Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain | Full Audiobook with subtitles | Part 2

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
CHAPTER XXIII. 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 provisions.” 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 alike.” “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 says: “’Shet de do’.’ “She never done it; jis’ stood dah, kiner
smilin’ up at me. It make me mad; en I says agin, mighty loud, I says: “’Doan’ you hear me? Shet de do’!’ “She jis stood de same way, kiner smilin’
up. I was a-bilin’! I says: “’I lay I _make_ you mine!’ “En wid dat I fetch’ her a slap side de
head dat sont her a-sprawlin’. Den I went into de yuther room, en ‘uz gone
’bout ten minutes; en when I come back dah was dat do’ a-stannin’ open
_yit_, en dat chile stannin’ mos’ right in it, a-lookin’ down and mournin’,
en de tears runnin’ down. My, but I _wuz_ mad! I was a-gwyne for de
chile, but jis’ den–it was a do’ dat open innerds–jis’ den, ‘long come
de wind en slam it to, behine de chile, ker-BLAM!–en my lan’, de chile
never move’! My breff mos’ hop outer me; en I feel so–so–I doan’ know
HOW I feel. I crope out, all a-tremblin’, en crope aroun’ en open de
do’ easy en slow, en poke my head in behine de chile, sof’ en still, en
all uv a sudden I says POW! jis’ as loud as I could yell. _She never budge!_
Oh, Huck, I bust out a-cryin’ en grab her up in my arms, en say,
‘Oh, de po’ little thing! De Lord God Amighty fogive po’ ole Jim, kaze
he never gwyne to fogive hisself as long’s he live!’ Oh, she was plumb
deef en dumb, Huck, plumb deef en dumb–en I’d ben a-treat’n her so!” CHAPTER XXIV. 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 hasn’t.” “Well, he don’t miss any property by it,
because he’ll get that all right; but he’s missed seeing his brother
Peter die–which he mayn’t mind, nobody can tell as to that–but his
brother would a give anything in this world to see _him_ before he died;
never talked about nothing else all these three weeks; hadn’t seen him
since they was boys together–and hadn’t ever seen his brother
William at all–that’s the deef and dumb one–William ain’t more than thirty
or thirty-five. Peter and George were the only ones that come out here;
George was the married brother; him and his wife both died last year.
Harvey and William’s the only ones that’s left now; and, as I was saying,
they haven’t got here in time.” “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 hare-lip.” “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 here.” 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 steamboat. About the middle of the afternoon a couple
of little boats come along, but they didn’t come from high enough up the
river; but at last there was a big one, and they hailed her. She sent
out her yawl, and we went aboard, and she was from Cincinnati; and when
they found we only wanted to go four or five mile they was booming mad,
and gave us a cussing, and said they wouldn’t land us. But the king was
ca’m. He says: “If gentlemen kin afford to pay a dollar
a mile apiece to be took on and put off in a yawl, a steamboat kin afford
to carry ’em, can’t it?” So they softened down and said it was all
right; and when we got to the village they yawled us ashore. About two dozen
men flocked down when they see the yawl a-coming, and when the king
says: “Kin any of you gentlemen tell me wher’
Mr. Peter Wilks lives?” they give a glance at one another, and nodded their
heads, as much as to say, “What d’ I tell you?” Then one of them
says, kind of soft and gentle: “I’m sorry sir, but the best we can do is
to tell you where he _did_ live yesterday evening.” Sudden as winking the ornery old cretur went
an to smash, and fell up against the man, and put his chin on his shoulder,
and cried down his back, 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
race. CHAPTER XXV. 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 bully. 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 way.” 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 dollars?” 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 up. 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 funeral.” 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 says: “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 says: “_Here_ is my answer.” She hove up the
bag of money and put it in the king’s hands, and says, “Take this six thousand
dollars, and invest for me and my sisters any way you want to, and
don’t give us no receipt for it.” Then she put her arm around the king on one
side, and Susan and the hare-lip done the same on the other. Everybody
clapped their hands and stomped on the floor like a perfect storm,
whilst the king held up his head and smiled proud. The doctor says: “All right; I wash _my_ hands of the matter.
But I warn you all that a time ‘s coming when you’re going to feel sick
whenever you think of this day.” And away he went. “All right, doctor,” says the king, kinder
mocking him; “we’ll try and get ’em to send for you;” which made them
all laugh, and they said it was a prime good hit. CHAPTER XXVI. 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: “What–regular?” “Yes–regular. His pew’s right over opposite
ourn–on t’other side the pulpit.” “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 sea?” “Looky here,” I says; “did you ever
see any Congress-water?” “Yes.” “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 bath.” “How does he get it, then?” “Gets it the way people down here gets Congress-water–in
barrels. There in the palace at Sheffield they’ve got furnaces,
and he wants his water hot. They can’t bile that amount of water
away off there at the sea. They haven’t got no conveniences for it.” “Oh, I see, now. You might a said that in
the first place and saved time.” 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?” “Yes–regular.” “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 niggers?” “_No_! A servant ain’t nobody there. They
treat them worse than dogs.” “Don’t they give ’em holidays, the way we
do, Christmas and New Year’s week, and Fourth of July?” “Oh, just listen! A body could tell _you_
hain’t ever been to England by that. Why, Hare-l–why, Joanna, they never
see a holiday from year’s end to year’s end; never go to the circus,
nor theater, nor nigger shows, nor nowheres.” “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 town?” So they got ready to go down stairs again.
The duke says: “I don’t think we put that money in a good
place.” That cheered me up. I’d begun to think I warn’t
going to get a hint of no kind to help me. The king says: “Why?” “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. CHAPTER XXVII. 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 them.” “Well, go on, _go_ on! What did they do?
How’d they act?” “They didn’t do nothing. And they didn’t
act anyway much, as fur as I see. They tiptoed away; so I seen, easy enough,
that they’d shoved in there to do up your majesty’s room, or something,
s’posing you was up; and found you _warn’t_ up, and so they was
hoping to slide out of the way of trouble without waking you up, if they
hadn’t already waked you up.” “Great guns, _this_ is a go!” says the
king; and both of them looked pretty sick and tolerable silly. They stood
there a-thinking and scratching their heads a minute, and the duke
he bust into a kind of a little raspy chuckle, and says: “It does beat all how neat the niggers played
their hand. They let on to be _sorry_ they was going out of this region!
And I believed they _was_ sorry, and so did you, and so did everybody.
Don’t ever tell _me_ any more that a nigger ain’t got any histrionic
talent. Why, the way they played that thing it would fool _anybody_.
In my opinion, there’s a fortune in ’em. If I had capital and a theater,
I wouldn’t want a better lay-out than that–and here we’ve gone
and sold ’em for a song. Yes, and ain’t privileged to sing the song
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 says: “Quick sales _and_ small profits! It’s a
good business–yes.” The king snarls around on him and says: “I was trying to do for the best in sellin’
’em out so quick. If the profits has turned out to be none, lackin’
considable, and none to carry, is it my fault any more’n it’s yourn?” “Well, _they’d_ be in this house yet and
we _wouldn’t_ if I could a got my advice listened to.” The king sassed back as much as was safe for
him, and then swapped around and lit into _me_ again. He give me
down the banks for not coming and _telling_ him I see the niggers
come out of his room acting that way–said any fool would a _knowed_ something
was up. And then waltzed in and cussed _himself_ awhile, and
said it all come of him not laying late and taking his natural rest that
morning, and he’d be blamed if he’d ever do it again. So they went
off a-jawing; and I felt dreadful glad I’d worked it all off on to
the niggers, and yet hadn’t done the niggers no harm by it. CHAPTER XXVIII. BY and by it was getting-up time. So I come
down the ladder and started for down-stairs; but as I come to the girls’
room the door was open, and I see Mary Jane setting by her old hair trunk,
which was open and she’d been packing things in it–getting ready to
go to England. But she had stopped now with a folded gown in her
lap, and had her face in her hands, 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 more!” “But they _will_–and inside of two weeks–and
I _know_ it!” says I. Laws, it was out before I could think! And
before I could budge she throws her arms around my neck and told me
to say it _again_, say it _again_, say it _again_! I see I had spoke too sudden and said too
much, and was in a close place. I asked her to let me think a minute;
and she set there, very impatient and excited and handsome, but looking
kind of happy and eased-up, like a person that’s had a tooth
pulled out. So I went to studying it out. I says to myself, I reckon
a body that ups and tells the truth when he is in a tight place is taking
considerable many resks, though I ain’t had no experience, and can’t
say for certain; but it looks so to me, anyway; and yet here’s a case
where I’m blest if it don’t look to me like the truth is better
and actuly _safer_ than a lie. I must lay it by in my mind, and think it
over some time or other, it’s so kind of strange and unregular. I never
see nothing like it. Well, I says to myself at last, I’m a-going to chance
it; I’ll up and tell the truth this time, though it does seem most
like setting down on a kag of powder and touching it off just to see where
you’ll go to. Then I says: “Miss Mary Jane, is there any place out
of town a little ways where you could go and stay three or four days?” “Yes; Mr. 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 them.” Saying them words put a good idea in my head.
I see how maybe I could get me and Jim rid of the frauds; get them
jailed here, and then leave. But I didn’t want to run the raft in the daytime
without anybody aboard to answer questions but me; so I didn’t want
the plan to begin working till pretty late to-night. I says: “Miss Mary Jane, I’ll tell you what we’ll
do, and you won’t have to stay at Mr. Lothrop’s so long, nuther. How fur
is it?” “A little short of four miles–right out
in the country, back here.” “Well, that ‘ll answer. Now you go along
out there, and lay low till nine or half-past to-night, and then
get them to fetch you home again–tell them you’ve thought of something.
If you get here before eleven put a candle in this window, and if
I don’t turn up wait _till_ eleven, and _then_ if I don’t turn up it means
I’m gone, and out of the way, and 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.” “Why?” “What did you reckon I wanted you to go
at all for, Miss Mary?” “Well, I never thought–and come to think,
I don’t know. What was it?” “Why, it’s because you ain’t one of these
leather-face people. I don’t want no better book than what your face is.
A body can set down and read it off like coarse print. Do you reckon
you can go and face your uncles when they come to kiss you good-morning,
and never–” “There, there, don’t! Yes, I’ll go before
breakfast–I’ll be glad to. And leave my sisters with them?” “Yes; never mind about them. They’ve got
to stand it yet a while. They might suspicion something if all of you was
to go. I don’t want you to see them, nor your sisters, nor nobody in
this town; if a neighbor was to ask how is your uncles this morning your
face would tell something. No, you go right along, Miss Mary Jane, and
I’ll fix it with all of them. I’ll tell Miss Susan to give your love
to your uncles and say you’ve went away for a few hours for to get
a little rest and change, or to see a friend, and you’ll be back to-night
or early in the morning.” “Gone to see a friend is all right, but
I won’t have my love given to them.” “Well, then, it sha’n’t be.” It was well
enough to tell _her_ so–no harm in it. It was only a little thing to
do, and no trouble; and it’s the little things that smooths people’s roads
the most, down here below; it would make Mary Jane comfortable, and it
wouldn’t cost nothing. Then I says: “There’s one more thing–that bag
of money.” “Well, they’ve got that; and it makes me
feel pretty silly to think _how_ they got 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 gone. Pray for me! I reckoned if she knowed me she’d
take a job that was more nearer her size. But I bet she done it, just
the same–she was just that kind. She had the grit to pray for Judus if
she took the notion–there warn’t no back-down to her, I judge. You may
say what you want to, but in my opinion she had more sand in her than
any girl I ever see; in my opinion she was just full of sand. It sounds
like flattery, but it ain’t no flattery. And when it comes to beauty–and
goodness, too–she lays over them all. I hain’t ever seen her
since that time that I see her go out of that door; no, I hain’t ever
seen her since, but I reckon I’ve thought of her a many and a many a million
times, and of her saying she would pray for me; and if ever I’d a thought
it would do any good for me to pray for _her_, blamed if I wouldn’t
a done it or bust. Well, Mary Jane she lit out the back way,
I reckon; because nobody see her go. When I struck Susan and the hare-lip,
I says: “What’s the name of them people over on
t’other side of the river that you all goes to see sometimes?” They says: “There’s several; but it’s the Proctors,
mainly.” “That’s the name,” I says; “I most forgot
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.” “Mumps your granny! They don’t set up with
people that’s got the mumps.” “They don’t, don’t they? You better bet
they do with _these_ mumps. These mumps is different. It’s a new kind,
Miss Mary Jane said.” “How’s it a new kind?” “Because it’s mixed up with other things.” “What other things?” “Well, measles, and whooping-cough, and
erysiplas, and consumption, and yaller janders, and brain-fever, and I don’t
know what all.” “My land! And they call it the _mumps_?” “That’s what Miss Mary Jane said.” “Well, what in the nation do they call it
the _mumps_ for?” “Why, because it _is_ the mumps. That’s
what it starts with.” “Well, ther’ ain’t no sense in it. A body
might stump his toe, and take pison, and fall down the well, and break his
neck, and bust his brains out, and somebody come along and ask what
killed him, and some numskull up and say, ‘Why, he stumped his _toe_.’ Would
ther’ be any sense in that? _No_. And ther’ ain’t no sense in
_this_, nuther. Is it ketching?” “Is it _ketching_? Why, how you talk. Is
a _harrow_ catching–in the dark? If you don’t hitch on to one tooth,
you’re bound to on another, ain’t you? And you can’t get away with that
tooth without fetching the whole harrow along, can you? Well, these kind
of mumps is a kind of a harrow, as you may say–and it ain’t no slouch
of a harrow, nuther, you come to get it hitched on good.” “Well, it’s awful, I think,” says the
hare-lip. “I’ll go to Uncle Harvey and–” “Oh, yes,” I says, “I _would_. Of _course_
I would. I wouldn’t lose no time.” “Well, why wouldn’t you?” “Just look at it a minute, and maybe you
can see. Hain’t your uncles obleegd to get along home to England as fast
as they can? And do you reckon they’d be mean enough to go off and
leave you to go all that journey by yourselves? _you_ know they’ll
wait for you. So fur, so good. Your uncle Harvey’s a preacher, ain’t
he? Very well, then; is a _preacher_ going to deceive a steamboat clerk?
is he going to deceive a _ship clerk?_–so as to get them to let
Miss Mary Jane go aboard? Now _you_ know he ain’t. What _will_ he do, then?
Why, he’ll say, ‘It’s a great pity, but my church matters has got
to get along the best way they can; for my niece has been exposed to the
dreadful pluribus-unum mumps, and so it’s my bounden duty to set down here
and wait the three months it takes to show on her if she’s got it.’
But never mind, if you think it’s best to tell your uncle Harvey–” “Shucks, and stay fooling around here when
we could all be having good times in England whilst we was waiting to
find out whether Mary Jane’s got it or not? Why, you talk like a muggins.” “Well, anyway, maybe you’d better tell some
of the neighbors.” “Listen at that, now. You do beat all for
natural stupidness. Can’t you _see_ that _they’d_ go and tell? Ther’
ain’t no way but just to not tell anybody at _all_.” “Well, maybe you’re right–yes, I judge
you _are_ right.” “But I reckon we ought to tell Uncle Harvey
she’s gone out a while, anyway, so he won’t be uneasy about her?” “Yes, Miss Mary Jane she wanted you to do
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!” CHAPTER XXIX. THEY was fetching a very nice-looking old
gentleman along, and a nice-looking younger one, with his right arm
in a sling. And, my souls, how the people yelled and laughed, and kept
it up. But I didn’t see no joke about it, and I judged it would strain
the duke and the king some to see any. I reckoned they’d turn pale. But
no, nary a pale did _they_ turn. The duke he never let on he suspicioned
what was up, but just went a goo-gooing around, happy and satisfied,
like a jug that’s googling out buttermilk; and as for the king,
he just gazed and gazed down sorrowful on them new-comers like it
give him the stomach-ache in his very heart to think there could be such
frauds and rascals in the world. Oh, he done it admirable. Lots of the
principal people gethered around the king, to let him see they
was on his side. That old gentleman that had just come looked all puzzled
to death. Pretty soon he begun to speak, and I see straight
off he pronounced _like_ an Englishman–not the king’s way, though the
king’s _was_ pretty good for an imitation. I can’t give the old gent’s
words, nor I can’t imitate him; but he turned around to the crowd, and
says, about like this: “This is a surprise to me which I wasn’t
looking for; and I’ll acknowledge, candid and frank, I ain’t very
well fixed to meet it and answer it; for my brother and me has had misfortunes;
he’s broke his arm, and our baggage got put off at a town
above here last night in the night by a mistake. I am Peter Wilks’ brother
Harvey, and this is his brother William, which can’t hear nor speak–and
can’t even make signs to amount to much, now’t he’s only got one hand
to work them with. We are who we say we are; and in a day or two, when
I get the baggage, I can prove it. But up till then I won’t say nothing
more, but go to the hotel and wait.” So him and the new dummy started off; and
the king he laughs, and blethers out: “Broke his arm–_very_ likely, _ain’t_ it?–and
very convenient, too, for a fraud that’s got to make signs, and
ain’t learnt how. Lost their baggage! That’s _mighty_ good!–and
mighty ingenious–under the _circumstances_!” 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 town?” “The day before the funeral, friend,”
says the king. “But what time o’ day?” “In the evenin’–’bout an hour er two before
sundown.” “_How’d_ you come?” “I come down on the Susan Powell from Cincinnati.” “Well, then, how’d you come to be up at
the Pint in the _mornin_’–in a canoe?” “I warn’t up at the Pint in the mornin’.” “It’s a lie.” Several of them jumped for him and begged
him not to talk that way to an old man and a preacher. “Preacher be hanged, he’s a fraud and a
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, anyway. The doctor he started to say something, and
turns and says: “If you’d been in town at first, Levi Bell–”
The king broke in and reached out his hand, and says: “Why, is this my poor dead brother’s old
friend that he’s wrote so often about?” The lawyer and him shook hands, and the lawyer
smiled and looked pleased, and they talked right along awhile,
and then got to one side and talked low; and at last the lawyer speaks
up and says: “That ‘ll fix it. I’ll take the order and
send it, along with your brother’s, and then they’ll know it’s all
right.” So they got some paper and a pen, and the
king he set down and twisted his head to one side, and chawed his tongue,
and scrawled off something; and then they give the pen to the duke–and
then for the first time the duke looked sick. But he took the pen and
wrote. So then the lawyer turns to the new old gentleman and says: “You and your brother please write a line
or two and sign your names.” The old gentleman wrote, but nobody couldn’t
read it. The lawyer looked powerful astonished, and says: “Well, it beats _me_”–and snaked a lot
of old letters out of his pocket, and examined them, and then examined the old
man’s writing, and then _them_ again; and then says: “These old
letters is from Harvey Wilks; and here’s _these_ two handwritings, and anybody
can see they didn’t write them” (the king and the duke looked
sold and foolish, I tell you, to see how the lawyer had took them in),
“and here’s _this_ old gentleman’s hand writing, and anybody can
tell, easy enough, _he_ didn’t write them–fact is, the scratches he makes
ain’t properly _writing_ at all. Now, here’s some letters from–” The new old gentleman says: “If you please, let me explain. Nobody can
read my hand but my brother there–so he copies for me. It’s _his_ hand
you’ve got there, not mine.” “_Well_!” says the lawyer, “this _is_
a state of things. I’ve got some of William’s letters, too; so if you’ll get
him to write a line or so we can com–” “He _can’t_ write with his left hand,”
says the old gentleman. “If he could use his right hand, you would see that
he wrote his own letters and mine 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 cheek. The new old gentleman turns brisk towards
Ab Turner and his pard, and his eye lights up like he judged he’d got
the king _this_ time, and says: “There–you’ve heard what he said! Was there
any such mark on Peter Wilks’ breast?” Both of them spoke up and says: “We didn’t see no such mark.” “Good!” says the old gentleman. “Now,
what you _did_ see on his breast was a small dim P, and a B (which is an initial
he dropped when he was young), and a W, with dashes between them,
so: P–B–W”–and he marked them that way on a piece of paper. “Come,
ain’t that what you saw?” Both of them spoke up again, and says: “No, we _didn’t_. We never seen any marks
at all.” Well, everybody _was_ in a state of mind now,
and they sings out: “The whole _bilin_’ of ‘m ‘s frauds! Le’s
duck ’em! le’s drown ’em! le’s ride ’em on a rail!” and everybody
was whooping at once, and there was a rattling powwow. But the lawyer he jumps
on the table and yells, and says: “Gentlemen–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 evening. As we went by our house I wished I hadn’t
sent Mary Jane out of town; because now if I could tip her the wink she’d
light out and save me, and blow on our dead-beats. Well, we swarmed along down the river road,
just carrying on like wildcats; and to make it more scary the sky
was darking up, and the lightning beginning to wink and flitter, and
the wind to shiver amongst the leaves. This was the most awful trouble
and most dangersome I ever was in; and I was kinder stunned; everything
was going so different from what I had allowed for; stead of being fixed
so I could take my own time if I wanted to, and see all the fun, and have
Mary Jane at my back to save me and set me free when the close-fit
come, here was nothing in the world betwixt me and sudden death but just
them tattoo-marks. If they didn’t find them– I couldn’t bear to think about it; and yet,
somehow, I couldn’t think about nothing else. It got darker and darker,
and it was a beautiful time to give the crowd the slip; but that
big husky had me by the wrist–Hines–and a body might as well try
to give Goliar the slip. He dragged me right along, he was so excited,
and I had to run to keep up. When they got there they swarmed into the
graveyard and washed over it like an overflow. And when they got to the
grave they found they had about a hundred times as many shovels as they
wanted, but nobody hadn’t thought to fetch a lantern. But they sailed
into digging anyway by the flicker of the lightning, and sent a man to
the nearest house, a half a mile off, to borrow one. So they dug and dug like everything; and it
got awful dark, and the rain started, and the wind swished and swushed
along, and the lightning come brisker and brisker, and the thunder boomed;
but them people never took no notice of it, they was so full of this
business; and one minute you could see everything and every face in
that big crowd, and the shovelfuls of dirt sailing up out of the grave,
and the next second the dark wiped it all out, and you couldn’t see
nothing at all. At last they got out the coffin and begun
to unscrew the lid, and then such another crowding and shouldering and
shoving as there was, to scrouge in and get a sight, you never see;
and in the dark, that way, it was awful. Hines he hurt my wrist dreadful
pulling and tugging so, and I reckon he clean forgot I was in the
world, he was so excited and panting. All of a sudden the lightning let go a perfect
sluice of white glare, and somebody sings out: “By the living jingo, here’s the bag of
gold on his breast!” Hines let out a whoop, like everybody else,
and dropped my wrist and give a big surge to bust his way in and get
a look, and the way I lit out and shinned for the road in the dark there
ain’t nobody can tell. I had the road all to myself, and I fairly
flew–leastways, I had it all to myself except the solid dark, and the now-and-then
glares, and the buzzing of the rain, and the thrashing of
the wind, and the splitting of the thunder; and sure as you are born I did
clip it along! When I struck the town I see there warn’t
nobody out in the storm, so I never hunted for no back streets, but humped
it straight through the main one; and when I begun to get towards
our house I aimed my eye and set it. No light there; the house all dark–which
made me feel sorry and disappointed, I didn’t know why. But at last,
just as I was sailing by, _flash_ comes the light in Mary Jane’s window!
and my heart swelled up sudden, like to bust; and the same second
the house and all was behind me in the dark, and wasn’t ever going to be
before me no more in this world. She _was_ the best girl I ever see,
and had the most sand. The minute I was far enough above the town
to see I could make the towhead, I begun to look sharp for a boat
to borrow, and the first time the lightning showed me one that wasn’t
chained I snatched it and shoved. It was a canoe, and warn’t fastened
with nothing but a rope. The towhead was a rattling big distance off,
away out there in the middle of the river, but I didn’t lose no
time; and when I struck the raft at last I was so fagged I would a just
laid down to blow and gasp if I could afforded it. But I didn’t. As I
sprung aboard I sung out: “Out with you, Jim, and set her loose! Glory
be to goodness, we’re shut of them!” Jim lit out, and was a-coming for me with
both arms spread, he was so full of joy; but when I glimpsed him in the
lightning my heart shot up in my mouth and I went overboard backwards;
for I forgot he was old King Lear and a drownded A-rab all in one, and
it most scared the livers and lights out of me. But Jim fished me out, and
was going to hug me and bless me, and so on, he was so glad I was
back and we was shut of the king and the duke, but I says: “Not now; have it for breakfast, have it
for breakfast! Cut loose and let her slide!” So in two seconds away we went a-sliding down
the river, and it _did_ seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves
on the big river, and nobody to bother us. I had to skip around
a bit, and jump up and crack my heels a few times–I couldn’t help it;
but about the third crack I noticed a sound that I knowed mighty well,
and held my breath and listened and waited; and sure enough, when
the next flash busted out over the water, here they come!–and just
a-laying to their oars and making their skiff hum! It was the king and
the duke. So I wilted right down on to the planks then,
and give up; and it was all I could do to keep from crying. CHAPTER XXX. WHEN they got aboard the king went for me,
and shook me by the collar, and says: “Tryin’ to give us the slip, was ye, you
pup! Tired of our company, hey?” I says: “No, your majesty, we warn’t–_please_ don’t,
your majesty!” “Quick, then, and tell us what _was_ your
idea, or I’ll shake the insides out o’ you!” “Honest, I’ll tell you everything just as
it happened, your majesty. The man that had a-holt of me was very good
to me, and kept saying he had a boy about as big as me that died last
year, and he was sorry to see a boy in such a dangerous fix; and
when they was all took by surprise by finding the gold, and made a rush
for the coffin, he lets go of me and whispers, ‘Heel it now, or they’ll
hang ye, sure!’ and I lit out. It didn’t seem no good for _me_ to stay–I
couldn’t do nothing, and I didn’t want to be hung if I could get
away. So I never stopped running till I found the canoe; and when I
got here I told Jim to hurry, or they’d catch me and hang me yet, and said
I was afeard you and the duke wasn’t alive now, and I was awful sorry,
and so was Jim, and was awful glad when we see you coming; you may
ask Jim if I 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_ did.” After about a half a minute the king drawls
out: “Leastways, I did.” The duke says, the same way: “On the contrary, I did.” The king kind of ruffles up, and says: “Looky here, Bilgewater, what’r you referrin’
to?” The duke says, pretty brisk: “When it comes to that, maybe you’ll let
me ask, what was _you_ referring to?” “Shucks!” says the king, very sarcastic;
“but I don’t know–maybe you was asleep, and didn’t know what you was about.” The duke bristles up now, and says: “Oh, let _up_ on this cussed nonsense; do
you take me for a blame’ fool? Don’t you reckon I know who hid that money
in that coffin?” “_Yes_, sir! I know you _do_ know, because
you done it yourself!” “It’s a lie!”–and the duke went for him.
The king sings out: “Take y’r hands off!–leggo my throat!–I
take it all back!” The duke says: “Well, you just own up, first, that you
_did_ hide that money there, intending to give me the slip one of these
days, and come back and dig it up, and have it all to 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 says: “If you ever deny it again I’ll drown you.
It’s _well_ for you to set there and blubber like a baby–it’s fitten
for you, after the way you’ve acted. I never see such an old ostrich
for wanting to gobble everything–and I a-trusting you all the time,
like you was my own father. You ought to been ashamed of yourself
to stand by and hear it saddled on to a lot of poor niggers, and you
never say a word for ’em. It makes me feel ridiculous to think I was
soft enough to _believe_ that rubbage. Cuss you, I can see now why
you was so anxious to make up the deffisit–you wanted to get what money
I’d got out of the Nonesuch and one thing or another, and scoop it _all_!” The king says, timid, and still a-snuffling: “Why, duke, it was you that said make up
the deffisit; it warn’t me.” “Dry up! I don’t want to hear no more out
of you!” says the duke. “And _now_ you see what you GOT by it. They’ve
got all their own money back, and all of _ourn_ but a shekel or two _besides_.
G’long to bed, and don’t you deffersit _me_ no more deffersits,
long ‘s _you_ live!” So the king sneaked into the wigwam and took
to his bottle for comfort, and before long the duke tackled HIS bottle;
and so in about a half an hour they was as thick as thieves again, and
the tighter they got the lovinger they got, and went off a-snoring
in each other’s arms. They both got powerful mellow, but I noticed the
king didn’t get mellow enough to forget to remember to not deny about
hiding the money-bag again. That made me feel easy and satisfied.
Of course when they got to snoring we had a long gabble, and I told
Jim everything. CHAPTER XXXI. WE dasn’t stop again at any town for days
and days; kept right along down the river. We was down south in the warm
weather now, and a mighty long ways from home. We begun to come to trees
with Spanish moss on them, hanging down from the limbs like long,
gray beards. It was the first I ever see it growing, and it made the
woods look solemn and dismal. So now the frauds reckoned they was
out of danger, and they begun to work the villages 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: “Yes.” “Whereabouts?” says I. “Down to Silas Phelps’ place, two mile below
here. He’s a runaway nigger, and they’ve got him. Was you looking
for him?” “You bet I ain’t! I run across him in the
woods about an hour or two ago, and he said if I hollered he’d cut my
livers out–and told me to lay down and stay where I was; and I done it.
Been there ever since; afeard to come out.” “Well,” he says, “you needn’t be afeard
no more, becuz they’ve got him. He run off f’m down South, som’ers.” “It’s a good job they got him.” “Well, I _reckon_! There’s two hunderd dollars
reward on him. It’s like picking up money out’n the road.” “Yes, it is–and I could a had it if I’d
been big enough; I see him _first_. Who nailed him?” “It was an old fellow–a stranger–and he
sold out his chance in him for forty dollars, becuz he’s got to go up the
river and can’t wait. Think o’ that, now! You bet _I’d_ wait, if it was
seven year.” “That’s me, every time,” says I. “But
maybe his chance ain’t worth no more than that, if he’ll sell it so cheap.
Maybe there’s something ain’t straight about it.” “But it _is_, though–straight as a string.
I see the handbill myself. It tells all about him, to a dot–paints him
like a picture, and tells the plantation he’s frum, below 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 that!” “How can he blow? Hain’t he run off?” “No! That old fool sold him, and never divided
with me, and the money’s gone.” “_Sold_ him?” I says, and begun to cry;
“why, he was _my_ nigger, and that was my money. Where is he?–I want my
nigger.” “Well, you can’t _get_ your nigger, that’s
all–so dry up your blubbering. Looky here–do you think _you’d_
venture to blow on us? Blamed if I think I’d trust you. Why, if you
_was_ to blow on us–” He stopped, but I never see the duke look
so ugly out of his eyes before. I went on a-whimpering, and says: “I don’t want to blow on nobody; and I ain’t
got no time to blow, nohow. I got to turn out and find my nigger.” He looked kinder bothered, and stood there
with his bills fluttering on his arm, thinking, and wrinkling up his forehead.
At last he says: “I’ll tell you something. We got to be here
three days. If you’ll promise you won’t blow, and won’t let the
nigger blow, I’ll tell you where to find him.” So I promised, and he says: “A farmer by the name of Silas Ph–” and
then he stopped. You see, he started to tell me the truth; but when he
stopped that way, and begun to study and think again, I reckoned he was changing
his mind. And so he was. He wouldn’t trust me; he wanted to make
sure of having me out of the way the whole three days. So pretty soon
he says: “The man that bought him is named Abram
Foster–Abram G. Foster–and he lives forty mile back here in the country,
on the road to Lafayette.” “All right,” I says, “I can walk it
in three days. And I’ll start this very afternoon.” “No you wont, you’ll start _now_; and don’t
you lose any time about it, neither, nor do any gabbling by the way. Just
keep a tight tongue in your head and move right along, and then you
won’t get into trouble with _us_, d’ye hear?” That was the order I wanted, and that was
the one I played for. I wanted to be left free to work my plans. “So clear out,” he says; “and you can
tell Mr. Foster whatever you want to. Maybe you can get him to believe that
Jim _is_ your nigger–some idiots don’t require documents–leastways
I’ve heard there’s such down South here. And when you tell him the handbill
and the reward’s bogus, maybe he’ll believe you when you explain to
him what the idea was for getting ’em out. Go ‘long now, and tell him
anything you want to; but mind you don’t work your jaw any _between_
here and there.” So I left, and struck for the back country.
I didn’t look around, but I kinder felt like he was watching me. But I
knowed I could tire him out at that. I went straight out in the country
as much as a mile before I stopped; then I doubled back through the
woods towards Phelps’. I reckoned I better start in on my plan straight
off without fooling around, because I wanted to stop Jim’s mouth
till these fellows could get away. I didn’t want no trouble with their
kind. I’d seen all I wanted to of them, and wanted to get entirely
shut of them. CHAPTER XXXII. WHEN I got there it was all still and Sunday-like,
and hot and sunshiny; the hands was gone to the fields; and there
was them kind of faint dronings of bugs and flies in the air that
makes it seem so lonesome and like everybody’s dead and gone; and if a breeze
fans along and quivers the leaves it makes you feel mournful, because
you feel like it’s spirits whispering–spirits that’s been dead
ever so many years–and you always think they’re talking about _you_.
As a general thing it makes a body wish _he_ was dead, too, and done with
it all. Phelps’ was one of these little one-horse
cotton plantations, and they all look 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?” “Yes’m–she–” “Don’t say yes’m–say Aunt Sally. Where’d
she get aground?” I didn’t rightly know what to say, because
I didn’t know whether the boat would be coming up the river or down.
But I go a good deal on instinct; and my instinct said she would be
coming up–from down towards Orleans. That didn’t help me much, though;
for I didn’t know the names of bars down that 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?” “Nobody.” “Why, child, it ‘ll be stole!” “Not where I hid it I reckon it won’t,”
I says. “How’d you get your breakfast so early on
the boat?” It was kinder thin ice, but I says: “The captain see me standing around, and
told me I better have something to eat before I went ashore; so he took me
in the texas to the officers’ lunch, and give me all I wanted.” I was getting so uneasy I couldn’t listen
good. I had my mind on the children all the time; I wanted to get them
out to one side and pump them a little, and find out who I was. But
I couldn’t get no show, Mrs. Phelps kept it up and run on so. Pretty soon
she made the cold chills streak all down my back, because she says: “But here we’re a-running on this way, and
you hain’t told me a word about Sis, nor any of them. Now I’ll rest
my works a little, and you start up yourn; just tell me _everything_–tell
me all about ‘m all every one of ‘m; and how they are, and what they’re
doing, and what they told you to tell me; and every last thing you can
think of.” Well, I see I was up a stump–and up it good.
Providence had stood by me this fur all right, but I was hard and
tight aground now. I see it warn’t a bit of use to try to go ahead–I’d
got to throw up my hand. So I says to myself, here’s another place where
I got to resk the truth. I opened my mouth to begin; but she grabbed
me and hustled me in behind the bed, and 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 him?” “I can’t imagine,” says the old gentleman;
“and I must say it makes me dreadful uneasy.” “Uneasy!” she says; “I’m ready to go
distracted! He _must_ a come; and you’ve missed him along the road. I _know_
it’s so–something tells me so.” “Why, Sally, I _couldn’t_ miss him along
the road–_you_ know that.” “But oh, dear, dear, what _will_ Sis say!
He must a come! You must a missed him. He–” “Oh, don’t distress me any more’n I’m already
distressed. I don’t know what in the world to make of it. I’m at my
wit’s end, and I don’t mind acknowledging ‘t I’m right down scared. But
there’s no hope that he’s come; for he _couldn’t_ come and me miss him.
Sally, it’s terrible–just terrible–something’s happened to the boat,
sure!” “Why, Silas! Look yonder!–up the road!–ain’t
that somebody coming?” He sprung to the window at the head of the
bed, and that give Mrs. Phelps the chance she wanted. She stooped
down quick at the foot of the bed and give me a pull, and out I come; and
when he turned back from the window there she stood, a-beaming and a-smiling
like a house afire, and I standing pretty meek and sweaty alongside.
The old gentleman stared, and says: “Why, who’s that?” “Who do you reckon ‘t is?” “I hain’t no idea. Who _is_ it?” “It’s _Tom Sawyer!_” By jings, I most slumped through the floor!
But there warn’t no time to swap knives; the old man grabbed me by the
hand and shook, and kept on shaking; and all the time how the woman did
dance around and laugh and cry; and then how they both did fire off questions
about Sid, and Mary, and the rest of the tribe. But if they was joyful, it warn’t nothing
to what I was; for it was like being born again, I was so glad to find out
who I was. Well, they froze to me for two hours; and at last, when my
chin was so tired it couldn’t hardly go any more, I had told them more about
my family–I mean the Sawyer family–than ever happened to any six
Sawyer families. And I explained all about how we blowed out a cylinder-head
at the mouth of White River, and it took us three days to
fix it. Which was all right, and worked first-rate; because _they_ didn’t
know but what it would take three days to fix it. If I’d a called it a
bolthead it would a done just as well. Now I was feeling pretty comfortable all down
one side, and pretty uncomfortable all up the other. Being Tom
Sawyer was easy and comfortable, and it stayed easy and comfortable
till by and by I hear a steamboat coughing along down the river. Then
I says to myself, s’pose Tom Sawyer comes down on that boat? And s’pose
he steps in here any minute, and sings out my name before I can
throw him a wink to keep quiet? Well, I couldn’t _have_ it that way; it wouldn’t
do at all. I must go up the road and waylay him. So I told the
folks I reckoned I would go up to the town and fetch down my baggage.
The old gentleman was for going along with me, but I said no, I could
drive the horse myself, and I druther he wouldn’t take no trouble about
me. CHAPTER XXXIII. SO I started for town in the wagon, and when I was half-way
I see a wagon coming, and sure enough it was Tom Sawyer,
and I stopped and waited till he come along. I says “Hold
on!” and it stopped alongside, and his mouth opened up like a trunk, and
stayed so; and he swallowed two or three times like a person that’s got
a dry throat, and then says: “I hain’t ever done you no harm. You know
that. So, then, what you want to come back and ha’nt _me_ for?” I says: “I hain’t come back–I hain’t been _gone_.” When he heard my voice it righted him up some,
but he warn’t quite satisfied yet. He says: “Don’t you play nothing on me, because I
wouldn’t on you. Honest injun now, you ain’t a ghost?” “Honest injun, I ain’t,” I says. “Well–I–I–well, that ought to settle
it, of course; but I can’t somehow seem to understand it no way. Looky here,
warn’t you ever murdered _at all?_” “No. I warn’t ever murdered at all–I played
it on them. You come in here and feel of me if you don’t believe me.” So he done it; and it satisfied him; and he
was that glad to see me again he didn’t know what to do. And he wanted
to know all about it right off, because it was a grand adventure,
and mysterious, and so it hit him where he lived. 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 short.” He got up and looked distressed, and fumbled
his hat, and says: “I’m sorry, and I warn’t expecting it. They
told me to. They all told me to. They all said, kiss her; and said she’d
like it. They all said it–every one of them. But I’m sorry, m’am,
and I won’t do it no more–I won’t, honest.” “You won’t, won’t you? Well, I sh’d _reckon_
you won’t!” “No’m, I’m honest about it; I won’t ever
do it again–till you ask me.” “Till I _ask_ you! Well, I never see the
beat of it in my born days! I lay you’ll be the Methusalem-numskull of
creation before ever I ask you–or the likes of you.” “Well,” he says, “it does surprise me
so. I can’t make it out, somehow. They said you would, and I thought you would.
But–” He stopped and looked around slow, like he wished he could
run across a friendly eye somewheres, and fetched up on the old gentleman’s,
and says, “Didn’t _you_ think she’d like me to kiss her, sir?” “Why, no; I–I–well, no, I b’lieve I didn’t.” Then he looks on around the same way to me,
and says: “Tom, didn’t _you_ think Aunt Sally ‘d open
out her arms and say, ‘Sid Sawyer–‘” “My land!” she says, breaking in and jumping
for him, “you impudent young rascal, to fool a body so–” and was
going to hug him, but he fended her off, and 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 him.” “It’s because it warn’t _intended_ for any
of us to come but Tom,” he says; “but I begged and begged, and at the
last minute she let me come, too; so, coming down the river, me and
Tom thought it would be a first-rate surprise for him to come here to
the house first, and for me to by and by tag along and drop in, and let
on to be a stranger. But it was a mistake, Aunt Sally. This ain’t no healthy
place for a stranger to come.” “No–not impudent whelps, Sid. You ought
to had your jaws boxed; I hain’t been so put out since I don’t know
when. But I don’t care, I don’t mind the terms–I’d be willing to stand
a thousand such jokes to have you here. Well, to think of that performance!
I don’t deny it, I was most putrified with astonishment when
you give me that smack.” We had dinner out in that broad open passage
betwixt the house and the kitchen; and there was things enough on
that table for seven families–and all hot, too; none of your flabby,
tough meat that’s laid in a cupboard in a damp cellar all night and
tastes like a hunk of old cold cannibal in the morning. Uncle Silas
he asked a pretty long blessing over it, but it was worth it; and
it didn’t cool it a bit, neither, the way I’ve seen them kind of interruptions
do lots of 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. CHAPTER XXXIV. WE stopped talking, and got to thinking. By
and by Tom says: “Looky here, Huck, what fools we are to
not think of it before! I bet I know where Jim is.” “No! Where?” “In that hut down by the ash-hopper. Why,
looky here. When we was at dinner, didn’t you see a nigger man go in
there with some vittles?” “Yes.” “What did you think the vittles was for?” “For a dog.” “So ‘d I. Well, it wasn’t for a dog.” “Why?” “Because part of it was watermelon.” “So it was–I noticed it. Well, it does
beat all that I never thought about a dog not eating watermelon. It shows
how a body can see and don’t see at the same time.” “Well, the nigger unlocked the padlock when
he went in, and he locked it again when he came out. He fetched uncle a
key about the time we got up from table–same key, I bet. Watermelon shows
man, lock shows prisoner; and it ain’t likely there’s two prisoners
on such a little plantation, and where the people’s all so kind and good.
Jim’s the prisoner. All right–I’m glad we found it out detective
fashion; I wouldn’t give shucks for any other way. Now you work your mind,
and study out a plan to steal Jim, and I will study out one, too;
and we’ll take the one we like the best.” What a head for just a boy to have! If I had
Tom Sawyer’s head I wouldn’t trade it off to be a duke, nor mate
of a steamboat, nor clown in a circus, nor nothing I can think of. I
went to thinking out a plan, but only just to be doing something; I knowed
very well where the right plan was going to come from. Pretty soon Tom
says: “Ready?” “Yes,” I says. “All right–bring it out.” “My plan is this,” I says. “We can easy
find out if it’s Jim in there. Then get up my canoe to-morrow night, and
fetch my raft over from the island. Then the first dark night that comes
steal the key out of the old man’s britches after he goes to bed, and
shove off down the river on the raft with Jim, hiding daytimes and
running nights, the way me and Jim used to do before. Wouldn’t that plan
work?” “_Work_? Why, cert’nly it would work, like
rats a-fighting. But it’s too blame’ simple; there ain’t nothing _to_
it. What’s the good of a plan that ain’t no more trouble than that?
It’s as mild as goose-milk. Why, Huck, it wouldn’t make no more talk than
breaking into a soap factory.” I never said nothing, because I warn’t expecting
nothing different; but I knowed mighty well that whenever he got
_his_ plan ready it wouldn’t have none of them objections to it. And it didn’t. He told me what it was, and
I see in a minute it was worth fifteen of mine for style, and would
make Jim just as free a man as mine would, and maybe get us all killed
besides. So I was satisfied, and said we would waltz in on it. I needn’t
tell what it was here, because I knowed it wouldn’t stay the way,
it was. I knowed he would be changing it around every which way as we went
along, and heaving in new bullinesses wherever he got a chance. And
that is what he done. Well, one thing was dead sure, and that was
that Tom Sawyer was in earnest, and was actuly going to help steal
that nigger out of slavery. That was the thing that was too many for me.
Here was a boy that was respectable and well brung up; and had a character
to lose; and folks at home that had characters; and he was bright
and not leather-headed; and knowing and not ignorant; and not mean, but
kind; and yet here he was, without any more pride, or rightness, or feeling,
than to stoop to this business, and make himself a shame, and
his family a shame, before 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 about?” “Yes.” “Didn’t I _say_ I was going to help steal
the nigger?” “Yes.” “_Well_, then.” That’s all he said, and that’s all I said.
It warn’t no use to say any more; because when he said he’d do a thing,
he always done it. But I couldn’t make out how he was willing to go
into this thing; so I just let it go, and never bothered no more about
it. If he was bound to have it so, I couldn’t help it. When we got home the house was all dark and
still; so we went on down to the hut by the ash-hopper for to examine it.
We went through the yard so as to see what the hounds would do. They
knowed us, and didn’t make no more noise than country dogs is always
doing when anything comes by in the night. When we got to the cabin we
took a look at the front and the two sides; and on the side I warn’t acquainted
with–which was the north side–we found a square window-hole,
up tolerable high, with just one stout board nailed across it. I says: “Here’s the ticket. This hole’s big enough
for Jim to get through if we wrench off the board.” Tom says: “It’s as simple as tit-tat-toe, three-in-a-row,
and as easy as playing hooky. I should _hope_ we can find
a way that’s a little more complicated than _that_, Huck 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 ‘im?” “Yes.” I hunched Tom, and whispers: “You going, right here in the daybreak?
_that_ warn’t the plan.” “No, it warn’t; but it’s the plan _now_.” So, drat him, we went along, but I didn’t
like it much. When we got in we couldn’t hardly see anything, it was so
dark; but Jim was there, sure enough, and could see us; and he sings out: “Why, _Huck_! En good _lan_’! ain’ dat Misto
Tom?” I just knowed how it would be; I just expected
it. I didn’t know nothing to do; and if I had I couldn’t a done
it, because that nigger busted in and says: “Why, de gracious sakes! do he know you
genlmen?” We could see pretty well now. Tom he looked
at the nigger, steady and kind of wondering, and says: “Does _who_ know us?” “Why, dis-yer runaway nigger.” “I don’t reckon he does; but what put that
into your head?” “What _put_ it dar? Didn’ he jis’ dis minute
sing out like he knowed you?” Tom says, in a puzzled-up kind of way: “Well, that’s mighty curious. _Who_ sung
out? _when_ did he sing out? _what_ did he sing out?” And turns to me,
perfectly ca’m, and says, “Did _you_ hear anybody sing out?” Of course there warn’t nothing to be said
but the one thing; so I says: “No; I ain’t heard nobody say nothing.” Then he turns to Jim, and looks him over like
he never see him before, and 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 says: “I wonder if Uncle Silas is going to hang
this nigger. If I was to catch a nigger that was ungrateful enough
to run away, I wouldn’t give him up, I’d hang him.” And whilst the nigger
stepped to the door to look at the dime and bite it to see if it
was good, he whispers to Jim and says: “Don’t ever let on to know us. And if you
hear any digging going on nights, it’s us; we’re going to set you 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. CHAPTER XXXV. IT would be most an hour yet till breakfast,
so we left and struck down into the woods; because Tom said we got to
have _some_ light to see how to dig by, and a lantern makes too much, and
might get us into trouble; what we must have was a lot of them rotten
chunks that’s called fox-fire, and just makes a soft kind of a
glow when you lay them in a dark place. We fetched an armful and hid it
in the weeds, and set down to rest, and Tom says, kind of dissatisfied: “Blame it, this whole thing is just as easy
and awkward as it can be. And so it makes it so rotten difficult to
get up a difficult plan. There ain’t no watchman to be drugged–now
there _ought_ to be a watchman. There ain’t even a dog to give a
sleeping-mixture to. And there’s Jim chained by one leg, with a ten-foot
chain, to the leg of his bed: why, all you got to do is to lift up
the bedstead and slip off the chain. And Uncle Silas he trusts everybody;
sends the key to the punkin-headed nigger, and don’t send nobody
to watch the nigger. Jim could a got out of that window-hole before
this, only there wouldn’t be no use trying to travel with a ten-foot chain
on his leg. Why, drat it, Huck, it’s the stupidest arrangement I ever
see. You got to invent _all_ the difficulties. Well, we can’t help it;
we got to do the best we can with the materials we’ve got. Anyhow, there’s
one thing–there’s more honor in getting him out through a lot of
difficulties and dangers, where there warn’t one of them furnished to
you by the people who it was their duty to furnish them, and you had to
contrive them all out of your own head. Now look at just that one thing
of the lantern. When you come down to the cold facts, we simply got
to _let on_ that a lantern’s resky. Why, we could work with a torchlight
procession if we wanted to, I believe. Now, whilst I think of it, we got
to hunt up something to make a saw out of the first chance we get.” “What do we want of a saw?” “What do we _want_ of it? Hain’t we got
to saw the leg of Jim’s bed off, so as to get the chain loose?” “Why, you just said a body could lift up
the bedstead and slip the chain off.” “Well, if that ain’t just like you, Huck
Finn. You _can_ get up the infant-schooliest ways of going at a thing.
Why, hain’t you ever read any books at all?–Baron Trenck, nor Casanova,
nor Benvenuto Chelleeny, nor Henri IV., nor none of them heroes? Who
ever heard of getting a prisoner loose in such an old-maidy way as
that? No; the way all the best authorities does is to saw the bed-leg
in two, and leave it just so, and swallow the sawdust, so it can’t be
found, and put some dirt and grease around the sawed place so the very
keenest seneskal can’t see no sign of it’s being sawed, and thinks the
bed-leg is perfectly sound. Then, the night you’re ready, fetch the leg
a kick, down she goes; slip off your chain, and there you are. Nothing
to do but hitch your rope ladder to the battlements, shin down
it, break your leg in the moat–because a rope ladder is nineteen foot
too short, you know–and there’s your horses and your trusty vassles,
and they scoop you up and fling you across a saddle, and away you go
to your native Langudoc, or Navarre, or wherever it is. It’s gaudy, Huck.
I wish there was a moat to this cabin. If we get time, the night of
the escape, we’ll dig 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 barrel-hoop?” “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. “Yes.” “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?” “Yes.” “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. CHAPTER XXXVI. 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 says: “Gimme a _case-knife_.” I didn’t know just what to do–but then I
thought. I scratched around amongst the old tools, and got a pickaxe and
give it to him, and he took it and went to work, and never said a word. He was always just that particular. Full of
principle. 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 do.” “But my lan’, Mars Sid, how’s I gwyne to
make ‘m a witch pie? I doan’ know how to make it. I hain’t ever hearn er
sich a thing b’fo’.” “Well, then, I’ll have to make it myself.” “Will you do it, honey?–will you? I’ll
wusshup de groun’ und’ yo’ foot, I will!” “All right, I’ll do it, seeing it’s you,
and you’ve been good to us and showed us the runaway nigger. But you got
to be mighty careful. When we come around, you turn your back; and then
whatever we’ve put in the pan, don’t you let on you see it at all. And
don’t you look when Jim unloads the pan–something might happen, I
don’t know what. And above all, don’t you _handle_ the witch-things.” “_Hannel ‘M_, Mars Sid? What _is_ you a-talkin’
’bout? I wouldn’ lay de weight er my finger on um, not f’r
ten hund’d thous’n billion dollars, I wouldn’t.” CHAPTER XXXVII. 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 know.” “Well, Sally, I’m in fault, and I acknowledge
it; I’ve been remiss; but I won’t let to-morrow go by without stopping
up them holes.” “Oh, I wouldn’t hurry; next year ‘ll do.
Matilda Angelina Araminta _Phelps!_” Whack comes the thimble, and the child snatches
her claws out of the sugar-bowl without fooling around any. Just
then the nigger woman steps on to the passage, and says: “Missus, dey’s a sheet gone.” “A _sheet_ gone! Well, for the land’s sake!” “I’ll stop up them holes to-day,” says
Uncle Silas, looking sorrowful. “Oh, _do_ shet up!–s’pose the rats took
the _sheet_? _where’s_ it gone, Lize?” “Clah to goodness I hain’t no notion, Miss’
Sally. She wuz on de clo’sline yistiddy, but she done gone: she
ain’ dah no mo’ now.” “I reckon the world _is_ coming to an end.
I _never_ see the beat of it in all my born days. A shirt, and a sheet,
and a spoon, and six can–” “Missus,” comes a young yaller wench,
“dey’s a brass cannelstick miss’n.” “Cler out from here, you hussy, er I’ll
take a skillet to ye!” Well, she was just a-biling. I begun to lay
for a chance; I reckoned I would sneak out and go for the woods till
the weather moderated. She kept a-raging right along, running her insurrection
all by herself, and everybody else mighty meek and quiet; and
at last Uncle Silas, looking kind of foolish, fishes up that spoon out
of his pocket. She stopped, with her mouth open and her hands up; and
as for me, I wished I was in Jeruslem or somewheres. But not long, because
she says: “It’s _just_ as I expected. So you had it
in your pocket all the time; and like as not you’ve got the other things
there, too. How’d it get there?” “I reely don’t know, Sally,” he says,
kind of apologizing, “or you know I would tell. I was a-studying over my text
in Acts Seventeen before breakfast, and I reckon I put it in there,
not noticing, meaning to put my Testament in, and it must be so, because
my Testament ain’t in; but I’ll go and see; and if the Testament is where
I had it, I’ll know I didn’t put it in, and that will show that
I laid the Testament down and took up the spoon, and–” “Oh, for the land’s sake! Give a body a
rest! Go ‘long now, the whole kit and biling of ye; and don’t come nigh
me again till I’ve got back my peace of 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, saying: “Well, for the life of me I can’t remember
when I done it. I could show her now that I warn’t to blame on account
of the rats. But never mind–let it go. I reckon it wouldn’t do no
good.” And so he went on a-mumbling up stairs, and
then we left. He was a mighty nice old man. And always is. 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 would. “I declare to gracious ther’ _ain’t_ but
nine!” she says. “Why, what in the world–plague _take_ the things, I’ll
count ‘m again.” So I slipped back the one I had, and when
she got done counting, she says: “Hang the troublesome rubbage, ther’s _ten_
now!” and she looked huffy and bothered both. But Tom says: “Why, Aunty, I don’t think there’s ten.” “You numskull, didn’t you see me _count
‘m?_” “I know, but–” “Well, I’ll count ‘m _again_.” So I smouched one, and they come out nine,
same as the other time. Well, she _was_ in a tearing way–just a-trembling
all over, she was so mad. But she counted and counted till she
got that addled she’d start to count in the basket for a spoon sometimes;
and so, three times they come out right, and three times they come
out wrong. Then she grabbed up the basket and slammed it across the house
and knocked the cat galley-west; and she said cle’r out and let
her have some peace, and if we come bothering around her again betwixt
that and dinner she’d skin us. So we had the odd spoon, and dropped it
in her apron-pocket whilst she was a-giving us our sailing orders, and
Jim got it all right, along with her shingle nail, before noon. We was
very well satisfied with this business, and Tom allowed it was worth
twice the trouble it took, because he said _now_ she couldn’t ever count
them spoons twice alike again to save her life; and wouldn’t believe
she’d counted them right if she _did_; and said that after she’d about
counted her head off for the next three days he judged she’d give it up
and offer to kill anybody that wanted her to ever count them any more. 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 dinner. But we didn’t need it. All we needed was just
enough for the pie, and so we throwed the rest away. We didn’t cook
none of the pies in the wash-pan–afraid the solder would melt; but
Uncle Silas he had a noble brass warming-pan which he thought considerable
of, because it belonged to one of his ancesters with a long wooden
handle that come over from England with William the Conqueror in the
Mayflower or one of them early ships and was hid away up garret with a lot
of other old pots and things that was valuable, not on account of being
any account, because they warn’t, but on account of them being relicts,
you know, and we snaked her out, private, and took her down there,
but she failed on the first pies, because we didn’t know how, but she
come up smiling on the last one. We took and lined her with dough, and
set her in the coals, and loaded her up with rag rope, and put on a
dough roof, and shut down the lid, and put hot embers on top, and stood
off five foot, with the long handle, cool and comfortable, and in fifteen
minutes she turned out a pie that was a satisfaction to look at. But
the person that et it would want to fetch a couple of kags of toothpicks
along, for if that rope ladder wouldn’t cramp him down to business
I don’t know nothing what I’m talking about, and lay him in enough stomach-ache
to last him till next time, too. 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 window-hole. CHAPTER XXXVIII. 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 sinister?” “Oh, I don’t know. But he’s got to have
it. All the nobility does.” That was just his way. If it didn’t suit him
to explain a thing to you, he wouldn’t do it. You might pump at him a
week, it wouldn’t make no difference. 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 says: “I know how to fix it. We got to have a
rock for the coat of arms and mournful inscriptions, and we can kill two
birds with that same rock. There’s a gaudy big grindstone down at the
mill, and we’ll smouch it, and carve the things on it, and file out the
pens and the saw on it, too.” It warn’t no slouch of an idea; and it warn’t
no slouch of a grindstone nuther; but we allowed we’d tackle it. It
warn’t quite midnight yet, so we cleared out for the mill, leaving Jim
at work. We smouched the grindstone, and set out to roll her home,
but it was a most nation tough job. Sometimes, do what we could, we couldn’t
keep her from falling over, and she come mighty near mashing us
every time. Tom said she was going to get one of us, sure, before we got
through. We got her half way; and then we was plumb played out, and
most drownded with sweat. We see it warn’t no use; we got to go and fetch
Jim. So he raised up his bed and slid the chain off of the bed-leg,
and wrapt it round and round his neck, and we crawled out through our hole
and down there, and Jim and me laid into that grindstone and walked
her along like nothing; and Tom superintended. He could out-superintend
any boy I ever see. He knowed how to do everything. Our hole was pretty big, but it warn’t big
enough to get the grindstone through; but Jim he took the pick and soon
made it big enough. Then Tom marked out them things on it with the nail,
and set Jim to work on them, with the nail for a chisel and an iron bolt
from the rubbage in the lean-to for a hammer, and told him to work
till the rest of his candle quit on him, and then he could go to bed,
and hide the grindstone under his straw tick and sleep on it. Then we helped
him fix his chain back on the bed-leg, and was ready for bed ourselves.
But Tom thought of something, and says: “You got any spiders in here, Jim?” “No, sah, thanks to goodness I hain’t, Mars
Tom.” “All right, we’ll get you some.” “But bless you, honey, I doan’ _want_ none.
I’s afeard un um. I jis’ ‘s soon have 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 it?” “Keep what, Mars Tom?” “Why, a rattlesnake.” “De goodness gracious alive, Mars Tom! Why,
if dey was a rattlesnake to come in heah I’d take en bust right out thoo
dat log wall, I would, wid my head.” “Why, Jim, you wouldn’t be afraid of it
after a little. You could tame it.” “_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 doin’s.” “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 here?” “No, sah, I hain’t seed none.” “Well, we’ll get you some rats.” “Why, Mars Tom, I doan’ _want_ no rats.
Dey’s de dadblamedest creturs to ‘sturb a body, en rustle roun’ over ‘im,
en bite his feet, when he’s tryin’ to sleep, I ever see. No, sah, gimme
g’yarter-snakes, ‘f I’s got to have ‘m, but doan’ gimme no rats; I
hain’ got no use f’r um, skasely.” “But, Jim, you _got_ to have ’em–they all
do. So don’t make no more fuss about it. Prisoners ain’t ever without
rats. There ain’t no instance of it. And they train them, and pet
them, and learn them tricks, and they get to be as sociable as
flies. But you got to play music to them. You got anything to play music
on?” “I ain’ got nuffn but a coase comb en a
piece o’ paper, en a juice-harp; but I reck’n dey wouldn’ take no stock in
a juice-harp.” “Yes they would _they_ don’t care what kind
of music ’tis. A jews-harp’s plenty good enough for a rat.
All animals like music–in a prison they dote on it. Specially, painful
music; and you can’t get no other kind out of a jews-harp. It always interests
them; they come out to see what’s the matter with you. Yes, you’re
all right; you’re fixed very well. You want to set on your bed nights
before you go to sleep, and early in the mornings, and play your jews-harp;
play ‘The Last Link is Broken’–that’s the thing that ‘ll scoop
a rat quicker ‘n anything else; and when you’ve played about two minutes
you’ll see all the rats, and the snakes, and spiders, and things begin
to feel worried about you, and come. And they’ll just fairly swarm over
you, and have a noble good time.” “Yes, _dey_ will, I reck’n, Mars Tom, but
what kine er time is _Jim_ havin’? Blest if I kin see de pint. But I’ll
do it ef I got to. I reck’n I better keep de animals satisfied,
en not have no trouble in de house.” Tom waited to think it over, and see if there
wasn’t nothing else; and pretty soon he says: “Oh, there’s one thing I forgot. Could you
raise a flower here, do you reckon?” “I doan know but maybe I could, Mars Tom;
but it’s tolable dark in heah, en I ain’ got no use f’r no flower, nohow,
en she’d be a pow’ful sight o’ trouble.” “Well, you try it, anyway. Some other prisoners
has done it.” “One er dem big cat-tail-lookin’ mullen-stalks
would grow in heah, Mars Tom, I reck’n, but she wouldn’t be wuth half
de trouble she’d coss.” “Don’t you believe it. We’ll fetch you a
little one and you plant it in the corner over there, and raise it. And don’t
call it mullen, call it Pitchiola–that’s its right name when it’s
in a prison. And you want to water it with your tears.” “Why, I got plenty spring water, Mars Tom.” “You don’t _want_ spring water; you want
to water it with your tears. It’s the way they always do.” “Why, Mars Tom, I lay I kin raise one er
dem mullen-stalks twyste wid spring water whiles another man’s a _start’n_
one wid tears.” “That ain’t the idea. You _got_ to do it
with tears.” “She’ll die on my han’s, Mars Tom, she sholy
will; kase I doan’ skasely ever cry.” So Tom was stumped. But he studied it over,
and then said Jim would have to worry along the best he could with
an onion. He promised he would go to the nigger cabins and drop
one, private, in Jim’s coffee-pot, in the morning. Jim said he would
“jis’ ‘s soon have tobacker in his coffee;” and found so much
fault with it, and with the work and bother of raising the mullen, and
jews-harping the rats, and petting and flattering up the snakes and spiders
and things, on top of all the other work he had to do on pens, and
inscriptions, and journals, and things, which made it more trouble and
worry and responsibility to be a prisoner than anything he ever undertook,
that Tom most lost all patience with him; and said he was just loadened
down with more gaudier chances than a prisoner ever had in the world
to make a name for himself, and yet he didn’t know enough to
appreciate them, and they was just about wasted on him. So Jim he was sorry,
and said he wouldn’t behave so no more, and then me and Tom shoved
for bed. CHAPTER XXXIX. 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 other. 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 lookout.” “Yes, I know; but you can’t depend on them.
It’s the way they’ve acted from the very start–left us to do _everything_.
They’re so confiding and mullet-headed they don’t take notice of
nothing at all. So if we don’t _give_ them notice there won’t be nobody
nor nothing to interfere with us, and so after all our hard work and
trouble this escape ‘ll go off perfectly flat; won’t amount to nothing–won’t
be nothing _to_ it.” “Well, as for me, Tom, that’s the way I’d
like.” “Shucks!” he says, and looked disgusted.
So I says: “But I ain’t going to make no complaint.
Any way that suits you suits me. What you going to do about the servant-girl?” “You’ll be her. You slide in, in the middle
of the night, and hook that yaller girl’s frock.” “Why, Tom, that ‘ll make trouble next morning;
because, of course, she prob’bly hain’t got any but that one.” “I know; but you don’t want it but fifteen
minutes, to carry the nonnamous letter and shove it under the front
door.” “All right, then, I’ll do it; but I could
carry it just as handy in my 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 mother?” “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 one.” 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 said: 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._ CHAPTER XL. 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?” “Yes’m.” “What you been doing down there?” “Noth’n.” “_Noth’n!_” “No’m.” “Well, then, what possessed you to go down
there this time of night?” “I don’t know ‘m.” “You don’t _know_? Don’t answer me that
way. Tom, I want to know what you been _doing_ down there.” “I hain’t been doing a single thing, Aunt
Sally, I hope to gracious if I have.” I reckoned she’d let me go now, and as a generl
thing she would; but I s’pose there was so many strange things going
on she was just in a sweat about every little thing that warn’t yard-stick
straight; so she says, very decided: “You just march into that setting-room and
stay there till I come. You been up to something you no business to, and
I lay I’ll find out what it is before I’M done with you.” So she went away as I opened the door and
walked into the setting-room. My, but there was a crowd there! Fifteen farmers,
and every one of them had a gun. I was most powerful sick, and slunk
to a chair and set down. They was setting around, some of them talking
a little, in a low voice, and all of them fidgety and uneasy, but trying
to look like they warn’t; but I knowed they was, because they was always
taking off their hats, and putting them on, and scratching their
heads, and changing their seats, and fumbling with their buttons. I
warn’t easy myself, but I didn’t take my hat off, all the same. I did wish Aunt Sally would come, and get
done with me, and lick me, if she wanted to, and let me get away and tell
Tom how we’d overdone this thing, and what a thundering hornet’s-nest
we’d got ourselves into, so we could stop fooling around straight off,
and clear out with Jim before these rips got out of patience and come for
us. 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 sheep-signal.” 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 sweeps!” But me and Jim was consulting–and thinking.
And after we’d thought a minute, I says: “Say it, Jim.” So he says: “Well, den, dis is de way it look to me,
Huck. Ef it wuz _him_ dat ‘uz bein’ sot free, en one er de boys wuz to git
shot, would he say, ‘Go on en save me, nemmine ’bout a doctor f’r to
save dis one?’ Is dat like Mars Tom Sawyer? Would he say dat? You _bet_
he wouldn’t! _well_, den, is _Jim_ gywne to say it? No, sah–I
doan’ budge a step out’n dis place ‘dout a _doctor_, not if it’s forty
year!” I knowed he was white inside, and I reckoned
he’d say what he did say–so it was all right now, and I told Tom I was
a-going for a doctor. He raised considerable row about it, but me
and Jim stuck to it and wouldn’t budge; so he was for crawling out
and setting the raft loose himself; but we wouldn’t let him. Then he
give us a piece of his mind, but it didn’t do no good. So when he sees me getting the canoe ready,
he says: “Well, then, if you’re bound to go, I’ll
tell you the way to do when you get to the village. Shut the door and blindfold
the doctor tight and fast, and make him swear to be silent as the
grave, and put a purse full of gold in his hand, and then take and
lead him all around the back alleys and everywheres in the dark, and
then fetch him here in the canoe, in a roundabout way amongst the islands,
and search him and take his chalk away from him, and don’t give it
back to him till you get him back to the village, or else he will chalk
this raft so he can find it again. It’s the way they all do.” So I said I would, and left, and Jim was to
hide in the woods when he see the doctor coming till he was gone again. CHAPTER XLI. THE doctor was an old man; a very nice, kind-looking
old man when I got him up. I told him me and my brother was over
on Spanish Island hunting yesterday afternoon, and camped on a piece
of a raft we found, and about midnight he must a kicked his gun in his dreams,
for it went off and shot him in the leg, and we wanted him to
go over there and fix it and not say nothing about it, nor let anybody
know, because we wanted to come home this evening and surprise the folks. “Who is your folks?” he says. “The Phelpses, down yonder.” “Oh,” he says. And after a minute, he
says: “How’d you say he got shot?” “He had a dream,” I says, “and it shot
him.” “Singular dream,” he says. So he lit up his lantern, and got his saddle-bags,
and we started. But when he sees the canoe he didn’t like the
look of her–said she was big enough for one, but didn’t look pretty safe
for two. I says: “Oh, you needn’t be afeard, sir, she carried
the three of us easy enough.” “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 started. I struck an idea pretty soon. I says to myself,
spos’n he can’t fix that leg just in three shakes of a sheep’s
tail, as the saying is? spos’n it takes him three or four days? What
are we going to do?–lay around there till he lets the cat out of the
bag? No, sir; I know what _I’ll_ do. I’ll wait, and when he comes back
if he says he’s got to go any more I’ll get down there, too, if I
swim; and we’ll take and tie him, and keep him, and shove out down the
river; and when Tom’s done with him we’ll give him what it’s worth, or
all we got, and then let him get ashore. So then I crept into a lumber-pile to get
some sleep; and next time I waked up the sun was away up over my head!
I shot out and went for the doctor’s house, but they told me he’d gone
away in the night some time or other, and warn’t back yet. Well, thinks
I, that looks powerful bad for Tom, and I’ll dig out for the island right
off. So away I shoved, and turned the corner, and nearly rammed my
head into Uncle Silas’s stomach! He says: “Why, _Tom!_ Where you been all this time,
you rascal?” “I hain’t been nowheres,” I says, “only
just hunting for the runaway nigger–me and Sid.” “Why, where ever did you go?” he says.
“Your aunt’s been mighty uneasy.” “She needn’t,” I says, “because we was
all right. We followed the men and the dogs, but they outrun us, and we lost
them; but we thought we heard them on the water, so we got a canoe
and took out after them and crossed over, but couldn’t find nothing of
them; so we cruised along up-shore till we got kind of tired and beat
out; and tied up the canoe and went to sleep, and never waked up till
about an hour ago; 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, s’I.” “An’ look at that-air ladder made out’n
rags, Sister Hotchkiss,” says old Mrs. Damrell; “what in the name o’ goodness
_could_ he ever want of–” “The very words I was a-sayin’ no longer
ago th’n this minute to Sister Utterback, ‘n’ she’ll tell you so herself.
Sh-she, look at that-air rag ladder, sh-she; ‘n’ s’I, yes, _look_ at it,
s’I–what _could_ he a-wanted of it, s’I. Sh-she, Sister Hotchkiss, sh-she–” “But how in the nation’d they ever _git_
that grindstone _in_ there, _anyway_? ‘n’ who dug that-air _hole_? ‘n’
who–” “My very _words_, Brer Penrod! I was a-sayin’–pass
that-air sasser o’ m’lasses, won’t ye?–I was a-sayin’ to Sister
Dunlap, jist this minute, how _did_ they git that grindstone in there,
s’I. Without _help_, mind you–‘thout _help_! _that’s_ wher ’tis. Don’t
tell _me_, s’I; there _wuz_ help, s’I; ‘n’ ther’ wuz a _plenty_
help, too, s’I; ther’s ben a _dozen_ a-helpin’ that nigger, ‘n’ I lay I’d
skin every last nigger on this place but _I’d_ find out who done it,
s’I; ‘n’ moreover, s’I–” “A _dozen_ says you!–_forty_ couldn’t a
done every thing that’s been done. Look at them case-knife saws and things,
how tedious they’ve been made; look at that bed-leg sawed off with
‘m, a week’s work for six men; look at that nigger made out’n straw on the
bed; and look at–” “You may _well_ say it, Brer Hightower!
It’s jist as I was a-sayin’ to Brer Phelps, his own self. S’e, what do
_you_ think of it, Sister Hotchkiss, s’e? Think o’ what, Brer Phelps,
s’I? Think o’ that bed-leg sawed off that a way, s’e? _think_ of it,
s’I? I lay it never sawed _itself_ off, s’I–somebody _sawed_ it, s’I;
that’s my opinion, take it or leave it, it mayn’t be no ‘count, s’I,
but sich as ‘t is, it’s my opinion, s’I, ‘n’ if any body k’n start a
better one, s’I, let him _do_ it, s’I, that’s all. I says to Sister 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 go.” Well, he warn’t there to supper; so right
after supper uncle went. He come back about ten a little bit uneasy;
hadn’t run across Tom’s track. Aunt Sally was a good _deal_ uneasy;
but Uncle Silas he said there warn’t no occasion to be–boys will
be boys, he said, and you’ll see this one turn up in the morning all sound
and right. So she had to be satisfied. But she said she’d set up
for him a while anyway, and keep a light burning so he could see it. And then when I went up to bed she come up
with me and fetched her candle, and tucked me in, and mothered me
so good I felt mean, and like I couldn’t look her in the face; and she set
down on the bed and talked with me a long time, and said what a splendid
boy Sid was, and didn’t seem to want to ever stop talking about him;
and kept asking me every now and then if I reckoned he could a got
lost, or hurt, or maybe drownded, and might be laying at this minute
somewheres suffering or dead, and she not by him to help him, and
so the tears would drip down silent, and I would tell her that Sid was
all right, and would be home in the morning, sure; and she would squeeze
my hand, or maybe kiss me, and tell me to say it again, and keep on saying
it, because it done her good, and she was in so much trouble. And
when she was going away she looked down in my eyes so steady and gentle,
and says: “The door ain’t going to be locked, Tom,
and there’s the window and the rod; but you’ll be good, _won’t_ you?
And you won’t go? For _my_ sake.” Laws knows I _wanted_ to go bad enough to
see about Tom, and was all intending to go; but after that I wouldn’t
a went, not for kingdoms. But she was on my mind and Tom was on my mind,
so I slept very restless. And twice I went down the rod away in the
night, and slipped around front, and see her setting there by her candle
in the window with her eyes towards the road and the tears in them;
and I wished I could do something for her, but I couldn’t, only to
swear that I wouldn’t never do nothing to grieve her any more. And the
third time I waked up at dawn, and slid down, and she was there yet,
and her candle was most out, and her old gray head was resting on her hand,
and she was asleep. CHAPTER XLII. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. 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 him. 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 says: “_Well_, you get all the enjoyment you can
out of it _now_, for mind I tell you if I catch you meddling with him
again–” “Meddling with _who_?” Tom says, dropping
his smile and looking surprised. “With _who_? Why, the runaway nigger, of
course. Who’d you reckon?” Tom looks at me very grave, and says: “Tom, didn’t you just tell me he was all
right? Hasn’t he got away?” “_Him_?” says Aunt Sally; “the runaway
nigger? ‘Deed he hasn’t. They’ve got him back, safe and sound, and
he’s in that cabin again, on bread and water, and loaded down with chains,
till he’s claimed or sold!” Tom rose square up in bed, with his eye hot,
and his nostrils opening and shutting like gills, and sings out to
me: “They hain’t no _right_ to shut him up!
SHOVE!–and don’t you lose a minute. Turn him loose! he ain’t no slave;
he’s as free as any cretur that walks 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 will.” “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 ago.” “You mean where’s Huck _Finn_–that’s what
you mean! I reckon I hain’t raised such a scamp as my Tom all these years
not to know him when I _see_ him. That _would_ be a pretty howdy-do.
Come out from under that bed, Huck Finn.” So I done it. But not feeling brash. Aunt Sally she was one of the mixed-upest-looking
persons I ever see–except one, and that was Uncle Silas,
when he come in and they told it all to him. It kind of made him drunk,
as you may say, and he didn’t know nothing at all the rest of the day, and
preached a prayer-meeting sermon that night that gave him a rattling
ruputation, because the oldest man in the world couldn’t a understood
it. So Tom’s Aunt Polly, she told all about who I was, and what; and
I had to up and tell how I was in such a tight place that when Mrs.
Phelps took me for Tom Sawyer–she chipped in and says, “Oh, go
on and call me Aunt Sally, I’m used to it now, and ’tain’t no need to change”–that
when Aunt Sally took me for Tom Sawyer I had to stand it–there
warn’t no other way, and I knowed he wouldn’t mind, because it would
be nuts for him, being a mystery, and he’d make an adventure out
of it, and be perfectly satisfied. And so it turned out, and he let
on to be Sid, and made things as soft as he could for 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. CHAPTER THE LAST THE first time I catched Tom private I asked
him what was his idea, time of the evasion?–what it was he’d planned
to do if the evasion worked all right and he managed to set a nigger free
that was already free before? And he said, what he had planned in his head
from the start, if we got Jim out all safe, was for us to run him down
the river on the raft, and have adventures plumb to the mouth of the
river, and then tell him about his being free, and take him back up home
on a steamboat, in style, and pay him for his lost time, and write word
ahead and get out all the niggers around, and have them waltz him
into town with a torchlight procession and a brass-band, and then he would
be a hero, and so would we. But I reckoned it was about as well the
way it was. We had Jim out of the chains in no time, and
when Aunt Polly and Uncle Silas and Aunt Sally found out how good he
helped the doctor nurse Tom, they made a heap of fuss over him, and fixed
him up prime, and give him all he wanted to eat, and a good time, and
nothing to do. And we had him up to the sick-room, and had a high talk;
and Tom give Jim forty dollars for being prisoner for us so patient,
and doing it up so good, and Jim was pleased most to death, and busted
out, and says: “Dah, now, Huck, what I tell you?–what
I tell you up dah on Jackson islan’? I _tole_ you I got a hairy breas’,
en what’s de sign un it; en I _tole_ you I ben rich wunst, en gwineter
to be rich _agin_; en it’s come true; en heah she is! _dah_, now! doan’
talk to _me_–signs is _signs_, mine I tell you; en I knowed jis’
‘s well ‘at I ‘uz gwineter be rich agin as I’s a-stannin’ heah dis minute!” And then Tom he talked along and talked along,
and says, le’s all three slide out of here one of these nights and
get an outfit, and go for howling adventures amongst the Injuns, over
in the Territory, for a couple of weeks or two; and I says, all right,
that suits me, but I ain’t got no money for to buy the outfit,
and I reckon I couldn’t get none from home, because it’s likely pap’s
been back before now, and got it all away from Judge Thatcher and drunk
it up. “No, he hain’t,” Tom says; “it’s all
there yet–six thousand dollars and more; and your pap hain’t ever been back
since. Hadn’t when I come away, 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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