Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN.
By Mark Twain
In this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Missouri negro
dialect; the extremest form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect; the
ordinary "Pike County" dialect; and four modified varieties of this last.
The shadings have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guesswork;
but painstakingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of
personal familiarity with these several forms of speech.
I make this explanation for the reason that without it many readers would
suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and not
Scene: The Mississippi Valley Time: Forty to fifty years ago.
YOU don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The
Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was made
by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which
he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never
seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or
the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly--Tom's Aunt Polly, she is--and
Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is
mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.
Now the way that the book winds up is this: Tom and me found the money
that the robbers hid in the cave, and it made us rich. We got six
thousand dollars apiece--all gold. It was an awful sight of money when
it was piled up. Well, Judge Thatcher he took it and put it out at
interest, and it fetched us a dollar a day apiece all the year round
--more than a body could tell what to do with. The Widow Douglas she took
me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough
living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and
decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn't stand it no
longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again,
and was free and satisfied. But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and said he
was going to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I would go back
to the widow and be respectable. So I went back.
The widow she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb, and she
called me a lot of other names, too, but she never meant no harm by it.
She put me in them new clothes again, and I couldn't do nothing but sweat
and sweat, and feel all cramped up. Well, then, the old thing commenced
again. The widow rung a bell for supper, and you had to come to time.
When you got to the table you couldn't go right to eating, but you had to
wait for the widow to tuck down her head and grumble a little over the
victuals, though there warn't really anything the matter with them,--that
is, nothing only everything was cooked by itself. In a barrel of odds
and ends it is different; things get mixed up, and the juice kind of
swaps around, and the things go better.
After supper she got out her book and learned me about Moses and the
Bulrushers, and I was in a sweat to find out all about him; but by and by
she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so then
I didn't care no more about him, because I don't take no stock in dead
Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow to let me. But she
wouldn't. She said it was a mean practice and wasn't clean, and I must
try to not do it any more. That is just the way with some people. They
get down on a thing when they don't know nothing about it. Here she was
a-bothering about Moses, which was no kin to her, and no use to anybody,
being gone, you see, yet finding a power of fault with me for doing a
thing that had some good in it. And she took snuff, too; of course that
was all right, because she done it herself.
Her sister, Miss Watson, a tolerable slim old maid, with goggles on,
had just come to live with her, and took a set at me now with a
spelling-book. She worked me middling hard for about an hour, and then
the widow made her ease up. I couldn't stood it much longer. Then for
an hour it was deadly dull, and I was fidgety. Miss Watson would say,
"Don't put your feet up there, Huckleberry;" and "Don't scrunch up like
that, Huckleberry--set up straight;" and pretty soon she would say,
"Don't gap and stretch like that, Huckleberry--why don't you try to
behave?" Then she told me all about the bad place, and I said I wished I
was there. She got mad then, but I didn't mean no harm. All I wanted was
to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn't particular. She
said it was wicked to say what I said; said she wouldn't say it for the
whole world; she was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well,
I couldn't see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my
mind I wouldn't try for it. But I never said so, because it would only
make trouble, and wouldn't do no good.
Now she had got a start, and she went on and told me all about the good
place. She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all
day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn't think much
of it. But I never said so. I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would
go there, and she said not by a considerable sight. I was glad about
that, because I wanted him and me to be together.
Miss Watson she kept pecking at me, and it got tiresome and lonesome. By
and by they fetched the niggers in and had prayers, and then everybody
was off to bed. I went up to my room with a piece of candle, and put it
on the table. Then I set down in a chair by the window and tried to
think of something cheerful, but it warn't no use. I felt so lonesome I
most wished I was dead. The stars were shining, and the leaves rustled
in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing
about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying about
somebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying to whisper
something to me, and I couldn't make out what it was, and so it made the
cold shivers run over me. Then away out in the woods I heard that kind of
a sound that a ghost makes when it wants to tell about something that's
on its mind and can't make itself understood, and so can't rest easy in
its grave, and has to go about that way every night grieving. I got so
down-hearted and scared I did wish I had some company. Pretty soon a
spider went crawling up my shoulder, and I flipped it off and it lit in
the candle; and before I could budge it was all shriveled up. I didn't
need anybody to tell me that that was an awful bad sign and would fetch
me some bad luck, so I was scared and most shook the clothes off of me.
I got up and turned around in my tracks three times and crossed my breast
every time; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair with a thread to
keep witches away. But I hadn't no confidence. You do that when you've
lost a horseshoe that you've found, instead of nailing it up over the
door, but I hadn't ever heard anybody say it was any way to keep off bad
luck when you'd killed a spider.
I set down again, a-shaking all over, and got out my pipe for a smoke;
for the house was all as still as death now, and so the widow wouldn't
know. Well, after a long time I heard the clock away off in the town go
boom--boom--boom--twelve licks; and all still again--stiller than ever.
Pretty soon I heard a twig snap down in the dark amongst the trees
--something was a stirring. I set still and listened. Directly I could
just barely hear a "me-yow! me-yow!" down there. That was good! Says I,
"me-yow! me-yow!" as soft as I could, and then I put out the light and
scrambled out of the window on to the shed. Then I slipped down to the
ground and crawled in among the trees, and, sure enough, there was Tom
Sawyer waiting for me.
WE went tiptoeing along a path amongst the trees back towards the end of
the widow's garden, stooping down so as the branches wouldn't scrape our
heads. When we was passing by the kitchen I fell over a root and made a
noise. We scrouched down and laid still. Miss Watson's big nigger,
named Jim, was setting in the kitchen door; we could see him pretty
clear, because there was a light behind him. He got up and stretched his
neck out about a minute, listening. Then he says:
He listened some more; then he come tiptoeing down and stood right
between us; we could a touched him, nearly. Well, likely it was minutes
and minutes that there warn't a sound, and we all there so close
together. There was a place on my ankle that got to itching, but I
dasn't scratch it; and then my ear begun to itch; and next my back, right
between my shoulders. Seemed like I'd die if I couldn't scratch. Well,
I've noticed that thing plenty times since. If you are with the quality,
or at a funeral, or trying to go to sleep when you ain't sleepy--if you
are anywheres where it won't do for you to scratch, why you will itch all
over in upwards of a thousand places. Pretty soon Jim says:
"Say, who is you? Whar is you? Dog my cats ef I didn' hear sumf'n.
Well, I know what I's gwyne to do: I's gwyne to set down here and listen
tell I hears it agin."
So he set down on the ground betwixt me and Tom. He leaned his back up
against a tree, and stretched his legs out till one of them most touched
one of mine. My nose begun to itch. It itched till the tears come into
my eyes. But I dasn't scratch. Then it begun to itch on the inside.
Next I got to itching underneath. I didn't know how I was going to set
still. This miserableness went on as much as six or seven minutes; but it
seemed a sight longer than that. I was itching in eleven different
places now. I reckoned I couldn't stand it more'n a minute longer, but I
set my teeth hard and got ready to try. Just then Jim begun to breathe
heavy; next he begun to snore--and then I was pretty soon comfortable
Tom he made a sign to me--kind of a little noise with his mouth--and we
went creeping away on our hands and knees. When we was ten foot off Tom
whispered to me, and wanted to tie Jim to the tree for fun. But I said
no; he might wake and make a disturbance, and then they'd find out I
warn't in. Then Tom said he hadn't got candles enough, and he would slip
in the kitchen and get some more. I didn't want him to try. I said Jim
might wake up and come. But Tom wanted to resk it; so we slid in there
and got three candles, and Tom laid five cents on the table for pay.
Then we got out, and I was in a sweat to get away; but nothing would do
Tom but he must crawl to where Jim was, on his hands and knees, and play
something on him. I waited, and it seemed a good while, everything was
so still and lonesome.
As soon as Tom was back we cut along the path, around the garden fence,
and by and by fetched up on the steep top of the hill the other side of
the house. Tom said he slipped Jim's hat off of his head and hung it on
a limb right over him, and Jim stirred a little, but he didn't wake.
Afterwards Jim said the witches be witched him and put him in a trance,
and rode him all over the State, and then set him under the trees again,
and hung his hat on a limb to show who done it. And next time Jim told
it he said they rode him down to New Orleans; and, after that, every time
he told it he spread it more and more, till by and by he said they rode
him all over the world, and tired him most to death, and his back was all
over saddle-boils. Jim was monstrous proud about it, and he got so he
wouldn't hardly notice the other niggers. Niggers would come miles to
hear Jim tell about it, and he was more looked up to than any nigger in
that country. Strange niggers would stand with their mouths open and
look him all over, same as if he was a wonder. Niggers is always talking
about witches in the dark by the kitchen fire; but whenever one was
talking and letting on to know all about such things, Jim would happen in
and say, "Hm! What you know 'bout witches?" and that nigger was corked
up and had to take a back seat. Jim always kept that five-center piece
round his neck with a string, and said it was a charm the devil give to
him with his own hands, and told him he could cure anybody with it and
fetch witches whenever he wanted to just by saying something to it; but
he never told what it was he said to it. Niggers would come from all
around there and give Jim anything they had, just for a sight of that
five-center piece; but they wouldn't touch it, because the devil had had
his hands on it. Jim was most ruined for a servant, because he got stuck
up on account of having seen the devil and been rode by witches.
Well, when Tom and me got to the edge of the hilltop we looked away down
into the village and could see three or four lights twinkling, where
there was sick folks, maybe; and the stars over us was sparkling ever so
fine; and down by the village was the river, a whole mile broad, and
awful still and grand. We went down the hill and found Jo Harper and Ben
Rogers, and two or three more of the boys, hid in the old tanyard. So we
unhitched a skiff and pulled down the river two mile and a half, to the
big scar on the hillside, and went ashore.
We went to a clump of bushes, and Tom made everybody swear to keep the
secret, and then showed them a hole in the hill, right in the thickest
part of the bushes. Then we lit the candles, and crawled in on our hands
and knees. We went about two hundred yards, and then the cave opened up.
Tom poked about amongst the passages, and pretty soon ducked under a wall
where you wouldn't a noticed that there was a hole. We went along a
narrow place and got into a kind of room, all damp and sweaty and cold,
and there we stopped. Tom says:
"Now, we'll start this band of robbers and call it Tom Sawyer's Gang.
Everybody that wants to join has got to take an oath, and write his name
Everybody was willing. So Tom got out a sheet of paper that he had wrote
the oath on, and read it. It swore every boy to stick to the band, and
never tell any of the secrets; and if anybody done anything to any boy in
the band, whichever boy was ordered to kill that person and his family
must do it, and he mustn't eat and he mustn't sleep till he had killed
them and hacked a cross in their breasts, which was the sign of the band.
And nobody that didn't belong to the band could use that mark, and if he
did he must be sued; and if he done it again he must be killed. And if
anybody that belonged to the band told the secrets, he must have his
throat cut, and then have his carcass burnt up and the ashes scattered
all around, and his name blotted off of the list with blood and never
mentioned again by the gang, but have a curse put on it and be forgot
Everybody said it was a real beautiful oath, and asked Tom if he got it
out of his own head. He said, some of it, but the rest was out of
pirate-books and robber-books, and every gang that was high-toned had it.
Some thought it would be good to kill the FAMILIES of boys that told the
secrets. Tom said it was a good idea, so he took a pencil and wrote it
in. Then Ben Rogers says:
"Here's Huck Finn, he hain't got no family; what you going to do 'bout
"Well, hain't he got a father?" says Tom Sawyer.
"Yes, he's got a father, but you can't never find him these days. He
used to lay drunk with the hogs in the tanyard, but he hain't been seen
in these parts for a year or more."
They talked it over, and they was going to rule me out, because they said
every boy must have a family or somebody to kill, or else it wouldn't be
fair and square for the others. Well, nobody could think of anything to
do--everybody was stumped, and set still. I was most ready to cry; but
all at once I thought of a way, and so I offered them Miss Watson--they
could kill her. Everybody said:
"Oh, she'll do. That's all right. Huck can come in."
Then they all stuck a pin in their fingers to get blood to sign with, and
I made my mark on the paper.
"Now," says Ben Rogers, "what's the line of business of this Gang?"
"Nothing only robbery and murder," Tom said.
"But who are we going to rob?--houses, or cattle, or--"
"Stuff! stealing cattle and such things ain't robbery; it's burglary,"
says Tom Sawyer. "We ain't burglars. That ain't no sort of style. We
are highwaymen. We stop stages and carriages on the road, with masks on,
and kill the people and take their watches and money."
"Must we always kill the people?"
"Oh, certainly. It's best. Some authorities think different, but mostly
it's considered best to kill them--except some that you bring to the cave
here, and keep them till they're ransomed."
"Ransomed? What's that?"
"I don't know. But that's what they do. I've seen it in books; and so
of course that's what we've got to do."
"But how can we do it if we don't know what it is?"
"Why, blame it all, we've GOT to do it. Don't I tell you it's in the
books? Do you want to go to doing different from what's in the books,
and get things all muddled up?"
"Oh, that's all very fine to SAY, Tom Sawyer, but how in the nation are
these fellows going to be ransomed if we don't know how to do it to them?
--that's the thing I want to get at. Now, what do you reckon it is?"
"Well, I don't know. But per'aps if we keep them till they're ransomed,
it means that we keep them till they're dead."
"Now, that's something LIKE. That'll answer. Why couldn't you said that
before? We'll keep them till they're ransomed to death; and a bothersome
lot they'll be, too--eating up everything, and always trying to get
"How you talk, Ben Rogers. How can they get loose when there's a guard
over them, ready to shoot them down if they move a peg?"
"A guard! Well, that IS good. So somebody's got to set up all night and
never get any sleep, just so as to watch them. I think that's
foolishness. Why can't a body take a club and ransom them as soon as they
"Because it ain't in the books so--that's why. Now, Ben Rogers, do you
want to do things regular, or don't you?--that's the idea. Don't you
reckon that the people that made the books knows what's the correct thing
to do? Do you reckon YOU can learn 'em anything? Not by a good deal.
No, sir, we'll just go on and ransom them in the regular way."
"All right. I don't mind; but I say it's a fool way, anyhow. Say, do we
kill the women, too?"
"Well, Ben Rogers, if I was as ignorant as you I wouldn't let on. Kill
the women? No; nobody ever saw anything in the books like that. You
fetch them to the cave, and you're always as polite as pie to them; and
by and by they fall in love with you, and never want to go home any
"Well, if that's the way I'm agreed, but I don't take no stock in it.
Mighty soon we'll have the cave so cluttered up with women, and fellows
waiting to be ransomed, that there won't be no place for the robbers.
But go ahead, I ain't got nothing to say."
Little Tommy Barnes was asleep now, and when they waked him up he was
scared, and cried, and said he wanted to go home to his ma, and didn't
want to be a robber any more.
So they all made fun of him, and called him cry-baby, and that made him
mad, and he said he would go straight and tell all the secrets. But Tom
give him five cents to keep quiet, and said we would all go home and meet
next week, and rob somebody and kill some people.
Ben Rogers said he couldn't get out much, only Sundays, and so he wanted
to begin next Sunday; but all the boys said it would be wicked to do it
on Sunday, and that settled the thing. They agreed to get together and
fix a day as soon as they could, and then we elected Tom Sawyer first
captain and Jo Harper second captain of the Gang, and so started home.
I clumb up the shed and crept into my window just before day was
breaking. My new clothes was all greased up and clayey, and I was
WELL, I got a good going-over in the morning from old Miss Watson on
account of my clothes; but the widow she didn't scold, but only cleaned
off the grease and clay, and looked so sorry that I thought I would
behave awhile if I could. Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet and
prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray every day, and
whatever I asked for I would get it. But it warn't so. I tried it.
Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks. It warn't any good to me without
hooks. I tried for the hooks three or four times, but somehow I couldn't
make it work. By and by, one day, I asked Miss Watson to try for me, but
she said I was a fool. She never told me why, and I couldn't make it out
I set down one time back in the woods, and had a long think about it. I
says to myself, if a body can get anything they pray for, why don't
Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork? Why can't the widow get
back her silver snuffbox that was stole? Why can't Miss Watson fat up?
No, says I to my self, there ain't nothing in it. I went and told the
widow about it, and she said the thing a body could get by praying for it
was "spiritual gifts." This was too many for me, but she told me what
she meant--I must help other people, and do everything I could for other
people, and look out for them all the time, and never think about myself.
This was including Miss Watson, as I took it. I went out in the woods
and turned it over in my mind a long time, but I couldn't see no
advantage about it--except for the other people; so at last I reckoned I
wouldn't worry about it any more, but just let it go. Sometimes the
widow would take me one side and talk about Providence in a way to make a
body's mouth water; but maybe next day Miss Watson would take hold and
knock it all down again. I judged I could see that there was two
Providences, and a poor chap would stand considerable show with the
widow's Providence, but if Miss Watson's got him there warn't no help for
him any more. I thought it all out, and reckoned I would belong to the
widow's if he wanted me, though I couldn't make out how he was a-going to
be any better off then than what he was before, seeing I was so ignorant,
and so kind of low-down and ornery.
Pap he hadn't been seen for more than a year, and that was comfortable
for me; I didn't want to see him no more. He used to always whale me
when he was sober and could get his hands on me; though I used to take to
the woods most of the time when he was around. Well, about this time he
was found in the river drownded, about twelve mile above town, so people
said. They judged it was him, anyway; said this drownded man was just
his size, and was ragged, and had uncommon long hair, which was all like
pap; but they couldn't make nothing out of the face, because it had been
in the water so long it warn't much like a face at all. They said he was
floating on his back in the water. They took him and buried him on the
bank. But I warn't comfortable long, because I happened to think of
something. I knowed mighty well that a drownded man don't float on his
back, but on his face. So I knowed, then, that this warn't pap, but a
woman dressed up in a man's clothes. So I was uncomfortable again. I
judged the old man would turn up again by and by, though I wished he
We played robber now and then about a month, and then I resigned. All
the boys did. We hadn't robbed nobody, hadn't killed any people, but
only just pretended. We used to hop out of the woods and go charging
down on hog-drivers and women in carts taking garden stuff to market, but
we never hived any of them. Tom Sawyer called the hogs "ingots," and he
called the turnips and stuff "julery," and we would go to the cave and
powwow over what we had done, and how many people we had killed and
marked. But I couldn't see no profit in it. One time Tom sent a boy to
run about town with a blazing stick, which he called a slogan (which was
the sign for the Gang to get together), and then he said he had got
secret news by his spies that next day a whole parcel of Spanish
merchants and rich A-rabs was going to camp in Cave Hollow with two
hundred elephants, and six hundred camels, and over a thousand "sumter"
mules, all loaded down with di'monds, and they didn't have only a guard
of four hundred soldiers, and so we would lay in ambuscade, as he called
it, and kill the lot and scoop the things. He said we must slick up our
swords and guns, and get ready. He never could go after even a
turnip-cart but he must have the swords and guns all scoured up for it,
though they was only lath and broomsticks, and you might scour at them
till you rotted, and then they warn't worth a mouthful of ashes more than
what they was before. I didn't believe we could lick such a crowd of
Spaniards and A-rabs, but I wanted to see the camels and elephants, so I
was on hand next day, Saturday, in the ambuscade; and when we got the
word we rushed out of the woods and down the hill. But there warn't no
Spaniards and A-rabs, and there warn't no camels nor no elephants. It
warn't anything but a Sunday-school picnic, and only a primer-class at
that. We busted it up, and chased the children up the hollow; but we
never got anything but some doughnuts and jam, though Ben Rogers got a
rag doll, and Jo Harper got a hymn-book and a tract; and then the teacher
charged in, and made us drop everything and cut. I didn't see no
di'monds, and I told Tom Sawyer so. He said there was loads of them
there, anyway; and he said there was A-rabs there, too, and elephants and
things. I said, why couldn't we see them, then? He said if I warn't so
ignorant, but had read a book called Don Quixote, I would know without
asking. He said it was all done by enchantment. He said there was
hundreds of soldiers there, and elephants and treasure, and so on, but we
had enemies which he called magicians; and they had turned the whole
thing into an infant Sunday-school, just out of spite. I said, all
right; then the thing for us to do was to go for the magicians. Tom
Sawyer said I was a numskull.
"Why," said he, "a magician could call up a lot of genies, and they would
hash you up like nothing before you could say Jack Robinson. They are as
tall as a tree and as big around as a church."
"Well," I says, "s'pose we got some genies to help US--can't we lick the
other crowd then?"
"How you going to get them?"
"I don't know. How do THEY get them?"
"Why, they rub an old tin lamp or an iron ring, and then the genies come
tearing in, with the thunder and lightning a-ripping around and the smoke
a-rolling, and everything they're told to do they up and do it. They
don't think nothing of pulling a shot-tower up by the roots, and belting
a Sunday-school superintendent over the head with it--or any other man."
"Who makes them tear around so?"
"Why, whoever rubs the lamp or the ring. They belong to whoever rubs the
lamp or the ring, and they've got to do whatever he says. If he tells
them to build a palace forty miles long out of di'monds, and fill it full
of chewing-gum, or whatever you want, and fetch an emperor's daughter
from China for you to marry, they've got to do it--and they've got to do
it before sun-up next morning, too. And more: they've got to waltz that
palace around over the country wherever you want it, you understand."
"Well," says I, "I think they are a pack of flat-heads for not keeping
the palace themselves 'stead of fooling them away like that. And what's
more--if I was one of them I would see a man in Jericho before I would
drop my business and come to him for the rubbing of an old tin lamp."
"How you talk, Huck Finn. Why, you'd HAVE to come when he rubbed it,
whether you wanted to or not."
"What! and I as high as a tree and as big as a church? All right, then;
I WOULD come; but I lay I'd make that man climb the highest tree there
was in the country."
"Shucks, it ain't no use to talk to you, Huck Finn. You don't seem to
know anything, somehow--perfect saphead."
I thought all this over for two or three days, and then I reckoned I
would see if there was anything in it. I got an old tin lamp and an iron
ring, and went out in the woods and rubbed and rubbed till I sweat like
an Injun, calculating to build a palace and sell it; but it warn't no
use, none of the genies come. So then I judged that all that stuff was
only just one of Tom Sawyer's lies. I reckoned he believed in the A-rabs
and the elephants, but as for me I think different. It had all the marks
of a Sunday-school.
WELL, three or four months run along, and it was well into the winter
now. I had been to school most all the time and could spell and read and
write just a little, and could say the multiplication table up to six
times seven is thirty-five, and I don't reckon I could ever get any
further than that if I was to live forever. I don't take no stock in
At first I hated the school, but by and by I got so I could stand it.
Whenever I got uncommon tired I played hookey, and the hiding I got next
day done me good and cheered me up. So the longer I went to school the
easier it got to be. I was getting sort of used to the widow's ways,
too, and they warn't so raspy on me. Living in a house and sleeping in a
bed pulled on me pretty tight mostly, but before the cold weather I used
to slide out and sleep in the woods sometimes, and so that was a rest to
me. I liked the old ways best, but I was getting so I liked the new
ones, too, a little bit. The widow said I was coming along slow but sure,
and doing very satisfactory. She said she warn't ashamed of me.
One morning I happened to turn over the salt-cellar at breakfast. I
reached for some of it as quick as I could to throw over my left shoulder
and keep off the bad luck, but Miss Watson was in ahead of me, and
crossed me off. She says, "Take your hands away, Huckleberry; what a mess
you are always making!" The widow put in a good word for me, but that
warn't going to keep off the bad luck, I knowed that well enough. I
started out, after breakfast, feeling worried and shaky, and wondering
where it was going to fall on me, and what it was going to be. There is
ways to keep off some kinds of bad luck, but this wasn't one of them
kind; so I never tried to do anything, but just poked along low-spirited
and on the watch-out.
I went down to the front garden and clumb over the stile where you go
through the high board fence. There was an inch of new snow on the
ground, and I seen somebody's tracks. They had come up from the quarry
and stood around the stile a while, and then went on around the garden
fence. It was funny they hadn't come in, after standing around so. I
couldn't make it out. It was very curious, somehow. I was going to
follow around, but I stooped down to look at the tracks first. I didn't
notice anything at first, but next I did. There was a cross in the left
boot-heel made with big nails, to keep off the devil.
I was up in a second and shinning down the hill. I looked over my
shoulder every now and then, but I didn't see nobody. I was at Judge
Thatcher's as quick as I could get there. He said:
"Why, my boy, you are all out of breath. Did you come for your
"No, sir," I says; "is there some for me?"
"Oh, yes, a half-yearly is in last night--over a hundred and fifty
dollars. Quite a fortune for you. You had better let me invest it along
with your six thousand, because if you take it you'll spend it."
"No, sir," I says, "I don't want to spend it. I don't want it at all
--nor the six thousand, nuther. I want you to take it; I want to give it
to you--the six thousand and all."
He looked surprised. He couldn't seem to make it out. He says:
"Why, what can you mean, my boy?"
I says, "Don't you ask me no questions about it, please. You'll take it
"Well, I'm puzzled. Is something the matter?"
"Please take it," says I, "and don't ask me nothing--then I won't have to
tell no lies."
He studied a while, and then he says:
"Oho-o! I think I see. You want to SELL all your property to me--not
give it. That's the correct idea."
Then he wrote something on a paper and read it over, and says:
"There; you see it says 'for a consideration.' That means I have bought
it of you and paid you for it. Here's a dollar for you. Now you sign
So I signed it, and left.
Miss Watson's nigger, Jim, had a hair-ball as big as your fist, which had
been took out of the fourth stomach of an ox, and he used to do magic
with it. He said there was a spirit inside of it, and it knowed
everything. So I went to him that night and told him pap was here again,
for I found his tracks in the snow. What I wanted to know was, what he
was going to do, and was he going to stay? Jim got out his hair-ball and
said something over it, and then he held it up and dropped it on the
floor. It fell pretty solid, and only rolled about an inch. Jim tried
it again, and then another time, and it acted just the same. Jim got
down on his knees, and put his ear against it and listened. But it
warn't no use; he said it wouldn't talk. He said sometimes it wouldn't
talk without money. I told him I had an old slick counterfeit quarter
that warn't no good because the brass showed through the silver a little,
and it wouldn't pass nohow, even if the brass didn't show, because it was
so slick it felt greasy, and so that would tell on it every time. (I
reckoned I wouldn't say nothing about the dollar I got from the judge.) I
said it was pretty bad money, but maybe the hair-ball would take it,
because maybe it wouldn't know the difference. Jim smelt it and bit it
and rubbed it, and said he would manage so the hair-ball would think it
was good. He said he would split open a raw Irish potato and stick the
quarter in between and keep it there all night, and next morning you
couldn't see no brass, and it wouldn't feel greasy no more, and so
anybody in town would take it in a minute, let alone a hair-ball. Well,
I knowed a potato would do that before, but I had forgot it.
Jim put the quarter under the hair-ball, and got down and listened again.
This time he said the hair-ball was all right. He said it would tell my
whole fortune if I wanted it to. I says, go on. So the hair-ball talked
to Jim, and Jim told it to me. He says:
"Yo' ole father doan' know yit what he's a-gwyne to do. Sometimes he
spec he'll go 'way, en den agin he spec he'll stay. De bes' way is to
res' easy en let de ole man take his own way. Dey's two angels hoverin'
roun' 'bout him. One uv 'em is white en shiny, en t'other one is black.
De white one gits him to go right a little while, den de black one sail
in en bust it all up. A body can't tell yit which one gwyne to fetch him
at de las'. But you is all right. You gwyne to have considable trouble
in yo' life, en considable joy. Sometimes you gwyne to git hurt, en
sometimes you gwyne to git sick; but every time you's gwyne to git well
agin. Dey's two gals flyin' 'bout you in yo' life. One uv 'em's light
en t'other one is dark. One is rich en t'other is po'. You's gwyne to
marry de po' one fust en de rich one by en by. You wants to keep 'way
fum de water as much as you kin, en don't run no resk, 'kase it's down in
de bills dat you's gwyne to git hung."
When I lit my candle and went up to my room that night there sat pap--his
I HAD shut the door to. Then I turned around and there he was. I used
to be scared of him all the time, he tanned me so much. I reckoned I was
scared now, too; but in a minute I see I was mistaken--that is, after the
first jolt, as you may say, when my breath sort of hitched, he being so
unexpected; but right away after I see I warn't scared of him worth
He was most fifty, and he looked it. His hair was long and tangled and
greasy, and hung down, and you could see his eyes shining through like he
was behind vines. It was all black, no gray; so was his long, mixed-up
whiskers. There warn't no color in his face, where his face showed; it
was white; not like another man's white, but a white to make a body sick,
a white to make a body's flesh crawl--a tree-toad white, a fish-belly
white. As for his clothes--just rags, that was all. He had one ankle
resting on t'other knee; the boot on that foot was busted, and two of his
toes stuck through, and he worked them now and then. His hat was laying
on the floor--an old black slouch with the top caved in, like a lid.
I stood a-looking at him; he set there a-looking at me, with his chair
tilted back a little. I set the candle down. I noticed the window was
up; so he had clumb in by the shed. He kept a-looking me all over. By
and by he says:
"Starchy clothes--very. You think you're a good deal of a big-bug, DON'T
"Maybe I am, maybe I ain't," I says.
"Don't you give me none o' your lip," says he. "You've put on
considerable many frills since I been away. I'll take you down a peg
before I get done with you. You're educated, too, they say--can read and
write. You think you're better'n your father, now, don't you, because he
can't? I'LL take it out of you. Who told you you might meddle with such
hifalut'n foolishness, hey?--who told you you could?"
"The widow. She told me."
"The widow, hey?--and who told the widow she could put in her shovel
about a thing that ain't none of her business?"
"Nobody never told her."
"Well, I'll learn her how to meddle. And looky here--you drop that
school, you hear? I'll learn people to bring up a boy to put on airs
over his own father and let on to be better'n what HE is. You lemme
catch you fooling around that school again, you hear? Your mother
couldn't read, and she couldn't write, nuther, before she died. None of
the family couldn't before THEY died. I can't; and here you're
a-swelling yourself up like this. I ain't the man to stand it--you hear?
Say, lemme hear you read."
I took up a book and begun something about General Washington and the
wars. When I'd read about a half a minute, he fetched the book a whack
with his hand and knocked it across the house. He says:
"It's so. You can do it. I had my doubts when you told me. Now looky
here; you stop that putting on frills. I won't have it. I'll lay for
you, my smarty; and if I catch you about that school I'll tan you good.
First you know you'll get religion, too. I never see such a son."
He took up a little blue and yaller picture of some cows and a boy, and
"It's something they give me for learning my lessons good."
He tore it up, and says:
"I'll give you something better--I'll give you a cowhide."
He set there a-mumbling and a-growling a minute, and then he says:
"AIN'T you a sweet-scented dandy, though? A bed; and bedclothes; and a
look'n'-glass; and a piece of carpet on the floor--and your own father
got to sleep with the hogs in the tanyard. I never see such a son. I
bet I'll take some o' these frills out o' you before I'm done with you.
Why, there ain't no end to your airs--they say you're rich. Hey?--how's
"They lie--that's how."
"Looky here--mind how you talk to me; I'm a-standing about all I can
stand now--so don't gimme no sass. I've been in town two days, and I
hain't heard nothing but about you bein' rich. I heard about it away
down the river, too. That's why I come. You git me that money
to-morrow--I want it."
"I hain't got no money."
"It's a lie. Judge Thatcher's got it. You git it. I want it."
"I hain't got no money, I tell you. You ask Judge Thatcher; he'll tell
you the same."
"All right. I'll ask him; and I'll make him pungle, too, or I'll know
the reason why. Say, how much you got in your pocket? I want it."
"I hain't got only a dollar, and I want that to--"
"It don't make no difference what you want it for--you just shell it
He took it and bit it to see if it was good, and then he said he was
going down town to get some whisky; said he hadn't had a drink all day.
When he had got out on the shed he put his head in again, and cussed me
for putting on frills and trying to be better than him; and when I
reckoned he was gone he come back and put his head in again, and told me
to mind about that school, because he was going to lay for me and lick me
if I didn't drop that.
Next day he was drunk, and he went to Judge Thatcher's and bullyragged
him, and tried to make him give up the money; but he couldn't, and then
he swore he'd make the law force him.
The judge and the widow went to law to get the court to take me away from
him and let one of them be my guardian; but it was a new judge that had
just come, and he didn't know the old man; so he said courts mustn't
interfere and separate families if they could help it; said he'd druther
not take a child away from its father. So Judge Thatcher and the widow
had to quit on the business.
That pleased the old man till he couldn't rest. He said he'd cowhide me
till I was black and blue if I didn't raise some money for him. I
borrowed three dollars from Judge Thatcher, and pap took it and got
drunk, and went a-blowing around and cussing and whooping and carrying
on; and he kept it up all over town, with a tin pan, till most midnight;
then they jailed him, and next day they had him before court, and jailed
him again for a week. But he said HE was satisfied; said he was boss of
his son, and he'd make it warm for HIM.
When he got out the new judge said he was a-going to make a man of him.
So he took him to his own house, and dressed him up clean and nice, and
had him to breakfast and dinner and supper with the family, and was just
old pie to him, so to speak. And after supper he talked to him about
temperance and such things till the old man cried, and said he'd been a
fool, and fooled away his life; but now he was a-going to turn over a new
leaf and be a man nobody wouldn't be ashamed of, and he hoped the judge
would help him and not look down on him. The judge said he could hug him
for them words; so he cried, and his wife she cried again; pap said he'd
been a man that had always been misunderstood before, and the judge said
he believed it. The old man said that what a man wanted that was down
was sympathy, and the judge said it was so; so they cried again. And
when it was bedtime the old man rose up and held out his hand, and says:
"Look at it, gentlemen and ladies all; take a-hold of it; shake it.
There's a hand that was the hand of a hog; but it ain't so no more; it's
the hand of a man that's started in on a new life, and'll die before
he'll go back. You mark them words--don't forget I said them. It's a
clean hand now; shake it--don't be afeard."
So they shook it, one after the other, all around, and cried. The
judge's wife she kissed it. Then the old man he signed a pledge--made
his mark. The judge said it was the holiest time on record, or something
like that. Then they tucked the old man into a beautiful room, which was
the spare room, and in the night some time he got powerful thirsty and
clumb out on to the porch-roof and slid down a stanchion and traded his
new coat for a jug of forty-rod, and clumb back again and had a good old
time; and towards daylight he crawled out again, drunk as a fiddler, and
rolled off the porch and broke his left arm in two places, and was most
froze to death when somebody found him after sun-up. And when they come
to look at that spare room they had to take soundings before they could
The judge he felt kind of sore. He said he reckoned a body could reform
the old man with a shotgun, maybe, but he didn't know no other way.
WELL, pretty soon the old man was up and around again, and then he went
for Judge Thatcher in the courts to make him give up that money, and he
went for me, too, for not stopping school. He catched me a couple of
times and thrashed me, but I went to school just the same, and dodged him
or outrun him most of the time. I didn't want to go to school much
before, but I reckoned I'd go now to spite pap. That law trial was a
slow business--appeared like they warn't ever going to get started on
it; so every now and then I'd borrow two or three dollars off of the
judge for him, to keep from getting a cowhiding. Every time he got money
he got drunk; and every time he got drunk he raised Cain around town; and
every time he raised Cain he got jailed. He was just suited--this kind
of thing was right in his line.
He got to hanging around the widow's too much and so she told him at last
that if he didn't quit using around there she would make trouble for him.
Well, WASN'T he mad? He said he would show who was Huck Finn's boss. So
he watched out for me one day in the spring, and catched me, and took me
up the river about three mile in a skiff, and crossed over to the
Illinois shore where it was woody and there warn't no houses but an old
log hut in a place where the timber was so thick you couldn't find it if
you didn't know where it was.
He kept me with him all the time, and I never got a chance to run off.
We lived in that old cabin, and he always locked the door and put the key
under his head nights. He had a gun which he had stole, I reckon, and we
fished and hunted, and that was what we lived on. Every little while he
locked me in and went down to the store, three miles, to the ferry, and
traded fish and game for whisky, and fetched it home and got drunk and
had a good time, and licked me. The widow she found out where I was by
and by, and she sent a man over to try to get hold of me; but pap drove
him off with the gun, and it warn't long after that till I was used to
being where I was, and liked it--all but the cowhide part.
It was kind of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable all day, smoking
and fishing, and no books nor study. Two months or more run along, and
my clothes got to be all rags and dirt, and I didn't see how I'd ever got
to like it so well at the widow's, where you had to wash, and eat on a
plate, and comb up, and go to bed and get up regular, and be forever
bothering over a book, and have old Miss Watson pecking at you all the
time. I didn't want to go back no more. I had stopped cussing, because
the widow didn't like it; but now I took to it again because pap hadn't
no objections. It was pretty good times up in the woods there, take it
But by and by pap got too handy with his hick'ry, and I couldn't stand
it. I was all over welts. He got to going away so much, too, and locking
me in. Once he locked me in and was gone three days. It was dreadful
lonesome. I judged he had got drowned, and I wasn't ever going to get
out any more. I was scared. I made up my mind I would fix up some way
to leave there. I had tried to get out of that cabin many a time, but I
couldn't find no way. There warn't a window to it big enough for a dog
to get through. I couldn't get up the chimbly; it was too narrow. The
door was thick, solid oak slabs. Pap was pretty careful not to leave a
knife or anything in the cabin when he was away; I reckon I had hunted
the place over as much as a hundred times; well, I was most all the time
at it, because it was about the only way to put in the time. But this
time I found something at last; I found an old rusty wood-saw without any
handle; it was laid in between a rafter and the clapboards of the roof.
I greased it up and went to work. There was an old horse-blanket nailed
against the logs at the far end of the cabin behind the table, to keep
the wind from blowing through the chinks and putting the candle out. I
got under the table and raised the blanket, and went to work to saw a
section of the big bottom log out--big enough to let me through. Well,
it was a good long job, but I was getting towards the end of it when I
heard pap's gun in the woods. I got rid of the signs of my work, and
dropped the blanket and hid my saw, and pretty soon pap come in.
Pap warn't in a good humor--so he was his natural self. He said he was
down town, and everything was going wrong. His lawyer said he reckoned
he would win his lawsuit and get the money if they ever got started on
the trial; but then there was ways to put it off a long time, and Judge
Thatcher knowed how to do it. And he said people allowed there'd be
another trial to get me away from him and give me to the widow for my
guardian, and they guessed it would win this time. This shook me up
considerable, because I didn't want to go back to the widow's any more
and be so cramped up and sivilized, as they called it. Then the old man
got to cussing, and cussed everything and everybody he could think of,
and then cussed them all over again to make sure he hadn't skipped any,
and after that he polished off with a kind of a general cuss all round,
including a considerable parcel of people which he didn't know the names
of, and so called them what's-his-name when he got to them, and went
right along with his cussing.
He said he would like to see the widow get me. He said he would watch
out, and if they tried to come any such game on him he knowed of a place
six or seven mile off to stow me in, where they might hunt till they
dropped and they couldn't find me. That made me pretty uneasy again, but
only for a minute; I reckoned I wouldn't stay on hand till he got that
The old man made me go to the skiff and fetch the things he had got.
There was a fifty-pound sack of corn meal, and a side of bacon,
ammunition, and a four-gallon jug of whisky, and an old book and two
newspapers for wadding, besides some tow. I toted up a load, and went
back and set down on the bow of the skiff to rest. I thought it all
over, and I reckoned I would walk off with the gun and some lines, and
take to the woods when I run away. I guessed I wouldn't stay in one
place, but just tramp right across the country, mostly night times, and
hunt and fish to keep alive, and so get so far away that the old man nor
the widow couldn't ever find me any more. I judged I would saw out and
leave that night if pap got drunk enough, and I reckoned he would. I got
so full of it I didn't notice how long I was staying till the old man
hollered and asked me whether I was asleep or drownded.
I got the things all up to the cabin, and then it was about dark. While
I was cooking supper the old man took a swig or two and got sort of
warmed up, and went to ripping again. He had been drunk over in town,
and laid in the gutter all night, and he was a sight to look at. A body
would a thought he was Adam--he was just all mud. Whenever his liquor
begun to work he most always went for the govment, this time he says:
"Call this a govment! why, just look at it and see what it's like.
Here's the law a-standing ready to take a man's son away from him--a
man's own son, which he has had all the trouble and all the anxiety and
all the expense of raising. Yes, just as that man has got that son
raised at last, and ready to go to work and begin to do suthin' for HIM
and give him a rest, the law up and goes for him. And they call THAT
govment! That ain't all, nuther. The law backs that old Judge Thatcher
up and helps him to keep me out o' my property. Here's what the law
does: The law takes a man worth six thousand dollars and up'ards, and
jams him into an old trap of a cabin like this, and lets him go round in
clothes that ain't fitten for a hog. They call that govment! A man can't
get his rights in a govment like this. Sometimes I've a mighty notion to
just leave the country for good and all. Yes, and I TOLD 'em so; I told
old Thatcher so to his face. Lots of 'em heard me, and can tell what I
said. Says I, for two cents I'd leave the blamed country and never come
a-near it agin. Them's the very words. I says look at my hat--if you
call it a hat--but the lid raises up and the rest of it goes down till
it's below my chin, and then it ain't rightly a hat at all, but more like
my head was shoved up through a jint o' stove-pipe. Look at it, says I
--such a hat for me to wear--one of the wealthiest men in this town if I
could git my rights.
"Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here.
There was a free nigger there from Ohio--a mulatter, most as white as a
white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the
shiniest hat; and there ain't a man in that town that's got as fine
clothes as what he had; and he had a gold watch and chain, and a
silver-headed cane--the awfulest old gray-headed nabob in the State. And
what do you think? They said he was a p'fessor in a college, and could
talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain't the
wust. They said he could VOTE when he was at home. Well, that let me
out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was 'lection day, and
I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn't too drunk to get
there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where
they'd let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I'll never vote agin.
Them's the very words I said; they all heard me; and the country may rot
for all me--I'll never vote agin as long as I live. And to see the cool
way of that nigger--why, he wouldn't a give me the road if I hadn't
shoved him out o' the way. I says to the people, why ain't this nigger
put up at auction and sold?--that's what I want to know. And what do you
reckon they said? Why, they said he couldn't be sold till he'd been in
the State six months, and he hadn't been there that long yet. There,
now--that's a specimen. They call that a govment that can't sell a free
nigger till he's been in the State six months. Here's a govment that
calls itself a govment, and lets on to be a govment, and thinks it is a
govment, and yet's got to set stock-still for six whole months before it
can take a hold of a prowling, thieving, infernal, white-shirted free
Pap was agoing on so he never noticed where his old limber legs was
taking him to, so he went head over heels over the tub of salt pork and
barked both shins, and the rest of his speech was all the hottest kind of
language--mostly hove at the nigger and the govment, though he give the
tub some, too, all along, here and there. He hopped around the cabin
considerable, first on one leg and then on the other, holding first one
shin and then the other one, and at last he let out with his left foot
all of a sudden and fetched the tub a rattling kick. But it warn't good
judgment, because that was the boot that had a couple of his toes leaking
out of the front end of it; so now he raised a howl that fairly made a
body's hair raise, and down he went in the dirt, and rolled there, and
held his toes; and the cussing he done then laid over anything he had
ever done previous. He said so his own self afterwards. He had heard
old Sowberry Hagan in his best days, and he said it laid over him, too;
but I reckon that was sort of piling it on, maybe.
After supper pap took the jug, and said he had enough whisky there for
two drunks and one delirium tremens. That was always his word. I judged
he would be blind drunk in about an hour, and then I would steal the key,
or saw myself out, one or t'other. He drank and drank, and tumbled down
on his blankets by and by; but luck didn't run my way. He didn't go
sound asleep, but was uneasy. He groaned and moaned and thrashed around
this way and that for a long time. At last I got so sleepy I couldn't
keep my eyes open all I could do, and so before I knowed what I was about
I was sound asleep, and the candle burning.
I don't know how long I was asleep, but all of a sudden there was an
awful scream and I was up. There was pap looking wild, and skipping
around every which way and yelling about snakes. He said they was
crawling up his legs; and then he would give a jump and scream, and say
one had bit him on the cheek--but I couldn't see no snakes. He started
and run round and round the cabin, hollering "Take him off! take him off!
he's biting me on the neck!" I never see a man look so wild in the eyes.
Pretty soon he was all fagged out, and fell down panting; then he rolled
over and over wonderful fast, kicking things every which way, and
striking and grabbing at the air with his hands, and screaming and saying
there was devils a-hold of him. He wore out by and by, and laid still a
while, moaning. Then he laid stiller, and didn't make a sound. I could
hear the owls and the wolves away off in the woods, and it seemed
terrible still. He was laying over by the corner. By and by he raised up
part way and listened, with his head to one side. He says, very low:
"Tramp--tramp--tramp; that's the dead; tramp--tramp--tramp; they're
coming after me; but I won't go. Oh, they're here! don't touch me
--don't! hands off--they're cold; let go. Oh, let a poor devil alone!"
Then he went down on all fours and crawled off, begging them to let him
alone, and he rolled himself up in his blanket and wallowed in under the
old pine table, still a-begging; and then he went to crying. I could
hear him through the blanket.
By and by he rolled out and jumped up on his feet looking wild, and he
see me and went for me. He chased me round and round the place with a
clasp-knife, calling me the Angel of Death, and saying he would kill me,
and then I couldn't come for him no more. I begged, and told him I was
only Huck; but he laughed SUCH a screechy laugh, and roared and cussed,
and kept on chasing me up. Once when I turned short and dodged under his
arm he made a grab and got me by the jacket between my shoulders, and I
thought I was gone; but I slid out of the jacket quick as lightning, and
saved myself. Pretty soon he was all tired out, and dropped down with his
back against the door, and said he would rest a minute and then kill me.
He put his knife under him, and said he would sleep and get strong, and
then he would see who was who.
So he dozed off pretty soon. By and by I got the old split-bottom chair
and clumb up as easy as I could, not to make any noise, and got down the
gun. I slipped the ramrod down it to make sure it was loaded, then I
laid it across the turnip barrel, pointing towards pap, and set down
behind it to wait for him to stir. And how slow and still the time did
"GIT up! What you 'bout?"
I opened my eyes and looked around, trying to make out where I was. It
was after sun-up, and I had been sound asleep. Pap was standing over me
looking sour and sick, too. He says:
"What you doin' with this gun?"
I judged he didn't know nothing about what he had been doing, so I says:
"Somebody tried to get in, so I was laying for him."
"Why didn't you roust me out?"
"Well, I tried to, but I couldn't; I couldn't budge you."
"Well, all right. Don't stand there palavering all day, but out with you
and see if there's a fish on the lines for breakfast. I'll be along in a
He unlocked the door, and I cleared out up the river-bank. I noticed
some pieces of limbs and such things floating down, and a sprinkling of
bark; so I knowed the river had begun to rise. I reckoned I would have
great times now if I was over at the town. The June rise used to be
always luck for me; because as soon as that rise begins here comes
cordwood floating down, and pieces of log rafts--sometimes a dozen logs
together; so all you have to do is to catch them and sell them to the
wood-yards and the sawmill.
I went along up the bank with one eye out for pap and t'other one out for
what the rise might fetch along. Well, all at once here comes a canoe;
just a beauty, too, about thirteen or fourteen foot long, riding high
like a duck. I shot head-first off of the bank like a frog, clothes and
all on, and struck out for the canoe. I just expected there'd be
somebody laying down in it, because people often done that to fool folks,
and when a chap had pulled a skiff out most to it they'd raise up and
laugh at him. But it warn't so this time. It was a drift-canoe sure
enough, and I clumb in and paddled her ashore. Thinks I, the old man
will be glad when he sees this--she's worth ten dollars. But when I
got to shore pap wasn't in sight yet, and as I was running her into a
little creek like a gully, all hung over with vines and willows, I struck
another idea: I judged I'd hide her good, and then, 'stead of taking to
the woods when I run off, I'd go down the river about fifty mile and camp
in one place for good, and not have such a rough time tramping on foot.
It was pretty close to the shanty, and I thought I heard the old man
coming all the time; but I got her hid; and then I out and looked around
a bunch of willows, and there was the old man down the path a piece just
drawing a bead on a bird with his gun. So he hadn't seen anything.
When he got along I was hard at it taking up a "trot" line. He abused me
a little for being so slow; but I told him I fell in the river, and that
was what made me so long. I knowed he would see I was wet, and then he
would be asking questions. We got five catfish off the lines and went
While we laid off after breakfast to sleep up, both of us being about
wore out, I got to thinking that if I could fix up some way to keep pap
and the widow from trying to follow me, it would be a certainer thing
than trusting to luck to get far enough off before they missed me; you
see, all kinds of things might happen. Well, I didn't see no way for a
while, but by and by pap raised up a minute to drink another barrel of
water, and he says:
"Another time a man comes a-prowling round here you roust me out, you
hear? That man warn't here for no good. I'd a shot him. Next time you
roust me out, you hear?"
Then he dropped down and went to sleep again; but what he had been saying
give me the very idea I wanted. I says to myself, I can fix it now so
nobody won't think of following me.
About twelve o'clock we turned out and went along up the bank. The river
was coming up pretty fast, and lots of driftwood going by on the rise.
By and by along comes part of a log raft--nine logs fast together. We
went out with the skiff and towed it ashore. Then we had dinner.
Anybody but pap would a waited and seen the day through, so as to catch
more stuff; but that warn't pap's style. Nine logs was enough for one
time; he must shove right over to town and sell. So he locked me in and
took the skiff, and started off towing the raft about half-past three. I
judged he wouldn't come back that night. I waited till I reckoned he had
got a good start; then I out with my saw, and went to work on that log
again. Before he was t'other side of the river I was out of the hole;
him and his raft was just a speck on the water away off yonder.
I took the sack of corn meal and took it to where the canoe was hid, and
shoved the vines and branches apart and put it in; then I done the same
with the side of bacon; then the whisky-jug. I took all the coffee and
sugar there was, and all the ammunition; I took the wadding; I took the
bucket and gourd; I took a dipper and a tin cup, and my old saw and two
blankets, and the skillet and the coffee-pot. I took fish-lines and
matches and other things--everything that was worth a cent. I cleaned
out the place. I wanted an axe, but there wasn't any, only the one out
at the woodpile, and I knowed why I was going to leave that. I fetched
out the gun, and now I was done.
I had wore the ground a good deal crawling out of the hole and dragging
out so many things. So I fixed that as good as I could from the outside
by scattering dust on the place, which covered up the smoothness and the
sawdust. Then I fixed the piece of log back into its place, and put two
rocks under it and one against it to hold it there, for it was bent up at
that place and didn't quite touch ground. If you stood four or five foot
away and didn't know it was sawed, you wouldn't never notice it; and
besides, this was the back of the cabin, and it warn't likely anybody
would go fooling around there.
It was all grass clear to the canoe, so I hadn't left a track. I
followed around to see. I stood on the bank and looked out over the
river. All safe. So I took the gun and went up a piece into the woods,
and was hunting around for some birds when I see a wild pig; hogs soon
went wild in them bottoms after they had got away from the prairie farms.
I shot this fellow and took him into camp.
I took the axe and smashed in the door. I beat it and hacked it
considerable a-doing it. I fetched the pig in, and took him back nearly
to the table and hacked into his throat with the axe, and laid him down
on the ground to bleed; I say ground because it was ground--hard packed,
and no boards. Well, next I took an old sack and put a lot of big rocks
in it--all I could drag--and I started it from the pig, and dragged it
to the door and through the woods down to the river and dumped it in, and
down it sunk, out of sight. You could easy see that something had been
dragged over the ground. I did wish Tom Sawyer was there; I knowed he
would take an interest in this kind of business, and throw in the fancy
touches. Nobody could spread himself like Tom Sawyer in such a thing as
Well, last I pulled out some of my hair, and blooded the axe good, and
stuck it on the back side, and slung the axe in the corner. Then I took
up the pig and held him to my breast with my jacket (so he couldn't drip)
till I got a good piece below the house and then dumped him into the
river. Now I thought of something else. So I went and got the bag of
meal and my old saw out of the canoe, and fetched them to the house. I
took the bag to where it used to stand, and ripped a hole in the bottom
of it with the saw, for there warn't no knives and forks on the place
--pap done everything with his clasp-knife about the cooking. Then I
carried the sack about a hundred yards across the grass and through the
willows east of the house, to a shallow lake that was five mile wide and
full of rushes--and ducks too, you might say, in the season. There was a
slough or a creek leading out of it on the other side that went miles
away, I don't know where, but it didn't go to the river. The meal sifted
out and made a little track all the way to the lake. I dropped pap's
whetstone there too, so as to look like it had been done by accident.
Then I tied up the rip in the meal sack with a string, so it wouldn't
leak no more, and took it and my saw to the canoe again.
It was about dark now; so I dropped the canoe down the river under some
willows that hung over the bank, and waited for the moon to rise. I made
fast to a willow; then I took a bite to eat, and by and by laid down in
the canoe to smoke a pipe and lay out a plan. I says to myself, they'll
follow the track of that sackful of rocks to the shore and then drag the
river for me. And they'll follow that meal track to the lake and go
browsing down the creek that leads out of it to find the robbers that
killed me and took the things. They won't ever hunt the river for
anything but my dead carcass. They'll soon get tired of that, and won't
bother no more about me. All right; I can stop anywhere I want to.
Jackson's Island is good enough for me; I know that island pretty well,
and nobody ever comes there. And then I can paddle over to town nights,
and slink around and pick up things I want. Jackson's Island's the place.
I was pretty tired, and the first thing I knowed I was asleep. When I
woke up I didn't know where I was for a minute. I set up and looked
around, a little scared. Then I remembered. The river looked miles and
miles across. The moon was so bright I could a counted the drift logs
that went a-slipping along, black and still, hundreds of yards out from
shore. Everything was dead quiet, and it looked late, and SMELT late.
You know what I mean--I don't know the words to put it in.
I took a good gap and a stretch, and was just going to unhitch and start
when I heard a sound away over the water. I listened. Pretty soon I
made it out. It was that dull kind of a regular sound that comes from
oars working in rowlocks when it's a still night. I peeped out through
the willow branches, and there it was--a skiff, away across the water. I
couldn't tell how many was in it. It kept a-coming, and when it was
abreast of me I see there warn't but one man in it. Think's I, maybe
it's pap, though I warn't expecting him. He dropped below me with the
current, and by and by he came a-swinging up shore in the easy water, and
he went by so close I could a reached out the gun and touched him. Well,
it WAS pap, sure enough--and sober, too, by the way he laid his oars.
I didn't lose no time. The next minute I was a-spinning down stream soft
but quick in the shade of the bank. I made two mile and a half, and then
struck out a quarter of a mile or more towards the middle of the river,
because pretty soon I would be passing the ferry landing, and people
might see me and hail me. I got out amongst the driftwood, and then laid
down in the bottom of the canoe and let her float. I laid there, and had
a good rest and a smoke out of my pipe, looking away into the sky; not a
cloud in it. The sky looks ever so deep when you lay down on your back
in the moonshine; I never knowed it before. And how far a body can hear
on the water such nights! I heard people talking at the ferry landing.
I heard what they said, too--every word of it. One man said it was
getting towards the long days and the short nights now. T'other one said
THIS warn't one of the short ones, he reckoned--and then they laughed,
and he said it over again, and they laughed again; then they waked up
another fellow and told him, and laughed, but he didn't laugh; he ripped
out something brisk, and said let him alone. The first fellow said he
'lowed to tell it to his old woman--she would think it was pretty good;
but he said that warn't nothing to some things he had said in his time.
I heard one man say it was nearly three o'clock, and he hoped daylight
wouldn't wait more than about a week longer. After that the talk got
further and further away, and I couldn't make out the words any more; but
I could hear the mumble, and now and then a laugh, too, but it seemed a
long ways off.
I was away below the ferry now. I rose up, and there was Jackson's
Island, about two mile and a half down stream, heavy timbered and
standing up out of the middle of the river, big and dark and solid, like
a steamboat without any lights. There warn't any signs of the bar at the
head--it was all under water now.
It didn't take me long to get there. I shot past the head at a ripping
rate, the current was so swift, and then I got into the dead water and
landed on the side towards the Illinois shore. I run the canoe into a
deep dent in the bank that I knowed about; I had to part the willow
branches to get in; and when I made fast nobody could a seen the canoe
from the outside.
I went up and set down on a log at the head of the island, and looked out
on the big river and the black driftwood and away over to the town, three
mile away, where there was three or four lights twinkling. A monstrous
big lumber-raft was about a mile up stream, coming along down, with a
lantern in the middle of it. I watched it come creeping down, and when
it was most abreast of where I stood I heard a man say, "Stern oars,
there! heave her head to stabboard!" I heard that just as plain as if
the man was by my side.
There was a little gray in the sky now; so I stepped into the woods, and
laid down for a nap before breakfast.
THE sun was up so high when I waked that I judged it was after eight
o'clock. I laid there in the grass and the cool shade thinking about
things, and feeling rested and ruther comfortable and satisfied. I could
see the sun out at one or two holes, but mostly it was big trees all
about, and gloomy in there amongst them. There was freckled places on
the ground where the light sifted down through the leaves, and the
freckled places swapped about a little, showing there was a little breeze
up there. A couple of squirrels set on a limb and jabbered at me very
I was powerful lazy and comfortable--didn't want to get up and cook
breakfast. Well, I was dozing off again when I thinks I hears a deep
sound of "boom!" away up the river. I rouses up, and rests on my elbow
and listens; pretty soon I hears it again. I hopped up, and went and
looked out at a hole in the leaves, and I see a bunch of smoke laying on
the water a long ways up--about abreast the ferry. And there was the
ferryboat full of people floating along down. I knowed what was the
matter now. "Boom!" I see the white smoke squirt out of the ferryboat's
side. You see, they was firing cannon over the water, trying to make my
carcass come to the top.
I was pretty hungry, but it warn't going to do for me to start a fire,
because they might see the smoke. So I set there and watched the
cannon-smoke and listened to the boom. The river was a mile wide there,
and it always looks pretty on a summer morning--so I was having a good
enough time seeing them hunt for my remainders if I only had a bite to
eat. Well, then I happened to think how they always put quicksilver in
loaves of bread and float them off, because they always go right to the
drownded carcass and stop there. So, says I, I'll keep a lookout, and if
any of them's floating around after me I'll give them a show. I changed
to the Illinois edge of the island to see what luck I could have, and I
warn't disappointed. A big double loaf come along, and I most got it
with a long stick, but my foot slipped and she floated out further. Of
course I was where the current set in the closest to the shore--I knowed
enough for that. But by and by along comes another one, and this time I
won. I took out the plug and shook out the little dab of quicksilver,
and set my teeth in. It was "baker's bread"--what the quality eat; none
of your low-down corn-pone.
I got a good place amongst the leaves, and set there on a log, munching
the bread and watching the ferry-boat, and very well satisfied. And then
something struck me. I says, now I reckon the widow or the parson or
somebody prayed that this bread would find me, and here it has gone and
done it. So there ain't no doubt but there is something in that thing
--that is, there's something in it when a body like the widow or the parson
prays, but it don't work for me, and I reckon it don't work for only just
the right kind.
I lit a pipe and had a good long smoke, and went on watching. The
ferryboat was floating with the current, and I allowed I'd have a chance
to see who was aboard when she come along, because she would come in
close, where the bread did. When she'd got pretty well along down
towards me, I put out my pipe and went to where I fished out the bread,
and laid down behind a log on the bank in a little open place. Where the
log forked I could peep through.
By and by she come along, and she drifted in so close that they could a
run out a plank and walked ashore. Most everybody was on the boat. Pap,
and Judge Thatcher, and Bessie Thatcher, and Jo Harper, and Tom Sawyer,
and his old Aunt Polly, and Sid and Mary, and plenty more. Everybody was
talking about the murder, but the captain broke in and says:
"Look sharp, now; the current sets in the closest here, and maybe he's
washed ashore and got tangled amongst the brush at the water's edge. I
hope so, anyway."
"I didn't hope so. They all crowded up and leaned over the rails, nearly
in my face, and kept still, watching with all their might. I could see
them first-rate, but they couldn't see me. Then the captain sung out:
"Stand away!" and the cannon let off such a blast right before me that it
made me deef with the noise and pretty near blind with the smoke, and I
judged I was gone. If they'd a had some bullets in, I reckon they'd a
got the corpse they was after. Well, I see I warn't hurt, thanks to
goodness. The boat floated on and went out of sight around the shoulder
of the island. I could hear the booming now and then, further and
further off, and by and by, after an hour, I didn't hear it no more. The
island was three mile long. I judged they had got to the foot, and was
giving it up. But they didn't yet a while. They turned around the foot
of the island and started up the channel on the Missouri side, under
steam, and booming once in a while as they went. I crossed over to that
side and watched them. When they got abreast the head of the island they
quit shooting and dropped over to the Missouri shore and went home to the
I knowed I was all right now. Nobody else would come a-hunting after me.
I got my traps out of the canoe and made me a nice camp in the thick
woods. I made a kind of a tent out of my blankets to put my things under
so the rain couldn't get at them. I catched a catfish and haggled him
open with my saw, and towards sundown I started my camp fire and had
supper. Then I set out a line to catch some fish for breakfast.
When it was dark I set by my camp fire smoking, and feeling pretty well
satisfied; but by and by it got sort of lonesome, and so I went and set
on the bank and listened to the current swashing along, and counted the
stars and drift logs and rafts that come down, and then went to bed;
there ain't no better way to put in time when you are lonesome; you can't
stay so, you soon get over it.
And so for three days and nights. No difference--just the same thing.
But the next day I went exploring around down through the island. I was
boss of it; it all belonged to me, so to say, and I wanted to know all
about it; but mainly I wanted to put in the time. I found plenty
strawberries, ripe and prime; and green summer grapes, and green
razberries; and the green blackberries was just beginning to show. They
would all come handy by and by, I judged.
Well, I went fooling along in the deep woods till I judged I warn't far
from the foot of the island. I had my gun along, but I hadn't shot
nothing; it was for protection; thought I would kill some game nigh home.
About this time I mighty near stepped on a good-sized snake, and it went
sliding off through the grass and flowers, and I after it, trying to get
a shot at it. I clipped along, and all of a sudden I bounded right on to
the ashes of a camp fire that was still smoking.
My heart jumped up amongst my lungs. I never waited for to look further,
but uncocked my gun and went sneaking back on my tiptoes as fast as ever
I could. Every now and then I stopped a second amongst the thick leaves
and listened, but my breath come so hard I couldn't hear nothing else. I
slunk along another piece further, then listened again; and so on, and so
on. If I see a stump, I took it for a man; if I trod on a stick and
broke it, it made me feel like a person had cut one of my breaths in two
and I only got half, and the short half, too.
When I got to camp I warn't feeling very brash, there warn't much sand in
my craw; but I says, this ain't no time to be fooling around. So I got
all my traps into my canoe again so as to have them out of sight, and I
put out the fire and scattered the ashes around to look like an old last
year's camp, and then clumb a tree.
I reckon I was up in the tree two hours; but I didn't see nothing, I
didn't hear nothing--I only THOUGHT I heard and seen as much as a
thousand things. Well, I couldn't stay up there forever; so at last I
got down, but I kept in the thick woods and on the lookout all the time.
All I could get to eat was berries and what was left over from breakfast.
By the time it was night I was pretty hungry. So when it was good and
dark I slid out from shore before moonrise and paddled over to the
Illinois bank--about a quarter of a mile. I went out in the woods and
cooked a supper, and I had about made up my mind I would stay there all
night when I hear a PLUNKETY-PLUNK, PLUNKETY-PLUNK, and says to myself,
horses coming; and next I hear people's voices. I got everything into
the canoe as quick as I could, and then went creeping through the woods
to see what I could find out. I hadn't got far when I hear a man say:
"We better camp here if we can find a good place; the horses is about
beat out. Let's look around."
I didn't wait, but shoved out and paddled away easy. I tied up in the
old place, and reckoned I would sleep in the canoe.
I didn't sleep much. I couldn't, somehow, for thinking. And every time
I waked up I thought somebody had me by the neck. So the sleep didn't do
me no good. By and by I says to myself, I can't live this way; I'm
a-going to find out who it is that's here on the island with me; I'll
find it out or bust. Well, I felt better right off.
So I took my paddle and slid out from shore just a step or two, and then
let the canoe drop along down amongst the shadows. The moon was shining,
and outside of the shadows it made it most as light as day. I poked
along well on to an hour, everything still as rocks and sound asleep.
Well, by this time I was most down to the foot of the island. A little
ripply, cool breeze begun to blow, and that was as good as saying the
night was about done. I give her a turn with the paddle and brung her
nose to shore; then I got my gun and slipped out and into the edge of the
woods. I sat down there on a log, and looked out through the leaves. I
see the moon go off watch, and the darkness begin to blanket the river.
But in a little while I see a pale streak over the treetops, and knowed
the day was coming. So I took my gun and slipped off towards where I had
run across that camp fire, stopping every minute or two to listen. But I
hadn't no luck somehow; I couldn't seem to find the place. But by and
by, sure enough, I catched a glimpse of fire away through the trees. I
went for it, cautious and slow. By and by I was close enough to have a
look, and there laid a man on the ground. It most give me the fantods.
He had a blanket around his head, and his head was nearly in the fire. I
set there behind a clump of bushes in about six foot of him, and kept my
eyes on him steady. It was getting gray daylight now. Pretty soon he
gapped and stretched himself and hove off the blanket, and it was Miss
Watson's Jim! I bet I was glad to see him. I says:
"Hello, Jim!" and skipped out.
He bounced up and stared at me wild. Then he drops down on his knees,
and puts his hands together and says:
"Doan' hurt me--don't! I hain't ever done no harm to a ghos'. I alwuz
liked dead people, en done all I could for 'em. You go en git in de
river agin, whah you b'longs, en doan' do nuffn to Ole Jim, 'at 'uz awluz
Well, I warn't long making him understand I warn't dead. I was ever so
glad to see Jim. I warn't lonesome now. I told him I warn't afraid of
HIM telling the people where I was. I talked along, but he only set
there and looked at me; never said nothing. Then I says:
"It's good daylight. Le's get breakfast. Make up your camp fire good."
"What's de use er makin' up de camp fire to cook strawbries en sich
truck? But you got a gun, hain't you? Den we kin git sumfn better den
"Strawberries and such truck," I says. "Is that what you live on?"
"I couldn' git nuffn else," he says.
"Why, how long you been on the island, Jim?"
"I come heah de night arter you's killed."
"What, all that time?"
"And ain't you had nothing but that kind of rubbage to eat?"
"No, sah--nuffn else."
"Well, you must be most starved, ain't you?"
"I reck'n I could eat a hoss. I think I could. How long you ben on de
"Since the night I got killed."
"No! W'y, what has you lived on? But you got a gun. Oh, yes, you got a
gun. Dat's good. Now you kill sumfn en I'll make up de fire."
So we went over to where the canoe was, and while he built a fire in a
grassy open place amongst the trees, I fetched meal and bacon and coffee,
and coffee-pot and frying-pan, and sugar and tin cups, and the nigger was
set back considerable, because he reckoned it was all done with
witchcraft. I catched a good big catfish, too, and Jim cleaned him with
his knife, and fried him.
When breakfast was ready we lolled on the grass and eat it smoking hot.
Jim laid it in with all his might, for he was most about starved. Then
when we had got pretty well stuffed, we laid off and lazied. By and by
"But looky here, Huck, who wuz it dat 'uz killed in dat shanty ef it
Then I told him the whole thing, and he said it was smart. He said Tom
Sawyer couldn't get up no better plan than what I had. Then I says:
"How do you come to be here, Jim, and how'd you get here?"
He looked pretty uneasy, and didn't say nothing for a minute. Then he
"Maybe I better not tell."
"Well, dey's reasons. But you wouldn' tell on me ef I uz to tell you,
would you, Huck?"
"Blamed if I would, Jim."
"Well, I b'lieve you, Huck. I--I RUN OFF."
"But mind, you said you wouldn' tell--you know you said you wouldn' tell,
"Well, I did. I said I wouldn't, and I'll stick to it. Honest INJUN, I
will. People would call me a low-down Abolitionist and despise me for
keeping mum--but that don't make no difference. I ain't a-going to tell,
and I ain't a-going back there, anyways. So, now, le's know all about
"Well, you see, it 'uz dis way. Ole missus--dat's Miss Watson--she pecks
on me all de time, en treats me pooty rough, but she awluz said she
wouldn' sell me down to Orleans. But I noticed dey wuz a nigger trader
roun' de place considable lately, en I begin to git oneasy. Well, one
night I creeps to de do' pooty late, en de do' warn't quite shet, en I
hear old missus tell de widder she gwyne to sell me down to Orleans, but
she didn' want to, but she could git eight hund'd dollars for me, en it
'uz sich a big stack o' money she couldn' resis'. De widder she try to
git her to say she wouldn' do it, but I never waited to hear de res'. I
lit out mighty quick, I tell you.
"I tuck out en shin down de hill, en 'spec to steal a skift 'long de sho'
som'ers 'bove de town, but dey wuz people a-stirring yit, so I hid in de
ole tumble-down cooper-shop on de bank to wait for everybody to go 'way.
Well, I wuz dah all night. Dey wuz somebody roun' all de time. 'Long
'bout six in de mawnin' skifts begin to go by, en 'bout eight er nine
every skift dat went 'long wuz talkin' 'bout how yo' pap come over to de
town en say you's killed. Dese las' skifts wuz full o' ladies en genlmen
a-goin' over for to see de place. Sometimes dey'd pull up at de sho' en
take a res' b'fo' dey started acrost, so by de talk I got to know all
'bout de killin'. I 'uz powerful sorry you's killed, Huck, but I ain't
no mo' now.
"I laid dah under de shavin's all day. I 'uz hungry, but I warn't
afeard; bekase I knowed ole missus en de widder wuz goin' to start to de
camp-meet'n' right arter breakfas' en be gone all day, en dey knows I
goes off wid de cattle 'bout daylight, so dey wouldn' 'spec to see me
roun' de place, en so dey wouldn' miss me tell arter dark in de evenin'.
De yuther servants wouldn' miss me, kase dey'd shin out en take holiday
soon as de ole folks 'uz out'n de way.
"Well, when it come dark I tuck out up de river road, en went 'bout two
mile er more to whah dey warn't no houses. I'd made up my mine 'bout
what I's agwyne to do. You see, ef I kep' on tryin' to git away afoot,
de dogs 'ud track me; ef I stole a skift to cross over, dey'd miss dat
skift, you see, en dey'd know 'bout whah I'd lan' on de yuther side, en
whah to pick up my track. So I says, a raff is what I's arter; it doan'
MAKE no track.
"I see a light a-comin' roun' de p'int bymeby, so I wade' in en shove' a
log ahead o' me en swum more'n half way acrost de river, en got in
'mongst de drift-wood, en kep' my head down low, en kinder swum agin de
current tell de raff come along. Den I swum to de stern uv it en tuck
a-holt. It clouded up en 'uz pooty dark for a little while. So I clumb
up en laid down on de planks. De men 'uz all 'way yonder in de middle,
whah de lantern wuz. De river wuz a-risin', en dey wuz a good current;
so I reck'n'd 'at by fo' in de mawnin' I'd be twenty-five mile down de
river, en den I'd slip in jis b'fo' daylight en swim asho', en take to
de woods on de Illinois side.
"But I didn' have no luck. When we 'uz mos' down to de head er de islan'
a man begin to come aft wid de lantern, I see it warn't no use fer to
wait, so I slid overboard en struck out fer de islan'. Well, I had a
notion I could lan' mos' anywhers, but I couldn't--bank too bluff. I 'uz
mos' to de foot er de islan' b'fo' I found' a good place. I went into de
woods en jedged I wouldn' fool wid raffs no mo', long as dey move de
lantern roun' so. I had my pipe en a plug er dog-leg, en some matches in
my cap, en dey warn't wet, so I 'uz all right."
"And so you ain't had no meat nor bread to eat all this time? Why didn't
you get mud-turkles?"
"How you gwyne to git 'm? You can't slip up on um en grab um; en how's a
body gwyne to hit um wid a rock? How could a body do it in de night? En
I warn't gwyne to show mysef on de bank in de daytime."
"Well, that's so. You've had to keep in the woods all the time, of
course. Did you hear 'em shooting the cannon?"
"Oh, yes. I knowed dey was arter you. I see um go by heah--watched um
thoo de bushes."
Some young birds come along, flying a yard or two at a time and lighting.
Jim said it was a sign it was going to rain. He said it was a sign when
young chickens flew that way, and so he reckoned it was the same way when
young birds done it. I was going to catch some of them, but Jim wouldn't
let me. He said it was death. He said his father laid mighty sick once,
and some of them catched a bird, and his old granny said his father would
die, and he did.
And Jim said you mustn't count the things you are going to cook for
dinner, because that would bring bad luck. The same if you shook the
table-cloth after sundown. And he said if a man owned a beehive and that
man died, the bees must be told about it before sun-up next morning, or
else the bees would all weaken down and quit work and die. Jim said bees
wouldn't sting idiots; but I didn't believe that, because I had tried
them lots of times myself, and they wouldn't sting me.
I had heard about some of these things before, but not all of them. Jim
knowed all kinds of signs. He said he knowed most everything. I said it
looked to me like all the signs was about bad luck, and so I asked him if
there warn't any good-luck signs. He says:
"Mighty few--an' DEY ain't no use to a body. What you want to know when
good luck's a-comin' for? Want to keep it off?" And he said: "Ef you's
got hairy arms en a hairy breas', it's a sign dat you's agwyne to be
rich. Well, dey's some use in a sign like dat, 'kase it's so fur ahead.
You see, maybe you's got to be po' a long time fust, en so you might git
discourage' en kill yo'sef 'f you didn' know by de sign dat you gwyne to
be rich bymeby."
"Have you got hairy arms and a hairy breast, Jim?"
"What's de use to ax dat question? Don't you see I has?"
"Well, are you rich?"
"No, but I ben rich wunst, and gwyne to be rich agin. Wunst I had foteen
dollars, but I tuck to specalat'n', en got busted out."
"What did you speculate in, Jim?"
"Well, fust I tackled stock."
"What kind of stock?"
"Why, live stock--cattle, you know. I put ten dollars in a cow. But I
ain' gwyne to resk no mo' money in stock. De cow up 'n' died on my
"So you lost the ten dollars."
"No, I didn't lose it all. I on'y los' 'bout nine of it. I sole de hide
en taller for a dollar en ten cents."
"You had five dollars and ten cents left. Did you speculate any more?"
"Yes. You know that one-laigged nigger dat b'longs to old Misto Bradish?
Well, he sot up a bank, en say anybody dat put in a dollar would git fo'
dollars mo' at de en' er de year. Well, all de niggers went in, but dey
didn't have much. I wuz de on'y one dat had much. So I stuck out for
mo' dan fo' dollars, en I said 'f I didn' git it I'd start a bank mysef.
Well, o' course dat nigger want' to keep me out er de business, bekase he
says dey warn't business 'nough for two banks, so he say I could put in
my five dollars en he pay me thirty-five at de en' er de year.
"So I done it. Den I reck'n'd I'd inves' de thirty-five dollars right
off en keep things a-movin'. Dey wuz a nigger name' Bob, dat had ketched
a wood-flat, en his marster didn' know it; en I bought it off'n him en
told him to take de thirty-five dollars when de en' er de year come; but
somebody stole de wood-flat dat night, en nex day de one-laigged nigger
say de bank's busted. So dey didn' none uv us git no money."
"What did you do with the ten cents, Jim?"
"Well, I 'uz gwyne to spen' it, but I had a dream, en de dream tole me to
give it to a nigger name' Balum--Balum's Ass dey call him for short; he's
one er dem chuckleheads, you know. But he's lucky, dey say, en I see I
warn't lucky. De dream say let Balum inves' de ten cents en he'd make a
raise for me. Well, Balum he tuck de money, en when he wuz in church he
hear de preacher say dat whoever give to de po' len' to de Lord, en boun'
to git his money back a hund'd times. So Balum he tuck en give de ten
cents to de po', en laid low to see what wuz gwyne to come of it."
"Well, what did come of it, Jim?"
"Nuffn never come of it. I couldn' manage to k'leck dat money no way; en
Balum he couldn'. I ain' gwyne to len' no mo' money 'dout I see de
security. Boun' to git yo' money back a hund'd times, de preacher says!
Ef I could git de ten CENTS back, I'd call it squah, en be glad er de
"Well, it's all right anyway, Jim, long as you're going to be rich again
some time or other."
"Yes; en I's rich now, come to look at it. I owns mysef, en I's wuth
eight hund'd dollars. I wisht I had de money, I wouldn' want no mo'."
I WANTED to go and look at a place right about the middle of the island
that I'd found when I was exploring; so we started and soon got to it,
because the island was only three miles long and a quarter of a mile
This place was a tolerable long, steep hill or ridge about forty foot
high. We had a rough time getting to the top, the sides was so steep and
the bushes so thick. We tramped and clumb around all over it, and by and
by found a good big cavern in the rock, most up to the top on the side
towards Illinois. The cavern was as big as two or three rooms bunched
together, and Jim could stand up straight in it. It was cool in there.
Jim was for putting our traps in there right away, but I said we didn't
want to be climbing up and down there all the time.
Jim said if we had the canoe hid in a good place, and had all the traps
in the cavern, we could rush there if anybody was to come to the island,
and they would never find us without dogs. And, besides, he said them
little birds had said it was going to rain, and did I want the things to
So we went back and got the canoe, and paddled up abreast the cavern, and
lugged all the traps up there. Then we hunted up a place close by to
hide the canoe in, amongst the thick willows. We took some fish off of
the lines and set them again, and begun to get ready for dinner.
The door of the cavern was big enough to roll a hogshead in, and on one
side of the door the floor stuck out a little bit, and was flat and a
good place to build a fire on. So we built it there and cooked dinner.
We spread the blankets inside for a carpet, and eat our dinner in there.
We put all the other things handy at the back of the cavern. Pretty soon
it darkened up, and begun to thunder and lighten; so the birds was right
about it. Directly it begun to rain, and it rained like all fury, too,
and I never see the wind blow so. It was one of these regular summer
storms. It would get so dark that it looked all blue-black outside, and
lovely; and the rain would thrash along by so thick that the trees off a
little ways looked dim and spider-webby; and here would come a blast of
wind that would bend the trees down and turn up the pale underside of the
leaves; and then a perfect ripper of a gust would follow along and set
the branches to tossing their arms as if they was just wild; and next,
when it was just about the bluest and blackest--FST! it was as bright as
glory, and you'd have a little glimpse of tree-tops a-plunging about away
off yonder in the storm, hundreds of yards further than you could see
before; dark as sin again in a second, and now you'd hear the thunder let
go with an awful crash, and then go rumbling, grumbling, tumbling, down
the sky towards the under side of the world, like rolling empty barrels
down stairs--where it's long stairs and they bounce a good deal, you
"Jim, this is nice," I says. "I wouldn't want to be nowhere else but
here. Pass me along another hunk of fish and some hot corn-bread."
"Well, you wouldn't a ben here 'f it hadn't a ben for Jim. You'd a ben
down dah in de woods widout any dinner, en gittn' mos' drownded, too; dat
you would, honey. Chickens knows when it's gwyne to rain, en so do de
The river went on raising and raising for ten or twelve days, till at
last it was over the banks. The water was three or four foot deep on the
island in the low places and on the Illinois bottom. On that side it was
a good many miles wide, but on the Missouri side it was the same old
distance across--a half a mile--because the Missouri shore was just a
wall of high bluffs.
Daytimes we paddled all over the island in the canoe, It was mighty cool
and shady in the deep woods, even if the sun was blazing outside. We
went winding in and out amongst the trees, and sometimes the vines hung
so thick we had to back away and go some other way. Well, on every old
broken-down tree you could see rabbits and snakes and such things; and
when the island had been overflowed a day or two they got so tame, on
account of being hungry, that you could paddle right up and put your hand
on them if you wanted to; but not the snakes and turtles--they would
slide off in the water. The ridge our cavern was in was full of them.
We could a had pets enough if we'd wanted them.
One night we catched a little section of a lumber raft--nice pine planks.
It was twelve foot wide and about fifteen or sixteen foot long, and the
top stood above water six or seven inches--a solid, level floor. We
could see saw-logs go by in the daylight sometimes, but we let them go;
we didn't show ourselves in daylight.
Another night when we was up at the head of the island, just before
daylight, here comes a frame-house down, on the west side. She was a
two-story, and tilted over considerable. We paddled out and got aboard
--clumb in at an upstairs window. But it was too dark to see yet, so we
made the canoe fast and set in her to wait for daylight.
The light begun to come before we got to the foot of the island. Then we
looked in at the window. We could make out a bed, and a table, and two
old chairs, and lots of things around about on the floor, and there was
clothes hanging against the wall. There was something laying on the
floor in the far corner that looked like a man. So Jim says:
But it didn't budge. So I hollered again, and then Jim says:
"De man ain't asleep--he's dead. You hold still--I'll go en see."
He went, and bent down and looked, and says:
"It's a dead man. Yes, indeedy; naked, too. He's ben shot in de back.
I reck'n he's ben dead two er three days. Come in, Huck, but doan' look
at his face--it's too gashly."
I didn't look at him at all. Jim throwed some old rags over him, but he
needn't done it; I didn't want to see him. There was heaps of old greasy
cards scattered around over the floor, and old whisky bottles, and a
couple of masks made out of black cloth; and all over the walls was the
ignorantest kind of words and pictures made with charcoal. There was two
old dirty calico dresses, and a sun-bonnet, and some women's underclothes
hanging against the wall, and some men's clothing, too. We put the lot
into the canoe--it might come good. There was a boy's old speckled straw
hat on the floor; I took that, too. And there was a bottle that had had
milk in it, and it had a rag stopper for a baby to suck. We would a took
the bottle, but it was broke. There was a seedy old chest, and an old
hair trunk with the hinges broke. They stood open, but there warn't
nothing left in them that was any account. The way things was scattered
about we reckoned the people left in a hurry, and warn't fixed so as to
carry off most of their stuff.
We got an old tin lantern, and a butcher-knife without any handle, and a
bran-new Barlow knife worth two bits in any store, and a lot of tallow
candles, and a tin candlestick, and a gourd, and a tin cup, and a ratty
old bedquilt off the bed, and a reticule with needles and pins and
beeswax and buttons and thread and all such truck in it, and a hatchet
and some nails, and a fishline as thick as my little finger with some
monstrous hooks on it, and a roll of buckskin, and a leather dog-collar,
and a horseshoe, and some vials of medicine that didn't have no label on
them; and just as we was leaving I found a tolerable good curry-comb, and
Jim he found a ratty old fiddle-bow, and a wooden leg. The straps was
broke off of it, but, barring that, it was a good enough leg, though it
was too long for me and not long enough for Jim, and we couldn't find the
other one, though we hunted all around.
And so, take it all around, we made a good haul. When we was ready to
shove off we was a quarter of a mile below the island, and it was pretty
broad day; so I made Jim lay down in the canoe and cover up with the
quilt, because if he set up people could tell he was a nigger a good ways
off. I paddled over to the Illinois shore, and drifted down most a half
a mile doing it. I crept up the dead water under the bank, and hadn't no
accidents and didn't see nobody. We got home all safe.
AFTER breakfast I wanted to talk about the dead man and guess out how he
come to be killed, but Jim didn't want to. He said it would fetch bad
luck; and besides, he said, he might come and ha'nt us; he said a man
that warn't buried was more likely to go a-ha'nting around than one that
was planted and comfortable. That sounded pretty reasonable, so I didn't
say no more; but I couldn't keep from studying over it and wishing I
knowed who shot the man, and what they done it for.
We rummaged the clothes we'd got, and found eight dollars in silver sewed
up in the lining of an old blanket overcoat. Jim said he reckoned the
people in that house stole the coat, because if they'd a knowed the money
was there they wouldn't a left it. I said I reckoned they killed him,
too; but Jim didn't want to talk about that. I says:
"Now you think it's bad luck; but what did you say when I fetched in the
snake-skin that I found on the top of the ridge day before yesterday?
You said it was the worst bad luck in the world to touch a snake-skin
with my hands. Well, here's your bad luck! We've raked in all this
truck and eight dollars besides. I wish we could have some bad luck like
this every day, Jim."
"Never you mind, honey, never you mind. Don't you git too peart. It's
a-comin'. Mind I tell you, it's a-comin'."
It did come, too. It was a Tuesday that we had that talk. Well, after
dinner Friday we was laying around in the grass at the upper end of the
ridge, and got out of tobacco. I went to the cavern to get some, and
found a rattlesnake in there. I killed him, and curled him up on the
foot of Jim's blanket, ever so natural, thinking there'd be some fun when
Jim found him there. Well, by night I forgot all about the snake, and
when Jim flung himself down on the blanket while I struck a light the
snake's mate was there, and bit him.
He jumped up yelling, and the first thing the light showed was the
varmint curled up and ready for another spring. I laid him out in a
second with a stick, and Jim grabbed pap's whisky-jug and begun to pour
He was barefooted, and the snake bit him right on the heel. That all
comes of my being such a fool as to not remember that wherever you leave
a dead snake its mate always comes there and curls around it. Jim told
me to chop off the snake's head and throw it away, and then skin the body
and roast a piece of it. I done it, and he eat it and said it would help
cure him. He made me take off the rattles and tie them around his wrist,
too. He said that that would help. Then I slid out quiet and throwed
the snakes clear away amongst the bushes; for I warn't going to let Jim
find out it was all my fault, not if I could help it.
Jim sucked and sucked at the jug, and now and then he got out of his head
and pitched around and yelled; but every time he come to himself he went
to sucking at the jug again. His foot swelled up pretty big, and so did
his leg; but by and by the drunk begun to come, and so I judged he was
all right; but I'd druther been bit with a snake than pap's whisky.
Jim was laid up for four days and nights. Then the swelling was all gone
and he was around again. I made up my mind I wouldn't ever take a-holt
of a snake-skin again with my hands, now that I see what had come of it.
Jim said he reckoned I would believe him next time. And he said that
handling a snake-skin was such awful bad luck that maybe we hadn't got to
the end of it yet. He said he druther see the new moon over his left
shoulder as much as a thousand times than take up a snake-skin in his
hand. Well, I was getting to feel that way myself, though I've always
reckoned that looking at the new moon over your left shoulder is one of
the carelessest and foolishest things a body can do. Old Hank Bunker
done it once, and bragged about it; and in less than two years he got
drunk and fell off of the shot-tower, and spread himself out so that he
was just a kind of a layer, as you may say; and they slid him edgeways
between two barn doors for a coffin, and buried him so, so they say, but
I didn't see it. Pap told me. But anyway it all come of looking at the
moon that way, like a fool.
Well, the days went along, and the river went down between its banks
again; and about the first thing we done was to bait one of the big hooks
with a skinned rabbit and set it and catch a catfish that was as big as a
man, being six foot two inches long, and weighed over two hundred pounds.
We couldn't handle him, of course; he would a flung us into Illinois. We
just set there and watched him rip and tear around till he drownded. We
found a brass button in his stomach and a round ball, and lots of
rubbage. We split the ball open with the hatchet, and there was a spool
in it. Jim said he'd had it there a long time, to coat it over so and
make a ball of it. It was as big a fish as was ever catched in the
Mississippi, I reckon. Jim said he hadn't ever seen a bigger one. He
would a been worth a good deal over at the village. They peddle out such
a fish as that by the pound in the market-house there; everybody buys
some of him; his meat's as white as snow and makes a good fry.
Next morning I said it was getting slow and dull, and I wanted to get a
stirring up some way. I said I reckoned I would slip over the river and
find out what was going on. Jim liked that notion; but he said I must go
in the dark and look sharp. Then he studied it over and said, couldn't I
put on some of them old things and dress up like a girl? That was a good
notion, too. So we shortened up one of the calico gowns, and I turned up
my trouser-legs to my knees and got into it. Jim hitched it behind with
the hooks, and it was a fair fit. I put on the sun-bonnet and tied it
under my chin, and then for a body to look in and see my face was like
looking down a joint of stove-pipe. Jim said nobody would know me, even
in the daytime, hardly. I practiced around all day to get the hang of
the things, and by and by I could do pretty well in them, only Jim said I
didn't walk like a girl; and he said I must quit pulling up my gown to
get at my britches-pocket. I took notice, and done better.
I started up the Illinois shore in the canoe just after dark.
I started across to the town from a little below the ferry-landing, and
the drift of the current fetched me in at the bottom of the town. I tied
up and started along the bank. There was a light burning in a little
shanty that hadn't been lived in for a long time, and I wondered who had
took up quarters there. I slipped up and peeped in at the window. There
was a woman about forty year old in there knitting by a candle that was
on a pine table. I didn't know her face; she was a stranger, for you
couldn't start a face in that town that I didn't know. Now this was
lucky, because I was weakening; I was getting afraid I had come; people
might know my voice and find me out. But if this woman had been in such
a little town two days she could tell me all I wanted to know; so I
knocked at the door, and made up my mind I wouldn't forget I was a girl.
"COME in," says the woman, and I did. She says: "Take a cheer."
I done it. She looked me all over with her little shiny eyes, and says:
"What might your name be?"
"Where 'bouts do you live? In this neighborhood?'
"No'm. In Hookerville, seven mile below. I've walked all the way and
I'm all tired out."
"Hungry, too, I reckon. I'll find you something."
"No'm, I ain't hungry. I was so hungry I had to stop two miles below
here at a farm; so I ain't hungry no more. It's what makes me so late.
My mother's down sick, and out of money and everything, and I come to
tell my uncle Abner Moore. He lives at the upper end of the town, she
says. I hain't ever been here before. Do you know him?"
"No; but I don't know everybody yet. I haven't lived here quite two
weeks. It's a considerable ways to the upper end of the town. You better
stay here all night. Take off your bonnet."
"No," I says; "I'll rest a while, I reckon, and go on. I ain't afeared
of the dark."
She said she wouldn't let me go by myself, but her husband would be in by
and by, maybe in a hour and a half, and she'd send him along with me.
Then she got to talking about her husband, and about her relations up the
river, and her relations down the river, and about how much better off
they used to was, and how they didn't know but they'd made a mistake
coming to our town, instead of letting well alone--and so on and so on,
till I was afeard I had made a mistake coming to her to find out what was
going on in the town; but by and by she dropped on to pap and the murder,
and then I was pretty willing to let her clatter right along. She told
about me and Tom Sawyer finding the six thousand dollars (only she got it
ten) and all about pap and what a hard lot he was, and what a hard lot I
was, and at last she got down to where I was murdered. I says:
"Who done it? We've heard considerable about these goings on down in
Hookerville, but we don't know who 'twas that killed Huck Finn."
"Well, I reckon there's a right smart chance of people HERE that'd like
to know who killed him. Some think old Finn done it himself."
"No--is that so?"
"Most everybody thought it at first. He'll never know how nigh he come
to getting lynched. But before night they changed around and judged it
was done by a runaway nigger named Jim."
I stopped. I reckoned I better keep still. She run on, and never
noticed I had put in at all:
"The nigger run off the very night Huck Finn was killed. So there's a
reward out for him--three hundred dollars. And there's a reward out for
old Finn, too--two hundred dollars. You see, he come to town the morning
after the murder, and told about it, and was out with 'em on the
ferryboat hunt, and right away after he up and left. Before night they
wanted to lynch him, but he was gone, you see. Well, next day they found
out the nigger was gone; they found out he hadn't ben seen sence ten
o'clock the night the murder was done. So then they put it on him, you
see; and while they was full of it, next day, back comes old Finn, and
went boo-hooing to Judge Thatcher to get money to hunt for the nigger all
over Illinois with. The judge gave him some, and that evening he got
drunk, and was around till after midnight with a couple of mighty
hard-looking strangers, and then went off with them. Well, he hain't
come back sence, and they ain't looking for him back till this thing
blows over a little, for people thinks now that he killed his boy and
fixed things so folks would think robbers done it, and then he'd get
Huck's money without having to bother a long time with a lawsuit. People
do say he warn't any too good to do it. Oh, he's sly, I reckon. If he
don't come back for a year he'll be all right. You can't prove anything
on him, you know; everything will be quieted down then, and he'll walk in
Huck's money as easy as nothing."
"Yes, I reckon so, 'm. I don't see nothing in the way of it. Has
everybody quit thinking the nigger done it?"
"Oh, no, not everybody. A good many thinks he done it. But they'll get
the nigger pretty soon now, and maybe they can scare it out of him."
"Why, are they after him yet?"
"Well, you're innocent, ain't you! Does three hundred dollars lay around
every day for people to pick up? Some folks think the nigger ain't far
from here. I'm one of them--but I hain't talked it around. A few days
ago I was talking with an old couple that lives next door in the log
shanty, and they happened to say hardly anybody ever goes to that island
over yonder that they call Jackson's Island. Don't anybody live there?
says I. No, nobody, says they. I didn't say any more, but I done some
thinking. I was pretty near certain I'd seen smoke over there, about the
head of the island, a day or two before that, so I says to myself, like
as not that nigger's hiding over there; anyway, says I, it's worth the
trouble to give the place a hunt. I hain't seen any smoke sence, so I
reckon maybe he's gone, if it was him; but husband's going over to see
--him and another man. He was gone up the river; but he got back to-day,
and I told him as soon as he got here two hours ago."
I had got so uneasy I couldn't set still. I had to do something with my
hands; so I took up a needle off of the table and went to threading it.
My hands shook, and I was making a bad job of it. When the woman stopped
talking I looked up, and she was looking at me pretty curious and smiling
a little. I put down the needle and thread, and let on to be interested
--and I was, too--and says:
"Three hundred dollars is a power of money. I wish my mother could get
it. Is your husband going over there to-night?"
"Oh, yes. He went up-town with the man I was telling you of, to get a
boat and see if they could borrow another gun. They'll go over after
"Couldn't they see better if they was to wait till daytime?"
"Yes. And couldn't the nigger see better, too? After midnight he'll
likely be asleep, and they can slip around through the woods and hunt up
his camp fire all the better for the dark, if he's got one."
"I didn't think of that."
The woman kept looking at me pretty curious, and I didn't feel a bit
comfortable. Pretty soon she says,
"What did you say your name was, honey?"
Somehow it didn't seem to me that I said it was Mary before, so I didn't
look up--seemed to me I said it was Sarah; so I felt sort of cornered,
and was afeared maybe I was looking it, too. I wished the woman would
say something more; the longer she set still the uneasier I was. But now
"Honey, I thought you said it was Sarah when you first come in?"
"Oh, yes'm, I did. Sarah Mary Williams. Sarah's my first name. Some
calls me Sarah, some calls me Mary."
"Oh, that's the way of it?"
I was feeling better then, but I wished I was out of there, anyway. I
couldn't look up yet.
Well, the woman fell to talking about how hard times was, and how poor
they had to live, and how the rats was as free as if they owned the
place, and so forth and so on, and then I got easy again. She was right
about the rats. You'd see one stick his nose out of a hole in the corner
every little while. She said she had to have things handy to throw at
them when she was alone, or they wouldn't give her no peace. She showed
me a bar of lead twisted up into a knot, and said she was a good shot
with it generly, but she'd wrenched her arm a day or two ago, and didn't
know whether she could throw true now. But she watched for a chance, and
directly banged away at a rat; but she missed him wide, and said "Ouch!"
it hurt her arm so. Then she told me to try for the next one. I wanted
to be getting away before the old man got back, but of course I didn't
let on. I got the thing, and the first rat that showed his nose I let
drive, and if he'd a stayed where he was he'd a been a tolerable sick
rat. She said that was first-rate, and she reckoned I would hive the
next one. She went and got the lump of lead and fetched it back, and
brought along a hank of yarn which she wanted me to help her with. I
held up my two hands and she put the hank over them, and went on talking
about her and her husband's matters. But she broke off to say:
"Keep your eye on the rats. You better have the lead in your lap,
So she dropped the lump into my lap just at that moment, and I clapped my
legs together on it and she went on talking. But only about a minute.
Then she took off the hank and looked me straight in the face, and very
pleasant, and says:
"Come, now, what's your real name?"
"What's your real name? Is it Bill, or Tom, or Bob?--or what is it?"
I reckon I shook like a leaf, and I didn't know hardly what to do. But I
"Please to don't poke fun at a poor girl like me, mum. If I'm in the way
"No, you won't. Set down and stay where you are. I ain't going to hurt
you, and I ain't going to tell on you, nuther. You just tell me your
secret, and trust me. I'll keep it; and, what's more, I'll help you.
So'll my old man if you want him to. You see, you're a runaway
'prentice, that's all. It ain't anything. There ain't no harm in it.
You've been treated bad, and you made up your mind to cut. Bless you,
child, I wouldn't tell on you. Tell me all about it now, that's a good
So I said it wouldn't be no use to try to play it any longer, and I would
just make a clean breast and tell her everything, but she musn't go back
on her promise. Then I told her my father and mother was dead, and the
law had bound me out to a mean old farmer in the country thirty mile back
from the river, and he treated me so bad I couldn't stand it no longer;
he went away to be gone a couple of days, and so I took my chance and
stole some of his daughter's old clothes and cleared out, and I had been
three nights coming the thirty miles. I traveled nights, and hid
daytimes and slept, and the bag of bread and meat I carried from home
lasted me all the way, and I had a-plenty. I said I believed my uncle
Abner Moore would take care of me, and so that was why I struck out for
this town of Goshen.
"Goshen, child? This ain't Goshen. This is St. Petersburg. Goshen's
ten mile further up the river. Who told you this was Goshen?"
"Why, a man I met at daybreak this morning, just as I was going to turn
into the woods for my regular sleep. He told me when the roads forked I
must take the right hand, and five mile would fetch me to Goshen."
"He was drunk, I reckon. He told you just exactly wrong."
"Well, he did act like he was drunk, but it ain't no matter now. I got
to be moving along. I'll fetch Goshen before daylight."
"Hold on a minute. I'll put you up a snack to eat. You might want it."
So she put me up a snack, and says:
"Say, when a cow's laying down, which end of her gets up first? Answer
up prompt now--don't stop to study over it. Which end gets up first?"
"The hind end, mum."
"Well, then, a horse?"
"The for'rard end, mum."
"Which side of a tree does the moss grow on?"
"If fifteen cows is browsing on a hillside, how many of them eats with
their heads pointed the same direction?"
"The whole fifteen, mum."
"Well, I reckon you HAVE lived in the country. I thought maybe you was
trying to hocus me again. What's your real name, now?"
"George Peters, mum."
"Well, try to remember it, George. Don't forget and tell me it's
Elexander before you go, and then get out by saying it's George Elexander
when I catch you. And don't go about women in that old calico. You do a
girl tolerable poor, but you might fool men, maybe. Bless you, child,
when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch
the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it;
that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other
way. And when you throw at a rat or anything, hitch yourself up a tiptoe
and fetch your hand up over your head as awkward as you can, and miss
your rat about six or seven foot. Throw stiff-armed from the shoulder,
like there was a pivot there for it to turn on, like a girl; not from the
wrist and elbow, with your arm out to one side, like a boy. And, mind
you, when a girl tries to catch anything in her lap she throws her knees
apart; she don't clap them together, the way you did when you catched the
lump of lead. Why, I spotted you for a boy when you was threading the
needle; and I contrived the other things just to make certain. Now trot
along to your uncle, Sarah Mary Williams George Elexander Peters, and if
you get into trouble you send word to Mrs. Judith Loftus, which is me,
and I'll do what I can to get you out of it. Keep the river road all the
way, and next time you tramp take shoes and socks with you. The river
road's a rocky one, and your feet'll be in a condition when you get to
Goshen, I reckon."
I went up the bank about fifty yards, and then I doubled on my tracks and
slipped back to where my canoe was, a good piece below the house. I
jumped in, and was off in a hurry. I went up-stream far enough to make
the head of the island, and then started across. I took off the
sun-bonnet, for I didn't want no blinders on then. When I was about the
middle I heard the clock begin to strike, so I stops and listens; the
sound come faint over the water but clear--eleven. When I struck the
head of the island I never waited to blow, though I was most winded, but
I shoved right into the timber where my old camp used to be, and started
a good fire there on a high and dry spot.
Then I jumped in the canoe and dug out for our place, a mile and a half
below, as hard as I could go. I landed, and slopped through the timber
and up the ridge and into the cavern. There Jim laid, sound asleep on
the ground. I roused him out and says:
"Git up and hump yourself, Jim! There ain't a minute to lose. They're
Jim never asked no questions, he never said a word; but the way he worked
for the next half an hour showed about how he was scared. By that time
everything we had in the world was on our raft, and she was ready to be
shoved out from the willow cove where she was hid. We put out the camp
fire at the cavern the first thing, and didn't show a candle outside
I took the canoe out from the shore a little piece, and took a look; but
if there was a boat around I couldn't see it, for stars and shadows ain't
good to see by. Then we got out the raft and slipped along down in the
shade, past the foot of the island dead still--never saying a word.
IT must a been close on to one o'clock when we got below the island at
last, and the raft did seem to go mighty slow. If a boat was to come
along we was going to take to the canoe and break for the Illinois shore;
and it was well a boat didn't come, for we hadn't ever thought to put the
gun in the canoe, or a fishing-line, or anything to eat. We was in
ruther too much of a sweat to think of so many things. It warn't good
judgment to put EVERYTHING on the raft.
If the men went to the island I just expect they found the camp fire I
built, and watched it all night for Jim to come. Anyways, they stayed
away from us, and if my building the fire never fooled them it warn't no
fault of mine. I played it as low down on them as I could.
When the first streak of day began to show we tied up to a towhead in a
big bend on the Illinois side, and hacked off cottonwood branches with
the hatchet, and covered up the raft with them so she looked like there
had been a cave-in in the bank there. A tow-head is a sandbar that has
cottonwoods on it as thick as harrow-teeth.
We had mountains on the Missouri shore and heavy timber on the Illinois
side, and the channel was down the Missouri shore at that place, so we
warn't afraid of anybody running across us. We laid there all day, and
watched the rafts and steamboats spin down the Missouri shore, and
up-bound steamboats fight the big river in the middle. I told Jim all
about the time I had jabbering with that woman; and Jim said she was a
smart one, and if she was to start after us herself she wouldn't set down
and watch a camp fire--no, sir, she'd fetch a dog. Well, then, I said,
why couldn't she tell her husband to fetch a dog? Jim said he bet she
did think of it by the time the men was ready to start, and he believed
they must a gone up-town to get a dog and so they lost all that time, or
else we wouldn't be here on a towhead sixteen or seventeen mile below the
village--no, indeedy, we would be in that same old town again. So I said
I didn't care what was the reason they didn't get us as long as they
When it was beginning to come on dark we poked our heads out of the
cottonwood thicket, and looked up and down and across; nothing in sight;
so Jim took up some of the top planks of the raft and built a snug wigwam
to get under in blazing weather and rainy, and to keep the things dry.
Jim made a floor for the wigwam, and raised it a foot or more above the
level of the raft, so now the blankets and all the traps was out of reach
of steamboat waves. Right in the middle of the wigwam we made a layer of
dirt about five or six inches deep with a frame around it for to hold it
to its place; this was to build a fire on in sloppy weather or chilly;
the wigwam would keep it from being seen. We made an extra steering-oar,
too, because one of the others might get broke on a snag or something.
We fixed up a short forked stick to hang the old lantern on, because we
must always light the lantern whenever we see a steamboat coming
down-stream, to keep from getting run over; but we wouldn't have to light
it for up-stream boats unless we see we was in what they call a
"crossing"; for the river was pretty high yet, very low banks being still
a little under water; so up-bound boats didn't always run the channel,
but hunted easy water.
This second night we run between seven and eight hours, with a current
that was making over four mile an hour. We catched fish and talked, and
we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of
solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs looking
up at the stars, and we didn't ever feel like talking loud, and it warn't
often that we laughed--only a little kind of a low chuckle. We had
mighty good weather as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us
at all--that night, nor the next, nor the next.
Every night we passed towns, some of them away up on black hillsides,
nothing but just a shiny bed of lights; not a house could you see. The
fifth night we passed St. Louis, and it was like the whole world lit up.
In St. Petersburg they used to say there was twenty or thirty thousand
people in St. Louis, but I never believed it till I see that wonderful
spread of lights at two o'clock that still night. There warn't a sound
there; everybody was asleep.
Every night now I used to slip ashore towards ten o'clock at some little
village, and buy ten or fifteen cents' worth of meal or bacon or other
stuff to eat; and sometimes I lifted a chicken that warn't roosting
comfortable, and took him along. Pap always said, take a chicken when
you get a chance, because if you don't want him yourself you can easy
find somebody that does, and a good deed ain't ever forgot. I never see
pap when he didn't want the chicken himself, but that is what he used to
Mornings before daylight I slipped into cornfields and borrowed a
watermelon, or a mushmelon, or a punkin, or some new corn, or things of
that kind. Pap always said it warn't no harm to borrow things if you was
meaning to pay them back some time; but the widow said it warn't anything
but a soft name for stealing, and no decent body would do it. Jim said
he reckoned the widow was partly right and pap was partly right; so the
best way would be for us to pick out two or three things from the list
and say we wouldn't borrow them any more--then he reckoned it wouldn't be
no harm to borrow the others. So we talked it over all one night,
drifting along down the river, trying to make up our minds whether to
drop the watermelons, or the cantelopes, or the mushmelons, or what. But
towards daylight we got it all settled satisfactory, and concluded to
drop crabapples and p'simmons. We warn't feeling just right before that,
but it was all comfortable now. I was glad the way it come out, too,
because crabapples ain't ever good, and the p'simmons wouldn't be ripe
for two or three months yet.
We shot a water-fowl now and then that got up too early in the morning or
didn't go to bed early enough in the evening. Take it all round, we
lived pretty high.
The fifth night below St. Louis we had a big storm after midnight, with a
power of thunder and lightning, and the rain poured down in a solid
sheet. We stayed in the wigwam and let the raft take care of itself.
When the lightning glared out we could see a big straight river ahead,
and high, rocky bluffs on both sides. By and by says I, "Hel-LO, Jim,
looky yonder!" It was a steamboat that had killed herself on a rock. We
was drifting straight down for her. The lightning showed her very
distinct. She was leaning over, with part of her upper deck above water,
and you could see every little chimbly-guy clean and clear, and a chair
by the big bell, with an old slouch hat hanging on the back of it, when
the flashes come.
Well, it being away in the night and stormy, and all so mysterious-like,
I felt just the way any other boy would a felt when I see that wreck
laying there so mournful and lonesome in the middle of the river. I
wanted to get aboard of her and slink around a little, and see what there
was there. So I says:
"Le's land on her, Jim."
But Jim was dead against it at first. He says:
"I doan' want to go fool'n 'long er no wrack. We's doin' blame' well, en
we better let blame' well alone, as de good book says. Like as not dey's
a watchman on dat wrack."
"Watchman your grandmother," I says; "there ain't nothing to watch but
the texas and the pilot-house; and do you reckon anybody's going to resk
his life for a texas and a pilot-house such a night as this, when it's
likely to break up and wash off down the river any minute?" Jim couldn't
say nothing to that, so he didn't try. "And besides," I says, "we might
borrow something worth having out of the captain's stateroom. Seegars, I
bet you--and cost five cents apiece, solid cash. Steamboat captains is
always rich, and get sixty dollars a month, and THEY don't care a cent
what a thing costs, you know, long as they want it. Stick a candle in
your pocket; I can't rest, Jim, till we give her a rummaging. Do you
reckon Tom Sawyer would ever go by this thing? Not for pie, he wouldn't.
He'd call it an adventure--that's what he'd call it; and he'd land on
that wreck if it was his last act. And wouldn't he throw style into it?
--wouldn't he spread himself, nor nothing? Why, you'd think it was
Christopher C'lumbus discovering Kingdom-Come. I wish Tom Sawyer WAS
Jim he grumbled a little, but give in. He said we mustn't talk any more
than we could help, and then talk mighty low. The lightning showed us
the wreck again just in time, and we fetched the stabboard derrick, and
made fast there.
The deck was high out here. We went sneaking down the slope of it to
labboard, in the dark, towards the texas, feeling our way slow with our
feet, and spreading our hands out to fend off the guys, for it was so
dark we couldn't see no sign of them. Pretty soon we struck the forward
end of the skylight, and clumb on to it; and the next step fetched us in
front of the captain's door, which was open, and by Jimminy, away down
through the texas-hall we see a light! and all in the same second we seem
to hear low voices in yonder!
Jim whispered and said he was feeling powerful sick, and told me to come
along. I says, all right, and was going to start for the raft; but just
then I heard a voice wail out and say:
"Oh, please don't, boys; I swear I won't ever tell!"
Another voice said, pretty loud:
"It's a lie, Jim Turner. You've acted this way before. You always want
more'n your share of the truck, and you've always got it, too, because
you've swore 't if you didn't you'd tell. But this time you've said it
jest one time too many. You're the meanest, treacherousest hound in this
By this time Jim was gone for the raft. I was just a-biling with
curiosity; and I says to myself, Tom Sawyer wouldn't back out now, and so
I won't either; I'm a-going to see what's going on here. So I dropped on
my hands and knees in the little passage, and crept aft in the dark till
there warn't but one stateroom betwixt me and the cross-hall of the
texas. Then in there I see a man stretched on the floor and tied hand
and foot, and two men standing over him, and one of them had a dim
lantern in his hand, and the other one had a pistol. This one kept
pointing the pistol at the man's head on the floor, and saying:
"I'd LIKE to! And I orter, too--a mean skunk!"
The man on the floor would shrivel up and say, "Oh, please don't, Bill; I
hain't ever goin' to tell."
And every time he said that the man with the lantern would laugh and say:
"'Deed you AIN'T! You never said no truer thing 'n that, you bet you."
And once he said: "Hear him beg! and yit if we hadn't got the best of
him and tied him he'd a killed us both. And what FOR? Jist for noth'n.
Jist because we stood on our RIGHTS--that's what for. But I lay you
ain't a-goin' to threaten nobody any more, Jim Turner. Put UP that
"I don't want to, Jake Packard. I'm for killin' him--and didn't he kill
old Hatfield jist the same way--and don't he deserve it?"
"But I don't WANT him killed, and I've got my reasons for it."
"Bless yo' heart for them words, Jake Packard! I'll never forgit you
long's I live!" says the man on the floor, sort of blubbering.
Packard didn't take no notice of that, but hung up his lantern on a nail
and started towards where I was there in the dark, and motioned Bill to
come. I crawfished as fast as I could about two yards, but the boat
slanted so that I couldn't make very good time; so to keep from getting
run over and catched I crawled into a stateroom on the upper side. The
man came a-pawing along in the dark, and when Packard got to my
stateroom, he says:
"Here--come in here."
And in he come, and Bill after him. But before they got in I was up in
the upper berth, cornered, and sorry I come. Then they stood there, with
their hands on the ledge of the berth, and talked. I couldn't see them,
but I could tell where they was by the whisky they'd been having. I was
glad I didn't drink whisky; but it wouldn't made much difference anyway,
because most of the time they couldn't a treed me because I didn't
breathe. I was too scared. And, besides, a body COULDN'T breathe and
hear such talk. They talked low and earnest. Bill wanted to kill
Turner. He says:
"He's said he'll tell, and he will. If we was to give both our shares to
him NOW it wouldn't make no difference after the row and the way we've
served him. Shore's you're born, he'll turn State's evidence; now you
hear ME. I'm for putting him out of his troubles."
"So'm I," says Packard, very quiet.
"Blame it, I'd sorter begun to think you wasn't. Well, then, that's all
right. Le's go and do it."
"Hold on a minute; I hain't had my say yit. You listen to me.
Shooting's good, but there's quieter ways if the thing's GOT to be done.
But what I say is this: it ain't good sense to go court'n around after a
halter if you can git at what you're up to in some way that's jist as
good and at the same time don't bring you into no resks. Ain't that so?"
"You bet it is. But how you goin' to manage it this time?"
"Well, my idea is this: we'll rustle around and gather up whatever
pickins we've overlooked in the staterooms, and shove for shore and hide
the truck. Then we'll wait. Now I say it ain't a-goin' to be more'n two
hours befo' this wrack breaks up and washes off down the river. See?
He'll be drownded, and won't have nobody to blame for it but his own
self. I reckon that's a considerble sight better 'n killin' of him. I'm
unfavorable to killin' a man as long as you can git aroun' it; it ain't
good sense, it ain't good morals. Ain't I right?"
"Yes, I reck'n you are. But s'pose she DON'T break up and wash off?"
"Well, we can wait the two hours anyway and see, can't we?"
"All right, then; come along."
So they started, and I lit out, all in a cold sweat, and scrambled
forward. It was dark as pitch there; but I said, in a kind of a coarse
whisper, "Jim!" and he answered up, right at my elbow, with a sort of a
moan, and I says:
"Quick, Jim, it ain't no time for fooling around and moaning; there's a
gang of murderers in yonder, and if we don't hunt up their boat and set
her drifting down the river so these fellows can't get away from the
wreck there's one of 'em going to be in a bad fix. But if we find their
boat we can put ALL of 'em in a bad fix--for the sheriff 'll get 'em.
Quick--hurry! I'll hunt the labboard side, you hunt the stabboard.
You start at the raft, and--"
"Oh, my lordy, lordy! RAF'? Dey ain' no raf' no mo'; she done broke
loose en gone I--en here we is!"
WELL, I catched my breath and most fainted. Shut up on a wreck with such
a gang as that! But it warn't no time to be sentimentering. We'd GOT to
find that boat now--had to have it for ourselves. So we went a-quaking
and shaking down the stabboard side, and slow work it was, too--seemed a
week before we got to the stern. No sign of a boat. Jim said he didn't
believe he could go any further--so scared he hadn't hardly any strength
left, he said. But I said, come on, if we get left on this wreck we are
in a fix, sure. So on we prowled again. We struck for the stern of the
texas, and found it, and then scrabbled along forwards on the skylight,
hanging on from shutter to shutter, for the edge of the skylight was in
the water. When we got pretty close to the cross-hall door there was the
skiff, sure enough! I could just barely see her. I felt ever so
thankful. In another second I would a been aboard of her, but just then
the door opened. One of the men stuck his head out only about a couple
of foot from me, and I thought I was gone; but he jerked it in again, and
"Heave that blame lantern out o' sight, Bill!"
He flung a bag of something into the boat, and then got in himself and
set down. It was Packard. Then Bill HE come out and got in. Packard
says, in a low voice:
"All ready--shove off!"
I couldn't hardly hang on to the shutters, I was so weak. But Bill says:
"Hold on--'d you go through him?"
"No. Didn't you?"
"No. So he's got his share o' the cash yet."
"Well, then, come along; no use to take truck and leave money."
"Say, won't he suspicion what we're up to?"
"Maybe he won't. But we got to have it anyway. Come along."
So they got out and went in.
The door slammed to because it was on the careened side; and in a half
second I was in the boat, and Jim come tumbling after me. I out with my
knife and cut the rope, and away we went!
We didn't touch an oar, and we didn't speak nor whisper, nor hardly even
breathe. We went gliding swift along, dead silent, past the tip of the
paddle-box, and past the stern; then in a second or two more we was a
hundred yards below the wreck, and the darkness soaked her up, every last
sign of her, and we was safe, and knowed it.
When we was three or four hundred yards down-stream we see the lantern
show like a little spark at the texas door for a second, and we knowed by
that that the rascals had missed their boat, and was beginning to
understand that they was in just as much trouble now as Jim Turner was.
Then Jim manned the oars, and we took out after our raft. Now was the
first time that I begun to worry about the men--I reckon I hadn't had
time to before. I begun to think how dreadful it was, even for
murderers, to be in such a fix. I says to myself, there ain't no telling
but I might come to be a murderer myself yet, and then how would I like
it? So says I to Jim:
"The first light we see we'll land a hundred yards below it or above it,
in a place where it's a good hiding-place for you and the skiff, and then
I'll go and fix up some kind of a yarn, and get somebody to go for that
gang and get them out of their scrape, so they can be hung when their
But that idea was a failure; for pretty soon it begun to storm again, and
this time worse than ever. The rain poured down, and never a light
showed; everybody in bed, I reckon. We boomed along down the river,
watching for lights and watching for our raft. After a long time the
rain let up, but the clouds stayed, and the lightning kept whimpering,
and by and by a flash showed us a black thing ahead, floating, and we
made for it.
It was the raft, and mighty glad was we to get aboard of it again. We
seen a light now away down to the right, on shore. So I said I would go
for it. The skiff was half full of plunder which that gang had stole
there on the wreck. We hustled it on to the raft in a pile, and I told
Jim to float along down, and show a light when he judged he had gone
about two mile, and keep it burning till I come; then I manned my oars
and shoved for the light. As I got down towards it three or four more
showed--up on a hillside. It was a village. I closed in above the shore
light, and laid on my oars and floated. As I went by I see it was a
lantern hanging on the jackstaff of a double-hull ferryboat. I skimmed
around for the watchman, a-wondering whereabouts he slept; and by and by
I found him roosting on the bitts forward, with his head down between his
knees. I gave his shoulder two or three little shoves, and begun to cry.
He stirred up in a kind of a startlish way; but when he see it was only
me he took a good gap and stretch, and then he says:
"Hello, what's up? Don't cry, bub. What's the trouble?"
"Pap, and mam, and sis, and--"
Then I broke down. He says:
"Oh, dang it now, DON'T take on so; we all has to have our troubles, and
this 'n 'll come out all right. What's the matter with 'em?"
"They're--they're--are you the watchman of the boat?"
"Yes," he says, kind of pretty-well-satisfied like. "I'm the captain and
the owner and the mate and the pilot and watchman and head deck-hand; and
sometimes I'm the freight and passengers. I ain't as rich as old Jim
Hornback, and I can't be so blame' generous and good to Tom, Dick, and
Harry as what he is, and slam around money the way he does; but I've told
him a many a time 't I wouldn't trade places with him; for, says I, a
sailor's life's the life for me, and I'm derned if I'D live two mile out
o' town, where there ain't nothing ever goin' on, not for all his
spondulicks and as much more on top of it. Says I--"
I broke in and says:
"They're in an awful peck of trouble, and--"
"Why, pap and mam and sis and Miss Hooker; and if you'd take your
ferryboat and go up there--"
"Up where? Where are they?"
"On the wreck."
"Why, there ain't but one."
"What, you don't mean the Walter Scott?"
"Good land! what are they doin' THERE, for gracious sakes?"
"Well, they didn't go there a-purpose."
"I bet they didn't! Why, great goodness, there ain't no chance for 'em
if they don't git off mighty quick! Why, how in the nation did they ever
git into such a scrape?"
"Easy enough. Miss Hooker was a-visiting up there to the town--"
"Yes, Booth's Landing--go on."
"She was a-visiting there at Booth's Landing, and just in the edge of the
evening she started over with her nigger woman in the horse-ferry to stay
all night at her friend's house, Miss What-you-may-call-her I disremember
her name--and they lost their steering-oar, and swung around and went
a-floating down, stern first, about two mile, and saddle-baggsed on the
wreck, and the ferryman and the nigger woman and the horses was all lost,
but Miss Hooker she made a grab and got aboard the wreck. Well, about an
hour after dark we come along down in our trading-scow, and it was so
dark we didn't notice the wreck till we was right on it; and so WE
saddle-baggsed; but all of us was saved but Bill Whipple--and oh, he WAS
the best cretur!--I most wish 't it had been me, I do."
"My George! It's the beatenest thing I ever struck. And THEN what did
you all do?"
"Well, we hollered and took on, but it's so wide there we couldn't make
nobody hear. So pap said somebody got to get ashore and get help
somehow. I was the only one that could swim, so I made a dash for it, and
Miss Hooker she said if I didn't strike help sooner, come here and hunt
up her uncle, and he'd fix the thing. I made the land about a mile
below, and been fooling along ever since, trying to get people to do
something, but they said, 'What, in such a night and such a current?
There ain't no sense in it; go for the steam ferry.' Now if you'll go
"By Jackson, I'd LIKE to, and, blame it, I don't know but I will; but who
in the dingnation's a-going' to PAY for it? Do you reckon your pap--"
"Why THAT'S all right. Miss Hooker she tole me, PARTICULAR, that her
"Great guns! is HE her uncle? Looky here, you break for that light over
yonder-way, and turn out west when you git there, and about a quarter of
a mile out you'll come to the tavern; tell 'em to dart you out to Jim
Hornback's, and he'll foot the bill. And don't you fool around any,
because he'll want to know the news. Tell him I'll have his niece all
safe before he can get to town. Hump yourself, now; I'm a-going up
around the corner here to roust out my engineer."
I struck for the light, but as soon as he turned the corner I went back
and got into my skiff and bailed her out, and then pulled up shore in the
easy water about six hundred yards, and tucked myself in among some
woodboats; for I couldn't rest easy till I could see the ferryboat start.
But take it all around, I was feeling ruther comfortable on accounts of
taking all this trouble for that gang, for not many would a done it. I
wished the widow knowed about it. I judged she would be proud of me for
helping these rapscallions, because rapscallions and dead beats is the
kind the widow and good people takes the most interest in.
Well, before long here comes the wreck, dim and dusky, sliding along
down! A kind of cold shiver went through me, and then I struck out for
her. She was very deep, and I see in a minute there warn't much chance
for anybody being alive in her. I pulled all around her and hollered a
little, but there wasn't any answer; all dead still. I felt a little bit
heavy-hearted about the gang, but not much, for I reckoned if they could
stand it I could.
Then here comes the ferryboat; so I shoved for the middle of the river on
a long down-stream slant; and when I judged I was out of eye-reach I laid
on my oars, and looked back and see her go and smell around the wreck for
Miss Hooker's remainders, because the captain would know her uncle
Hornback would want them; and then pretty soon the ferryboat give it up
and went for the shore, and I laid into my work and went a-booming down
It did seem a powerful long time before Jim's light showed up; and when
it did show it looked like it was a thousand mile off. By the time I got
there the sky was beginning to get a little gray in the east; so we
struck for an island, and hid the raft, and sunk the skiff, and turned in
and slept like dead people.
BY and by, when we got up, we turned over the truck the gang had stole
off of the wreck, and found boots, and blankets, and clothes, and all
sorts of other things, and a lot of books, and a spyglass, and three
boxes of seegars. We hadn't ever been this rich before in neither of our
lives. The seegars was prime. We laid off all the afternoon in the
woods talking, and me reading the books, and having a general good time.
I told Jim all about what happened inside the wreck and at the ferryboat,
and I said these kinds of things was adventures; but he said he didn't
want no more adventures. He said that when I went in the texas and he
crawled back to get on the raft and found her gone he nearly died,
because he judged it was all up with HIM anyway it could be fixed; for if
he didn't get saved he would get drownded; and if he did get saved,
whoever saved him would send him back home so as to get the reward, and
then Miss Watson would sell him South, sure. Well, he was right; he was
most always right; he had an uncommon level head for a nigger.
I read considerable to Jim about kings and dukes and earls and such, and
how gaudy they dressed, and how much style they put on, and called each
other your majesty, and your grace, and your lordship, and so on, 'stead
of mister; and Jim's eyes bugged out, and he was interested. He says:
"I didn' know dey was so many un um. I hain't hearn 'bout none un um,
skasely, but ole King Sollermun, onless you counts dem kings dat's in a
pack er k'yards. How much do a king git?"
"Get?" I says; "why, they get a thousand dollars a month if they want
it; they can have just as much as they want; everything belongs to them."
"AIN' dat gay? En what dey got to do, Huck?"
"THEY don't do nothing! Why, how you talk! They just set around."
"No; is dat so?"
"Of course it is. They just set around--except, maybe, when there's a
war; then they go to the war. But other times they just lazy around; or
go hawking--just hawking and sp--Sh!--d' you hear a noise?"
We skipped out and looked; but it warn't nothing but the flutter of a
steamboat's wheel away down, coming around the point; so we come back.
"Yes," says I, "and other times, when things is dull, they fuss with the
parlyment; and if everybody don't go just so he whacks their heads off.
But mostly they hang round the harem."
"Roun' de which?"
"What's de harem?"
"The place where he keeps his wives. Don't you know about the harem?
Solomon had one; he had about a million wives."
"Why, yes, dat's so; I--I'd done forgot it. A harem's a bo'd'n-house, I
reck'n. Mos' likely dey has rackety times in de nussery. En I reck'n de
wives quarrels considable; en dat 'crease de racket. Yit dey say
Sollermun de wises' man dat ever live'. I doan' take no stock in dat.
Bekase why: would a wise man want to live in de mids' er sich a
blim-blammin' all de time? No--'deed he wouldn't. A wise man 'ud take
en buil' a biler-factry; en den he could shet DOWN de biler-factry when
he want to res'."
"Well, but he WAS the wisest man, anyway; because the widow she told me
so, her own self."
"I doan k'yer what de widder say, he WARN'T no wise man nuther. He had
some er de dad-fetchedes' ways I ever see. Does you know 'bout dat chile
dat he 'uz gwyne to chop in two?"
"Yes, the widow told me all about it."
"WELL, den! Warn' dat de beatenes' notion in de worl'? You jes' take en
look at it a minute. Dah's de stump, dah--dat's one er de women; heah's
you--dat's de yuther one; I's Sollermun; en dish yer dollar bill's de
chile. Bofe un you claims it. What does I do? Does I shin aroun'
mongs' de neighbors en fine out which un you de bill DO b'long to, en
han' it over to de right one, all safe en soun', de way dat anybody dat
had any gumption would? No; I take en whack de bill in TWO, en give half
un it to you, en de yuther half to de yuther woman. Dat's de way
Sollermun was gwyne to do wid de chile. Now I want to ast you: what's
de use er dat half a bill?--can't buy noth'n wid it. En what use is a
half a chile? I wouldn' give a dern for a million un um."
"But hang it, Jim, you've clean missed the point--blame it, you've missed
it a thousand mile."
"Who? Me? Go 'long. Doan' talk to me 'bout yo' pints. I reck'n I
knows sense when I sees it; en dey ain' no sense in sich doin's as dat.
De 'spute warn't 'bout a half a chile, de 'spute was 'bout a whole chile;
en de man dat think he kin settle a 'spute 'bout a whole chile wid a half
a chile doan' know enough to come in out'n de rain. Doan' talk to me
'bout Sollermun, Huck, I knows him by de back."
"But I tell you you don't get the point."
"Blame de point! I reck'n I knows what I knows. En mine you, de REAL
pint is down furder--it's down deeper. It lays in de way Sollermun was
raised. You take a man dat's got on'y one or two chillen; is dat man
gwyne to be waseful o' chillen? No, he ain't; he can't 'ford it. HE
know how to value 'em. But you take a man dat's got 'bout five million
chillen runnin' roun' de house, en it's diffunt. HE as soon chop a chile
in two as a cat. Dey's plenty mo'. A chile er two, mo' er less, warn't
no consekens to Sollermun, dad fatch him!"
I never see such a nigger. If he got a notion in his head once, there
warn't no getting it out again. He was the most down on Solomon of any
nigger I ever see. So I went to talking about other kings, and let
Solomon slide. I told about Louis Sixteenth that got his head cut off in
France long time ago; and about his little boy the dolphin, that would a
been a king, but they took and shut him up in jail, and some say he died
"Po' little chap."
"But some says he got out and got away, and come to America."
"Dat's good! But he'll be pooty lonesome--dey ain' no kings here, is
"Den he cain't git no situation. What he gwyne to do?"
"Well, I don't know. Some of them gets on the police, and some of them
learns people how to talk French."
"Why, Huck, doan' de French people talk de same way we does?"
"NO, Jim; you couldn't understand a word they said--not a single word."
"Well, now, I be ding-busted! How do dat come?"
"I don't know; but it's so. I got some of their jabber out of a book.
S'pose a man was to come to you and say Polly-voo-franzy--what would you
"I wouldn' think nuff'n; I'd take en bust him over de head--dat is, if he
warn't white. I wouldn't 'low no nigger to call me dat."
"Shucks, it ain't calling you anything. It's only saying, do you know
how to talk French?"
"Well, den, why couldn't he SAY it?"
"Why, he IS a-saying it. That's a Frenchman's WAY of saying it."
"Well, it's a blame ridicklous way, en I doan' want to hear no mo' 'bout
it. Dey ain' no sense in it."
"Looky here, Jim; does a cat talk like we do?"
"No, a cat don't."
"Well, does a cow?"
"No, a cow don't, nuther."
"Does a cat talk like a cow, or a cow talk like a cat?"
"No, dey don't."
"It's natural and right for 'em to talk different from each other, ain't
"And ain't it natural and right for a cat and a cow to talk different
"Why, mos' sholy it is."
"Well, then, why ain't it natural and right for a FRENCHMAN to talk
different from us? You answer me that."
"Is a cat a man, Huck?"
"Well, den, dey ain't no sense in a cat talkin' like a man. Is a cow a
man?--er is a cow a cat?"
"No, she ain't either of them."
"Well, den, she ain't got no business to talk like either one er the
yuther of 'em. Is a Frenchman a man?"
"WELL, den! Dad blame it, why doan' he TALK like a man? You answer me
I see it warn't no use wasting words--you can't learn a nigger to argue.
So I quit.
WE judged that three nights more would fetch us to Cairo, at the bottom
of Illinois, where the Ohio River comes in, and that was what we was
after. We would sell the raft and get on a steamboat and go way up the
Ohio amongst the free States, and then be out of trouble.
Well, the second night a fog begun to come on, and we made for a towhead
to tie to, for it wouldn't do to try to run in a fog; but when I paddled
ahead in the canoe, with the line to make fast, there warn't anything but
little saplings to tie to. I passed the line around one of them right on
the edge of the cut bank, but there was a stiff current, and the raft
come booming down so lively she tore it out by the roots and away she
went. I see the fog closing down, and it made me so sick and scared I
couldn't budge for most a half a minute it seemed to me--and then there
warn't no raft in sight; you couldn't see twenty yards. I jumped into
the canoe and run back to the stern, and grabbed the paddle and set her
back a stroke. But she didn't come. I was in such a hurry I hadn't
untied her. I got up and tried to untie her, but I was so excited my
hands shook so I couldn't hardly do anything with them.
As soon as I got started I took out after the raft, hot and heavy, right
down the towhead. That was all right as far as it went, but the towhead
warn't sixty yards long, and the minute I flew by the foot of it I shot
out into the solid white fog, and hadn't no more idea which way I was
going than a dead man.
Thinks I, it won't do to paddle; first I know I'll run into the bank or a
towhead or something; I got to set still and float, and yet it's mighty
fidgety business to have to hold your hands still at such a time. I
whooped and listened. Away down there somewheres I hears a small whoop,
and up comes my spirits. I went tearing after it, listening sharp to
hear it again. The next time it come I see I warn't heading for it, but
heading away to the right of it. And the next time I was heading away to
the left of it--and not gaining on it much either, for I was flying
around, this way and that and t'other, but it was going straight ahead
all the time.
I did wish the fool would think to beat a tin pan, and beat it all the
time, but he never did, and it was the still places between the whoops
that was making the trouble for me. Well, I fought along, and directly I
hears the whoop BEHIND me. I was tangled good now. That was somebody
else's whoop, or else I was turned around.
I throwed the paddle down. I heard the whoop again; it was behind me
yet, but in a different place; it kept coming, and kept changing its
place, and I kept answering, till by and by it was in front of me again,
and I knowed the current had swung the canoe's head down-stream, and I
was all right if that was Jim and not some other raftsman hollering. I
couldn't tell nothing about voices in a fog, for nothing don't look
natural nor sound natural in a fog.
The whooping went on, and in about a minute I come a-booming down on a
cut bank with smoky ghosts of big trees on it, and the current throwed me
off to the left and shot by, amongst a lot of snags that fairly roared,
the currrent was tearing by them so swift.
In another second or two it was solid white and still again. I set
perfectly still then, listening to my heart thump, and I reckon I didn't
draw a breath while it thumped a hundred.
I just give up then. I knowed what the matter was. That cut bank was an
island, and Jim had gone down t'other side of it. It warn't no towhead
that you could float by in ten minutes. It had the big timber of a
regular island; it might be five or six miles long and more than half a
I kept quiet, with my ears cocked, about fifteen minutes, I reckon. I
was floating along, of course, four or five miles an hour; but you don't
ever think of that. No, you FEEL like you are laying dead still on the
water; and if a little glimpse of a snag slips by you don't think to
yourself how fast YOU'RE going, but you catch your breath and think, my!
how that snag's tearing along. If you think it ain't dismal and lonesome
out in a fog that way by yourself in the night, you try it once--you'll
Next, for about a half an hour, I whoops now and then; at last I hears
the answer a long ways off, and tries to follow it, but I couldn't do it,
and directly I judged I'd got into a nest of towheads, for I had little
dim glimpses of them on both sides of me--sometimes just a narrow channel
between, and some that I couldn't see I knowed was there because I'd hear
the wash of the current against the old dead brush and trash that hung
over the banks. Well, I warn't long loosing the whoops down amongst the
towheads; and I only tried to chase them a little while, anyway, because
it was worse than chasing a Jack-o'-lantern. You never knowed a sound
dodge around so, and swap places so quick and so much.
I had to claw away from the bank pretty lively four or five times, to
keep from knocking the islands out of the river; and so I judged the raft
must be butting into the bank every now and then, or else it would get
further ahead and clear out of hearing--it was floating a little faster
than what I was.
Well, I seemed to be in the open river again by and by, but I couldn't
hear no sign of a whoop nowheres. I reckoned Jim had fetched up on a
snag, maybe, and it was all up with him. I was good and tired, so I laid
down in the canoe and said I wouldn't bother no more. I didn't want to
go to sleep, of course; but I was so sleepy I couldn't help it; so I
thought I would take jest one little cat-nap.
But I reckon it was more than a cat-nap, for when I waked up the stars
was shining bright, the fog was all gone, and I was spinning down a big
bend stern first. First I didn't know where I was; I thought I was
dreaming; and when things began to come back to me they seemed to come up
dim out of last week.
It was a monstrous big river here, with the tallest and the thickest kind
of timber on both banks; just a solid wall, as well as I could see by the
stars. I looked away down-stream, and seen a black speck on the water.
I took after it; but when I got to it it warn't nothing but a couple of
sawlogs made fast together. Then I see another speck, and chased that;
then another, and this time I was right. It was the raft.
When I got to it Jim was setting there with his head down between his
knees, asleep, with his right arm hanging over the steering-oar. The
other oar was smashed off, and the raft was littered up with leaves and
branches and dirt. So she'd had a rough time.
I made fast and laid down under Jim's nose on the raft, and began to gap,
and stretch my fists out against Jim, and says:
"Hello, Jim, have I been asleep? Why didn't you stir me up?"
"Goodness gracious, is dat you, Huck? En you ain' dead--you ain'
drownded--you's back agin? It's too good for true, honey, it's too
good for true. Lemme look at you chile, lemme feel o' you. No, you ain'
dead! you's back agin, 'live en soun', jis de same ole Huck--de same ole
Huck, thanks to goodness!"
"What's the matter with you, Jim? You been a-drinking?"
"Drinkin'? Has I ben a-drinkin'? Has I had a chance to be a-drinkin'?"
"Well, then, what makes you talk so wild?"
"How does I talk wild?"
"HOW? Why, hain't you been talking about my coming back, and all that
stuff, as if I'd been gone away?"
"Huck--Huck Finn, you look me in de eye; look me in de eye. HAIN'T you
ben gone away?"
"Gone away? Why, what in the nation do you mean? I hain't been gone
anywheres. Where would I go to?"
"Well, looky here, boss, dey's sumf'n wrong, dey is. Is I ME, or who IS
I? Is I heah, or whah IS I? Now dat's what I wants to know."
"Well, I think you're here, plain enough, but I think you're a
tangle-headed old fool, Jim."
"I is, is I? Well, you answer me dis: Didn't you tote out de line in de
canoe fer to make fas' to de tow-head?"
"No, I didn't. What tow-head? I hain't see no tow-head."
"You hain't seen no towhead? Looky here, didn't de line pull loose en de
raf' go a-hummin' down de river, en leave you en de canoe behine in de
"Why, de fog!--de fog dat's been aroun' all night. En didn't you whoop,
en didn't I whoop, tell we got mix' up in de islands en one un us got
los' en t'other one was jis' as good as los', 'kase he didn' know whah he
wuz? En didn't I bust up agin a lot er dem islands en have a turrible
time en mos' git drownded? Now ain' dat so, boss--ain't it so? You
answer me dat."
"Well, this is too many for me, Jim. I hain't seen no fog, nor no
islands, nor no troubles, nor nothing. I been setting here talking with
you all night till you went to sleep about ten minutes ago, and I reckon
I done the same. You couldn't a got drunk in that time, so of course
you've been dreaming."
"Dad fetch it, how is I gwyne to dream all dat in ten minutes?"
"Well, hang it all, you did dream it, because there didn't any of it
"But, Huck, it's all jis' as plain to me as--"
"It don't make no difference how plain it is; there ain't nothing in it.
I know, because I've been here all the time."
Jim didn't say nothing for about five minutes, but set there studying
over it. Then he says:
"Well, den, I reck'n I did dream it, Huck; but dog my cats ef it ain't de
powerfullest dream I ever see. En I hain't ever had no dream b'fo' dat's
tired me like dis one."
"Oh, well, that's all right, because a dream does tire a body like
everything sometimes. But this one was a staving dream; tell me all
about it, Jim."
So Jim went to work and told me the whole thing right through, just as it
happened, only he painted it up considerable. Then he said he must start
in and "'terpret" it, because it was sent for a warning. He said the
first towhead stood for a man that would try to do us some good, but the
current was another man that would get us away from him. The whoops was
warnings that would come to us every now and then, and if we didn't try
hard to make out to understand them they'd just take us into bad luck,
'stead of keeping us out of it. The lot of towheads was troubles we was
going to get into with quarrelsome people and all kinds of mean folks,
but if we minded our business and didn't talk back and aggravate them, we
would pull through and get out of the fog and into the big clear river,
which was the free States, and wouldn't have no more trouble.
It had clouded up pretty dark just after I got on to the raft, but it was
clearing up again now.
"Oh, well, that's all interpreted well enough as far as it goes, Jim," I
says; "but what does THESE things stand for?"
It was the leaves and rubbish on the raft and the smashed oar. You could
see them first-rate now.
Jim looked at the trash, and then looked at me, and back at the trash
again. He had got the dream fixed so strong in his head that he couldn't
seem to shake it loose and get the facts back into its place again right
away. But when he did get the thing straightened around he looked at me
steady without ever smiling, and says:
"What do dey stan' for? I'se gwyne to tell you. When I got all wore out
wid work, en wid de callin' for you, en went to sleep, my heart wuz mos'
broke bekase you wuz los', en I didn' k'yer no' mo' what become er me en
de raf'. En when I wake up en fine you back agin, all safe en soun', de
tears come, en I could a got down on my knees en kiss yo' foot, I's so
thankful. En all you wuz thinkin' 'bout wuz how you could make a fool uv
ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truck dah is TRASH; en trash is what people is
dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes 'em ashamed."
Then he got up slow and walked to the wigwam, and went in there without
saying anything but that. But that was enough. It made me feel so mean
I could almost kissed HIS foot to get him to take it back.
It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble
myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it
afterwards, neither. I didn't do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn't
done that one if I'd a knowed it would make him feel that way.
WE slept most all day, and started out at night, a little ways behind a
monstrous long raft that was as long going by as a procession. She had
four long sweeps at each end, so we judged she carried as many as thirty
men, likely. She had five big wigwams aboard, wide apart, and an open
camp fire in the middle, and a tall flag-pole at each end. There was a
power of style about her. It AMOUNTED to something being a raftsman on
such a craft as that.
We went drifting down into a big bend, and the night clouded up and got
hot. The river was very wide, and was walled with solid timber on both
sides; you couldn't see a break in it hardly ever, or a light. We talked
about Cairo, and wondered whether we would know it when we got to it. I
said likely we wouldn't, because I had heard say there warn't but about a
dozen houses there, and if they didn't happen to have them lit up, how
was we going to know we was passing a town? Jim said if the two big
rivers joined together there, that would show. But I said maybe we might
think we was passing the foot of an island and coming into the same old
river again. That disturbed Jim--and me too. So the question was, what
to do? I said, paddle ashore the first time a light showed, and tell
them pap was behind, coming along with a trading-scow, and was a green
hand at the business, and wanted to know how far it was to Cairo. Jim
thought it was a good idea, so we took a smoke on it and waited.
There warn't nothing to do now but to look out sharp for the town, and
not pass it without seeing it. He said he'd be mighty sure to see it,
because he'd be a free man the minute he seen it, but if he missed it
he'd be in a slave country again and no more show for freedom. Every
little while he jumps up and says:
"Dah she is?"
But it warn't. It was Jack-o'-lanterns, or lightning bugs; so he set
down again, and went to watching, same as before. Jim said it made him
all over trembly and feverish to be so close to freedom. Well, I can
tell you it made me all over trembly and feverish, too, to hear him,
because I begun to get it through my head that he WAS most free--and who
was to blame for it? Why, ME. I couldn't get that out of my conscience,
no how nor no way. It got to troubling me so I couldn't rest; I couldn't
stay still in one place. It hadn't ever come home to me before, what
this thing was that I was doing. But now it did; and it stayed with me,
and scorched me more and more. I tried to make out to myself that I
warn't to blame, because I didn't run Jim off from his rightful owner;
but it warn't no use, conscience up and says, every time, "But you knowed
he was running for his freedom, and you could a paddled ashore and told
somebody." That was so--I couldn't get around that noway. That was
where it pinched. Conscience says to me, "What had poor Miss Watson done
to you that you could see her nigger go off right under your eyes and
never say one single word? What did that poor old woman do to you that
you could treat her so mean? Why, she tried to learn you your book, she
tried to learn you your manners, she tried to be good to you every way
she knowed how. THAT'S what she done."
I got to feeling so mean and so miserable I most wished I was dead. I
fidgeted up and down the raft, abusing myself to myself, and Jim was
fidgeting up and down past me. We neither of us could keep still. Every
time he danced around and says, "Dah's Cairo!" it went through me like a
shot, and I thought if it WAS Cairo I reckoned I would die of
Jim talked out loud all the time while I was talking to myself. He was
saying how the first thing he would do when he got to a free State he
would go to saving up money and never spend a single cent, and when he
got enough he would buy his wife, which was owned on a farm close to
where Miss Watson lived; and then they would both work to buy the two
children, and if their master wouldn't sell them, they'd get an
Ab'litionist to go and steal them.
It most froze me to hear such talk. He wouldn't ever dared to talk such
talk in his life before. Just see what a difference it made in him the
minute he judged he was about free. It was according to the old saying,
"Give a nigger an inch and he'll take an ell." Thinks I, this is what
comes of my not thinking. Here was this nigger, which I had as good as
helped to run away, coming right out flat-footed and saying he would
steal his children--children that belonged to a man I didn't even know; a
man that hadn't ever done me no harm.
I was sorry to hear Jim say that, it was such a lowering of him. My
conscience got to stirring me up hotter than ever, until at last I says
to it, "Let up on me--it ain't too late yet--I'll paddle ashore at the
first light and tell." I felt easy and happy and light as a feather
right off. All my troubles was gone. I went to looking out sharp for a
light, and sort of singing to myself. By and by one showed. Jim sings
"We's safe, Huck, we's safe! Jump up and crack yo' heels! Dat's de good
ole Cairo at las', I jis knows it!"
"I'll take the canoe and go and see, Jim. It mightn't be, you know."
He jumped and got the canoe ready, and put his old coat in the bottom for
me to set on, and give me the paddle; and as I shoved off, he says:
"Pooty soon I'll be a-shout'n' for joy, en I'll say, it's all on accounts
o' Huck; I's a free man, en I couldn't ever ben free ef it hadn' ben for
Huck; Huck done it. Jim won't ever forgit you, Huck; you's de bes' fren'
Jim's ever had; en you's de ONLY fren' ole Jim's got now."
I was paddling off, all in a sweat to tell on him; but when he says this,
it seemed to kind of take the tuck all out of me. I went along slow
then, and I warn't right down certain whether I was glad I started or
whether I warn't. When I was fifty yards off, Jim says:
"Dah you goes, de ole true Huck; de on'y white genlman dat ever kep' his
promise to ole Jim."
Well, I just felt sick. But I says, I GOT to do it--I can't get OUT of
it. Right then along comes a skiff with two men in it with guns, and
they stopped and I stopped. One of them says:
"What's that yonder?"
"A piece of a raft," I says.
"Do you belong on it?"
"Any men on it?"
"Only one, sir."
"Well, there's five niggers run off to-night up yonder, above the head of
the bend. Is your man white or black?"
I didn't answer up prompt. I tried to, but the words wouldn't come. I
tried for a second or two to brace up and out with it, but I warn't man
enough--hadn't the spunk of a rabbit. I see I was weakening; so I just
give up trying, and up and says:
"I reckon we'll go and see for ourselves."
"I wish you would," says I, "because it's pap that's there, and maybe
you'd help me tow the raft ashore where the light is. He's sick--and so
is mam and Mary Ann."
"Oh, the devil! we're in a hurry, boy. But I s'pose we've got to. Come,
buckle to your paddle, and let's get along."
I buckled to my paddle and they laid to their oars. When we had made a
stroke or two, I says:
"Pap'll be mighty much obleeged to you, I can tell you. Everybody goes
away when I want them to help me tow the raft ashore, and I can't do it
"Well, that's infernal mean. Odd, too. Say, boy, what's the matter with
"It's the--a--the--well, it ain't anything much."
They stopped pulling. It warn't but a mighty little ways to the raft
now. One says:
"Boy, that's a lie. What IS the matter with your pap? Answer up square
now, and it'll be the better for you."
"I will, sir, I will, honest--but don't leave us, please. It's the--the
--Gentlemen, if you'll only pull ahead, and let me heave you the
headline, you won't have to come a-near the raft--please do."
"Set her back, John, set her back!" says one. They backed water. "Keep
away, boy--keep to looard. Confound it, I just expect the wind has
blowed it to us. Your pap's got the small-pox, and you know it precious
well. Why didn't you come out and say so? Do you want to spread it all
"Well," says I, a-blubbering, "I've told everybody before, and they just
went away and left us."
"Poor devil, there's something in that. We are right down sorry for you,
but we--well, hang it, we don't want the small-pox, you see. Look here,
I'll tell you what to do. Don't you try to land by yourself, or you'll
smash everything to pieces. You float along down about twenty miles, and
you'll come to a town on the left-hand side of the river. It will be
long after sun-up then, and when you ask for help you tell them your
folks are all down with chills and fever. Don't be a fool again, and let
people guess what is the matter. Now we're trying to do you a kindness;
so you just put twenty miles between us, that's a good boy. It wouldn't
do any good to land yonder where the light is--it's only a wood-yard.
Say, I reckon your father's poor, and I'm bound to say he's in pretty
hard luck. Here, I'll put a twenty-dollar gold piece on this board, and
you get it when it floats by. I feel mighty mean to leave you; but my
kingdom! it won't do to fool with small-pox, don't you see?"
"Hold on, Parker," says the other man, "here's a twenty to put on the
board for me. Good-bye, boy; you do as Mr. Parker told you, and you'll
be all right."
"That's so, my boy--good-bye, good-bye. If you see any runaway niggers
you get help and nab them, and you can make some money by it."
"Good-bye, sir," says I; "I won't let no runaway niggers get by me if I
can help it."
They went off and I got aboard the raft, feeling bad and low, because I
knowed very well I had done wrong, and I see it warn't no use for me to
try to learn to do right; a body that don't get STARTED right when he's
little ain't got no show--when the pinch comes there ain't nothing to
back him up and keep him to his work, and so he gets beat. Then I
thought a minute, and says to myself, hold on; s'pose you'd a done right
and give Jim up, would you felt better than what you do now? No, says I,
I'd feel bad--I'd feel just the same way I do now. Well, then, says I,
what's the use you learning to do right when it's troublesome to do right
and ain't no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same? I was
stuck. I couldn't answer that. So I reckoned I wouldn't bother no more
about it, but after this always do whichever come handiest at the time.
I went into the wigwam; Jim warn't there. I looked all around; he warn't
anywhere. I says:
"Here I is, Huck. Is dey out o' sight yit? Don't talk loud."
He was in the river under the stern oar, with just his nose out. I told
him they were out of sight, so he come aboard. He says:
"I was a-listenin' to all de talk, en I slips into de river en was gwyne
to shove for sho' if dey come aboard. Den I was gwyne to swim to de raf'
agin when dey was gone. But lawsy, how you did fool 'em, Huck! Dat WUZ
de smartes' dodge! I tell you, chile, I'spec it save' ole Jim--ole Jim
ain't going to forgit you for dat, honey."
Then we talked about the money. It was a pretty good raise--twenty
dollars apiece. Jim said we could take deck passage on a steamboat now,
and the money would last us as far as we wanted to go in the free States.
He said twenty mile more warn't far for the raft to go, but he wished we
was already there.
Towards daybreak we tied up, and Jim was mighty particular about hiding
the raft good. Then he worked all day fixing things in bundles, and
getting all ready to quit rafting.
That night about ten we hove in sight of the lights of a town away down
in a left-hand bend.
I went off in the canoe to ask about it. Pretty soon I found a man out
in the river with a skiff, setting a trot-line. I ranged up and says:
"Mister, is that town Cairo?"
"Cairo? no. You must be a blame' fool."
"What town is it, mister?"
"If you want to know, go and find out. If you stay here botherin' around
me for about a half a minute longer you'll get something you won't want."
I paddled to the raft. Jim was awful disappointed, but I said never
mind, Cairo would be the next place, I reckoned.
We passed another town before daylight, and I was going out again; but it
was high ground, so I didn't go. No high ground about Cairo, Jim said.
I had forgot it. We laid up for the day on a towhead tolerable close to
the left-hand bank. I begun to suspicion something. So did Jim. I
"Maybe we went by Cairo in the fog that night."
"Doan' le's talk about it, Huck. Po' niggers can't have no luck. I
awluz 'spected dat rattlesnake-skin warn't done wid its work."
"I wish I'd never seen that snake-skin, Jim--I do wish I'd never laid
eyes on it."
"It ain't yo' fault, Huck; you didn' know. Don't you blame yo'self 'bout
When it was daylight, here was the clear Ohio water inshore, sure enough,
and outside was the old regular Muddy! So it was all up with Cairo.
We talked it all over. It wouldn't do to take to the shore; we couldn't
take the raft up the stream, of course. There warn't no way but to wait
for dark, and start back in the canoe and take the chances. So we slept
all day amongst the cottonwood thicket, so as to be fresh for the work,
and when we went back to the raft about dark the canoe was gone!
We didn't say a word for a good while. There warn't anything to say. We
both knowed well enough it was some more work of the rattlesnake-skin; so
what was the use to talk about it? It would only look like we was
finding fault, and that would be bound to fetch more bad luck--and keep
on fetching it, too, till we knowed enough to keep still.
By and by we talked about what we better do, and found there warn't no
way but just to go along down with the raft till we got a chance to buy a
canoe to go back in. We warn't going to borrow it when there warn't
anybody around, the way pap would do, for that might set people after us.
So we shoved out after dark on the raft.
Anybody that don't believe yet that it's foolishness to handle a
snake-skin, after all that that snake-skin done for us, will believe
it now if they read on and see what more it done for us.
The place to buy canoes is off of rafts laying up at shore. But we
didn't see no rafts laying up; so we went along during three hours and
more. Well, the night got gray and ruther thick, which is the next
meanest thing to fog. You can't tell the shape of the river, and you
can't see no distance. It got to be very late and still, and then along
comes a steamboat up the river. We lit the lantern, and judged she would
see it. Up-stream boats didn't generly come close to us; they go out and
follow the bars and hunt for easy water under the reefs; but nights like
this they bull right up the channel against the whole river.
We could hear her pounding along, but we didn't see her good till she was
close. She aimed right for us. Often they do that and try to see how
close they can come without touching; sometimes the wheel bites off a
sweep, and then the pilot sticks his head out and laughs, and thinks he's
mighty smart. Well, here she comes, and we said she was going to try and
shave us; but she didn't seem to be sheering off a bit. She was a big
one, and she was coming in a hurry, too, looking like a black cloud with
rows of glow-worms around it; but all of a sudden she bulged out, big and
scary, with a long row of wide-open furnace doors shining like red-hot
teeth, and her monstrous bows and guards hanging right over us. There
was a yell at us, and a jingling of bells to stop the engines, a powwow
of cussing, and whistling of steam--and as Jim went overboard on one side
and I on the other, she come smashing straight through the raft.
I dived--and I aimed to find the bottom, too, for a thirty-foot wheel had
got to go over me, and I wanted it to have plenty of room. I could
always stay under water a minute; this time I reckon I stayed under a
minute and a half. Then I bounced for the top in a hurry, for I was
nearly busting. I popped out to my armpits and blowed the water out of
my nose, and puffed a bit. Of course there was a booming current; and of
course that boat started her engines again ten seconds after she stopped
them, for they never cared much for raftsmen; so now she was churning
along up the river, out of sight in the thick weather, though I could
I sung out for Jim about a dozen times, but I didn't get any answer; so I
grabbed a plank that touched me while I was "treading water," and struck
out for shore, shoving it ahead of me. But I made out to see that the
drift of the current was towards the left-hand shore, which meant that I
was in a crossing; so I changed off and went that way.
It was one of these long, slanting, two-mile crossings; so I was a good
long time in getting over. I made a safe landing, and clumb up the bank.
I couldn't see but a little ways, but I went poking along over rough
ground for a quarter of a mile or more, and then I run across a big
old-fashioned double log-house before I noticed it. I was going to rush
by and get away, but a lot of dogs jumped out and went to howling and
barking at me, and I knowed better than to move another peg.
IN about a minute somebody spoke out of a window without putting his head
out, and says:
"Be done, boys! Who's there?"
"George Jackson, sir."
"What do you want?"
"I don't want nothing, sir. I only want to go along by, but the dogs
won't let me."
"What are you prowling around here this time of night for--hey?"
"I warn't prowling around, sir, I fell overboard off of the steamboat."
"Oh, you did, did you? Strike a light there, somebody. What did you say
your name was?"
"George Jackson, sir. I'm only a boy."
"Look here, if you're telling the truth you needn't be afraid--nobody'll
hurt you. But don't try to budge; stand right where you are. Rouse out
Bob and Tom, some of you, and fetch the guns. George Jackson, is there
anybody with you?"
"No, sir, nobody."
I heard the people stirring around in the house now, and see a light.
The man sung out:
"Snatch that light away, Betsy, you old fool--ain't you got any sense?
Put it on the floor behind the front door. Bob, if you and Tom are
ready, take your places."
"Now, George Jackson, do you know the Shepherdsons?"
"No, sir; I never heard of them."
"Well, that may be so, and it mayn't. Now, all ready. Step forward,
George Jackson. And mind, don't you hurry--come mighty slow. If there's
anybody with you, let him keep back--if he shows himself he'll be shot.
Come along now. Come slow; push the door open yourself--just enough to
squeeze in, d' you hear?"
I didn't hurry; I couldn't if I'd a wanted to. I took one slow step at a
time and there warn't a sound, only I thought I could hear my heart. The
dogs were as still as the humans, but they followed a little behind me.
When I got to the three log doorsteps I heard them unlocking and
unbarring and unbolting. I put my hand on the door and pushed it a
little and a little more till somebody said, "There, that's enough--put
your head in." I done it, but I judged they would take it off.
The candle was on the floor, and there they all was, looking at me, and
me at them, for about a quarter of a minute: Three big men with guns
pointed at me, which made me wince, I tell you; the oldest, gray and
about sixty, the other two thirty or more--all of them fine and handsome
--and the sweetest old gray-headed lady, and back of her two young women
which I couldn't see right well. The old gentleman says:
"There; I reckon it's all right. Come in."
As soon as I was in the old gentleman he locked the door and barred it
and bolted it, and told the young men to come in with their guns, and
they all went in a big parlor that had a new rag carpet on the floor, and
got together in a corner that was out of the range of the front windows
--there warn't none on the side. They held the candle, and took a good
look at me, and all said, "Why, HE ain't a Shepherdson--no, there ain't
any Shepherdson about him." Then the old man said he hoped I wouldn't
mind being searched for arms, because he didn't mean no harm by it--it
was only to make sure. So he didn't pry into my pockets, but only felt
outside with his hands, and said it was all right. He told me to make
myself easy and at home, and tell all about myself; but the old lady
"Why, bless you, Saul, the poor thing's as wet as he can be; and don't
you reckon it may be he's hungry?"
"True for you, Rachel--I forgot."
So the old lady says:
"Betsy" (this was a nigger woman), "you fly around and get him something
to eat as quick as you can, poor thing; and one of you girls go and wake
up Buck and tell him--oh, here he is himself. Buck, take this little
stranger and get the wet clothes off from him and dress him up in some of
yours that's dry."
Buck looked about as old as me--thirteen or fourteen or along there,
though he was a little bigger than me. He hadn't on anything but a
shirt, and he was very frowzy-headed. He came in gaping and digging one
fist into his eyes, and he was dragging a gun along with the other one.
"Ain't they no Shepherdsons around?"
They said, no, 'twas a false alarm.
"Well," he says, "if they'd a ben some, I reckon I'd a got one."
They all laughed, and Bob says:
"Why, Buck, they might have scalped us all, you've been so slow in
"Well, nobody come after me, and it ain't right I'm always kept down; I
don't get no show."
"Never mind, Buck, my boy," says the old man, "you'll have show enough,
all in good time, don't you fret about that. Go 'long with you now, and
do as your mother told you."
When we got up-stairs to his room he got me a coarse shirt and a
roundabout and pants of his, and I put them on. While I was at it he
asked me what my name was, but before I could tell him he started to tell
me about a bluejay and a young rabbit he had catched in the woods day
before yesterday, and he asked me where Moses was when the candle went
out. I said I didn't know; I hadn't heard about it before, no way.
"Well, guess," he says.
"How'm I going to guess," says I, "when I never heard tell of it before?"
"But you can guess, can't you? It's just as easy."
"WHICH candle?" I says.
"Why, any candle," he says.
"I don't know where he was," says I; "where was he?"
"Why, he was in the DARK! That's where he was!"
"Well, if you knowed where he was, what did you ask me for?"
"Why, blame it, it's a riddle, don't you see? Say, how long are you
going to stay here? You got to stay always. We can just have booming
times--they don't have no school now. Do you own a dog? I've got a
dog--and he'll go in the river and bring out chips that you throw in. Do
you like to comb up Sundays, and all that kind of foolishness? You bet I
don't, but ma she makes me. Confound these ole britches! I reckon I'd
better put 'em on, but I'd ruther not, it's so warm. Are you all ready?
All right. Come along, old hoss."
Cold corn-pone, cold corn-beef, butter and buttermilk--that is what they
had for me down there, and there ain't nothing better that ever I've come
across yet. Buck and his ma and all of them smoked cob pipes, except the
nigger woman, which was gone, and the two young women. They all smoked
and talked, and I eat and talked. The young women had quilts around
them, and their hair down their backs. They all asked me questions, and
I told them how pap and me and all the family was living on a little farm
down at the bottom of Arkansaw, and my sister Mary Ann run off and got
married and never was heard of no more, and Bill went to hunt them and he
warn't heard of no more, and Tom and Mort died, and then there warn't
nobody but just me and pap left, and he was just trimmed down to nothing,
on account of his troubles; so when he died I took what there was left,
because the farm didn't belong to us, and started up the river, deck
passage, and fell overboard; and that was how I come to be here. So they
said I could have a home there as long as I wanted it. Then it was most
daylight and everybody went to bed, and I went to bed with Buck, and when
I waked up in the morning, drat it all, I had forgot what my name was.
So I laid there about an hour trying to think, and when Buck waked up I
"Can you spell, Buck?"
"Yes," he says.
"I bet you can't spell my name," says I.
"I bet you what you dare I can," says he.
"All right," says I, "go ahead."
"G-e-o-r-g-e J-a-x-o-n--there now," he says.
"Well," says I, "you done it, but I didn't think you could. It ain't no
slouch of a name to spell--right off without studying."
I set it down, private, because somebody might want ME to spell it next,
and so I wanted to be handy with it and rattle it off like I was used to
It was a mighty nice family, and a mighty nice house, too. I hadn't seen
no house out in the country before that was so nice and had so much
style. It didn't have an iron latch on the front door, nor a wooden one
with a buckskin string, but a brass knob to turn, the same as houses in
town. There warn't no bed in the parlor, nor a sign of a bed; but heaps
of parlors in towns has beds in them. There was a big fireplace that was
bricked on the bottom, and the bricks was kept clean and red by pouring
water on them and scrubbing them with another brick; sometimes they wash
them over with red water-paint that they call Spanish-brown, same as they
do in town. They had big brass dog-irons that could hold up a saw-log.
There was a clock on the middle of the mantelpiece, with a picture of a
town painted on the bottom half of the glass front, and a round place in
the middle of it for the sun, and you could see the pendulum swinging
behind it. It was beautiful to hear that clock tick; and sometimes when
one of these peddlers had been along and scoured her up and got her in
good shape, she would start in and strike a hundred and fifty before she
got tuckered out. They wouldn't took any money for her.
Well, there was a big outlandish parrot on each side of the clock, made
out of something like chalk, and painted up gaudy. By one of the parrots
was a cat made of crockery, and a crockery dog by the other; and when you
pressed down on them they squeaked, but didn't open their mouths nor look
different nor interested. They squeaked through underneath. There was a
couple of big wild-turkey-wing fans spread out behind those things. On
the table in the middle of the room was a kind of a lovely crockery
basket that had apples and oranges and peaches and grapes piled up in it,
which was much redder and yellower and prettier than real ones is, but
they warn't real because you could see where pieces had got chipped off
and showed the white chalk, or whatever it was, underneath.
This table had a cover made out of beautiful oilcloth, with a red and
blue spread-eagle painted on it, and a painted border all around. It
come all the way from Philadelphia, they said. There was some books,
too, piled up perfectly exact, on each corner of the table. One was a
big family Bible full of pictures. One was Pilgrim's Progress, about a
man that left his family, it didn't say why. I read considerable in it
now and then. The statements was interesting, but tough. Another was
Friendship's Offering, full of beautiful stuff and poetry; but I didn't
read the poetry. Another was Henry Clay's Speeches, and another was Dr.
Gunn's Family Medicine, which told you all about what to do if a body was
sick or dead. There was a hymn book, and a lot of other books. And
there was nice split-bottom chairs, and perfectly sound, too--not bagged
down in the middle and busted, like an old basket.
They had pictures hung on the walls--mainly Washingtons and Lafayettes,
and battles, and Highland Marys, and one called "Signing the
Declaration." There was some that they called crayons, which one of the
daughters which was dead made her own self when she was only fifteen
years old. They was different from any pictures I ever see before
--blacker, mostly, than is common. One was a woman in a slim black dress,
belted small under the armpits, with bulges like a cabbage in the middle
of the sleeves, and a large black scoop-shovel bonnet with a black veil,
and white slim ankles crossed about with black tape, and very wee black
slippers, like a chisel, and she was leaning pensive on a tombstone on
her right elbow, under a weeping willow, and her other hand hanging down
her side holding a white handkerchief and a reticule, and underneath the
picture it said "Shall I Never See Thee More Alas." Another one was a
young lady with her hair all combed up straight to the top of her head,
and knotted there in front of a comb like a chair-back, and she was
crying into a handkerchief and had a dead bird laying on its back in her
other hand with its heels up, and underneath the picture it said "I Shall
Never Hear Thy Sweet Chirrup More Alas." There was one where a young
lady was at a window looking up at the moon, and tears running down her
cheeks; and she had an open letter in one hand with black sealing wax
showing on one edge of it, and she was mashing a locket with a chain to
it against her mouth, and underneath the picture it said "And Art Thou
Gone Yes Thou Art Gone Alas." These was all nice pictures, I reckon, but
I didn't somehow seem to take to them, because if ever I was down a
little they always give me the fan-tods. Everybody was sorry she died,
because she had laid out a lot more of these pictures to do, and a body
could see by what she had done what they had lost. But I reckoned that
with her disposition she was having a better time in the graveyard. She
was at work on what they said was her greatest picture when she took
sick, and every day and every night it was her prayer to be allowed to
live till she got it done, but she never got the chance. It was a
picture of a young woman in a long white gown, standing on the rail of a
bridge all ready to jump off, with her hair all down her back, and
looking up to the moon, with the tears running down her face, and she had
two arms folded across her breast, and two arms stretched out in front,
and two more reaching up towards the moon--and the idea was to see which
pair would look best, and then scratch out all the other arms; but, as I
was saying, she died before she got her mind made up, and now they kept
this picture over the head of the bed in her room, and every time her
birthday come they hung flowers on it. Other times it was hid with a
little curtain. The young woman in the picture had a kind of a nice
sweet face, but there was so many arms it made her look too spidery,
seemed to me.
This young girl kept a scrap-book when she was alive, and used to paste
obituaries and accidents and cases of patient suffering in it out of the
Presbyterian Observer, and write poetry after them out of her own head.
It was very good poetry. This is what she wrote about a boy by the name
of Stephen Dowling Bots that fell down a well and was drownded:
ODE TO STEPHEN DOWLING BOTS, DEC'D
And did young Stephen sicken, And did young Stephen die? And did the sad
hearts thicken, And did the mourners cry?
No; such was not the fate of Young Stephen Dowling Bots; Though sad
hearts round him thickened, 'Twas not from sickness' shots.
No whooping-cough did rack his frame, Nor measles drear with spots; Not
these impaired the sacred name Of Stephen Dowling Bots.
Despised love struck not with woe That head of curly knots, Nor stomach
troubles laid him low, Young Stephen Dowling Bots.
O no. Then list with tearful eye, Whilst I his fate do tell. His soul
did from this cold world fly By falling down a well.
They got him out and emptied him; Alas it was too late; His spirit was
gone for to sport aloft In the realms of the good and great.
If Emmeline Grangerford could make poetry like that before she was
fourteen, there ain't no telling what she could a done by and by. Buck
said she could rattle off poetry like nothing. She didn't ever have to
stop to think. He said she would slap down a line, and if she couldn't
find anything to rhyme with it would just scratch it out and slap down
another one, and go ahead. She warn't particular; she could write about
anything you choose to give her to write about just so it was sadful.
Every time a man died, or a woman died, or a child died, she would be on
hand with her "tribute" before he was cold. She called them tributes.
The neighbors said it was the doctor first, then Emmeline, then the
undertaker--the undertaker never got in ahead of Emmeline but once, and
then she hung fire on a rhyme for the dead person's name, which was
Whistler. She warn't ever the same after that; she never complained, but
she kinder pined away and did not live long. Poor thing, many's the time
I made myself go up to the little room that used to be hers and get out
her poor old scrap-book and read in it when her pictures had been
aggravating me and I had soured on her a little. I liked all that
family, dead ones and all, and warn't going to let anything come between
us. Poor Emmeline made poetry about all the dead people when she was
alive, and it didn't seem right that there warn't nobody to make some
about her now she was gone; so I tried to sweat out a verse or two
myself, but I couldn't seem to make it go somehow. They kept Emmeline's
room trim and nice, and all the things fixed in it just the way she liked
to have them when she was alive, and nobody ever slept there. The old
lady took care of the room herself, though there was plenty of niggers,
and she sewed there a good deal and read her Bible there mostly.
Well, as I was saying about the parlor, there was beautiful curtains on
the windows: white, with pictures painted on them of castles with vines
all down the walls, and cattle coming down to drink. There was a little
old piano, too, that had tin pans in it, I reckon, and nothing was ever
so lovely as to hear the young ladies sing "The Last Link is Broken" and
play "The Battle of Prague" on it. The walls of all the rooms was
plastered, and most had carpets on the floors, and the whole house was
whitewashed on the outside.
It was a double house, and the big open place betwixt them was roofed and
floored, and sometimes the table was set there in the middle of the day,
and it was a cool, comfortable place. Nothing couldn't be better. And
warn't the cooking good, and just bushels of it too!
COL. GRANGERFORD was a gentleman, you see. He was a gentleman all over;
and so was his family. He was well born, as the saying is, and that's
worth as much in a man as it is in a horse, so the Widow Douglas said,
and nobody ever denied that she was of the first aristocracy in our town;
and pap he always said it, too, though he warn't no more quality than a
mudcat himself. Col. Grangerford was very tall and very slim, and had a
darkish-paly complexion, not a sign of red in it anywheres; he was clean
shaved every morning all over his thin face, and he had the thinnest kind
of lips, and the thinnest kind of nostrils, and a high nose, and heavy
eyebrows, and the blackest kind of eyes, sunk so deep back that they
seemed like they was looking out of caverns at you, as you may say. His
forehead was high, and his hair was black and straight and hung to his
shoulders. His hands was long and thin, and every day of his life he put
on a clean shirt and a full suit from head to foot made out of linen so
white it hurt your eyes to look at it; and on Sundays he wore a blue
tail-coat with brass buttons on it. He carried a mahogany cane with a
silver head to it. There warn't no frivolishness about him, not a bit,
and he warn't ever loud. He was as kind as he could be--you could feel
that, you know, and so you had confidence. Sometimes he smiled, and it
was good to see; but when he straightened himself up like a liberty-pole,
and the lightning begun to flicker out from under his eyebrows, you
wanted to climb a tree first, and find out what the matter was
afterwards. He didn't ever have to tell anybody to mind their manners
--everybody was always good-mannered where he was. Everybody loved to have
him around, too; he was sunshine most always--I mean he made it seem
like good weather. When he turned into a cloudbank it was awful dark for
half a minute, and that was enough; there wouldn't nothing go wrong again
for a week.
When him and the old lady come down in the morning all the family got up
out of their chairs and give them good-day, and didn't set down again
till they had set down. Then Tom and Bob went to the sideboard where the
decanter was, and mixed a glass of bitters and handed it to him, and he
held it in his hand and waited till Tom's and Bob's was mixed, and then
they bowed and said, "Our duty to you, sir, and madam;" and THEY bowed
the least bit in the world and said thank you, and so they drank, all
three, and Bob and Tom poured a spoonful of water on the sugar and the
mite of whisky or apple brandy in the bottom of their tumblers, and give
it to me and Buck, and we drank to the old people too.
Bob was the oldest and Tom next--tall, beautiful men with very broad
shoulders and brown faces, and long black hair and black eyes. They
dressed in white linen from head to foot, like the old gentleman, and
wore broad Panama hats.
Then there was Miss Charlotte; she was twenty-five, and tall and proud
and grand, but as good as she could be when she warn't stirred up; but
when she was she had a look that would make you wilt in your tracks, like
her father. She was beautiful.
So was her sister, Miss Sophia, but it was a different kind. She was
gentle and sweet like a dove, and she was only twenty.
Each person had their own nigger to wait on them--Buck too. My nigger
had a monstrous easy time, because I warn't used to having anybody do
anything for me, but Buck's was on the jump most of the time.
This was all there was of the family now, but there used to be more
--three sons; they got killed; and Emmeline that died.
The old gentleman owned a lot of farms and over a hundred niggers.
Sometimes a stack of people would come there, horseback, from ten or
fifteen mile around, and stay five or six days, and have such junketings
round about and on the river, and dances and picnics in the woods
daytimes, and balls at the house nights. These people was mostly
kinfolks of the family. The men brought their guns with them. It was a
handsome lot of quality, I tell you.
There was another clan of aristocracy around there--five or six families
--mostly of the name of Shepherdson. They was as high-toned and well
born and rich and grand as the tribe of Grangerfords. The Shepherdsons
and Grangerfords used the same steamboat landing, which was about two
mile above our house; so sometimes when I went up there with a lot of our
folks I used to see a lot of the Shepherdsons there on their fine horses.
One day Buck and me was away out in the woods hunting, and heard a horse
coming. We was crossing the road. Buck says:
"Quick! Jump for the woods!"
We done it, and then peeped down the woods through the leaves. Pretty
soon a splendid young man come galloping down the road, setting his horse
easy and looking like a soldier. He had his gun across his pommel. I
had seen him before. It was young Harney Shepherdson. I heard Buck's
gun go off at my ear, and Harney's hat tumbled off from his head. He
grabbed his gun and rode straight to the place where we was hid. But we
didn't wait. We started through the woods on a run. The woods warn't
thick, so I looked over my shoulder to dodge the bullet, and twice I seen
Harney cover Buck with his gun; and then he rode away the way he come--to
get his hat, I reckon, but I couldn't see. We never stopped running till
we got home. The old gentleman's eyes blazed a minute--'twas pleasure,
mainly, I judged--then his face sort of smoothed down, and he says,
kind of gentle:
"I don't like that shooting from behind a bush. Why didn't you step into
the road, my boy?"
"The Shepherdsons don't, father. They always take advantage."
Miss Charlotte she held her head up like a queen while Buck was telling
his tale, and her nostrils spread and her eyes snapped. The two young
men looked dark, but never said nothing. Miss Sophia she turned pale,
but the color come back when she found the man warn't hurt.
Soon as I could get Buck down by the corn-cribs under the trees by
ourselves, I says:
"Did you want to kill him, Buck?"
"Well, I bet I did."
"What did he do to you?"
"Him? He never done nothing to me."
"Well, then, what did you want to kill him for?"
"Why, nothing--only it's on account of the feud."
"What's a feud?"
"Why, where was you raised? Don't you know what a feud is?"
"Never heard of it before--tell me about it."
"Well," says Buck, "a feud is this way: A man has a quarrel with another
man, and kills him; then that other man's brother kills HIM; then the
other brothers, on both sides, goes for one another; then the COUSINS
chip in--and by and by everybody's killed off, and there ain't no more
feud. But it's kind of slow, and takes a long time."
"Has this one been going on long, Buck?"
"Well, I should RECKON! It started thirty year ago, or som'ers along
there. There was trouble 'bout something, and then a lawsuit to settle
it; and the suit went agin one of the men, and so he up and shot the man
that won the suit--which he would naturally do, of course. Anybody
"What was the trouble about, Buck?--land?"
"I reckon maybe--I don't know."
"Well, who done the shooting? Was it a Grangerford or a Shepherdson?"
"Laws, how do I know? It was so long ago."
"Don't anybody know?"
"Oh, yes, pa knows, I reckon, and some of the other old people; but they
don't know now what the row was about in the first place."
"Has there been many killed, Buck?"
"Yes; right smart chance of funerals. But they don't always kill. Pa's
got a few buckshot in him; but he don't mind it 'cuz he don't weigh much,
anyway. Bob's been carved up some with a bowie, and Tom's been hurt once
"Has anybody been killed this year, Buck?"
"Yes; we got one and they got one. 'Bout three months ago my cousin Bud,
fourteen year old, was riding through the woods on t'other side of the
river, and didn't have no weapon with him, which was blame' foolishness,
and in a lonesome place he hears a horse a-coming behind him, and sees
old Baldy Shepherdson a-linkin' after him with his gun in his hand and
his white hair a-flying in the wind; and 'stead of jumping off and taking
to the brush, Bud 'lowed he could out-run him; so they had it, nip and
tuck, for five mile or more, the old man a-gaining all the time; so at
last Bud seen it warn't any use, so he stopped and faced around so as to
have the bullet holes in front, you know, and the old man he rode up and
shot him down. But he didn't git much chance to enjoy his luck, for
inside of a week our folks laid HIM out."
"I reckon that old man was a coward, Buck."
"I reckon he WARN'T a coward. Not by a blame' sight. There ain't a
coward amongst them Shepherdsons--not a one. And there ain't no cowards
amongst the Grangerfords either. Why, that old man kep' up his end in a
fight one day for half an hour against three Grangerfords, and come out
winner. They was all a-horseback; he lit off of his horse and got behind
a little woodpile, and kep' his horse before him to stop the bullets; but
the Grangerfords stayed on their horses and capered around the old man,
and peppered away at him, and he peppered away at them. Him and his
horse both went home pretty leaky and crippled, but the Grangerfords had
to be FETCHED home--and one of 'em was dead, and another died the next
day. No, sir; if a body's out hunting for cowards he don't want to fool
away any time amongst them Shepherdsons, becuz they don't breed any of
Next Sunday we all went to church, about three mile, everybody
a-horseback. The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them
between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The
Shepherdsons done the same. It was pretty ornery preaching--all about
brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a
good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and had such a
powerful lot to say about faith and good works and free grace and
preforeordestination, and I don't know what all, that it did seem to me
to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet.
About an hour after dinner everybody was dozing around, some in their
chairs and some in their rooms, and it got to be pretty dull. Buck and a
dog was stretched out on the grass in the sun sound asleep. I went up to
our room, and judged I would take a nap myself. I found that sweet Miss
Sophia standing in her door, which was next to ours, and she took me in
her room and shut the door very soft, and asked me if I liked her, and I
said I did; and she asked me if I would do something for her and not tell
anybody, and I said I would. Then she said she'd forgot her Testament,
and left it in the seat at church between two other books, and would I
slip out quiet and go there and fetch it to her, and not say nothing to
nobody. I said I would. So I slid out and slipped off up the road, and
there warn't anybody at the church, except maybe a hog or two, for there
warn't any lock on the door, and hogs likes a puncheon floor in
summer-time because it's cool. If you notice, most folks don't go
to church only when they've got to; but a hog is different.
Says I to myself, something's up; it ain't natural for a girl to be in
such a sweat about a Testament. So I give it a shake, and out drops a
little piece of paper with "HALF-PAST TWO" wrote on it with a pencil. I
ransacked it, but couldn't find anything else. I couldn't make anything
out of that, so I put the paper in the book again, and when I got home
and upstairs there was Miss Sophia in her door waiting for me. She
pulled me in and shut the door; then she looked in the Testament till she
found the paper, and as soon as she read it she looked glad; and before a
body could think she grabbed me and give me a squeeze, and said I was the
best boy in the world, and not to tell anybody. She was mighty red in
the face for a minute, and her eyes lighted up, and it made her powerful
pretty. I was a good deal astonished, but when I got my breath I asked
her what the paper was about, and she asked me if I had read it, and I
said no, and she asked me if I could read writing, and I told her "no,
only coarse-hand," and then she said the paper warn't anything but a
book-mark to keep her place, and I might go and play now.
I went off down to the river, studying over this thing, and pretty soon I
noticed that my nigger was following along behind. When we was out of
sight of the house he looked back and around a second, and then comes
a-running, and says:
"Mars Jawge, if you'll come down into de swamp I'll show you a whole
stack o' water-moccasins."
Thinks I, that's mighty curious; he said that yesterday. He oughter know
a body don't love water-moccasins enough to go around hunting for them.
What is he up to, anyway? So I says:
"All right; trot ahead."
I followed a half a mile; then he struck out over the swamp, and waded
ankle deep as much as another half-mile. We come to a little flat piece
of land which was dry and very thick with trees and bushes and vines, and
"You shove right in dah jist a few steps, Mars Jawge; dah's whah dey is.
I's seed 'm befo'; I don't k'yer to see 'em no mo'."
Then he slopped right along and went away, and pretty soon the trees hid
him. I poked into the place a-ways and come to a little open patch as
big as a bedroom all hung around with vines, and found a man laying there
asleep--and, by jings, it was my old Jim!
I waked him up, and I reckoned it was going to be a grand surprise to him
to see me again, but it warn't. He nearly cried he was so glad, but he
warn't surprised. Said he swum along behind me that night, and heard me
yell every time, but dasn't answer, because he didn't want nobody to pick
HIM up and take him into slavery again. Says he:
"I got hurt a little, en couldn't swim fas', so I wuz a considable ways
behine you towards de las'; when you landed I reck'ned I could ketch up
wid you on de lan' 'dout havin' to shout at you, but when I see dat house
I begin to go slow. I 'uz off too fur to hear what dey say to you--I wuz
'fraid o' de dogs; but when it 'uz all quiet agin I knowed you's in de
house, so I struck out for de woods to wait for day. Early in de mawnin'
some er de niggers come along, gwyne to de fields, en dey tuk me en
showed me dis place, whah de dogs can't track me on accounts o' de water,
en dey brings me truck to eat every night, en tells me how you's a-gitt'n
"Why didn't you tell my Jack to fetch me here sooner, Jim?"
"Well, 'twarn't no use to 'sturb you, Huck, tell we could do sumfn--but
we's all right now. I ben a-buyin' pots en pans en vittles, as I got a
chanst, en a-patchin' up de raf' nights when--"
"WHAT raft, Jim?"
"Our ole raf'."
"You mean to say our old raft warn't smashed all to flinders?"
"No, she warn't. She was tore up a good deal--one en' of her was; but
dey warn't no great harm done, on'y our traps was mos' all los'. Ef we
hadn' dive' so deep en swum so fur under water, en de night hadn' ben so
dark, en we warn't so sk'yerd, en ben sich punkin-heads, as de sayin' is,
we'd a seed de raf'. But it's jis' as well we didn't, 'kase now she's
all fixed up agin mos' as good as new, en we's got a new lot o' stuff, in
de place o' what 'uz los'."
"Why, how did you get hold of the raft again, Jim--did you catch her?"
"How I gwyne to ketch her en I out in de woods? No; some er de niggers
foun' her ketched on a snag along heah in de ben', en dey hid her in a
crick 'mongst de willows, en dey wuz so much jawin' 'bout which un 'um
she b'long to de mos' dat I come to heah 'bout it pooty soon, so I ups en
settles de trouble by tellin' 'um she don't b'long to none uv um, but to
you en me; en I ast 'm if dey gwyne to grab a young white genlman's
propaty, en git a hid'n for it? Den I gin 'm ten cents apiece, en dey
'uz mighty well satisfied, en wisht some mo' raf's 'ud come along en make
'm rich agin. Dey's mighty good to me, dese niggers is, en whatever I
wants 'm to do fur me I doan' have to ast 'm twice, honey. Dat Jack's a
good nigger, en pooty smart."
"Yes, he is. He ain't ever told me you was here; told me to come, and
he'd show me a lot of water-moccasins. If anything happens HE ain't
mixed up in it. He can say he never seen us together, and it 'll be the
I don't want to talk much about the next day. I reckon I'll cut it
pretty short. I waked up about dawn, and was a-going to turn over and go
to sleep again when I noticed how still it was--didn't seem to be anybody
stirring. That warn't usual. Next I noticed that Buck was up and gone.
Well, I gets up, a-wondering, and goes down stairs--nobody around;
everything as still as a mouse. Just the same outside. Thinks I, what
does it mean? Down by the wood-pile I comes across my Jack, and says:
"What's it all about?"
"Don't you know, Mars Jawge?"
"No," says I, "I don't."
"Well, den, Miss Sophia's run off! 'deed she has. She run off in de
night some time--nobody don't know jis' when; run off to get married to
dat young Harney Shepherdson, you know--leastways, so dey 'spec. De
fambly foun' it out 'bout half an hour ago--maybe a little mo'--en' I
TELL you dey warn't no time los'. Sich another hurryin' up guns en
hosses YOU never see! De women folks has gone for to stir up de
relations, en ole Mars Saul en de boys tuck dey guns en rode up de river
road for to try to ketch dat young man en kill him 'fo' he kin git acrost
de river wid Miss Sophia. I reck'n dey's gwyne to be mighty rough
"Buck went off 'thout waking me up."
"Well, I reck'n he DID! Dey warn't gwyne to mix you up in it. Mars Buck
he loaded up his gun en 'lowed he's gwyne to fetch home a Shepherdson or
bust. Well, dey'll be plenty un 'm dah, I reck'n, en you bet you he'll
fetch one ef he gits a chanst."
I took up the river road as hard as I could put. By and by I begin to
hear guns a good ways off. When I came in sight of the log store and the
woodpile where the steamboats lands I worked along under the trees and
brush till I got to a good place, and then I clumb up into the forks of a
cottonwood that was out of reach, and watched. There was a wood-rank
four foot high a little ways in front of the tree, and first I was going
to hide behind that; but maybe it was luckier I didn't.
There was four or five men cavorting around on their horses in the open
place before the log store, cussing and yelling, and trying to get at a
couple of young chaps that was behind the wood-rank alongside of the
steamboat landing; but they couldn't come it. Every time one of them
showed himself on the river side of the woodpile he got shot at. The two
boys was squatting back to back behind the pile, so they could watch both
By and by the men stopped cavorting around and yelling. They started
riding towards the store; then up gets one of the boys, draws a steady
bead over the wood-rank, and drops one of them out of his saddle. All
the men jumped off of their horses and grabbed the hurt one and started
to carry him to the store; and that minute the two boys started on the
run. They got half way to the tree I was in before the men noticed.
Then the men see them, and jumped on their horses and took out after
them. They gained on the boys, but it didn't do no good, the boys had
too good a start; they got to the woodpile that was in front of my tree,
and slipped in behind it, and so they had the bulge on the men again.
One of the boys was Buck, and the other was a slim young chap about
nineteen years old.
The men ripped around awhile, and then rode away. As soon as they was
out of sight I sung out to Buck and told him. He didn't know what to
make of my voice coming out of the tree at first. He was awful
surprised. He told me to watch out sharp and let him know when the men
come in sight again; said they was up to some devilment or other
--wouldn't be gone long. I wished I was out of that tree, but I dasn't
come down. Buck begun to cry and rip, and 'lowed that him and his cousin
Joe (that was the other young chap) would make up for this day yet. He
said his father and his two brothers was killed, and two or three of the
enemy. Said the Shepherdsons laid for them in ambush. Buck said his
father and brothers ought to waited for their relations--the Shepherdsons
was too strong for them. I asked him what was become of young Harney and
Miss Sophia. He said they'd got across the river and was safe. I was
glad of that; but the way Buck did take on because he didn't manage to
kill Harney that day he shot at him--I hain't ever heard anything like
All of a sudden, bang! bang! bang! goes three or four guns--the men had
slipped around through the woods and come in from behind without their
horses! The boys jumped for the river--both of them hurt--and as they
swum down the current the men run along the bank shooting at them and
singing out, "Kill them, kill them!" It made me so sick I most fell out
of the tree. I ain't a-going to tell ALL that happened--it would make me
sick again if I was to do that. I wished I hadn't ever come ashore that
night to see such things. I ain't ever going to get shut of them--lots
of times I dream about them.
I stayed in the tree till it begun to get dark, afraid to come down.
Sometimes I heard guns away off in the woods; and twice I seen little
gangs of men gallop past the log store with guns; so I reckoned the
trouble was still a-going on. I was mighty downhearted; so I made up my
mind I wouldn't ever go anear that house again, because I reckoned I was
to blame, somehow. I judged that that piece of paper meant that Miss
Sophia was to meet Harney somewheres at half-past two and run off; and I
judged I ought to told her father about that paper and the curious way
she acted, and then maybe he would a locked her up, and this awful mess
wouldn't ever happened.
When I got down out of the tree I crept along down the river bank a
piece, and found the two bodies laying in the edge of the water, and
tugged at them till I got them ashore; then I covered up their faces, and
got away as quick as I could. I cried a little when I was covering up
Buck's face, for he was mighty good to me.
It was just dark now. I never went near the house, but struck through
the woods and made for the swamp. Jim warn't on his island, so I tramped
off in a hurry for the crick, and crowded through the willows, red-hot to
jump aboard and get out of that awful country. The raft was gone! My
souls, but I was scared! I couldn't get my breath for most a minute.
Then I raised a yell. A voice not twenty-five foot from me says:
"Good lan'! is dat you, honey? Doan' make no noise."
It was Jim's voice--nothing ever sounded so good before. I run along the
bank a piece and got aboard, and Jim he grabbed me and hugged me, he was
so glad to see me. He says:
"Laws bless you, chile, I 'uz right down sho' you's dead agin. Jack's
been heah; he say he reck'n you's ben shot, kase you didn' come home no
mo'; so I's jes' dis minute a startin' de raf' down towards de mouf er de
crick, so's to be all ready for to shove out en leave soon as Jack comes
agin en tells me for certain you IS dead. Lawsy, I's mighty glad to git
you back again, honey."
"All right--that's mighty good; they won't find me, and they'll think
I've been killed, and floated down the river--there's something up there
that 'll help them think so--so don't you lose no time, Jim, but just
shove off for the big water as fast as ever you can."
I never felt easy till the raft was two mile below there and out in the
middle of the Mississippi. Then we hung up our signal lantern, and
judged that we was free and safe once more. I hadn't had a bite to eat
since yesterday, so Jim he got out some corn-dodgers and buttermilk, and
pork and cabbage and greens--there ain't nothing in the world so good
when it's cooked right--and whilst I eat my supper we talked and had a
good time. I was powerful glad to get away from the feuds, and so was
Jim to get away from the swamp. We said there warn't no home like a
raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a
raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.
TWO or three days and nights went by; I reckon I might say they swum by,
they slid along so quiet and smooth and lovely. Here is the way we put
in the time. It was a monstrous big river down there--sometimes a mile
and a half wide; we run nights, and laid up and hid daytimes; soon as
night was most gone we stopped navigating and tied up--nearly always in
the dead water under a towhead; and then cut young cottonwoods and
willows, and hid the raft with them. Then we set out the lines. Next we
slid into the river and had a swim, so as to freshen up and cool off;
then we set down on the sandy bottom where the water was about knee deep,
and watched the daylight come. Not a sound anywheres--perfectly still
--just like the whole world was asleep, only sometimes the bullfrogs
a-cluttering, maybe. The first thing to see, looking away over the water,
was a kind of dull line--that was the woods on t'other side; you couldn't
make nothing else out; then a pale place in the sky; then more paleness
spreading around; then the river softened up away off, and warn't black
any more, but gray; you could see little dark spots drifting along ever
so far away--trading scows, and such things; and long black streaks
--rafts; sometimes you could hear a sweep screaking; or jumbled up voices,
it was so still, and sounds come so far; and by and by you could see a
streak on the water which you know by the look of the streak that there's
a snag there in a swift current which breaks on it and makes that streak
look that way; and you see the mist curl up off of the water, and the
east reddens up, and the river, and you make out a log-cabin in the edge
of the woods, away on the bank on t'other side of the river, being a
woodyard, likely, and piled by them cheats so you can throw a dog through
it anywheres; then the nice breeze springs up, and comes fanning you from
over there, so cool and fresh and sweet to smell on account of the woods
and the flowers; but sometimes not that way, because they've left dead
fish laying around, gars and such, and they do get pretty rank; and next
you've got the full day, and everything smiling in the sun, and the
song-birds just going it!
A little smoke couldn't be noticed now, so we would take some fish off of
the lines and cook up a hot breakfast. And afterwards we would watch the
lonesomeness of the river, and kind of lazy along, and by and by lazy off
to sleep. Wake up by and by, and look to see what done it, and maybe see
a steamboat coughing along up-stream, so far off towards the other side
you couldn't tell nothing about her only whether she was a stern-wheel or
side-wheel; then for about an hour there wouldn't be nothing to hear nor
nothing to see--just solid lonesomeness. Next you'd see a raft sliding
by, away off yonder, and maybe a galoot on it chopping, because they're
most always doing it on a raft; you'd see the axe flash and come down
--you don't hear nothing; you see that axe go up again, and by the time
it's above the man's head then you hear the K'CHUNK!--it had took all
that time to come over the water. So we would put in the day, lazying
around, listening to the stillness. Once there was a thick fog, and the
rafts and things that went by was beating tin pans so the steamboats
wouldn't run over them. A scow or a raft went by so close we could hear
them talking and cussing and laughing--heard them plain; but we couldn't
see no sign of them; it made you feel crawly; it was like spirits
carrying on that way in the air. Jim said he believed it was spirits;
but I says:
"No; spirits wouldn't say, 'Dern the dern fog.'"
Soon as it was night out we shoved; when we got her out to about the
middle we let her alone, and let her float wherever the current wanted
her to; then we lit the pipes, and dangled our legs in the water, and
talked about all kinds of things--we was always naked, day and night,
whenever the mosquitoes would let us--the new clothes Buck's folks made
for me was too good to be comfortable, and besides I didn't go much on
Sometimes we'd have that whole river all to ourselves for the longest
time. Yonder was the banks and the islands, across the water; and maybe a
spark--which was a candle in a cabin window; and sometimes on the water
you could see a spark or two--on a raft or a scow, you know; and maybe
you could hear a fiddle or a song coming over from one of them crafts.
It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled
with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and
discuss about whether they was made or only just happened. Jim he
allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would
have took too long to MAKE so many. Jim said the moon could a LAID them;
well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn't say nothing against it,
because I've seen a frog lay most as many, so of course it could be done.
We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them streak down. Jim
allowed they'd got spoiled and was hove out of the nest.
Once or twice of a night we would see a steamboat slipping along in the
dark, and now and then she would belch a whole world of sparks up out of
her chimbleys, and they would rain down in the river and look awful
pretty; then she would turn a corner and her lights would wink out and
her powwow shut off and leave the river still again; and by and by her
waves would get to us, a long time after she was gone, and joggle the
raft a bit, and after that you wouldn't hear nothing for you couldn't
tell how long, except maybe frogs or something.
After midnight the people on shore went to bed, and then for two or three
hours the shores was black--no more sparks in the cabin windows. These
sparks was our clock--the first one that showed again meant morning was
coming, so we hunted a place to hide and tie up right away.
One morning about daybreak I found a canoe and crossed over a chute to
the main shore--it was only two hundred yards--and paddled about a mile
up a crick amongst the cypress woods, to see if I couldn't get some
berries. Just as I was passing a place where a kind of a cowpath crossed
the crick, here comes a couple of men tearing up the path as tight as
they could foot it. I thought I was a goner, for whenever anybody was
after anybody I judged it was ME--or maybe Jim. I was about to dig out
from there in a hurry, but they was pretty close to me then, and sung out
and begged me to save their lives--said they hadn't been doing nothing,
and was being chased for it--said there was men and dogs a-coming. They
wanted to jump right in, but I says:
"Don't you do it. I don't hear the dogs and horses yet; you've got time
to crowd through the brush and get up the crick a little ways; then you
take to the water and wade down to me and get in--that'll throw the dogs
off the scent."
They done it, and soon as they was aboard I lit out for our towhead, and
in about five or ten minutes we heard the dogs and the men away off,
shouting. We heard them come along towards the crick, but couldn't see
them; they seemed to stop and fool around a while; then, as we got
further and further away all the time, we couldn't hardly hear them at
all; by the time we had left a mile of woods behind us and struck the
river, everything was quiet, and we paddled over to the towhead and hid
in the cottonwoods and was safe.
One of these fellows was about seventy or upwards, and had a bald head
and very gray whiskers. He had an old battered-up slouch hat on, and a
greasy blue woollen shirt, and ragged old blue jeans britches stuffed
into his boot-tops, and home-knit galluses--no, he only had one. He had
an old long-tailed blue jeans coat with slick brass buttons flung over
his arm, and both of them had big, fat, ratty-looking carpet-bags.
The other fellow was about thirty, and dressed about as ornery. After
breakfast we all laid off and talked, and the first thing that come out
was that these chaps didn't know one another.
"What got you into trouble?" says the baldhead to t'other chap.
"Well, I'd been selling an article to take the tartar off the teeth--and
it does take it off, too, and generly the enamel along with it--but I
stayed about one night longer than I ought to, and was just in the act of
sliding out when I ran across you on the trail this side of town, and you
told me they were coming, and begged me to help you to get off. So I
told you I was expecting trouble myself, and would scatter out WITH you.
That's the whole yarn--what's yourn?
"Well, I'd ben a-running' a little temperance revival thar 'bout a week,
and was the pet of the women folks, big and little, for I was makin' it
mighty warm for the rummies, I TELL you, and takin' as much as five or
six dollars a night--ten cents a head, children and niggers free--and
business a-growin' all the time, when somehow or another a little report
got around last night that I had a way of puttin' in my time with a
private jug on the sly. A nigger rousted me out this mornin', and told
me the people was getherin' on the quiet with their dogs and horses, and
they'd be along pretty soon and give me 'bout half an hour's start, and
then run me down if they could; and if they got me they'd tar and feather
me and ride me on a rail, sure. I didn't wait for no breakfast--I warn't
"Old man," said the young one, "I reckon we might double-team it
together; what do you think?"
"I ain't undisposed. What's your line--mainly?"
"Jour printer by trade; do a little in patent medicines; theater-actor
--tragedy, you know; take a turn to mesmerism and phrenology when there's a
chance; teach singing-geography school for a change; sling a lecture
sometimes--oh, I do lots of things--most anything that comes handy, so it
ain't work. What's your lay?"
"I've done considerble in the doctoring way in my time. Layin' on o'
hands is my best holt--for cancer and paralysis, and sich things; and I
k'n tell a fortune pretty good when I've got somebody along to find out
the facts for me. Preachin's my line, too, and workin' camp-meetin's,
and missionaryin' around."
Nobody never said anything for a while; then the young man hove a sigh
"What 're you alassin' about?" says the bald-head.
"To think I should have lived to be leading such a life, and be degraded
down into such company." And he begun to wipe the corner of his eye with
"Dern your skin, ain't the company good enough for you?" says the
baldhead, pretty pert and uppish.
"Yes, it IS good enough for me; it's as good as I deserve; for who
fetched me so low when I was so high? I did myself. I don't blame YOU,
gentlemen--far from it; I don't blame anybody. I deserve it all. Let
the cold world do its worst; one thing I know--there's a grave somewhere
for me. The world may go on just as it's always done, and take everything
from me--loved ones, property, everything; but it can't take that.
Some day I'll lie down in it and forget it all, and my poor broken heart
will be at rest." He went on a-wiping.
"Drot your pore broken heart," says the baldhead; "what are you heaving
your pore broken heart at US f'r? WE hain't done nothing."
"No, I know you haven't. I ain't blaming you, gentlemen. I brought
myself down--yes, I did it myself. It's right I should suffer--perfectly
right--I don't make any moan."
"Brought you down from whar? Whar was you brought down from?"
"Ah, you would not believe me; the world never believes--let it pass
--'tis no matter. The secret of my birth--"
"The secret of your birth! Do you mean to say--"
"Gentlemen," says the young man, very solemn, "I will reveal it to you,
for I feel I may have confidence in you. By rights I am a duke!"
Jim's eyes bugged out when he heard that; and I reckon mine did, too.
Then the baldhead says: "No! you can't mean it?"
"Yes. My great-grandfather, eldest son of the Duke of Bridgewater, fled
to this country about the end of the last century, to breathe the pure
air of freedom; married here, and died, leaving a son, his own father
dying about the same time. The second son of the late duke seized the
titles and estates--the infant real duke was ignored. I am the lineal
descendant of that infant--I am the rightful Duke of Bridgewater; and
here am I, forlorn, torn from my high estate, hunted of men, despised by
the cold world, ragged, worn, heart-broken, and degraded to the
companionship of felons on a raft!"
Jim pitied him ever so much, and so did I. We tried to comfort him, but
he said it warn't much use, he couldn't be much comforted; said if we was
a mind to acknowledge him, that would do him more good than most anything
else; so we said we would, if he would tell us how. He said we ought to
bow when we spoke to him, and say "Your Grace," or "My Lord," or "Your
Lordship"--and he wouldn't mind it if we called him plain
"Bridgewater," which, he said, was a title anyway, and not a name; and
one of us ought to wait on him at dinner, and do any little thing for him
he wanted done.
Well, that was all easy, so we done it. All through dinner Jim stood
around and waited on him, and says, "Will yo' Grace have some o' dis or
some o' dat?" and so on, and a body could see it was mighty pleasing to
But the old man got pretty silent by and by--didn't have much to say, and
didn't look pretty comfortable over all that petting that was going on
around that duke. He seemed to have something on his mind. So, along in
the afternoon, he says:
"Looky here, Bilgewater," he says, "I'm nation sorry for you, but you
ain't the only person that's had troubles like that."
"No you ain't. You ain't the only person that's ben snaked down
wrongfully out'n a high place."
"No, you ain't the only person that's had a secret of his birth." And,
by jings, HE begins to cry.
"Hold! What do you mean?"
"Bilgewater, kin I trust you?" says the old man, still sort of sobbing.
"To the bitter death!" He took the old man by the hand and squeezed it,
and says, "That secret of your being: speak!"
"Bilgewater, I am the late Dauphin!"
You bet you, Jim and me stared this time. Then the duke says:
"You are what?"
"Yes, my friend, it is too true--your eyes is lookin' at this very moment
on the pore disappeared Dauphin, Looy the Seventeen, son of Looy the
Sixteen and Marry Antonette."
"You! At your age! No! You mean you're the late Charlemagne; you must
be six or seven hundred years old, at the very least."
"Trouble has done it, Bilgewater, trouble has done it; trouble has brung
these gray hairs and this premature balditude. Yes, gentlemen, you see
before you, in blue jeans and misery, the wanderin', exiled, trampled-on,
and sufferin' rightful King of France."
Well, he cried and took on so that me and Jim didn't know hardly what to
do, we was so sorry--and so glad and proud we'd got him with us, too. So
we set in, like we done before with the duke, and tried to comfort HIM.
But he said it warn't no use, nothing but to be dead and done with it all
could do him any good; though he said it often made him feel easier and
better for a while if people treated him according to his rights, and got
down on one knee to speak to him, and always called him "Your Majesty,"
and waited on him first at meals, and didn't set down in his presence
till he asked them. So Jim and me set to majestying him, and doing this
and that and t'other for him, and standing up till he told us we might
set down. This done him heaps of good, and so he got cheerful and
comfortable. But the duke kind of soured on him, and didn't look a bit
satisfied with the way things was going; still, the king acted real
friendly towards him, and said the duke's great-grandfather and all the
other Dukes of Bilgewater was a good deal thought of by HIS father, and
was allowed to come to the palace considerable; but the duke stayed huffy
a good while, till by and by the king says:
"Like as not we got to be together a blamed long time on this h-yer raft,
Bilgewater, and so what's the use o' your bein' sour? It 'll only make
things oncomfortable. It ain't my fault I warn't born a duke, it ain't
your fault you warn't born a king--so what's the use to worry? Make the
best o' things the way you find 'em, says I--that's my motto. This ain't
no bad thing that we've struck here--plenty grub and an easy life--come,
give us your hand, duke, and le's all be friends."
The duke done it, and Jim and me was pretty glad to see it. It took away
all the uncomfortableness and we felt mighty good over it, because it
would a been a miserable business to have any unfriendliness on the raft;
for what you want, above all things, on a raft, is for everybody to be
satisfied, and feel right and kind towards the others.
It didn't take me long to make up my mind that these liars warn't no
kings nor dukes at all, but just low-down humbugs and frauds. But I
never said nothing, never let on; kept it to myself; it's the best way;
then you don't have no quarrels, and don't get into no trouble. If they
wanted us to call them kings and dukes, I hadn't no objections, 'long as
it would keep peace in the family; and it warn't no use to tell Jim, so I
didn't tell him. If I never learnt nothing else out of pap, I learnt
that the best way to get along with his kind of people is to let them
have their own way.
THEY asked us considerable many questions; wanted to know what we covered
up the raft that way for, and laid by in the daytime instead of running
--was Jim a runaway nigger? Says I:
"Goodness sakes! would a runaway nigger run SOUTH?"
No, they allowed he wouldn't. I had to account for things some way, so I
"My folks was living in Pike County, in Missouri, where I was born, and
they all died off but me and pa and my brother Ike. Pa, he 'lowed he'd
break up and go down and live with Uncle Ben, who's got a little
one-horse place on the river, forty-four mile below Orleans. Pa was
pretty poor, and had some debts; so when he'd squared up there warn't
nothing left but sixteen dollars and our nigger, Jim. That warn't enough
to take us fourteen hundred mile, deck passage nor no other way. Well,
when the river rose pa had a streak of luck one day; he ketched this
piece of a raft; so we reckoned we'd go down to Orleans on it. Pa's luck
didn't hold out; a steamboat run over the forrard corner of the raft one
night, and we all went overboard and dove under the wheel; Jim and me
come up all right, but pa was drunk, and Ike was only four years old, so
they never come up no more. Well, for the next day or two we had
considerable trouble, because people was always coming out in skiffs and
trying to take Jim away from me, saying they believed he was a runaway
nigger. We don't run daytimes no more now; nights they don't bother us."
The duke says:
"Leave me alone to cipher out a way so we can run in the daytime if we
want to. I'll think the thing over--I'll invent a plan that'll fix it.
We'll let it alone for to-day, because of course we don't want to go by
that town yonder in daylight--it mightn't be healthy."
Towards night it begun to darken up and look like rain; the heat
lightning was squirting around low down in the sky, and the leaves was
beginning to shiver--it was going to be pretty ugly, it was easy to see
that. So the duke and the king went to overhauling our wigwam, to see
what the beds was like. My bed was a straw tick better than Jim's, which
was a corn-shuck tick; there's always cobs around about in a shuck tick,
and they poke into you and hurt; and when you roll over the dry shucks
sound like you was rolling over in a pile of dead leaves; it makes such a
rustling that you wake up. Well, the duke allowed he would take my bed;
but the king allowed he wouldn't. He says:
"I should a reckoned the difference in rank would a sejested to you that
a corn-shuck bed warn't just fitten for me to sleep on. Your Grace 'll
take the shuck bed yourself."
Jim and me was in a sweat again for a minute, being afraid there was
going to be some more trouble amongst them; so we was pretty glad when
the duke says:
"'Tis my fate to be always ground into the mire under the iron heel of
oppression. Misfortune has broken my once haughty spirit; I yield, I
submit; 'tis my fate. I am alone in the world--let me suffer; can bear
We got away as soon as it was good and dark. The king told us to stand
well out towards the middle of the river, and not show a light till we
got a long ways below the town. We come in sight of the little bunch of
lights by and by--that was the town, you know--and slid by, about a half
a mile out, all right. When we was three-quarters of a mile below we
hoisted up our signal lantern; and about ten o'clock it come on to rain
and blow and thunder and lighten like everything; so the king told us to
both stay on watch till the weather got better; then him and the duke
crawled into the wigwam and turned in for the night. It was my watch
below till twelve, but I wouldn't a turned in anyway if I'd had a bed,
because a body don't see such a storm as that every day in the week, not
by a long sight. My souls, how the wind did scream along! And every
second or two there'd come a glare that lit up the white-caps for a half
a mile around, and you'd see the islands looking dusty through the rain,
and the trees thrashing around in the wind; then comes a H-WHACK!--bum!
bum! bumble-umble-um-bum-bum-bum-bum--and the thunder would go rumbling
and grumbling away, and quit--and then RIP comes another flash and
another sockdolager. The waves most washed me off the raft sometimes,
but I hadn't any clothes on, and didn't mind. We didn't have no trouble
about snags; the lightning was glaring and flittering around so constant
that we could see them plenty soon enough to throw her head this way or
that and miss them.
I had the middle watch, you know, but I was pretty sleepy by that time,
so Jim he said he would stand the first half of it for me; he was always
mighty good that way, Jim was. I crawled into the wigwam, but the king
and the duke had their legs sprawled around so there warn't no show for
me; so I laid outside--I didn't mind the rain, because it was warm, and
the waves warn't running so high now. About two they come up again,
though, and Jim was going to call me; but he changed his mind, because he
reckoned they warn't high enough yet to do any harm; but he was mistaken
about that, for pretty soon all of a sudden along comes a regular ripper
and washed me overboard. It most killed Jim a-laughing. He was the
easiest nigger to laugh that ever was, anyway.
I took the watch, and Jim he laid down and snored away; and by and by the
storm let up for good and all; and the first cabin-light that showed I
rousted him out, and we slid the raft into hiding quarters for the day.
The king got out an old ratty deck of cards after breakfast, and him and
the duke played seven-up a while, five cents a game. Then they got tired
of it, and allowed they would "lay out a campaign," as they called it.
The duke went down into his carpet-bag, and fetched up a lot of little
printed bills and read them out loud. One bill said, "The celebrated Dr.
Armand de Montalban, of Paris," would "lecture on the Science of
Phrenology" at such and such a place, on the blank day of blank, at ten
cents admission, and "furnish charts of character at twenty-five cents
apiece." The duke said that was HIM. In another bill he was the
"world-renowned Shakespearian tragedian, Garrick the Younger, of Drury
Lane, London." In other bills he had a lot of other names and done other
wonderful things, like finding water and gold with a "divining-rod,"
"dissipating witch spells," and so on. By and by he says:
"But the histrionic muse is the darling. Have you ever trod the boards,
"No," says the king.
"You shall, then, before you're three days older, Fallen Grandeur," says
the duke. "The first good town we come to we'll hire a hall and do the
sword fight in Richard III. and the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet.
How does that strike you?"
"I'm in, up to the hub, for anything that will pay, Bilgewater; but, you
see, I don't know nothing about play-actin', and hain't ever seen much of
it. I was too small when pap used to have 'em at the palace. Do you
reckon you can learn me?"
"All right. I'm jist a-freezn' for something fresh, anyway. Le's
commence right away."
So the duke he told him all about who Romeo was and who Juliet was, and
said he was used to being Romeo, so the king could be Juliet.
"But if Juliet's such a young gal, duke, my peeled head and my white
whiskers is goin' to look oncommon odd on her, maybe."
"No, don't you worry; these country jakes won't ever think of that.
Besides, you know, you'll be in costume, and that makes all the
difference in the world; Juliet's in a balcony, enjoying the moonlight
before she goes to bed, and she's got on her night-gown and her ruffled
nightcap. Here are the costumes for the parts."
He got out two or three curtain-calico suits, which he said was meedyevil
armor for Richard III. and t'other chap, and a long white cotton
nightshirt and a ruffled nightcap to match. The king was satisfied; so
the duke got out his book and read the parts over in the most splendid
spread-eagle way, prancing around and acting at the same time, to show
how it had got to be done; then he give the book to the king and told him
to get his part by heart.
There was a little one-horse town about three mile down the bend, and
after dinner the duke said he had ciphered out his idea about how to run
in daylight without it being dangersome for Jim; so he allowed he would
go down to the town and fix that thing. The king allowed he would go,
too, and see if he couldn't strike something. We was out of coffee, so
Jim said I better go along with them in the canoe and get some.
When we got there there warn't nobody stirring; streets empty, and
perfectly dead and still, like Sunday. We found a sick nigger sunning
himself in a back yard, and he said everybody that warn't too young or
too sick or too old was gone to camp-meeting, about two mile back in the
woods. The king got the directions, and allowed he'd go and work that
camp-meeting for all it was worth, and I might go, too.
The duke said what he was after was a printing-office. We found it; a
little bit of a concern, up over a carpenter shop--carpenters and
printers all gone to the meeting, and no doors locked. It was a dirty,
littered-up place, and had ink marks, and handbills with pictures of
horses and runaway niggers on them, all over the walls. The duke shed
his coat and said he was all right now. So me and the king lit out for
We got there in about a half an hour fairly dripping, for it was a most
awful hot day. There was as much as a thousand people there from twenty
mile around. The woods was full of teams and wagons, hitched
everywheres, feeding out of the wagon-troughs and stomping to keep off
the flies. There was sheds made out of poles and roofed over with
branches, where they had lemonade and gingerbread to sell, and piles of
watermelons and green corn and such-like truck.
The preaching was going on under the same kinds of sheds, only they was
bigger and held crowds of people. The benches was made out of outside
slabs of logs, with holes bored in the round side to drive sticks into
for legs. They didn't have no backs. The preachers had high platforms to
stand on at one end of the sheds. The women had on sun-bonnets; and some
had linsey-woolsey frocks, some gingham ones, and a few of the young ones
had on calico. Some of the young men was barefooted, and some of the
children didn't have on any clothes but just a tow-linen shirt. Some of
the old women was knitting, and some of the young folks was courting on
The first shed we come to the preacher was lining out a hymn. He lined
out two lines, everybody sung it, and it was kind of grand to hear it,
there was so many of them and they done it in such a rousing way; then he
lined out two more for them to sing--and so on. The people woke up more
and more, and sung louder and louder; and towards the end some begun to
groan, and some begun to shout. Then the preacher begun to preach, and
begun in earnest, too; and went weaving first to one side of the platform
and then the other, and then a-leaning down over the front of it, with
his arms and his body going all the time, and shouting his words out with
all his might; and every now and then he would hold up his Bible and
spread it open, and kind of pass it around this way and that, shouting,
"It's the brazen serpent in the wilderness! Look upon it and live!" And
people would shout out, "Glory!--A-a-MEN!" And so he went on, and the
people groaning and crying and saying amen:
"Oh, come to the mourners' bench! come, black with sin! (AMEN!) come,
sick and sore! (AMEN!) come, lame and halt and blind! (AMEN!) come, pore
and needy, sunk in shame! (A-A-MEN!) come, all that's worn and soiled and
suffering!--come with a broken spirit! come with a contrite heart! come
in your rags and sin and dirt! the waters that cleanse is free, the door
of heaven stands open--oh, enter in and be at rest!" (A-A-MEN! GLORY,
And so on. You couldn't make out what the preacher said any more, on
account of the shouting and crying. Folks got up everywheres in the
crowd, and worked their way just by main strength to the mourners' bench,
with the tears running down their faces; and when all the mourners had
got up there to the front benches in a crowd, they sung and shouted and
flung themselves down on the straw, just crazy and wild.
Well, the first I knowed the king got a-going, and you could hear him
over everybody; and next he went a-charging up on to the platform, and
the preacher he begged him to speak to the people, and he done it. He
told them he was a pirate--been a pirate for thirty years out in the
Indian Ocean--and his crew was thinned out considerable last spring in
a fight, and he was home now to take out some fresh men, and thanks to
goodness he'd been robbed last night and put ashore off of a steamboat
without a cent, and he was glad of it; it was the blessedest thing that
ever happened to him, because he was a changed man now, and happy for the
first time in his life; and, poor as he was, he was going to start right
off and work his way back to the Indian Ocean, and put in the rest of his
life trying to turn the pirates into the true path; for he could do it
better than anybody else, being acquainted with all pirate crews in that
ocean; and though it would take him a long time to get there without
money, he would get there anyway, and every time he convinced a pirate he
would say to him, "Don't you thank me, don't you give me no credit; it
all belongs to them dear people in Pokeville camp-meeting, natural
brothers and benefactors of the race, and that dear preacher there, the
truest friend a pirate ever had!"
And then he busted into tears, and so did everybody. Then somebody sings
out, "Take up a collection for him, take up a collection!" Well, a half
a dozen made a jump to do it, but somebody sings out, "Let HIM pass the
hat around!" Then everybody said it, the preacher too.
So the king went all through the crowd with his hat swabbing his eyes,
and blessing the people and praising them and thanking them for being so
good to the poor pirates away off there; and every little while the
prettiest kind of girls, with the tears running down their cheeks, would
up and ask him would he let them kiss him for to remember him by; and he
always done it; and some of them he hugged and kissed as many as five or
six times--and he was invited to stay a week; and everybody wanted him to
live in their houses, and said they'd think it was an honor; but he said
as this was the last day of the camp-meeting he couldn't do no good, and
besides he was in a sweat to get to the Indian Ocean right off and go to
work on the pirates.
When we got back to the raft and he come to count up he found he had
collected eighty-seven dollars and seventy-five cents. And then he had
fetched away a three-gallon jug of whisky, too, that he found under a
wagon when he was starting home through the woods. The king said, take
it all around, it laid over any day he'd ever put in in the missionarying
line. He said it warn't no use talking, heathens don't amount to shucks
alongside of pirates to work a camp-meeting with.
The duke was thinking HE'D been doing pretty well till the king come to
show up, but after that he didn't think so so much. He had set up and
printed off two little jobs for farmers in that printing-office--horse
bills--and took the money, four dollars. And he had got in ten
dollars' worth of advertisements for the paper, which he said he would
put in for four dollars if they would pay in advance--so they done it.
The price of the paper was two dollars a year, but he took in three
subscriptions for half a dollar apiece on condition of them paying him in
advance; they were going to pay in cordwood and onions as usual, but he
said he had just bought the concern and knocked down the price as low as
he could afford it, and was going to run it for cash. He set up a little
piece of poetry, which he made, himself, out of his own head--three
verses--kind of sweet and saddish--the name of it was, "Yes, crush, cold
world, this breaking heart"--and he left that all set up and ready to
print in the paper, and didn't charge nothing for it. Well, he took in
nine dollars and a half, and said he'd done a pretty square day's work
Then he showed us another little job he'd printed and hadn't charged for,
because it was for us. It had a picture of a runaway nigger with a
bundle on a stick over his shoulder, and "$200 reward" under it. The
reading was all about Jim, and just described him to a dot. It said he
run away from St. Jacques' plantation, forty mile below New Orleans, last
winter, and likely went north, and whoever would catch him and send him
back he could have the reward and expenses.
"Now," says the duke, "after to-night we can run in the daytime if we
want to. Whenever we see anybody coming we can tie Jim hand and foot
with a rope, and lay him in the wigwam and show this handbill and say we
captured him up the river, and were too poor to travel on a steamboat, so
we got this little raft on credit from our friends and are going down to
get the reward. Handcuffs and chains would look still better on Jim, but
it wouldn't go well with the story of us being so poor. Too much like
jewelry. Ropes are the correct thing--we must preserve the unities, as
we say on the boards."
We all said the duke was pretty smart, and there couldn't be no trouble
about running daytimes. We judged we could make miles enough that night
to get out of the reach of the powwow we reckoned the duke's work in the
printing office was going to make in that little town; then we could boom
right along if we wanted to.
We laid low and kept still, and never shoved out till nearly ten o'clock;
then we slid by, pretty wide away from the town, and didn't hoist our
lantern till we was clear out of sight of it.
When Jim called me to take the watch at four in the morning, he says:
"Huck, does you reck'n we gwyne to run acrost any mo' kings on dis trip?"
"No," I says, "I reckon not."
"Well," says he, "dat's all right, den. I doan' mine one er two kings,
but dat's enough. Dis one's powerful drunk, en de duke ain' much
I found Jim had been trying to get him to talk French, so he could hear
what it was like; but he said he had been in this country so long, and
had so much trouble, he'd forgot it.
IT was after sun-up now, but we went right on and didn't tie up. The
king and the duke turned out by and by looking pretty rusty; but after
they'd jumped overboard and took a swim it chippered them up a good deal.
After breakfast the king he took a seat on the corner of the raft, and
pulled off his boots and rolled up his britches, and let his legs dangle
in the water, so as to be comfortable, and lit his pipe, and went to
getting his Romeo and Juliet by heart. When he had got it pretty good
him and the duke begun to practice it together. The duke had to learn
him over and over again how to say every speech; and he made him sigh,
and put his hand on his heart, and after a while he said he done it
pretty well; "only," he says, "you mustn't bellow out ROMEO! that way,
like a bull--you must say it soft and sick and languishy, so--R-o-o-meo!
that is the idea; for Juliet's a dear sweet mere child of a girl, you
know, and she doesn't bray like a jackass."
Well, next they got out a couple of long swords that the duke made out of
oak laths, and begun to practice the sword fight--the duke called himself
Richard III.; and the way they laid on and pranced around the raft was
grand to see. But by and by the king tripped and fell overboard, and
after that they took a rest, and had a talk about all kinds of adventures
they'd had in other times along the river.
After dinner the duke says:
"Well, Capet, we'll want to make this a first-class show, you know, so I
guess we'll add a little more to it. We want a little something to
answer encores with, anyway."
"What's onkores, Bilgewater?"
The duke told him, and then says:
"I'll answer by doing the Highland fling or the sailor's hornpipe; and
you--well, let me see--oh, I've got it--you can do Hamlet's soliloquy."
"Hamlet's soliloquy, you know; the most celebrated thing in Shakespeare.
Ah, it's sublime, sublime! Always fetches the house. I haven't got it
in the book--I've only got one volume--but I reckon I can piece it out
from memory. I'll just walk up and down a minute, and see if I can call
it back from recollection's vaults."
So he went to marching up and down, thinking, and frowning horrible every
now and then; then he would hoist up his eyebrows; next he would squeeze
his hand on his forehead and stagger back and kind of moan; next he would
sigh, and next he'd let on to drop a tear. It was beautiful to see him.
By and by he got it. He told us to give attention. Then he strikes a
most noble attitude, with one leg shoved forwards, and his arms stretched
away up, and his head tilted back, looking up at the sky; and then he
begins to rip and rave and grit his teeth; and after that, all through
his speech, he howled, and spread around, and swelled up his chest, and
just knocked the spots out of any acting ever I see before. This is the
speech--I learned it, easy enough, while he was learning it to the king:
To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin That makes calamity of so
long life; For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do come to
Dunsinane, But that the fear of something after death Murders the
innocent sleep, Great nature's second course, And makes us rather sling
the arrows of outrageous fortune Than fly to others that we know not of.
There's the respect must give us pause: Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I
would thou couldst; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The
oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, The law's delay, and the
quietus which his pangs might take, In the dead waste and middle of the
night, when churchyards yawn In customary suits of solemn black, But that
the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns, Breathes
forth contagion on the world, And thus the native hue of resolution, like
the poor cat i' the adage, Is sicklied o'er with care, And all the clouds
that lowered o'er our housetops, With this regard their currents turn
awry, And lose the name of action. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be
wished. But soft you, the fair Ophelia: Ope not thy ponderous and marble
jaws, But get thee to a nunnery--go!
Well, the old man he liked that speech, and he mighty soon got it so he
could do it first-rate. It seemed like he was just born for it; and when
he had his hand in and was excited, it was perfectly lovely the way he
would rip and tear and rair up behind when he was getting it off.
The first chance we got the duke he had some showbills printed; and after
that, for two or three days as we floated along, the raft was a most
uncommon lively place, for there warn't nothing but sword fighting and
rehearsing--as the duke called it--going on all the time. One morning,
when we was pretty well down the State of Arkansaw, we come in sight of a
little one-horse town in a big bend; so we tied up about three-quarters
of a mile above it, in the mouth of a crick which was shut in like a
tunnel by the cypress trees, and all of us but Jim took the canoe and
went down there to see if there was any chance in that place for our
We struck it mighty lucky; there was going to be a circus there that
afternoon, and the country people was already beginning to come in, in
all kinds of old shackly wagons, and on horses. The circus would leave
before night, so our show would have a pretty good chance. The duke he
hired the courthouse, and we went around and stuck up our bills. They
read like this:
Shaksperean Revival ! ! !
For One Night Only!
The world renowned tragedians, David Garrick the Younger, of Drury Lane
Theatre London, and Edmund Kean the elder, of the Royal Haymarket
Theatre, Whitechapel, Pudding Lane, Piccadilly, London, and the Royal
Continental Theatres, in their sublime Shaksperean Spectacle entitled
The Balcony Scene in Romeo and Juliet ! ! !
Assisted by the whole strength of the company!
New costumes, new scenes, new appointments!
Also: The thrilling, masterly, and blood-curdling
Broad-sword conflict In Richard III. ! ! !
Richard III.............Mr. Garrick
Also: (by special request) Hamlet's Immortal Soliloquy ! !
By The Illustrious Kean! Done by him 300 consecutive nights in Paris!
For One Night Only, On account of imperative European engagements!
Admission 25 cents; children and servants, 10 cents.
Then we went loafing around town. The stores and houses was most all
old, shackly, dried up frame concerns that hadn't ever been painted; they
was set up three or four foot above ground on stilts, so as to be out of
reach of the water when the river was over-flowed. The houses had little
gardens around them, but they didn't seem to raise hardly anything in
them but jimpson-weeds, and sunflowers, and ash piles, and old curled-up
boots and shoes, and pieces of bottles, and rags, and played-out tinware.
The fences was made of different kinds of boards, nailed on at different
times; and they leaned every which way, and had gates that didn't generly
have but one hinge--a leather one. Some of the fences had been
white-washed some time or another, but the duke said it was in Clumbus'
time, like enough. There was generly hogs in the garden, and people
driving them out.
All the stores was along one street. They had white domestic awnings in
front, and the country people hitched their horses to the awning-posts.
There was empty drygoods boxes under the awnings, and loafers roosting on
them all day long, whittling them with their Barlow knives; and chawing
tobacco, and gaping and yawning and stretching--a mighty ornery lot.
They generly had on yellow straw hats most as wide as an umbrella, but
didn't wear no coats nor waistcoats, they called one another Bill, and
Buck, and Hank, and Joe, and Andy, and talked lazy and drawly, and used
considerable many cuss words. There was as many as one loafer leaning up
against every awning-post, and he most always had his hands in his
britches-pockets, except when he fetched them out to lend a chaw of
tobacco or scratch. What a body was hearing amongst them all the time
"Gimme a chaw 'v tobacker, Hank."
"Cain't; I hain't got but one chaw left. Ask Bill."
Maybe Bill he gives him a chaw; maybe he lies and says he ain't got none.
Some of them kinds of loafers never has a cent in the world, nor a chaw
of tobacco of their own. They get all their chawing by borrowing; they
say to a fellow, "I wisht you'd len' me a chaw, Jack, I jist this minute
give Ben Thompson the last chaw I had"--which is a lie pretty much
everytime; it don't fool nobody but a stranger; but Jack ain't no
stranger, so he says:
"YOU give him a chaw, did you? So did your sister's cat's grandmother.
You pay me back the chaws you've awready borry'd off'n me, Lafe Buckner,
then I'll loan you one or two ton of it, and won't charge you no back
"Well, I DID pay you back some of it wunst."
"Yes, you did--'bout six chaws. You borry'd store tobacker and paid back
Store tobacco is flat black plug, but these fellows mostly chaws the
natural leaf twisted. When they borrow a chaw they don't generly cut it
off with a knife, but set the plug in between their teeth, and gnaw with
their teeth and tug at the plug with their hands till they get it in two;
then sometimes the one that owns the tobacco looks mournful at it when
it's handed back, and says, sarcastic:
"Here, gimme the CHAW, and you take the PLUG."
All the streets and lanes was just mud; they warn't nothing else BUT mud
--mud as black as tar and nigh about a foot deep in some places, and two
or three inches deep in ALL the places. The hogs loafed and grunted
around everywheres. You'd see a muddy sow and a litter of pigs come
lazying along the street and whollop herself right down in the way, where
folks had to walk around her, and she'd stretch out and shut her eyes and
wave her ears whilst the pigs was milking her, and look as happy as if
she was on salary. And pretty soon you'd hear a loafer sing out, "Hi! SO
boy! sick him, Tige!" and away the sow would go, squealing most horrible,
with a dog or two swinging to each ear, and three or four dozen more
a-coming; and then you would see all the loafers get up and watch the thing
out of sight, and laugh at the fun and look grateful for the noise. Then
they'd settle back again till there was a dog fight. There couldn't
anything wake them up all over, and make them happy all over, like a dog
fight--unless it might be putting turpentine on a stray dog and setting
fire to him, or tying a tin pan to his tail and see him run himself to
On the river front some of the houses was sticking out over the bank, and
they was bowed and bent, and about ready to tumble in, The people had
moved out of them. The bank was caved away under one corner of some
others, and that corner was hanging over. People lived in them yet, but
it was dangersome, because sometimes a strip of land as wide as a house
caves in at a time. Sometimes a belt of land a quarter of a mile deep
will start in and cave along and cave along till it all caves into the
river in one summer. Such a town as that has to be always moving back,
and back, and back, because the river's always gnawing at it.
The nearer it got to noon that day the thicker and thicker was the wagons
and horses in the streets, and more coming all the time. Families
fetched their dinners with them from the country, and eat them in the
wagons. There was considerable whisky drinking going on, and I seen
three fights. By and by somebody sings out:
"Here comes old Boggs!--in from the country for his little old monthly
drunk; here he comes, boys!"
All the loafers looked glad; I reckoned they was used to having fun out
of Boggs. One of them says:
"Wonder who he's a-gwyne to chaw up this time. If he'd a-chawed up all
the men he's ben a-gwyne to chaw up in the last twenty year he'd have
considerable ruputation now."
Another one says, "I wisht old Boggs 'd threaten me, 'cuz then I'd know I
warn't gwyne to die for a thousan' year."
Boggs comes a-tearing along on his horse, whooping and yelling like an
Injun, and singing out:
"Cler the track, thar. I'm on the waw-path, and the price uv coffins is
a-gwyne to raise."
He was drunk, and weaving about in his saddle; he was over fifty year
old, and had a very red face. Everybody yelled at him and laughed at him
and sassed him, and he sassed back, and said he'd attend to them and lay
them out in their regular turns, but he couldn't wait now because he'd
come to town to kill old Colonel Sherburn, and his motto was, "Meat
first, and spoon vittles to top off on."
He see me, and rode up and says:
"Whar'd you come f'm, boy? You prepared to die?"
Then he rode on. I was scared, but a man says:
"He don't mean nothing; he's always a-carryin' on like that when he's
drunk. He's the best naturedest old fool in Arkansaw--never hurt nobody,
drunk nor sober."
Boggs rode up before the biggest store in town, and bent his head down so
he could see under the curtain of the awning and yells:
"Come out here, Sherburn! Come out and meet the man you've swindled.
You're the houn' I'm after, and I'm a-gwyne to have you, too!"
And so he went on, calling Sherburn everything he could lay his tongue
to, and the whole street packed with people listening and laughing and
going on. By and by a proud-looking man about fifty-five--and he was a
heap the best dressed man in that town, too--steps out of the store, and
the crowd drops back on each side to let him come. He says to Boggs,
mighty ca'm and slow--he says:
"I'm tired of this, but I'll endure it till one o'clock. Till one
o'clock, mind--no longer. If you open your mouth against me only once
after that time you can't travel so far but I will find you."
Then he turns and goes in. The crowd looked mighty sober; nobody
stirred, and there warn't no more laughing. Boggs rode off blackguarding
Sherburn as loud as he could yell, all down the street; and pretty soon
back he comes and stops before the store, still keeping it up. Some men
crowded around him and tried to get him to shut up, but he wouldn't; they
told him it would be one o'clock in about fifteen minutes, and so he MUST
go home--he must go right away. But it didn't do no good. He cussed
away with all his might, and throwed his hat down in the mud and rode
over it, and pretty soon away he went a-raging down the street again,
with his gray hair a-flying. Everybody that could get a chance at him
tried their best to coax him off of his horse so they could lock him up
and get him sober; but it warn't no use--up the street he would tear
again, and give Sherburn another cussing. By and by somebody says:
"Go for his daughter!--quick, go for his daughter; sometimes he'll listen
to her. If anybody can persuade him, she can."
So somebody started on a run. I walked down street a ways and stopped.
In about five or ten minutes here comes Boggs again, but not on his
horse. He was a-reeling across the street towards me, bare-headed, with
a friend on both sides of him a-holt of his arms and hurrying him along.
He was quiet, and looked uneasy; and he warn't hanging back any, but was
doing some of the hurrying himself. Somebody sings out:
I looked over there to see who said it, and it was that Colonel Sherburn.
He was standing perfectly still in the street, and had a pistol raised in
his right hand--not aiming it, but holding it out with the barrel tilted
up towards the sky. The same second I see a young girl coming on the
run, and two men with her. Boggs and the men turned round to see who
called him, and when they see the pistol the men jumped to one side, and
the pistol-barrel come down slow and steady to a level--both barrels
cocked. Boggs throws up both of his hands and says, "O Lord, don't
shoot!" Bang! goes the first shot, and he staggers back, clawing at the
air--bang! goes the second one, and he tumbles backwards on to the
ground, heavy and solid, with his arms spread out. That young girl
screamed out and comes rushing, and down she throws herself on her
father, crying, and saying, "Oh, he's killed him, he's killed him!" The
crowd closed up around them, and shouldered and jammed one another, with
their necks stretched, trying to see, and people on the inside trying to
shove them back and shouting, "Back, back! give him air, give him air!"
Colonel Sherburn he tossed his pistol on to the ground, and turned around
on his heels and walked off.
They took Boggs to a little drug store, the crowd pressing around just
the same, and the whole town following, and I rushed and got a good place
at the window, where I was close to him and could see in. They laid him
on the floor and put one large Bible under his head, and opened another
one and spread it on his breast; but they tore open his shirt first, and
I seen where one of the bullets went in. He made about a dozen long
gasps, his breast lifting the Bible up when he drawed in his breath, and
letting it down again when he breathed it out--and after that he laid
still; he was dead. Then they pulled his daughter away from him,
screaming and crying, and took her off. She was about sixteen, and very
sweet and gentle looking, but awful pale and scared.
Well, pretty soon the whole town was there, squirming and scrouging and
pushing and shoving to get at the window and have a look, but people that
had the places wouldn't give them up, and folks behind them was saying
all the time, "Say, now, you've looked enough, you fellows; 'tain't right
and 'tain't fair for you to stay thar all the time, and never give nobody
a chance; other folks has their rights as well as you."
There was considerable jawing back, so I slid out, thinking maybe there
was going to be trouble. The streets was full, and everybody was
excited. Everybody that seen the shooting was telling how it happened,
and there was a big crowd packed around each one of these fellows,
stretching their necks and listening. One long, lanky man, with long
hair and a big white fur stovepipe hat on the back of his head, and a
crooked-handled cane, marked out the places on the ground where Boggs
stood and where Sherburn stood, and the people following him around from
one place to t'other and watching everything he done, and bobbing their
heads to show they understood, and stooping a little and resting their
hands on their thighs to watch him mark the places on the ground with his
cane; and then he stood up straight and stiff where Sherburn had stood,
frowning and having his hat-brim down over his eyes, and sung out,
"Boggs!" and then fetched his cane down slow to a level, and says "Bang!"
staggered backwards, says "Bang!" again, and fell down flat on his back.
The people that had seen the thing said he done it perfect; said it was
just exactly the way it all happened. Then as much as a dozen people got
out their bottles and treated him.
Well, by and by somebody said Sherburn ought to be lynched. In about a
minute everybody was saying it; so away they went, mad and yelling, and
snatching down every clothes-line they come to to do the hanging with.
THEY swarmed up towards Sherburn's house, a-whooping and raging like
Injuns, and everything had to clear the way or get run over and tromped
to mush, and it was awful to see. Children was heeling it ahead of the
mob, screaming and trying to get out of the way; and every window along
the road was full of women's heads, and there was nigger boys in every
tree, and bucks and wenches looking over every fence; and as soon as the
mob would get nearly to them they would break and skaddle back out of
reach. Lots of the women and girls was crying and taking on, scared most
They swarmed up in front of Sherburn's palings as thick as they could jam
together, and you couldn't hear yourself think for the noise. It was a
little twenty-foot yard. Some sung out "Tear down the fence! tear down
the fence!" Then there was a racket of ripping and tearing and smashing,
and down she goes, and the front wall of the crowd begins to roll in like
Just then Sherburn steps out on to the roof of his little front porch,
with a double-barrel gun in his hand, and takes his stand, perfectly ca'm
and deliberate, not saying a word. The racket stopped, and the wave
Sherburn never said a word--just stood there, looking down. The
stillness was awful creepy and uncomfortable. Sherburn run his eye slow
along the crowd; and wherever it struck the people tried a little to
out-gaze him, but they couldn't; they dropped their eyes and looked sneaky.
Then pretty soon Sherburn sort of laughed; not the pleasant kind, but the
kind that makes you feel like when you are eating bread that's got sand
Then he says, slow and scornful:
"The idea of YOU lynching anybody! It's amusing. The idea of you
thinking you had pluck enough to lynch a MAN! Because you're brave
enough to tar and feather poor friendless cast-out women that come along
here, did that make you think you had grit enough to lay your hands on a
MAN? Why, a MAN'S safe in the hands of ten thousand of your kind--as
long as it's daytime and you're not behind him.
"Do I know you? I know you clear through was born and raised in the
South, and I've lived in the North; so I know the average all around.
The average man's a coward. In the North he lets anybody walk over him
that wants to, and goes home and prays for a humble spirit to bear it.
In the South one man all by himself, has stopped a stage full of men in
the daytime, and robbed the lot. Your newspapers call you a brave people
so much that you think you are braver than any other people--whereas
you're just AS brave, and no braver. Why don't your juries hang
murderers? Because they're afraid the man's friends will shoot them in
the back, in the dark--and it's just what they WOULD do.
"So they always acquit; and then a MAN goes in the night, with a hundred
masked cowards at his back and lynches the rascal. Your mistake is, that
you didn't bring a man with you; that's one mistake, and the other is
that you didn't come in the dark and fetch your masks. You brought PART
of a man--Buck Harkness, there--and if you hadn't had him to start you,
you'd a taken it out in blowing.
"You didn't want to come. The average man don't like trouble and danger.
YOU don't like trouble and danger. But if only HALF a man--like Buck
Harkness, there--shouts 'Lynch him! lynch him!' you're afraid to back
down--afraid you'll be found out to be what you are--COWARDS--and so
you raise a yell, and hang yourselves on to that half-a-man's coat-tail,
and come raging up here, swearing what big things you're going to do.
The pitifulest thing out is a mob; that's what an army is--a mob; they
don't fight with courage that's born in them, but with courage that's
borrowed from their mass, and from their officers. But a mob without any
MAN at the head of it is BENEATH pitifulness. Now the thing for YOU to
do is to droop your tails and go home and crawl in a hole. If any real
lynching's going to be done it will be done in the dark, Southern
fashion; and when they come they'll bring their masks, and fetch a MAN
along. Now LEAVE--and take your half-a-man with you"--tossing his gun up
across his left arm and cocking it when he says this.
The crowd washed back sudden, and then broke all apart, and went tearing
off every which way, and Buck Harkness he heeled it after them, looking
tolerable cheap. I could a stayed if I wanted to, but I didn't want to.
I went to the circus and loafed around the back side till the watchman
went by, and then dived in under the tent. I had my twenty-dollar gold
piece and some other money, but I reckoned I better save it, because
there ain't no telling how soon you are going to need it, away from home
and amongst strangers that way. You can't be too careful. I ain't
opposed to spending money on circuses when there ain't no other way, but
there ain't no use in WASTING it on them.
It was a real bully circus. It was the splendidest sight that ever was
when they all come riding in, two and two, a gentleman and lady, side by
side, the men just in their drawers and undershirts, and no shoes nor
stirrups, and resting their hands on their thighs easy and comfortable
--there must a been twenty of them--and every lady with a lovely
complexion, and perfectly beautiful, and looking just like a gang of real
sure-enough queens, and dressed in clothes that cost millions of dollars,
and just littered with diamonds. It was a powerful fine sight; I never
see anything so lovely. And then one by one they got up and stood, and
went a-weaving around the ring so gentle and wavy and graceful, the men
looking ever so tall and airy and straight, with their heads bobbing and
skimming along, away up there under the tent-roof, and every lady's
rose-leafy dress flapping soft and silky around her hips, and she looking
like the most loveliest parasol.
And then faster and faster they went, all of them dancing, first one foot
out in the air and then the other, the horses leaning more and more, and
the ringmaster going round and round the center-pole, cracking his whip
and shouting "Hi!--hi!" and the clown cracking jokes behind him; and by
and by all hands dropped the reins, and every lady put her knuckles on
her hips and every gentleman folded his arms, and then how the horses did
lean over and hump themselves! And so one after the other they all
skipped off into the ring, and made the sweetest bow I ever see, and then
scampered out, and everybody clapped their hands and went just about
Well, all through the circus they done the most astonishing things; and
all the time that clown carried on so it most killed the people. The
ringmaster couldn't ever say a word to him but he was back at him quick
as a wink with the funniest things a body ever said; and how he ever
COULD think of so many of them, and so sudden and so pat, was what I
couldn't noway understand. Why, I couldn't a thought of them in a year.
And by and by a drunk man tried to get into the ring--said he wanted to
ride; said he could ride as well as anybody that ever was. They argued
and tried to keep him out, but he wouldn't listen, and the whole show
come to a standstill. Then the people begun to holler at him and make
fun of him, and that made him mad, and he begun to rip and tear; so that
stirred up the people, and a lot of men begun to pile down off of the
benches and swarm towards the ring, saying, "Knock him down! throw him
out!" and one or two women begun to scream. So, then, the ringmaster he
made a little speech, and said he hoped there wouldn't be no disturbance,
and if the man would promise he wouldn't make no more trouble he would
let him ride if he thought he could stay on the horse. So everybody
laughed and said all right, and the man got on. The minute he was on, the
horse begun to rip and tear and jump and cavort around, with two circus
men hanging on to his bridle trying to hold him, and the drunk man
hanging on to his neck, and his heels flying in the air every jump, and
the whole crowd of people standing up shouting and laughing till tears
rolled down. And at last, sure enough, all the circus men could do, the
horse broke loose, and away he went like the very nation, round and round
the ring, with that sot laying down on him and hanging to his neck, with
first one leg hanging most to the ground on one side, and then t'other
one on t'other side, and the people just crazy. It warn't funny to me,
though; I was all of a tremble to see his danger. But pretty soon he
struggled up astraddle and grabbed the bridle, a-reeling this way and
that; and the next minute he sprung up and dropped the bridle and stood!
and the horse a-going like a house afire too. He just stood up there,
a-sailing around as easy and comfortable as if he warn't ever drunk in his
life--and then he begun to pull off his clothes and sling them. He shed
them so thick they kind of clogged up the air, and altogether he shed
seventeen suits. And, then, there he was, slim and handsome, and dressed
the gaudiest and prettiest you ever saw, and he lit into that horse with
his whip and made him fairly hum--and finally skipped off, and made his
bow and danced off to the dressing-room, and everybody just a-howling
with pleasure and astonishment.
Then the ringmaster he see how he had been fooled, and he WAS the sickest
ringmaster you ever see, I reckon. Why, it was one of his own men! He
had got up that joke all out of his own head, and never let on to nobody.
Well, I felt sheepish enough to be took in so, but I wouldn't a been in
that ringmaster's place, not for a thousand dollars. I don't know; there
may be bullier circuses than what that one was, but I never struck them
yet. Anyways, it was plenty good enough for ME; and wherever I run across
it, it can have all of MY custom every time.
Well, that night we had OUR show; but there warn't only about twelve
people there--just enough to pay expenses. And they laughed all the
time, and that made the duke mad; and everybody left, anyway, before the
show was over, but one boy which was asleep. So the duke said these
Arkansaw lunkheads couldn't come up to Shakespeare; what they wanted was
low comedy--and maybe something ruther worse than low comedy, he
reckoned. He said he could size their style. So next morning he got
some big sheets of wrapping paper and some black paint, and drawed off
some handbills, and stuck them up all over the village. The bills said:
AT THE COURT HOUSE! FOR 3 NIGHTS ONLY!
The World-Renowned Tragedians
DAVID GARRICK THE YOUNGER!
AND EDMUND KEAN THE ELDER!
Of the London and
In their Thrilling Tragedy of
THE KING'S CAMELEOPARD,
OR THE ROYAL NONESUCH ! ! !
Admission 50 cents.
Then at the bottom was the biggest line of all, which said:
LADIES AND CHILDREN NOT ADMITTED.
"There," says he, "if that line don't fetch them, I don't know Arkansaw!"
WELL, all day him and the king was hard at it, rigging up a stage and a
curtain and a row of candles for footlights; and that night the house was
jam full of men in no time. When the place couldn't hold no more, the
duke he quit tending door and went around the back way and come on to the
stage and stood up before the curtain and made a little speech, and
praised up this tragedy, and said it was the most thrillingest one that
ever was; and so he went on a-bragging about the tragedy, and about
Edmund Kean the Elder, which was to play the main principal part in it;
and at last when he'd got everybody's expectations up high enough, he
rolled up the curtain, and the next minute the king come a-prancing out
on all fours, naked; and he was painted all over, ring-streaked-and-
striped, all sorts of colors, as splendid as a rainbow. And--but never
mind the rest of his outfit; it was just wild, but it was awful funny.
The people most killed themselves laughing; and when the king got done
capering and capered off behind the scenes, they roared and clapped and
stormed and haw-hawed till he come back and done it over again, and after
that they made him do it another time. Well, it would make a cow laugh to
see the shines that old idiot cut.
Then the duke he lets the curtain down, and bows to the people, and says
the great tragedy will be performed only two nights more, on accounts of
pressing London engagements, where the seats is all sold already for it
in Drury Lane; and then he makes them another bow, and says if he has
succeeded in pleasing them and instructing them, he will be deeply
obleeged if they will mention it to their friends and get them to come
and see it.
Twenty people sings out:
"What, is it over? Is that ALL?"
The duke says yes. Then there was a fine time. Everybody sings out,
"Sold!" and rose up mad, and was a-going for that stage and them
tragedians. But a big, fine looking man jumps up on a bench and shouts:
"Hold on! Just a word, gentlemen." They stopped to listen. "We are
sold--mighty badly sold. But we don't want to be the laughing stock of
this whole town, I reckon, and never hear the last of this thing as long
as we live. NO. What we want is to go out of here quiet, and talk this
show up, and sell the REST of the town! Then we'll all be in the same
boat. Ain't that sensible?" ("You bet it is!--the jedge is right!"
everybody sings out.) "All right, then--not a word about any sell. Go
along home, and advise everybody to come and see the tragedy."
Next day you couldn't hear nothing around that town but how splendid that
show was. House was jammed again that night, and we sold this crowd the
same way. When me and the king and the duke got home to the raft we all
had a supper; and by and by, about midnight, they made Jim and me back
her out and float her down the middle of the river, and fetch her in and
hide her about two mile below town.
The third night the house was crammed again--and they warn't new-comers
this time, but people that was at the show the other two nights. I stood
by the duke at the door, and I see that every man that went in had his
pockets bulging, or something muffled up under his coat--and I see it
warn't no perfumery, neither, not by a long sight. I smelt sickly eggs
by the barrel, and rotten cabbages, and such things; and if I know the
signs of a dead cat being around, and I bet I do, there was sixty-four of
them went in. I shoved in there for a minute, but it was too various for
me; I couldn't stand it. Well, when the place couldn't hold no more
people the duke he give a fellow a quarter and told him to tend door for
him a minute, and then he started around for the stage door, I after him;
but the minute we turned the corner and was in the dark he says:
"Walk fast now till you get away from the houses, and then shin for the
raft like the dickens was after you!"
I done it, and he done the same. We struck the raft at the same time,
and in less than two seconds we was gliding down stream, all dark and
still, and edging towards the middle of the river, nobody saying a word.
I reckoned the poor king was in for a gaudy time of it with the audience,
but nothing of the sort; pretty soon he crawls out from under the wigwam,
"Well, how'd the old thing pan out this time, duke?" He hadn't been
up-town at all.
We never showed a light till we was about ten mile below the village.
Then we lit up and had a supper, and the king and the duke fairly laughed
their bones loose over the way they'd served them people. The duke says:
"Greenhorns, flatheads! I knew the first house would keep mum and let
the rest of the town get roped in; and I knew they'd lay for us the third
night, and consider it was THEIR turn now. Well, it IS their turn, and
I'd give something to know how much they'd take for it. I WOULD just
like to know how they're putting in their opportunity. They can turn it
into a picnic if they want to--they brought plenty provisions."
Them rapscallions took in four hundred and sixty-five dollars in that
three nights. I never see money hauled in by the wagon-load like that
before. By and by, when they was asleep and snoring, Jim says:
"Don't it s'prise you de way dem kings carries on, Huck?"
"No," I says, "it don't."
"Why don't it, Huck?"
"Well, it don't, because it's in the breed. I reckon they're all alike,"
"But, Huck, dese kings o' ourn is reglar rapscallions; dat's jist what
dey is; dey's reglar rapscallions."
"Well, that's what I'm a-saying; all kings is mostly rapscallions, as fur
as I can make out."
"Is dat so?"
"You read about them once--you'll see. Look at Henry the Eight; this 'n
's a Sunday-school Superintendent to HIM. And look at Charles Second,
and Louis Fourteen, and Louis Fifteen, and James Second, and Edward
Second, and Richard Third, and forty more; besides all them Saxon
heptarchies that used to rip around so in old times and raise Cain. My,
you ought to seen old Henry the Eight when he was in bloom. He WAS a
blossom. He used to marry a new wife every day, and chop off her head
next morning. And he would do it just as indifferent as if he was
ordering up eggs. 'Fetch up Nell Gwynn,' he says. They fetch her up.
Next morning, 'Chop off her head!' And they chop it off. 'Fetch up Jane
Shore,' he says; and up she comes, Next morning, 'Chop off her head'--and
they chop it off. 'Ring up Fair Rosamun.' Fair Rosamun answers the
bell. Next morning, 'Chop off her head.' And he made every one of them
tell him a tale every night; and he kept that up till he had hogged a
thousand and one tales that way, and then he put them all in a book, and
called it Domesday Book--which was a good name and stated the case. You
don't know kings, Jim, but I know them; and this old rip of ourn is one
of the cleanest I've struck in history. Well, Henry he takes a notion he
wants to get up some trouble with this country. How does he go at it
--give notice?--give the country a show? No. All of a sudden he heaves
all the tea in Boston Harbor overboard, and whacks out a declaration of
independence, and dares them to come on. That was HIS style--he never
give anybody a chance. He had suspicions of his father, the Duke of
Wellington. Well, what did he do? Ask him to show up? No--drownded
him in a butt of mamsey, like a cat. S'pose people left money laying
around where he was--what did he do? He collared it. S'pose he
contracted to do a thing, and you paid him, and didn't set down there and
see that he done it--what did he do? He always done the other thing.
S'pose he opened his mouth--what then? If he didn't shut it up powerful
quick he'd lose a lie every time. That's the kind of a bug Henry was;
and if we'd a had him along 'stead of our kings he'd a fooled that town a
heap worse than ourn done. I don't say that ourn is lambs, because they
ain't, when you come right down to the cold facts; but they ain't nothing
to THAT old ram, anyway. All I say is, kings is kings, and you got to
make allowances. Take them all around, they're a mighty ornery lot.
It's the way they're raised."
"But dis one do SMELL so li
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