disposition
to throw anything in the way of a fair, open, out-and-out investigation
o’ this misable business; but, alas, the money ain’t there; you k’n send
and see, if you want to.”

“Where is it, then?”

“Well, when my niece give it to me to keep for her I took and hid it
inside o’ the straw tick o’ my bed, not wishin’ to bank it for the few
days we’d be here, and considerin’ the bed a safe place, we not bein’
used to niggers, and suppos’n’ ‘em honest, like servants in England.
 The niggers stole it the very next mornin’ after I had went down
stairs; and when I sold ‘em I hadn’t missed the money yit, so they got
clean away with it.  My servant here k’n tell you ‘bout it, gentlemen.”

The doctor and several said “Shucks!” and I see nobody didn’t altogether
believe him.  One man asked me if I see the niggers steal it.  I said
no, but I see them sneaking out of the room and hustling away, and I
never thought nothing, only I reckoned they was afraid they had waked up
my master and was trying to get away before he made trouble with them.
 That was all they asked me.  Then the doctor whirls on me and says:

“Are _you_ English, too?”

I says yes; and him and some others laughed, and said, “Stuff!”

Well, then they sailed in on the general investigation, and there we had
it, up and down, hour in, hour out, and nobody never said a word about
supper, nor ever seemed to think about it--and so they kept it up, and
kept it up; and it _was_ the worst mixed-up thing you ever see.  They
made the king tell his yarn, and they made the old gentleman tell his’n;
and anybody but a lot of prejudiced chuckleheads would a _seen_ that the
old gentleman was spinning truth and t’other one lies.  And by and by
they had me up to tell what I knowed.  The king he give me a left-handed
look out of the corner of his eye, and so I knowed enough to talk on the
right side.  I begun to tell about Sheffield, and how we lived there,
and all about the English Wilkses, and so on; but I didn’t get pretty
fur till the doctor begun to laugh; and Levi Bell, the lawyer, says:

“Set down, my boy; I wouldn’t strain myself if I was you.  I reckon
you ain’t used to lying, it don’t seem to come handy; what you want is
practice.  You do it pretty awkward.”

I didn’t care nothing for the compliment, but I was glad to be let off,

The doctor he started to say something, and turns and says:

“If you’d been in town at first, Levi Bell--” The king broke in and
reached out his hand, and says:

“Why, is this my poor dead brother’s old friend that he’s wrote so often

The lawyer and him shook hands, and the lawyer smiled and looked
pleased, and they talked right along awhile, and then got to one side
and talked low; and at last the lawyer speaks up and says:

“That ‘ll fix it.  I’ll take the order and send it, along with your
brother’s, and then they’ll know it’s all right.”

So they got some paper and a pen, and the king he set down and twisted
his head to one side, and chawed his tongue, and scrawled off something;
and then they give the pen to the duke--and then for the first time the
duke looked sick.  But he took the pen and wrote.  So then the lawyer
turns to the new old gentleman and says:

“You and your brother please write a line or two and sign your names.”

The old gentleman wrote, but nobody couldn’t read it.  The lawyer looked
powerful astonished, and says:

“Well, it beats _me_”--and snaked a lot of old letters out of his pocket,
and examined them, and then examined the old man’s writing, and then
_them_ again; and then says:  “These old letters is from Harvey Wilks;
and here’s _these_ two handwritings, and anybody can see they didn’t
write them” (the king and the duke looked sold and foolish, I tell
you, to see how the lawyer had took them in), “and here’s _this_ old
gentleman’s hand writing, and anybody can tell, easy enough, _he_ didn’t
write them--fact is, the scratches he makes ain’t properly _writing_ at
all.  Now, here’s some letters from--”

The new old gentleman says:

“If you please, let me explain.  Nobody can read my hand but my brother
there--so he copies for me.  It’s _his_ hand you’ve got there, not mine.”

“_Well_!” says the lawyer, “this _is_ a state of things.  I’ve got some
of William’s letters, too; so if you’ll get him to write a line or so we
can com--”

“He _can’t_ write with his left hand,” says the old gentleman.  “If he
could use his right hand, you would see that he wrote his own letters
and mine too.  Look at both, please--they’re by the same hand.”

The lawyer done it, and says:

“I believe it’s so--and if it ain’t so, there’s a heap stronger
resemblance than I’d noticed before, anyway.  Well, well, well!  I
thought we was right on the track of a solution, but it’s gone to grass,
partly.  But anyway, one thing is proved--_these_ two ain’t either of ‘em
Wilkses”--and he wagged his head towards the king and the duke.

Well, what do you think?  That muleheaded old fool wouldn’t give in
_then_! Indeed he wouldn’t.  Said it warn’t no fair test.  Said his
brother William was the cussedest joker in the world, and hadn’t tried
to write--_he_ see William was going to play one of his jokes the minute
he put the pen to paper.  And so he warmed up and went warbling and
warbling right along till he was actuly beginning to believe what he was
saying _himself_; but pretty soon the new gentleman broke in, and says:

“I’ve thought of something.  Is there anybody here that helped to lay
out my br--helped to lay out the late Peter Wilks for burying?”

“Yes,” says somebody, “me and Ab Turner done it.  We’re both here.”

Then the old man turns towards the king, and says:

“Perhaps this gentleman can tell me what was tattooed on his breast?”

Blamed if the king didn’t have to brace up mighty quick, or he’d a
squshed down like a bluff bank that the river has cut under, it took
him so sudden; and, mind you, it was a thing that was calculated to make
most _anybody_ sqush to get fetched such a solid one as that without any
notice, because how was _he_ going to know what was tattooed on the man?
 He whitened a little; he couldn’t help it; and it was mighty still in
there, and everybody bending a little forwards and gazing at him.  Says
I to myself, _now_ he’ll throw up the sponge--there ain’t no more use.
 Well, did he?  A body can’t hardly believe it, but he didn’t.  I reckon
he thought he’d keep the thing up till he tired them people out, so
they’d thin out, and him and the duke could break loose and get away.
 Anyway, he set there, and pretty soon he begun to smile, and says:

“Mf!  It’s a _very_ tough question, _ain’t_ it!  _yes_, sir, I k’n
tell you what’s tattooed on his breast.  It’s jest a small, thin, blue
arrow--that’s what it is; and if you don’t look clost, you can’t see it.
 _now_ what do you say--hey?”

Well, I never see anything like that old blister for clean out-and-out

The new old gentleman turns brisk towards Ab Turner and his pard, and
his eye lights up like he judged he’d got the king _this_ time, and

“There--you’ve heard what he said!  Was there any such mark on Peter
Wilks’ breast?”

Both of them spoke up and says:

“We didn’t see no such mark.”

“Good!” says the old gentleman.  “Now, what you _did_ see on his breast
was a small dim P, and a B (which is an initial he dropped when he was
young), and a W, with dashes between them, so:  P--B--W”--and he marked
them that way on a piece of paper.  “Come, ain’t that what you saw?”

Both of them spoke up again, and says:

“No, we _didn’t_.  We never seen any marks at all.”

Well, everybody _was_ in a state of mind now, and they sings out:

“The whole _bilin_’ of ‘m ‘s frauds!  Le’s duck ‘em! le’s drown ‘em!
le’s ride ‘em on a rail!” and everybody was whooping at once, and there
was a rattling powwow.  But the lawyer he jumps on the table and yells,
and says:

“Gentlemen--gentle_men!_  Hear me just a word--just a _single_ word--if you
_please_!  There’s one way yet--let’s go and dig up the corpse and look.”

That took them.

“Hooray!” they all shouted, and was starting right off; but the lawyer
and the doctor sung out:

“Hold on, hold on!  Collar all these four men and the boy, and fetch
_them_ along, too!”

“We’ll do it!” they all shouted; “and if we don’t find them marks we’ll
lynch the whole gang!”

I _was_ scared, now, I tell you.  But there warn’t no getting away, you
know. They gripped us all, and marched us right along, straight for the
graveyard, which was a mile and a half down the river, and the whole
town at our heels, for we made noise enough, and it was only nine in the

As we went by our house I wished I hadn’t sent Mary Jane out of town;
because now if I could tip her the wink she’d light out and save me, and
blow on our dead-beats.

Well, we swarmed along down the river road, just carrying on like
wildcats; and to make it more scary the sky was darking up, and the
lightning beginning to wink and flitter, and the wind to shiver amongst
the leaves. This was the most awful trouble and most dangersome I ever
was in; and I was kinder stunned; everything was going so different from
what I had allowed for; stead of being fixed so I could take my own time
if I wanted to, and see all the fun, and have Mary Jane at my back to
save me and set me free when the close-fit come, here was nothing in the
world betwixt me and sudden death but just them tattoo-marks.  If they
didn’t find them--

I couldn’t bear to think about it; and yet, somehow, I couldn’t think
about nothing else.  It got darker and darker, and it was a beautiful
time to give the crowd the slip; but that big husky had me by the
wrist--Hines--and a body might as well try to give Goliar the slip.  He
dragged me right along, he was so excited, and I had to run to keep up.

When they got there they swarmed into the graveyard and washed over it
like an overflow.  And when they got to the grave they found they had
about a hundred times as many shovels as they wanted, but nobody hadn’t
thought to fetch a lantern.  But they sailed into digging anyway by the
flicker of the lightning, and sent a man to the nearest house, a half a
mile off, to borrow one.

So they dug and dug like everything; and it got awful dark, and the rain
started, and the wind swished and swushed along, and the lightning come
brisker and brisker, and the thunder boomed; but them people never took
no notice of it, they was so full of this business; and one minute
you could see everything and every face in that big crowd, and the
shovelfuls of dirt sailing up out of the grave, and the next second the
dark wiped it all out, and you couldn’t see nothing at all.

At last they got out the coffin and begun to unscrew the lid, and then
such another crowding and shouldering and shoving as there was, to
scrouge in and get a sight, you never see; and in the dark, that way, it
was awful.  Hines he hurt my wrist dreadful pulling and tugging so,
and I reckon he clean forgot I was in the world, he was so excited and

All of a sudden the lightning let go a perfect sluice of white glare,
and somebody sings out:

“By the living jingo, here’s the bag of gold on his breast!”

Hines let out a whoop, like everybody else, and dropped my wrist and
give a big surge to bust his way in and get a look, and the way I lit
out and shinned for the road in the dark there ain’t nobody can tell.

I had the road all to myself, and I fairly flew--leastways, I had it all
to myself except the solid dark, and the now-and-then glares, and the
buzzing of the rain, and the thrashing of the wind, and the splitting of
the thunder; and sure as you are born I did clip it along!

When I struck the town I see there warn’t nobody out in the storm, so
I never hunted for no back streets, but humped it straight through the
main one; and when I begun to get towards our house I aimed my eye and
set it. No light there; the house all dark--which made me feel sorry and
disappointed, I didn’t know why.  But at last, just as I was sailing by,
_flash_ comes the light in Mary Jane’s window! and my heart swelled up
sudden, like to bust; and the same second the house and all was behind
me in the dark, and wasn’t ever going to be before me no more in this
world. She _was_ the best girl I ever see, and had the most sand.

The minute I was far enough above the town to see I could make the
towhead, I begun to look sharp for a boat to borrow, and the first
time the lightning showed me one that wasn’t chained I snatched it and
shoved. It was a canoe, and warn’t fastened with nothing but a rope.
 The towhead was a rattling big distance off, away out there in the
middle of the river, but I didn’t lose no time; and when I struck the
raft at last I was so fagged I would a just laid down to blow and gasp
if I could afforded it.  But I didn’t.  As I sprung aboard I sung out:

“Out with you, Jim, and set her loose!  Glory be to goodness, we’re shut
of them!”

Jim lit out, and was a-coming for me with both arms spread, he was so
full of joy; but when I glimpsed him in the lightning my heart shot up
in my mouth and I went overboard backwards; for I forgot he was old King
Lear and a drownded A-rab all in one, and it most scared the livers and
lights out of me.  But Jim fished me out, and was going to hug me and
bless me, and so on, he was so glad I was back and we was shut of the
king and the duke, but I says:

“Not now; have it for breakfast, have it for breakfast!  Cut loose and
let her slide!”

So in two seconds away we went a-sliding down the river, and it _did_
seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river, and
nobody to bother us.  I had to skip around a bit, and jump up and crack
my heels a few times--I couldn’t help it; but about the third crack
I noticed a sound that I knowed mighty well, and held my breath and
listened and waited; and sure enough, when the next flash busted out
over the water, here they come!--and just a-laying to their oars and
making their skiff hum!  It was the king and the duke.

So I wilted right down on to the planks then, and give up; and it was
all I could do to keep from crying.


WHEN they got aboard the king went for me, and shook me by the collar,
and says:

“Tryin’ to give us the slip, was ye, you pup!  Tired of our company,

I says:

“No, your majesty, we warn’t--_please_ don’t, your majesty!”

“Quick, then, and tell us what _was_ your idea, or I’ll shake the
insides out o’ you!”

“Honest, I’ll tell you everything just as it happened, your majesty.
 The man that had a-holt of me was very good to me, and kept saying he
had a boy about as big as me that died last year, and he was sorry
to see a boy in such a dangerous fix; and when they was all took by
surprise by finding the gold, and made a rush for the coffin, he lets go
of me and whispers, ‘Heel it now, or they’ll hang ye, sure!’ and I lit
out.  It didn’t seem no good for _me_ to stay--I couldn’t do nothing,
and I didn’t want to be hung if I could get away.  So I never stopped
running till I found the canoe; and when I got here I told Jim to hurry,
or they’d catch me and hang me yet, and said I was afeard you and the
duke wasn’t alive now, and I was awful sorry, and so was Jim, and was
awful glad when we see you coming; you may ask Jim if I didn’t.”

Jim said it was so; and the king told him to shut up, and said, “Oh,
yes, it’s _mighty_ likely!” and shook me up again, and said he reckoned
he’d drownd me.  But the duke says:

“Leggo the boy, you old idiot!  Would _you_ a done any different?  Did
you inquire around for _him_ when you got loose?  I don’t remember it.”

So the king let go of me, and begun to cuss that town and everybody in
it. But the duke says:

“You better a blame’ sight give _yourself_ a good cussing, for you’re
the one that’s entitled to it most.  You hain’t done a thing from the
start that had any sense in it, except coming out so cool and cheeky
with that imaginary blue-arrow mark.  That _was_ bright--it was right
down bully; and it was the thing that saved us.  For if it hadn’t been
for that they’d a jailed us till them Englishmen’s baggage come--and
then--the penitentiary, you bet! But that trick took ‘em to the
graveyard, and the gold done us a still bigger kindness; for if the
excited fools hadn’t let go all holts and made that rush to get a
look we’d a slept in our cravats to-night--cravats warranted to _wear_,
too--longer than _we’d_ need ‘em.”

They was still a minute--thinking; then the king says, kind of
absent-minded like:

“Mf!  And we reckoned the _niggers_ stole it!”

That made me squirm!

“Yes,” says the duke, kinder slow and deliberate and sarcastic, “_we_

After about a half a minute the king drawls out:

“Leastways, I did.”

The duke says, the same way:

“On the contrary, I did.”

The king kind of ruffles up, and says:

“Looky here, Bilgewater, what’r you referrin’ to?”

The duke says, pretty brisk:

“When it comes to that, maybe you’ll let me ask, what was _you_
referring to?”

“Shucks!” says the king, very sarcastic; “but I don’t know--maybe you was
asleep, and didn’t know what you was about.”

The duke bristles up now, and says:

“Oh, let _up_ on this cussed nonsense; do you take me for a blame’ fool?
Don’t you reckon I know who hid that money in that coffin?”

“_Yes_, sir!  I know you _do_ know, because you done it yourself!”

“It’s a lie!”--and the duke went for him.  The king sings out:

“Take y’r hands off!--leggo my throat!--I take it all back!”

The duke says:

“Well, you just own up, first, that you _did_ hide that money there,
intending to give me the slip one of these days, and come back and dig
it up, and have it all to yourself.”

“Wait jest a minute, duke--answer me this one question, honest and fair;
if you didn’t put the money there, say it, and I’ll b’lieve you, and
take back everything I said.”

“You old scoundrel, I didn’t, and you know I didn’t.  There, now!”

“Well, then, I b’lieve you.  But answer me only jest this one more--now
_don’t_ git mad; didn’t you have it in your mind to hook the money and
hide it?”

The duke never said nothing for a little bit; then he says:

“Well, I don’t care if I _did_, I didn’t _do_ it, anyway.  But you not
only had it in mind to do it, but you _done_ it.”

“I wisht I never die if I done it, duke, and that’s honest.  I won’t say
I warn’t goin’ to do it, because I _was_; but you--I mean somebody--got in
ahead o’ me.”

“It’s a lie!  You done it, and you got to _say_ you done it, or--”

The king began to gurgle, and then he gasps out:

“‘Nough!--I _own up!_”

I was very glad to hear him say that; it made me feel much more easier
than what I was feeling before.  So the duke took his hands off and

“If you ever deny it again I’ll drown you.  It’s _well_ for you to set
there and blubber like a baby--it’s fitten for you, after the way
you’ve acted. I never see such an old ostrich for wanting to gobble
everything--and I a-trusting you all the time, like you was my own
father.  You ought to been ashamed of yourself to stand by and hear it
saddled on to a lot of poor niggers, and you never say a word for ‘em.
 It makes me feel ridiculous to think I was soft enough to _believe_
that rubbage.  Cuss you, I can see now why you was so anxious to make
up the deffisit--you wanted to get what money I’d got out of the Nonesuch
and one thing or another, and scoop it _all_!”

The king says, timid, and still a-snuffling:

“Why, duke, it was you that said make up the deffisit; it warn’t me.”

“Dry up!  I don’t want to hear no more out of you!” says the duke.  “And
_now_ you see what you GOT by it.  They’ve got all their own money back,
and all of _ourn_ but a shekel or two _besides_.  G’long to bed, and
don’t you deffersit _me_ no more deffersits, long ‘s _you_ live!”

So the king sneaked into the wigwam and took to his bottle for comfort,
and before long the duke tackled HIS bottle; and so in about a half an
hour they was as thick as thieves again, and the tighter they got the
lovinger they got, and went off a-snoring in each other’s arms.  They
both got powerful mellow, but I noticed the king didn’t get mellow
enough to forget to remember to not deny about hiding the money-bag
again.  That made me feel easy and satisfied.  Of course when they got
to snoring we had a long gabble, and I told Jim everything.


WE dasn’t stop again at any town for days and days; kept right along
down the river.  We was down south in the warm weather now, and a mighty
long ways from home.  We begun to come to trees with Spanish moss on
them, hanging down from the limbs like long, gray beards.  It was the
first I ever see it growing, and it made the woods look solemn and
dismal.  So now the frauds reckoned they was out of danger, and they
begun to work the villages again.

First they done a lecture on temperance; but they didn’t make enough
for them both to get drunk on.  Then in another village they started
a dancing-school; but they didn’t know no more how to dance than a
kangaroo does; so the first prance they made the general public jumped
in and pranced them out of town.  Another time they tried to go at
yellocution; but they didn’t yellocute long till the audience got up and
give them a solid good cussing, and made them skip out.  They tackled
missionarying, and mesmerizing, and doctoring, and telling fortunes, and
a little of everything; but they couldn’t seem to have no luck.  So at
last they got just about dead broke, and laid around the raft as she
floated along, thinking and thinking, and never saying nothing, by the
half a day at a time, and dreadful blue and desperate.

And at last they took a change and begun to lay their heads together in
the wigwam and talk low and confidential two or three hours at a time.
Jim and me got uneasy.  We didn’t like the look of it.  We judged they
was studying up some kind of worse deviltry than ever.  We turned it
over and over, and at last we made up our minds they was going to break
into somebody’s house or store, or was going into the counterfeit-money
business, or something. So then we was pretty scared, and made up an
agreement that we wouldn’t have nothing in the world to do with such
actions, and if we ever got the least show we would give them the cold
shake and clear out and leave them behind. Well, early one morning we
hid the raft in a good, safe place about two mile below a little bit of
a shabby village named Pikesville, and the king he went ashore and told
us all to stay hid whilst he went up to town and smelt around to see
if anybody had got any wind of the Royal Nonesuch there yet. (“House to
rob, you _mean_,” says I to myself; “and when you get through robbing it
you’ll come back here and wonder what has become of me and Jim and the
raft--and you’ll have to take it out in wondering.”) And he said if he
warn’t back by midday the duke and me would know it was all right, and
we was to come along.

So we stayed where we was.  The duke he fretted and sweated around, and
was in a mighty sour way.  He scolded us for everything, and we couldn’t
seem to do nothing right; he found fault with every little thing.
Something was a-brewing, sure.  I was good and glad when midday come
and no king; we could have a change, anyway--and maybe a chance for _the_
change on top of it.  So me and the duke went up to the village, and
hunted around there for the king, and by and by we found him in the
back room of a little low doggery, very tight, and a lot of loafers
bullyragging him for sport, and he a-cussing and a-threatening with all
his might, and so tight he couldn’t walk, and couldn’t do nothing to
them.  The duke he begun to abuse him for an old fool, and the king
begun to sass back, and the minute they was fairly at it I lit out and
shook the reefs out of my hind legs, and spun down the river road like
a deer, for I see our chance; and I made up my mind that it would be a
long day before they ever see me and Jim again.  I got down there all
out of breath but loaded up with joy, and sung out:

“Set her loose, Jim! we’re all right now!”

But there warn’t no answer, and nobody come out of the wigwam.  Jim was
gone!  I set up a shout--and then another--and then another one; and run
this way and that in the woods, whooping and screeching; but it warn’t
no use--old Jim was gone.  Then I set down and cried; I couldn’t help
it. But I couldn’t set still long.  Pretty soon I went out on the road,
trying to think what I better do, and I run across a boy walking, and
asked him if he’d seen a strange nigger dressed so and so, and he says:


“Whereabouts?” says I.

“Down to Silas Phelps’ place, two mile below here.  He’s a runaway
nigger, and they’ve got him.  Was you looking for him?”

“You bet I ain’t!  I run across him in the woods about an hour or two
ago, and he said if I hollered he’d cut my livers out--and told me to lay
down and stay where I was; and I done it.  Been there ever since; afeard
to come out.”

“Well,” he says, “you needn’t be afeard no more, becuz they’ve got him.
He run off f’m down South, som’ers.”

“It’s a good job they got him.”

“Well, I _reckon_!  There’s two hunderd dollars reward on him.  It’s
like picking up money out’n the road.”

“Yes, it is--and I could a had it if I’d been big enough; I see him
_first_. Who nailed him?”

“It was an old fellow--a stranger--and he sold out his chance in him for
forty dollars, becuz he’s got to go up the river and can’t wait.  Think
o’ that, now!  You bet _I’d_ wait, if it was seven year.”

“That’s me, every time,” says I.  “But maybe his chance ain’t worth
no more than that, if he’ll sell it so cheap.  Maybe there’s something
ain’t straight about it.”

“But it _is_, though--straight as a string.  I see the handbill myself.
 It tells all about him, to a dot--paints him like a picture, and tells
the plantation he’s frum, below Newr_leans_.  No-sirree-_bob_, they
ain’t no trouble ‘bout _that_ speculation, you bet you.  Say, gimme a
chaw tobacker, won’t ye?”

I didn’t have none, so he left.  I went to the raft, and set down in the
wigwam to think.  But I couldn’t come to nothing.  I thought till I wore
my head sore, but I couldn’t see no way out of the trouble.  After all
this long journey, and after all we’d done for them scoundrels, here it
was all come to nothing, everything all busted up and ruined, because
they could have the heart to serve Jim such a trick as that, and make
him a slave again all his life, and amongst strangers, too, for forty
dirty dollars.

Once I said to myself it would be a thousand times better for Jim to
be a slave at home where his family was, as long as he’d _got_ to be a
slave, and so I’d better write a letter to Tom Sawyer and tell him to
tell Miss Watson where he was.  But I soon give up that notion for two
things: she’d be mad and disgusted at his rascality and ungratefulness
for leaving her, and so she’d sell him straight down the river again;
and if she didn’t, everybody naturally despises an ungrateful nigger,
and they’d make Jim feel it all the time, and so he’d feel ornery and
disgraced. And then think of _me_!  It would get all around that Huck
Finn helped a nigger to get his freedom; and if I was ever to see
anybody from that town again I’d be ready to get down and lick his boots
for shame.  That’s just the way:  a person does a low-down thing, and
then he don’t want to take no consequences of it. Thinks as long as he
can hide it, it ain’t no disgrace.  That was my fix exactly. The more I
studied about this the more my conscience went to grinding me, and the
more wicked and low-down and ornery I got to feeling. And at last, when
it hit me all of a sudden that here was the plain hand of Providence
slapping me in the face and letting me know my wickedness was being
watched all the time from up there in heaven, whilst I was stealing a
poor old woman’s nigger that hadn’t ever done me no harm, and now was
showing me there’s One that’s always on the lookout, and ain’t a-going
to allow no such miserable doings to go only just so fur and no further,
I most dropped in my tracks I was so scared.  Well, I tried the best I
could to kinder soften it up somehow for myself by saying I was brung
up wicked, and so I warn’t so much to blame; but something inside of me
kept saying, “There was the Sunday-school, you could a gone to it; and
if you’d a done it they’d a learnt you there that people that acts as
I’d been acting about that nigger goes to everlasting fire.”

It made me shiver.  And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I
couldn’t try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better.  So
I kneeled down.  But the words wouldn’t come.  Why wouldn’t they?  It
warn’t no use to try and hide it from Him.  Nor from _me_, neither.  I
knowed very well why they wouldn’t come.  It was because my heart warn’t
right; it was because I warn’t square; it was because I was playing
double.  I was letting _on_ to give up sin, but away inside of me I was
holding on to the biggest one of all.  I was trying to make my mouth
_say_ I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write
to that nigger’s owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I
knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it.  You can’t pray a lie--I found
that out.

So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn’t know what to
do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I’ll go and write the letter--and
then see if I can pray.  Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as
light as a feather right straight off, and my troubles all gone.  So I
got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down
and wrote:

Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below
Pikesville, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the
reward if you send.

_Huck Finn._

I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever
felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now.  But I didn’t do it
straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking--thinking
how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost
and going to hell.  And went on thinking.  And got to thinking over our
trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time:  in the day
and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we
a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing.  But somehow I
couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the
other kind.  I’d see him standing my watch on top of his’n, ‘stead of
calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when
I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp,
up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call
me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how
good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling
the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was
the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the _only_ one he’s
got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.

It was a close place.  I took it up, and held it in my hand.  I was
a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and
I knowed it.  I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then
says to myself:

“All right, then, I’ll _go_ to hell”--and tore it up.

It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said.  And I let
them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming.  I shoved the
whole thing out of my head, and said I would take up wickedness again,
which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn’t.  And
for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again;
and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as
long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.

Then I set to thinking over how to get at it, and turned over some
considerable many ways in my mind; and at last fixed up a plan that
suited me.  So then I took the bearings of a woody island that was down
the river a piece, and as soon as it was fairly dark I crept out with my
raft and went for it, and hid it there, and then turned in.  I slept the
night through, and got up before it was light, and had my breakfast,
and put on my store clothes, and tied up some others and one thing or
another in a bundle, and took the canoe and cleared for shore.  I landed
below where I judged was Phelps’s place, and hid my bundle in the woods,
and then filled up the canoe with water, and loaded rocks into her and
sunk her where I could find her again when I wanted her, about a quarter
of a mile below a little steam sawmill that was on the bank.

Then I struck up the road, and when I passed the mill I see a sign on
it, “Phelps’s Sawmill,” and when I come to the farm-houses, two or
three hundred yards further along, I kept my eyes peeled, but didn’t
see nobody around, though it was good daylight now.  But I didn’t mind,
because I didn’t want to see nobody just yet--I only wanted to get the
lay of the land. According to my plan, I was going to turn up there from
the village, not from below.  So I just took a look, and shoved along,
straight for town. Well, the very first man I see when I got there was
the duke.  He was sticking up a bill for the Royal Nonesuch--three-night
performance--like that other time.  They had the cheek, them frauds!  I
was right on him before I could shirk.  He looked astonished, and says:

“Hel-_lo_!  Where’d _you_ come from?”  Then he says, kind of glad and
eager, “Where’s the raft?--got her in a good place?”

I says:

“Why, that’s just what I was going to ask your grace.”

Then he didn’t look so joyful, and says:

“What was your idea for asking _me_?” he says.

“Well,” I says, “when I see the king in that doggery yesterday I says
to myself, we can’t get him home for hours, till he’s soberer; so I went
a-loafing around town to put in the time and wait.  A man up and offered
me ten cents to help him pull a skiff over the river and back to fetch
a sheep, and so I went along; but when we was dragging him to the boat,
and the man left me a-holt of the rope and went behind him to shove him
along, he was too strong for me and jerked loose and run, and we after
him.  We didn’t have no dog, and so we had to chase him all over the
country till we tired him out.  We never got him till dark; then we
fetched him over, and I started down for the raft.  When I got there and
see it was gone, I says to myself, ‘They’ve got into trouble and had to
leave; and they’ve took my nigger, which is the only nigger I’ve got in
the world, and now I’m in a strange country, and ain’t got no property
no more, nor nothing, and no way to make my living;’ so I set down and
cried.  I slept in the woods all night.  But what _did_ become of the
raft, then?--and Jim--poor Jim!”

“Blamed if I know--that is, what’s become of the raft.  That old fool had
made a trade and got forty dollars, and when we found him in the doggery
the loafers had matched half-dollars with him and got every cent but
what he’d spent for whisky; and when I got him home late last night and
found the raft gone, we said, ‘That little rascal has stole our raft and
shook us, and run off down the river.’”

“I wouldn’t shake my _nigger_, would I?--the only nigger I had in the
world, and the only property.”

“We never thought of that.  Fact is, I reckon we’d come to consider him
_our_ nigger; yes, we did consider him so--goodness knows we had trouble
enough for him.  So when we see the raft was gone and we flat broke,
there warn’t anything for it but to try the Royal Nonesuch another
shake. And I’ve pegged along ever since, dry as a powder-horn.  Where’s
that ten cents? Give it here.”

I had considerable money, so I give him ten cents, but begged him to
spend it for something to eat, and give me some, because it was all the
money I had, and I hadn’t had nothing to eat since yesterday.  He never
said nothing.  The next minute he whirls on me and says:

“Do you reckon that nigger would blow on us?  We’d skin him if he done

“How can he blow?  Hain’t he run off?”

“No!  That old fool sold him, and never divided with me, and the money’s

“_Sold_ him?”  I says, and begun to cry; “why, he was _my_ nigger, and
that was my money.  Where is he?--I want my nigger.”

“Well, you can’t _get_ your nigger, that’s all--so dry up your
blubbering. Looky here--do you think _you’d_ venture to blow on us?
 Blamed if I think I’d trust you.  Why, if you _was_ to blow on us--”

He stopped, but I never see the duke look so ugly out of his eyes
before. I went on a-whimpering, and says:

“I don’t want to blow on nobody; and I ain’t got no time to blow, nohow.
I got to turn out and find my nigger.”

He looked kinder bothered, and stood there with his bills fluttering on
his arm, thinking, and wrinkling up his forehead.  At last he says:

“I’ll tell you something.  We got to be here three days.  If you’ll
promise you won’t blow, and won’t let the nigger blow, I’ll tell you
where to find him.”

So I promised, and he says:

“A farmer by the name of Silas Ph--” and then he stopped.  You see, he
started to tell me the truth; but when he stopped that way, and begun to
study and think again, I reckoned he was changing his mind.  And so he
was. He wouldn’t trust me; he wanted to make sure of having me out of
the way the whole three days.  So pretty soon he says:

“The man that bought him is named Abram Foster--Abram G. Foster--and he
lives forty mile back here in the country, on the road to Lafayette.”

“All right,” I says, “I can walk it in three days.  And I’ll start this
very afternoon.”

“No you wont, you’ll start _now_; and don’t you lose any time about it,
neither, nor do any gabbling by the way.  Just keep a tight tongue in
your head and move right along, and then you won’t get into trouble with
_us_, d’ye hear?”

That was the order I wanted, and that was the one I played for.  I
wanted to be left free to work my plans.

“So clear out,” he says; “and you can tell Mr. Foster whatever you want
to. Maybe you can get him to believe that Jim _is_ your nigger--some
idiots don’t require documents--leastways I’ve heard there’s such down
South here.  And when you tell him the handbill and the reward’s bogus,
maybe he’ll believe you when you explain to him what the idea was for
getting ‘em out.  Go ‘long now, and tell him anything you want to; but
mind you don’t work your jaw any _between_ here and there.”

So I left, and struck for the back country.  I didn’t look around, but I
kinder felt like he was watching me.  But I knowed I could tire him out
at that.  I went straight out in the country as much as a mile before
I stopped; then I doubled back through the woods towards Phelps’.  I
reckoned I better start in on my plan straight off without fooling
around, because I wanted to stop Jim’s mouth till these fellows could
get away.  I didn’t want no trouble with their kind.  I’d seen all I
wanted to of them, and wanted to get entirely shut of them.


WHEN I got there it was all still and Sunday-like, and hot and sunshiny;
the hands was gone to the fields; and there was them kind of faint
dronings of bugs and flies in the air that makes it seem so lonesome and
like everybody’s dead and gone; and if a breeze fans along and quivers
the leaves it makes you feel mournful, because you feel like it’s
spirits whispering--spirits that’s been dead ever so many years--and you
always think they’re talking about _you_.  As a general thing it makes a
body wish _he_ was dead, too, and done with it all.

Phelps’ was one of these little one-horse cotton plantations, and they
all look alike.  A rail fence round a two-acre yard; a stile made out
of logs sawed off and up-ended in steps, like barrels of a different
length, to climb over the fence with, and for the women to stand on when
they are going to jump on to a horse; some sickly grass-patches in the
big yard, but mostly it was bare and smooth, like an old hat with the
nap rubbed off; big double log-house for the white folks--hewed logs,
with the chinks stopped up with mud or mortar, and these mud-stripes
been whitewashed some time or another; round-log kitchen, with a big
broad, open but roofed passage joining it to the house; log smoke-house
back of the kitchen; three little log nigger-cabins in a row t’other
side the smoke-house; one little hut all by itself away down against
the back fence, and some outbuildings down a piece the other side;
ash-hopper and big kettle to bile soap in by the little hut; bench by
the kitchen door, with bucket of water and a gourd; hound asleep there
in the sun; more hounds asleep round about; about three shade trees away
off in a corner; some currant bushes and gooseberry bushes in one place
by the fence; outside of the fence a garden and a watermelon patch; then
the cotton fields begins, and after the fields the woods.

I went around and clumb over the back stile by the ash-hopper, and
started for the kitchen.  When I got a little ways I heard the dim hum
of a spinning-wheel wailing along up and sinking along down again;
and then I knowed for certain I wished I was dead--for that _is_ the
lonesomest sound in the whole world.

I went right along, not fixing up any particular plan, but just trusting
to Providence to put the right words in my mouth when the time come; for
I’d noticed that Providence always did put the right words in my mouth
if I left it alone.

When I got half-way, first one hound and then another got up and went
for me, and of course I stopped and faced them, and kept still.  And
such another powwow as they made!  In a quarter of a minute I was a kind
of a hub of a wheel, as you may say--spokes made out of dogs--circle of
fifteen of them packed together around me, with their necks and noses
stretched up towards me, a-barking and howling; and more a-coming; you
could see them sailing over fences and around corners from everywheres.

A nigger woman come tearing out of the kitchen with a rolling-pin in her
hand, singing out, “Begone _you_ Tige! you Spot! begone sah!” and she
fetched first one and then another of them a clip and sent them howling,
and then the rest followed; and the next second half of them come back,
wagging their tails around me, and making friends with me.  There ain’t
no harm in a hound, nohow.

And behind the woman comes a little nigger girl and two little nigger
boys without anything on but tow-linen shirts, and they hung on to their
mother’s gown, and peeped out from behind her at me, bashful, the way
they always do.  And here comes the white woman running from the house,
about forty-five or fifty year old, bareheaded, and her spinning-stick
in her hand; and behind her comes her little white children, acting the
same way the little niggers was doing.  She was smiling all over so she
could hardly stand--and says:

“It’s _you_, at last!--_ain’t_ it?”

I out with a “Yes’m” before I thought.

She grabbed me and hugged me tight; and then gripped me by both hands
and shook and shook; and the tears come in her eyes, and run down over;
and she couldn’t seem to hug and shake enough, and kept saying, “You
don’t look as much like your mother as I reckoned you would; but law
sakes, I don’t care for that, I’m so glad to see you!  Dear, dear, it
does seem like I could eat you up!  Children, it’s your cousin Tom!--tell
him howdy.”

But they ducked their heads, and put their fingers in their mouths, and
hid behind her.  So she run on:

“Lize, hurry up and get him a hot breakfast right away--or did you get
your breakfast on the boat?”

I said I had got it on the boat.  So then she started for the house,
leading me by the hand, and the children tagging after.  When we got
there she set me down in a split-bottomed chair, and set herself down on
a little low stool in front of me, holding both of my hands, and says:

“Now I can have a _good_ look at you; and, laws-a-me, I’ve been hungry
for it a many and a many a time, all these long years, and it’s come
at last! We been expecting you a couple of days and more.  What kep’
you?--boat get aground?”


“Don’t say yes’m--say Aunt Sally.  Where’d she get aground?”

I didn’t rightly know what to say, because I didn’t know whether the
boat would be coming up the river or down.  But I go a good deal on
instinct; and my instinct said she would be coming up--from down towards
Orleans. That didn’t help me much, though; for I didn’t know the names
of bars down that way.  I see I’d got to invent a bar, or forget the
name of the one we got aground on--or--Now I struck an idea, and fetched
it out:

“It warn’t the grounding--that didn’t keep us back but a little.  We
blowed out a cylinder-head.”

“Good gracious! anybody hurt?”

“No’m.  Killed a nigger.”

“Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.  Two years ago
last Christmas your uncle Silas was coming up from Newrleans on the old
Lally Rook, and she blowed out a cylinder-head and crippled a man.  And
I think he died afterwards.  He was a Baptist.  Your uncle Silas knowed
a family in Baton Rouge that knowed his people very well.  Yes, I
remember now, he _did_ die.  Mortification set in, and they had to
amputate him. But it didn’t save him.  Yes, it was mortification--that
was it.  He turned blue all over, and died in the hope of a glorious
resurrection. They say he was a sight to look at.  Your uncle’s been up
to the town every day to fetch you. And he’s gone again, not more’n an
hour ago; he’ll be back any minute now. You must a met him on the road,
didn’t you?--oldish man, with a--”

“No, I didn’t see nobody, Aunt Sally.  The boat landed just at daylight,
and I left my baggage on the wharf-boat and went looking around the town
and out a piece in the country, to put in the time and not get here too
soon; and so I come down the back way.”

“Who’d you give the baggage to?”


“Why, child, it ‘ll be stole!”

“Not where I hid it I reckon it won’t,” I says.

“How’d you get your breakfast so early on the boat?”

It was kinder thin ice, but I says:

“The captain see me standing around, and told me I better have something
to eat before I went ashore; so he took me in the texas to the officers’
lunch, and give me all I wanted.”

I was getting so uneasy I couldn’t listen good.  I had my mind on the
children all the time; I wanted to get them out to one side and pump
them a little, and find out who I was.  But I couldn’t get no show, Mrs.
Phelps kept it up and run on so.  Pretty soon she made the cold chills
streak all down my back, because she says:

“But here we’re a-running on this way, and you hain’t told me a word
about Sis, nor any of them.  Now I’ll rest my works a little, and you
start up yourn; just tell me _everything_--tell me all about ‘m all every
one of ‘m; and how they are, and what they’re doing, and what they told
you to tell me; and every last thing you can think of.”

Well, I see I was up a stump--and up it good.  Providence had stood by
me this fur all right, but I was hard and tight aground now.  I see it
warn’t a bit of use to try to go ahead--I’d got to throw up my hand.  So
I says to myself, here’s another place where I got to resk the truth.
 I opened my mouth to begin; but she grabbed me and hustled me in behind
the bed, and says:

“Here he comes!  Stick your head down lower--there, that’ll do; you can’t
be seen now.  Don’t you let on you’re here.  I’ll play a joke on him.
Children, don’t you say a word.”

I see I was in a fix now.  But it warn’t no use to worry; there warn’t
nothing to do but just hold still, and try and be ready to stand from
under when the lightning struck.

I had just one little glimpse of the old gentleman when he come in; then
the bed hid him.  Mrs. Phelps she jumps for him, and says:

“Has he come?”

“No,” says her husband.

“Good-_ness_ gracious!” she says, “what in the warld can have become of

“I can’t imagine,” says the old gentleman; “and I must say it makes me
dreadful uneasy.”

“Uneasy!” she says; “I’m ready to go distracted!  He _must_ a come; and
you’ve missed him along the road.  I _know_ it’s so--something tells me

“Why, Sally, I _couldn’t_ miss him along the road--_you_ know that.”

“But oh, dear, dear, what _will_ Sis say!  He must a come!  You must a
missed him.  He--”

“Oh, don’t distress me any more’n I’m already distressed.  I don’t know
what in the world to make of it.  I’m at my wit’s end, and I don’t mind
acknowledging ‘t I’m right down scared.  But there’s no hope that he’s
come; for he _couldn’t_ come and me miss him.  Sally, it’s terrible--just
terrible--something’s happened to the boat, sure!”

“Why, Silas!  Look yonder!--up the road!--ain’t that somebody coming?”

He sprung to the window at the head of the bed, and that give Mrs.
Phelps the chance she wanted.  She stooped down quick at the foot of the
bed and give me a pull, and out I come; and when he turned back from the
window there she stood, a-beaming and a-smiling like a house afire, and
I standing pretty meek and sweaty alongside.  The old gentleman stared,
and says:

“Why, who’s that?”

“Who do you reckon ‘t is?”

“I hain’t no idea.  Who _is_ it?”

“It’s _Tom Sawyer!_”

By jings, I most slumped through the floor!  But there warn’t no time to
swap knives; the old man grabbed me by the hand and shook, and kept on
shaking; and all the time how the woman did dance around and laugh and
cry; and then how they both did fire off questions about Sid, and Mary,
and the rest of the tribe.

But if they was joyful, it warn’t nothing to what I was; for it was like
being born again, I was so glad to find out who I was.  Well, they froze
to me for two hours; and at last, when my chin was so tired it couldn’t
hardly go any more, I had told them more about my family--I mean the
Sawyer family--than ever happened to any six Sawyer families.  And I
explained all about how we blowed out a cylinder-head at the mouth of
White River, and it took us three days to fix it.  Which was all right,
and worked first-rate; because _they_ didn’t know but what it would take
three days to fix it.  If I’d a called it a bolthead it would a done
just as well.

Now I was feeling pretty comfortable all down one side, and pretty
uncomfortable all up the other.  Being Tom Sawyer was easy and
comfortable, and it stayed easy and comfortable till by and by I hear a
steamboat coughing along down the river.  Then I says to myself, s’pose
Tom Sawyer comes down on that boat?  And s’pose he steps in here any
minute, and sings out my name before I can throw him a wink to keep

Well, I couldn’t _have_ it that way; it wouldn’t do at all.  I must go
up the road and waylay him.  So I told the folks I reckoned I would go
up to the town and fetch down my baggage.  The old gentleman was for
going along with me, but I said no, I could drive the horse myself, and
I druther he wouldn’t take no trouble about me.


SO I started for town in the wagon, and when I was half-way I see a
wagon coming, and sure enough it was Tom Sawyer, and I stopped and
waited till he come along.  I says “Hold on!” and it stopped alongside,
and his mouth opened up like a trunk, and stayed so; and he swallowed
two or three times like a person that’s got a dry throat, and then says:

“I hain’t ever done you no harm.  You know that.  So, then, what you
want to come back and ha’nt _me_ for?”

I says:

“I hain’t come back--I hain’t been _gone_.”

When he heard my voice it righted him up some, but he warn’t quite
satisfied yet.  He says:

“Don’t you play nothing on me, because I wouldn’t on you.  Honest injun
now, you ain’t a ghost?”

“Honest injun, I ain’t,” I says.

“Well--I--I--well, that ought to settle it, of course; but I can’t somehow
seem to understand it no way.  Looky here, warn’t you ever murdered _at

“No.  I warn’t ever murdered at all--I played it on them.  You come in
here and feel of me if you don’t believe me.”

So he done it; and it satisfied him; and he was that glad to see me
again he didn’t know what to do.  And he wanted to know all about it
right off, because it was a grand adventure, and mysterious, and so it
hit him where he lived.  But I said, leave it alone till by and by; and
told his driver to wait, and we drove off a little piece, and I told
him the kind of a fix I was in, and what did he reckon we better do?  He
said, let him alone a minute, and don’t disturb him.  So he thought and
thought, and pretty soon he says:

“It’s all right; I’ve got it.  Take my trunk in your wagon, and let on
it’s your’n; and you turn back and fool along slow, so as to get to the
house about the time you ought to; and I’ll go towards town a piece, and
take a fresh start, and get there a quarter or a half an hour after you;
and you needn’t let on to know me at first.”

I says:

“All right; but wait a minute.  There’s one more thing--a thing that
_nobody_ don’t know but me.  And that is, there’s a nigger here that
I’m a-trying to steal out of slavery, and his name is _Jim_--old Miss
Watson’s Jim.”

He says:

“What!  Why, Jim is--”

He stopped and went to studying.  I says:

“I know what you’ll say.  You’ll say it’s dirty, low-down business; but
what if it is?  I’m low down; and I’m a-going to steal him, and I want
you keep mum and not let on.  Will you?”

His eye lit up, and he says:

“I’ll _help_ you steal him!”

Well, I let go all holts then, like I was shot.  It was the most
astonishing speech I ever heard--and I’m bound to say Tom Sawyer fell
considerable in my estimation.  Only I couldn’t believe it.  Tom Sawyer
a _nigger-stealer!_

“Oh, shucks!”  I says; “you’re joking.”

“I ain’t joking, either.”

“Well, then,” I says, “joking or no joking, if you hear anything said
about a runaway nigger, don’t forget to remember that _you_ don’t know
nothing about him, and I don’t know nothing about him.”

Then we took the trunk and put it in my wagon, and he drove off his
way and I drove mine.  But of course I forgot all about driving slow on
accounts of being glad and full of thinking; so I got home a heap too
quick for that length of a trip.  The old gentleman was at the door, and
he says:

“Why, this is wonderful!  Whoever would a thought it was in that mare
to do it?  I wish we’d a timed her.  And she hain’t sweated a hair--not
a hair. It’s wonderful.  Why, I wouldn’t take a hundred dollars for that
horse now--I wouldn’t, honest; and yet I’d a sold her for fifteen before,
and thought ‘twas all she was worth.”

That’s all he said.  He was the innocentest, best old soul I ever see.
But it warn’t surprising; because he warn’t only just a farmer, he was
a preacher, too, and had a little one-horse log church down back of the
plantation, which he built it himself at his own expense, for a church
and schoolhouse, and never charged nothing for his preaching, and it was
worth it, too.  There was plenty other farmer-preachers like that, and
done the same way, down South.

In about half an hour Tom’s wagon drove up to the front stile, and Aunt
Sally she see it through the window, because it was only about fifty
yards, and says:

“Why, there’s somebody come!  I wonder who ‘tis?  Why, I do believe it’s
a stranger.  Jimmy” (that’s one of the children) “run and tell Lize to
put on another plate for dinner.”

Everybody made a rush for the front door, because, of course, a stranger
don’t come _every_ year, and so he lays over the yaller-fever, for
interest, when he does come.  Tom was over the stile and starting for
the house; the wagon was spinning up the road for the village, and we
was all bunched in the front door.  Tom had his store clothes on, and an
audience--and that was always nuts for Tom Sawyer.  In them circumstances
it warn’t no trouble to him to throw in an amount of style that was
suitable.  He warn’t a boy to meeky along up that yard like a sheep; no,
he come ca’m and important, like the ram.  When he got a-front of us he
lifts his hat ever so gracious and dainty, like it was the lid of a box
that had butterflies asleep in it and he didn’t want to disturb them,
and says:

“Mr. Archibald Nichols, I presume?”

“No, my boy,” says the old gentleman, “I’m sorry to say ‘t your driver
has deceived you; Nichols’s place is down a matter of three mile more.
Come in, come in.”

Tom he took a look back over his shoulder, and says, “Too late--he’s out
of sight.”

“Yes, he’s gone, my son, and you must come in and eat your dinner with
us; and then we’ll hitch up and take you down to Nichols’s.”

“Oh, I _can’t_ make you so much trouble; I couldn’t think of it.  I’ll
walk--I don’t mind the distance.”

“But we won’t _let_ you walk--it wouldn’t be Southern hospitality to do
it. Come right in.”

“Oh, _do_,” says Aunt Sally; “it ain’t a bit of trouble to us, not a
bit in the world.  You must stay.  It’s a long, dusty three mile, and
we can’t let you walk.  And, besides, I’ve already told ‘em to put on
another plate when I see you coming; so you mustn’t disappoint us.  Come
right in and make yourself at home.”

So Tom he thanked them very hearty and handsome, and let himself be
persuaded, and come in; and when he was in he said he was a stranger
from Hicksville, Ohio, and his name was William Thompson--and he made
another bow.

Well, he run on, and on, and on, making up stuff about Hicksville and
everybody in it he could invent, and I getting a little nervious, and
wondering how this was going to help me out of my scrape; and at last,
still talking along, he reached over and kissed Aunt Sally right on the
mouth, and then settled back again in his chair comfortable, and was
going on talking; but she jumped up and wiped it off with the back of
her hand, and says:

“You owdacious puppy!”

He looked kind of hurt, and says:

“I’m surprised at you, m’am.”

“You’re s’rp--Why, what do you reckon I am?  I’ve a good notion to take
and--Say, what do you mean by kissing me?”

He looked kind of humble, and says:

“I didn’t mean nothing, m’am.  I didn’t mean no harm.  I--I--thought you’d
like it.”

“Why, you born fool!”  She took up the spinning stick, and it looked
like it was all she could do to keep from giving him a crack with it.
 “What made you think I’d like it?”

“Well, I don’t know.  Only, they--they--told me you would.”

“_They_ told you I would.  Whoever told you’s _another_ lunatic.  I
never heard the beat of it.  Who’s _they_?”

“Why, everybody.  They all said so, m’am.”

It was all she could do to hold in; and her eyes snapped, and her
fingers worked like she wanted to scratch him; and she says:

“Who’s ‘everybody’?  Out with their names, or ther’ll be an idiot

He got up and looked distressed, and fumbled his hat, and says:

“I’m sorry, and I warn’t expecting it.  They told me to.  They all told
me to.  They all said, kiss her; and said she’d like it.  They all said
it--every one of them.  But I’m sorry, m’am, and I won’t do it no more--I
won’t, honest.”

“You won’t, won’t you?  Well, I sh’d _reckon_ you won’t!”

“No’m, I’m honest about it; I won’t ever do it again--till you ask me.”

“Till I _ask_ you!  Well, I never see the beat of it in my born days!
 I lay you’ll be the Methusalem-numskull of creation before ever I ask
you--or the likes of you.”

“Well,” he says, “it does surprise me so.  I can’t make it out, somehow.
They said you would, and I thought you would.  But--” He stopped and
looked around slow, like he wished he could run across a friendly eye
somewheres, and fetched up on the old gentleman’s, and says, “Didn’t
_you_ think she’d like me to kiss her, sir?”

“Why, no; I--I--well, no, I b’lieve I didn’t.”

Then he looks on around the same way to me, and says:

“Tom, didn’t _you_ think Aunt Sally ‘d open out her arms and say, ‘Sid

“My land!” she says, breaking in and jumping for him, “you impudent
young rascal, to fool a body so--” and was going to hug him, but he
fended her off, and says:

“No, not till you’ve asked me first.”

So she didn’t lose no time, but asked him; and hugged him and kissed
him over and over again, and then turned him over to the old man, and he
took what was left.  And after they got a little quiet again she says:

“Why, dear me, I never see such a surprise.  We warn’t looking for _you_
at all, but only Tom.  Sis never wrote to me about anybody coming but

“It’s because it warn’t _intended_ for any of us to come but Tom,” he
says; “but I begged and begged, and at the last minute she let me
come, too; so, coming down the river, me and Tom thought it would be a
first-rate surprise for him to come here to the house first, and for me
to by and by tag along and drop in, and let on to be a stranger.  But it
was a mistake, Aunt Sally.  This ain’t no healthy place for a stranger
to come.”

“No--not impudent whelps, Sid.  You ought to had your jaws boxed; I
hain’t been so put out since I don’t know when.  But I don’t care, I
don’t mind the terms--I’d be willing to stand a thousand such jokes to
have you here. Well, to think of that performance!  I don’t deny it, I
was most putrified with astonishment when you give me that smack.”

We had dinner out in that broad open passage betwixt the house and
the kitchen; and there was things enough on that table for seven
families--and all hot, too; none of your flabby, tough meat that’s laid
in a cupboard in a damp cellar all night and tastes like a hunk of
old cold cannibal in the morning.  Uncle Silas he asked a pretty long
blessing over it, but it was worth it; and it didn’t cool it a bit,
neither, the way I’ve seen them kind of interruptions do lots of times.
 There was a considerable good deal of talk all the afternoon, and me
and Tom was on the lookout all the time; but it warn’t no use, they
didn’t happen to say nothing about any runaway nigger, and we was afraid
to try to work up to it.  But at supper, at night, one of the little
boys says:

“Pa, mayn’t Tom and Sid and me go to the show?”

“No,” says the old man, “I reckon there ain’t going to be any; and you
couldn’t go if there was; because the runaway nigger told Burton and
me all about that scandalous show, and Burton said he would tell the
people; so I reckon they’ve drove the owdacious loafers out of town
before this time.”

So there it was!--but I couldn’t help it.  Tom and me was to sleep in the
same room and bed; so, being tired, we bid good-night and went up to
bed right after supper, and clumb out of the window and down the
lightning-rod, and shoved for the town; for I didn’t believe anybody was
going to give the king and the duke a hint, and so if I didn’t hurry up
and give them one they’d get into trouble sure.

On the road Tom he told me all about how it was reckoned I was murdered,
and how pap disappeared pretty soon, and didn’t come back no more, and
what a stir there was when Jim run away; and I told Tom all about our
Royal Nonesuch rapscallions, and as much of the raft voyage as I had
time to; and as we struck into the town and up through the the middle of
it--it was as much as half-after eight, then--here comes a raging rush of
people with torches, and an awful whooping and yelling, and banging tin
pans and blowing horns; and we jumped to one side to let them go by;
and as they went by I see they had the king and the duke astraddle of a
rail--that is, I knowed it _was_ the king and the duke, though they was
all over tar and feathers, and didn’t look like nothing in the
world that was human--just looked like a couple of monstrous big
soldier-plumes.  Well, it made me sick to see it; and I was sorry for
them poor pitiful rascals, it seemed like I couldn’t ever feel any
hardness against them any more in the world.  It was a dreadful thing to
see.  Human beings _can_ be awful cruel to one another.

We see we was too late--couldn’t do no good.  We asked some stragglers
about it, and they said everybody went to the show looking very
innocent; and laid low and kept dark till the poor old king was in the
middle of his cavortings on the stage; then somebody give a signal, and
the house rose up and went for them.

So we poked along back home, and I warn’t feeling so brash as I was
before, but kind of ornery, and humble, and to blame, somehow--though
I hadn’t done nothing.  But that’s always the way; it don’t make no
difference whether you do right or wrong, a person’s conscience ain’t
got no sense, and just goes for him anyway.  If I had a yaller dog that
didn’t know no more than a person’s conscience does I would pison him.
It takes up more room than all the rest of a person’s insides, and yet
ain’t no good, nohow.  Tom Sawyer he says the same.


WE stopped talking, and got to thinking.  By and by Tom says:

“Looky here, Huck, what fools we are to not think of it before!  I bet I
know where Jim is.”

“No!  Where?”

“In that hut down by the ash-hopper.  Why, looky here.  When we was at
dinner, didn’t you see a nigger man go in there with some vittles?”


“What did you think the vittles was for?”

“For a dog.”

“So ‘d I. Well, it wasn’t for a dog.”


“Because part of it was watermelon.”

“So it was--I noticed it.  Well, it does beat all that I never thought
about a dog not eating watermelon.  It shows how a body can see and
don’t see at the same time.”

“Well, the nigger unlocked the padlock when he went in, and he locked it
again when he came out.  He fetched uncle a key about the time we got up
from table--same key, I bet.  Watermelon shows man, lock shows prisoner;
and it ain’t likely there’s two prisoners on such a little plantation,
and where the people’s all so kind and good.  Jim’s the prisoner.  All
right--I’m glad we found it out detective fashion; I wouldn’t give shucks
for any other way.  Now you work your mind, and study out a plan to
steal Jim, and I will study out one, too; and we’ll take the one we like
the best.”

What a head for just a boy to have!  If I had Tom Sawyer’s head I
wouldn’t trade it off to be a duke, nor mate of a steamboat, nor clown
in a circus, nor nothing I can think of.  I went to thinking out a plan,
but only just to be doing something; I knowed very well where the right
plan was going to come from.  Pretty soon Tom says:


“Yes,” I says.

“All right--bring it out.”

“My plan is this,” I says.  “We can easy find out if it’s Jim in there.
Then get up my canoe to-morrow night, and fetch my raft over from the
island.  Then the first dark night that comes steal the key out of the
old man’s britches after he goes to bed, and shove off down the river
on the raft with Jim, hiding daytimes and running nights, the way me and
Jim used to do before.  Wouldn’t that plan work?”

“_Work_?  Why, cert’nly it would work, like rats a-fighting.  But it’s
too blame’ simple; there ain’t nothing _to_ it.  What’s the good of a
plan that ain’t no more trouble than that?  It’s as mild as goose-milk.
 Why, Huck, it wouldn’t make no more talk than breaking into a soap

I never said nothing, because I warn’t expecting nothing different; but
I knowed mighty well that whenever he got _his_ plan ready it wouldn’t
have none of them objections to it.

And it didn’t.  He told me what it was, and I see in a minute it was
worth fifteen of mine for style, and would make Jim just as free a man
as mine would, and maybe get us all killed besides.  So I was satisfied,
and said we would waltz in on it.  I needn’t tell what it was here,
because I knowed it wouldn’t stay the way, it was.  I knowed he would be
changing it around every which way as we went along, and heaving in new
bullinesses wherever he got a chance.  And that is what he done.

Well, one thing was dead sure, and that was that Tom Sawyer was in
earnest, and was actuly going to help steal that nigger out of slavery.
That was the thing that was too many for me.  Here was a boy that was
respectable and well brung up; and had a character to lose; and folks at
home that had characters; and he was bright and not leather-headed; and
knowing and not ignorant; and not mean, but kind; and yet here he was,
without any more pride, or rightness, or feeling, than to stoop to
this business, and make himself a shame, and his family a shame,
before everybody.  I _couldn’t_ understand it no way at all.  It was
outrageous, and I knowed I ought to just up and tell him so; and so be
his true friend, and let him quit the thing right where he was and save
himself. And I _did_ start to tell him; but he shut me up, and says:

“Don’t you reckon I know what I’m about?  Don’t I generly know what I’m


“Didn’t I _say_ I was going to help steal the nigger?”


“_Well_, then.”

That’s all he said, and that’s all I said.  It warn’t no use to say any
more; because when he said he’d do a thing, he always done it.  But I
couldn’t make out how he was willing to go into this thing; so I just
let it go, and never bothered no more about it.  If he was bound to have
it so, I couldn’t help it.

When we got home the house was all dark and still; so we went on down to
the hut by the ash-hopper for to examine it.  We went through the yard
so as to see what the hounds would do.  They knowed us, and didn’t make
no more noise than country dogs is always doing when anything comes by
in the night.  When we got to the cabin we took a look at the front and
the two sides; and on the side I warn’t acquainted with--which was the
north side--we found a square window-hole, up tolerable high, with just
one stout board nailed across it.  I says:

“Here’s the ticket.  This hole’s big enough for Jim to get through if we
wrench off the board.”

Tom says:

“It’s as simple as tit-tat-toe, three-in-a-row, and as easy as
playing hooky.  I should _hope_ we can find a way that’s a little more
complicated than _that_, Huck Finn.”

“Well, then,” I says, “how ‘ll it do to saw him out, the way I done
before I was murdered that time?”

“That’s more _like_,” he says.  “It’s real mysterious, and troublesome,
and good,” he says; “but I bet we can find a way that’s twice as long.
 There ain’t no hurry; le’s keep on looking around.”

Betwixt the hut and the fence, on the back side, was a lean-to that
joined the hut at the eaves, and was made out of plank.  It was as long
as the hut, but narrow--only about six foot wide.  The door to it was at
the south end, and was padlocked.  Tom he went to the soap-kettle and
searched around, and fetched back the iron thing they lift the lid with;
so he took it and prized out one of the staples.  The chain fell down,
and we opened the door and went in, and shut it, and struck a match,
and see the shed was only built against a cabin and hadn’t no connection
with it; and there warn’t no floor to the shed, nor nothing in it but
some old rusty played-out hoes and spades and picks and a crippled plow.
 The match went out, and so did we, and shoved in the staple again, and
the door was locked as good as ever. Tom was joyful.  He says;

“Now we’re all right.  We’ll _dig_ him out.  It ‘ll take about a week!”

Then we started for the house, and I went in the back door--you only have
to pull a buckskin latch-string, they don’t fasten the doors--but that
warn’t romantical enough for Tom Sawyer; no way would do him but he must
climb up the lightning-rod.  But after he got up half way about three
times, and missed fire and fell every time, and the last time most
busted his brains out, he thought he’d got to give it up; but after he
was rested he allowed he would give her one more turn for luck, and this
time he made the trip.

In the morning we was up at break of day, and down to the nigger cabins
to pet the dogs and make friends with the nigger that fed Jim--if it
_was_ Jim that was being fed.  The niggers was just getting through
breakfast and starting for the fields; and Jim’s nigger was piling up
a tin pan with bread and meat and things; and whilst the others was
leaving, the key come from the house.

This nigger had a good-natured, chuckle-headed face, and his wool was
all tied up in little bunches with thread.  That was to keep witches
off.  He said the witches was pestering him awful these nights, and
making him see all kinds of strange things, and hear all kinds of
strange words and noises, and he didn’t believe he was ever witched so
long before in his life.  He got so worked up, and got to running on so
about his troubles, he forgot all about what he’d been a-going to do.
 So Tom says:

“What’s the vittles for?  Going to feed the dogs?”

The nigger kind of smiled around gradually over his face, like when you
heave a brickbat in a mud-puddle, and he says:

“Yes, Mars Sid, A dog.  Cur’us dog, too.  Does you want to go en look at


I hunched Tom, and whispers:

“You going, right here in the daybreak?  _that_ warn’t the plan.”

“No, it warn’t; but it’s the plan _now_.”

So, drat him, we went along, but I didn’t like it much.  When we got in
we couldn’t hardly see anything, it was so dark; but Jim was there, sure
enough, and could see us; and he sings out:

“Why, _Huck_!  En good _lan_’! ain’ dat Misto Tom?”

I just knowed how it would be; I just expected it.  I didn’t know
nothing to do; and if I had I couldn’t a done it, because that nigger
busted in and says:

“Why, de gracious sakes! do he know you genlmen?”

We could see pretty well now.  Tom he looked at the nigger, steady and
kind of wondering, and says:

“Does _who_ know us?”

“Why, dis-yer runaway nigger.”

“I don’t reckon he does; but what put that into your head?”

“What _put_ it dar?  Didn’ he jis’ dis minute sing out like he knowed

Tom says, in a puzzled-up kind of way:

“Well, that’s mighty curious.  _Who_ sung out? _when_ did he sing out?
 _what_ did he sing out?” And turns to me, perfectly ca’m, and says,
“Did _you_ hear anybody sing out?”

Of course there warn’t nothing to be said but the one thing; so I says:

“No; I ain’t heard nobody say nothing.”

Then he turns to Jim, and looks him over like he never see him before,
and says:

“Did you sing out?”

“No, sah,” says Jim; “I hain’t said nothing, sah.”

“Not a word?”

“No, sah, I hain’t said a word.”

“Did you ever see us before?”

“No, sah; not as I knows on.”

So Tom turns to the nigger, which was looking wild and distressed, and
says, kind of severe:

“What do you reckon’s the matter with you, anyway?  What made you think
somebody sung out?”

“Oh, it’s de dad-blame’ witches, sah, en I wisht I was dead, I do.
 Dey’s awluz at it, sah, en dey do mos’ kill me, dey sk’yers me so.
 Please to don’t tell nobody ‘bout it sah, er ole Mars Silas he’ll scole
me; ‘kase he say dey _ain’t_ no witches.  I jis’ wish to goodness he was
heah now--_den_ what would he say!  I jis’ bet he couldn’ fine no way to
git aroun’ it _dis_ time.  But it’s awluz jis’ so; people dat’s _sot_,
stays sot; dey won’t look into noth’n’en fine it out f’r deyselves, en
when _you_ fine it out en tell um ‘bout it, dey doan’ b’lieve you.”

Tom give him a dime, and said we wouldn’t tell nobody; and told him to
buy some more thread to tie up his wool with; and then looks at Jim, and

“I wonder if Uncle Silas is going to hang this nigger.  If I was to
catch a nigger that was ungrateful enough to run away, I wouldn’t give
him up, I’d hang him.”  And whilst the nigger stepped to the door to
look at the dime and bite it to see if it was good, he whispers to Jim
and says:

“Don’t ever let on to know us.  And if you hear any digging going on
nights, it’s us; we’re going to set you free.”

Jim only had time to grab us by the hand and squeeze it; then the nigger
come back, and we said we’d come again some time if the nigger wanted
us to; and he said he would, more particular if it was dark, because the
witches went for him mostly in the dark, and it was good to have folks
around then.


IT would be most an hour yet till breakfast, so we left and struck down
into the woods; because Tom said we got to have _some_ light to see how
to dig by, and a lantern makes too much, and might get us into trouble;
what we must have was a lot of them rotten chunks that’s called
fox-fire, and just makes a soft kind of a glow when you lay them in a
dark place.  We fetched an armful and hid it in the weeds, and set down
to rest, and Tom says, kind of dissatisfied:

“Blame it, this whole thing is just as easy and awkward as it can be.
And so it makes it so rotten difficult to get up a difficult plan.
 There ain’t no watchman to be drugged--now there _ought_ to be a
watchman.  There ain’t even a dog to give a sleeping-mixture to.  And
there’s Jim chained by one leg, with a ten-foot chain, to the leg of his
bed:  why, all you got to do is to lift up the bedstead and slip off
the chain.  And Uncle Silas he trusts everybody; sends the key to the
punkin-headed nigger, and don’t send nobody to watch the nigger.  Jim
could a got out of that window-hole before this, only there wouldn’t be
no use trying to travel with a ten-foot chain on his leg.  Why, drat it,
Huck, it’s the stupidest arrangement I ever see. You got to invent _all_
the difficulties.  Well, we can’t help it; we got to do the best we can
with the materials we’ve got. Anyhow, there’s one thing--there’s more
honor in getting him out through a lot of difficulties and dangers,
where there warn’t one of them furnished to you by the people who it was
their duty to furnish them, and you had to contrive them all out of your
own head.  Now look at just that one thing of the lantern.  When you
come down to the cold facts, we simply got to _let on_ that a lantern’s
resky.  Why, we could work with a torchlight procession if we wanted to,
I believe.  Now, whilst I think of it, we got to hunt up something to
make a saw out of the first chance we get.”

“What do we want of a saw?”

“What do we _want_ of it?  Hain’t we got to saw the leg of Jim’s bed
off, so as to get the chain loose?”

“Why, you just said a body could lift up the bedstead and slip the chain

“Well, if that ain’t just like you, Huck Finn.  You _can_ get up the
infant-schooliest ways of going at a thing.  Why, hain’t you ever read
any books at all?--Baron Trenck, nor Casanova, nor Benvenuto Chelleeny,
nor Henri IV., nor none of them heroes?  Who ever heard of getting a
prisoner loose in such an old-maidy way as that?  No; the way all the
best authorities does is to saw the bed-leg in two, and leave it just
so, and swallow the sawdust, so it can’t be found, and put some dirt and
grease around the sawed place so the very keenest seneskal can’t see
no sign of it’s being sawed, and thinks the bed-leg is perfectly sound.
Then, the night you’re ready, fetch the leg a kick, down she goes; slip
off your chain, and there you are.  Nothing to do but hitch your
rope ladder to the battlements, shin down it, break your leg in the
moat--because a rope ladder is nineteen foot too short, you know--and
there’s your horses and your trusty vassles, and they scoop you up and
fling you across a saddle, and away you go to your native Langudoc, or
Navarre, or wherever it is. It’s gaudy, Huck.  I wish there was a moat
to this cabin. If we get time, the night of the escape, we’ll dig one.”

I says:

“What do we want of a moat when we’re going to snake him out from under
the cabin?”

But he never heard me.  He had forgot me and everything else.  He had
his chin in his hand, thinking.  Pretty soon he sighs and shakes his
head; then sighs again, and says:

“No, it wouldn’t do--there ain’t necessity enough for it.”

“For what?”  I says.

“Why, to saw Jim’s leg off,” he says.

“Good land!”  I says; “why, there ain’t _no_ necessity for it.  And what
would you want to saw his leg off for, anyway?”

“Well, some of the best authorities has done it.  They couldn’t get the
chain off, so they just cut their hand off and shoved.  And a leg would
be better still.  But we got to let that go.  There ain’t necessity
enough in this case; and, besides, Jim’s a nigger, and wouldn’t
understand the reasons for it, and how it’s the custom in Europe; so
we’ll let it go.  But there’s one thing--he can have a rope ladder; we
can tear up our sheets and make him a rope ladder easy enough.  And we
can send it to him in a pie; it’s mostly done that way.  And I’ve et
worse pies.”

“Why, Tom Sawyer, how you talk,” I says; “Jim ain’t got no use for a
rope ladder.”

“He _has_ got use for it.  How _you_ talk, you better say; you don’t
know nothing about it.  He’s _got_ to have a rope ladder; they all do.”

“What in the nation can he _do_ with it?”

“_Do_ with it?  He can hide it in his bed, can’t he?”  That’s what they
all do; and _he’s_ got to, too.  Huck, you don’t ever seem to want to do
anything that’s regular; you want to be starting something fresh all the
time. S’pose he _don’t_ do nothing with it? ain’t it there in his bed,
for a clew, after he’s gone? and don’t you reckon they’ll want clews?
 Of course they will.  And you wouldn’t leave them any?  That would be a
_pretty_ howdy-do, _wouldn’t_ it!  I never heard of such a thing.”

“Well,” I says, “if it’s in the regulations, and he’s got to have
it, all right, let him have it; because I don’t wish to go back on no
regulations; but there’s one thing, Tom Sawyer--if we go to tearing up
our sheets to make Jim a rope ladder, we’re going to get into trouble
with Aunt Sally, just as sure as you’re born.  Now, the way I look at
it, a hickry-bark ladder don’t cost nothing, and don’t waste nothing,
and is just as good to load up a pie with, and hide in a straw tick,
as any rag ladder you can start; and as for Jim, he ain’t had no
experience, and so he don’t care what kind of a--”

“Oh, shucks, Huck Finn, if I was as ignorant as you I’d keep
still--that’s what I’D do.  Who ever heard of a state prisoner escaping
by a hickry-bark ladder?  Why, it’s perfectly ridiculous.”

“Well, all right, Tom, fix it your own way; but if you’ll take my
advice, you’ll let me borrow a sheet off of the clothesline.”

He said that would do.  And that gave him another idea, and he says:

“Borrow a shirt, too.”

“What do we want of a shirt, Tom?”

“Want it for Jim to keep a journal on.”

“Journal your granny--_Jim_ can’t write.”

“S’pose he _can’t_ write--he can make marks on the shirt, can’t he, if
we make him a pen out of an old pewter spoon or a piece of an old iron

“Why, Tom, we can pull a feather out of a goose and make him a better
one; and quicker, too.”

“_Prisoners_ don’t have geese running around the donjon-keep to pull
pens out of, you muggins.  They _always_ make their pens out of the
hardest, toughest, troublesomest piece of old brass candlestick or
something like that they can get their hands on; and it takes them weeks
and weeks and months and months to file it out, too, because they’ve got
to do it by rubbing it on the wall.  _They_ wouldn’t use a goose-quill
if they had it. It ain’t regular.”

“Well, then, what’ll we make him the ink out of?”

“Many makes it out of iron-rust and tears; but that’s the common sort
and women; the best authorities uses their own blood.  Jim can do that;
and when he wants to send any little common ordinary mysterious message
to let the world know where he’s captivated, he can write it on the
bottom of a tin plate with a fork and throw it out of the window.  The
Iron Mask always done that, and it’s a blame’ good way, too.”

“Jim ain’t got no tin plates.  They feed him in a pan.”

“That ain’t nothing; we can get him some.”

“Can’t nobody _read_ his plates.”

“That ain’t got anything to _do_ with it, Huck Finn.  All _he’s_ got to
do is to write on the plate and throw it out.  You don’t _have_ to be
able to read it. Why, half the time you can’t read anything a prisoner
writes on a tin plate, or anywhere else.”

“Well, then, what’s the sense in wasting the plates?”

“Why, blame it all, it ain’t the _prisoner’s_ plates.”

“But it’s _somebody’s_ plates, ain’t it?”

“Well, spos’n it is?  What does the _prisoner_ care whose--”

He broke off there, because we heard the breakfast-horn blowing.  So we
cleared out for the house.

Along during the morning I borrowed a sheet and a white shirt off of the
clothes-line; and I found an old sack and put them in it, and we went
down and got the fox-fire, and put that in too.  I called it borrowing,
because that was what pap always called it; but Tom said it warn’t
borrowing, it was stealing.  He said we was representing prisoners; and
prisoners don’t care how they get a thing so they get it, and nobody
don’t blame them for it, either.  It ain’t no crime in a prisoner to
steal the thing he needs to get away with, Tom said; it’s his right; and
so, as long as we was representing a prisoner, we had a perfect right to
steal anything on this place we had the least use for to get ourselves
out of prison with.  He said if we warn’t prisoners it would be a very
different thing, and nobody but a mean, ornery person would steal when
he warn’t a prisoner.  So we allowed we would steal everything there was
that come handy.  And yet he made a mighty fuss, one day, after that,
when I stole a watermelon out of the nigger-patch and eat it; and he
made me go and give the niggers a dime without telling them what it
was for. Tom said that what he meant was, we could steal anything we
_needed_. Well, I says, I needed the watermelon.  But he said I didn’t
need it to get out of prison with; there’s where the difference was.
 He said if I’d a wanted it to hide a knife in, and smuggle it to Jim
to kill the seneskal with, it would a been all right.  So I let it go at
that, though I couldn’t see no advantage in my representing a prisoner
if I got to set down and chaw over a lot of gold-leaf distinctions like
that every time I see a chance to hog a watermelon.

Well, as I was saying, we waited that morning till everybody was settled
down to business, and nobody in sight around the yard; then Tom he
carried the sack into the lean-to whilst I stood off a piece to keep
watch.  By and by he come out, and we went and set down on the woodpile
to talk.  He says:

“Everything’s all right now except tools; and that’s easy fixed.”

“Tools?”  I says.


“Tools for what?”

“Why, to dig with.  We ain’t a-going to _gnaw_ him out, are we?”

“Ain’t them old crippled picks and things in there good enough to dig a
nigger out with?”  I says.

He turns on me, looking pitying enough to make a body cry, and says:

“Huck Finn, did you _ever_ hear of a prisoner having picks and shovels,
and all the modern conveniences in his wardrobe to dig himself out with?
 Now I want to ask you--if you got any reasonableness in you at all--what
kind of a show would _that_ give him to be a hero?  Why, they might as
well lend him the key and done with it.  Picks and shovels--why, they
wouldn’t furnish ‘em to a king.”

“Well, then,” I says, “if we don’t want the picks and shovels, what do
we want?”

“A couple of case-knives.”

“To dig the foundations out from under that cabin with?”


“Confound it, it’s foolish, Tom.”

“It don’t make no difference how foolish it is, it’s the _right_ way--and
it’s the regular way.  And there ain’t no _other_ way, that ever I heard
of, and I’ve read all the books that gives any information about these
things. They always dig out with a case-knife--and not through dirt, mind
you; generly it’s through solid rock.  And it takes them weeks and weeks
and weeks, and for ever and ever.  Why, look at one of them prisoners in
the bottom dungeon of the Castle Deef, in the harbor of Marseilles, that
dug himself out that way; how long was _he_ at it, you reckon?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, guess.”

“I don’t know.  A month and a half.”

“_Thirty-seven year_--and he come out in China.  _That’s_ the kind.  I
wish the bottom of _this_ fortress was solid rock.”

“_Jim_ don’t know nobody in China.”

“What’s _that_ got to do with it?  Neither did that other fellow.  But
you’re always a-wandering off on a side issue.  Why can’t you stick to
the main point?”

“All right--I don’t care where he comes out, so he _comes_ out; and Jim
don’t, either, I reckon.  But there’s one thing, anyway--Jim’s too old to
be dug out with a case-knife.  He won’t last.”

“Yes he will _last_, too.  You don’t reckon it’s going to take
thirty-seven years to dig out through a _dirt_ foundation, do you?”

“How long will it take, Tom?”

“Well, we can’t resk being as long as we ought to, because it mayn’t
take very long for Uncle Silas to hear from down there by New Orleans.
 He’ll hear Jim ain’t from there.  Then his next move will be to
advertise Jim, or something like that.  So we can’t resk being as long
digging him out as we ought to.  By rights I reckon we ought to be
a couple of years; but we can’t.  Things being so uncertain, what I
recommend is this:  that we really dig right in, as quick as we can;
and after that, we can _let on_, to ourselves, that we was at it
thirty-seven years.  Then we can snatch him out and rush him away the
first time there’s an alarm.  Yes, I reckon that ‘ll be the best way.”

“Now, there’s _sense_ in that,” I says.  “Letting on don’t cost nothing;
letting on ain’t no trouble; and if it’s any object, I don’t mind
letting on we was at it a hundred and fifty year.  It wouldn’t strain
me none, after I got my hand in.  So I’ll mosey along now, and smouch a
couple of case-knives.”

“Smouch three,” he says; “we want one to make a saw out of.”

“Tom, if it ain’t unregular and irreligious to sejest it,” I says,
“there’s an old rusty saw-blade around yonder sticking under the
weather-boarding behind the smoke-house.”

He looked kind of weary and discouraged-like, and says:

“It ain’t no use to try to learn you nothing, Huck.  Run along and
smouch the knives--three of them.”  So I done it.


AS soon as we reckoned everybody was asleep that night we went down the
lightning-rod, and shut ourselves up in the lean-to, and got out our
pile of fox-fire, and went to work.  We cleared everything out of the
way, about four or five foot along the middle of the bottom log.  Tom
said he was right behind Jim’s bed now, and we’d dig in under it, and
when we got through there couldn’t nobody in the cabin ever know there
was any hole there, because Jim’s counter-pin hung down most to the
ground, and you’d have to raise it up and look under to see the hole.
 So we dug and dug with the case-knives till most midnight; and then
we was dog-tired, and our hands was blistered, and yet you couldn’t see
we’d done anything hardly.  At last I says:

“This ain’t no thirty-seven year job; this is a thirty-eight year job,
Tom Sawyer.”

He never said nothing.  But he sighed, and pretty soon he stopped
digging, and then for a good little while I knowed that he was thinking.
Then he says:

“It ain’t no use, Huck, it ain’t a-going to work.  If we was prisoners
it would, because then we’d have as many years as we wanted, and no
hurry; and we wouldn’t get but a few minutes to dig, every day, while
they was changing watches, and so our hands wouldn’t get blistered, and
we could keep it up right along, year in and year out, and do it right,
and the way it ought to be done.  But _we_ can’t fool along; we got to
rush; we ain’t got no time to spare.  If we was to put in another
night this way we’d have to knock off for a week to let our hands get
well--couldn’t touch a case-knife with them sooner.”

“Well, then, what we going to do, Tom?”

“I’ll tell you.  It ain’t right, and it ain’t moral, and I wouldn’t like
it to get out; but there ain’t only just the one way:  we got to dig him
out with the picks, and _let on_ it’s case-knives.”

“_Now_ you’re _talking_!”  I says; “your head gets leveler and leveler
all the time, Tom Sawyer,” I says.  “Picks is the thing, moral or no
moral; and as for me, I don’t care shucks for the morality of it, nohow.
 When I start in to steal a nigger, or a watermelon, or a Sunday-school
book, I ain’t no ways particular how it’s done so it’s done.  What I
want is my nigger; or what I want is my watermelon; or what I want is my
Sunday-school book; and if a pick’s the handiest thing, that’s the thing
I’m a-going to dig that nigger or that watermelon or that Sunday-school
book out with; and I don’t give a dead rat what the authorities thinks
about it nuther.”

“Well,” he says, “there’s excuse for picks and letting-on in a case like
this; if it warn’t so, I wouldn’t approve of it, nor I wouldn’t stand by
and see the rules broke--because right is right, and wrong is wrong,
and a body ain’t got no business doing wrong when he ain’t ignorant and
knows better.  It might answer for _you_ to dig Jim out with a pick,
_without_ any letting on, because you don’t know no better; but it
wouldn’t for me, because I do know better.  Gimme a case-knife.”

He had his own by him, but I handed him mine.  He flung it down, and

“Gimme a _case-knife_.”

I didn’t know just what to do--but then I thought.  I scratched around
amongst the old tools, and got a pickaxe and give it to him, and he took
it and went to work, and never said a word.

He was always just that particular.  Full of principle.

So then I got a shovel, and then we picked and shoveled, turn about,
and made the fur fly.  We stuck to it about a half an hour, which was as
long as we could stand up; but we had a good deal of a hole to show for
it. When I got up stairs I looked out at the window and see Tom doing
his level best with the lightning-rod, but he couldn’t come it, his
hands was so sore.  At last he says:

“It ain’t no use, it can’t be done.  What you reckon I better do?  Can’t
you think of no way?”

“Yes,” I says, “but I reckon it ain’t regular.  Come up the stairs, and
let on it’s a lightning-rod.”

So he done it.

Next day Tom stole a pewter spoon and a brass candlestick in the house,
for to make some pens for Jim out of, and six tallow candles; and I
hung around the nigger cabins and laid for a chance, and stole three tin
plates.  Tom says it wasn’t enough; but I said nobody wouldn’t ever see
the plates that Jim throwed out, because they’d fall in the dog-fennel
and jimpson weeds under the window-hole--then we could tote them back and
he could use them over again.  So Tom was satisfied.  Then he says:

“Now, the thing to study out is, how to get the things to Jim.”

“Take them in through the hole,” I says, “when we get it done.”

He only just looked scornful, and said something about nobody ever heard
of such an idiotic idea, and then he went to studying.  By and by he
said he had ciphered out two or three ways, but there warn’t no need to
decide on any of them yet.  Said we’d got to post Jim first.

That night we went down the lightning-rod a little after ten, and took
one of the candles along, and listened under the window-hole, and heard
Jim snoring; so we pitched it in, and it didn’t wake him.  Then we
whirled in with the pick and shovel, and in about two hours and a half
the job was done.  We crept in under Jim’s bed and into the cabin, and
pawed around and found the candle and lit it, and stood over Jim awhile,
and found him looking hearty and healthy, and then we woke him up gentle
and gradual.  He was so glad to see us he most cried; and called us
honey, and all the pet names he could think of; and was for having us
hunt up a cold-chisel to cut the chain off of his leg with right away,
and clearing out without losing any time.  But Tom he showed him how
unregular it would be, and set down and told him all about our plans,
and how we could alter them in a minute any time there was an alarm; and
not to be the least afraid, because we would see he got away, _sure_.
 So Jim he said it was all right, and we set there and talked over old
times awhile, and then Tom asked a lot of questions, and when Jim told
him Uncle Silas come in every day or two to pray with him, and Aunt
Sally come in to see if he was comfortable and had plenty to eat, and
both of them was kind as they could be, Tom says:

“_Now_ I know how to fix it.  We’ll send you some things by them.”

I said, “Don’t do nothing of the kind; it’s one of the most jackass
ideas I ever struck;” but he never paid no attention to me; went right
on.  It was his way when he’d got his plans set.

So he told Jim how we’d have to smuggle in the rope-ladder pie and other
large things by Nat, the nigger that fed him, and he must be on the
lookout, and not be surprised, and not let Nat see him open them; and
we would put small things in uncle’s coat-pockets and he must steal them
out; and we would tie things to aunt’s apron-strings or put them in her
apron-pocket, if we got a chance; and told him what they would be and
what they was for.  And told him how to keep a journal on the shirt with
his blood, and all that. He told him everything.  Jim he couldn’t see
no sense in the most of it, but he allowed we was white folks and knowed
better than him; so he was satisfied, and said he would do it all just
as Tom said.

Jim had plenty corn-cob pipes and tobacco; so we had a right down good
sociable time; then we crawled out through the hole, and so home to
bed, with hands that looked like they’d been chawed.  Tom was in high
spirits. He said it was the best fun he ever had in his life, and the
most intellectural; and said if he only could see his way to it we would
keep it up all the rest of our lives and leave Jim to our children to
get out; for he believed Jim would come to like it better and better the
more he got used to it.  He said that in that way it could be strung out
to as much as eighty year, and would be the best time on record.  And he
said it would make us all celebrated that had a hand in it.

In the morning we went out to the woodpile and chopped up the brass
candlestick into handy sizes, and Tom put them and the pewter spoon in
his pocket.  Then we went to the nigger cabins, and while I got Nat’s
notice off, Tom shoved a piece of candlestick into the middle of a
corn-pone that was in Jim’s pan, and we went along with Nat to see how
it would work, and it just worked noble; when Jim bit into it it most
mashed all his teeth out; and there warn’t ever anything could a worked
better. Tom said so himself. Jim he never let on but what it was only
just a piece of rock or something like that that’s always getting into
bread, you know; but after that he never bit into nothing but what he
jabbed his fork into it in three or four places first.

And whilst we was a-standing there in the dimmish light, here comes a
couple of the hounds bulging in from under Jim’s bed; and they kept on
piling in till there was eleven of them, and there warn’t hardly room
in there to get your breath.  By jings, we forgot to fasten that lean-to
door!  The nigger Nat he only just hollered “Witches” once, and keeled
over on to the floor amongst the dogs, and begun to groan like he was
dying.  Tom jerked the door open and flung out a slab of Jim’s meat,
and the dogs went for it, and in two seconds he was out himself and back
again and shut the door, and I knowed he’d fixed the other door too.
Then he went to work on the nigger, coaxing him and petting him, and
asking him if he’d been imagining he saw something again.  He raised up,
and blinked his eyes around, and says:

“Mars Sid, you’ll say I’s a fool, but if I didn’t b’lieve I see most a
million dogs, er devils, er some’n, I wisht I may die right heah in dese
tracks.  I did, mos’ sholy.  Mars Sid, I _felt_ um--I _felt_ um, sah; dey
was all over me.  Dad fetch it, I jis’ wisht I could git my han’s on one
er dem witches jis’ wunst--on’y jis’ wunst--it’s all I’d ast.  But mos’ly
I wisht dey’d lemme ‘lone, I does.”

Tom says:

“Well, I tell you what I think.  What makes them come here just at this
runaway nigger’s breakfast-time?  It’s because they’re hungry; that’s
the reason.  You make them a witch pie; that’s the thing for _you_ to

“But my lan’, Mars Sid, how’s I gwyne to make ‘m a witch pie?  I doan’
know how to make it.  I hain’t ever hearn er sich a thing b’fo’.”

“Well, then, I’ll have to make it myself.”

“Will you do it, honey?--will you?  I’ll wusshup de groun’ und’ yo’ foot,
I will!”

“All right, I’ll do it, seeing it’s you, and you’ve been good to us and
showed us the runaway nigger.  But you got to be mighty careful.  When
we come around, you turn your back; and then whatever we’ve put in the
pan, don’t you let on you see it at all.  And don’t you look when Jim
unloads the pan--something might happen, I don’t know what.  And above
all, don’t you _handle_ the witch-things.”

“_Hannel ‘M_, Mars Sid?  What _is_ you a-talkin’ ‘bout?  I wouldn’
lay de weight er my finger on um, not f’r ten hund’d thous’n billion
dollars, I wouldn’t.”


THAT was all fixed.  So then we went away and went to the rubbage-pile
in the back yard, where they keep the old boots, and rags, and pieces
of bottles, and wore-out tin things, and all such truck, and scratched
around and found an old tin washpan, and stopped up the holes as well as
we could, to bake the pie in, and took it down cellar and stole it full
of flour and started for breakfast, and found a couple of shingle-nails
that Tom said would be handy for a prisoner to scrabble his name and
sorrows on the dungeon walls with, and dropped one of them in Aunt
Sally’s apron-pocket which was hanging on a chair, and t’other we stuck
in the band of Uncle Silas’s hat, which was on the bureau, because we
heard the children say their pa and ma was going to the runaway nigger’s
house this morning, and then went to breakfast, and Tom dropped the
pewter spoon in Uncle Silas’s coat-pocket, and Aunt Sally wasn’t come
yet, so we had to wait a little while.

And when she come she was hot and red and cross, and couldn’t hardly
wait for the blessing; and then she went to sluicing out coffee with one
hand and cracking the handiest child’s head with her thimble with the
other, and says:

“I’ve hunted high and I’ve hunted low, and it does beat all what _has_
become of your other shirt.”

My heart fell down amongst my lungs and livers and things, and a hard
piece of corn-crust started down my throat after it and got met on the
road with a cough, and was shot across the table, and took one of the
children in the eye and curled him up like a fishing-worm, and let a cry
out of him the size of a warwhoop, and Tom he turned kinder blue around
the gills, and it all amounted to a considerable state of things for
about a quarter of a minute or as much as that, and I would a sold out
for half price if there was a bidder.  But after that we was all right
again--it was the sudden surprise of it that knocked us so kind of cold.
Uncle Silas he says:

“It’s most uncommon curious, I can’t understand it.  I know perfectly
well I took it _off_, because--”

“Because you hain’t got but one _on_.  Just _listen_ at the man!  I know
you took it off, and know it by a better way than your wool-gethering
memory, too, because it was on the clo’s-line yesterday--I see it there
myself. But it’s gone, that’s the long and the short of it, and you’ll
just have to change to a red flann’l one till I can get time to make a
new one. And it ‘ll be the third I’ve made in two years.  It just keeps
a body on the jump to keep you in shirts; and whatever you do manage to
_do_ with ‘m all is more’n I can make out.  A body ‘d think you _would_
learn to take some sort of care of ‘em at your time of life.”

“I know it, Sally, and I do try all I can.  But it oughtn’t to be
altogether my fault, because, you know, I don’t see them nor have
nothing to do with them except when they’re on me; and I don’t believe
I’ve ever lost one of them _off_ of me.”

“Well, it ain’t _your_ fault if you haven’t, Silas; you’d a done it
if you could, I reckon.  And the shirt ain’t all that’s gone, nuther.
 Ther’s a spoon gone; and _that_ ain’t all.  There was ten, and now
ther’s only nine. The calf got the shirt, I reckon, but the calf never
took the spoon, _that’s_ certain.”

“Why, what else is gone, Sally?”

“Ther’s six _candles_ gone--that’s what.  The rats could a got the
candles, and I reckon they did; I wonder they don’t walk off with the
whole place, the way you’re always going to stop their holes and don’t
do it; and if they warn’t fools they’d sleep in your hair, Silas--_you’d_
never find it out; but you can’t lay the _spoon_ on the rats, and that I

“Well, Sally, I’m in fault, and I acknowledge it; I’ve been remiss; but
I won’t let to-morrow go by without stopping up them holes.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t hurry; next year ‘ll do.  Matilda Angelina Araminta

Whack comes the thimble, and the child snatches her claws out of the
sugar-bowl without fooling around any.  Just then the nigger woman steps
on to the passage, and says:

“Missus, dey’s a sheet gone.”

“A _sheet_ gone!  Well, for the land’s sake!”

“I’ll stop up them holes to-day,” says Uncle Silas, looking sorrowful.

“Oh, _do_ shet up!--s’pose the rats took the _sheet_?  _where’s_ it gone,

“Clah to goodness I hain’t no notion, Miss’ Sally.  She wuz on de
clo’sline yistiddy, but she done gone:  she ain’ dah no mo’ now.”

“I reckon the world _is_ coming to an end.  I _never_ see the beat of it
in all my born days.  A shirt, and a sheet, and a spoon, and six can--”

“Missus,” comes a young yaller wench, “dey’s a brass cannelstick

“Cler out from here, you hussy, er I’ll take a skillet to ye!”

Well, she was just a-biling.  I begun to lay for a chance; I reckoned
I would sneak out and go for the woods till the weather moderated.  She
kept a-raging right along, running her insurrection all by herself, and
everybody else mighty meek and quiet; and at last Uncle Silas, looking
kind of foolish, fishes up that spoon out of his pocket.  She stopped,
with her mouth open and her hands up; and as for me, I wished I was in
Jeruslem or somewheres. But not long, because she says:

“It’s _just_ as I expected.  So you had it in your pocket all the time;
and like as not you’ve got the other things there, too.  How’d it get

“I reely don’t know, Sally,” he says, kind of apologizing, “or you know
I would tell.  I was a-studying over my text in Acts Seventeen before
breakfast, and I reckon I put it in there, not noticing, meaning to put
my Testament in, and it must be so, because my Testament ain’t in; but
I’ll go and see; and if the Testament is where I had it, I’ll know I
didn’t put it in, and that will show that I laid the Testament down and
took up the spoon, and--”

“Oh, for the land’s sake!  Give a body a rest!  Go ‘long now, the whole
kit and biling of ye; and don’t come nigh me again till I’ve got back my
peace of mind.”

I’D a heard her if she’d a said it to herself, let alone speaking it
out; and I’d a got up and obeyed her if I’d a been dead.  As we was
passing through the setting-room the old man he took up his hat, and the
shingle-nail fell out on the floor, and he just merely picked it up and
laid it on the mantel-shelf, and never said nothing, and went out.  Tom
see him do it, and remembered about the spoon, and says:

“Well, it ain’t no use to send things by _him_ no more, he ain’t
reliable.” Then he says:  “But he done us a good turn with the spoon,
anyway, without knowing it, and so we’ll go and do him one without _him_
knowing it--stop up his rat-holes.”

There was a noble good lot of them down cellar, and it took us a whole
hour, but we done the job tight and good and shipshape.  Then we heard
steps on the stairs, and blowed out our light and hid; and here comes
the old man, with a candle in one hand and a bundle of stuff in t’other,
looking as absent-minded as year before last.  He went a mooning around,
first to one rat-hole and then another, till he’d been to them all.
 Then he stood about five minutes, picking tallow-drip off of his candle
and thinking.  Then he turns off slow and dreamy towards the stairs,

“Well, for the life of me I can’t remember when I done it.  I could
show her now that I warn’t to blame on account of the rats.  But never
mind--let it go.  I reckon it wouldn’t do no good.”

And so he went on a-mumbling up stairs, and then we left.  He was a
mighty nice old man.  And always is.

Tom was a good deal bothered about what to do for a spoon, but he said
we’d got to have it; so he took a think.  When he had ciphered it out
he told me how we was to do; then we went and waited around the
spoon-basket till we see Aunt Sally coming, and then Tom went to
counting the spoons and laying them out to one side, and I slid one of
them up my sleeve, and Tom says:

“Why, Aunt Sally, there ain’t but nine spoons _yet_.”

She says:

“Go ‘long to your play, and don’t bother me.  I know better, I counted
‘m myself.”

“Well, I’ve counted them twice, Aunty, and I can’t make but nine.”

She looked out of all patience, but of course she come to count--anybody

“I declare to gracious ther’ _ain’t_ but nine!” she says.  “Why, what in
the world--plague _take_ the things, I’ll count ‘m again.”

So I slipped back the one I had, and when she got done counting, she

“Hang the troublesome rubbage, ther’s _ten_ now!” and she looked huffy
and bothered both.  But Tom says:

“Why, Aunty, I don’t think there’s ten.”

“You numskull, didn’t you see me _count ‘m?_”

“I know, but--”

“Well, I’ll count ‘m _again_.”

So I smouched one, and they come out nine, same as the other time.
 Well, she _was_ in a tearing way--just a-trembling all over, she was so
mad.  But she counted and counted till she got that addled she’d start
to count in the basket for a spoon sometimes; and so, three times they
come out right, and three times they come out wrong.  Then she grabbed
up the basket and slammed it across the house and knocked the cat
galley-west; and she said cle’r out and let her have some peace, and if
we come bothering around her again betwixt that and dinner she’d skin
us.  So we had the odd spoon, and dropped it in her apron-pocket whilst
she was a-giving us our sailing orders, and Jim got it all right, along
with her shingle nail, before noon.  We was very well satisfied with
this business, and Tom allowed it was worth twice the trouble it took,
because he said _now_ she couldn’t ever count them spoons twice alike
again to save her life; and wouldn’t believe she’d counted them right if
she _did_; and said that after she’d about counted her head off for the
next three days he judged she’d give it up and offer to kill anybody
that wanted her to ever count them any more.

So we put the sheet back on the line that night, and stole one out of
her closet; and kept on putting it back and stealing it again for a
couple of days till she didn’t know how many sheets she had any more,
and she didn’t _care_, and warn’t a-going to bullyrag the rest of her
soul out about it, and wouldn’t count them again not to save her life;
she druther die first.

So we was all right now, as to the shirt and the sheet and the spoon
and the candles, by the help of the calf and the rats and the mixed-up
counting; and as to the candlestick, it warn’t no consequence, it would
blow over by and by.

But that pie was a job; we had no end of trouble with that pie.  We
fixed it up away down in the woods, and cooked it there; and we got it
done at last, and very satisfactory, too; but not all in one day; and we
had to use up three wash-pans full of flour before we got through, and
we got burnt pretty much all over, in places, and eyes put out with
the smoke; because, you see, we didn’t want nothing but a crust, and we
couldn’t prop it up right, and she would always cave in.  But of course
we thought of the right way at last--which was to cook the ladder, too,
in the pie.  So then we laid in with Jim the second night, and tore
up the sheet all in little strings and twisted them together, and long
before daylight we had a lovely rope that you could a hung a person
with.  We let on it took nine months to make it.

And in the forenoon we took it down to the woods, but it wouldn’t go
into the pie.  Being made of a whole sheet, that way, there was rope
enough for forty pies if we’d a wanted them, and plenty left over
for soup, or sausage, or anything you choose.  We could a had a whole

But we didn’t need it.  All we needed was just enough for the pie, and
so we throwed the rest away.  We didn’t cook none of the pies in the
wash-pan--afraid the solder would melt; but Uncle Silas he had a noble
brass warming-pan which he thought considerable of, because it belonged
to one of his ancesters with a long wooden handle that come over from
England with William the Conqueror in the Mayflower or one of them early
ships and was hid away up garret with a lot of other old pots and things
that was valuable, not on account of being any account, because they
warn’t, but on account of them being relicts, you know, and we snaked
her out, private, and took her down there, but she failed on the first
pies, because we didn’t know how, but she come up smiling on the last
one.  We took and lined her with dough, and set her in the coals, and
loaded her up with rag rope, and put on a dough roof, and shut down the
lid, and put hot embers on top, and stood off five foot, with the long
handle, cool and comfortable, and in fifteen minutes she turned out a
pie that was a satisfaction to look at. But the person that et it would
want to fetch a couple of kags of toothpicks along, for if that rope
ladder wouldn’t cramp him down to business I don’t know nothing what I’m
talking about, and lay him in enough stomach-ache to last him till next
time, too.

Nat didn’t look when we put the witch pie in Jim’s pan; and we put the
three tin plates in the bottom of the pan under the vittles; and so Jim
got everything all right, and as soon as he was by himself he busted
into the pie and hid the rope ladder inside of his straw tick,
and scratched some marks on a tin plate and throwed it out of the


MAKING them pens was a distressid tough job, and so was the saw; and Jim
allowed the inscription was going to be the toughest of all.  That’s the
one which the prisoner has to scrabble on the wall.  But he had to have
it; Tom said he’d _got_ to; there warn’t no case of a state prisoner not
scrabbling his inscription to leave behind, and his coat of arms.

“Look at Lady Jane Grey,” he says; “look at Gilford Dudley; look at old
Northumberland!  Why, Huck, s’pose it _is_ considerble trouble?--what
you going to do?--how you going to get around it?  Jim’s _got_ to do his
inscription and coat of arms.  They all do.”

Jim says:

“Why, Mars Tom, I hain’t got no coat o’ arm; I hain’t got nuffn but dish
yer ole shirt, en you knows I got to keep de journal on dat.”

“Oh, you don’t understand, Jim; a coat of arms is very different.”

“Well,” I says, “Jim’s right, anyway, when he says he ain’t got no coat
of arms, because he hain’t.”

“I reckon I knowed that,” Tom says, “but you bet he’ll have one before
he goes out of this--because he’s going out _right_, and there ain’t
going to be no flaws in his record.”

So whilst me and Jim filed away at the pens on a brickbat apiece, Jim
a-making his’n out of the brass and I making mine out of the spoon,
Tom set to work to think out the coat of arms.  By and by he said he’d
struck so many good ones he didn’t hardly know which to take, but there
was one which he reckoned he’d decide on.  He says:

“On the scutcheon we’ll have a bend _or_ in the dexter base, a saltire
_murrey_ in the fess, with a dog, couchant, for common charge, and under
his foot a chain embattled, for slavery, with a chevron _vert_ in a
chief engrailed, and three invected lines on a field _azure_, with the
nombril points rampant on a dancette indented; crest, a runaway nigger,
_sable_, with his bundle over his shoulder on a bar sinister; and a
couple of gules for supporters, which is you and me; motto, _Maggiore
Fretta, Minore Otto._  Got it out of a book--means the more haste the
less speed.”

“Geewhillikins,” I says, “but what does the rest of it mean?”

“We ain’t got no time to bother over that,” he says; “we got to dig in
like all git-out.”

“Well, anyway,” I says, “what’s _some_ of it?  What’s a fess?”

“A fess--a fess is--_you_ don’t need to know what a fess is.  I’ll show
him how to make it when he gets to it.”

“Shucks, Tom,” I says, “I think you might tell a person.  What’s a bar

“Oh, I don’t know.  But he’s got to have it.  All the nobility does.”

That was just his way.  If it didn’t suit him to explain a thing to you,
he wouldn’t do it.  You might pump at him a week, it wouldn’t make no

He’d got all that coat of arms business fixed, so now he started in to
finish up the rest of that part of the work, which was to plan out a
mournful inscription--said Jim got to have one, like they all done.  He
made up a lot, and wrote them out on a paper, and read them off, so:

1.  Here a captive heart busted. 2.  Here a poor prisoner, forsook by
the world and friends, fretted his sorrowful life. 3.  Here a lonely
heart broke, and a worn spirit went to its rest, after thirty-seven
years of solitary captivity. 4.  Here, homeless and friendless, after
thirty-seven years of bitter captivity, perished a noble stranger,
natural son of Louis XIV.

Tom’s voice trembled whilst he was reading them, and he most broke down.
When he got done he couldn’t no way make up his mind which one for Jim
to scrabble on to the wall, they was all so good; but at last he allowed
he would let him scrabble them all on.  Jim said it would take him a
year to scrabble such a lot of truck on to the logs with a nail, and he
didn’t know how to make letters, besides; but Tom said he would block
them out for him, and then he wouldn’t have nothing to do but just
follow the lines.  Then pretty soon he says:

“Come to think, the logs ain’t a-going to do; they don’t have log walls
in a dungeon:  we got to dig the inscriptions into a rock.  We’ll fetch
a rock.”

Jim said the rock was worse than the logs; he said it would take him
such a pison long time to dig them into a rock he wouldn’t ever get out.
 But Tom said he would let me help him do it.  Then he took a look to
see how me and Jim was getting along with the pens.  It was most pesky
tedious hard work and slow, and didn’t give my hands no show to get
well of the sores, and we didn’t seem to make no headway, hardly; so Tom

“I know how to fix it.  We got to have a rock for the coat of arms and
mournful inscriptions, and we can kill two birds with that same rock.
There’s a gaudy big grindstone down at the mill, and we’ll smouch it,
and carve the things on it, and file out the pens and the saw on it,

It warn’t no slouch of an idea; and it warn’t no slouch of a grindstone
nuther; but we allowed we’d tackle it.  It warn’t quite midnight yet,
so we cleared out for the mill, leaving Jim at work.  We smouched the
grindstone, and set out to roll her home, but it was a most nation tough
job. Sometimes, do what we could, we couldn’t keep her from falling
over, and she come mighty near mashing us every time.  Tom said she was
going to get one of us, sure, before we got through.  We got her half
way; and then we was plumb played out, and most drownded with sweat.  We
see it warn’t no use; we got to go and fetch Jim. So he raised up his
bed and slid the chain off of the bed-leg, and wrapt it round and round
his neck, and we crawled out through our hole and down there, and Jim
and me laid into that grindstone and walked her along like nothing; and
Tom superintended.  He could out-superintend any boy I ever see.  He
knowed how to do everything.

Our hole was pretty big, but it warn’t big enough to get the grindstone
through; but Jim he took the pick and soon made it big enough.  Then Tom
marked out them things on it with the nail, and set Jim to work on them,
with the nail for a chisel and an iron bolt from the rubbage in the
lean-to for a hammer, and told him to work till the rest of his candle
quit on him, and then he could go to bed, and hide the grindstone under
his straw tick and sleep on it.  Then we helped him fix his chain back
on the bed-leg, and was ready for bed ourselves.  But Tom thought of
something, and says:

“You got any spiders in here, Jim?”

“No, sah, thanks to goodness I hain’t, Mars Tom.”

“All right, we’ll get you some.”

“But bless you, honey, I doan’ _want_ none.  I’s afeard un um.  I jis’
‘s soon have rattlesnakes aroun’.”

Tom thought a minute or two, and says:

“It’s a good idea.  And I reckon it’s been done.  It _must_ a been done;
it stands to reason.  Yes, it’s a prime good idea.  Where could you keep

“Keep what, Mars Tom?”

“Why, a rattlesnake.”

“De goodness gracious alive, Mars Tom!  Why, if dey was a rattlesnake to
come in heah I’d take en bust right out thoo dat log wall, I would, wid
my head.”

“Why, Jim, you wouldn’t be afraid of it after a little.  You could tame

“_Tame_ it!”

“Yes--easy enough.  Every animal is grateful for kindness and petting,
and they wouldn’t _think_ of hurting a person that pets them.  Any book
will tell you that.  You try--that’s all I ask; just try for two or three
days. Why, you can get him so, in a little while, that he’ll love you;
and sleep with you; and won’t stay away from you a minute; and will let
you wrap him round your neck and put his head in your mouth.”

“_Please_, Mars Tom--_doan_’ talk so!  I can’t _stan_’ it!  He’d _let_
me shove his head in my mouf--fer a favor, hain’t it?  I lay he’d wait a
pow’ful long time ‘fo’ I _ast_ him.  En mo’ en dat, I doan’ _want_ him
to sleep wid me.”

“Jim, don’t act so foolish.  A prisoner’s _got_ to have some kind of a
dumb pet, and if a rattlesnake hain’t ever been tried, why, there’s more
glory to be gained in your being the first to ever try it than any other
way you could ever think of to save your life.”

“Why, Mars Tom, I doan’ _want_ no sich glory.  Snake take ‘n bite
Jim’s chin off, den _whah_ is de glory?  No, sah, I doan’ want no sich

“Blame it, can’t you _try_?  I only _want_ you to try--you needn’t keep
it up if it don’t work.”

“But de trouble all _done_ ef de snake bite me while I’s a tryin’ him.
Mars Tom, I’s willin’ to tackle mos’ anything ‘at ain’t onreasonable,
but ef you en Huck fetches a rattlesnake in heah for me to tame, I’s
gwyne to _leave_, dat’s _shore_.”

“Well, then, let it go, let it go, if you’re so bull-headed about it.
 We can get you some garter-snakes, and you can tie some buttons on
their tails, and let on they’re rattlesnakes, and I reckon that ‘ll have
to do.”

“I k’n stan’ _dem_, Mars Tom, but blame’ ‘f I couldn’ get along widout
um, I tell you dat.  I never knowed b’fo’ ‘t was so much bother and
trouble to be a prisoner.”

“Well, it _always_ is when it’s done right.  You got any rats around

“No, sah, I hain’t seed none.”

“Well, we’ll get you some rats.”

“Why, Mars Tom, I doan’ _want_ no rats.  Dey’s de dadblamedest creturs
to ‘sturb a body, en rustle roun’ over ‘im, en bite his feet, when he’s
tryin’ to sleep, I ever see.  No, sah, gimme g’yarter-snakes, ‘f I’s
got to have ‘m, but doan’ gimme no rats; I hain’ got no use f’r um,

“But, Jim, you _got_ to have ‘em--they all do.  So don’t make no more
fuss about it.  Prisoners ain’t ever without rats.  There ain’t no
instance of it.  And they train them, and pet them, and learn them
tricks, and they get to be as sociable as flies.  But you got to play
music to them.  You got anything to play music on?”

“I ain’ got nuffn but a coase comb en a piece o’ paper, en a juice-harp;
but I reck’n dey wouldn’ take no stock in a juice-harp.”

“Yes they would _they_ don’t care what kind of music ‘tis.  A
jews-harp’s plenty good enough for a rat.  All animals like music--in a
prison they dote on it.  Specially, painful music; and you can’t get no
other kind out of a jews-harp.  It always interests them; they come out
to see what’s the matter with you.  Yes, you’re all right; you’re fixed
very well.  You want to set on your bed nights before you go to sleep,
and early in the mornings, and play your jews-harp; play ‘The Last Link
is Broken’--that’s the thing that ‘ll scoop a rat quicker ‘n anything
else; and when you’ve played about two minutes you’ll see all the rats,
and the snakes, and spiders, and things begin to feel worried about you,
and come.  And they’ll just fairly swarm over you, and have a noble good

“Yes, _dey_ will, I reck’n, Mars Tom, but what kine er time is _Jim_
havin’? Blest if I kin see de pint.  But I’ll do it ef I got to.  I
reck’n I better keep de animals satisfied, en not have no trouble in de

Tom waited to think it over, and see if there wasn’t nothing else; and
pretty soon he says:

“Oh, there’s one thing I forgot.  Could you raise a flower here, do you

“I doan know but maybe I could, Mars Tom; but it’s tolable dark in heah,
en I ain’ got no use f’r no flower, nohow, en she’d be a pow’ful sight
o’ trouble.”

“Well, you try it, anyway.  Some other prisoners has done it.”

“One er dem big cat-tail-lookin’ mullen-stalks would grow in heah, Mars
Tom, I reck’n, but she wouldn’t be wuth half de trouble she’d coss.”

“Don’t you believe it.  We’ll fetch you a little one and you plant it in
the corner over there, and raise it.  And don’t call it mullen, call it
Pitchiola--that’s its right name when it’s in a prison.  And you want to
water it with your tears.”

“Why, I got plenty spring water, Mars Tom.”

“You don’t _want_ spring water; you want to water it with your tears.
 It’s the way they always do.”

“Why, Mars Tom, I lay I kin raise one er dem mullen-stalks twyste wid
spring water whiles another man’s a _start’n_ one wid tears.”

“That ain’t the idea.  You _got_ to do it with tears.”

“She’ll die on my han’s, Mars Tom, she sholy will; kase I doan’ skasely
ever cry.”

So Tom was stumped.  But he studied it over, and then said Jim would
have to worry along the best he could with an onion.  He promised
he would go to the nigger cabins and drop one, private, in Jim’s
coffee-pot, in the morning. Jim said he would “jis’ ‘s soon have
tobacker in his coffee;” and found so much fault with it, and with the
work and bother of raising the mullen, and jews-harping the rats, and
petting and flattering up the snakes and spiders and things, on top of
all the other work he had to do on pens, and inscriptions, and journals,
and things, which made it more trouble and worry and responsibility to
be a prisoner than anything he ever undertook, that Tom most lost all
patience with him; and said he was just loadened down with more gaudier
chances than a prisoner ever had in the world to make a name for
himself, and yet he didn’t know enough to appreciate them, and they was
just about wasted on him.  So Jim he was sorry, and said he wouldn’t
behave so no more, and then me and Tom shoved for bed.


IN the morning we went up to the village and bought a wire rat-trap and
fetched it down, and unstopped the best rat-hole, and in about an hour
we had fifteen of the bulliest kind of ones; and then we took it and put
it in a safe place under Aunt Sally’s bed.  But while we was gone for
spiders little Thomas Franklin Benjamin Jefferson Elexander Phelps found
it there, and opened the door of it to see if the rats would come out,
and they did; and Aunt Sally she come in, and when we got back she was
a-standing on top of the bed raising Cain, and the rats was doing what
they could to keep off the dull times for her.  So she took and dusted
us both with the hickry, and we was as much as two hours catching
another fifteen or sixteen, drat that meddlesome cub, and they warn’t
the likeliest, nuther, because the first haul was the pick of the flock.
 I never see a likelier lot of rats than what that first haul was.

We got a splendid stock of sorted spiders, and bugs, and frogs, and
caterpillars, and one thing or another; and we like to got a hornet’s
nest, but we didn’t.  The family was at home.  We didn’t give it right
up, but stayed with them as long as we could; because we allowed we’d
tire them out or they’d got to tire us out, and they done it.  Then we
got allycumpain and rubbed on the places, and was pretty near all right
again, but couldn’t set down convenient.  And so we went for the snakes,
and grabbed a couple of dozen garters and house-snakes, and put them in
a bag, and put it in our room, and by that time it was supper-time, and
a rattling good honest day’s work:  and hungry?--oh, no, I reckon not!
 And there warn’t a blessed snake up there when we went back--we didn’t
half tie the sack, and they worked out somehow, and left.  But it didn’t
matter much, because they was still on the premises somewheres.  So
we judged we could get some of them again.  No, there warn’t no real
scarcity of snakes about the house for a considerable spell.  You’d see
them dripping from the rafters and places every now and then; and they
generly landed in your plate, or down the back of your neck, and most
of the time where you didn’t want them.  Well, they was handsome and
striped, and there warn’t no harm in a million of them; but that never
made no difference to Aunt Sally; she despised snakes, be the breed what
they might, and she couldn’t stand them no way you could fix it; and
every time one of them flopped down on her, it didn’t make no difference
what she was doing, she would just lay that work down and light out.  I
never see such a woman.  And you could hear her whoop to Jericho.  You
couldn’t get her to take a-holt of one of them with the tongs.  And if
she turned over and found one in bed she would scramble out and lift a
howl that you would think the house was afire.  She disturbed the old
man so that he said he could most wish there hadn’t ever been no snakes
created.  Why, after every last snake had been gone clear out of the
house for as much as a week Aunt Sally warn’t over it yet; she warn’t
near over it; when she was setting thinking about something you could
touch her on the back of her neck with a feather and she would jump
right out of her stockings.  It was very curious.  But Tom said all
women was just so.  He said they was made that way for some reason or

We got a licking every time one of our snakes come in her way, and she
allowed these lickings warn’t nothing to what she would do if we ever
loaded up the place again with them.  I didn’t mind the lickings,
because they didn’t amount to nothing; but I minded the trouble we
had to lay in another lot.  But we got them laid in, and all the other
things; and you never see a cabin as blithesome as Jim’s was when they’d
all swarm out for music and go for him.  Jim didn’t like the spiders,
and the spiders didn’t like Jim; and so they’d lay for him, and make it
mighty warm for him.  And he said that between the rats and the snakes
and the grindstone there warn’t no room in bed for him, skasely; and
when there was, a body couldn’t sleep, it was so lively, and it was
always lively, he said, because _they_ never all slept at one time, but
took turn about, so when the snakes was asleep the rats was on deck, and
when the rats turned in the snakes come on watch, so he always had one
gang under him, in his way, and t’other gang having a circus over him,
and if he got up to hunt a new place the spiders would take a chance at
him as he crossed over. He said if he ever got out this time he wouldn’t
ever be a prisoner again, not for a salary.

Well, by the end of three weeks everything was in pretty good shape.
 The shirt was sent in early, in a pie, and every time a rat bit Jim he
would get up and write a little in his journal whilst the ink was fresh;
the pens was made, the inscriptions and so on was all carved on the
grindstone; the bed-leg was sawed in two, and we had et up the sawdust,
and it give us a most amazing stomach-ache.  We reckoned we was all
going to die, but didn’t.  It was the most undigestible sawdust I ever
see; and Tom said the same.

But as I was saying, we’d got all the work done now, at last; and we was
all pretty much fagged out, too, but mainly Jim.  The old man had wrote
a couple of times to the plantation below Orleans to come and get their
runaway nigger, but hadn’t got no answer, because there warn’t no such
plantation; so he allowed he would advertise Jim in the St. Louis and
New Orleans papers; and when he mentioned the St. Louis ones it give me
the cold shivers, and I see we hadn’t no time to lose. So Tom said, now
for the nonnamous letters.

“What’s them?”  I says.

“Warnings to the people that something is up.  Sometimes it’s done one
way, sometimes another.  But there’s always somebody spying around that
gives notice to the governor of the castle.  When Louis XVI. was going
to light out of the Tooleries, a servant-girl done it.  It’s a very good
way, and so is the nonnamous letters.  We’ll use them both.  And it’s
usual for the prisoner’s mother to change clothes with him, and she
stays in, and he slides out in her clothes.  We’ll do that, too.”

“But looky here, Tom, what do we want to _warn_ anybody for that
something’s up?  Let them find it out for themselves--it’s their

“Yes, I know; but you can’t depend on them.  It’s the way they’ve acted
from the very start--left us to do _everything_.  They’re so confiding
and mullet-headed they don’t take notice of nothing at all.  So if we
don’t _give_ them notice there won’t be nobody nor nothing to interfere
with us, and so after all our hard work and trouble this escape ‘ll go
off perfectly flat; won’t amount to nothing--won’t be nothing _to_ it.”

“Well, as for me, Tom, that’s the way I’d like.”

“Shucks!” he says, and looked disgusted.  So I says:

“But I ain’t going to make no complaint.  Any way that suits you suits
me. What you going to do about the servant-girl?”

“You’ll be her.  You slide in, in the middle of the night, and hook that
yaller girl’s frock.”

“Why, Tom, that ‘ll make trouble next morning; because, of course, she
prob’bly hain’t got any but that one.”

“I know; but you don’t want it but fifteen minutes, to carry the
nonnamous letter and shove it under the front door.”

“All right, then, I’ll do it; but I could carry it just as handy in my
own togs.”

“You wouldn’t look like a servant-girl _then_, would you?”

“No, but there won’t be nobody to see what I look like, _anyway_.”

“That ain’t got nothing to do with it.  The thing for us to do is just
to do our _duty_, and not worry about whether anybody _sees_ us do it or
not. Hain’t you got no principle at all?”

“All right, I ain’t saying nothing; I’m the servant-girl.  Who’s Jim’s

“I’m his mother.  I’ll hook a gown from Aunt Sally.”

“Well, then, you’ll have to stay in the cabin when me and Jim leaves.”

“Not much.  I’ll stuff Jim’s clothes full of straw and lay it on his bed
to represent his mother in disguise, and Jim ‘ll take the nigger woman’s
gown off of me and wear it, and we’ll all evade together.  When a
prisoner of style escapes it’s called an evasion.  It’s always called
so when a king escapes, f’rinstance.  And the same with a king’s son;
it don’t make no difference whether he’s a natural one or an unnatural

So Tom he wrote the nonnamous letter, and I smouched the yaller wench’s
frock that night, and put it on, and shoved it under the front door, the
way Tom told me to.  It said:

Beware.  Trouble is brewing.  Keep a sharp lookout. _Unknown_ _Friend_.

Next night we stuck a picture, which Tom drawed in blood, of a skull and
crossbones on the front door; and next night another one of a coffin on
the back door.  I never see a family in such a sweat.  They couldn’t a
been worse scared if the place had a been full of ghosts laying for them
behind everything and under the beds and shivering through the air.  If
a door banged, Aunt Sally she jumped and said “ouch!” if anything fell,
she jumped and said “ouch!” if you happened to touch her, when she
warn’t noticing, she done the same; she couldn’t face noway and be
satisfied, because she allowed there was something behind her every
time--so she was always a-whirling around sudden, and saying “ouch,” and
before she’d got two-thirds around she’d whirl back again, and say it
again; and she was afraid to go to bed, but she dasn’t set up.  So the
thing was working very well, Tom said; he said he never see a thing work
more satisfactory. He said it showed it was done right.

So he said, now for the grand bulge!  So the very next morning at the
streak of dawn we got another letter ready, and was wondering what we
better do with it, because we heard them say at supper they was going
to have a nigger on watch at both doors all night.  Tom he went down the
lightning-rod to spy around; and the nigger at the back door was asleep,
and he stuck it in the back of his neck and come back.  This letter

Don’t betray me, I wish to be your friend.  There is a desprate gang of
cutthroats from over in the Indian Territory going to steal your runaway
nigger to-night, and they have been trying to scare you so as you will
stay in the house and not bother them.  I am one of the gang, but have
got religgion and wish to quit it and lead an honest life again, and
will betray the helish design. They will sneak down from northards,
along the fence, at midnight exact, with a false key, and go in the
nigger’s cabin to get him. I am to be off a piece and blow a tin horn
if I see any danger; but stead of that I will _baa_ like a sheep soon as
they get in and not blow at all; then whilst they are getting his
chains loose, you slip there and lock them in, and can kill them at your
leasure.  Don’t do anything but just the way I am telling you, if you do
they will suspicion something and raise whoop-jamboreehoo. I do not wish
any reward but to know I have done the right thing. _Unknown Friend._


WE was feeling pretty good after breakfast, and took my canoe and went
over the river a-fishing, with a lunch, and had a good time, and took a
look at the raft and found her all right, and got home late to supper,
and found them in such a sweat and worry they didn’t know which end they
was standing on, and made us go right off to bed the minute we was done
supper, and wouldn’t tell us what the trouble was, and never let on a
word about the new letter, but didn’t need to, because we knowed as much
about it as anybody did, and as soon as we was half up stairs and her
back was turned we slid for the cellar cupboard and loaded up a good
lunch and took it up to our room and went to bed, and got up about
half-past eleven, and Tom put on Aunt Sally’s dress that he stole and
was going to start with the lunch, but says:

“Where’s the butter?”

“I laid out a hunk of it,” I says, “on a piece of a corn-pone.”

“Well, you _left_ it laid out, then--it ain’t here.”

“We can get along without it,” I says.

“We can get along _with_ it, too,” he says; “just you slide down cellar
and fetch it.  And then mosey right down the lightning-rod and come
along. I’ll go and stuff the straw into Jim’s clothes to represent his
mother in disguise, and be ready to _baa_ like a sheep and shove soon as
you get there.”

So out he went, and down cellar went I. The hunk of butter, big as
a person’s fist, was where I had left it, so I took up the slab of
corn-pone with it on, and blowed out my light, and started up stairs
very stealthy, and got up to the main floor all right, but here comes
Aunt Sally with a candle, and I clapped the truck in my hat, and clapped
my hat on my head, and the next second she see me; and she says:

“You been down cellar?”


“What you been doing down there?”




“Well, then, what possessed you to go down there this time of night?”

“I don’t know ‘m.”

“You don’t _know_?  Don’t answer me that way. Tom, I want to know what
you been _doing_ down there.”

“I hain’t been doing a single thing, Aunt Sally, I hope to gracious if I

I reckoned she’d let me go now, and as a generl thing she would; but I
s’pose there was so many strange things going on she was just in a sweat
about every little thing that warn’t yard-stick straight; so she says,
very decided:

“You just march into that setting-room and stay there till I come.  You
been up to something you no business to, and I lay I’ll find out what it
is before I’M done with you.”

So she went away as I opened the door and walked into the setting-room.
My, but there was a crowd there!  Fifteen farmers, and every one of them
had a gun.  I was most powerful sick, and slunk to a chair and set down.
They was setting around, some of them talking a little, in a low voice,
and all of them fidgety and uneasy, but trying to look like they warn’t;
but I knowed they was, because they was always taking off their hats,
and putting them on, and scratching their heads, and changing their
seats, and fumbling with their buttons.  I warn’t easy myself, but I
didn’t take my hat off, all the same.

I did wish Aunt Sally would come, and get done with me, and lick me, if
she wanted to, and let me get away and tell Tom how we’d overdone this
thing, and what a thundering hornet’s-nest we’d got ourselves into, so
we could stop fooling around straight off, and clear out with Jim before
these rips got out of patience and come for us.

At last she come and begun to ask me questions, but I _couldn’t_ answer
them straight, I didn’t know which end of me was up; because these men
was in such a fidget now that some was wanting to start right NOW and
lay for them desperadoes, and saying it warn’t but a few minutes to
midnight; and others was trying to get them to hold on and wait for the
sheep-signal; and here was Aunty pegging away at the questions, and
me a-shaking all over and ready to sink down in my tracks I was
that scared; and the place getting hotter and hotter, and the butter
beginning to melt and run down my neck and behind my ears; and pretty
soon, when one of them says, “I’M for going and getting in the cabin
_first_ and right _now_, and catching them when they come,” I most
dropped; and a streak of butter come a-trickling down my forehead, and
Aunt Sally she see it, and turns white as a sheet, and says:

“For the land’s sake, what _is_ the matter with the child?  He’s got the
brain-fever as shore as you’re born, and they’re oozing out!”

And everybody runs to see, and she snatches off my hat, and out comes
the bread and what was left of the butter, and she grabbed me, and
hugged me, and says:

“Oh, what a turn you did give me! and how glad and grateful I am it
ain’t no worse; for luck’s against us, and it never rains but it pours,
and when I see that truck I thought we’d lost you, for I knowed by
the color and all it was just like your brains would be if--Dear,
dear, whyd’nt you _tell_ me that was what you’d been down there for, I
wouldn’t a cared.  Now cler out to bed, and don’t lemme see no more of
you till morning!”

I was up stairs in a second, and down the lightning-rod in another one,
and shinning through the dark for the lean-to.  I couldn’t hardly get my
words out, I was so anxious; but I told Tom as quick as I could we must
jump for it now, and not a minute to lose--the house full of men, yonder,
with guns!

His eyes just blazed; and he says:

“No!--is that so?  _ain’t_ it bully!  Why, Huck, if it was to do over
again, I bet I could fetch two hundred!  If we could put it off till--”

“Hurry!  _Hurry_!”  I says.  “Where’s Jim?”

“Right at your elbow; if you reach out your arm you can touch him.
 He’s dressed, and everything’s ready.  Now we’ll slide out and give the

But then we heard the tramp of men coming to the door, and heard them
begin to fumble with the pad-lock, and heard a man say:

“I _told_ you we’d be too soon; they haven’t come--the door is locked.
Here, I’ll lock some of you into the cabin, and you lay for ‘em in the
dark and kill ‘em when they come; and the rest scatter around a piece,
and listen if you can hear ‘em coming.”

So in they come, but couldn’t see us in the dark, and most trod on
us whilst we was hustling to get under the bed.  But we got under all
right, and out through the hole, swift but soft--Jim first, me next,
and Tom last, which was according to Tom’s orders.  Now we was in the
lean-to, and heard trampings close by outside.  So we crept to the door,
and Tom stopped us there and put his eye to the crack, but couldn’t make
out nothing, it was so dark; and whispered and said he would listen
for the steps to get further, and when he nudged us Jim must glide out
first, and him last.  So he set his ear to the crack and listened, and
listened, and listened, and the steps a-scraping around out there all
the time; and at last he nudged us, and we slid out, and stooped down,
not breathing, and not making the least noise, and slipped stealthy
towards the fence in Injun file, and got to it all right, and me and Jim
over it; but Tom’s britches catched fast on a splinter on the top
rail, and then he hear the steps coming, so he had to pull loose, which
snapped the splinter and made a noise; and as he dropped in our tracks
and started somebody sings out:

“Who’s that?  Answer, or I’ll shoot!”

But we didn’t answer; we just unfurled our heels and shoved.  Then there
was a rush, and a _Bang, Bang, Bang!_ and the bullets fairly whizzed
around us! We heard them sing out:

“Here they are!  They’ve broke for the river!  After ‘em, boys, and turn
loose the dogs!”

So here they come, full tilt.  We could hear them because they wore
boots and yelled, but we didn’t wear no boots and didn’t yell.  We was
in the path to the mill; and when they got pretty close on to us we
dodged into the bush and let them go by, and then dropped in behind
them.  They’d had all the dogs shut up, so they wouldn’t scare off the
robbers; but by this time somebody had let them loose, and here they
come, making powwow enough for a million; but they was our dogs; so we
stopped in our tracks till they catched up; and when they see it warn’t
nobody but us, and no excitement to offer them, they only just said
howdy, and tore right ahead towards the shouting and clattering; and
then we up-steam again, and whizzed along after them till we was nearly
to the mill, and then struck up through the bush to where my canoe was
tied, and hopped in and pulled for dear life towards the middle of the
river, but didn’t make no more noise than we was obleeged to. Then we
struck out, easy and comfortable, for the island where my raft was; and
we could hear them yelling and barking at each other all up and down the
bank, till we was so far away the sounds got dim and died out.  And when
we stepped on to the raft I says:

“_Now_, old Jim, you’re a free man again, and I bet you won’t ever be a
slave no more.”

“En a mighty good job it wuz, too, Huck.  It ‘uz planned beautiful, en
it ‘uz done beautiful; en dey ain’t _nobody_ kin git up a plan dat’s mo’
mixed-up en splendid den what dat one wuz.”

We was all glad as we could be, but Tom was the gladdest of all because
he had a bullet in the calf of his leg.

When me and Jim heard that we didn’t feel so brash as what we did
before. It was hurting him considerable, and bleeding; so we laid him in
the wigwam and tore up one of the duke’s shirts for to bandage him, but
he says:

“Gimme the rags; I can do it myself.  Don’t stop now; don’t fool around
here, and the evasion booming along so handsome; man the sweeps, and set
her loose!  Boys, we done it elegant!--‘deed we did.  I wish _we’d_ a
had the handling of Louis XVI., there wouldn’t a been no ‘Son of Saint
Louis, ascend to heaven!’ wrote down in _his_ biography; no, sir, we’d
a whooped him over the _border_--that’s what we’d a done with _him_--and
done it just as slick as nothing at all, too.  Man the sweeps--man the

But me and Jim was consulting--and thinking.  And after we’d thought a
minute, I says:

“Say it, Jim.”

So he says:

“Well, den, dis is de way it look to me, Huck.  Ef it wuz _him_ dat ‘uz
bein’ sot free, en one er de boys wuz to git shot, would he say, ‘Go on
en save me, nemmine ‘bout a doctor f’r to save dis one?’  Is dat like
Mars Tom Sawyer?  Would he say dat?  You _bet_ he wouldn’t!  _well_,
den, is _Jim_ gywne to say it?  No, sah--I doan’ budge a step out’n dis
place ‘dout a _doctor_, not if it’s forty year!”

I knowed he was white inside, and I reckoned he’d say what he did say--so
it was all right now, and I told Tom I was a-going for a doctor.
 He raised considerable row about it, but me and Jim stuck to it and
wouldn’t budge; so he was for crawling out and setting the raft loose
himself; but we wouldn’t let him.  Then he give us a piece of his mind,
but it didn’t do no good.

So when he sees me getting the canoe ready, he says:

“Well, then, if you’re bound to go, I’ll tell you the way to do when you
get to the village.  Shut the door and blindfold the doctor tight and
fast, and make him swear to be silent as the grave, and put a purse
full of gold in his hand, and then take and lead him all around the
back alleys and everywheres in the dark, and then fetch him here in the
canoe, in a roundabout way amongst the islands, and search him and take
his chalk away from him, and don’t give it back to him till you get him
back to the village, or else he will chalk this raft so he can find it
again. It’s the way they all do.”

So I said I would, and left, and Jim was to hide in the woods when he
see the doctor coming till he was gone again.


THE doctor was an old man; a very nice, kind-looking old man when I got
him up.  I told him me and my brother was over on Spanish Island hunting
yesterday afternoon, and camped on a piece of a raft we found, and about
midnight he must a kicked his gun in his dreams, for it went off and
shot him in the leg, and we wanted him to go over there and fix it and
not say nothing about it, nor let anybody know, because we wanted to
come home this evening and surprise the folks.

“Who is your folks?” he says.

“The Phelpses, down yonder.”

“Oh,” he says.  And after a minute, he says:

“How’d you say he got shot?”

“He had a dream,” I says, “and it shot him.”

“Singular dream,” he says.

So he lit up his lantern, and got his saddle-bags, and we started.  But
when he sees the canoe he didn’t like the look of her--said she was big
enough for one, but didn’t look pretty safe for two.  I says:

“Oh, you needn’t be afeard, sir, she carried the three of us easy

“What three?”

“Why, me and Sid, and--and--and _the guns_; that’s what I mean.”

“Oh,” he says.

But he put his foot on the gunnel and rocked her, and shook his head,
and said he reckoned he’d look around for a bigger one.  But they was
all locked and chained; so he took my canoe, and said for me to wait
till he come back, or I could hunt around further, or maybe I better
go down home and get them ready for the surprise if I wanted to.  But
I said I didn’t; so I told him just how to find the raft, and then he

I struck an idea pretty soon.  I says to myself, spos’n he can’t fix
that leg just in three shakes of a sheep’s tail, as the saying is?
spos’n it takes him three or four days?  What are we going to do?--lay
around there till he lets the cat out of the bag?  No, sir; I know what
_I’ll_ do.  I’ll wait, and when he comes back if he says he’s got to
go any more I’ll get down there, too, if I swim; and we’ll take and tie
him, and keep him, and shove out down the river; and when Tom’s done
with him we’ll give him what it’s worth, or all we got, and then let him
get ashore.

So then I crept into a lumber-pile to get some sleep; and next time I
waked up the sun was away up over my head!  I shot out and went for the
doctor’s house, but they told me he’d gone away in the night some time
or other, and warn’t back yet.  Well, thinks I, that looks powerful bad
for Tom, and I’ll dig out for the island right off.  So away I shoved,
and turned the corner, and nearly rammed my head into Uncle Silas’s
stomach! He says:

“Why, _Tom!_  Where you been all this time, you rascal?”

“I hain’t been nowheres,” I says, “only just hunting for the runaway
nigger--me and Sid.”

“Why, where ever did you go?” he says.  “Your aunt’s been mighty

“She needn’t,” I says, “because we was all right.  We followed the men
and the dogs, but they outrun us, and we lost them; but we thought we
heard them on the water, so we got a canoe and took out after them and
crossed over, but couldn’t find nothing of them; so we cruised along
up-shore till we got kind of tired and beat out; and tied up the canoe
and went to sleep, and never waked up till about an hour ago; then we
paddled over here to hear the news, and Sid’s at the post-office to see
what he can hear, and I’m a-branching out to get something to eat for
us, and then we’re going home.”

So then we went to the post-office to get “Sid”; but just as I
suspicioned, he warn’t there; so the old man he got a letter out of the
office, and we waited awhile longer, but Sid didn’t come; so the old man
said, come along, let Sid foot it home, or canoe it, when he got done
fooling around--but we would ride.  I couldn’t get him to let me stay
and wait for Sid; and he said there warn’t no use in it, and I must come
along, and let Aunt Sally see we was all right.

When we got home Aunt Sally was that glad to see me she laughed and
cried both, and hugged me, and give me one of them lickings of hern that
don’t amount to shucks, and said she’d serve Sid the same when he come.

And the place was plum full of farmers and farmers’ wives, to dinner;
and such another clack a body never heard.  Old Mrs. Hotchkiss was the
worst; her tongue was a-going all the time.  She says:

“Well, Sister Phelps, I’ve ransacked that-air cabin over, an’ I b’lieve
the nigger was crazy.  I says to Sister Damrell--didn’t I, Sister
Damrell?--s’I, he’s crazy, s’I--them’s the very words I said.  You all
hearn me: he’s crazy, s’I; everything shows it, s’I.  Look at that-air
grindstone, s’I; want to tell _me_’t any cretur ‘t’s in his right mind
‘s a goin’ to scrabble all them crazy things onto a grindstone, s’I?
 Here sich ‘n’ sich a person busted his heart; ‘n’ here so ‘n’ so
pegged along for thirty-seven year, ‘n’ all that--natcherl son o’ Louis
somebody, ‘n’ sich everlast’n rubbage.  He’s plumb crazy, s’I; it’s what
I says in the fust place, it’s what I says in the middle, ‘n’ it’s what
I says last ‘n’ all the time--the nigger’s crazy--crazy ‘s Nebokoodneezer,

“An’ look at that-air ladder made out’n rags, Sister Hotchkiss,” says
old Mrs. Damrell; “what in the name o’ goodness _could_ he ever want

“The very words I was a-sayin’ no longer ago th’n this minute to Sister
Utterback, ‘n’ she’ll tell you so herself.  Sh-she, look at that-air rag
ladder, sh-she; ‘n’ s’I, yes, _look_ at it, s’I--what _could_ he a-wanted
of it, s’I.  Sh-she, Sister Hotchkiss, sh-she--”

“But how in the nation’d they ever _git_ that grindstone _in_ there,
_anyway_? ‘n’ who dug that-air _hole_? ‘n’ who--”

“My very _words_, Brer Penrod!  I was a-sayin’--pass that-air sasser o’
m’lasses, won’t ye?--I was a-sayin’ to Sister Dunlap, jist this minute,
how _did_ they git that grindstone in there, s’I.  Without _help_, mind
you--‘thout _help_!  _that’s_ wher ‘tis.  Don’t tell _me_, s’I; there
_wuz_ help, s’I; ‘n’ ther’ wuz a _plenty_ help, too, s’I; ther’s ben a
_dozen_ a-helpin’ that nigger, ‘n’ I lay I’d skin every last nigger on
this place but _I’d_ find out who done it, s’I; ‘n’ moreover, s’I--”

“A _dozen_ says you!--_forty_ couldn’t a done every thing that’s been
done. Look at them case-knife saws and things, how tedious they’ve been
made; look at that bed-leg sawed off with ‘m, a week’s work for six men;
look at that nigger made out’n straw on the bed; and look at--”

“You may _well_ say it, Brer Hightower!  It’s jist as I was a-sayin’
to Brer Phelps, his own self.  S’e, what do _you_ think of it, Sister
Hotchkiss, s’e? Think o’ what, Brer Phelps, s’I?  Think o’ that bed-leg
sawed off that a way, s’e?  _think_ of it, s’I?  I lay it never sawed
_itself_ off, s’I--somebody _sawed_ it, s’I; that’s my opinion, take it
or leave it, it mayn’t be no ‘count, s’I, but sich as ‘t is, it’s my
opinion, s’I, ‘n’ if any body k’n start a better one, s’I, let him _do_
it, s’I, that’s all.  I says to Sister Dunlap, s’I--”

“Why, dog my cats, they must a ben a house-full o’ niggers in there
every night for four weeks to a done all that work, Sister Phelps.  Look
at that shirt--every last inch of it kivered over with secret African
writ’n done with blood!  Must a ben a raft uv ‘m at it right along, all
the time, amost.  Why, I’d give two dollars to have it read to me; ‘n’
as for the niggers that wrote it, I ‘low I’d take ‘n’ lash ‘m t’ll--”

“People to _help_ him, Brother Marples!  Well, I reckon you’d _think_
so if you’d a been in this house for a while back.  Why, they’ve stole
everything they could lay their hands on--and we a-watching all the time,
mind you. They stole that shirt right off o’ the line! and as for that
sheet they made the rag ladder out of, ther’ ain’t no telling how
many times they _didn’t_ steal that; and flour, and candles, and
candlesticks, and spoons, and the old warming-pan, and most a thousand
things that I disremember now, and my new calico dress; and me and
Silas and my Sid and Tom on the constant watch day _and_ night, as I was
a-telling you, and not a one of us could catch hide nor hair nor sight
nor sound of them; and here at the last minute, lo and behold you, they
slides right in under our noses and fools us, and not only fools _us_
but the Injun Territory robbers too, and actuly gets _away_ with that
nigger safe and sound, and that with sixteen men and twenty-two dogs
right on their very heels at that very time!  I tell you, it just bangs
anything I ever _heard_ of. Why, _sperits_ couldn’t a done better and
been no smarter. And I reckon they must a _been_ sperits--because, _you_
know our dogs, and ther’ ain’t no better; well, them dogs never even got
on the _track_ of ‘m once!  You explain _that_ to me if you can!--_any_
of you!”

“Well, it does beat--”

“Laws alive, I never--”

“So help me, I wouldn’t a be--”

“_House_-thieves as well as--”

“Goodnessgracioussakes, I’d a ben afeard to live in sich a--”

“‘Fraid to _live_!--why, I was that scared I dasn’t hardly go to bed, or
get up, or lay down, or _set_ down, Sister Ridgeway.  Why, they’d steal
the very--why, goodness sakes, you can guess what kind of a fluster I was
in by the time midnight come last night.  I hope to gracious if I warn’t
afraid they’d steal some o’ the family!  I was just to that pass I
didn’t have no reasoning faculties no more.  It looks foolish enough
_now_, in the daytime; but I says to myself, there’s my two poor boys
asleep, ‘way up stairs in that lonesome room, and I declare to goodness
I was that uneasy ‘t I crep’ up there and locked ‘em in!  I _did_.  And
anybody would. Because, you know, when you get scared that way, and it
keeps running on, and getting worse and worse all the time, and your
wits gets to addling, and you get to doing all sorts o’ wild things,
and by and by you think to yourself, spos’n I was a boy, and was away up
there, and the door ain’t locked, and you--” She stopped, looking kind
of wondering, and then she turned her head around slow, and when her eye
lit on me--I got up and took a walk.

Says I to myself, I can explain better how we come to not be in that
room this morning if I go out to one side and study over it a little.
 So I done it.  But I dasn’t go fur, or she’d a sent for me.  And when
it was late in the day the people all went, and then I come in and
told her the noise and shooting waked up me and “Sid,” and the door was
locked, and we wanted to see the fun, so we went down the lightning-rod,
and both of us got hurt a little, and we didn’t never want to try _that_
no more.  And then I went on and told her all what I told Uncle Silas
before; and then she said she’d forgive us, and maybe it was all right
enough anyway, and about what a body might expect of boys, for all boys
was a pretty harum-scarum lot as fur as she could see; and so, as long
as no harm hadn’t come of it, she judged she better put in her time
being grateful we was alive and well and she had us still, stead of
fretting over what was past and done.  So then she kissed me, and patted
me on the head, and dropped into a kind of a brown study; and pretty
soon jumps up, and says:

“Why, lawsamercy, it’s most night, and Sid not come yet!  What _has_
become of that boy?”

I see my chance; so I skips up and says:

“I’ll run right up to town and get him,” I says.

“No you won’t,” she says.  “You’ll stay right wher’ you are; _one’s_
enough to be lost at a time.  If he ain’t here to supper, your uncle ‘ll

Well, he warn’t there to supper; so right after supper uncle went.

He come back about ten a little bit uneasy; hadn’t run across Tom’s
track. Aunt Sally was a good _deal_ uneasy; but Uncle Silas he said
there warn’t no occasion to be--boys will be boys, he said, and you’ll
see this one turn up in the morning all sound and right.  So she had
to be satisfied.  But she said she’d set up for him a while anyway, and
keep a light burning so he could see it.

And then when I went up to bed she come up with me and fetched her
candle, and tucked me in, and mothered me so good I felt mean, and like
I couldn’t look her in the face; and she set down on the bed and talked
with me a long time, and said what a splendid boy Sid was, and didn’t
seem to want to ever stop talking about him; and kept asking me every
now and then if I reckoned he could a got lost, or hurt, or maybe
drownded, and might be laying at this minute somewheres suffering or
dead, and she not by him to help him, and so the tears would drip down
silent, and I would tell her that Sid was all right, and would be home
in the morning, sure; and she would squeeze my hand, or maybe kiss me,
and tell me to say it again, and keep on saying it, because it done her
good, and she was in so much trouble.  And when she was going away she
looked down in my eyes so steady and gentle, and says:

“The door ain’t going to be locked, Tom, and there’s the window and
the rod; but you’ll be good, _won’t_ you?  And you won’t go?  For _my_

Laws knows I _wanted_ to go bad enough to see about Tom, and was all
intending to go; but after that I wouldn’t a went, not for kingdoms.

But she was on my mind and Tom was on my mind, so I slept very restless.
And twice I went down the rod away in the night, and slipped around
front, and see her setting there by her candle in the window with her
eyes towards the road and the tears in them; and I wished I could do
something for her, but I couldn’t, only to swear that I wouldn’t never
do nothing to grieve her any more.  And the third time I waked up at
dawn, and slid down, and she was there yet, and her candle was most out,
and her old gray head was resting on her hand, and she was asleep.


THE old man was uptown again before breakfast, but couldn’t get no
track of Tom; and both of them set at the table thinking, and not saying
nothing, and looking mournful, and their coffee getting cold, and not
eating anything. And by and by the old man says:

“Did I give you the letter?”

“What letter?”

“The one I got yesterday out of the post-office.”

“No, you didn’t give me no letter.”

“Well, I must a forgot it.”

So he rummaged his pockets, and then went off somewheres where he had
laid it down, and fetched it, and give it to her.  She says:

“Why, it’s from St. Petersburg--it’s from Sis.”

I allowed another walk would do me good; but I couldn’t stir.  But
before she could break it open she dropped it and run--for she see
something. And so did I. It was Tom Sawyer on a mattress; and that old
doctor; and Jim, in _her_ calico dress, with his hands tied behind him;
and a lot of people.  I hid the letter behind the first thing that come
handy, and rushed.  She flung herself at Tom, crying, and says:

“Oh, he’s dead, he’s dead, I know he’s dead!”

And Tom he turned his head a little, and muttered something or other,
which showed he warn’t in his right mind; then she flung up her hands,
and says:

“He’s alive, thank God!  And that’s enough!” and she snatched a kiss of
him, and flew for the house to get the bed ready, and scattering orders
right and left at the niggers and everybody else, as fast as her tongue
could go, every jump of the way.

I followed the men to see what they was going to do with Jim; and the
old doctor and Uncle Silas followed after Tom into the house.  The men
was very huffy, and some of them wanted to hang Jim for an example to
all the other niggers around there, so they wouldn’t be trying to run
away like Jim done, and making such a raft of trouble, and keeping a
whole family scared most to death for days and nights.  But the others
said, don’t do it, it wouldn’t answer at all; he ain’t our nigger, and
his owner would turn up and make us pay for him, sure.  So that cooled
them down a little, because the people that’s always the most anxious
for to hang a nigger that hain’t done just right is always the very
ones that ain’t the most anxious to pay for him when they’ve got their
satisfaction out of him.

They cussed Jim considerble, though, and give him a cuff or two side the
head once in a while, but Jim never said nothing, and he never let on to
know me, and they took him to the same cabin, and put his own clothes
on him, and chained him again, and not to no bed-leg this time, but to
a big staple drove into the bottom log, and chained his hands, too, and
both legs, and said he warn’t to have nothing but bread and water to
eat after this till his owner come, or he was sold at auction because
he didn’t come in a certain length of time, and filled up our hole, and
said a couple of farmers with guns must stand watch around about the
cabin every night, and a bulldog tied to the door in the daytime; and
about this time they was through with the job and was tapering off with
a kind of generl good-bye cussing, and then the old doctor comes and
takes a look, and says:

“Don’t be no rougher on him than you’re obleeged to, because he ain’t
a bad nigger.  When I got to where I found the boy I see I couldn’t cut
the bullet out without some help, and he warn’t in no condition for
me to leave to go and get help; and he got a little worse and a little
worse, and after a long time he went out of his head, and wouldn’t let
me come a-nigh him any more, and said if I chalked his raft he’d kill
me, and no end of wild foolishness like that, and I see I couldn’t do
anything at all with him; so I says, I got to have _help_ somehow; and
the minute I says it out crawls this nigger from somewheres and says
he’ll help, and he done it, too, and done it very well.  Of course I
judged he must be a runaway nigger, and there I _was_! and there I had
to stick right straight along all the rest of the day and all night.  It
was a fix, I tell you! I had a couple of patients with the chills, and
of course I’d of liked to run up to town and see them, but I dasn’t,
because the nigger might get away, and then I’d be to blame; and yet
never a skiff come close enough for me to hail.  So there I had to stick
plumb until daylight this morning; and I never see a nigger that was a
better nuss or faithfuller, and yet he was risking his freedom to do it,
and was all tired out, too, and I see plain enough he’d been worked
main hard lately.  I liked the nigger for that; I tell you, gentlemen, a
nigger like that is worth a thousand dollars--and kind treatment, too.  I
had everything I needed, and the boy was doing as well there as he
would a done at home--better, maybe, because it was so quiet; but there I
_was_, with both of ‘m on my hands, and there I had to stick till about
dawn this morning; then some men in a skiff come by, and as good luck
would have it the nigger was setting by the pallet with his head propped
on his knees sound asleep; so I motioned them in quiet, and they slipped
up on him and grabbed him and tied him before he knowed what he was
about, and we never had no trouble. And the boy being in a kind of a
flighty sleep, too, we muffled the oars and hitched the raft on, and
towed her over very nice and quiet, and the nigger never made the least
row nor said a word from the start.  He ain’t no bad nigger, gentlemen;
that’s what I think about him.”

Somebody says:

“Well, it sounds very good, doctor, I’m obleeged to say.”

Then the others softened up a little, too, and I was mighty thankful
to that old doctor for doing Jim that good turn; and I was glad it was
according to my judgment of him, too; because I thought he had a good
heart in him and was a good man the first time I see him.  Then they
all agreed that Jim had acted very well, and was deserving to have some
notice took of it, and reward.  So every one of them promised, right out
and hearty, that they wouldn’t cuss him no more.

Then they come out and locked him up.  I hoped they was going to say he
could have one or two of the chains took off, because they was rotten
heavy, or could have meat and greens with his bread and water; but they
didn’t think of it, and I reckoned it warn’t best for me to mix in, but
I judged I’d get the doctor’s yarn to Aunt Sally somehow or other as
soon as I’d got through the breakers that was laying just ahead of
me--explanations, I mean, of how I forgot to mention about Sid being shot
when I was telling how him and me put in that dratted night paddling
around hunting the runaway nigger.

But I had plenty time.  Aunt Sally she stuck to the sick-room all day
and all night, and every time I see Uncle Silas mooning around I dodged

Next morning I heard Tom was a good deal better, and they said Aunt
Sally was gone to get a nap.  So I slips to the sick-room, and if I
found him awake I reckoned we could put up a yarn for the family that
would wash. But he was sleeping, and sleeping very peaceful, too; and
pale, not fire-faced the way he was when he come.  So I set down and
laid for him to wake.  In about half an hour Aunt Sally comes gliding
in, and there I was, up a stump again!  She motioned me to be still, and
set down by me, and begun to whisper, and said we could all be joyful
now, because all the symptoms was first-rate, and he’d been sleeping
like that for ever so long, and looking better and peacefuller all the
time, and ten to one he’d wake up in his right mind.

So we set there watching, and by and by he stirs a bit, and opened his
eyes very natural, and takes a look, and says:

“Hello!--why, I’m at _home_!  How’s that?  Where’s the raft?”

“It’s all right,” I says.

“And _Jim_?”

“The same,” I says, but couldn’t say it pretty brash.  But he never
noticed, but says:

“Good!  Splendid!  _Now_ we’re all right and safe! Did you tell Aunty?”

I was going to say yes; but she chipped in and says:  “About what, Sid?”

“Why, about the way the whole thing was done.”

“What whole thing?”

“Why, _the_ whole thing.  There ain’t but one; how we set the runaway
nigger free--me and Tom.”

“Good land!  Set the run--What _is_ the child talking about!  Dear, dear,
out of his head again!”

“_No_, I ain’t out of my _head_; I know all what I’m talking about.  We
_did_ set him free--me and Tom.  We laid out to do it, and we _done_ it.
 And we done it elegant, too.”  He’d got a start, and she never checked
him up, just set and stared and stared, and let him clip along, and
I see it warn’t no use for _me_ to put in.  “Why, Aunty, it cost us a
power of work--weeks of it--hours and hours, every night, whilst you was
all asleep. And we had to steal candles, and the sheet, and the shirt,
and your dress, and spoons, and tin plates, and case-knives, and the
warming-pan, and the grindstone, and flour, and just no end of things,
and you can’t think what work it was to make the saws, and pens, and
inscriptions, and one thing or another, and you can’t think _half_ the
fun it was.  And we had to make up the pictures of coffins and things,
and nonnamous letters from the robbers, and get up and down the
lightning-rod, and dig the hole into the cabin, and made the rope ladder
and send it in cooked up in a pie, and send in spoons and things to work
with in your apron pocket--”

“Mercy sakes!”

“--and load up the cabin with rats and snakes and so on, for company for
Jim; and then you kept Tom here so long with the butter in his hat that
you come near spiling the whole business, because the men come before
we was out of the cabin, and we had to rush, and they heard us and let
drive at us, and I got my share, and we dodged out of the path and let
them go by, and when the dogs come they warn’t interested in us, but
went for the most noise, and we got our canoe, and made for the
raft, and was all safe, and Jim was a free man, and we done it all by
ourselves, and _wasn’t_ it bully, Aunty!”

“Well, I never heard the likes of it in all my born days!  So it was
_you_, you little rapscallions, that’s been making all this trouble,
and turned everybody’s wits clean inside out and scared us all most to
death.  I’ve as good a notion as ever I had in my life to take it out
o’ you this very minute.  To think, here I’ve been, night after night,
a--_you_ just get well once, you young scamp, and I lay I’ll tan the Old
Harry out o’ both o’ ye!”

But Tom, he _was_ so proud and joyful, he just _couldn’t_ hold in,
and his tongue just _went_ it--she a-chipping in, and spitting fire all
along, and both of them going it at once, like a cat convention; and she

“_Well_, you get all the enjoyment you can out of it _now_, for mind I
tell you if I catch you meddling with him again--”

“Meddling with _who_?”  Tom says, dropping his smile and looking

“With _who_?  Why, the runaway nigger, of course.  Who’d you reckon?”

Tom looks at me very grave, and says:

“Tom, didn’t you just tell me he was all right?  Hasn’t he got away?”

“_Him_?” says Aunt Sally; “the runaway nigger?  ‘Deed he hasn’t.
 They’ve got him back, safe and sound, and he’s in that cabin again,
on bread and water, and loaded down with chains, till he’s claimed or

Tom rose square up in bed, with his eye hot, and his nostrils opening
and shutting like gills, and sings out to me:

“They hain’t no _right_ to shut him up!  SHOVE!--and don’t you lose a
minute.  Turn him loose! he ain’t no slave; he’s as free as any cretur
that walks this earth!”

“What _does_ the child mean?”

“I mean every word I _say_, Aunt Sally, and if somebody don’t go, _I’ll_
go. I’ve knowed him all his life, and so has Tom, there.  Old Miss
Watson died two months ago, and she was ashamed she ever was going to
sell him down the river, and _said_ so; and she set him free in her

“Then what on earth did _you_ want to set him free for, seeing he was
already free?”

“Well, that _is_ a question, I must say; and just like women!  Why,
I wanted the _adventure_ of it; and I’d a waded neck-deep in blood
to--goodness alive, _Aunt Polly!_”

If she warn’t standing right there, just inside the door, looking as
sweet and contented as an angel half full of pie, I wish I may never!

Aunt Sally jumped for her, and most hugged the head off of her, and
cried over her, and I found a good enough place for me under the bed,
for it was getting pretty sultry for us, seemed to me.  And I peeped
out, and in a little while Tom’s Aunt Polly shook herself loose and
stood there looking across at Tom over her spectacles--kind of grinding
him into the earth, you know.  And then she says:

“Yes, you _better_ turn y’r head away--I would if I was you, Tom.”

“Oh, deary me!” says Aunt Sally; “_Is_ he changed so?  Why, that ain’t
_Tom_, it’s Sid; Tom’s--Tom’s--why, where is Tom?  He was here a minute

“You mean where’s Huck _Finn_--that’s what you mean!  I reckon I hain’t
raised such a scamp as my Tom all these years not to know him when I
_see_ him.  That _would_ be a pretty howdy-do. Come out from under that
bed, Huck Finn.”

So I done it.  But not feeling brash.

Aunt Sally she was one of the mixed-upest-looking persons I ever
see--except one, and that was Uncle Silas, when he come in and they told
it all to him.  It kind of made him drunk, as you may say, and he didn’t
know nothing at all the rest of the day, and preached a prayer-meeting
sermon that night that gave him a rattling ruputation, because the
oldest man in the world couldn’t a understood it.  So Tom’s Aunt Polly,
she told all about who I was, and what; and I had to up and tell how
I was in such a tight place that when Mrs. Phelps took me for Tom
Sawyer--she chipped in and says, “Oh, go on and call me Aunt Sally, I’m
used to it now, and ‘tain’t no need to change”--that when Aunt Sally took
me for Tom Sawyer I had to stand it--there warn’t no other way, and
I knowed he wouldn’t mind, because it would be nuts for him, being
a mystery, and he’d make an adventure out of it, and be perfectly
satisfied.  And so it turned out, and he let on to be Sid, and made
things as soft as he could for me.

And his Aunt Polly she said Tom was right about old Miss Watson setting
Jim free in her will; and so, sure enough, Tom Sawyer had gone and took
all that trouble and bother to set a free nigger free! and I couldn’t
ever understand before, until that minute and that talk, how he _could_
help a body set a nigger free with his bringing-up.

Well, Aunt Polly she said that when Aunt Sally wrote to her that Tom and
_Sid_ had come all right and safe, she says to herself:

“Look at that, now!  I might have expected it, letting him go off that
way without anybody to watch him.  So now I got to go and trapse all
the way down the river, eleven hundred mile, and find out what that
creetur’s up to _this_ time, as long as I couldn’t seem to get any
answer out of you about it.”

“Why, I never heard nothing from you,” says Aunt Sally.

“Well, I wonder!  Why, I wrote you twice to ask you what you could mean
by Sid being here.”

“Well, I never got ‘em, Sis.”

Aunt Polly she turns around slow and severe, and says:

“You, Tom!”

“Well--_what_?” he says, kind of pettish.

“Don’t you what _me_, you impudent thing--hand out them letters.”

“What letters?”

“_Them_ letters.  I be bound, if I have to take a-holt of you I’ll--”

“They’re in the trunk.  There, now.  And they’re just the same as they
was when I got them out of the office.  I hain’t looked into them, I
hain’t touched them.  But I knowed they’d make trouble, and I thought if
you warn’t in no hurry, I’d--”

“Well, you _do_ need skinning, there ain’t no mistake about it.  And I
wrote another one to tell you I was coming; and I s’pose he--”

“No, it come yesterday; I hain’t read it yet, but _it’s_ all right, I’ve
got that one.”

I wanted to offer to bet two dollars she hadn’t, but I reckoned maybe it
was just as safe to not to.  So I never said nothing.


THE first time I catched Tom private I asked him what was his idea, time
of the evasion?--what it was he’d planned to do if the evasion worked all
right and he managed to set a nigger free that was already free before?
And he said, what he had planned in his head from the start, if we got
Jim out all safe, was for us to run him down the river on the raft, and
have adventures plumb to the mouth of the river, and then tell him about
his being free, and take him back up home on a steamboat, in style,
and pay him for his lost time, and write word ahead and get out all
the niggers around, and have them waltz him into town with a torchlight
procession and a brass-band, and then he would be a hero, and so would
we.  But I reckoned it was about as well the way it was.

We had Jim out of the chains in no time, and when Aunt Polly and Uncle
Silas and Aunt Sally found out how good he helped the doctor nurse Tom,
they made a heap of fuss over him, and fixed him up prime, and give him
all he wanted to eat, and a good time, and nothing to do.  And we had
him up to the sick-room, and had a high talk; and Tom give Jim forty
dollars for being prisoner for us so patient, and doing it up so good,
and Jim was pleased most to death, and busted out, and says:

“Dah, now, Huck, what I tell you?--what I tell you up dah on Jackson
islan’?  I _tole_ you I got a hairy breas’, en what’s de sign un it; en
I _tole_ you I ben rich wunst, en gwineter to be rich _agin_; en it’s
come true; en heah she is!  _dah_, now! doan’ talk to _me_--signs is
_signs_, mine I tell you; en I knowed jis’ ‘s well ‘at I ‘uz gwineter be
rich agin as I’s a-stannin’ heah dis minute!”

And then Tom he talked along and talked along, and says, le’s all three
slide out of here one of these nights and get an outfit, and go for
howling adventures amongst the Injuns, over in the Territory, for a
couple of weeks or two; and I says, all right, that suits me, but I
ain’t got no money for to buy the outfit, and I reckon I couldn’t get
none from home, because it’s likely pap’s been back before now, and got
it all away from Judge Thatcher and drunk it up.

“No, he hain’t,” Tom says; “it’s all there yet--six thousand dollars
and more; and your pap hain’t ever been back since.  Hadn’t when I come
away, anyhow.”

Jim says, kind of solemn:

“He ain’t a-comin’ back no mo’, Huck.”

I says:

“Why, Jim?”

“Nemmine why, Huck--but he ain’t comin’ back no mo.”

But I kept at him; so at last he says:

“Doan’ you ‘member de house dat was float’n down de river, en dey wuz a
man in dah, kivered up, en I went in en unkivered him and didn’ let you
come in?  Well, den, you kin git yo’ money when you wants it, kase dat
wuz him.”

Tom’s most well now, and got his bullet around his neck on a watch-guard
for a watch, and is always seeing what time it is, and so there ain’t
nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I’d
a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn’t a tackled it,
and ain’t a-going to no more.  But I reckon I got to light out for the
Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me
and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it.  I been there before.


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