«The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - 03 (Приключения Гекльберри Финна на английском)»
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - 03 (Приключения Гекльберри Финна на английском)"
BY and by it was getting-up time. So I come down the ladder and started for down-stairs; but as I come to the girls' room the door was open, and I
see Mary Jane setting by her old hair trunk, which was open and she'd been packing things in it-getting ready to go to England. But she had stopped now with a folded gown in her lap, and had her face in her hands, crying.
I felt awful bad to see it; of course anybody would. I went in there and says:
"Miss Mary Jane, you can't a-bear to see people in trouble, and I
can't-most always. Tell me about it."
So she done it. And it was the niggers-I just expected it. She said the beautiful trip to England was most about spoiled for her; she didn't know
HOW she was ever going to be happy there, knowing the mother and the children warn't ever going to see each other no more-and then busted out bitterer than ever, and flung up her hands, and says:
"Oh, dear, dear, to think they ain't EVER going to see each other any more!"
"But they WILL-and inside of two weeks-and I KNOW it!" says I.
Laws, it was out before I could think! And before I could budge she throws her arms around my neck and told me to say it AGAIN, say it AGAIN, say it AGAIN!
I see I had spoke too sudden and said too much, and was in a close place. I asked her to let me think a minute; and she set there, very impatient and excited and handsome, but looking kind of happy and eased-up, like a person that's had a tooth pulled out. So I went to studying it out. I says to myself, I reckon a body that ups and tells the truth when he is in a tight place is taking considerable many resks, though I ain't had no experience, and can't say for certain; but it looks so to me, anyway; and yet here's a case where I'm blest if it don't look to me like the truth is better and actuly SAFER than a lie. I must lay it by in my mind, and think it over some time or other, it's so kind of strange and unregular. I never see nothing like it. Well, I says to myself at last, I'm a-going to chance it; I'll up and tell the truth this time, though it does seem most like setting down on a kag of powder and touching it off just to see where you'll go to. Then I says:
"Miss Mary Jane, is there any place out of town a little ways where you could go and stay three or four days?"
"Yes; Mr. Lothrop's. Why?"
"Never mind why yet. If I'll tell you how I know the niggers will see each other again inside of two weeks-here in this house-and PROVE how I
know it-will you go to Mr. Lothrop's and stay four days?"
"Four days!" she says; "I'll stay a year!"
"All right," I says, "I don't want nothing more out of YOU than just your word-I druther have it than another man's kiss-the-Bible." She smiled and reddened up very sweet, and I says, "If you don't mind it, I'll shut the door-and bolt it."
Then I come back and set down again, and says:
"Don't you holler. Just set still and take it like a man. I got to tell the truth, and you want to brace up, Miss Mary, because it's a bad kind, and going to be hard to take, but there ain't no help for it. These uncles of yourn ain't no uncles at all; they're a couple of frauds-regular dead-beats. There, now we're over the worst of it, you can stand the rest middling easy."
It jolted her up like everything, of course; but I was over the shoal water now, so I went right along, her eyes a-blazing higher and higher all the time, and told her every blame thing, from where we first struck that young fool going up to the steamboat, clear through to where she flung herself on to the king's breast at the front door and he kissed her sixteen or seventeen times-and then up she jumps, with her face afire like sunset, and says:
"The brute! Come, don't waste a minute-not a SECOND-we'll have them tarred and feathered, and flung in the river!"
"Cert'nly. But do you mean BEFORE you go to Mr. Lothrop's, or-"
"Oh," she says, "what am I THINKING about!" she says, and set right down again. "Don't mind what I said-please don't-you WON'T, now, WILL
you?" Laying her silky hand on mine in that kind of a way that I said I
would die first. "I never thought, I was so stirred up," she says; "now go on, and I won't do so any more. You tell me what to do, and whatever you say I'll do it."
"Well," I says, "it's a rough gang, them two frauds, and I'm fixed so I
got to travel with them a while longer, whether I want to or not-I druther not tell you why; and if you was to blow on them this town would get me out of their claws, and I'd be all right; but there'd be another person that you don't know about who'd be in big trouble. Well, we got to save
HIM, hain't we? Of course. Well, then, we won't blow on them."
Saying them words put a good idea in my head. I see how maybe I could get me and Jim rid of the frauds; get them jailed here, and then leave.
But I didn't want to run the raft in the daytime without anybody aboard to answer questions but me; so I didn't want the plan to begin working till pretty late to-night. I says:
"Miss Mary Jane, I'll tell you what we'll do, and you won't have to stay at Mr. Lothrop's so long, nuther. How fur is it?"
"A little short of four miles-right out in the country, back here."
"Well, that 'll answer. Now you go along out there, and lay low till nine or half-past to-night, and then get them to fetch you home again-tell them you've thought of something. If you get here before eleven put a candle in this window, and if I don't turn up wait TILL eleven, and THEN
if I don't turn up it means I'm gone, and out of the way, and safe. Then you come out and spread the news around, and get these beats jailed."
"Good," she says, "I'll do it."
"And if it just happens so that I don't get away, but get took up along with them, you must up and say I told you the whole thing beforehand, and you must stand by me all you can."
"Stand by you! indeed I will. They sha'n't touch a hair of your head!"
she says, and I see her nostrils spread and her eyes snap when she said it, too.
"If I get away I sha'n't be here," I says, "to prove these rapscallions ain't your uncles, and I couldn't do it if I WAS here. I could swear they was beats and bummers, that's all, though that's worth something. Well, there's others can do that better than what I can, and they're people that ain't going to be doubted as quick as I'd be. I'll tell you how to find them. Gimme a pencil and a piece of paper. There-'Royal Nonesuch,
Bricksville.' Put it away, and don't lose it. When the court wants to find out something about these two, let them send up to Bricksville and say they've got the men that played the Royal Nonesuch, and ask for some witnesses-why, you'll have that entire town down here before you can hardly wink, Miss Mary. And they'll come a-biling, too."
I judged we had got everything fixed about right now. So I says:
"Just let the auction go right along, and don't worry. Nobody don't have to pay for the things they buy till a whole day after the auction on accounts of the short notice, and they ain't going out of this till they get that money; and the way we've fixed it the sale ain't going to count, and they ain't going to get no money. It's just like the way it was with the niggers-it warn't no sale, and the niggers will be back before long.
Why, they can't collect the money for the NIGGERS yet-they're in the worst kind of a fix, Miss Mary."
"Well," she says, "I'll run down to breakfast now, and then I'll start straight for Mr. Lothrop's."
"'Deed, THAT ain't the ticket, Miss Mary Jane," I says, "by no manner of means; go BEFORE breakfast."
"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 leatherface people. I don't want no better book than what your face is. A body can set down and read it off like coarse print. Do you reckon you can go and face your uncles when they come to kiss you goodmorning, 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?"
So I wrote: "I put it in the coffin. It was in there when you was crying there, away in the night. I was behind the door, and I was mighty sorry for you, Miss Mary Jane."
It made my eyes water a little to remember her crying there all by herself in the night, and them devils laying there right under her own roof, shaming her and robbing her; and when I folded it up and give it to her I see the water come into her eyes, too; and she shook me by the hand, hard, and says:
"GOOD-bye. I'm going to do everything just as you've told me; and if I
don't ever see you again, I sha'n't ever forget you. and I'll think of you a many and a many a time, and I'll PRAY for you, too!"-and she was gone.
Pray for me! I reckoned if she knowed me she'd take a job that was more nearer her size. But I bet she done it, just the same-she was just that kind. She had the grit to pray for Judus if she took the notion-there warn't no back-down to her, I judge. You may say what you want to, but in my opinion she had more sand in her than any girl I ever see; in my opinion she was just full of sand. It sounds like flattery, but it ain't no flattery. And when it comes to beauty-and goodness, too-she lays over them all. I hain't ever seen her since that time that I see her go out of that door; no, I hain't ever seen her since, but I reckon I've thought of her a many and a many a million times, and of her saying she would pray for me; and if ever I'd a thought it would do any good for me to pray for
HER, blamed if I wouldn't a done it or bust.
Well, Mary Jane she lit out the back way, I reckon; because nobody see her go. When I struck Susan and the hare-lip, I says:
"What's the name of them people over on t'other side of the river that you all goes to see sometimes?"
"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."
"I don't know; leastways, I kinder forget; but I thinks it's-"
"Sakes alive, I hope it ain't HANNER?"
"I'm sorry to say it," I says, "but Hanner's the very one."
"My goodness, and she so well only last week! Is she took bad?"
"It ain't no name for it. They set up with her all night, Miss Mary
Jane said, and they don't think she'll last many hours."
"Only think of that, now! What's the matter with her?"
I couldn't think of anything reasonable, right off that way, so I says:
"Mumps your granny! They don't set up with people that's got the mumps."
"They don't, don't they? You better bet they do with THESE mumps. These mumps is different. It's a new kind, Miss Mary Jane said."
"How's it a new kind?"
"Because it's mixed up with other things."
"What other things?"
"Well, measles, and whooping-cough, and erysiplas, and consumption, and yaller janders, and brain-fever, and I don't know what all."
"My land! And they call it the MUMPS?"
"That's what Miss Mary Jane said."
"Well, what in the nation do they call it the MUMPS for?"
"Why, because it IS the mumps. That's what it starts with."
"Well, ther' ain't no sense in it. A body might stump his toe, and take pison, and fall down the well, and break his neck, and bust his brains out, and somebody come along and ask what killed him, and some numskull up and say, 'Why, he stumped his TOE.' Would ther' be any sense in that? NO.
And ther' ain't no sense in THIS, nuther. Is it ketching?"
"Is it KETCHING? Why, how you talk. Is a HARROW catching-in the dark?
If you don't hitch on to one tooth, you're bound to on another, ain't you?
And you can't get away with that tooth without fetching the whole harrow along, can you? Well, these kind of mumps is a kind of a harrow, as you may say-and it ain't no slouch of a harrow, nuther, you come to get it hitched on good."
"Well, it's awful, I think," says the hare-lip. "I'll go to Uncle
"Oh, yes," I says, "I WOULD. Of COURSE I would. I wouldn't lose no time."
"Well, why wouldn't you?"
"Just look at it a minute, and maybe you can see. Hain't your uncles obleegd to get along home to England as fast as they can? And do you reckon they'd be mean enough to go off and leave you to go all that journey by yourselves? YOU know they'll wait for you. So fur, so good.
Your uncle Harvey's a preacher, ain't he? Very well, then; is a PREACHER
going to deceive a steamboat clerk? is he going to deceive a SHIP
CLERK?-so as to get them to let Miss Mary Jane go aboard? Now YOU know he ain't. What WILL he do, then? Why, he'll say, 'It's a great pity, but my church matters has got to get along the best way they can; for my niece has been exposed to the dreadful pluribus-unum mumps, and so it's my bounden duty to set down here and wait the three months it takes to show on her if she's got it.' But never mind, if you think it's best to tell your uncle Harvey-"
"Shucks, and stay fooling around here when we could all be having good times in England whilst we was waiting to find out whether Mary Jane's got it or not? Why, you talk like a muggins."
"Well, anyway, maybe you'd better tell some of the neighbors."
"Listen at that, now. You do beat all for natural stupidness. Can't you
SEE that THEY'D go and tell? Ther' ain't no way but just to not tell anybody at ALL."
"Well, maybe you're right-yes, I judge you ARE right."
"But I reckon we ought to tell Uncle Harvey she's gone out a while, anyway, so he won't be uneasy about her?"
"Yes, Miss Mary Jane she wanted you to do that. She says, 'Tell them to give Uncle Harvey and William my love and a kiss, and say I've run over the river to see Mr.'-Mr.-what IS the name of that rich family your uncle
Peter used to think so much of?-I mean the one that-"
"Why, you must mean the Apthorps, ain't it?"
"Of course; bother them kind of names, a body can't ever seem to remember them, half the time, somehow. Yes, she said, say she has run over for to ask the Apthorps to be sure and come to the auction and buy this house, because she allowed her uncle Peter would ruther they had it than anybody else; and she's going to stick to them till they say they'll come, and then, if she ain't too tired, she's coming home; and if she is, she'll be home in the morning anyway. She said, don't say nothing about the
Proctors, but only about the Apthorps-which 'll be perfectly true, because she is going there to speak about their buying the house; I know it, because she told me so herself."
"All right," they said, and cleared out to lay for their uncles, and give them the love and the kisses, and tell them the message.
Everything was all right now. The girls wouldn't say nothing because they wanted to go to England; and the king and the duke would ruther Mary
Jane was off working for the auction than around in reach of Doctor
Robinson. I felt very good; I judged I had done it pretty neat-I reckoned
Tom Sawyer couldn't a done it no neater himself. Of course he would a throwed more style into it, but I can't do that very handy, not being brung up to it.
Well, they held the auction in the public square, along towards the end of the afternoon, and it strung along, and strung along, and the old man he was on hand and looking his level pisonest, up there longside of the auctioneer, and chipping in a little Scripture now and then, or a little goody-goody saying of some kind, and the duke he was around goo-gooing for sympathy all he knowed how, and just spreading himself generly.
But by and by the thing dragged through, and everything was sold-everything but a little old trifling lot in the graveyard. So they'd got to work that off-I never see such a girafft as the king was for wanting to swallow EVERYTHING. Well, whilst they was at it a steamboat landed, and in about two minutes up comes a crowd a-whooping and yelling and laughing and carrying on, and singing out:
"HERE'S your opposition line! here's your two sets o' heirs to old
Peter Wilks-and you pays your money and you takes your choice!"
THEY was fetching a very nice-looking old gentleman along, and a nice-looking younger one, with his right arm in a sling. And, my souls, how the people yelled and laughed, and kept it up. But I didn't see no joke about it, and I judged it would strain the duke and the king some to see any. I reckoned they'd turn pale. But no, nary a pale did THEY turn.
The duke he never let on he suspicioned what was up, but just went a goo-gooing around, happy and satisfied, like a jug that's googling out buttermilk; and as for the king, he just gazed and gazed down sorrowful on them new-comers like it give him the stomach-ache in his very heart to think there could be such frauds and rascals in the world. Oh, he done it admirable. Lots of the principal people gethered around the king, to let him see they was on his side. That old gentleman that had just come looked all puzzled to death. Pretty soon he begun to speak, and I see straight off he pronounced LIKE an Englishman-not the king's way, though the king's
WAS pretty good for an imitation. I can't give the old gent's words, nor I
can't imitate him; but he turned around to the crowd, and says, about like this:
"This is a surprise to me which I wasn't looking for; and I'll acknowledge, candid and frank, I ain't very well fixed to meet it and answer it; for my brother and me has had misfortunes; he's broke his arm, and our baggage got put off at a town above here last night in the night by a mistake. I am Peter Wilks' brother Harvey, and this is his brother
William, which can't hear nor speak-and can't even make signs to amount to much, now't he's only got one hand to work them with. We are who we say we are; and in a day or two, when I get the baggage, I can prove it. But up till then I won't say nothing more, but go to the hotel and wait."
So him and the new dummy started off; and the king he laughs, and blethers out:
"Broke his arm-VERY likely, AIN'T it?-and very convenient, too, for a fraud that's got to make signs, and ain't learnt how. Lost their baggage!
That's MIGHTY good!-and mighty ingenious-under the CIRCUMSTANCES!
So he laughed again; and so did everybody else, except three or four, or maybe half a dozen. One of these was that doctor; another one was a sharplooking gentleman, with a carpet-bag of the oldfashioned kind made out of carpet-stuff, that had just come off of the steamboat and was talking to him in a low voice, and glancing towards the king now and then and nodding their heads-it was Levi Bell, the lawyer that was gone up to
Louisville; and another one was a big rough husky that come along and listened to all the old gentleman said, and was listening to the king now.
And when the king got done this husky up and says:
"Say, looky here; if you are Harvey Wilks, when'd you come to this town?"
"The day before the funeral, friend," says the king.
"But what time o' day?"
"In the evenin'-'bout an hour er two before sundown."
"HOW'D you come?"
"I come down on the Susan Powell from Cincinnati."
"Well, then, how'd you come to be up at the Pint in the MORNIN'-in a canoe?"
"I warn't up at the Pint in the mornin'."
"It's a lie."
Several of them jumped for him and begged him not to talk that way to an old man and a preacher.
"Preacher be hanged, he's a fraud and a liar. He was up at the Pint that mornin'. I live up there, don't I? Well, I was up there, and he was up there. I see him there. He come in a canoe, along with Tim Collins and a boy."
The doctor he up and says:
"Would you know the boy again if you was to see him, Hines?"
"I reckon I would, but I don't know. Why, yonder he is, now. I know him perfectly easy."
It was me he pointed at. The doctor says:
"Neighbors, I don't know whether the new couple is frauds or not; but if THESE two ain't frauds, I am an idiot, that's all. I think it's our duty to see that they don't get away from here till we've looked into this thing. Come along, Hines; come along, the rest of you. We'll take these fellows to the tavern and affront them with t'other couple, and I reckon we'll find out SOMETHING before we get through."
It was nuts for the crowd, though maybe not for the king's friends; so we all started. It was about sundown. The doctor he led me along by the hand, and was plenty kind enough, but he never let go my hand.
We all got in a big room in the hotel, and lit up some candles, and fetched in the new couple. First, the doctor says:
"I don't wish to be too hard on these two men, but I think they're frauds, and they may have complices that we don't know nothing about. If they have, won't the complices get away with that bag of gold Peter Wilks left? It ain't unlikely. If these men ain't frauds, they won't object to sending for that money and letting us keep it till they prove they're all right-ain't that so?"
Everybody agreed to that. So I judged they had our gang in a pretty tight place right at the outstart. But the king he only looked sorrowful, and says:
"Gentlemen, I wish the money was there, for I ain't got no disposition to throw anything in the way of a fair, open, out-and-out investigation o'
this misable business; but, alas, the money ain't there; you k'n send and see, if you want to."
"Where is it, then?"
"Well, when my niece give it to me to keep for her I took and hid it inside o' the straw tick o' my bed, not wishin' to bank it for the few days we'd be here, and considerin' the bed a safe place, we not bein' used to niggers, and suppos'n' 'em honest, like servants in England. The niggers stole it the very next mornin' after I had went down stairs; and when I sold 'em I hadn't missed the money yit, so they got clean away with it. My servant here k'n tell you 'bout it, gentlemen."
The doctor and several said "Shucks!" and I see nobody didn't altogether believe him. One man asked me if I see the niggers steal it. I
said no, but I see them sneaking out of the room and hustling away, and I
never thought nothing, only I reckoned they was afraid they had waked up my master and was trying to get away before he made trouble with them.
That was all they asked me. Then the doctor whirls on me and says:
"Are YOU English, too?"
I says yes; and him and some others laughed, and said, "Stuff!"
Well, then they sailed in on the general investigation, and there we had it, up and down, hour in, hour out, and nobody never said a word about supper, nor ever seemed to think about it-and so they kept it up, and kept it up; and it WAS the worst mixed-up thing you ever see. They made the king tell his yarn, and they made the old gentleman tell his'n; and anybody but a lot of prejudiced chuckleheads would a SEEN that the old gentleman was spinning truth and t'other one lies. And by and by they had me up to tell what I knowed. The king he give me a left-handed look out of the corner of his eye, and so I knowed enough to talk on the right side. I
begun to tell about Sheffield, and how we lived there, and all about the
English Wilkses, and so on; but I didn't get pretty fur till the doctor begun to laugh; and Levi Bell, the lawyer, says:
"Set down, my boy; I wouldn't strain myself if I was you. I reckon you ain't used to lying, it don't seem to come handy; what you want is practice. You do it pretty awkward."
I didn't care nothing for the compliment, but I was glad to be let off, anyway.
The doctor he started to say something, and turns and says:
"If you'd been in town at first, Levi Bell-" The king broke in and reached out his hand, and says:
"Why, is this my poor dead brother's old friend that he's wrote so often about?"
The lawyer and him shook hands, and the lawyer smiled and looked pleased, and they talked right along awhile, and then got to one side and talked low; and at last the lawyer speaks up and says:
"That 'll fix it. I'll take the order and send it, along with your brother's, and then they'll know it's all right."
So they got some paper and a pen, and the king he set down and twisted his head to one side, and chawed his tongue, and scrawled off something;
and then they give the pen to the duke-and then for the first time the duke looked sick. But he took the pen and wrote. So then the lawyer turns to the new old gentleman and says:
"You and your brother please write a line or two and sign your names."
The old gentleman wrote, but nobody couldn't read it. The lawyer looked powerful astonished, and says:
"Well, it beats ME-and snaked a lot of old letters out of his pocket, and examined them, and then examined the old man's writing, and then THEM
again; and then says: "These old letters is from Harvey Wilks; and here's
THESE two handwritings, and anybody can see they didn't write them" (the king and the duke looked sold and foolish, I tell you, to see how the lawyer had took them in), "and here's THIS old gentleman's hand writing, and anybody can tell, easy enough, HE didn't write them-fact is, the scratches he makes ain't properly WRITING at all. Now, here's some letters from-"
The new old gentleman says:
"If you please, let me explain. Nobody can read my hand but my brother there-so he copies for me. It's HIS hand you've got there, not mine."
"WELL!" says the lawyer, "this IS a state of things. I've got some of
William's letters, too; so if you'll get him to write a line or so we can com-"
"He CAN'T write with his left hand," says the old gentleman. "If he could use his right hand, you would see that he wrote his own letters and mine too. Look at both, please-they're by the same hand."
The lawyer done it, and says:
"I believe it's so-and if it ain't so, there's a heap stronger resemblance than I'd noticed before, anyway. Well, well, well! I thought we was right on the track of a slution, but it's gone to grass, partly.
But anyway, one thing is proved-THESE two ain't either of 'em Wilkses"-and he wagged his head towards the king and the duke.
Well, what do you think? That muleheaded old fool wouldn't give in
THEN! Indeed he wouldn't. Said it warn't no fair test. Said his brother
William was the cussedest joker in the world, and hadn't tried to write-HE
see William was going to play one of his jokes the minute he put the pen to paper. And so he warmed up and went warbling right along till he was actuly beginning to believe what he was saying HIMSELF; but pretty soon the new gentleman broke in, and says:
"I've thought of something. Is there anybody here that helped to lay out my br-helped to lay out the late Peter Wilks for burying?"
"Yes," says somebody, "me and Ab Turner done it. We're both here."
Then the old man turns towards the king, and says:
"Peraps this gentleman can tell me what was tattooed on his breast?"
Blamed if the king didn't have to brace up mighty quick, or he'd a squshed down like a bluff bank that the river has cut under, it took him so sudden; and, mind you, it was a thing that was calculated to make most
ANYBODY sqush to get fetched such a solid one as that without any notice, because how was HE going to know what was tattooed on the man? He whitened a little; he couldn't help it; and it was mighty still in there, and everybody bending a little forwards and gazing at him. Says I to myself,
NOW he'll throw up the sponge-there ain't no more use. Well, did he? A
body can't hardly believe it, but he didn't. I reckon he thought he'd keep the thing up till he tired them people out, so they'd thin out, and him and the duke could break loose and get away. Anyway, he set there, and pretty soon he begun to smile, and says:
"Mf! It's a VERY tough question, AIN'T it! YES, sir, I k'n tell you what's tattooed on his breast. It's jest a small, thin, blue arrow-that's what it is; and if you don't look clost, you can't see it. NOW what do you say-hey?"
Well, I never see anything like that old blister for clean out-and-out cheek.
The new old gentleman turns brisk towards Ab Turner and his pard, and his eye lights up like he judged he'd got the king THIS time, and says:
"There-you've heard what he said! Was there any such mark on Peter
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."
That took them.
"Hooray!" they all shouted, and was starting right off; but the lawyer and the doctor sung out:
"Hold on, hold on! Collar all these four men and the boy, and fetch
THEM along, too!"
"We'll do it!" they all shouted; "and if we don't find them marks we'll lynch the whole gang!"
I WAS scared, now, I tell you. But there warn't no getting away, you know. They gripped us all, and marched us right along, straight for the graveyard, which was a mile and a half down the river, and the whole town at our heels, for we made noise enough, and it was only nine in the evening.
As we went by our house I wished I hadn't sent Mary Jane out of town;
because now if I could tip her the wink she'd light out and save me, and blow on our dead-beats.
Well, we swarmed along down the river road, just carrying on like wildcats; and to make it more scary the sky was darking up, and the lightning beginning to wink and flitter, and the wind to shiver amongst the leaves. This was the most awful trouble and most dangersome I ever was in; and I was kinder stunned; everything was going so different from what
I had allowed for; stead of being fixed so I could take my own time if I
wanted to, and see all the fun, and have Mary Jane at my back to save me and set me free when the close-fit come, here was nothing in the world betwixt me and sudden death but just them tattoo-marks. If they didn't find them-
I couldn't bear to think about it; and yet, somehow, I couldn't think about nothing else. It got darker and darker, and it was a beautiful time to give the crowd the slip; but that big husky had me by the wrist-Hines-and a body might as well try to give Goliar the slip. He dragged me right along, he was so excited, and I had to run to keep up.
When they got there they swarmed into the graveyard and washed over it like an overflow. And when they got to the grave they found they had about a hundred times as many shovels as they wanted, but nobody hadn't thought to fetch a lantern. But they sailed into digging anyway by the flicker of the lightning, and sent a man to the nearest house, a half a mile off, to borrow one.
So they dug and dug like everything; and it got awful dark, and the rain started, and the wind swished and swushed along, and the lightning come brisker and brisker, and the thunder boomed; but them people never took no notice of it, they was so full of this business; and one minute you could see everything and every face in that big crowd, and the shovelfuls of dirt sailing up out of the grave, and the next second the dark wiped it all out, and you couldn't see nothing at all.
At last they got out the coffin and begun to unscrew the lid, and then such another crowding and shouldering and shoving as there was, to scrouge in and get a sight, you never see; and in the dark, that way, it was awful. Hines he hurt my wrist dreadful pulling and tugging so, and I
reckon he clean forgot I was in the world, he was so excited and panting.
All of a sudden the lightning let go a perfect sluice of white glare, and somebody sings out:
"By the living jingo, here's the bag of gold on his breast!"
Hines let out a whoop, like everybody else, and dropped my wrist and give a big surge to bust his way in and get a look, and the way I lit out and shinned for the road in the dark there ain't nobody can tell.
I had the road all to myself, and I fairly flew-leastways, I had it all to myself except the solid dark, and the now-and-then glares, and the buzzing of the rain, and the thrashing of the wind, and the splitting of the thunder; and sure as you are born I did clip it along!
When I struck the town I see there warn't nobody out in the storm, so I
never hunted for no back streets, but humped it straight through the main one; and when I begun to get towards our house I aimed my eye and set it.
No light there; the house all dark-which made me feel sorry and disappointed, I didn't know why. But at last, just as I was sailing by,
FLASH comes the light in Mary Jane's window! and my heart swelled up sudden, like to bust; and the same second the house and all was behind me in the dark, and wasn't ever going to be before me no more in this world.
She WAS the best girl I ever see, and had the most sand.
The minute I was far enough above the town to see I could make the towhead, I begun to look sharp for a boat to borrow, and the first time the lightning showed me one that wasn't chained I snatched it and shoved.
It was a canoe, and warn't fastened with nothing but a rope. The towhead was a rattling big distance off, away out there in the middle of the river, but I didn't lose no time; and when I struck the raft at last I was so fagged I would a just laid down to blow and gasp if I could afforded it. But I didn't. As I sprung aboard I sung out:
"Out with you, Jim, and set her loose! Glory be to goodness, we're shut of them!"
Jim lit out, and was a-coming for me with both arms spread, he was so full of joy; but when I glimpsed him in the lightning my heart shot up in my mouth and I went overboard backwards; for I forgot he was old King Lear and a drownded A-rab all in one, and it most scared the livers and lights out of me. But Jim fished me out, and was going to hug me and bless me, and so on, he was so glad I was back and we was shut of the king and the duke, but I says:
"Not now; have it for breakfast, have it for breakfast! Cut loose and let her slide!"
So in two seconds away we went a-sliding down the river, and it DID
seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river, and nobody to bother us. I had to skip around a bit, and jump up and crack my heels a few times-I couldn't help it; but about the third crack I noticed a sound that I knowed mighty well, and held my breath and listened and waited; and sure enough, when the next flash busted out over the water, here they come!-and just alaying to their oars and making their skiff hum!
It was the king and the duke.
So I wilted right down on to the planks then, and give up; and it was all I could do to keep from crying.
WHEN they got aboard the king went for me, and shook me by the collar, and says:
"Tryin' to give us the slip, was ye, you pup! Tired of our company, hey?"
"No, your majesty, we warn't-PLEASE don't, your majesty!"
"Quick, then, and tell us what WAS your idea, or I'll shake the insides out o' you!"
"Honest, I'll tell you everything just as it happened, your majesty.
The man that had a-holt of me was very good to me, and kept saying he had a boy about as big as me that died last year, and he was sorry to see a boy in such a dangerous fix; and when they was all took by surprise by finding the gold, and made a rush for the coffin, he lets go of me and whispers, 'Heel it now, or they'll hang ye, sure!' and I lit out. It didn't seem no good for ME to stay-I couldn't do nothing, and I didn't want to be hung if I could get away. So I never stopped running till I
found the canoe; and when I got here I told Jim to hurry, or they'd catch me and hang me yet, and said I was afeard you and the duke wasn't alive now, and I was awful sorry, and so was Jim, and was awful glad when we see you coming; you may ask Jim if I didn't."
Jim said it was so; and the king told him to shut up, and said, "Oh, yes, it's MIGHTY likely!" and shook me up again, and said he reckoned he'd drownd me. But the duke says:
"Leggo the boy, you old idiot! Would YOU a done any different? Did you inquire around for HIM when you got loose? I don't remember it."
So the king let go of me, and begun to cuss that town and everybody in it. But the duke says:
"You better a blame' sight give YOURSELF a good cussing, for you're the one that's entitled to it most. You hain't done a thing from the start that had any sense in it, except coming out so cool and cheeky with that imaginary blue-arrow mark. That WAS bright-it was right down bully; and it was the thing that saved us. For if it hadn't been for that they'd a jailed us till them Englishmen's baggage come-and then-the penitentiary, you bet! But that trick took 'em to the graveyard, and the gold done us a still bigger kindness; for if the excited fools hadn't let go all holts and made that rush to get a look we'd a slept in our cravats to-night-cravats warranted to WEAR, too-longer than WE'D need 'em."
They was still a minute-thinking; then the king says, kind of absent-minded like:
"Mf! And we reckoned the NIGGERS stole it!"
That made me squirm!
"Yes," says the duke, kinder slow and deliberate and sarcastic, "WE did."
After about a half a minute the king drawls out:
"Leastways, I did."
The duke says, the same way:
"On the contrary, I did."
The king kind of ruffles up, and says:
"Looky here, Bilgewater, what'r you referrin' to?"
The duke says, pretty brisk:
"When it comes to that, maybe you'll let me ask, what was YOU referring to?"
"Shucks!" says the king, very sarcastic; "but I don't know-maybe you was asleep, and didn't know what you was about."
The duke bristles up now, and says:
"Oh, let UP on this cussed nonsense; do you take me for a blame' fool?
Don't you reckon I know who hid that money in that coffin?"
"YES, sir! I know you DO know, because you done it yourself!"
"It's a lie!"-and the duke went for him. The king sings out:
"Take y'r hands off!-leggo my throat!-I take it all back!"
The duke says:
"Well, you just own up, first, that you DID hide that money there, intending to give me the slip one of these days, and come back and dig it up, and have it all to yourself."
"Wait jest a minute, duke-answer me this one question, honest and fair;
if you didn't put the money there, say it, and I'll b'lieve you, and take back everything I said."
"You old scoundrel, I didn't, and you know I didn't. There, now!"
"Well, then, I b'lieve you. But answer me only jest this one more-now
DON'T git mad; didn't you have it in your mind to hook the money and hide it?" The duke never said nothing for a little bit; then he says:
"Well, I don't care if I DID, I didn't DO it, anyway. But you not only had it in mind to do it, but you DONE it."
"I wisht I never die if I done it, duke, and that's honest. I won't say
I warn't goin' to do it, because I WAS; but you-I mean somebody-got in ahead o' me."
"It's a lie! You done it, and you got to SAY you done it, or-"
The king began to gurgle, and then he gasps out:
"'Nough!-I OWN UP!"
I was very glad to hear him say that; it made me feel much more easier than what I was feeling before. So the duke took his hands off and says:
"If you ever deny it again I'll drown you. It's WELL for you to set there and blubber like a baby-it's fitten for you, after the way you've acted. I never see such an old ostrich for wanting to gobble everything-and I a-trusting you all the time, like you was my own father.
You ought to been ashamed of yourself to stand by and hear it saddled on to a lot of poor niggers, and you never say a word for 'em. It makes me feel ridiculous to think I was soft enough to BELIEVE that rubbage. Cuss you, I can see now why you was so anxious to make up the deffisit-you wanted to get what money I'd got out of the Nonesuch and one thing or another, and scoop it ALL!"
The king says, timid, and still a-snuffling:
"Why, duke, it was you that said make up the deffisit; it warn't me."
"Dry up! I don't want to hear no more out of you!" says the duke. "And
NOW you see what you GOT by it. They've got all their own money back, and all of OURN but a shekel or two BESIDES. G'long to bed, and don't you deffersit ME no more deffersits, long 's YOU live!"
So the king sneaked into the wigwam and took to his bottle for comfort, and before long the duke tackled HIS bottle; and so in about a half an hour they was as thick as thieves again, and the tighter they got the lovinger they got, and went off a-snoring in each other's arms. They both got powerful mellow, but I noticed the king didn't get mellow enough to forget to remember to not deny about hiding the money-bag again. That made me feel easy and satisfied. Of course when they got to snoring we had a long gabble, and I told Jim everything.
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 counterfeitmoney business, or something. So then we was pretty scared, and made up an agreement that we wouldn't have nothing in the world to do with such actions, and if we ever got the least show we would give them the cold shake and clear out and leave them behind. Well, early one morning we hid the raft in a good, safe place about two mile below a little bit of a shabby village named Pikesville, and the king he went ashore and told us all to stay hid whilst he went up to town and smelt around to see if anybody had got any wind of the Royal Nonesuch there yet. ("House to rob, you MEAN," says I to myself; "and when you get through robbing it you'll come back here and wonder what has become of me and Jim and the raft-and you'll have to take it out in wondering.") And he said if he warn't back by midday the duke and me would know it was all right, and we was to come along.
So we stayed where we was. The duke he fretted and sweated around, and was in a mighty sour way. He scolded us for everything, and we couldn't seem to do nothing right; he found fault with every little thing.
Something was a-brewing, sure. I was good and glad when midday come and no king; we could have a change, anyway-and maybe a chance for THE chance on top of it. So me and the duke went up to the village, and hunted around there for the king, and by and by we found him in the back room of a little low doggery, very tight, and a lot of loafers bullyragging him for sport, and he a-cussing and a-threatening with all his might, and so tight he couldn't walk, and couldn't do nothing to them. The duke he begun to abuse him for an old fool, and the king begun to sass back, and the minute they was fairly at it I lit out and shook the reefs out of my hind legs, and spun down the river road like a deer, for I see our chance; and I made up my mind that it would be a long day before they ever see me and Jim again. I got down there all out of breath but loaded up with joy, and sung out:
"Set her loose, Jim! we're all right now!"
But there warn't no answer, and nobody come out of the wigwam. Jim was gone! I set up a shout-and then another-and then another one; and run this way and that in the woods, whooping and screeching; but it warn't no use-old Jim was gone. Then I set down and cried; I couldn't help it. But I
couldn't set still long. Pretty soon I went out on the road, trying to think what I better do, and I run across a boy walking, and asked him if he'd seen a strange nigger dressed so and so, and he says:
"Whereabouts?" says I.
"Down to Silas Phelps' place, two mile below here. He's a runaway nigger, and they've got him. Was you looking for him?"
"You bet I ain't! I run across him in the woods about an hour or two ago, and he said if I hollered he'd cut my livers out-and told me to lay down and stay where I was; and I done it. Been there ever since; afeard to come out."
"Well," he says, "you needn't be afeard no more, becuz they've got him.
He run off f'm down South, som'ers."
"It's a good job they got him." "Well, I RECKON! There's two hunderd dollars reward on him. It's like picking up money out'n the road."
"Yes, it is-and I could a had it if I'd been big enough; I see him
FIRST. Who nailed him?"
"It was an old fellow-a stranger-and he sold out his chance in him for forty dollars, becuz he's got to go up the river and can't wait. Think o'
that, now! You bet I'D wait, if it was seven year."
"That's me, every time," says I. "But maybe his chance ain't worth no more than that, if he'll sell it so cheap. Maybe there's something ain't straight about it."
"But it IS, though-straight as a string. I see the handbill myself. It tells all about him, to a dot-paints him like a picture, and tells the plantation he's frum, below NewrLEANS. No-sirree-BOB, they ain't no trouble 'bout THAT speculation, you bet you. Say, gimme a chaw tobacker, won't ye?"
I didn't have none, so he left. I went to the raft, and set down in the wigwam to think. But I couldn't come to nothing. I thought till I wore my head sore, but I couldn't see no way out of the trouble. After all this long journey, and after all we'd done for them scoundrels, here it was all come to nothing, everything all busted up and ruined, because they could have the heart to serve Jim such a trick as that, and make him a slave again all his life, and amongst strangers, too, for forty dirty dollars.
Once I said to myself it would be a thousand times better for Jim to be a slave at home where his family was, as long as he'd GOT to be a slave, and so I'd better write a letter to Tom Sawyer and tell him to tell Miss
Watson where he was. But I soon give up that notion for two things: she'd be mad and disgusted at his rascality and ungratefulness for leaving her, and so she'd sell him straight down the river again; and if she didn't, everybody naturally despises an ungrateful nigger, and they'd make Jim feel it all the time, and so he'd feel ornery and disgraced. And then think of ME! It would get all around that Huck Finn helped a nigger to get his freedom; and if I was ever to see anybody from that town again I'd be ready to get down and lick his boots for shame. That's just the way: a person does a low-down thing, and then he don't want to take no consequences of it. Thinks as long as he can hide, it 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 agoing to allow no such miserable doings to go only just so fur and no further, I most dropped in my tracks I was so scared.
Well, I tried the best I could to kinder soften it up somehow for myself by saying I was brung up wicked, and so I warn't so much to blame; but something inside of me kept saying, "There was the Sunday-school, you could a gone to it; and if you'd a done it they'd a learnt you there that people that acts as I'd been acting about that nigger goes to everlasting fire."
It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I
couldn't try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I
kneeled down. But the words wouldn't come. Why wouldn't they? It warn't no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from ME, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn't come. It was because my heart warn't right; it was because I warn't square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting ON to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth SAY I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to that nigger's owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can't pray a lie-I found that out.
So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn't know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I'll go and write the letter-and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote:
Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below
Pikesville, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send.
I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking-thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n, 'stead of calling me, so I
could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was;
and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he's got now; and then I
happened to look around and see that paper.
It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I
knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:
"All right, then, I'll GO to hell"-and tore it up.
It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head, and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn't. And for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I
could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I
was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.
Then I set to thinking over how to get at it, and turned over some considerable many ways in my mind; and at last fixed up a plan that suited me. So then I took the bearings of a woody island that was down the river a piece, and as soon as it was fairly dark I crept out with my raft and went for it, and hid it there, and then turned in. I slept the night through, and got up before it was light, and had my breakfast, and put on my store clothes, and tied up some others and one thing or another in a bundle, and took the canoe and cleared for shore. I landed below where I
judged was Phelps's place, and hid my bundle in the woods, and then filled up the canoe with water, and loaded rocks into her and sunk her where I
could find her again when I wanted her, about a quarter of a mile below a little steam sawmill that was on the bank.
Then I struck up the road, and when I passed the mill I see a sign on it, "Phelps's Sawmill," and when I come to the farm-houses, two or three hundred yards further along, I kept my eyes peeled, but didn't see nobody around, though it was good daylight now. But I didn't mind, because I
didn't want to see nobody just yet-I only wanted to get the lay of the land. According to my plan, I was going to turn up there from the village, not from below. So I just took a look, and shoved along, straight for town. Well, the very first man I see when I got there was the duke. He was sticking up a bill for the Royal Nonesuch-three-night performance-like that other time. They had the cheek, them frauds! I was right on him before I could shirk. He looked astonished, and says:
"Hel-LO! Where'd YOU come from?" Then he says, kind of glad and eager,
"Where's the raft?-got her in a good place?"
"Why, that's just what I was going to ask your grace."
Then he didn't look so joyful, and says:
"What was your idea for asking ME?" he says.
"Well," I says, "when I see the king in that doggery yesterday I says to myself, we can't get him home for hours, till he's soberer; so I went a-loafing around town to put in the time and wait. A man up and offered me ten cents to help him pull a skiff over the river and back to fetch a sheep, and so I went along; but when we was dragging him to the boat, and the man left me a-holt of the rope and went behind him to shove him along, he was too strong for me and jerked loose and run, and we after him. We didn't have no dog, and so we had to chase him all over the country till we tired him out. We never got him till dark; then we fetched him over, and I started down for the raft. When I got there and see it was gone, I
says to myself, 'They've got into trouble and had to leave; and they've took my nigger, which is the only nigger I've got in the world, and now
I'm in a strange country, and ain't got no property no more, nor nothing, and no way to make my living;' so I set down and cried. I slept in the woods all night. But what DID become of the raft, then?-and Jim-poor Jim!"
"Blamed if I know-that is, what's become of the raft. That old fool had made a trade and got forty dollars, and when we found him in the doggery the loafers had matched half-dollars with him and got every cent but what he'd spent for whisky; and when I got him home late last night and found the raft gone, we said, 'That little rascal has stole our raft and shook us, and run off down the river.'"
"I wouldn't shake my NIGGER, would I?-the only nigger I had in the world, and the only property."
"We never thought of that. Fact is, I reckon we'd come to consider him
OUR nigger; yes, we did consider him so-goodness knows we had trouble enough for him. So when we see the raft was gone and we flat broke, there warn't anything for it but to try the Royal Nonesuch another shake. And
I've pegged along ever since, dry as a powder-horn. Where's that ten cents? Give it here."
I had considerable money, so I give him ten cents, but begged him to spend it for something to eat, and give me some, because it was all the money I had, and I hadn't had nothing to eat since yesterday. He never said nothing. The next minute he whirls on me and says:
"Do you reckon that nigger would blow on us? We'd skin him if he done that!"
"How can he blow? Hain't he run off?"
"No! That old fool sold him, and never divided with me, and the money's gone."
"SOLD him?" I says, and begun to cry; "why, he was MY nigger, and that was my money. Where is he?-I want my nigger."
"Well, you can't GET your nigger, that's all-so dry up your blubbering.
Looky here-do you think YOU'D venture to blow on us? Blamed if I think I'd trust you. Why, if you WAS to blow on us-"
He stopped, but I never see the duke look so ugly out of his eyes before. I went on a-whimpering, and says:
"I don't want to blow on nobody; and I ain't got no time to blow, nohow. I got to turn out and find my nigger."
He looked kinder bothered, and stood there with his bills fluttering on his arm, thinking, and wrinkling up his forehead. At last he says:
"I'll tell you something. We got to be here three days. If you'll promise you won't blow, and won't let the nigger blow, I'll tell you where to find him."
So I promised, and he says:
"A farmer by the name of Silas Ph--" and then he stopped. You see, he started to tell me the truth; but when he stopped that way, and begun to study and think again, I reckoned he was changing his mind. And so he was.
He wouldn't trust me; he wanted to make sure of having me out of the way the whole three days. So pretty soon he says:
"The man that bought him is named Abram Foster-Abram G. Foster-and he lives forty mile back here in the country, on the road to Lafayette."
"All right," I says, "I can walk it in three days. And I'll start this very afternoon."
"No you wont, you'll start NOW; and don't you lose any time about it, neither, nor do any gabbling by the way. Just keep a tight tongue in your head and move right along, and then you won't get into trouble with US, d'ye hear?"
That was the order I wanted, and that was the one I played for. I
wanted to be left free to work my plans.
"So clear out," he says; "and you can tell Mr. Foster whatever you want to. Maybe you can get him to believe that Jim IS your nigger-some idiots don't require documents-leastways I've heard there's such down South here.
And when you tell him the handbill and the reward's bogus, maybe he'll believe you when you explain to him what the idea was for getting 'em out.
Go 'long now, and tell him anything you want to; but mind you don't work your jaw any BETWEEN here and there."
So I left, and struck for the back country. I didn't look around, but I
kinder felt like he was watching me. But I knowed I could tire him out at that. I went straight out in the country as much as a mile before I
stopped; then I doubled back through the woods towards Phelps'. I reckoned
I better start in on my plan straight off without fooling around, because
I wanted to stop Jim's mouth till these fellows could get away. I didn't want no trouble with their kind. I'd seen all I wanted to of them, and wanted to get entirely shut of them.
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 smokehouse 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; ashhopper 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 going. She was smiling all over so she could hardly stand-and says:
"It's YOU, at last!-AIN'T it?"
I out with a "Yes'm" before I thought.
She grabbed me and hugged me tight; and then gripped me by both hands and shook and shook; and the tears come in her eyes, and run down over;
and she couldn't seem to hug and shake enough, and kept saying, "You don't look as much like your mother as I reckoned you would; but law sakes, I
don't care for that, I'm so glad to see you! Dear, dear, it does seem like
I could eat you up! Children, it's your cousin Tom!-tell him howdy."
But they ducked their heads, and put their fingers in their mouths, and hid behind her. So she run on:
"Lize, hurry up and get him a hot breakfast right away-or did you get your breakfast on the boat?"
I said I had got it on the boat. So then she started for the house, leading me by the hand, and the children tagging after. When we got there she set me down in a split-bottomed chair, and set herself down on a little low stool in front of me, holding both of my hands, and says:
"Now I can have a GOOD look at you; and, laws-ame, I've been hungry for it a many and a many a time, all these long years, and it's come at last!
We been expecting you a couple of days and more. What kep' you?-boat get aground?"
"Don't say yes'm-say Aunt Sally. Where'd she get aground?"
I didn't rightly know what to say, because I didn't know whether the boat would be coming up the river or down. But I go a good deal on instinct; and my instinct said she would be coming up-from down towards
Orleans. That didn't help me much, though; for I didn't know the names of bars down that way. I see I'd got to invent a bar, or forget the name of the one we got aground on-or-Now I struck an idea, and fetched it out:
"It warn't the grounding-that didn't keep us back but a little. We blowed out a cylinder-head."
"Good gracious! anybody hurt?"
"No'm. Killed a nigger."
"Well, it's lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt. Two years ago last Christmas your uncle Silas was coming up from Newrleans on the old
Lally Rook, and she blowed out a cylinder-head and crippled a man. And I
think he died afterwards. He was a Baptist. Your uncle Silas knowed a family in Baton Rouge that knowed his people very well. Yes, I remember now, he DID die. Mortification set in, and they had to amputate him. But it didn't save him. Yes, it was mortification-that was it. He turned blue all over, and died in the hope of a glorious resurrection. They say he was a sight to look at. Your uncle's been up to the town every day to fetch you. And he's gone again, not more'n an hour ago; he'll be back any minute now. You must a met him on the road, didn't you?-oldish man, with a-"
"No, I didn't see nobody, Aunt Sally. The boat landed just at daylight, and I left my baggage on the wharf-boat and went looking around the town and out a piece in the country, to put in the time and not get here too soon; and so I come down the back way."
"Who'd you give the baggage to?"
"Why, child, it 'll be stole!"
"Not where I hid it I reckon it won't," I says.
"How'd you get your breakfast so early on the boat?"
It was kinder thin ice, but I says:
"The captain see me standing around, and told me I better have something to eat before I went ashore; so he took me in the texas to the officers' lunch, and give me all I wanted."
I was getting so uneasy I couldn't listen good. I had my mind on the children all the time; I wanted to get them out to one side and pump them a little, and find out who I was. But I couldn't get no show, Mrs. Phelps kept it up and run on so. Pretty soon she made the cold chills streak all down my back, because she says:
"But here we're a-running on this way, and you hain't told me a word about Sis, nor any of them. Now I'll rest my works a little, and you start up yourn; just tell me EVERYTHING-tell me all about 'm all every one of
'm; and how they are, and what they're doing, and what they told you to tell me; and every last thing you can think of."
Well, I see I was up a stump-and up it good. Providence had stood by me this fur all right, but I was hard and tight aground now. I see it warn't a bit of use to try to go ahead-I'd got to throw up my hand. So I says to myself, here's another place where I got to resk the truth. I opened my mouth to begin; but she grabbed me and hustled me in behind the bed, and says:
"Here he comes! Stick your head down lower-there, that'll do; you can't be seen now. Don't you let on you're here. I'll play a joke on him.
Children, don't you say a word."
I see I was in a fix now. But it warn't no use to worry; there warn't nothing to do but just hold still, and try and be ready to stand from under when the lightning struck.
I had just one little glimpse of the old gentleman when he come in;
then the bed hid him. Mrs. Phelps she jumps for him, and says:
"Has he come?"
"No," says her husband.
"Good-NESS gracious!" she says, "what in the warld can have become of him?"
"I can't imagine," says the old gentleman; "and I must say it makes me dreadful uneasy."
"Uneasy!" she says; "I'm ready to go distracted! He MUST a come; and you've missed him along the road. I KNOW it's so-something tells me so."
"Why, Sally, I COULDN'T miss him along the road-YOU know that."
"But oh, dear, dear, what WILL Sis say! He must a come! You must a missed him. He-"
"Oh, don't distress me any more'n I'm already distressed. I don't know what in the world to make of it. I'm at my wit's end, and I don't mind acknowledging 't I'm right down scared. But there's no hope that he's come; for he COULDN'T come and me miss him. Sally, it's terrible-just terrible-something's happened to the boat, sure!"
"Why, Silas! Look yonder!-up the road!-ain't that somebody coming?"
He sprung to the window at the head of the bed, and that give Mrs.
Phelps the chance she wanted. She stooped down quick at the foot of the bed and give me a pull, and out I come; and when he turned back from the window there she stood, a-beaming and a-smiling like a house afire, and I
standing pretty meek and sweaty alongside. The old gentleman stared, and says:
"Why, who's that?"
"Who do you reckon 't is?"
"I hain't no idea. Who IS it?"
"It's TOM SAWYER!"
By jings, I most slumped through the floor! But there warn't no time to swap knives; the old man grabbed me by the hand and shook, and kept on shaking; and all the time how the woman did dance around and laugh and cry; and then how they both did fire off questions about Sid, and Mary, and the rest of the tribe.
But if they was joyful, it warn't nothing to what I was; for it was like being born again, I was so glad to find out who I was. Well, they froze to me for two hours; and at last, when my chin was so tired it couldn't hardly go any more, I had told them more about my family-I mean the Sawyer family-than ever happened to any six Sawyer families. And I
explained all about how we blowed out a cylinder-head at the mouth of
White River, and it took us three days to fix it. Which was all right, and worked first-rate; because THEY didn't know but what it would take three days to fix it. If I'd a called it a bolthead it would a done just as well.
Now I was feeling pretty comfortable all down one side, and pretty uncomfortable all up the other. Being Tom Sawyer was easy and comfortable, and it stayed easy and comfortable till by and by I hear a steamboat coughing along down the river. Then I says to myself, s'pose Tom Sawyer comes down on that boat? And s'pose he steps in here any minute, and sings out my name before I can throw him a wink to keep quiet?
Well, I couldn't HAVE it that way; it wouldn't do at all. I must go up the road and waylay him. So I told the folks I reckoned I would go up to the town and fetch down my baggage. The old gentleman was for going along with me, but I said no, I could drive the horse myself, and I druther he wouldn't take no trouble about me.
SO I started for town in the wagon, and when I was half-way I see a wagon coming, and sure enough it was Tom Sawyer, and I stopped and waited till he come along. I says "Hold on!" and it stopped alongside, and his mouth opened up like a trunk, and stayed so; and he swallowed two or three times like a person that's got a dry throat, and then says:
"I hain't ever done you no harm. You know that. So, then, what you want to come back and ha'nt ME for?"
"I hain't come back-I hain't been GONE."
When he heard my voice it righted him up some, but he warn't quite satisfied yet. He says:
"Don't you play nothing on me, because I wouldn't on you. Honest injun, you ain't a ghost?"
"Honest injun, I ain't," I says.
"Well-I-I-well, that ought to settle it, of course; but I can't somehow seem to understand it no way. Looky here, warn't you ever murdered AT
"No. I warn't ever murdered at all-I played it on them. You come in here and feel of me if you don't believe me."
So he done it; and it satisfied him; and he was that glad to see me again he didn't know what to do. And he wanted to know all about it right off, because it was a grand adventure, and mysterious, and so it hit him where he lived. But I said, leave it alone till by and by; and told his driver to wait, and we drove off a little piece, and I told him the kind of a fix I was in, and what did he reckon we better do? He said, let him alone a minute, and don't disturb him. So he thought and thought, and pretty soon he says:
"It's all right; I've got it. Take my trunk in your wagon, and let on it's your'n; and you turn back and fool along slow, so as to get to the house about the time you ought to; and I'll go towards town a piece, and take a fresh start, and get there a quarter or a half an hour after you;
and you needn't let on to know me at first."
"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
" What ! Why, Jim is-"
He stopped and went to studying. I says:
"I know what you'll say. You'll say it's dirty, lowdown 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
"Oh, shucks!" I says; "you're joking."
"I ain't joking, either."
"Well, then," I says, "joking or no joking, if you hear anything said about a runaway nigger, don't forget to remember that YOU don't know nothing about him, and I don't know nothing about him."
Then we took the trunk and put it in my wagon, and he drove off his way and I drove mine. But of course I forgot all about driving slow on accounts of being glad and full of thinking; so I got home a heap too quick for that length of a trip. The old gentleman was at the door, and he says:
"Why, this is wonderful! Whoever would a thought it was in that mare to do it? I wish we'd a timed her. And she hain't sweated a hair-not a hair.
It's wonderful. Why, I wouldn't take a hundred dollars for that horse now-I wouldn't, honest; and yet I'd a sold her for fifteen before, and thought 'twas all she was worth."
That's all he said. He was the innocentest, best old soul I ever see.
But it warn't surprising; because he warn't only just a farmer, he was a preacher, too, and had a little one-horse log church down back of the plantation, which he built it himself at his own expense, for a church and schoolhouse, and never charged nothing for his preaching, and it was worth it, too. There was plenty other farmer-preachers like that, and done the same way, down South.
In about half an hour Tom's wagon drove up to the front stile, and Aunt
Sally she see it through the window, because it was only about fifty yards, and says:
"Why, there's somebody come! I wonder who 'tis? Why, I do believe it's a stranger. Jimmy " (that's one of the children)' "run and tell Lize to put on another plate for dinner."
Everybody made a rush for the front door, because, of course, a stranger don't come EVERY year, and so he lays over the yaller-fever, for interest, when he does come. Tom was over the stile and starting for the house; the wagon was spinning up the road for the village, and we was all bunched in the front door. Tom had his store clothes on, and an audience-and that was always nuts for Tom Sawyer. In them circumstances it warn't no trouble to him to throw in an amount of style that was suitable.
He warn't a boy to meeky along up that yard like a sheep; no, he come ca'm and important, like the ram. When he got a-front of us he lifts his hat ever so gracious and dainty, like it was the lid of a box that had butterflies asleep in it and he didn't want to disturb them, and says:
"Mr. Archibald Nichols, I presume?"
"No, my boy," says the old gentleman, "I'm sorry to say 't your driver has deceived you; Nichols's place is down a matter of three mile more.
Come in, come in."
Tom he took a look back over his shoulder, and says, "Too late-he's out of sight."
"Yes, he's gone, my son, and you must come in and eat your dinner with us; and then we'll hitch up and take you down to Nichols's."
"Oh, I CAN'T make you so much trouble; I couldn't think of it. I'll walk-I don't mind the distance."
"But we won't LET you walk-it wouldn't be Southern hospitality to do it. Come right in."
"Oh, DO," says Aunt Sally; "it ain't a bit of trouble to us, not a bit in the world. You must stay. It's a long, dusty three mile, and we can't let you walk. And, besides, I've already told 'em to put on another plate when I see you coming; so you mustn't disappoint us. Come right in and make yourself at home."
So Tom he thanked them very hearty and handsome, and let himself be persuaded, and come in; and when he was in he said he was a stranger from
Hicksville, Ohio, and his name was William Thompson-and he made another bow.
Well, he run on, and on, and on, making up stuff about Hicksville and everybody in it he could invent, and I getting a little nervious, and wondering how this was going to help me out of my scrape; and at last, still talking along, he reached over and kissed Aunt Sally right on the mouth, and then settled back again in his chair comfortable, and was going on talking; but she jumped up and wiped it off with the back of her hand, and says:
"You owdacious puppy!"
He looked kind of hurt, and says:
"I'm surprised at you, m'am."
"You're s'rp-Why, what do you reckon I am? I've a good notion to take and-Say, what do you mean by kissing me?"
He looked kind of humble, and says:
"I didn't mean nothing, m'am. I didn't mean no harm. I-I-thought you'd like it."
"Why, you born fool!" She took up the spinning stick, and it looked like it was all she could do to keep from giving him a crack with it.
"What made you think I'd like it?"
"Well, I don't know. Only, they-they-told me you would."
"THEY told you I would. Whoever told you's ANOTHER lunatic. I never heard the beat of it. Who's THEY?"
"Why, everybody. They all said so, m'am."
It was all she could do to hold in; and her eyes snapped, and her fingers worked like she wanted to scratch him; and she says:
"Who's 'everybody'? Out with their names, or ther'll be an idiot short."
He got up and looked distressed, and fumbled his hat, and says:
"I'm sorry, and I warn't expecting it. They told me to. They all told me to. They all said, kiss her; and said she'd like it. They all said it-every one of them. But I'm sorry, m'am, and I won't do it no more-I
"You won't, won't you? Well, I sh'd RECKON you won't!"
"No'm, I'm honest about it; I won't ever do it again-till you ask me."
"Till I ASK you! Well, I never see the beat of it in my born days! I
lay you'll be the Methusalem-numskull of creation before ever I ask you-or the likes of you."
"Well," he says, "it does surprise me so. I can't make it out, somehow.
They said you would, and I thought you would. But-" He stopped and looked around slow, like he wished he could run across a friendly eye somewheres, and fetched up on the old gentleman's, and says, "Didn't YOU think she'd like me to kiss her, sir?"
"Why, no; I-I-well, no, I b'lieve I didn't."
Then he looks on around the same way to me, and says:
"Tom, didn't YOU think Aunt Sally 'd open out her arms and say, 'Sid
"My land!" she says, breaking in and jumping for him, "you impudent young rascal, to fool a body so-" and was going to hug him, but he fended her off, and says:
"No, not till you've asked me first."
So she didn't lose no time, but asked him; and hugged him and kissed him over and over again, and then turned him over to the old man, and he took what was left. And after they got a little quiet again she says:
"Why, dear me, I never see such a surprise. We warn't looking for YOU
at all, but only Tom. Sis never wrote to me about anybody coming but him."
"It's because it warn't INTENDED for any of us to come but Tom," he says; "but I begged and begged, and at the last minute she let me come, too; so, coming down the river, me and Tom thought it would be a first-rate surprise for him to come here to the house first, and for me to by and by tag along and drop in, and let on to be a stranger. But it was a mistake, Aunt Sally. This ain't no healthy place for a stranger to come."
"No-not impudent whelps, Sid. You ought to had your jaws boxed; I
hain't been so put out since I don't know when. But I don't care, I don't mind the terms-I'd be willing to stand a thousand such jokes to have you here. Well, to think of that performance! I don't deny it, I was most putrified with astonishment when you give me that smack."
We had dinner out in that broad open passage betwixt the house and the kitchen; and there was things enough on that table for seven families-and all hot, too; none of your flabby, tough meat that's laid in a cupboard in a damp cellar all night and tastes like a hunk of old cold cannibal in the morning. Uncle Silas he asked a pretty long blessing over it, but it was worth it; and it didn't cool it a bit, neither, the way I've seen them kind of interruptions do lots of times. There was a considerable good deal of talk all the afternoon, and me and Tom was on the lookout all the time;
but it warn't no use, they didn't happen to say nothing about any runaway nigger, and we was afraid to try to work up to it. But at supper, at night, one of the little boys says:
"Pa, mayn't Tom and Sid and me go to the show?"
"No," says the old man, "I reckon there ain't going to be any; and you couldn't go if there was; because the runaway nigger told Burton and me all about that scandalous show, and Burton said he would tell the people;
so I reckon they've drove the owdacious loafers out of town before this time."
So there it was!-but I couldn't help it. Tom and me was to sleep in the same room and bed; so, being tired, we bid good-night and went up to bed right after supper, and clumb out of the window and down the lightning-rod, and shoved for the town; for I didn't believe anybody was going to give the king and the duke a hint, and so if I didn't hurry up and give them one they'd get into trouble sure.
On the road Tom he told me all about how it was reckoned I was murdered, and how pap disappeared pretty soon, and didn't come back no more, and what a stir there was when Jim run away; and I told Tom all about our Royal Nonesuch rapscallions, and as much of the raft voyage as I
had time to; and as we struck into the town and up through the-here comes a raging rush of people with torches, and an awful whooping and yelling, and banging tin pans and blowing horns; and we jumped to one side to let them go by; and as they went by I see they had the king and the duke astraddle of a rail-that is, I knowed it WAS the king and the duke, though they was all over tar and feathers, and didn't look like nothing in the world that was human-just looked like a couple of monstrous big soldier-plumes. Well, it made me sick to see it; and I was sorry for them poor pitiful rascals, it seemed like I couldn't ever feel any hardness against them any more in the world. It was a dreadful thing to see. Human beings CAN be awful cruel to one another.
We see we was too late-couldn't do no good. We asked some stragglers about it, and they said everybody went to the show looking very innocent;
and laid low and kept dark till the poor old king was in the middle of his cavortings on the stage; then somebody give a signal, and the house rose up and went for them.
So we poked along back home, and I warn't feeling so brash as I was before, but kind of ornery, and humble, and to blame, somehow-though I
hadn't done nothing. But that's always the way; it don't make no difference whether you do right or wrong, a person's conscience ain't got no sense, and just goes for him anyway. If I had a yaller dog that didn't know no more than a person's conscience does I would pison him. It takes up more room than all the rest of a person's insides, and yet ain't no good, nohow. Tom Sawyer he says the same.
WE stopped talking, and got to thinking. By and by Tom says:
"Looky here, Huck, what fools we are to not think of it before! I bet I
know where Jim is."
"In that hut down by the ash-hopper. Why, looky here. When we was at dinner, didn't you see a nigger man go in there with some vittles?"
"What did you think the vittles was for?"
"For a dog."
"So 'd I. Well, it wasn't for a dog."
"Because part of it was watermelon."
"So it was-I noticed it. Well, it does beat all that I never thought about a dog not eating watermelon. It shows how a body can see and don't see at the same time."
"Well, the nigger unlocked the padlock when he went in, and he locked it again when he came out. He fetched uncle a key about the time we got up from table-same key, I bet. Watermelon shows man, lock shows prisoner; and it ain't likely there's two prisoners on such a little plantation, and where the people's all so kind and good. Jim's the prisoner. All right-I'm glad we found it out detective fashion; I wouldn't give shucks for any other way. Now you work your mind, and study out a plan to steal Jim, and
I will study out one, too; and we'll take the one we like the best."
What a head for just a boy to have! If I had Tom Sawyer's head I
wouldn't trade it off to be a duke, nor mate of a steamboat, nor clown in a circus, nor nothing I can think of. I went to thinking out a plan, but only just to be doing something; I knowed very well where the right plan was going to come from. Pretty soon Tom says:
"Yes," I says.
"All right-bring it out."
"My plan is this," I says. "We can easy find out if it's Jim in there.
Then get up my canoe to-morrow night, and fetch my raft over from the island. Then the first dark night that comes steal the key out of the old man's britches after he goes to bed, and shove off down the river on the raft with Jim, hiding daytimes and running nights, the way me and Jim used to do before. Wouldn't that plan work?"
"WORK? Why, cert'nly it would work, like rats a-fighting. But it's too blame' simple; there ain't nothing TO it. What's the good of a plan that ain't no more trouble than that? It's as mild as goose-milk. Why, Huck, it wouldn't make no more talk than breaking into a soap factory."
I never said nothing, because I warn't expecting nothing different; but
I knowed mighty well that whenever he got HIS plan ready it wouldn't have none of them objections to it.
And it didn't. He told me what it was, and I see in a minute it was worth fifteen of mine for style, and would make Jim just as free a man as mine would, and maybe get us all killed besides. So I was satisfied, and said we would waltz in on it. I needn't tell what it was here, because I
knowed it wouldn't stay the way, it was. I knowed he would be changing it around every which way as we went along, and heaving in new bullinesses wherever he got a chance. And that is what he done.
Well, one thing was dead sure, and that was that Tom Sawyer was in earnest, and was actuly going to help steal that nigger out of slavery.
That was the thing that was too many for me. Here was a boy that was respectable and well brung up; and had a character to lose; and folks at home that had characters; and he was bright and not leather-headed; and knowing and not ignorant; and not mean, but kind; and yet here he was, without any more pride, or rightness, or feeling, than to stoop to this business, and make himself a shame, and his family a shame, before everybody. I COULDN'T understand it no way at all. It was outrageous, and
I knowed I ought to just up and tell him so; and so be his true friend, and let him quit the thing right where he was and save himself. And I DID
start to tell him; but he shut me up, and says:
"Don't you reckon I know what I'm about? Don't I generly know what I'm about?"
"Didn't I SAY I was going to help steal the nigger?"
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 windowhole, 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."
"It's as simple as tit-tat-toe, three-in-a-row, and as easy as playing hooky. I should HOPE we can find a way that's a little more complicated than THAT, Huck Finn."
"Well, then," I says, "how 'll it do to saw him out, the way I done before I was murdered that time?"
"That's more LIKE," he says. "It's real mysterious, and troublesome, and good," he says; "but I bet we can find a way that's twice as long.
There ain't no hurry; le's keep on looking around."
Betwixt the hut and the fence, on the back side, was a lean-to that joined the hut at the eaves, and was made out of plank. It was as long as the hut, but narrow-only about six foot wide. The door to it was at the south end, and was padlocked. Tom he went to the soap-kettle and searched around, and fetched back the iron thing they lift the lid with; so he took it and prized out one of the staples. The chain fell down, and we opened the door and went in, and shut it, and struck a match, and see the shed was only built against a cabin and hadn't no connection with it; and there warn't no floor to the shed, nor nothing in it but some old rusty played-out hoes and spades and picks and a crippled plow. The match went out, and so did we, and shoved in the staple again, and the door was locked as good as ever. Tom was joyful. He says;
"Now we're all right. We'll DIG him out. It 'll take about a week!"
Then we started for the house, and I went in the back door-you only have to pull a buckskin latchstring, 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 graduly over his face, like when you heave a brickbat in a mud-puddle, and he says:
"Yes, Mars Sid, A dog. Cur'us dog, too. Does you want to go en look at
I hunched Tom, and whispers:
"You going, right here in the daybreak? THAT warn't the plan."
"No, it warn't; but it's the plan NOW."
So, drat him, we went along, but I didn't like it much. When we got in we couldn't hardly see anything, it was so dark; but Jim was there, sure enough, and could see us; and he sings out:
"Why, HUCK! En good LAN'! ain' dat Misto Tom?"
I just knowed how it would be; I just expected it. I didn't know nothing to do; and if I had I couldn't a done it, because that nigger busted in and says:
"Why, de gracious sakes! do he know you genlmen?"
We could see pretty well now. Tom he looked at the nigger, steady and kind of wondering, and says:
"Does WHO know us?"
"Why, dis-yer runaway nigger."
"I don't reckon he does; but what put that into your head?"
"What PUT it dar? Didn' he jis' dis minute sing out like he knowed you?"
Tom says, in a puzzled-up kind of way:
"Well, that's mighty curious. WHO sung out? WHEN did he sing out? WHAT
did he sing out?" And turns to me, perfectly ca'm, and says, "Did YOU hear anybody sing out?"
Of course there warn't nothing to be said but the one thing; so I says:
"No; I ain't heard nobody say nothing."
Then he turns to Jim, and looks him over like he never see him before, and says:
"Did you sing out?"
"No, sah," says Jim; " I hain't said nothing, sah."
"Not a word?"
"No, sah, I hain't said a word."
"Did you ever see us before?"
"No, sah; not as I knows on."
So Tom turns to the nigger, which was looking wild and distressed, and says, kind of severe:
"What do you reckon's the matter with you, anyway? What made you think somebody sung out?"
"Oh, it's de dad-blame' witches, sah, en I wisht I was dead, I do.
Dey's awluz at it, sah, en dey do mos' kill me, dey sk'yers me so. Please to don't tell nobody 'bout it sah, er ole Mars Silas he'll scole me; 'kase he say dey AIN'T no witches. I jis' wish to goodness he was heah now-DEN
what would he say! I jis' bet he couldn' fine no way to git aroun' it DIS
time. But it's awluz jis' so; people dat's SOT, stays sot; dey won't look into noth'n'en fine it out f'r deyselves, en when YOU fine it out en tell um 'bout it, dey doan' b'lieve you."
Tom give him a dime, and said we wouldn't tell nobody; and told him to buy some more thread to tie up his wool with; and then looks at Jim, and says:
"I wonder if Uncle Silas is going to hang this nigger. If I was to catch a nigger that was ungrateful enough to run away, I wouldn't give him up, I'd hang him." And whilst the nigger stepped to the door to look at the dime and bite it to see if it was good, he whispers to Jim and says:
"Don't ever let on to know us. And if you hear any digging going on nights, it's us; we're going to set you free."
Jim only had time to grab us by the hand and squeeze it; then the nigger come back, and we said we'd come again some time if the nigger wanted us to; and he said he would, more particular if it was dark, because the witches went for him mostly in the dark, and it was good to have folks around then.
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 windowhole 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 a saw? 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 oldmaidy 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."
"What do we want of a moat when we're going to snake him out from under the cabin?"
But he never heard me. He had forgot me and everything else. He had his chin in his hand, thinking. Pretty soon he sighs and shakes his head; then sighs again, and says:
"No, it wouldn't do-there ain't necessity enough for it."
"For what?" I says.
"Why, to saw Jim's leg off," he says.
"Good land!" I says; "why, there ain't NO necessity for it. And what would you want to saw his leg off for, anyway?"
"Well, some of the best authorities has done it. They couldn't get the chain off, so they just cut their hand off and shoved. And a leg would be better still. But we got to let that go. There ain't necessity enough in this case; and, besides, Jim's a nigger, and wouldn't understand the reasons for it, and how it's the custom in Europe; so we'll let it go. But there's one thing-he can have a rope ladder; we can tear up our sheets and make him a rope ladder easy enough. And we can send it to him in a pie;
it's mostly done that way. And I've et worse pies."
"Why, Tom Sawyer, how you talk," I says; "Jim ain't got no use for a rope ladder."
"He HAS got use for it. How YOU talk, you better say; you don't know nothing about it. He's GOT to have a rope ladder; they all do."
"What in the nation can he DO with it?"
"DO with it? He can hide it in his bed, can't he?" That's what they all do; and HE'S got to, too. Huck, you don't ever seem to want to do anything that's regular; you want to be starting something fresh all the time.
S'pose he DON'T do nothing with it? ain't it there in his bed, for a clew, after he's gone? and don't you reckon they'll want clews? Of course they will. And you wouldn't leave them any? That would be a PRETTY howdy-do,
WOULDN'T it! I never heard of such a thing."
"Well," I says, "if it's in the regulations, and he's got to have it, all right, let him have it; because I don't wish to go back on no regulations; but there's one thing, Tom Sawyer-if we go to tearing up our sheets to make Jim a rope ladder, we're going to get into trouble with
Aunt Sally, just as sure as you're born. Now, the way I look at it, a hickry-bark ladder don't cost nothing, and don't waste nothing, and is just as good to load up a pie with, and hide in a straw tick, as any rag ladder you can start; and as for Jim, he ain't had no experience, and so he don't care what kind of a-"
"Oh, shucks, Huck Finn, if I was as ignorant as you I'd keep still-that's what I'D do. Who ever heard of a state prisoner escaping by a hickry-bark ladder? Why, it's perfectly ridiculous."
"Well, all right, Tom, fix it your own way; but if you'll take my advice, you'll let me borrow a sheet off of the clothesline."
He said that would do. And that gave him another idea, and he says:
"Borrow a shirt, too."
"What do we want of a shirt, Tom?"
"Want it for Jim to keep a journal on."
"Journal your granny-JIM can't write."
"S'pose he CAN'T write-he can make marks on the shirt, can't he, if we make him a pen out of an old pewter spoon or a piece of an old iron barrelhoop?"
"Why, Tom, we can pull a feather out of a goose and make him a better one; and quicker, too."
"PRISONERS don't have geese running around the donjon-keep to pull pens out of, you muggins. They ALWAYS make their pens out of the hardest, toughest, troublesomest piece of old brass candlestick or something like that they can get their hands on; and it takes them weeks and weeks and months and months to file it out, too, because they've got to do it by rubbing it on the wall. THEY wouldn't use a goose-quill if they had it. It ain't regular."
"Well, then, what'll we make him the ink out of?"
"Many makes it out of iron-rust and tears; but that's the common sort and women; the best authorities uses their own blood. Jim can do that; and when he wants to send any little common ordinary mysterious message to let the world know where he's captivated, he can write it on the bottom of a tin plate with a fork and throw it out of the window. The Iron Mask always done that, and it's a blame' good way, too."
"Jim ain't got no tin plates. They feed him in a pan."
"That ain't nothing; we can get him some."
"Can't nobody READ his plates."
"That ain't got anything to DO with it, Huck Finn. All HE'S got to do is to write on the plate and throw it out. You don't HAVE to be able to read it. Why, half the time you can't read anything a prisoner writes on a tin plate, or anywhere else."
"Well, then, what's the sense in wasting the plates?"
"Why, blame it all, it ain't the PRISONER'S plates."
"But it's SOMEBODY'S plates, ain't it?"
"Well, spos'n it is? What does the PRISONER care whose-"
He broke off there, because we heard the breakfasthorn blowing. So we cleared out for the house.
Along during the morning I borrowed a sheet and a white shirt off of the clothes-line; and I found an old sack and put them in it, and we went down and got the fox-fire, and put that in too. I called it borrowing, because that was what pap always called it; but Tom said it warn't borrowing, it was stealing. He said we was representing prisoners; and prisoners don't care how they get a thing so they get it, and nobody don't blame them for it, either. It ain't no crime in a prisoner to steal the thing he needs to get away with, Tom said; it's his right; and so, as long as we was representing a prisoner, we had a perfect right to steal anything on this place we had the least use for to get ourselves out of prison with. He said if we warn't prisoners it would be a very different thing, and nobody but a mean, ornery person would steal when he warn't a prisoner. So we allowed we would steal everything there was that come handy. And yet he made a mighty fuss, one day, after that, when I stole a watermelon out of the nigger-patch and eat it; and he made me go and give the niggers a dime without telling them what it was for. Tom said that what he meant was, we could steal anything we NEEDED. Well, I says, I
needed the watermelon. But he said I didn't need it to get out of prison with; there's where the difference was. He said if I'd a wanted it to hide a knife in, and smuggle it to Jim to kill the seneskal with, it would a been all right. So I let it go at that, though I couldn't see no advantage in my representing a prisoner if I got to set down and chaw over a lot of gold-leaf distinctions like that every time I see a chance to hog a watermelon.
Well, as I was saying, we waited that morning till everybody was settled down to business, and nobody in sight around the yard; then Tom he carried the sack into the lean-to whilst I stood off a piece to keep watch. By and by he come out, and we went and set down on the woodpile to talk. He says:
"Everything's all right now except tools; and that's easy fixed."
"Tools?" I says.
"Tools for what?"
"Why, to dig with. We ain't a-going to GNAW him out, are we?"
"Ain't them old crippled picks and things in there good enough to dig a nigger out with?" I says.
He turns on me, looking pitying enough to make a body cry, and says:
"Huck Finn, did you EVER hear of a prisoner having picks and shovels, and all the modern conveniences in his wardrobe to dig himself out with?
Now I want to ask you-if you got any reasonableness in you at all-what kind of a show would THAT give him to be a hero? Why, they might as well lend him the key and done with it. Picks and shovels-why, they wouldn't furnish 'em to a king."
"Well, then," I says, "if we don't want the picks and shovels, what do we want?"
"A couple of case-knives."
"To dig the foundations out from under that cabin with?"
"Confound it, it's foolish, Tom."
"It don't make no difference how foolish it is, it's the RIGHT way-and it's the regular way. And there ain't no OTHER way, that ever I heard of, and I've read all the books that gives any information about these things.
They always dig out with a case-knife-and not through dirt, mind you;
generly it's through solid rock. And it takes them weeks and weeks and weeks, and for ever and ever. Why, look at one of them prisoners in the bottom dungeon of the Castle Deef, in the harbor of Marseilles, that dug himself out that way; how long was HE at it, you reckon?"
"I don't know."
"I don't know. A month and a half."
"THIRTY-SEVEN YEAR-and he come out in China. THAT'S the kind. I wish the bottom of THIS fortress was solid rock."
"JIM don't know nobody in China."
"What's THAT got to do with it? Neither did that other fellow. But you're always a-wandering off on a side issue. Why can't you stick to the main point?"
"All right-I don't care where he comes out, so he COMES out; and Jim don't, either, I reckon. But there's one thing, anyway-Jim's too old to be dug out with a case-knife. He won't last."
"Yes he will LAST, too. You don't reckon it's going to take thirty-seven years to dig out through a DIRT foundation, do you?"
"How long will it take, Tom?"
"Well, we can't resk being as long as we ought to, because it mayn't take very long for Uncle Silas to hear from down there by New Orleans.
He'll hear Jim ain't from there. Then his next move will be to advertise
Jim, or something like that. So we can't resk being as long digging him out as we ought to. By rights I reckon we ought to be a couple of years;
but we can't. Things being so uncertain, what I recommend is this: that we really dig right in, as quick as we can; and after that, we can LET ON, to ourselves, that we was at it thirty-seven years. Then we can snatch him out and rush him away the first time there's an alarm. Yes, I reckon that
'll be the best way."
"Now, there's SENSE in that," I says. "Letting on don't cost nothing;
letting on ain't no trouble; and if it's any object, I don't mind letting on we was at it a hundred and fifty year. It wouldn't strain me none, after I got my hand in. So I'll mosey along now, and smouch a couple of case-knives."
"Smouch three," he says; "we want one to make a saw out of."
"Tom, if it ain't unregular and irreligious to sejest it," I says,
"there's an old rusty saw-blade around yonder sticking under the weather-boarding behind the smoke-house."
He looked kind of weary and discouraged-like, and says:
"It ain't no use to try to learn you nothing, Huck. Run along and smouch the knives-three of them." So I done it.
AS soon as we reckoned everybody was asleep that night we went down the lightning-rod, and shut ourselves up in the lean-to, and got out our pile of fox-fire, and went to work. We cleared everything out of the way, about four or five foot along the middle of the bottom log. Tom said we 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 counterpin 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,
He never said nothing. But he sighed, and pretty soon he stopped digging, and then for a good little while I knowed that he was thinking.
Then he says:
"It ain't no use, Huck, it ain't a-going to work. If we was prisoners it would, because then we'd have as many years as we wanted, and no hurry;
and we wouldn't get but a few minutes to dig, every day, while they was changing watches, and so our hands wouldn't get blistered, and we could keep it up right along, year in and year out, and do it right, and the way it ought to be done. But WE can't fool along; we got to rush; we ain't got no time to spare. If we was to put in another night this way we'd have to knock off for a week to let our hands get well-couldn't touch a case-knife with them sooner."
"Well, then, what we going to do, Tom?"
"I'll tell you. It ain't right, and it ain't moral, . and I wouldn't like it to get out; but there ain't only just the one way: we got to dig him out with the picks, and LET ON it's case-knives."
"NOW you're TALKING!" I says; "your head gets leveler and leveler all the time, Tom Sawyer," I says. "Picks is the thing, moral or no moral; and as for me, I don't care shucks for the morality of it, nohow. When I start in to steal a nigger, or a watermelon, or a Sunday-school book, I ain't no ways particular how it's done so it's done. What I want is my nigger; or what I want is my watermelon; or what I want is my Sunday-school book; and if a pick's the handiest thing, that's the thing I'm a-going to dig that nigger or that watermelon or that Sunday-school book out with; and I don't give a dead rat what the authorities thinks about it nuther."
"Well," he says, "there's excuse for picks and letting-on in a case like this; if it warn't so, I wouldn't approve of it, nor I wouldn't stand by and see the rules broke-because right is right, and wrong is wrong, and a body ain't got no business doing wrong when he ain't ignorant and knows better. It might answer for YOU to dig Jim out with a pick, WITHOUT any letting on, because you don't know no better; but it wouldn't for me, because I do know better. Gimme a case-knife."
He had his own by him, but I handed him mine. He flung it down, and says:
"Gimme a CASE-KNIFE."
I didn't know just what to do-but then I thought. I scratched around amongst the old tools, and got a pickaxe and give it to him, and he took it and went to work, and never said a word.
He was always just that particular. Full of principle.
So then I got a shovel, and then we picked and shoveled, turn about, and made the fur fly. We stuck to it about a half an hour, which was as long as we could stand up; but we had a good deal of a hole to show for it. When I got up stairs I looked out at the window and see Tom doing his level best with the lightning-rod, but he couldn't come it, his hands was so sore. At last he says:
"It ain't no use, it can't be done. What you reckon I better do? Can't you think of no way?"
"Yes," I says, "but I reckon it ain't regular. Come up the stairs, and let on it's a lightning-rod."
So he done it.
Next day Tom stole a pewter spoon and a brass candlestick in the house, for to make some pens for Jim out of, and six tallow candles; and I hung around the nigger cabins and laid for a chance, and stole three tin plates. Tom says it wasn't enough; but I said nobody wouldn't ever see the plates that Jim throwed out, because they'd fall in the dog-fennel and jimpson weeds under the window-hole-then we could tote them back and he could use them over again. So Tom was satisfied. Then he says:
"Now, the thing to study out is, how to get the things to Jim."
"Take them in through the hole," I says, "when we get it done."
He only just looked scornful, and said something about nobody ever heard of such an idiotic idea, and then he went to studying. By and by he said he had ciphered out two or three ways, but there warn't no need to decide on any of them yet. Said we'd got to post Jim first.
That night we went down the lightning-rod a little after ten, and took one of the candles along, and listened under the window-hole, and heard
Jim snoring; so we pitched it in, and it didn't wake him. Then we whirled in with the pick and shovel, and in about two hours and a half the job was done. We crept in under Jim's bed and into the cabin, and pawed around and found the candle and lit it, and stood over Jim awhile, and found him looking hearty and healthy, and then we woke him up gentle and gradual. He was so glad to see us he most cried; and called us honey, and all the pet names he could think of; and was for having us hunt up a cold-chisel to cut the chain off of his leg with right away, and clearing out without losing any time. But Tom he showed him how unregular it would be, and set down and told him all about our plans, and how we could alter them in a minute any time there was an alarm; and not to be the least afraid, because we would see he got away, SURE. So Jim he said it was all right, and we set there and talked over old times awhile, and then Tom asked a lot of questions, and when Jim told him Uncle Silas come in every day or two to pray with him, and Aunt Sally come in to see if he was comfortable and had plenty to eat, and both of them was kind as they could be, Tom says:
"NOW I know how to fix it. We'll send you some things by them."
I said, "Don't do nothing of the kind; it's one of the most jackass ideas I ever struck;" but he never paid no attention to me; went right on.
It was his way when he'd got his plans set.
So he told Jim how we'd have to smuggle in the rope-ladder pie and other large things by Nat, the nigger that fed him, and he must be on the lookout, and not be surprised, and not let Nat see him open them; and we would put small things in uncle's coatpockets 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."
"Well, I tell you what I think. What makes them come here just at this runaway nigger's breakfast-time? It's because they're hungry; that's the reason. You make them a witch pie; that's the thing for YOU to do."
"But my lan', Mars Sid, how's I gwyne to make 'm a witch pie? I doan'
know how to make it. I hain't ever hearn er sich a thing b'fo'."
"Well, then, I'll have to make it myself." "Will you do it, honey?-Qwill 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
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,
"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
Whack comes the thimble, and the child snatches her claws out of the sugar-bowl without fooling around any. Just then the nigger woman steps on to the passage, and says:
"Missus, dey's a sheet gone."
"A SHEET gone! Well, for the land's sake!"
"I'll stop up them holes to-day," says Uncle Silas, looking sorrowful.
"Oh, DO shet up!-s'pose the rats took the SHEET? WHERE'S it gone, Lize?"
"Clah to goodness I hain't no notion, Miss' Sally. She wuz on de clo'sline yistiddy, but she done gone: she ain' dah no mo' now."
"I reckon the world IS coming to an end. I NEVER see the beat of it in all my born days. A shirt, and a sheet, and a spoon, and six can-"
"Missus," comes a young yaller wench, "dey's a brass cannelstick miss'n."
"Cler out from here, you hussy, er I'll take a skillet to ye!"
Well, she was just a-biling. I begun to lay for a chance; I reckoned I
would sneak out and go for the woods till the weather moderated. She kept a-raging right along, running her insurrection all by herself, and everybody else mighty meek and quiet; and at last Uncle Silas, looking kind of foolish, fishes up that spoon out of his pocket. She stopped, with her mouth open and her hands up; and as for me, I wished I was in Jeruslem or somewheres. But not long, because she says:
"It's JUST as I expected. So you had it in your pocket all the time;
and like as not you've got the other things there, too. How'd it get there?"
"I reely don't know, Sally," he says, kind of apologizing, "or you know
I would tell. I was astudying over my text in Acts Seventeen before breakfast, and I reckon I put it in there, not noticing, meaning to put my
Testament in, and it must be so, because my Testament ain't in; but I'll go and see; and if the Testament is where I had it, I'll know I didn't put it in, and that will show that I laid the Testament down and took up the spoon, and-"
"Oh, for the land's sake! Give a body a rest! Go 'long now, the whole kit and biling of ye; and don't come nigh me again till I've got back my peace of mind."
I'D a heard her if she'd a said it to herself, let alone speaking it out; and I'd a got up and obeyed her if I'd a been dead. As we was passing through the setting-room the old man he took up his hat, and the shingle-nail fell out on the floor, and he just merely picked it up and laid it on the mantel-shelf, and never said nothing, and went out. Tom see him do it, and remembered about the spoon, and says:
"Well, it ain't no use to send things by HIM no more, he ain't reliable." Then he says: "But he done us a good turn with the spoon, anyway, without knowing it, and so we'll go and do him one without HIM
knowing it-stop up his rat-holes."
There was a noble good lot of them down cellar, and it took us a whole hour, but we done the job tight and good and shipshape. Then we heard steps on the stairs, and blowed out our light and hid; and here comes the old man, with a candle in one hand and a bundle of stuff in t'other, looking as absent-minded as year before last. He went a mooning around, first to one rat-hole and then another, till he'd been to them all. Then he stood about five minutes, picking tallowdrip 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
"Why, Aunt Sally, there ain't but nine spoons YET."
"Go 'long to your play, and don't bother me. I know better, I counted
"Well, I've counted them twice, Aunty, and I can't make but nine."
She looked out of all patience, but of course she come to count-anybody would.
"I declare to gracious ther' AIN'T but nine!" she says. "Why, what in the world-plague TAKE the things, I'll count 'm again."
So I slipped back the one I had, and when she got done counting, she says:
"Hang the troublesome rubbage, ther's TEN now!" and she looked huffy and bothered both. But Tom says:
"Why, Aunty, I don't think there's ten."
"You numskull, didn't you see me COUNT 'm?"
"I know, but-"
"Well, I'll count 'm AGAIN."
So I smouched one, and they come out nine, same as the other time.
Well, she WAS in a tearing way-just a-trembling all over, she was so mad.
But she counted and counted till she got that addled she'd start to count in the basket for a spoon sometimes; and so, three times they come out right, and three times they come out wrong. Then she grabbed up the basket and slammed it across the house and knocked the cat galley-west; and she said cle'r out and let her have some peace, and if we come bothering around her again betwixt that and dinner she'd skin us. So we had the odd spoon, and dropped it in her apron-pocket whilst she was a-giving us our sailing orders, and Jim got it all right, along with her shingle nail, before noon. We was very well satisfied with this business, and Tom allowed it was worth twice the trouble it took, because he said NOW she couldn't ever count them spoons twice alike again to save her life; and wouldn't believe she'd counted them right if she DID; and said that after she'd about counted her head off for the next three days he judged she'd give it up and offer to kill anybody that wanted her to ever count them any more.
So we put the sheet back on the line that night, and stole one out of her closet; and kept on putting it back and stealing it again for a couple of days till she didn't know how many sheets she had any more, and she didn't CARE, and warn't a-going to bullyrag the rest of her soul out about it, and wouldn't count them again not to save her life; she druther die first.
So we was all right now, as to the shirt and the sheet and the spoon and the candles, by the help of the calf and the rats and the mixed-up counting; and as to the candlestick, it warn't no consequence, it would blow over by and by.
But that pie was a job; we had no end of trouble with that pie. We fixed it up away down in the woods, and cooked it there; and we got it done at last, and very satisfactory, too; but not all in one day; and we had to use up three wash-pans full of flour before we got through, and we got burnt pretty much all over, in places, and eyes put out with the smoke; because, you see, we didn't want nothing but a crust, and we couldn't prop it up right, and she would always cave in. But of course we thought of the right way at last-which was to cook the ladder, too, in the pie. So then we laid in with Jim the second night, and tore up the sheet all in little strings and twisted them together, and long before daylight we had a lovely rope that you could a hung a person with. We let on it took nine months to make it.
And in the forenoon we took it down to the woods, but it wouldn't go into the pie. Being made of a whole sheet, that way, there was rope enough for forty pies if we'd a wanted them, and plenty left over for soup, or sausage, or anything you choose. We could a had a whole dinner.
But we didn't need it. All we needed was just enough for the pie, and so we throwed the rest away. We didn't cook none of the pies in the wash-pan-afraid the solder would melt; but Uncle Silas he had a noble brass warming-pan which he thought considerable of, because it belonged to one of his ancesters with a long wooden handle that come over from England with William the Conqueror in the Mayflower or one of them early ships and was hid away up garret with a lot of other old pots and things that was valuable, not on account of being any account, because they warn't, but on account of them being relicts, you know, and we snaked her out, private, and took her down there, but she failed on the first pies, because we didn't know how, but she come up smiling on the last one. We took and lined her with dough, and set her in the coals, and loaded her up with rag rope, and put on a dough roof, and shut down the lid, and put hot embers on top, and stood off five foot, with the long handle, cool and comfortable, and in fifteen minutes she turned out a pie that was a satisfaction to look at. But the person that et it would want to fetch a couple of kags of toothpicks along, for if that rope ladder wouldn't cramp him down to business I don't know nothing what I'm talking about, and lay him in enough stomach-ache to last him till next time, too.
Nat didn't look when we put the witch pie in Jim's pan; and we put the three tin plates in the bottom of the pan under the vittles; and so Jim got everything all right, and as soon as he was by himself he busted into the pie and hid the rope ladder inside of his straw tick, and scratched some marks on a tin plate and throwed it out of the window-hole.
MAKING them pens was a distressid tough job, and so was the saw; and
Jim allowed the inscription was going to be the toughest of all. That's the one which the prisoner has to scrabble on the wall. But he had to have it; Tom said he'd GOT to; there warn't no case of a state prisoner not scrabbling his inscription to leave behind, and his coat of arms.
"Look at Lady Jane Grey," he says; "look at Gilford Dudley; look at old
Northumberland! Why, Huck, s'pose it IS considerble trouble?-what you going to do?-how you going to get around it? Jim's GOT to do his inscription and coat of arms. They all do."
"Why, Mars Tom, I hain't got no coat o' arm; I hain't got nuffn but dish yer ole shirt, en you knows I got to keep de journal on dat."
"Oh, you don't understand, Jim; a coat of arms is very different."
"Well," I says, "Jim's right, anyway, when he says he ain't got no coat of arms, because he hain't."
"I reckon I knowed that," Tom says, "but you bet he'll have one before he goes out of this-because he's going out RIGHT, and there ain't going to be no flaws in his record."
So whilst me and Jim filed away at the pens on a brickbat apiece, Jim a-making his'n out of the brass and I making mine out of the spoon, Tom set to work to think out the coat of arms. By and by he said he'd struck so many good ones he didn't hardly know which to take, but there was one which he reckoned he'd decide on. He says:
"On the scutcheon we'll have a bend OR in the dexter base, a saltire
MURREY in the fess, with a dog, couchant, for common charge, and under his foot a chain embattled, for slavery, with a chevron VERT in a chief engrailed, and three invected lines on a field AZURE, with the nombril points rampant on a dancette indented; crest, a runaway nigger, SABLE, with his bundle over his shoulder on a bar sinister; and a couple of gules for supporters, which is you and me; motto, MAGGIORE FRETTA, MINORE OTTO.
Got it out of a book-means the more haste the less speed."
"Geewhillikins," I says, "but what does the rest of it mean?"
"We ain't got no time to bother over that," he says; "we got to dig in like all git-out."
"Well, anyway," I says, "what's SOME of it? What's a fess?"
"A fess-a fess is-YOU don't need to know what a fess is. I'll show him how to make it when he gets to it."
"Shucks, Tom," I says, "I think you might tell a person. What's a bar sinister?"
"Oh, I don't know. But he's got to have it. All the nobility does."
That was just his way. If it didn't suit him to explain a thing to you, he wouldn't do it. You might pump at him a week, it wouldn't make no difference.
He'd got all that coat of arms business fixed, so now he started in to finish up the rest of that part of the work, which was to plan out a mournful inscription-said Jim got to have one, like they all done. He made up a lot, and wrote them out on a paper, and read them off, so:
1. Here a captive heart busted. 2. Here a poor prisoner, forsook by the world and friends, fretted his sorrowful life. 3. Here a lonely heart broke, and a worn spirit went to its rest, after thirty-seven years of solitary captivity. 4. Here, homeless and friendless, after thirty-seven years of bitter captivity, perished a noble stranger, natural son of
Tom's voice trembled whilst he was reading them, and he most broke down. When he got done he couldn't no way make up his mind which one for
Jim to scrabble on to the wall, they was all so good; but at last he allowed he would let him scrabble them all on. Jim said it would take him a year to scrabble such a lot of truck on to the logs with a nail, and he didn't know how to make letters, besides; but Tom said he would block them out for him, and then he wouldn't have nothing to do but just follow the lines. Then pretty soon he says:
"Come to think, the logs ain't a-going to do; they don't have log walls in a dungeon: we got to dig the inscriptions into a rock. We'll fetch a rock."
Jim said the rock was worse than the logs; he said it would take him such a pison long time to dig them into a rock he wouldn't ever get out.
But Tom said he would let me help him do it. Then he took a look to see how me and Jim was getting along with the pens. It was most pesky tedious hard work and slow, and didn't give my hands no show to get well of the sores, and we didn't seem to make no headway, hardly; so Tom says:
"I know how to fix it. We got to have a rock for the coat of arms and mournful inscriptions, and we can kill two birds with that same rock.
There's a gaudy big grindstone down at the mill, and we'll smouch it, and carve the things on it, and file out the pens and the saw on it, too."
It warn't no slouch of an idea; and it warn't no slouch of a grindstone nuther; but we allowed we'd tackle it. It warn't quite midnight yet, so we cleared out for the mill, leaving Jim at work. We smouched the grindstone, and set out to roll her home, but it was a most nation tough job.
Sometimes, do what we could, we couldn't keep her from falling over, and she come mighty near mashing us every time. Tom said she was going to get one of us, sure, before we got through. We got her half way; and then we was plumb played out, and most drownded with sweat. We see it warn't no use; we got to go and fetch Jim So he raised up his bed and slid the chain off of the bed-leg, and wrapt it round and round his neck, and we crawled out through our hole and down there, and Jim and me laid into that grindstone and walked her along like nothing; and Tom superintended. He could out-superintend any boy I ever see. He knowed how to do everything.
Our hole was pretty big, but it warn't big enough to get the grindstone through; but Jim he took the pick and soon made it big enough. Then Tom marked out them things on it with the nail, and set Jim to work on them, with the nail for a chisel and an iron bolt from the rubbage in the lean-to for a hammer, and told him to work till the rest of his candle quit on him, and then he could go to bed, and hide the grindstone under his straw tick and sleep on it. Then we helped him fix his chain back on the bed-leg, and was ready for bed ourselves. But Tom thought of something, and says:
"You got any spiders in here, Jim?"
"No, sah, thanks to goodness I hain't, Mars Tom."
"All right, we'll get you some."
"But bless you, honey, I doan' WANT none. I's afeard un um. I jis' 's soon have rattlesnakes aroun'."
Tom thought a minute or two, and says:
"It's a good idea. And I reckon it's been done. It MUST a been done; it stands to reason. Yes, it's a prime good idea. Where could you keep it?"
"Keep what, Mars Tom?"
"Why, a rattlesnake."
"De goodness gracious alive, Mars Tom! Why, if dey was a rattlesnake to come in heah I'd take en bust right out thoo dat log wall, I would, wid my head."
Why, Jim, you wouldn't be afraid of it after a little. You could tame it."
"Yes-easy enough. Every animal is grateful for kindness and petting, and they wouldn't THINK of hurting a person that pets them. Any book will tell you that. You try-that's all I ask; just try for two or three days.
Why, you can get him so in a little while that he'll love you; and sleep with you; and won't stay away from you a minute; and will let you wrap him round your neck and put his head in your mouth."
"PLEASE, Mars Tom-DOAN' talk so! I can't STAN' it! He'd LET me shove his head in my mouf-fer a favor, hain't it? I lay he'd wait a pow'ful long time 'fo' I AST him. En mo' en dat, I doan' WANT him to sleep wid me."
"Jim, don't act so foolish. A prisoner's GOT to have some kind of a dumb pet, and if a rattlesnake hain't ever been tried, why, there's more glory to be gained in your being the first to ever try it than any other way you could ever think of to save your life."
"Why, Mars Tom, I doan' WANT no sich glory. Snake take 'n bite Jim's chin off, den WHAH is de glory? No, sah, I doan' want no sich doin's."
"Blame it, can't you TRY? I only WANT you to try-you needn't keep it up if it don't work."
"But de trouble all DONE ef de snake bite me while I's a tryin' him.
Mars Tom, I's willin' to tackle mos' anything 'at ain't onreasonable, but ef you en Huck fetches a rattlesnake in heah for me to tame, I's gwyne to
LEAVE, dat's SHORE."
"Well, then, let it go, let it go, if you're so bullheaded about it. We can get you some garter-snakes, and you can tie some buttons on their tails, and let on they're rattlesnakes, and I reckon that 'll have to do."
"I k'n stan' DEM, Mars Tom, but blame' 'f I couldn' get along widout um, I tell you dat. I never knowed b'fo' 't was so much bother and trouble to be a prisoner."
"Well, it ALWAYS is when it's done right. You got any rats around here?"
"No, sah, I hain't seed none."
"Well, we'll get you some rats."
"Why, Mars Tom, I doan' WANT no rats. Dey's de dadblamedest creturs to
'sturb a body, en rustle roun' over 'im, en bite his feet, when he's tryin' to sleep, I ever see. No, sah, gimme g'yarter-snakes, 'f I's got to have 'm, but doan' gimme no rats; I hain' got no use f'r um, skasely."
"But, Jim, you GOT to have 'em-they all do. So don't make no more fuss about it. Prisoners ain't ever without rats. There ain't no instance of it. And they train them, and pet them, and learn them tricks, and they get to be as sociable as flies. But you got to play music to them. You got anything to play music on?"
"I ain' got nuffn but a coase comb en a piece o' paper, en a juice-harp; but I reck'n dey wouldn' take no stock in a juice-harp."
"Yes they would. THEY don't care what kind of music 'tis. A jews-harp's plenty good enough for a rat. All animals like music-in a prison they dote on it. Specially, painful music; and you can't get no other kind out of a jews-harp. It always interests them; they come out to see what's the matter with you. Yes, you're all right; you're fixed very well. You want to set on your bed nights before you go to sleep, and early in the mornings, and play your jewsharp; play 'The Last Link is Broken'-that's the thing that 'll scoop a rat quicker 'n anything else; and when you've played about two minutes you'll see all the rats, and the snakes, and spiders, and things begin to feel worried about you, and come. And they'll just fairly swarm over you, and have a noble good time."
"Yes, DEY will, I reck'n, Mars Tom, but what kine er time is JIM
havin'? Blest if I kin see de pint. But I'll do it ef I got to. I reck'n I
better keep de animals satisfied, en not have no trouble in de house."
Tom waited to think it over, and see if there wasn't nothing else; and pretty soon he says:
"Oh, there's one thing I forgot. Could you raise a flower here, do you reckon?"
"I doan know but maybe I could, Mars Tom; but it's tolable dark in heah, en I ain' got no use f'r no flower, nohow, en she'd be a pow'ful sight o' trouble."
"Well, you try it, anyway. Some other prisoners has done it."
"One er dem big cat-tail-lookin' mullen-stalks would grow in heah, Mars
Tom, I reck'n, but she wouldn't be wuth half de trouble she'd coss."
"Don't you believe it. We'll fetch you a little one and you plant it in the corner over there, and raise it. And don't call it mullen, call it
Pitchiola-that's its right name when it's in a prison. And you want to water it with your tears."
"Why, I got plenty spring water, Mars Tom."
"You don't WANT spring water; you want to water it with your tears.
It's the way they always do."
"Why, Mars Tom, I lay I kin raise one er dem mullen-stalks twyste wid spring water whiles another man's a START'N one wid tears."
"That ain't the idea. You GOT to do it with tears."
"She'll die on my han's, Mars Tom, she sholy will; kase I doan' skasely ever cry."
So Tom was stumped. But he studied it over, and then said Jim would have to worry along the best he could with an onion. He promised he would go to the nigger cabins and drop one, private, in Jim's coffeepot, in the morning. Jim said he would "jis' 's soon have tobacker in his coffee;" and found so much fault with it, and with the work and bother of raising the mullen, and jews-harping the rats, and petting and flattering up the snakes and spiders and things, on top of all the other work he had to do on pens, and inscriptions, and journals, and things, which made it more trouble and worry and responsibility to be a prisoner than anything he ever undertook, that Tom most lost all patience with him; and said he was just loadened down with more gaudier chances than a prisoner ever had in the world to make a name for himself, and yet he didn't know enough to appreciate them, and they was just about wasted on him. So Jim he was sorry, and said he wouldn't behave so no more, and then me and Tom shoved for bed.
IN the morning we went up to the village and bought a wire rat-trap and fetched it down, and unstopped the best rat-hole, and in about an hour we had fifteen of the bulliest kind of ones; and then we took it and put it in a safe place under Aunt Sally's bed. But while we was gone for spiders little Thomas Franklin Benjamin Jefferson Elexander Phelps found it there, and opened the door of it to see if the rats would come out, and they did;
and Aunt Sally she come in, and when we got back she was a-standing on top of the bed raising Cain, and the rats was doing what they could to keep off the dull times for her. So she took and dusted us both with the hickry, and we was as much as two hours catching another fifteen or sixteen, drat that meddlesome cub, and they warn't the likeliest, nuther, because the first haul was the pick of the flock. I never see a likelier lot of rats than what that first haul was.
We got a splendid stock of sorted spiders, and bugs, and frogs, and caterpillars, and one thing or another; and we like to got a hornet's nest, but we didn't. The family was at home. We didn't give it right up, but stayed with them as long as we could; because we allowed we'd tire them out or they'd got to tire us out, and they done it. Then we got allycumpain and rubbed on the places, and was pretty near all right again, but couldn't set down convenient. And so we went for the snakes, and grabbed a couple of dozen garters and house-snakes, and put them in a bag, and put it in our room, and by that time it was suppertime, and a rattling good honest day's work: and hungry?-oh, no, I reckon not! And there warn't a blessed snake up there when we went back-we didn't half tie the sack, and they worked out somehow, and left. But it didn't matter much, because they was still on the premises somewheres. So we judged we could get some of them again. No, there warn't no real scarcity of snakes about the house for a considerable spell. You'd see them dripping from the rafters and places every now and then; and they generly landed in your plate, or down the back of your neck, and most of the time where you didn't want them.
Well, they was handsome and striped, and there warn't no harm in a million of them; but that never made no difference to Aunt Sally; she despised snakes, be the breed what they might, and she couldn't stand them no way you could fix it; and every time one of them flopped down on her, it didn't make no difference what she was doing, she would just lay that work down and light out. I never see such a woman. And you could hear her whoop to Jericho. You couldn't get her to take a-holt of one of them with the tongs. And if she turned over and found one in bed she would scramble out and lift a howl that you would think the house was afire. She disturbed the old man so that he said he could most wish there hadn't ever been no snakes created. Why, after every last snake had been gone clear out of the house for as much as a week Aunt Sally warn't over it yet; she warn't near over it; when she was setting thinking about something you could touch her on the back of her neck with a feather and she would jump right out of her stockings. It was very curious. But Tom said all women was just so. He said they was made that way for some reason or other.
We got a licking every time one of our snakes come in her way, and she allowed these lickings warn't nothing to what she would do if we ever loaded up the place again with them. I didn't mind the lickings, because they didn't amount to nothing; but I minded the trouble we had to lay in another lot. But we got them laid in, and all the other things; and you never see a cabin as blithesome as Jim's was when they'd all swarm out for music and go for him. Jim didn't like the spiders, and the spiders didn't like Jim; and so they'd lay for him, and make it mighty warm for him. And he said that between the rats and the snakes and the grindstone there warn't no room in bed for him, skasely; and when there was, a body couldn't sleep, it was so lively, and it was always lively, he said, because THEY never all slept at one time, but took turn about, so when the snakes was asleep the rats was on deck, and when the rats turned in the snakes come on watch, so he always had one gang under him, in his way, and t'other gang having a circus over him, and if he got up to hunt a new place the spiders would take a chance at him as he crossed over. He said if he ever got out this time he wouldn't ever be a prisoner again, not for a salary.
Well, by the end of three weeks everything was in pretty good shape.
The shirt was sent in early, in a pie, and every time a rat bit Jim he would get up and write a little in his journal whilst the ink was fresh;
the pens was made, the inscriptions and so on was all carved on the grindstone; the bed-leg was sawed in two, and we had et up the sawdust, and it give us a most amazing stomach-ache. We reckoned we was all going to die, but didn't. It was the most undigestible sawdust I ever see; and
Tom said the same. But as I was saying, we'd got all the work done now, at last; and we was all pretty much fagged out, too, but mainly Jim. The old man had wrote a couple of times to the plantation below Orleans to come and get their runaway nigger, but hadn't got no answer, because there warn't no such plantation; so he allowed he would advertise Jim in the St.
Louis and New Orleans papers; and when he mentioned the St. Louis ones it give me the cold shivers, and I see we hadn't no time to lose. So Tom said, now for the nonnamous letters.
"What's them?" I says.
"Warnings to the people that something is up. Sometimes it's done one way, sometimes another. But there's always somebody spying around that gives notice to the governor of the castle. When Louis XVI. was going to light out of the Tooleries a servantgirl 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 mulletheaded 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 servantgirl. Who's Jim's mother?"
"I'm his mother. I'll hook a gown from Aunt Sally."
"Well, then, you'll have to stay in the cabin when me and Jim leaves."
"Not much. I'll stuff Jim's clothes full of straw and lay it on his bed to represent his mother in disguise, and Jim 'll take the nigger woman's gown off of me and wear it, and we'll all evade together. When a prisoner of style escapes it's called an evasion. It's always called so when a king escapes, f'rinstance. And the same with a king's son; it don't make no difference whether he's a natural one or an unnatural one."
So Tom he wrote the nonnamous letter, and I smouched the yaller wench's frock that night, and put it on, and shoved it under the front door, the way Tom told me to. It said:
Beware. Trouble is brewing. Keep a sharp lookout.
Next night we stuck a picture, which Tom drawed in blood, of a skull and crossbones on the front door; and next night another one of a coffin on the back door. I never see a family in such a sweat. They couldn't a been worse scared if the place had a been full of ghosts laying for them behind everything and under the beds and shivering through the air. If a door banged, Aunt Sally she jumped and said "ouch!" if anything fell, she jumped and said "ouch!" if you happened to touch her, when she warn't noticing, she done the same; she couldn't face noway and be satisfied, because she allowed there was something behind her every time-so she was always a-whirling around sudden, and saying "ouch," and before she'd got two-thirds around she'd whirl back again, and say it again; and she was afraid to go to bed, but she dasn't set up. So the thing was working very well, Tom said; he said he never see a thing work more satisfactory. He said it showed it was done right.
So he said, now for the grand bulge! So the very next morning at the streak of dawn we got another letter ready, and was wondering what we better do with it, because we heard them say at supper they was going to have a nigger on watch at both doors all night. Tom he went down the lightning-rod to spy around; and the nigger at the back door was asleep, and he stuck it in the back of his neck and come back. This letter said:
Don't betray me, I wish to be your friend. There is a desprate gang of cut-throats 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 BA 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.
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 cubboard and loaded up a good lunch and took it up to our room and went to bed, and got up about half-past eleven, and
Tom put on Aunt Sally's dress that he stole and was going to start with the lunch, but says:
"Where's the butter?"
"I laid out a hunk of it," I says, "on a piece of a corn-pone."
"Well, you LEFT it laid out, then-it ain't here."
"We can get along without it," I says.
"We can get along WITH it, too," he says; "just you slide down cellar and fetch it. And then mosey right down the lightning-rod and come along.
I'll go and stuff the straw into Jim's clothes to represent his mother in disguise, and be ready to BA 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 reckoned she'd let me go now, and as a generl thing she would; but I
s'pose there was so many strange things going on she was just in a sweat about every little thing that warn't yard-stick straight; so she says, very decided:
"You just march into that setting-room and stay there till I come. You been up to something you no business to, and I lay I'll find out what it is before I'M done with you."
So she went away as I opened the door and walked into the setting-room.
My, but there was a crowd there! Fifteen farmers, and every one of them had a gun. I was most powerful sick, and slunk to a chair and set down.
They was setting around, some of them talking a little, in a low voice, and all of them fidgety and uneasy, but trying to look like they warn't;
but I knowed they was, because they was always taking off their hats, and putting them on, and scratching their heads, and changing their seats, and fumbling with their buttons. I warn't easy myself, but I didn't take my hat off, all the same.
I did wish Aunt Sally would come, and get done with me, and lick me, if she wanted to, and let me get away and tell Tom how we'd overdone this thing, and what a thundering hornet's-nest we'd got ourselves into, so we could stop fooling around straight off, and clear out with Jim before these rips got out of patience and come for us.
At last she come and begun to ask me questions, but I COULDN'T answer them straight, I didn't know which end of me was up; because these men was in such a fidget now that some was wanting to start right NOW and lay for them desperadoes, and saying it warn't but a few minutes to midnight; and others was trying to get them to hold on and wait for the sheep-signal;
and here was Aunty pegging away at the questions, and me a-shaking all over and ready to sink down in my tracks I was that scared; and the place getting hotter and hotter, and the butter beginning to melt and run down my neck and behind my ears; and pretty soon, when one of them says, "I'M
for going and getting in the cabin FIRST and right NOW, and catching them when they come," I most dropped; and a streak of butter come a-trickling down my forehead, and Aunt Sally she see it, and turns white as a sheet, and says:
"For the land's sake, what IS the matter with the child? He's got the brain-fever as shore as you're born, and they're oozing out!"
And everybody runs to see, and she snatches off my hat, and out comes the bread and what was left of the butter, and she grabbed me, and hugged me, and says:
"Oh, what a turn you did give me! and how glad and grateful I am it ain't no worse; for luck's against us, and it never rains but it pours, and when I see that truck I thought we'd lost you, for I knowed by the color and all it was just like your brains would be if-Dear, dear, whyd'nt you TELL me that was what you'd been down there for, I wouldn't a cared.
Now cler out to bed, and don't lemme see no more of you till morning!"
I was up stairs in a second, and down the lightningrod in another one, and shinning through the dark for the lean-to. I couldn't hardly get my words out, I was so anxious; but I told Tom as quick as I could we must jump for it now, and not a minute to lose-the house full of men, yonder, with guns!
His eyes just blazed; and he says:
"No!-is that so? AIN'T it bully! Why, Huck, if it was to do over again,
I bet I could fetch two hundred! If we could put it off till-"
"Hurry! HURRY!" I says. "Where's Jim?"
"Right at your elbow; if you reach out your arm you can touch him. He's dressed, and everything's ready. Now we'll slide out and give the sheepsignal."
But then we heard the tramp of men coming to the door, and heard them begin to fumble with the padlock, and heard a man say:
"I TOLD you we'd be too soon; they haven't come-the door is locked.
Here, I'll lock some of you into the cabin, and you lay for 'em in the dark and kill 'em when they come; and the rest scatter around a piece, and listen if you can hear 'em coming."
So in they come, but couldn't see us in the dark, and most trod on us whilst we was hustling to get under the bed. But we got under all right, and out through the hole, swift but soft-Jim first, me next, and Tom last, which was according to Tom's orders. Now we was in the lean-to, and heard trampings close by outside. So we crept to the door, and Tom stopped us there and put his eye to the crack, but couldn't make out nothing, it was so dark; and whispered and said he would listen for the steps to get further, and when he nudged us Jim must glide out first, and him last. So he set his ear to the crack and listened, and listened, and listened, and the steps a-scraping around out there all the time; and at last he nudged us, and we slid out, and stooped down, not breathing, and not making the least noise, and slipped stealthy towards the fence in Injun file, and got to it all right, and me and Jim over it; but Tom's britches catched fast on a splinter on the top rail, and then he hear the steps coming, so he had to pull loose, which snapped the splinter and made a noise; and as he dropped in our tracks and started somebody sings out:
"Who's that? Answer, or I'll shoot!"
But we didn't answer; we just unfurled our heels and shoved. Then there was a rush, and a BANG, BANG, BANG! and the bullets fairly whizzed around us! We heard them sing out:
"Here they are! They've broke for the river! After 'em, boys, and turn loose the dogs!"
So here they come, full tilt. We could hear them because they wore boots and yelled, but we didn't wear no boots and didn't yell. We was in the path to the mill; and when they got pretty close on to us we dodged into the bush and let them go by, and then dropped in behind them. They'd had all the dogs shut up, so they wouldn't scare off the robbers; but by this time somebody had let them loose, and here they come, making powwow enough for a million; but they was our dogs; so we stopped in our tracks till they catched up; and when they see it warn't nobody but us, and no excitement to offer them, they only just said howdy, and tore right ahead towards the shouting and clattering; and then we up-steam again, and whizzed along after them till we was nearly to the mill, and then struck up through the bush to where my canoe was tied, and hopped in and pulled for dear life towards the middle of the river, but didn't make no more noise than we was obleeged to. Then we struck out, easy and comfortable, for the island where my raft was; and we could hear them yelling and barking at each other all up and down the bank, till we was so far away the sounds got dim and died out. And when we stepped on to the raft I
"NOW, old Jim, you're a free man again, and I bet you won't ever be a slave no more."
"En a mighty good job it wuz, too, Huck. It 'uz planned beautiful, en it 'uz done beautiful; en dey ain't NOBODY kin git up a plan dat's mo'
mixed-up en splendid den what dat one wuz."
We was all glad as we could be, but Tom was the gladdest of all because he had a bullet in the calf of his leg.
When me and Jim heard that we didn't feel so brash as what we did before. It was hurting him considerable, and bleeding; so we laid him in the wigwam and tore up one of the duke's shirts for to bandage him, but he says:
"Gimme the rags; I can do it myself. Don't stop now; don't fool around here, and the evasion booming along so handsome; man the sweeps, and set her loose! Boys, we done it elegant!-'deed we did. I wish WE'D a had the handling of Louis XVI., there wouldn't a been no 'Son of Saint Louis, ascend to heaven!' wrote down in HIS biography; no, sir, we'd a whooped him over the BORDER-that's what we'd a done with HIM-and done it just as slick as nothing at all, too. Man the sweeps-man the sweeps!"
But me and Jim was consulting-and thinking. And after we'd thought a minute, I says:
"Say it, Jim."
So he says:
"Well, den, dis is de way it look to me, Huck. Ef it wuz HIM dat 'uz bein' sot free, en one er de boys wuz to git shot, would he say, 'Go on en save me, nemmine 'bout a doctor f'r to save dis one?' Is dat like Mars Tom
Sawyer? Would he say dat? You BET he wouldn't! WELL, den, is JIM gywne to say it? No, sah-I doan' budge a step out'n dis place 'dout a DOCTOR, not if it's forty year!"
I knowed he was white inside, and I reckoned he'd say what he did say-so it was all right now, and I told Tom I was a-going for a doctor. He raised considerable row about it, but me and Jim stuck to it and wouldn't budge; so he was for crawling out and setting the raft loose himself; but we wouldn't let him. Then he give us a piece of his mind, but it didn't do no good.
So when he sees me getting the canoe ready, he says:
"Well, then, if you re bound to go, I'll tell you the way to do when you get to the village. Shut the door and blindfold the doctor tight and fast, and make him swear to be silent as the grave, and put a purse full of gold in his hand, and then take and lead him all around the back alleys and everywheres in the dark, and then fetch him here in the canoe, in a roundabout way amongst the islands, and search him and take his chalk away from him, and don't give it back to him till you get him back to the village, or else he will chalk this raft so he can find it again. It's the way they all do."
So I said I would, and left, and Jim was to hide in the woods when he see the doctor coming till he was gone again.
THE doctor was an old man; a very nice, kind-looking old man when I got him up. I told him me and my brother was over on Spanish Island hunting yesterday afternoon, and camped on a piece of a raft we found, and about midnight he must a kicked his gun in his dreams, for it went off and shot him in the leg, and we wanted him to go over there and fix it and not say nothing about it, nor let anybody know, because we wanted to come home this evening and surprise the folks.
"Who is your folks?" he says.
"The Phelpses, down yonder."
"Oh," he says. And after a minute, he says:
"How'd you say he got shot?"
"He had a dream," I says, "and it shot him."
"Singular dream," he says.
So he lit up his lantern, and got his saddle-bags, and we started. But when he sees the canoe he didn't like the look of her-said she was big enough for one, but didn't look pretty safe for two. I says:
"Oh, you needn't be afeard, sir, she carried the three of us easy enough."
"Why, me and Sid, and-and-and THE GUNS; that's what I mean."
"Oh," he says.
But he put his foot on the gunnel and rocked her, and shook his head, and said he reckoned he'd look around for a bigger one. But they was all locked and chained; so he took my canoe, and said for me to wait till he come back, or I could hunt around further, or maybe I better go down home and get them ready for the surprise if I wanted to. But I said I didn't;
so I told him just how to find the raft, and then he started.
I struck an idea pretty soon. I says to myself, spos'n he can't fix that leg just in three shakes of a sheep's tail, as the saying is? spos'n it takes him three or four days? What are we going to do?-lay around there till he lets the cat out of the bag? No, sir; I know what I'LL do. I'll wait, and when he comes back if he says he's got to go any more I'll get down there, too, if I swim; and we'll take and tie him, and keep him, and shove out down the river; and when Tom's done with him we'll give him what it's worth, or all we got, and then let him get ashore.
So then I crept into a lumber-pile to get some sleep; and next time I
waked up the sun was away up over my head! I shot out and went for the doctor's house, but they told me he'd gone away in the night some time or other, and warn't back yet. Well, thinks I, that looks powerful bad for
Tom, and I'll dig out for the island right off. So away I shoved, and turned the corner, and nearly rammed my head into Uncle Silas's stomach!
"Why, TOM! Where you been all this time, you rascal?"
"I hain't been nowheres," I says, "only just hunting for the runaway nigger-me and Sid."
"Why, where ever did you go?" he says. "Your aunt's been mighty uneasy."
"She needn't," I says, "because we was all right. We followed the men and the dogs, but they outrun us, and we lost them; but we thought we heard them on the water, so we got a canoe and took out after them and crossed over, but couldn't find nothing of them; so we cruised along up-shore till we got kind of tired and beat out; and tied up the canoe and went to sleep, and never waked up till about an hour ago; then we paddled over here to hear the news, and Sid's at the post-office to see what he can hear, and I'm a-branching out to get something to eat for us, and then we're going home."
So then we went to the post-office to get "Sid"; but just as I
suspicioned, he warn't there; so the old man he got a letter out of the office, and we waited awhile longer, but Sid didn't come; so the old man said, come along, let Sid foot it home, or canoe it, when he got done fooling around-but we would ride. I couldn't get him to let me stay and wait for Sid; and he said there warn't no use in it, and I must come along, and let Aunt Sally see we was all right.
When we got home Aunt Sally was that glad to see me she laughed and cried both, and hugged me, and give me one of them lickings of hern that don't amount to shucks, and said she'd serve Sid the same when he come.
And the place was plum full of farmers and farmers' wives, to dinner;
and such another clack a body never heard. Old Mrs. Hotchkiss was the worst; her tongue was a-going all the time. She says:
"Well, Sister Phelps, I've ransacked that-air cabin over, an' I b'lieve the nigger was crazy. I says to Sister Damrell-didn't I, Sister
Damrell?-s'I, he's crazy, s'I-them's the very words I said. You all hearn me: he's crazy, s'I; everything shows it, s'I. Look at that-air grindstone, s'I; want to tell ME't any cretur 't's in his right mind 's a goin' to scrabble all them crazy things onto a grindstone, s'I? Here sich
'n' sich a person busted his heart; 'n' here so 'n' so pegged along for thirty-seven year, 'n' all that-natcherl son o' Louis somebody, 'n' sich everlast'n rubbage. He's plumb crazy, s'I; it's what I says in the fust place, it's what I says in the middle, 'n' it's what I says last 'n' all the time-the nigger's crazy-crazy 's Nebokoodneezer, s'I."
"An' look at that-air ladder made out'n rags, Sister Hotchkiss," says old Mrs. Damrell; "what in the name o' goodness COULD he ever want of-"
"The very words I was a-sayin' no longer ago th'n this minute to Sister
Utterback, 'n' she'll tell you so herself. Sh-she, look at that-air rag ladder, sh-she; 'n' s'I, yes, LOOK at it, s'I-what COULD he a-wanted of it, s'I. Sh-she, Sister Hotchkiss, sh-she-"
"But how in the nation'd they ever GIT that grindstone IN there,
ANYWAY? 'n' who dug that-air HOLE? 'n' who-"
"My very WORDS, Brer Penrod! I was a-sayin'-pass that-air sasser o'
m'lasses, won't ye?-I was a-sayin' to Sister Dunlap, jist this minute, how
DID they git that grindstone in there, s'I. Without HELP, mind you-'thout
HELP! THAT'S wher 'tis. Don't tell ME, s'I; there WUZ help, s'I; 'n' ther'
wuz a PLENTY help, too, s'I; ther's ben a DOZEN a-helpin' that nigger, 'n'
I lay I'd skin every last nigger on this place but I'D find out who done it, s'I; 'n' moreover, s'I-"
"A DOZEN says you!-FORTY couldn't a done every thing that's been done.
Look at them case-knife saws and things, how tedious they've been made;
look at that bed-leg sawed off with 'm, a week's work for six men; look at that nigger made out'n straw on the bed; and look at-"
"You may WELL say it, Brer Hightower! It's jist as I was a-sayin' to
Brer Phelps, his own self. S'e, what do YOU think of it, Sister Hotchkiss, s'e? Think o' what, Brer Phelps, s'I? Think o' that bed-leg sawed off that a way, s'e? THINK of it, s'I? I lay it never sawed ITSELF off, s'I-somebody SAWED it, s'I; that's my opinion, take it or leave it, it mayn't be no 'count, s'I, but sich as 't is, it's my opinion, s'I, 'n' if any body k'n start a better one, s'I, let him DO it, s'I, that's all. I
says to Sister Dunlap, s'I-"
"Why, dog my cats, they must a ben a house-full o' niggers in there every night for four weeks to a done all that work, Sister Phelps. Look at that shirt-every last inch of it kivered over with secret African writ'n done with blood! Must a ben a raft uv 'm at it right along, all the time, amost. Why, I'd give two dollars to have it read to me; 'n' as for the niggers that wrote it, I 'low I'd take 'n' lash 'm t'll-"
"People to HELP him, Brother Marples! Well, I reckon you'd THINK so if you'd a been in this house for a while back. Why, they've stole everything they could lay their hands on-and we a-watching all the time, mind you.
They stole that shirt right off o' the line! and as for that sheet they made the rag ladder out of, ther' ain't no telling how many times they
DIDN'T steal that; and flour, and candles, and candlesticks, and spoons, and the old warming-pan, and most a thousand things that I disremember now, and my new calico dress; and me and Silas and my Sid and Tom on the constant watch day AND night, as I was a-telling you, and not a one of us could catch hide nor hair nor sight nor sound of them; and here at the last minute, lo and behold you, they slides right in under our noses and fools us, and not only fools US but the Injun Territory robbers too, and actuly gets AWAY with that nigger safe and sound, and that with sixteen men and twentytwo 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 lightningrod, and both of us got hurt a little, and we didn't never want to try THAT no more. And then I went on and told her all what I told Uncle Silas before; and then she said she'd forgive us, and maybe it was all right enough anyway, and about what a body might expect of boys, for all boys was a pretty harum-scarum lot as fur as she could see; and so, as long as no harm hadn't come of it, she judged she better put in her time being grateful we was alive and well and she had us still, stead of fretting over what was past and done. So then she kissed me, and patted me on the head, and dropped into a kind of a brown study; and pretty soon jumps up, and says:
"Why, lawsamercy, it's most night, and Sid not come yet! What HAS
become of that boy?"
I see my chance; so I skips up and says:
"I'll run right up to town and get him," I says.
"No you won't," she says. "You'll stay right wher' you are; ONE'S
enough to be lost at a time. If he ain't here to supper, your uncle 'll go."
Well, he warn't there to supper; so right after supper uncle went.
He come back about ten a little bit uneasy; hadn't run across Tom's track. Aunt Sally was a good DEAL uneasy; but Uncle Silas he said there warn't no occasion to be-boys will be boys, he said, and you'll see this one turn up in the morning all sound and right. So she had to be satisfied. But she said she'd set up for him a while anyway, and keep a light burning so he could see it.
And then when I went up to bed she come up with me and fetched her candle, and tucked me in, and mothered me so good I felt mean, and like I
couldn't look her in the face; and she set down on the bed and talked with me a long time, and said what a splendid boy Sid was, and didn't seem to want to ever stop talking about him; and kept asking me every now and then if I reckoned he could a got lost, or hurt, or maybe drownded, and might be laying at this minute somewheres suffering or dead, and she not by him to help him, and so the tears would drip down silent, and I would tell her that Sid was all right, and would be home in the morning, sure; and she would squeeze my hand, or maybe kiss me, and tell me to say it again, and keep on saying it, because it done her good, and she was in so much trouble. And when she was going away she looked down in my eyes so steady and gentle, and says:
"The door ain't going to be locked, Tom, and there's the window and the rod; but you'll be good, WON'T you? And you won't go? For MY sake."
Laws knows I WANTED to go bad enough to see about Tom, and was all intending to go; but after that I wouldn't a went, not for kingdoms.
But she was on my mind and Tom was on my mind, so I slept very restless. And twice I went down the rod away in the night, and slipped around front, and see her setting there by her candle in the window with her eyes towards the road and the tears in them; and I wished I could do something for her, but I couldn't, only to swear that I wouldn't never do nothing to grieve her any more. And the third time I waked up at dawn, and slid down, and she was there yet, and her candle was most out, and her old gray head was resting on her hand, and she was asleep.
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?"
"The one I got yesterday out of the post-office."
"No, you didn't give me no letter."
"Well, I must a forgot it."
So he rummaged his pockets, and then went off somewheres where he had laid it down, and fetched it, and give it to her. She says:
"Why, it's from St. Petersburg-it's from Sis."
I allowed another walk would do me good; but I couldn't stir. But before she could break it open she dropped it and run-for she see something. And so did I. It was Tom Sawyer on a mattress; and that old doctor; and Jim, in HER calico dress, with his hands tied behind him; and a lot of people. I hid the letter behind the first thing that come handy, and rushed. She flung herself at Tom, crying, and says:
"Oh, he's dead, he's dead, I know he's dead!"
And Tom he turned his head a little, and muttered something or other, which showed he warn't in his right mind; then she flung up her hands, and says:
"He's alive, thank God! And that's enough!" and she snatched a kiss of him, and flew for the house to get the bed ready, and scattering orders right and left at the niggers and everybody else, as fast as her tongue could go, every jump of the way.
I followed the men to see what they was going to do with Jim; and the old doctor and Uncle Silas followed after Tom into the house. The men was very huffy, and some of them wanted to hang Jim for an example to all the other niggers around there, so they wouldn't be trying to run away like
Jim done, and making such a raft of trouble, and keeping a whole family scared most to death for days and nights. But the others said, don't do it, it wouldn't answer at all; he ain't our nigger, and his owner would turn up and make us pay for him, sure. So that cooled them down a little, because the people that's always the most anxious for to hang a nigger that hain't done just right is always the very ones that ain't the most anxious to pay for him when they've got their satisfaction out of him.
They cussed Jim considerble, though, and give him a cuff or two side the head once in a while, but Jim never said nothing, and he never let on to know me, and they took him to the same cabin, and put his own clothes on him, and chained him again, and not to no bed-leg this time, but to a big staple drove into the bottom log, and chained his hands, too, and both legs, and said he warn't to have nothing but bread and water to eat after this till his owner come, or he was sold at auction because he didn't come in a certain length of time, and filled up our hole, and said a couple of farmers with guns must stand watch around about the cabin every night, and a bulldog tied to the door in the daytime; and about this time they was through with the job and was tapering off with a kind of generl good-bye cussing, and then the old doctor comes and takes a look, and says:
"Don't be no rougher on him than you're obleeged to, because he ain't a bad nigger. When I got to where I found the boy I see I couldn't cut the bullet out without some help, and he warn't in no condition for me to leave to go and get help; and he got a little worse and a little worse, and after a long time he went out of his head, and wouldn't let me come a-nigh him any more, and said if I chalked his raft he'd kill me, and no end of wild foolishness like that, and I see I couldn't do anything at all with him; so I says, I got to have HELP somehow; and the minute I says it out crawls this nigger from somewheres and says he'll help, and he done it, too, and done it very well. Of course I judged he must be a runaway nigger, and there I WAS! and there I had to stick right straight along all the rest of the day and all night. It was a fix, I tell you! I had a couple of patients with the chills, and of course I'd of liked to run up to town and see them, but I dasn't, because the nigger might get away, and then I'd be to blame; and yet never a skiff come close enough for me to hail. So there I had to stick plumb until daylight this morning; and I
never see a nigger that was a better nuss or faithfuller, and yet he was risking his freedom to do it, and was all tired out, too, and I see plain enough he'd been worked main hard lately. I liked the nigger for that; I
tell you, gentlemen, a nigger like that is worth a thousand dollars-and kind treatment, too. I had everything I needed, and the boy was doing as well there as he would a done at home-better, maybe, because it was so quiet; but there I WAS, with both of 'm on my hands, and there I had to stick till about dawn this morning; then some men in a skiff come by, and as good luck would have it the nigger was setting by the pallet with his head propped on his knees sound asleep; so I motioned them in quiet, and they slipped up on him and grabbed him and tied him before he knowed what he was about, and we never had no trouble. And the boy being in a kind of a flighty sleep, too, we muffled the oars and hitched the raft on, and towed her over very nice and quiet, and the nigger never made the least row nor said a word from the start. He ain't no bad nigger, gentlemen;
that's what I think about him."
"Well, it sounds very good, doctor, I'm obleeged to say."
Then the others softened up a little, too, and I was mighty thankful to that old doctor for doing Jim that good turn; and I was glad it was according to my judgment of him, too; because I thought he had a good heart in him and was a good man the first time I see him. Then they all agreed that Jim had acted very well, and was deserving to have some notice took of it, and reward. So every one of them promised, right out and hearty, that they wouldn't cuss him no more.
Then they come out and locked him up. I hoped they was going to say he could have one or two of the chains took off, because they was rotten heavy, or could have meat and greens with his bread and water; but they didn't think of it, and I reckoned it warn't best for me to mix in, but I
judged I'd get the doctor's yarn to Aunt Sally somehow or other as soon as
I'd got through the breakers that was laying just ahead of me-explanations, I mean, of how I forgot to mention about Sid being shot when I was telling how him and me put in that dratted night paddling around hunting the runaway nigger.
But I had plenty time. Aunt Sally she stuck to the sick-room all day and all night, and every time I see Uncle Silas mooning around I dodged him.
Next morning I heard Tom was a good deal better, and they said Aunt
Sally was gone to get a nap. So I slips to the sick-room, and if I found him awake I reckoned we could put up a yarn for the family that would wash. But he was sleeping, and sleeping very peaceful, too; and pale, not fire-faced the way he was when he come. So I set down and laid for him to wake. In about half an hour Aunt Sally comes gliding in, and there I was, up a stump again! She motioned me to be still, and set down by me, and begun to whisper, and said we could all be joyful now, because all the symptoms was first-rate, and he'd been sleeping like that for ever so long, and looking better and peacefuller all the time, and ten to one he'd wake up in his right mind.
So we set there watching, and by and by he stirs a bit, and opened his eyes very natural, and takes a look, and says:
"Hello!-why, I'm at HOME! How's that? Where's the raft?"
"It's all right," I says.
"The same," I says, but couldn't say it pretty brash. But he never noticed, but says:
"Good! Splendid! NOW we're all right and safe! Did you tell Aunty?"
I was going to say yes; but she chipped in and says: "About what, Sid?"
"Why, about the way the whole thing was done."
"What whole thing?"
"Why, THE whole thing. There ain't but one; how we set the runaway nigger free-me and Tom."
"Good land! Set the run-What IS the child talking about! Dear, dear, out of his head again!"
"NO, I ain't out of my HEAD; I know all what I'm talking about. We DID
set him free-me and Tom. We laid out to do it, and we DONE it. And we done it elegant, too." He'd got a start, and she never checked him up, just set and stared and stared, and let him clip along, and I see it warn't no use for ME to put in. "Why, Aunty, it cost us a power of work-weeks of it-hours and hours, every night, whilst you was all asleep. And we had to steal candles, and the sheet, and the shirt, and your dress, and spoons, and tin plates, and case-knives, and the warming-pan, and the grindstone, and flour, and just no end of things, and you can't think what work it was to make the saws, and pens, and inscriptions, and one thing or another, and you can't think HALF the fun it was. And we had to make up the pictures of coffins and things, and nonnamous letters from the robbers, and get up and down the lightning-rod, and dig the hole into the cabin, and made the rope ladder and send it in cooked up in a pie, and send in spoons and things to work with in your apron pocket-"
"-and load up the cabin with rats and snakes and so on, for company for
Jim; and then you kept Tom here so long with the butter in his hat that you come near spiling the whole business, because the men come before we was out of the cabin, and we had to rush, and they heard us and let drive at us, and I got my share, and we dodged out of the path and let them go by, and when the dogs come they warn't interested in us, but went for the most noise, and we got our canoe, and made for the raft, and was all safe, and Jim was a free man, and we done it all by ourselves, and WASN'T it bully, Aunty!"
"Well, I never heard the likes of it in all my born days! So it was
YOU, you little rapscallions, that's been making all this trouble, and turned everybody's wits clean inside out and scared us all most to death.
I've as good a notion as ever I had in my life to take it out o' you this very minute. To think, here I've been, night after night, a-YOU just get well once, you young scamp, and I lay I'll tan the Old Harry out o' both o' ye!"
But Tom, he WAS so proud and joyful, he just COULDN'T hold in, and his tongue just WENT it-she a-chipping in, and spitting fire all along, and both of them going it at once, like a cat convention; and she says:
"WELL, you get all the enjoyment you can out of it NOW, for mind I tell you if I catch you meddling with him again-"
"Meddling with WHO?" Tom says, dropping his smile and looking surprised.
"With WHO? Why, the runaway nigger, of course. Who'd you reckon?"
Tom looks at me very grave, and says:
"Tom, didn't you just tell me he was all right? Hasn't he got away?"
"HIM?" says Aunt Sally; "the runaway nigger? 'Deed he hasn't. They've got him back, safe and sound, and he's in that cabin again, on bread and water, and loaded down with chains, till he's claimed or sold!"
Tom rose square up in bed, with his eye hot, and his nostrils opening and shutting like gills, and sings out to me:
"They hain't no RIGHT to shut him up! SHOVE!-and don't you lose a minute. Turn him loose! he ain't no slave; he's as free as any cretur that walks this earth!"
"What DOES the child mean?"
"I mean every word I SAY, Aunt Sally, and if somebody don't go, I'LL
go. I've knowed him all his life, and so has Tom, there. Old Miss Watson died two months ago, and she was ashamed she ever was going to sell him down the river, and SAID so; and she set him free in her will."
"Then what on earth did YOU want to set him free for, seeing he was already free?"
"Well, that IS a question, I must say; and just like women! Why, I
wanted the ADVENTURE of it; and I'd a waded neck-deep in blood to-goodness alive, AUNT POLLY!"
If she warn't standing right there, just inside the door, looking as sweet and contented as an angel half full of pie, I wish I may never!
Aunt Sally jumped for her, and most hugged the head off of her, and cried over her, and I found a good enough place for me under the bed, for it was getting pretty sultry for us, seemed to me. And I peeped out, and in a little while Tom's Aunt Polly shook herself loose and stood there looking across at Tom over her spectacles-kind of grinding him into the earth, you know. And then she says:
"Yes, you BETTER turn y'r head away-I would if I was you, Tom."
"Oh, deary me!" says Aunt Sally; "IS he changed so? Why, that ain't
TOM, it's Sid; Tom's-Tom's-why, where is Tom? He was here a minute ago."
"You mean where's Huck FINN-that's what you mean! I reckon I hain't raised such a scamp as my Tom all these years not to know him when I SEE
him. That WOULD be a pretty howdy-do. Come out from under that bed, Huck
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:
"Well-WHAT?" he says, kind of pettish.
"Don t you what ME, you impudent thing-hand out them letters."
"THEM letters. I be bound, if I have to take aholt of you I'll-"
"They're in the trunk. There, now. And they're just the same as they was when I got them out of the office. I hain't looked into them, I hain't touched them. But I knowed they'd make trouble, and I thought if you warn't in no hurry, I'd-"
"Well, you DO need skinning, there ain't no mistake about it. And I
wrote another one to tell you I was coming; and I s'pose he-"
"No, it come yesterday; I hain't read it yet, but IT'S all right, I've got that one."
I wanted to offer to bet two dollars she hadn't, but I reckoned maybe it was just as safe to not to. So I never said nothing.
Chapter THE LAST
THE first time I catched Tom private I asked him what was his idea, time of the evasion?-what it was he'd planned to do if the evasion worked all right and he managed to set a nigger free that was already free before? And he said, what he had planned in his head from the start, if we got Jim out all safe, was for us to run him down the river on the raft, and have adventures plumb to the mouth of the river, and then tell him about his being free, and take him back up home on a steamboat, in style, and pay him for his lost time, and write word ahead and get out all the niggers around, and have them waltz him into town with a torchlight procession and a brass-band, and then he would be a hero, and so would we.
But I reckoned it was about as well the way it was.
We had Jim out of the chains in no time, and when Aunt Polly and Uncle
Silas and Aunt Sally found out how good he helped the doctor nurse Tom, they made a heap of fuss over him, and fixed him up prime, and give him all he wanted to eat, and a good time, and nothing to do. And we had him up to the sick-room, and had a high talk; and Tom give Jim forty dollars for being prisoner for us so patient, and doing it up so good, and Jim was pleased most to death, and busted out, and says:
"DAH, now, Huck, what I tell you?-what I tell you up dah on Jackson islan'? I TOLE you I got a hairy breas', en what's de sign un it; en I
TOLE you I ben rich wunst, en gwineter to be rich AGIN; en it's come true;
en heah she is! DAH, now! doan' talk to ME-signs is SIGNS, mine I tell you; en I knowed jis' 's well 'at I 'uz gwineter be rich agin as I's astannin' 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."
"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.
Марк Твен - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - 03 (Приключения Гекльберри Финна на английском), читать текст
См. также Марк Твен (Mark Twain) - Проза (рассказы, поэмы, романы ...) :
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - 01 (Приключения Тома Сойера на английском)
PREFACE MOST of the adventures recorded in this book really occurred; ...
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - 02 (Приключения Тома Сойера на английском)
Chapter XII One of the reasons why Tom's mind had drifted away from it...