The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn




(Tom Sawyer’s Comrade)

By Mark Twain


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Civilizing Huck.—Miss Watson.—Tom
Sawyer Waits.

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

A Good Going-over.—Grace
Triumphant.—“One of Tom Sawyers’s Lies”.

Huck and the Judge.—Superstition.

Huck’s Father.—The
Fond Parent.—Reform.


He Went for Judge Thatcher.—Huck Decided to Leave.—Political

Economy.—Thrashing Around.


Laying for Him.—Locked in the Cabin.—Sinking the Body.—Resting.

Sleeping in the Woods.—Raising
the Dead.—Exploring the Island.—Finding


The Cave.—The Floating House.


The Find.—Old Hank Bunker.—In Disguise.

Huck and the Woman.—The Search.—Prevarication.—Going
to Goshen.

Navigation.—Borrowing Things.—Boarding the Wreck.—The

Plotters.—Hunting for the Boat.


Escaping from the Wreck.—The Watchman.—Sinking.

A General Good Time.—The

Loses the Raft.—In the Fog.—Huck Finds the Raft.—Trash.

Expectation.—A White Lie.—Floating
Currency.—Running by
Cairo.—Swimming Ashore.

An Evening Call.—The Farm in
Arkansaw.—Interior Decorations.—Stephen
Dowling Bots.—Poetical

Grangerford.—Aristocracy.—Feuds.—The Testament.—Recovering
Raft.—The Wood—pile.—Pork and Cabbage.

Tying Up Day—times.—An
Astronomical Theory.—Running a Temperance
Duke of Bridgewater.—The Troubles of Royalty.

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


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

Sherburn.—Attending the
Circus.—Intoxication in the Ring.—The
Thrilling Tragedy.

Comparisons.—Jim Gets Home-sick.


Jim in Royal Robes.—They Take a Passenger.—Getting


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

A Pious King.—The King’s
Clergy.—She Asked His Pardon.—Hiding in the
Takes the Money.

Funeral.—Satisfying Curiosity.—Suspicious of Huck,—Quick
Sales and


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


Contested Relationship.—The King Explains the Loss.—A Question
Handwriting.—Digging up the Corpse.—Huck Escapes.

The King Went for Him.—A
Royal Row.—Powerful Mellow.


Ominous Plans.—News from Jim.—Old Recollections.—A Sheep

Story.—Valuable Information.


Still and Sunday—like.—Mistaken Identity.—Up
a Stump.—In a Dilemma.


A Nigger Stealer.—Southern Hospitality.—A Pretty Long
and Feathers.


The Hut by the Ash Hopper.—Outrageous.—Climbing
the Lightning
Rod.—Troubled with Witches.

Escaping Properly.—Dark Schemes.—Discrimination
in Stealing.—A Deep


The Lightning Rod.—His Level Best.—A Bequest
to Posterity.—A High


The Last Shirt.—Mooning Around.—Sailing
Orders.—The Witch Pie.


The Coat of Arms.—A Skilled Superintendent.—Unpleasant Glory.—A

Tearful Subject.

Bed—fellows.—The Straw Dummy.


Fishing.—The Vigilance Committee.—A Lively Run.—Jim
Advises a Doctor.

Doctor.—Uncle Silas.—Sister Hotchkiss.—Aunt Sally in

Tom Sawyer
Wounded.—The Doctor’s Story.—Tom Confesses.—Aunt
Arrives.—Hand Out Them Letters    .

Out of Bondage.—Paying
the Captive.—Yours Truly, Huck Finn.



Moses and the “Bulrushers"

Miss Watson

Stealing Away

They Tip-toed Along


Tom Sawyer’s
Band of Robbers

Huck Creeps
into his Window

Miss Watson’s

The Robbers Dispersed

Rubbing the Lamp

! ! !

Judge Thatcher surprised

Jim Listening


Huck and his Father

Reforming the Drunkard

from Grace

Getting out of the Way

Solid Comfort

it Over

Raising a Howl

"Git Up"

The Shanty

Shooting the Pig

a Rest

In the Woods

Watching the Boat

the Camp Fire

Jim and the Ghost

Misto Bradish’s Nigger

Exploring the Cave

In the

Jim sees a Dead Man

They Found Eight Dollars

and the Snake

Old Hank Bunker

"A Fair Fit"


"Him and another Man"

She puts up a Snack


On the Raft

He sometimes Lifted a Chicken

"Please don’t, Bill"

"It ain’t Good Morals"

"Oh! Lordy, Lordy!”

a Fix

"Hello, What’s Up?"

The Wreck

turned in and Slept

Turning over the

Solomon and his Million Wives

The story of “Sollermun"

"We Would Sell the Raft"

the Snags

Asleep on the Raft

"Something being Raftsman"

"Boy, that’s a Lie"

I is, Huck"

Climbing up the Bank

"Who’s There?"


"It made Her look

"They got him out and emptied

The House

Col. Grangerford

Harney Shepherdson

Miss Charlotte

"And asked me if I Liked Her"

"Behind the Wood-pile"


"And Dogs a-Coming"

"By rights I am a Duke!”

"I am the Late Dauphin"


On the Raft

The King as Juliet

on the Sly"

"A Pirate for Thirty Years"

Another little Job



"Gimme a Chaw"

A Little Monthly Drunk

Death of Boggs

Sherburn steps out

A Dead Head

shed Seventeen Suits


Their Pockets Bulged

Henry the Eighth in Boston Harbor



He fairly emptied that Young Fellow

"Alas, our Poor Brother"

"You Bet it is"


Making up the “Deffisit"

Going for him

The Doctor

The Bag of Money


Supper with the Hare-Lip

Honest Injun

Duke looks under the Bed

Huck takes the

A Crack in the Dining-room Door

The Undertaker

had a Rat!”

"Was you in my Room?"




How to Find Them


Hannah with the Mumps

The Auction

True Brothers

The Doctor leads Huck

The Duke Wrote


"Jim Lit Out"

The King shakes Huck

The Duke went for Him


"Who Nailed Him?"


He gave him Ten

Striking for the Back Country

Still and Sunday-like

She hugged him tight

do you reckon it is?"

"It was Tom

"Mr. Archibald Nichols, I

A pretty long Blessing

Traveling By Rail


A Simple Job



One of the Best Authorities

The Breakfast-Horn

Smouching the Knives

down the Lightning-Rod

Stealing spoons

Tom advises a Witch Pie

The Rubbage-Pile

dey’s a Sheet Gone"

In a Tearing

One of his Ancestors

Jim’s Coat of Arms

A Tough Job

Buttons on
their Tails


Keeping off Dull Times


Trouble is Brewing


Every one had
a Gun

Tom caught on a Splinter

Jim advises a Doctor

The Doctor

Uncle Silas
in Danger

Old Mrs. Hotchkiss

Aunt Sally talks to Huck

Tom Sawyer wounded

Doctor speaks for Jim

Tom rose square up
in Bed

"Hand out them Letters"

Out of Bondage


Yours Truly

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who dah?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nothing only robbery and murder,” Tom said.

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

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

“Must we always kill the people?”

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

“Ransomed?  What’s that?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How you going to get them?”

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

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

“Who makes them tear around so?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why, what can you mean, my boy?”

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

He says:

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

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

He studied a while, and then he says:

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

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

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

So I signed it, and left.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Starchy clothes—very.  You think you’re a good
deal of a big-bug, don’t you?”

“Maybe I am, maybe I ain’t,” I says.

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

“The widow.  She told me.”

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

“Nobody never told her.”

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

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

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

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

“What’s this?”

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

He tore it up, and says:

“I’ll give you something better—I’ll give you a

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

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

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“They lie—that’s how.”

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

“I hain’t got no money.”

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

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

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

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

“It don’t make no difference what you want it for—you
just shell it out.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c06-46.jpg (60K)

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

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

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

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

c06-48.jpg (66K)

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

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

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

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

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

c06-51.jpg (64K)

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

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

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

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

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

c07-53.jpg (148K)


“GIT up!  What you ’bout?”

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

“What you doin’ with this gun?”

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

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

“Why didn’t you roust me out?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c07-56.jpg (62K)

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

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

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

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

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

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

c07-59.jpg (77K)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c08-63.jpg (79K)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c08-64.jpg (65K)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello, Jim!” and skipped out.

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

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

c08-67.jpg (68K)

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

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

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

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

“I couldn’ git nuffn else,” he says.

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

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

“What, all that time?”


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

“No, sah—nuffn else.”

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

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

“Since the night I got killed.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Maybe I better not tell.”

“Why, Jim?”

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

“Blamed if I would, Jim.”

“Well, I b’lieve you, Huck.  I—I run off.”


“But mind, you said you wouldn’ tell—you know you said
you wouldn’ tell, Huck.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well, are you rich?”

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

“What did you speculate in, Jim?”

“Well, fust I tackled stock.”

“What kind of stock?”

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

“So you lost the ten dollars.”

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

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

c08-72.jpg (61K)

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

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

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

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

“Well, what did come of it, Jim?”

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

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

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

c09-74.jpg (179K)


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

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

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

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

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

c09-75.jpg (59K)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello, you!”

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

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

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

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

c09-77.jpg (73K)

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

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

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

c10-79.jpg (191K)


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

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

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

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

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

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

c10-80.jpg (66K)

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

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

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

c10-81.jpg (49K)

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

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

c10-82.jpg (68K)

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

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

c11-84.jpg (141K)


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

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

“What might your name be?”

“Sarah Williams.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No—is that so?”

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

“Why he—”

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

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

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

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

“Why, are they after him yet?”

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

c11-87.jpg (46K)

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

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

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

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

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

“I didn’t think of that.”

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

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

“M—Mary Williams.”

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

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

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

“Oh, that’s the way of it?”


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

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

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

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

“Come, now, what’s your real name?”

“Wh—what, mum?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c11-90.jpg (57K)

So she put me up a snack, and says:

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

“The hind end, mum.”

“Well, then, a horse?”

“The for’rard end, mum.”

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

“North side.”

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

“The whole fifteen, mum.”

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

“George Peters, mum.”

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

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

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

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

c11-91.jpg (60K)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c12-095.jpg (60K)

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

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

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

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

“Le’s land on her, Jim.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another voice said, pretty loud:

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

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

“I’d like to!  And I orter, too—a mean

c12-098.jpg (66K)

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

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

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

Bill says:

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

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

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

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

“Here—come in here.”

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

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

“So’m I,” says Packard, very quiet.

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

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

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

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

c12-100.jpg (69K)

“Yes, I reck’n you are.  But s’pose she don’t
break up and wash off?”

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

“All right, then; come along.”

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

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

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

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c13-102.jpg (162K)


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

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

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

“All ready—shove off!”

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

“Hold on—’d you go through him?”

“No.  Didn’t you?”

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

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

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

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

So they got out and went in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c13-104.jpg (69K)

I says:

“Pap, and mam, and sis, and—”

Then I broke down.  He says:

“Oh, dang it now, don’t take on so; we all has to have
our troubles, and this ’n ’ll come out all right.  What’s
the matter with ’em?”

“They’re—they’re—are you the watchman of the

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

I broke in and says:

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

Who is?”

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

“Up where?  Where are they?”

“On the wreck.”

“What wreck?”

“Why, there ain’t but one.”

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


“Good land! what are they doin’ there, for gracious

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

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

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

“Yes, Booth’s Landing—go on.”

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

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

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

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

“Why that’s all right.  Miss Hooker she tole me,
particular, that her uncle Hornback—”

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

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

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

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

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

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c14-109.jpg (172K)


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

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

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

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

Ain’’ dat gay?  En what dey got to do, Huck?”

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

“No; is dat so?”

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

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

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

“Roun’ de which?”


“What’s de harem?”

c14-110.jpg (70K)

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

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

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

“I doan k’yer what de widder say, he warn’t no
wise man nuther.  He had some er de dad-fetchedes’ ways I ever
see.  Does you know ’bout dat chile dat he ’uz gwyne to
chop in two?”

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

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

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

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

c14-112.jpg (65K)

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

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

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

“Po’ little chap.”

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

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


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

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

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

No, Jim; you couldn’t understand a word they said—not
a single word.”

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

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

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

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

“Well, den, why couldn’t he say it?”

“Why, he is a-saying it.  That’s a Frenchman’s
way of saying it.”

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

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

“No, a cat don’t.”

“Well, does a cow?”

“No, a cow don’t, nuther.”

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

“No, dey don’t.”

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


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

“Why, mos’ sholy it is.”

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

“Is a cat a man, Huck?”


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

“No, she ain’t either of them.”

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


Well, den!  Dad blame it, why doan’ he talk
like a man?  You answer me dat!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c15-117.jpg (64K)

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

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

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

c15-118.jpg (78K)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How does I talk wild?”

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

“Huck—Huck Finn, you look me in de eye; look me in de eye.
 Hain’t you ben gone away?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What fog?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dah she is?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

I says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s that yonder?”

“A piece of a raft,” I says.

“Do you belong on it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Any men on it?”

“Only one, sir.”

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

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

“He’s white.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mister, is that town Cairo?”

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

“What town is it, mister?”

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

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

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

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

He says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So we shoved out after dark on the raft.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Be done, boys!  Who’s there?”

I says:

“It’s me.”

“Who’s me?”

“George Jackson, sir.”

“What do you want?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, sir, nobody.”

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

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

“All ready.”

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

“No, sir; I never heard of them.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“True for you, Rachel—I forgot.”

So the old lady says:

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

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

c17-134.jpg (51K)

“Ain’t they no Shepherdsons around?”

They said, no, ’twas a false alarm.

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

They all laughed, and Bob says:

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

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

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

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

“Well, guess,” he says.

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

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

Which candle?”  I says.

“Why, any candle,” he says.

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

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

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

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

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

“Can you spell, Buck?”

“Yes,” he says.

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

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

“All right,” says I, “go ahead.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

No; such was not the fate of
Stephen Dowling Bots;
Though sad hearts round him thickened,

   'Twas not from sickness’ shots.

whooping-cough did rack his frame,
   Nor measles drear
with spots;
Not these impaired the sacred name
Stephen Dowling Bots.

Despised love struck not with woe

   That head of curly knots,
Nor stomach troubles laid
him low,
   Young Stephen Dowling Bots.

O no.
Then list with tearful eye,
   Whilst I his fate do tell.

His soul did from this cold world fly
   By falling down
a well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Quick!  Jump for the woods!”

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

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

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

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

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

“Did you want to kill him, Buck?”

“Well, I bet I did.”

“What did he do to you?”

“Him?  He never done nothing to me.”

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

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

“What’s a feud?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I reckon maybe—I don’t know.”

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

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

“Don’t anybody know?”

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

“Has there been many killed, Buck?”

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

“Has anybody been killed this year, Buck?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“All right; trot ahead.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What raft, Jim?”

“Our ole raf’.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s it all about?”

Says he:

“Don’t you know, Mars Jawge?”

“No,” says I, “I don’t.”

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

“Buck went off ’thout waking me up.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c19-160.jpg (84K)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c19-163.jpg (52K)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

“Hold!  What do you mean?”

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

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

“Bilgewater, I am the late Dauphin!”

c19-165.jpg (55K)

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

“You are what?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The duke says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No,” says the king.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No,” I says, “I reckon not.”

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

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

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

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

After dinner the duke says:

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

“What’s onkores, Bilgewater?”

The duke told him, and then says:

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

“Hamlet’s which?”

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

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

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c21-181.jpg (157K)
To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane,
But that the fear of something after death Murders the innocent sleep,
Great nature’s second course,
And makes us rather sling the arrows of outrageous fortune
Than fly to others that we know not of.
There’s the respect must give us pause:
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The law’s delay, and the quietus which his pangs might take.
In the dead waste and middle of the night, when churchyards yawn
In customary suits of solemn black,
But that the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns,
Breathes forth contagion on the world,
And thus the native hue of resolution, like the poor cat i’ the adage,
Is sicklied o’er with care.
And all the clouds that lowered o’er our housetops,
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
’Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
But soft you, the fair Ophelia:
Ope not thy ponderous and marble jaws.
But get thee to a nunnery—go!

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

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

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

  Shaksperean Revival!!!

Wonderful Attraction!

For One Night Only! The world renowned tragedians,

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


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

Romeo and Juliet!!!

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

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

Assisted by the whole strength of the company!

New costumes, new scenery, new appointments!


The thrilling, masterly, and blood-curdling Broad-sword conflict In
Richard III.!!!

Richard III................................ Mr. Garrick.

Richmond................................... Mr. Kean.


(by special request,)

Hamlet’s Immortal Soliloquy!!

By the Illustrious Kean!

Done by him 300 consecutive nights in Paris!

For One Night Only,

On account of imperative European engagements!

Admission 25 cents; children and servants, 10 cents.

Then we went loafing around the town. The stores and houses was most all
old shackly dried-up frame concerns that hadn’t ever been painted;
they was set up three or four foot above ground on stilts, so as to be out
of reach of the water when the river was overflowed. The houses had little
gardens around them, but they didn’t seem to raise hardly anything
in them but jimpson weeds, and sunflowers, and ash-piles, and old
curled-up boots and shoes, and pieces of bottles, and rags, and played-out
tin-ware. The fences was made of different kinds of boards, nailed on at
different times; and they leaned every which-way, and had gates that didn’t
generly have but one hinge—a leather one. Some of the fences had
been whitewashed, some time or another, but the duke said it was in
Clumbus’s time, like enough. There was generly hogs in the garden,
and people driving them out.

All the stores was along one street.  They had white domestic awnings
in front, and the country people hitched their horses to the awning-posts.
There was empty drygoods boxes under the awnings, and loafers roosting on
them all day long, whittling them with their Barlow knives; and chawing
tobacco, and gaping and yawning and stretching—a mighty ornery lot.
They generly had on yellow straw hats most as wide as an umbrella, but
didn’t wear no coats nor waistcoats, they called one another Bill,
and Buck, and Hank, and Joe, and Andy, and talked lazy and drawly, and
used considerable many cuss words.  There was as many as one loafer
leaning up against every awning-post, and he most always had his hands in
his britches-pockets, except when he fetched them out to lend a chaw of
tobacco or scratch.  What a body was hearing amongst them all the
time was:

“Gimme a chaw ’v tobacker, Hank.”

“Cain’t; I hain’t got but one chaw left.  Ask Bill.”

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Maybe Bill he gives him a chaw; maybe he lies and says he ain’t got
none. Some of them kinds of loafers never has a cent in the world, nor a
chaw of tobacco of their own.  They get all their chawing by
borrowing; they say to a fellow, “I wisht you’d len’ me
a chaw, Jack, I jist this minute give Ben Thompson the last chaw I had”—which
is a lie pretty much everytime; it don’t fool nobody but a stranger;
but Jack ain’t no stranger, so he says:

You give him a chaw, did you?  So did your sister’s
cat’s grandmother. You pay me back the chaws you’ve awready
borry’d off’n me, Lafe Buckner, then I’ll loan you one
or two ton of it, and won’t charge you no back intrust, nuther.”

“Well, I did pay you back some of it wunst.”

“Yes, you did—’bout six chaws.  You borry’d
store tobacker and paid back nigger-head.”

Store tobacco is flat black plug, but these fellows mostly chaws the
natural leaf twisted.  When they borrow a chaw they don’t
generly cut it off with a knife, but set the plug in between their teeth,
and gnaw with their teeth and tug at the plug with their hands till they
get it in two; then sometimes the one that owns the tobacco looks mournful
at it when it’s handed back, and says, sarcastic:

“Here, gimme the chaw, and you take the plug.”

All the streets and lanes was just mud; they warn’t nothing else but
mud—mud as black as tar and nigh about a foot deep in some places,
and two or three inches deep in all the places.  The hogs
loafed and grunted around everywheres.  You’d see a muddy sow
and a litter of pigs come lazying along the street and whollop herself
right down in the way, where folks had to walk around her, and she’d
stretch out and shut her eyes and wave her ears whilst the pigs was
milking her, and look as happy as if she was on salary. And pretty soon
you’d hear a loafer sing out, “Hi!  so boy! sick
him, Tige!” and away the sow would go, squealing most horrible, with
a dog or two swinging to each ear, and three or four dozen more a-coming;
and then you would see all the loafers get up and watch the thing out of
sight, and laugh at the fun and look grateful for the noise.  Then
they’d settle back again till there was a dog fight.  There
couldn’t anything wake them up all over, and make them happy all
over, like a dog fight—unless it might be putting turpentine on a
stray dog and setting fire to him, or tying a tin pan to his tail and see
him run himself to death.

On the river front some of the houses was sticking out over the bank, and
they was bowed and bent, and about ready to tumble in. The people had
moved out of them.  The bank was caved away under one corner of some
others, and that corner was hanging over.  People lived in them yet,
but it was dangersome, because sometimes a strip of land as wide as a
house caves in at a time.  Sometimes a belt of land a quarter of a
mile deep will start in and cave along and cave along till it all caves
into the river in one summer. Such a town as that has to be always moving
back, and back, and back, because the river’s always gnawing at it.

The nearer it got to noon that day the thicker and thicker was the wagons
and horses in the streets, and more coming all the time.  Families
fetched their dinners with them from the country, and eat them in the
wagons.  There was considerable whisky drinking going on, and I seen
three fights.  By and by somebody sings out:

“Here comes old Boggs!—in from the country for his little old
monthly drunk; here he comes, boys!”

All the loafers looked glad; I reckoned they was used to having fun out of
Boggs.  One of them says:

“Wonder who he’s a-gwyne to chaw up this time.  If he’d
a-chawed up all the men he’s ben a-gwyne to chaw up in the last
twenty year he’d have considerable ruputation now.”

Another one says, “I wisht old Boggs ’d threaten me, ’cuz
then I’d know I warn’t gwyne to die for a thousan’ year.”

Boggs comes a-tearing along on his horse, whooping and yelling like an
Injun, and singing out:

“Cler the track, thar.  I’m on the waw-path, and the
price uv coffins is a-gwyne to raise.”

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He was drunk, and weaving about in his saddle; he was over fifty year old,
and had a very red face.  Everybody yelled at him and laughed at him
and sassed him, and he sassed back, and said he’d attend to them and
lay them out in their regular turns, but he couldn’t wait now
because he’d come to town to kill old Colonel Sherburn, and his
motto was, “Meat first, and spoon vittles to top off on.”

He see me, and rode up and says:

“Whar’d you come f’m, boy?  You prepared to die?”

Then he rode on.  I was scared, but a man says:

“He don’t mean nothing; he’s always a-carryin’ on
like that when he’s drunk.  He’s the best naturedest old
fool in Arkansaw—never hurt nobody, drunk nor sober.”

Boggs rode up before the biggest store in town, and bent his head down so
he could see under the curtain of the awning and yells:

“Come out here, Sherburn! Come out and meet the man you’ve
swindled. You’re the houn’ I’m after, and I’m
a-gwyne to have you, too!”

And so he went on, calling Sherburn everything he could lay his tongue to,
and the whole street packed with people listening and laughing and going
on.  By and by a proud-looking man about fifty-five—and he was
a heap the best dressed man in that town, too—steps out of the
store, and the crowd drops back on each side to let him come.  He
says to Boggs, mighty ca’m and slow—he says:

“I’m tired of this, but I’ll endure it till one o’clock.
 Till one o’clock, mind—no longer.  If you open your
mouth against me only once after that time you can’t travel so far
but I will find you.”

Then he turns and goes in.  The crowd looked mighty sober; nobody
stirred, and there warn’t no more laughing.  Boggs rode off
blackguarding Sherburn as loud as he could yell, all down the street; and
pretty soon back he comes and stops before the store, still keeping it up.
 Some men crowded around him and tried to get him to shut up, but he
wouldn’t; they told him it would be one o’clock in about
fifteen minutes, and so he must go home—he must go right
away.  But it didn’t do no good.  He cussed away with all
his might, and throwed his hat down in the mud and rode over it, and
pretty soon away he went a-raging down the street again, with his gray
hair a-flying. Everybody that could get a chance at him tried their best
to coax him off of his horse so they could lock him up and get him sober;
but it warn’t no use—up the street he would tear again, and
give Sherburn another cussing.  By and by somebody says:

“Go for his daughter!—quick, go for his daughter; sometimes he’ll
listen to her.  If anybody can persuade him, she can.”

So somebody started on a run.  I walked down street a ways and
stopped. In about five or ten minutes here comes Boggs again, but not on
his horse.  He was a-reeling across the street towards me,
bare-headed, with a friend on both sides of him a-holt of his arms and
hurrying him along. He was quiet, and looked uneasy; and he warn’t
hanging back any, but was doing some of the hurrying himself.  Somebody
sings out:


I looked over there to see who said it, and it was that Colonel Sherburn.
He was standing perfectly still in the street, and had a pistol raised in
his right hand—not aiming it, but holding it out with the barrel
tilted up towards the sky.  The same second I see a young girl coming
on the run, and two men with her.  Boggs and the men turned round to
see who called him, and when they see the pistol the men jumped to one
side, and the pistol-barrel come down slow and steady to a level—both
barrels cocked. Boggs throws up both of his hands and says, “O Lord,
don’t shoot!”  Bang! goes the first shot, and he staggers
back, clawing at the air—bang! goes the second one, and he tumbles
backwards on to the ground, heavy and solid, with his arms spread out.
 That young girl screamed out and comes rushing, and down she throws
herself on her father, crying, and saying, “Oh, he’s killed
him, he’s killed him!”  The crowd closed up around them,
and shouldered and jammed one another, with their necks stretched, trying
to see, and people on the inside trying to shove them back and shouting,
“Back, back! give him air, give him air!”

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Colonel Sherburn he tossed his pistol on to the ground, and turned around
on his heels and walked off.

They took Boggs to a little drug store, the crowd pressing around just the
same, and the whole town following, and I rushed and got a good place at
the window, where I was close to him and could see in.  They laid him
on the floor and put one large Bible under his head, and opened another
one and spread it on his breast; but they tore open his shirt first, and I
seen where one of the bullets went in.  He made about a dozen long
gasps, his breast lifting the Bible up when he drawed in his breath, and
letting it down again when he breathed it out—and after that he laid
still; he was dead.  Then they pulled his daughter away from him,
screaming and crying, and took her off.  She was about sixteen, and
very sweet and gentle looking, but awful pale and scared.

Well, pretty soon the whole town was there, squirming and scrouging and
pushing and shoving to get at the window and have a look, but people that
had the places wouldn’t give them up, and folks behind them was
saying all the time, “Say, now, you’ve looked enough, you
fellows; ’tain’t right and ’tain’t fair for you to
stay thar all the time, and never give nobody a chance; other folks has
their rights as well as you.”

There was considerable jawing back, so I slid out, thinking maybe there
was going to be trouble.  The streets was full, and everybody was
excited. Everybody that seen the shooting was telling how it happened, and
there was a big crowd packed around each one of these fellows, stretching
their necks and listening.  One long, lanky man, with long hair and a
big white fur stovepipe hat on the back of his head, and a crooked-handled
cane, marked out the places on the ground where Boggs stood and where
Sherburn stood, and the people following him around from one place to t’other
and watching everything he done, and bobbing their heads to show they
understood, and stooping a little and resting their hands on their thighs
to watch him mark the places on the ground with his cane; and then he
stood up straight and stiff where Sherburn had stood, frowning and having
his hat-brim down over his eyes, and sung out, “Boggs!” and
then fetched his cane down slow to a level, and says “Bang!”
staggered backwards, says “Bang!” again, and fell down flat on
his back. The people that had seen the thing said he done it perfect; said
it was just exactly the way it all happened.  Then as much as a dozen
people got out their bottles and treated him.

Well, by and by somebody said Sherburn ought to be lynched.  In about
a minute everybody was saying it; so away they went, mad and yelling, and
snatching down every clothes-line they come to to do the hanging with.

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THEY swarmed up towards Sherburn’s house, a-whooping and raging like
Injuns, and everything had to clear the way or get run over and tromped to
mush, and it was awful to see.  Children was heeling it ahead of the
mob, screaming and trying to get out of the way; and every window along
the road was full of women’s heads, and there was nigger boys in
every tree, and bucks and wenches looking over every fence; and as soon as
the mob would get nearly to them they would break and skaddle back out of
reach.  Lots of the women and girls was crying and taking on, scared
most to death.

They swarmed up in front of Sherburn’s palings as thick as they
could jam together, and you couldn’t hear yourself think for the
noise.  It was a little twenty-foot yard.  Some sung out “Tear
down the fence! tear down the fence!”  Then there was a racket
of ripping and tearing and smashing, and down she goes, and the front wall
of the crowd begins to roll in like a wave.

Just then Sherburn steps out on to the roof of his little front porch,
with a double-barrel gun in his hand, and takes his stand, perfectly ca’m
and deliberate, not saying a word.  The racket stopped, and the wave
sucked back.

Sherburn never said a word—just stood there, looking down.  The
stillness was awful creepy and uncomfortable.  Sherburn run his eye
slow along the crowd; and wherever it struck the people tried a little to
out-gaze him, but they couldn’t; they dropped their eyes and looked
sneaky. Then pretty soon Sherburn sort of laughed; not the pleasant kind,
but the kind that makes you feel like when you are eating bread that’s
got sand in it.

Then he says, slow and scornful:

“The idea of you lynching anybody!  It’s amusing.
 The idea of you thinking you had pluck enough to lynch a man!
 Because you’re brave enough to tar and feather poor friendless
cast-out women that come along here, did that make you think you had grit
enough to lay your hands on a man?  Why, a man’s
safe in the hands of ten thousand of your kind—as long as it’s
daytime and you’re not behind him.

“Do I know you?  I know you clear through. I was born and
raised in the South, and I’ve lived in the North; so I know the
average all around. The average man’s a coward.  In the North
he lets anybody walk over him that wants to, and goes home and prays for a
humble spirit to bear it. In the South one man all by himself, has stopped
a stage full of men in the daytime, and robbed the lot.  Your
newspapers call you a brave people so much that you think you are braver
than any other people—whereas you’re just as brave, and
no braver.  Why don’t your juries hang murderers?  Because
they’re afraid the man’s friends will shoot them in the back,
in the dark—and it’s just what they would do.

“So they always acquit; and then a man goes in the night,
with a hundred masked cowards at his back and lynches the rascal.  Your
mistake is, that you didn’t bring a man with you; that’s one
mistake, and the other is that you didn’t come in the dark and fetch
your masks.  You brought part of a man—Buck Harkness,
there—and if you hadn’t had him to start you, you’d a
taken it out in blowing.

“You didn’t want to come.  The average man don’t
like trouble and danger. You don’t like trouble and danger.
 But if only half a man—like Buck Harkness, there—shouts
’Lynch him! lynch him!’ you’re afraid to back down—afraid
you’ll be found out to be what you are—cowards—and
so you raise a yell, and hang yourselves on to that half-a-man’s
coat-tail, and come raging up here, swearing what big things you’re
going to do. The pitifulest thing out is a mob; that’s what an army
is—a mob; they don’t fight with courage that’s born in
them, but with courage that’s borrowed from their mass, and from
their officers.  But a mob without any man at the head of it
is beneath pitifulness.  Now the thing for you to do is
to droop your tails and go home and crawl in a hole.  If any real
lynching’s going to be done it will be done in the dark, Southern
fashion; and when they come they’ll bring their masks, and fetch a
man along.  Now leave—and take your half-a-man
with you”—tossing his gun up across his left arm and cocking
it when he says this.

The crowd washed back sudden, and then broke all apart, and went tearing
off every which way, and Buck Harkness he heeled it after them, looking
tolerable cheap.  I could a stayed if I wanted to, but I didn’t
want to.

I went to the circus and loafed around the back side till the watchman
went by, and then dived in under the tent.  I had my twenty-dollar
gold piece and some other money, but I reckoned I better save it, because
there ain’t no telling how soon you are going to need it, away from
home and amongst strangers that way.  You can’t be too careful.
 I ain’t opposed to spending money on circuses when there ain’t
no other way, but there ain’t no use in wasting it on them.

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It was a real bully circus.  It was the splendidest sight that ever
was when they all come riding in, two and two, a gentleman and lady, side
by side, the men just in their drawers and undershirts, and no shoes nor
stirrups, and resting their hands on their thighs easy and comfortable—there
must a been twenty of them—and every lady with a lovely complexion,
and perfectly beautiful, and looking just like a gang of real sure-enough
queens, and dressed in clothes that cost millions of dollars, and just
littered with diamonds.  It was a powerful fine sight; I never see
anything so lovely.  And then one by one they got up and stood, and
went a-weaving around the ring so gentle and wavy and graceful, the men
looking ever so tall and airy and straight, with their heads bobbing and
skimming along, away up there under the tent-roof, and every lady’s
rose-leafy dress flapping soft and silky around her hips, and she looking
like the most loveliest parasol.

And then faster and faster they went, all of them dancing, first one foot
out in the air and then the other, the horses leaning more and more, and
the ringmaster going round and round the center-pole, cracking his whip
and shouting “Hi!—hi!” and the clown cracking jokes
behind him; and by and by all hands dropped the reins, and every lady put
her knuckles on her hips and every gentleman folded his arms, and then how
the horses did lean over and hump themselves!  And so one after the
other they all skipped off into the ring, and made the sweetest bow I ever
see, and then scampered out, and everybody clapped their hands and went
just about wild.

Well, all through the circus they done the most astonishing things; and
all the time that clown carried on so it most killed the people.  The
ringmaster couldn’t ever say a word to him but he was back at him
quick as a wink with the funniest things a body ever said; and how he ever
could think of so many of them, and so sudden and so pat, was what
I couldn’t noway understand. Why, I couldn’t a thought of them
in a year. And by and by a drunk man tried to get into the ring—said
he wanted to ride; said he could ride as well as anybody that ever was.
 They argued and tried to keep him out, but he wouldn’t listen,
and the whole show come to a standstill.  Then the people begun to
holler at him and make fun of him, and that made him mad, and he begun to
rip and tear; so that stirred up the people, and a lot of men begun to
pile down off of the benches and swarm towards the ring, saying, “Knock
him down! throw him out!” and one or two women begun to scream.
 So, then, the ringmaster he made a little speech, and said he hoped
there wouldn’t be no disturbance, and if the man would promise he
wouldn’t make no more trouble he would let him ride if he thought he
could stay on the horse.  So everybody laughed and said all right,
and the man got on. The minute he was on, the horse begun to rip and tear
and jump and cavort around, with two circus men hanging on to his bridle
trying to hold him, and the drunk man hanging on to his neck, and his
heels flying in the air every jump, and the whole crowd of people standing
up shouting and laughing till tears rolled down.  And at last, sure
enough, all the circus men could do, the horse broke loose, and away he
went like the very nation, round and round the ring, with that sot laying
down on him and hanging to his neck, with first one leg hanging most to
the ground on one side, and then t’other one on t’other side,
and the people just crazy.  It warn’t funny to me, though; I
was all of a tremble to see his danger.  But pretty soon he struggled
up astraddle and grabbed the bridle, a-reeling this way and that; and the
next minute he sprung up and dropped the bridle and stood! and the horse
a-going like a house afire too.  He just stood up there, a-sailing
around as easy and comfortable as if he warn’t ever drunk in his
life—and then he begun to pull off his clothes and sling them.
 He shed them so thick they kind of clogged up the air, and
altogether he shed seventeen suits. And, then, there he was, slim and
handsome, and dressed the gaudiest and prettiest you ever saw, and he lit
into that horse with his whip and made him fairly hum—and finally
skipped off, and made his bow and danced off to the dressing-room, and
everybody just a-howling with pleasure and astonishment.

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Then the ringmaster he see how he had been fooled, and he was the
sickest ringmaster you ever see, I reckon.  Why, it was one of his
own men!  He had got up that joke all out of his own head, and never
let on to nobody. Well, I felt sheepish enough to be took in so, but I
wouldn’t a been in that ringmaster’s place, not for a thousand
dollars.  I don’t know; there may be bullier circuses than what
that one was, but I never struck them yet. Anyways, it was plenty good
enough for me; and wherever I run across it, it can have all of my
custom every time.

Well, that night we had our show; but there warn’t only about
twelve people there—just enough to pay expenses.  And they
laughed all the time, and that made the duke mad; and everybody left,
anyway, before the show was over, but one boy which was asleep.  So
the duke said these Arkansaw lunkheads couldn’t come up to
Shakespeare; what they wanted was low comedy—and maybe something
ruther worse than low comedy, he reckoned.  He said he could size
their style.  So next morning he got some big sheets of wrapping
paper and some black paint, and drawed off some handbills, and stuck them
up all over the village.  The bills said:

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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

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

“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:

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“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

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“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

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!”

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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.

c24-205.jpg (40K)

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

“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.”

c24-207.jpg (71K)

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

When we struck the boat she was about done loading, and pretty soon she
got off.  The king never said nothing about going aboard, so I lost
my ride, after all.  When the boat was gone the king made me paddle
up another mile to a lonesome place, and then he got ashore and says:

“Now hustle back, right off, and fetch the duke up here, and the new
carpet-bags.  And if he’s gone over to t’other side, go
over there and git him.  And tell him to git himself up regardless.
 Shove along, now.”

I see what he was up to; but I never said nothing, of course.
 When I got back with the duke we hid the canoe, and then they set
down on a log, and the king told him everything, just like the young
fellow had said it—every last word of it.  And all the time he
was a-doing it he tried to talk like an Englishman; and he done it pretty
well, too, for a slouch. I can’t imitate him, and so I ain’t
a-going to try to; but he really done it pretty good.  Then he says:

“How are you on the deef and dumb, Bilgewater?”

The duke said, leave him alone for that; said he had played a deef and
dumb person on the histronic boards.  So then they waited for a

About the middle of the afternoon a couple of little boats come along, but
they didn’t come from high enough up the river; but at last there
was a big one, and they hailed her.  She sent out her yawl, and we
went aboard, and she was from Cincinnati; and when they found we only
wanted to go four or five mile they was booming mad, and gave us a
cussing, and said they wouldn’t land us.  But the king was ca’m.
 He says:

“If gentlemen kin afford to pay a dollar a mile apiece to be took on
and put off in a yawl, a steamboat kin afford to carry ’em, can’t

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!”

c24-209.jpg (56K)

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.

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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.

c25-212.jpg (44K)

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

The duke allowed it did.  They pawed the yaller-boys, and sifted them
through their fingers and let them jingle down on the floor; and the king

“It ain’t no use talkin’; bein’ brothers to a rich
dead man and representatives of furrin heirs that’s got left is the
line for you and me, Bilge.  Thish yer comes of trust’n to
Providence.  It’s the best way, in the long run.  I’ve
tried ’em all, and ther’ ain’t no better way.”

Most everybody would a been satisfied with the pile, and took it on trust;
but no, they must count it.  So they counts it, and it comes out four
hundred and fifteen dollars short.  Says the king:

“Dern him, I wonder what he done with that four hundred and fifteen

They worried over that awhile, and ransacked all around for it.  Then
the duke says:

“Well, he was a pretty sick man, and likely he made a mistake—I
reckon that’s the way of it.  The best way’s to let it
go, and keep still about it.  We can spare it.”

“Oh, shucks, yes, we can spare it.  I don’t k’yer
noth’n ’bout that—it’s the count I’m
thinkin’ about.  We want to be awful square and open and
above-board here, you know.  We want to lug this h-yer money up
stairs and count it before everybody—then ther’ ain’t
noth’n suspicious.  But when the dead man says ther’s six
thous’n dollars, you know, we don’t want to—”

“Hold on,” says the duke.  "Le’s make up the
deffisit,” and he begun to haul out yaller-boys out of his pocket.

c25-215.jpg (64K)

“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

“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

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.”

c25-216.jpg (55K)

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

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 inter.  So, you see, funeral orgies is an open er public

He was the worst I ever struck.  Well, the iron-jawed man he
laughed right in his face.  Everybody was shocked.  Everybody
says, “Why, doctor!” and Abner Shackleford says:

“Why, Robinson, hain’t you heard the news?  This is
Harvey Wilks.”

The king he smiled eager, and shoved out his flapper, and says:

“Is it my poor brother’s dear good friend and physician?

“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!”

c25-218.jpg (35K)

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

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.

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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.

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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

“Did you ever see the king?”

“Who?  William Fourth?  Well, I bet I have—he goes
to our church.”  I knowed he was dead years ago, but I never
let on.  So when I says he goes to our church, she says:


“Yes—regular.  His pew’s right over opposite ourn—on
t’other side the 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

“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


“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?”


“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

“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

“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

“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?”

c26-224.jpg (63K)

“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.

c26-226.jpg (73K)

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

“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:


“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.

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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.

c27-230.jpg (153K)


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.

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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.

c27-233.jpg (48K)

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.

c27-235.jpg (75K)

“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

c27-237.jpg (38K)

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

“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

c28-239.jpg (155K)


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

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!”

c28-241.jpg (34K)

Says I:

“Cert’nly.  But do you mean before you go to Mr.
Lothrop’s, or—”

“Oh,” she says, “what am I thinking about!”
she says, and set right down again.  "Don’t mind what I said—please
don’t—you won’t, now, will you?”
Laying her silky hand on mine in that kind of a way that I said I would
die first.  "I never thought, I was so stirred up,” she says;
“now go on, and I won’t do so any more.  You tell me what
to do, and whatever you say I’ll do it.”

“Well,” I says, “it’s a rough gang, them two
frauds, and I’m fixed so I got to travel with them a while longer,
whether I want to or not—I druther not tell you why; and if you was
to blow on them this town would get me out of their claws, and I’d
be all right; but there’d be another person that you don’t
know about who’d be in big trouble.  Well, we got to save him,
hain’t we?  Of course.  Well, then, we won’t blow on

Saying them words put a good idea in my head.  I see how maybe I
could get me and Jim rid of the frauds; get them jailed here, and then
leave. But I didn’t want to run the raft in the daytime without
anybody aboard to answer questions but me; so I didn’t want the plan
to begin working till pretty late to-night.  I says:

“Miss Mary Jane, I’ll tell you what we’ll do, and you
won’t have to stay at Mr. Lothrop’s so long, nuther.  How
fur is it?”

“A little short of four miles—right out in the country, back

“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.”

c28-242.jpg (27K)

I judged we had got everything fixed about right now.  So I says:

“Just let the auction go right along, and don’t worry.  Nobody
don’t have to pay for the things they buy till a whole day after the
auction on accounts of the short notice, and they ain’t going out of
this till they get that money; and the way we’ve fixed it the sale
ain’t going to count, and they ain’t going to get no money.
 It’s just like the way it was with the niggers—it warn’t
no sale, and the niggers will be back before long.  Why, they can’t
collect the money for the niggers yet—they’re in the
worst kind of a fix, Miss Mary.”

“Well,” she says, “I’ll run down to breakfast now,
and then I’ll start straight for Mr. Lothrop’s.”

“’Deed, that ain’t the ticket, Miss Mary Jane,”
I says, “by no manner of means; go before breakfast.”


“What did you reckon I wanted you to go at all for, Miss Mary?”

“Well, I never thought—and come to think, I don’t know.
 What was it?”

“Why, it’s because you ain’t one of these leather-face
people.  I don’t want no better book than what your face is.
 A body can set down and read it off like coarse print.  Do you
reckon you can go and face your uncles when they come to kiss you
good-morning, and never—”

“There, there, don’t!  Yes, I’ll go before
breakfast—I’ll be glad to. And leave my sisters with them?”

“Yes; never mind about them.  They’ve got to stand it yet
a while.  They might suspicion something if all of you was to go.
 I don’t want you to see them, nor your sisters, nor nobody in
this town; if a neighbor was to ask how is your uncles this morning your
face would tell something.  No, you go right along, Miss Mary Jane,
and I’ll fix it with all of them. I’ll tell Miss Susan to give
your love to your uncles and say you’ve went away for a few hours
for to get a little rest and change, or to see a friend, and you’ll
be back to-night or early in the morning.”

“Gone to see a friend is all right, but I won’t have my love
given to 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.”

c28-244.jpg (25K)

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

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


“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.”

c28-246.jpg (36K)

“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

“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

“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.

c28-248.jpg (75K)

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!”

c29-250.jpg (176K)


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

“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

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

c29-252.jpg (62K)

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

c29-255.jpg (36K)

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

“Yes,” says somebody, “me and Ab Turner done it.  We’re
both here.”

Then the old man turns towards the king, and says:

“Perhaps this gentleman can tell me what was tattooed on his breast?”

Blamed if the king didn’t have to brace up mighty quick, or he’d
a squshed down like a bluff bank that the river has cut under, it took him
so sudden; and, mind you, it was a thing that was calculated to make most
anybody sqush to get fetched such a solid one as that without any
notice, because how was he going to know what was tattooed on the
man?  He whitened a little; he couldn’t help it; and it was
mighty still in there, and everybody bending a little forwards and gazing
at him.  Says I to myself, now he’ll throw up the sponge—there
ain’t no more use.  Well, did he?  A body can’t
hardly believe it, but he didn’t.  I reckon he thought he’d
keep the thing up till he tired them people out, so they’d thin out,
and him and the duke could break loose and get away.  Anyway, he set
there, and pretty soon he begun to smile, and says:

“Mf!  It’s a very tough question, ain’t
it!  yes, sir, I k’n tell you what’s tattooed on
his breast.  It’s jest a small, thin, blue arrow—that’s
what it is; and if you don’t look clost, you can’t see it.
 now what do you say—hey?”

Well, I never see anything like that old blister for clean out-and-out

The new old gentleman turns brisk towards Ab Turner and his pard, and his
eye lights up like he judged he’d got the king this time, and

“There—you’ve heard what he said!  Was there any
such mark on Peter Wilks’ breast?”

Both of them spoke up and says:

“We didn’t see no such mark.”

“Good!” says the old gentleman.  "Now, what you did
see on his breast was a small dim P, and a B (which is an initial he
dropped when he was young), and a W, with dashes between them, so:  P—B—W”—and
he marked them that way on a piece of paper.  "Come, ain’t that
what you saw?”

Both of them spoke up again, and says:

“No, we didn’t.  We never seen any marks at all.”

Well, everybody was in a state of mind now, and they sings out:

“The whole bilin’ of ’m ’s frauds!  Le’s
duck ’em! le’s drown ’em! le’s ride ’em on a
rail!” and everybody was whooping at once, and there was a rattling
powwow.  But the lawyer he jumps on the table and yells, and says:

“Gentlemen—gentlemen!  Hear me just a word—just
a single word—if you please!  There’s one
way yet—let’s go and dig up the corpse and look.”

c29-257.jpg (39K)

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!”

c29-260.jpg (73K)

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.

c30-261.jpg (165K)


WHEN they got aboard the king went for me, and shook me by the collar, and

“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!”

c30-263.jpg (54K)

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

“I wisht I never die if I done it, duke, and that’s honest.
 I won’t say I warn’t goin’ to do it, because I was;
but you—I mean somebody—got in ahead o’ me.”

“It’s a lie!  You done it, and you got to say you
done it, or—”

The king began to gurgle, and then he gasps out:

“’Nough!—I own up!

I was very glad to hear him say that; it made me feel much more easier
than what I was feeling before.  So the duke took his hands off and

“If you ever deny it again I’ll drown you.  It’s well
for you to set there and blubber like a baby—it’s fitten for
you, after the way you’ve acted. I never see such an old ostrich for
wanting to gobble everything—and I a-trusting you all the time, like
you was my own father.  You ought to been ashamed of yourself to
stand by and hear it saddled on to a lot of poor niggers, and you never
say a word for ’em.  It makes me feel ridiculous to think I was
soft enough to believe that rubbage.  Cuss you, I can see now
why you was so anxious to make up the deffisit—you wanted to get
what money I’d got out of the Nonesuch and one thing or another, and
scoop it all!”

The king says, timid, and still a-snuffling:

“Why, duke, it was you that said make up the deffisit; it warn’t

“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

c31-266.jpg (180K)


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

So we stayed where we was.  The duke he fretted and sweated around,
and was in a mighty sour way.  He scolded us for everything, and we
couldn’t seem to do nothing right; he found fault with every little
thing. Something was a-brewing, sure.  I was good and glad when
midday come and no king; we could have a change, anyway—and maybe a
chance for the change on top of it.  So me and the duke went
up to the village, and hunted around there for the king, and by and by we
found him in the back room of a little low doggery, very tight, and a lot
of loafers bullyragging him for sport, and he a-cussing and a-threatening
with all his might, and so tight he couldn’t walk, and couldn’t
do nothing to them.  The duke he begun to abuse him for an old fool,
and the king begun to sass back, and the minute they was fairly at it I
lit out and shook the reefs out of my hind legs, and spun down the river
road like a deer, for I see our chance; and I made up my mind that it
would be a long day before they ever see me and Jim again.  I got
down there all out of breath but loaded up with joy, and sung out:

“Set her loose, Jim! we’re all right now!”

But there warn’t no answer, and nobody come out of the wigwam.
 Jim was gone!  I set up a shout—and then another—and
then another one; and run this way and that in the woods, whooping and
screeching; but it warn’t no use—old Jim was gone.  Then
I set down and cried; I couldn’t help it. But I couldn’t set
still long.  Pretty soon I went out on the road, trying to think what
I better do, and I run across a boy walking, and asked him if he’d
seen a strange nigger dressed so and so, and he says:


“Whereabouts?” says I.

“Down to Silas Phelps’ place, two mile below here.  He’s
a runaway nigger, and they’ve got him.  Was you looking for

“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

“Yes, it is—and I could a had it if I’d been big enough;
I see him first. Who nailed him?”

c31-269.jpg (64K)

“It was an old fellow—a stranger—and he sold out his
chance in him for forty dollars, becuz he’s got to go up the river
and can’t wait.  Think o’ that, now!  You bet I’d
wait, if it was seven year.”

“That’s me, every time,” says I.  "But maybe his
chance ain’t worth no more than that, if he’ll sell it so
cheap.  Maybe there’s something ain’t straight about it.”

“But it is, though—straight as a string.  I see
the handbill myself.  It tells all about him, to a dot—paints
him like a picture, and tells the plantation he’s frum, below Newrleans.
 No-sirree-bob, they ain’t no trouble ’bout that
speculation, you bet you.  Say, gimme a chaw tobacker, won’t

I didn’t have none, so he left.  I went to the raft, and set
down in the wigwam to think.  But I couldn’t come to nothing.
 I thought till I wore my head sore, but I couldn’t see no way
out of the trouble.  After all this long journey, and after all we’d
done for them scoundrels, here it was all come to nothing, everything all
busted up and ruined, because they could have the heart to serve Jim such
a trick as that, and make him a slave again all his life, and amongst
strangers, too, for forty dirty dollars.

Once I said to myself it would be a thousand times better for Jim to be a
slave at home where his family was, as long as he’d got to be
a slave, and so I’d better write a letter to Tom Sawyer and tell him
to tell Miss Watson where he was.  But I soon give up that notion for
two things: she’d be mad and disgusted at his rascality and
ungratefulness for leaving her, and so she’d sell him straight down
the river again; and if she didn’t, everybody naturally despises an
ungrateful nigger, and they’d make Jim feel it all the time, and so
he’d feel ornery and disgraced. And then think of me!  It
would get all around that Huck Finn helped a nigger to get his freedom;
and if I was ever to see anybody from that town again I’d be ready
to get down and lick his boots for shame.  That’s just the way:
 a person does a low-down thing, and then he don’t want to take
no consequences of it. Thinks as long as he can hide it, 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.

c31-271.jpg (62K)

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

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

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.”

c31-274.jpg (57K)

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.”

c31-275.jpg (45K)

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.

c32-277.jpg (169K)


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.

c32-279.jpg (55K)

She grabbed me and hugged me tight; and then gripped me by both hands and
shook and shook; and the tears come in her eyes, and run down over; and
she couldn’t seem to hug and shake enough, and kept saying, “You
don’t look as much like your mother as I reckoned you would; but law
sakes, I don’t care for that, I’m so glad to see you!  Dear,
dear, it does seem like I could eat you up!  Children, it’s
your cousin Tom!—tell him howdy.”

But they ducked their heads, and put their fingers in their mouths, and
hid behind her.  So she run on:

“Lize, hurry up and get him a hot breakfast right away—or did
you get your breakfast on the boat?”

I said I had got it on the boat.  So then she started for the house,
leading me by the hand, and the children tagging after.  When we got
there she set me down in a split-bottomed chair, and set herself down on a
little low stool in front of me, holding both of my hands, and says:

“Now I can have a good look at you; and, laws-a-me, I’ve
been hungry for it a many and a many a time, all these long years, and it’s
come at last! We been expecting you a couple of days and more.  What
kep’ you?—boat get aground?”


“Don’t say yes’m—say Aunt Sally.  Where’d
she get aground?”

I didn’t rightly know what to say, because I didn’t know
whether the boat would be coming up the river or down.  But I go a
good deal on instinct; and my instinct said she would be coming up—from
down towards Orleans. That didn’t help me much, though; for I didn’t
know the names of bars down that way.  I see I’d got to invent
a bar, or forget the name of the one we got aground on—or—Now
I struck an idea, and fetched it out:

“It warn’t the grounding—that didn’t keep us back
but a little.  We blowed out a cylinder-head.”

“Good gracious! anybody hurt?”

“No’m.  Killed a nigger.”

“Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.
 Two years ago last Christmas your uncle Silas was coming up from
Newrleans on the old Lally Rook, and she blowed out a cylinder-head and
crippled a man.  And I think he died afterwards.  He was a
Baptist.  Your uncle Silas knowed a family in Baton Rouge that knowed
his people very well.  Yes, I remember now, he did die.  Mortification
set in, and they had to amputate him. But it didn’t save him.  Yes,
it was mortification—that was it.  He turned blue all over, and
died in the hope of a glorious resurrection. They say he was a sight to
look at.  Your uncle’s been up to the town every day to fetch
you. And he’s gone again, not more’n an hour ago; he’ll
be back any minute now. You must a met him on the road, didn’t you?—oldish
man, with a—”

“No, I didn’t see nobody, Aunt Sally.  The boat landed
just at daylight, and I left my baggage on the wharf-boat and went looking
around the town and out a piece in the country, to put in the time and not
get here too soon; and so I come down the back way.”

“Who’d you give the baggage to?”


“Why, child, it ’ll be stole!”

“Not where I hid it I reckon it won’t,” I says.

“How’d you get your breakfast so early on the boat?”

It was kinder thin ice, but I says:

“The captain see me standing around, and told me I better have
something to eat before I went ashore; so he took me in the texas to the
officers’ lunch, and give me all I wanted.”

I was getting so uneasy I couldn’t listen good.  I had my mind
on the children all the time; I wanted to get them out to one side and
pump them a little, and find out who I was.  But I couldn’t get
no show, Mrs. Phelps kept it up and run on so.  Pretty soon she made
the cold chills streak all down my back, because she says:

“But here we’re a-running on this way, and you hain’t
told me a word about Sis, nor any of them.  Now I’ll rest my
works a little, and you start up yourn; just tell me everything—tell
me all about ’m all every one of ’m; and how they are, and
what they’re doing, and what they told you to tell me; and every
last thing you can think of.”

Well, I see I was up a stump—and up it good.  Providence had
stood by me this fur all right, but I was hard and tight aground now.
 I see it warn’t a bit of use to try to go ahead—I’d
got to throw up my hand.  So I says to myself, here’s another
place where I got to resk the truth.  I opened my mouth to begin; but
she grabbed me and hustled me in behind the bed, and says:

“Here he comes!  Stick your head down lower—there, that’ll
do; you can’t be seen now.  Don’t you let on you’re
here.  I’ll play a joke on him. Children, don’t you say a

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?”

c32-283.jpg (60K)

“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

c33-284.jpg (153K)


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

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

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?”

c33-287.jpg (42K)

“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

“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.”

c33-290.jpg (54K)

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.

c33-291.jpg (60K)

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.

c34-293.jpg (132K)


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


“What did you think the vittles was for?”

“For a dog.”

“So ’d I. Well, it wasn’t for a dog.”


“Because part of it was watermelon.”

“So it was—I noticed it.  Well, it does beat all that I
never thought about a dog not eating watermelon.  It shows how a body
can see and don’t see at the same time.”

“Well, the nigger unlocked the padlock when he went in, and he
locked it again when he came out.  He fetched uncle a key about the
time we got up from table—same key, I bet.  Watermelon shows
man, lock shows prisoner; and it ain’t likely there’s two
prisoners on such a little plantation, and where the people’s all so
kind and good.  Jim’s the prisoner.  All right—I’m
glad we found it out detective fashion; I wouldn’t give shucks for
any other way.  Now you work your mind, and study out a plan to steal
Jim, and I will study out one, too; and we’ll take the one we like
the best.”

What a head for just a boy to have!  If I had Tom Sawyer’s head
I wouldn’t trade it off to be a duke, nor mate of a steamboat, nor
clown in a circus, nor nothing I can think of.  I went to thinking
out a plan, but only just to be doing something; I knowed very well where
the right plan was going to come from.  Pretty soon Tom says:


“Yes,” I says.

“All right—bring it out.”

“My plan is this,” I says.  "We can easy find out if it’s
Jim in there. Then get up my canoe to-morrow night, and fetch my raft over
from the island.  Then the first dark night that comes steal the key
out of the old man’s britches after he goes to bed, and shove off
down the river on the raft with Jim, hiding daytimes and running nights,
the way me and Jim used to do before.  Wouldn’t that plan work?”

Work?  Why, cert’nly it would work, like rats
a-fighting.  But it’s too blame’ simple; there ain’t
nothing to it.  What’s the good of a plan that ain’t
no more trouble than that?  It’s as mild as goose-milk.  Why,
Huck, it wouldn’t make no more talk than breaking into a soap

I never said nothing, because I warn’t expecting nothing different;
but I knowed mighty well that whenever he got his plan ready it
wouldn’t have none of them objections to it.

And it didn’t.  He told me what it was, and I see in a minute
it was worth fifteen of mine for style, and would make Jim just as free a
man as mine would, and maybe get us all killed besides.  So I was
satisfied, and said we would waltz in on it.  I needn’t tell
what it was here, because I knowed it wouldn’t stay the way, it was.
 I knowed he would be changing it around every which way as we went
along, and heaving in new bullinesses wherever he got a chance.  And
that is what he done.

Well, one thing was dead sure, and that was that Tom Sawyer was in
earnest, and was actuly going to help steal that nigger out of slavery.
That was the thing that was too many for me.  Here was a boy that was
respectable and well brung up; and had a character to lose; and folks at
home that had characters; and he was bright and not leather-headed; and
knowing and not ignorant; and not mean, but kind; and yet here he was,
without any more pride, or rightness, or feeling, than to stoop to this
business, and make himself a shame, and his family a shame, before
everybody.  I couldn’t understand it no way at all.
 It was outrageous, and I knowed I ought to just up and tell him so;
and so be his true friend, and let him quit the thing right where he was
and save himself. And I did start to tell him; but he shut me up,
and says:

“Don’t you reckon I know what I’m about?  Don’t
I generly know what I’m about?”


“Didn’t I say I was going to help steal the nigger?”


Well, then.”

That’s all he said, and that’s all I said.  It warn’t
no use to say any more; because when he said he’d do a thing, he
always done it.  But I couldn’t make out how he was willing to
go into this thing; so I just let it go, and never bothered no more about
it.  If he was bound to have it so, I couldn’t help it.

When we got home the house was all dark and still; so we went on down to
the hut by the ash-hopper for to examine it.  We went through the
yard so as to see what the hounds would do.  They knowed us, and didn’t
make no more noise than country dogs is always doing when anything comes
by in the night.  When we got to the cabin we took a look at the
front and the two sides; and on the side I warn’t acquainted with—which
was the north side—we found a square window-hole, up tolerable high,
with just one stout board nailed across it.  I says:

“Here’s the ticket.  This hole’s big enough for Jim
to get through if we wrench off the board.”

Tom says:

“It’s as simple as tit-tat-toe, three-in-a-row, and as easy as
playing hooky.  I should hope we can find a way that’s a
little more complicated than that, Huck Finn.”

c34-296.jpg (70K)

“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?”


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

“No; I ain’t heard nobody say nothing.”

Then he turns to Jim, and looks him over like he never see him before, and

“Did you sing out?”

“No, sah,” says Jim; “I hain’t said nothing, sah.”

“Not a word?”

“No, sah, I hain’t said a word.”

“Did you ever see us before?”

“No, sah; not as I knows on.”

So Tom turns to the nigger, which was looking wild and distressed, and
says, kind of severe:

“What do you reckon’s the matter with you, anyway?  What
made you think somebody sung out?”

“Oh, it’s de dad-blame’ witches, sah, en I wisht I was
dead, I do.  Dey’s awluz at it, sah, en dey do mos’ kill
me, dey sk’yers me so.  Please to don’t tell nobody
’bout it sah, er ole Mars Silas he’ll scole me; ’kase he
say dey ain’t no witches.  I jis’ wish to goodness
he was heah now—den what would he say!  I jis’ bet
he couldn’ fine no way to git aroun’ it dis time.
 But it’s awluz jis’ so; people dat’s sot,
stays sot; dey won’t look into noth’n’en fine it out f’r
deyselves, en when you fine it out en tell um ’bout it, dey
doan’ b’lieve you.”

c34-299.jpg (84K)

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.

c35-300.jpg (159K)


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,

c35-302.jpg (47K)

“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

“But it’s somebody’s plates, ain’t it?”

“Well, spos’n it is?  What does the prisoner care

He broke off there, because we heard the breakfast-horn blowing.  So
we cleared out for the house.

c35-305.jpg (68K)

Along during the morning I borrowed a sheet and a white shirt off of the
clothes-line; and I found an old sack and put them in it, and we went down
and got the fox-fire, and put that in too.  I called it borrowing,
because that was what pap always called it; but Tom said it warn’t
borrowing, it was stealing.  He said we was representing prisoners;
and prisoners don’t care how they get a thing so they get it, and
nobody don’t blame them for it, either.  It ain’t no
crime in a prisoner to steal the thing he needs to get away with, Tom
said; it’s his right; and so, as long as we was representing a
prisoner, we had a perfect right to steal anything on this place we had
the least use for to get ourselves out of prison with.  He said if we
warn’t prisoners it would be a very different thing, and nobody but
a mean, ornery person would steal when he warn’t a prisoner.  So
we allowed we would steal everything there was that come handy.  And
yet he made a mighty fuss, one day, after that, when I stole a watermelon
out of the nigger-patch and eat it; and he made me go and give the niggers
a dime without telling them what it was for. Tom said that what he meant
was, we could steal anything we needed. Well, I says, I needed the
watermelon.  But he said I didn’t need it to get out of prison
with; there’s where the difference was.  He said if I’d a
wanted it to hide a knife in, and smuggle it to Jim to kill the seneskal
with, it would a been all right.  So I let it go at that, though I
couldn’t see no advantage in my representing a prisoner if I got to
set down and chaw over a lot of gold-leaf distinctions like that every
time I see a chance to hog a watermelon.

Well, as I was saying, we waited that morning till everybody was settled
down to business, and nobody in sight around the yard; then Tom he carried
the sack into the lean-to whilst I stood off a piece to keep watch.  By
and by he come out, and we went and set down on the woodpile to talk.
 He says:

“Everything’s all right now except tools; and that’s
easy fixed.”

“Tools?”  I says.


“Tools for what?”

“Why, to dig with.  We ain’t a-going to gnaw him
out, are we?”

“Ain’t them old crippled picks and things in there good enough
to dig a nigger out with?”  I says.

He turns on me, looking pitying enough to make a body cry, and says:

“Huck Finn, did you ever hear of a prisoner having picks and
shovels, and all the modern conveniences in his wardrobe to dig himself
out with?  Now I want to ask you—if you got any reasonableness
in you at all—what kind of a show would that give him to be a
hero?  Why, they might as well lend him the key and done with it.
 Picks and shovels—why, they wouldn’t furnish ’em
to a king.”

“Well, then,” I says, “if we don’t want the picks
and shovels, what do we want?”

“A couple of case-knives.”

“To dig the foundations out from under that cabin with?”


“Confound it, it’s foolish, Tom.”

“It don’t make no difference how foolish it is, it’s the
right way—and it’s the regular way.  And there ain’t
no other way, that ever I heard of, and I’ve read all the
books that gives any information about these things. They always dig out
with a case-knife—and not through dirt, mind you; generly it’s
through solid rock.  And it takes them weeks and weeks and weeks, and
for ever and ever.  Why, look at one of them prisoners in the bottom
dungeon of the Castle Deef, in the harbor of Marseilles, that dug himself
out that way; how long was he at it, you reckon?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, guess.”

“I don’t know.  A month and a half.”

Thirty-seven year—and he come out in China.  That’s
the kind.  I wish the bottom of this fortress was solid rock.”

Jim don’t know nobody in China.”

“What’s that got to do with it?  Neither did that
other fellow.  But you’re always a-wandering off on a side
issue.  Why can’t you stick to the main point?”

“All right—I don’t care where he comes out, so he comes
out; and Jim don’t, either, I reckon.  But there’s one
thing, anyway—Jim’s too old to be dug out with a case-knife.
 He won’t last.”

“Yes he will last, too.  You don’t reckon it’s
going to take thirty-seven years to dig out through a dirt
foundation, do you?”

“How long will it take, Tom?”

“Well, we can’t resk being as long as we ought to, because it
mayn’t take very long for Uncle Silas to hear from down there by New
Orleans.  He’ll hear Jim ain’t from there.  Then his
next move will be to advertise Jim, or something like that.  So we
can’t resk being as long digging him out as we ought to.  By
rights I reckon we ought to be a couple of years; but we can’t.
 Things being so uncertain, what I recommend is this:  that we
really dig right in, as quick as we can; and after that, we can let on,
to ourselves, that we was at it thirty-seven years.  Then we can
snatch him out and rush him away the first time there’s an alarm.
 Yes, I reckon that ’ll be the best way.”

“Now, there’s sense in that,” I says.  "Letting
on don’t cost nothing; letting on ain’t no trouble; and if it’s
any object, I don’t mind letting on we was at it a hundred and fifty
year.  It wouldn’t strain me none, after I got my hand in.
 So I’ll mosey along now, and smouch a couple of case-knives.”

c35-307.jpg (48K)

“Smouch three,” he says; “we want one to make a saw out

“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

c36-309.jpg (154K)


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
it’s case-knives.”

Now you’re talking!”  I says;
“your head gets leveler and leveler all the time, Tom Sawyer,”
I says.  "Picks is the thing, moral or no moral; and as for me, I don’t
care shucks for the morality of it, nohow.  When I start in to steal
a nigger, or a watermelon, or a Sunday-school book, I ain’t no ways
particular how it’s done so it’s done.  What I want is my
nigger; or what I want is my watermelon; or what I want is my
Sunday-school book; and if a pick’s the handiest thing, that’s
the thing I’m a-going to dig that nigger or that watermelon or that
Sunday-school book out with; and I don’t give a dead rat what the
authorities thinks about it nuther.”

“Well,” he says, “there’s excuse for picks and
letting-on in a case like this; if it warn’t so, I wouldn’t
approve of it, nor I wouldn’t stand by and see the rules broke—because
right is right, and wrong is wrong, and a body ain’t got no business
doing wrong when he ain’t ignorant and knows better.  It might
answer for you to dig Jim out with a pick, without any
letting on, because you don’t know no better; but it wouldn’t
for me, because I do know better.  Gimme a case-knife.”

He had his own by him, but I handed him mine.  He flung it down, and

“Gimme a case-knife.”

I didn’t know just what to do—but then I thought.  I
scratched around amongst the old tools, and got a pickaxe and give it to
him, and he took it and went to work, and never said a word.

He was always just that particular.  Full of principle.

So then I got a shovel, and then we picked and shoveled, turn about, and
made the fur fly.  We stuck to it about a half an hour, which was as
long as we could stand up; but we had a good deal of a hole to show for
it. When I got up stairs I looked out at the window and see Tom doing his
level best with the lightning-rod, but he couldn’t come it, his
hands was so sore.  At last he says:

“It ain’t no use, it can’t be done.  What you
reckon I better do?  Can’t you think of no way?”

“Yes,” I says, “but I reckon it ain’t regular.
 Come up the stairs, and let on it’s a lightning-rod.”

So he done it.

c36-311.jpg (48K)

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

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.”

c36-314.jpg (56K)

“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.”

c37-316.jpg (174K)


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

“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.”

c37-318.jpg (46K)

“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

“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

“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.”

c37-321.jpg (45K)

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

c37-322.jpg (33K)

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.

c38-324.jpg (141K)


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

“Oh, you don’t understand, Jim; a coat of arms is very

“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

“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

“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,

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.”

c38-327.jpg (73K)

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

“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.”

c38-329.jpg (41K)

“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

“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

c38-331.jpg (36K)

“That ain’t the idea.  You got to do it with

“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.

c39-333.jpg (161K)


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

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.

c39-335.jpg (36K)

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

“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

c39-337.jpg (69K)

Next night we stuck a picture, which Tom drawed in blood, of a skull and
crossbones on the front door; and next night another one of a coffin on
the back door.  I never see a family in such a sweat.  They
couldn’t a been worse scared if the place had a been full of ghosts
laying for them behind everything and under the beds and shivering through
the air.  If a door banged, Aunt Sally she jumped and said “ouch!”
if anything fell, she jumped and said “ouch!” if you happened
to touch her, when she warn’t noticing, she done the same; she
couldn’t face noway and be satisfied, because she allowed there was
something behind her every time—so she was always a-whirling around
sudden, and saying “ouch,” and before she’d got
two-thirds around she’d whirl back again, and say it again; and she
was afraid to go to bed, but she dasn’t set up.  So the thing
was working very well, Tom said; he said he never see a thing work more
satisfactory. He said it showed it was done right.

So he said, now for the grand bulge!  So the very next morning at the
streak of dawn we got another letter ready, and was wondering what we
better do with it, because we heard them say at supper they was going to
have a nigger on watch at both doors all night.  Tom he went down the
lightning-rod to spy around; and the nigger at the back door was asleep,
and he stuck it in the back of his neck and come back.  This letter

Don’t betray me, I wish to be your friend.  There is a desprate
gang of cutthroats from over in the Indian Territory going to steal your
runaway nigger to-night, and they have been trying to scare you so as you
will stay in the house and not bother them.  I am one of the gang,
but have got religgion and wish to quit it and lead an honest life again,
and will betray the helish design. They will sneak down from northards,
along the fence, at midnight exact, with a false key, and go in the nigger’s
cabin to get him. I am to be off a piece and blow a tin horn if I see any
danger; but stead of that I will baa like a sheep soon as they get
in and not blow at all; then whilst they are getting his chains loose, you
slip there and lock them in, and can kill them at your leasure.  Don’t
do anything but just the way I am telling you, if you do they will
suspicion something and raise whoop-jamboreehoo. I do not wish any reward
but to know I have done the right thing. Unknown Friend.

c40-339.jpg (171K)


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

“Well, you left it laid out, then—it ain’t here.”

“We can get along without it,” I says.

“We can get along with it, too,” he says; “just
you slide down cellar and fetch it.  And then mosey right down the
lightning-rod and come along. I’ll go and stuff the straw into Jim’s
clothes to represent his mother in disguise, and be ready to baa
like a sheep and shove soon as you get there.”

So out he went, and down cellar went I. The hunk of butter, big as a
person’s fist, was where I had left it, so I took up the slab of
corn-pone with it on, and blowed out my light, and started up stairs very
stealthy, and got up to the main floor all right, but here comes Aunt
Sally with a candle, and I clapped the truck in my hat, and clapped my hat
on my head, and the next second she see me; and she says:

“You been down cellar?”


“What you been doing down there?”




“Well, then, what possessed you to go down there this time of night?”

“I don’t know ’m.”

“You don’t know?  Don’t answer me that way.
Tom, I want to know what you been doing down there.”

“I hain’t been doing a single thing, Aunt Sally, I hope to
gracious if I have.”

I reckoned she’d let me go now, and as a generl thing she would; but
I s’pose there was so many strange things going on she was just in a
sweat about every little thing that warn’t yard-stick straight; so
she says, very decided:

“You just march into that setting-room and stay there till I come.
 You been up to something you no business to, and I lay I’ll
find out what it is before I’M done with you.”

So she went away as I opened the door and walked into the setting-room.
My, but there was a crowd there!  Fifteen farmers, and every one of
them had a gun.  I was most powerful sick, and slunk to a chair and
set down. They was setting around, some of them talking a little, in a low
voice, and all of them fidgety and uneasy, but trying to look like they
warn’t; but I knowed they was, because they was always taking off
their hats, and putting them on, and scratching their heads, and changing
their seats, and fumbling with their buttons.  I warn’t easy
myself, but I didn’t take my hat off, all the same.

c40-341.jpg (59K)

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

“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:

c40-343.jpg (76K)

“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!”

c40-345.jpg (71K)

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.

c41-347.jpg (133K)


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

“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

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

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?”

c41-348.jpg (58K)

“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

“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.”

c41-350.jpg (27K)

“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.

c41-353.jpg (41K)

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.

c42-355.jpg (151K)


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

“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

“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.”

c42-357.jpg (55K)

Somebody says:

“Well, it sounds very good, doctor, I’m obleeged to say.”

Then the others softened up a little, too, and I was mighty thankful to
that old doctor for doing Jim that good turn; and I was glad it was
according to my judgment of him, too; because I thought he had a good
heart in him and was a good man the first time I see him.  Then they
all agreed that Jim had acted very well, and was deserving to have some
notice took of it, and reward.  So every one of them promised, right
out and hearty, that they wouldn’t cuss him no more.

Then they come out and locked him up.  I hoped they was going to say
he could have one or two of the chains took off, because they was rotten
heavy, or could have meat and greens with his bread and water; but they
didn’t think of it, and I reckoned it warn’t best for me to
mix in, but I judged I’d get the doctor’s yarn to Aunt Sally
somehow or other as soon as I’d got through the breakers that was
laying just ahead of me—explanations, I mean, of how I forgot to
mention about Sid being shot when I was telling how him and me put in that
dratted night paddling around hunting the runaway nigger.

But I had plenty time.  Aunt Sally she stuck to the sick-room all day
and all night, and every time I see Uncle Silas mooning around I dodged

Next morning I heard Tom was a good deal better, and they said Aunt Sally
was gone to get a nap.  So I slips to the sick-room, and if I found
him awake I reckoned we could put up a yarn for the family that would
wash. But he was sleeping, and sleeping very peaceful, too; and pale, not
fire-faced the way he was when he come.  So I set down and laid for
him to wake.  In about half an hour Aunt Sally comes gliding in, and
there I was, up a stump again!  She motioned me to be still, and set
down by me, and begun to whisper, and said we could all be joyful now,
because all the symptoms was first-rate, and he’d been sleeping like
that for ever so long, and looking better and peacefuller all the time,
and ten to one he’d wake up in his right mind.

So we set there watching, and by and by he stirs a bit, and opened his
eyes very natural, and takes a look, and says:

“Hello!—why, I’m at home!  How’s that?
 Where’s the raft?”

“It’s all right,” I says.

“And Jim?”

“The same,” I says, but couldn’t say it pretty brash.
 But he never noticed, but says:

“Good!  Splendid!  Now we’re all right and
safe! Did you tell Aunty?”

I was going to say yes; but she chipped in and says:  "About what,

“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!”

c42-361.jpg (33K)

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.”

c42-362.jpg (27K)

“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

“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.

c43-364.jpg (165K)


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:

c43-365.jpg (24K)

“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.