(Tom Sawyer's Comrade)
By Mark Twain
CHAPTER I. Civilizing Huck.Miss Watson.Tom Sawyer Waits.
CHAPTER II. The Boys Escape Jim.Torn Sawyer's Gang.Deep-laid Plans.
CHAPTER III. A Good Going-over.Grace Triumphant."One of Tom Sawyers's
CHAPTER IV. Huck and the Judge.Superstition.
CHAPTER V. Huck's Father.The Fond Parent.Reform.
CHAPTER VI. He Went for Judge Thatcher.Huck Decided to Leave.Political
CHAPTER VII. Laying for Him.Locked in the Cabin.Sinking the
CHAPTER VIII. Sleeping in the Woods.Raising the Dead.Exploring the
Island.Finding Jim.Jim's Escape.Signs.Balum.
CHAPTER IX. The Cave.The Floating House.
CHAPTER X. The Find.Old Hank Bunker.In Disguise.
CHAPTER XI. Huck and the Woman.The Search.Prevarication.Going to
CHAPTER XII. Slow Navigation.Borrowing Things.Boarding the Wreck.The
Plotters.Hunting for the Boat.
CHAPTER XIII. Escaping from the Wreck.The Watchman.Sinking.
CHAPTER XIV. A General Good Time.The Harem.French.
CHAPTER XV. Huck Loses the Raft.In the Fog.Huck Finds the Raft.Trash.
CHAPTER XVI. Expectation.A White Lie.Floating Currency.Running by
CHAPTER XVII. An Evening Call.The Farm in Arkansaw.Interior
Decorations.Stephen Dowling Bots.Poetical Effusions.
CHAPTER XVIII. Col. Grangerford.Aristocracy.Feuds.The
Testament.Recovering the Raft.The Woodpile.Pork and Cabbage.
CHAPTER XIX. Tying Up Daytimes.An Astronomical Theory.Running a
Temperance Revival.The Duke of Bridgewater.The Troubles of Royalty.
CHAPTER XX. Huck Explains.Laying Out a Campaign.Working the
Campmeeting.A Pirate at the Campmeeting.The Duke as a Printer.
CHAPTER XXI. Sword Exercise.Hamlet's Soliloquy.They Loafed Around
Town.A Lazy Town.Old Boggs.Dead.
CHAPTER XXII. Sherburn.Attending the Circus.Intoxication in the
Ring.The Thrilling Tragedy.
CHAPTER XXIII. Sold.Royal Comparisons.Jim Gets Home-sick.
CHAPTER XXIV. Jim in Royal Robes.They Take a Passenger.Getting
CHAPTER XXV. Is It Them?Singing the "Doxologer."Awful SquareFuneral
Orgies.A Bad Investment .
CHAPTER XXVI. A Pious King.The King's Clergy.She Asked His
Pardon.Hiding in the Room.Huck Takes the Money.
CHAPTER XXVII. The Funeral.Satisfying Curiosity.Suspicious of
Huck,Quick Sales and Small.
CHAPTER XXVIII. The Trip to England."The Brute!"Mary Jane Decides to
Leave.Huck Parting with Mary Jane.Mumps.The Opposition Line.
CHAPTER XXIX. Contested Relationship.The King Explains the Loss.A
Question of Handwriting.Digging up the Corpse.Huck Escapes.
CHAPTER XXX. The King Went for Him.A Royal Row.Powerful Mellow.
CHAPTER XXXI. Ominous Plans.News from Jim.Old Recollections.A Sheep
CHAPTER XXXII. Still and Sundaylike.Mistaken Identity.Up a Stump.In
CHAPTER XXXIII. A Nigger Stealer.Southern Hospitality.A Pretty Long
Blessing.Tar and Feathers.
CHAPTER XXXIV. The Hut by the Ash Hopper.Outrageous.Climbing the
Lightning Rod.Troubled with Witches.
CHAPTER XXXV. Escaping Properly.Dark Schemes.Discrimination in
Stealing.A Deep Hole.
CHAPTER XXXVI. The Lightning Rod.His Level Best.A Bequest to
Posterity.A High Figure.
CHAPTER XXXVII. The Last Shirt.Mooning Around.Sailing Orders.The
CHAPTER XXXVIII. The Coat of Arms.A Skilled Superintendent.Unpleasant
Glory.A Tearful Subject.
CHAPTER XXXIX. Rats.Lively Bedfellows.The Straw Dummy.
CHAPTER XL. Fishing.The Vigilance Committee.A Lively Run.Jim Advises
CHAPTER XLI. The Doctor.Uncle Silas.Sister Hotchkiss.Aunt Sally in
CHAPTER XLII. Tom Sawyer Wounded.The Doctor's Story.Tom
Confesses.Aunt Polly Arrives.Hand Out Them Letters .
CHAPTER THE LAST. Out of Bondage.Paying the Captive.Yours Truly, Huck
Moses and the "Bulrushers"
Huck Stealing Away
They Tip-toed Along
Tom Sawyer's Band of Robbers
Huck Creeps into his Window
Miss Watson's Lecture
The Robbers Dispersed
Rubbing the Lamp
! ! ! !
Judge Thatcher surprised
Huck and his Father
Reforming the Drunkard
Falling from Grace
Moses and the "Bulrushers"
Huck Stealing Away
They Tip-toed Along
Tom Sawyer's Band of Robbers
Huck Creeps into his Window
Miss Watson's Lecture
The Robbers Dispersed
Rubbing the Lamp
! ! ! !
Judge Thatcher surprised
Huck and his Father
Reforming the Drunkard
Falling from Grace
Getting out of the Way
Thinking it Over
Raising a Howl
Shooting the Pig
Taking a Rest
In the Woods
Watching the Boat
Discovering the Camp Fire
Jim and the Ghost
Misto Bradish's Nigger
Exploring the Cave
In the Cave
Jim sees a Dead Man
They Found Eight Dollars
Jim and the Snake
Old Hank Bunker
"A Fair Fit"
"Him and another Man"
She puts up a Snack
On the Raft
He sometimes Lifted a Chicken
"Please don't, Bill"
"It ain't Good Morals"
"Oh! Lordy, Lordy!"
In a Fix
"Hello, What's Up?"
We turned in and Slept
Turning over the Truck
Solomon and his Million Wives
The story of "Sollermun"
"We Would Sell the Raft"
Among the Snags
Asleep on the Raft
"Something being Raftsman"
"Boy, that's a Lie"
"Here I is, Huck"
Climbing up the Bank
"It made Her look Spidery"
"They got him out and emptied Him"
Young Harney Shepherdson
"And asked me if I Liked Her"
"Behind the Wood-pile"
"And Dogs a-Coming"
"By rights I am a Duke!"
"I am the Late Dauphin"
On the Raft
The King as Juliet
"Courting on the Sly"
"A Pirate for Thirty Years"
Another little Job
"Gimme a Chaw"
A Little Monthly Drunk
The Death of Boggs
Sherburn steps out
A Dead Head
He shed Seventeen Suits
Their Pockets Bulged
Henry the Eighth in Boston Harbor
He fairly emptied that Young Fellow
"Alas, our Poor Brother"
"You Bet it is"
Making up the "Deffisit"
Going for him
The Bag of Money
Supper with the Hare-Lip
The Duke looks under the Bed
Huck takes the Money
A Crack in the Dining-room Door
"He had a Rat!"
"Was you in my Room?"
How to Find Them
Hannah with the Mumps
The True Brothers
The Doctor leads Huck
The Duke Wrote
"Jim Lit Out"
The King shakes Huck
The Duke went for Him
"Who Nailed Him?"
He gave him Ten Cents
Striking for the Back Country
Still and Sunday-like
She hugged him tight
"Who do you reckon it is?"
"It was Tom Sawyer"
"Mr. Archibald Nichols, I presume?"
A pretty long Blessing
Traveling By Rail
A Simple Job
One of the Best Authorities
Smouching the Knives
Going down the Lightning-Rod
Tom advises a Witch Pie
"Missus, dey's a Sheet Gone"
In a Tearing Way
One of his Ancestors
Jim's Coat of Arms
A Tough Job
Buttons on their Tails
Keeping off Dull Times
Trouble is Brewing
Every one had a Gun
Tom caught on a Splinter
Jim advises a Doctor
Uncle Silas in Danger
Old Mrs. Hotchkiss
Aunt Sally talks to Huck
Tom Sawyer wounded
The Doctor speaks for Jim
Tom rose square up in Bed
"Hand out them Letters"
Out of Bondage
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
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 PollyTom's Aunt Polly, she
isand 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 apieceall 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
roundmore 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
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, Huckleberryset up straight;" and pretty soon she would
say, "Don't gap and stretch like that, Huckleberrywhy 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
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 boomboomboomtwelve licks; and all still againstiller than
ever. Pretty soon I heard a twig snap down in the dark amongst the
treessomething 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
sleepyif you are anywheres where it won't do for you to scratch, why
you will itch all over in upwards of a thousand places. Pretty soon Jim
"Say, who is you? Whar is you? Dog my cats ef I didn' hear sumf'n.
Well, I know what I's gwyne to do: I's gwyne to set down here and
listen tell I hears it agin."
So he set down on the ground betwixt me and Tom. He leaned his back up
against a tree, and stretched his legs out till one of them most touched
one of mine. My nose begun to itch. It itched till the tears come into
my eyes. But I dasn't scratch. Then it begun to itch on the inside.
Next I got to itching underneath. I didn't know how I was going to set
still. This miserableness went on as much as six or seven minutes; but
it seemed a sight longer than that. I was itching in eleven different
places now. I reckoned I couldn't stand it more'n a minute longer,
but I set my teeth hard and got ready to try. Just then Jim begun
to breathe heavy; next he begun to snoreand then I was pretty soon
Tom he made a sign to mekind of a little noise with his mouthand 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 forever.
Everybody said it was a real beautiful oath, and asked Tom if he got
it out of his own head. He said, some of it, but the rest was out of
pirate-books and robber-books, and every gang that was high-toned had
Some thought it would be good to kill the _families_ of boys that told
the secrets. Tom said it was a good idea, so he took a pencil and wrote
it in. Then Ben Rogers says:
"Here's Huck Finn, he hain't got no family; what you going to do 'bout
"Well, hain't he got a father?" says Tom Sawyer.
"Yes, he's got a father, but you can't never find him these days. He
used to lay drunk with the hogs in the tanyard, but he hain't been seen
in these parts for a year or more."
They talked it over, and they was going to rule me out, because they
said every boy must have a family or somebody to kill, or else it
wouldn't be fair and square for the others. Well, nobody could think of
anything to doeverybody 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
Watsonthey 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 themexcept some that you bring to
the cave here, and keep them till they're ransomed."
"Ransomed? What's that?"
"I don't know. But that's what they do. I've seen it in books; and so
of course that's what we've got to do."
"But how can we do it if we don't know what it is?"
"Why, blame it all, we've _got_ to do it. Don't I tell you it's in the
books? Do you want to go to doing different from what's in the books,
and get things all muddled up?"
"Oh, that's all very fine to _say_, Tom Sawyer, but how in the nation
are these fellows going to be ransomed if we don't know how to do it
to them?that's the thing I want to get at. Now, what do you reckon it
"Well, I don't know. But per'aps if we keep them till they're ransomed,
it means that we keep them till they're dead."
"Now, that's something _like_. That'll answer. Why couldn't you said
that before? We'll keep them till they're ransomed to death; and a
bothersome lot they'll be, tooeating up everything, and always trying
to get loose."
"How you talk, Ben Rogers. How can they get loose when there's a guard
over them, ready to shoot them down if they move a peg?"
"A guard! Well, that _is_ good. So somebody's got to set up all night
and never get any sleep, just so as to watch them. I think that's
foolishness. Why can't a body take a club and ransom them as soon as
they get here?"
"Because it ain't in the books sothat's why. Now, Ben Rogers, do you
want to do things regular, or don't you?that's the idea. Don't you
reckon that the people that made the books knows what's the correct
thing to do? Do you reckon _you_ can learn 'em anything? Not by a good
deal. No, sir, we'll just go on and ransom them in the regular way."
"All right. I don't mind; but I say it's a fool way, anyhow. Say, do
we kill the women, too?"
"Well, Ben Rogers, if I was as ignorant as you I wouldn't let on. Kill
the women? No; nobody ever saw anything in the books like that. You
fetch them to the cave, and you're always as polite as pie to them;
and by and by they fall in love with you, and never want to go home any
"Well, if that's the way I'm agreed, but I don't take no stock in it.
Mighty soon we'll have the cave so cluttered up with women, and fellows
waiting to be ransomed, that there won't be no place for the robbers.
But go ahead, I ain't got nothing to say."
Little Tommy Barnes was asleep now, and when they waked him up he was
scared, and cried, and said he wanted to go home to his ma, and didn't
want to be a robber any more.
So they all made fun of him, and called him cry-baby, and that made him
mad, and he said he would go straight and tell all the secrets. But
Tom give him five cents to keep quiet, and said we would all go home and
meet next week, and rob somebody and kill some people.
Ben Rogers said he couldn't get out much, only Sundays, and so he wanted
to begin next Sunday; but all the boys said it would be wicked to do it
on Sunday, and that settled the thing. They agreed to get together and
fix a day as soon as they could, and then we elected Tom Sawyer first
captain and Jo Harper second captain of the Gang, and so started home.
I clumb up the shed and crept into my window just before day was
breaking. My new clothes was all greased up and clayey, and I was
WELL, I got a good going-over in the morning from old Miss Watson on
account of my clothes; but the widow she didn't scold, but only cleaned
off the grease and clay, and looked so sorry that I thought I would
behave awhile if I could. Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet
and prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray every day, and
whatever I asked for I would get it. But it warn't so. I tried it.
Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks. It warn't any good to me without
hooks. I tried for the hooks three or four times, but somehow I
couldn't make it work. By and by, one day, I asked Miss Watson to
try for me, but she said I was a fool. She never told me why, and I
couldn't make it out no way.
I set down one time back in the woods, and had a long think about it.
I says to myself, if a body can get anything they pray for, why don't
Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork? Why can't the widow get
back her silver snuffbox that was stole? Why can't Miss Watson fat up?
No, says I to my self, there ain't nothing in it. I went and told the
widow about it, and she said the thing a body could get by praying for
it was "spiritual gifts." This was too many for me, but she told me
what she meantI 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 itexcept 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 itor any
"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 itand they've
got to do it before sun-up next morning, too. And more: they've got
to waltz that palace around over the country wherever you want it, you
"Well," says I, "I think they are a pack of flat-heads for not keeping
the palace themselves 'stead of fooling them away like that. And what's
moreif 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, somehowperfect 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 nightover 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
allnor the six thousand, nuther. I want you to take it; I want to give
it to youthe 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
"Well, I'm puzzled. Is something the matter?"
"Please take it," says I, "and don't ask me nothingthen 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 menot
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 mistakenthat 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 crawla tree-toad white, a
fish-belly white. As for his clothesjust 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 flooran old black slouch with the top caved in, like
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 clothesvery. You think you're a good deal of a big-bug,
"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 saycan 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 hereyou 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 ityou 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 betterI'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 floorand 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 airsthey say you're rich. Hey?how's
"They liethat's how."
"Looky heremind how you talk to me; I'm a-standing about all I can
stand nowso 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-morrowI 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 foryou 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 wordsdon't forget I said them. It's a
clean hand now; shake itdon'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 pledgemade
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 businessappeared 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 suitedthis 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 itall 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 drownded, and I wasn't ever
going to get out any more. I was scared. I made up my mind I would fix
up some way to leave there. I had tried to get out of that cabin many
a time, but I couldn't find no way. There warn't a window to it big
enough for a dog to get through. I couldn't get up the chimbly; it
was too narrow. The door was thick, solid oak slabs. Pap was pretty
careful not to leave a knife or anything in the cabin when he was away;
I reckon I had hunted the place over as much as a hundred times; well, I
was most all the time at it, because it was about the only way to put in
the time. But this time I found something at last; I found an old rusty
wood-saw without any handle; it was laid in between a rafter and the
clapboards of the roof. I greased it up and went to work. There was an
old horse-blanket nailed against the logs at the far end of the cabin
behind the table, to keep the wind from blowing through the chinks and
putting the candle out. I got under the table and raised the blanket,
and went to work to saw a section of the big bottom log outbig 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 humorso 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
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 Adamhe 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 hima
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 hatif you call it a hatbut 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 Isuch a hat for me to wearone 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 Ohioa 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 canethe 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 meI'll never vote agin as long as I live. And to see the
cool way of that niggerwhy, 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,
nowthat'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 languagemostly 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 cheekbut 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,
"Tramptramptramp; that's the dead; tramptramptramp; they're coming
after me; but I won't go. Oh, they're here! don't touch medon't! hands
offthey'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 minute."
He unlocked the door, and I cleared out up the river-bank. I noticed
some pieces of limbs and such things floating down, and a sprinkling of
bark; so I knowed the river had begun to rise. I reckoned I would have
great times now if I was over at the town. The June rise used to be
always luck for me; because as soon as that rise begins here comes
cordwood floating down, and pieces of log raftssometimes 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 thisshe's worth ten dollars.
But when I got to shore pap wasn't in sight yet, and as I was running
her into a little creek like a gully, all hung over with vines and
willows, I struck another idea: I judged I'd hide her good, and then,
'stead of taking to the woods when I run off, I'd go down the river
about fifty mile and camp in one place for good, and not have such a
rough time tramping on foot.
It was pretty close to the shanty, and I thought I heard the old man
coming all the time; but I got her hid; and then I out and looked around
a bunch of willows, and there was the old man down the path a piece just
drawing a bead on a bird with his gun. So he hadn't seen anything.
When he got along I was hard at it taking up a "trot" line. He abused
me a little for being so slow; but I told him I fell in the river, and
that was what made me so long. I knowed he would see I was wet, and
then he would be asking questions. We got five catfish off the lines
and went home.
While we laid off after breakfast to sleep up, both of us being about
wore out, I got to thinking that if I could fix up some way to keep pap
and the widow from trying to follow me, it would be a certainer thing
than trusting to luck to get far enough off before they missed me; you
see, all kinds of things might happen. Well, I didn't see no way for a
while, but by and by pap raised up a minute to drink another barrel of
water, and he says:
"Another time a man comes a-prowling round here you roust me out, you
hear? That man warn't here for no good. I'd a shot him. Next time you
roust me out, you hear?"
Then he dropped down and went to sleep again; but what he had been
saying give me the very idea I wanted. I says to myself, I can fix it
now so nobody won't think of following me.
About twelve o'clock we turned out and went along up the bank. The
river was coming up pretty fast, and lots of driftwood going by on the
rise. By and by along comes part of a log raftnine 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 thingseverything 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 groundhard packed,
and no boards. Well, next I took an old sack and put a lot of big rocks
in itall I could dragand 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
placepap 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 rushesand ducks too, you might say, in the season. There
was a slough or a creek leading out of it on the other side that went
miles away, I don't know where, but it didn't go to the river. The meal
sifted out and made a little track all the way to the lake. I dropped
pap's whetstone there too, so as to look like it had been done by
accident. Then I tied up the rip in the meal sack with a string, so it
wouldn't leak no more, and took it and my saw to the canoe again.
It was about dark now; so I dropped the canoe down the river under some
willows that hung over the bank, and waited for the moon to rise. I
made fast to a willow; then I took a bite to eat, and by and by laid
down in the canoe to smoke a pipe and lay out a plan. I says to myself,
they'll follow the track of that sackful of rocks to the shore and then
drag the river for me. And they'll follow that meal track to the lake
and go browsing down the creek that leads out of it to find the robbers
that killed me and took the things. They won't ever hunt the river for
anything but my dead carcass. They'll soon get tired of that, and won't
bother no more about me. All right; I can stop anywhere I want to.
Jackson's Island is good enough for me; I know that island pretty well,
and nobody ever comes there. And then I can paddle over to town nights,
and slink around and pick up things I want. Jackson's Island's the
I was pretty tired, and the first thing I knowed I was asleep. When
I woke up I didn't know where I was for a minute. I set up and looked
around, a little scared. Then I remembered. The river looked miles and
miles across. The moon was so bright I could a counted the drift logs
that went a-slipping along, black and still, hundreds of yards out from
shore. Everything was dead quiet, and it looked late, and _smelt_ late.
You know what I meanI 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 wasa 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 enoughand sober, too, by the way he laid his
I didn't lose no time. The next minute I was a-spinning down stream
soft but quick in the shade of the bank. I made two mile and a half,
and then struck out a quarter of a mile or more towards the middle of
the river, because pretty soon I would be passing the ferry landing, and
people might see me and hail me. I got out amongst the driftwood, and
then laid down in the bottom of the canoe and let her float.
I laid there, and had a good rest and a smoke out of my pipe, looking
away into the sky; not a cloud in it. The sky looks ever so deep when
you lay down on your back in the moonshine; I never knowed it before.
And how far a body can hear on the water such nights! I heard people
talking at the ferry landing. I heard what they said, tooevery 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
reckonedand 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 womanshe 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 headit 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
I was powerful lazy and comfortabledidn'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 upabout 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 morningso 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
shoreI 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
thingthat is, there's something in it when a body like the widow or the
parson prays, but it don't work for me, and I reckon it don't work for
only just the right kind.
I lit a pipe and had a good long smoke, and went on watching. The
ferryboat was floating with the current, and I allowed I'd have a chance
to see who was aboard when she come along, because she would come in
close, where the bread did. When she'd got pretty well along down
towards me, I put out my pipe and went to where I fished out the bread,
and laid down behind a log on the bank in a little open place. Where
the log forked I could peep through.
By and by she come along, and she drifted in so close that they could
a run out a plank and walked ashore. Most everybody was on the boat.
Pap, and Judge Thatcher, and Bessie Thatcher, and Jo Harper, and Tom
Sawyer, and his old Aunt Polly, and Sid and Mary, and plenty more.
Everybody was talking about the murder, but the captain broke in and
"Look sharp, now; the current sets in the closest here, and maybe he's
washed ashore and got tangled amongst the brush at the water's edge. I
hope so, anyway."
I didn't hope so. They all crowded up and leaned over the rails, nearly
in my face, and kept still, watching with all their might. I could see
them first-rate, but they couldn't see me. Then the captain sung out:
"Stand away!" and the cannon let off such a blast right before me that
it made me deef with the noise and pretty near blind with the smoke, and
I judged I was gone. If they'd a had some bullets in, I reckon they'd
a got the corpse they was after. Well, I see I warn't hurt, thanks to
goodness. The boat floated on and went out of sight around the shoulder
of the island. I could hear the booming now and then, further and
further off, and by and by, after an hour, I didn't hear it no more.
The island was three mile long. I judged they had got to the foot, and
was giving it up. But they didn't yet a while. They turned around
the foot of the island and started up the channel on the Missouri side,
under steam, and booming once in a while as they went. I crossed over
to that side and watched them. When they got abreast the head of the
island they quit shooting and dropped over to the Missouri shore and
went home to the town.
I knowed I was all right now. Nobody else would come a-hunting after
me. I got my traps out of the canoe and made me a nice camp in the thick
woods. I made a kind of a tent out of my blankets to put my things
under so the rain couldn't get at them. I catched a catfish and haggled
him open with my saw, and towards sundown I started my camp fire and had
supper. Then I set out a line to catch some fish for breakfast.
When it was dark I set by my camp fire smoking, and feeling pretty well
satisfied; but by and by it got sort of lonesome, and so I went and set
on the bank and listened to the current swashing along, and counted the
stars and drift logs and rafts that come down, and then went to bed;
there ain't no better way to put in time when you are lonesome; you
can't stay so, you soon get over it.
And so for three days and nights. No differencejust 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 nothingI only _thought_ I heard and seen as much as a
thousand things. Well, I couldn't stay up there forever; so at last I
got down, but I kept in the thick woods and on the lookout all the
time. All I could get to eat was berries and what was left over from
By the time it was night I was pretty hungry. So when it was good
and dark I slid out from shore before moonrise and paddled over to the
Illinois bankabout a quarter of a mile. I went out in the woods and
cooked a supper, and I had about made up my mind I would stay there
all night when I hear a _plunkety-plunk, plunkety-plunk_, and says
to myself, horses coming; and next I hear people's voices. I got
everything into the canoe as quick as I could, and then went creeping
through the woods to see what I could find out. I hadn't got far when I
hear a man say:
"We better camp here if we can find a good place; the horses is about
beat out. Let's look around."
I didn't wait, but shoved out and paddled away easy. I tied up in the
old place, and reckoned I would sleep in the canoe.
I didn't sleep much. I couldn't, somehow, for thinking. And every time
I waked up I thought somebody had me by the neck. So the sleep didn't
do me no good. By and by I says to myself, I can't live this way; I'm
a-going to find out who it is that's here on the island with me; I'll
find it out or bust. Well, I felt better right off.
So I took my paddle and slid out from shore just a step or two, and
then let the canoe drop along down amongst the shadows. The moon was
shining, and outside of the shadows it made it most as light as day.
I poked along well on to an hour, everything still as rocks and sound
asleep. Well, by this time I was most down to the foot of the island. A
little ripply, cool breeze begun to blow, and that was as good as saying
the night was about done. I give her a turn with the paddle and brung
her nose to shore; then I got my gun and slipped out and into the edge
of the woods. I sat down there on a log, and looked out through the
leaves. I see the moon go off watch, and the darkness begin to blanket
the river. But in a little while I see a pale streak over the treetops,
and knowed the day was coming. So I took my gun and slipped off towards
where I had run across that camp fire, stopping every minute or two
to listen. But I hadn't no luck somehow; I couldn't seem to find the
place. But by and by, sure enough, I catched a glimpse of fire away
through the trees. I went for it, cautious and slow. By and by I was
close enough to have a look, and there laid a man on the ground. It
most give me the fan-tods. He had a blanket around his head, and his
head was nearly in the fire. I set there behind a clump of bushes, in
about six foot of him, and kept my eyes on him steady. It was getting
gray daylight now. Pretty soon he gapped and stretched himself and hove
off the blanket, and it was Miss Watson's Jim! I bet I was glad to see
him. I says:
"Hello, Jim!" and skipped out.
He bounced up and stared at me wild. Then he drops down on his knees,
and puts his hands together and says:
"Doan' hurt medon't! I hain't ever done no harm to a ghos'. I alwuz
liked dead people, en done all I could for 'em. You go en git in de
river agin, whah you b'longs, en doan' do nuffn to Ole Jim, 'at 'uz
awluz yo' fren'."
Well, I warn't long making him understand I warn't dead. I was ever so
glad to see Jim. I warn't lonesome now. I told him I warn't afraid of
_him_ telling the people where I was. I talked along, but he only set
there and looked at me; never said nothing. Then I says:
"It's good daylight. Le's get breakfast. Make up your camp fire good."
"What's de use er makin' up de camp fire to cook strawbries en sich
truck? But you got a gun, hain't you? Den we kin git sumfn better den
"Strawberries and such truck," I says. "Is that what you live on?"
"I couldn' git nuffn else," he says.
"Why, how long you been on the island, Jim?"
"I come heah de night arter you's killed."
"What, all that time?"
"And ain't you had nothing but that kind of rubbage to eat?"
"No, sahnuffn 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' tellyou 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 mumbut 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 missusdat's Miss Watsonshe 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'tbank 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 heahwatched 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 fewan' _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 stockcattle, you know. I put ten dollars in a cow. But
I ain' gwyne to resk no mo' money in stock. De cow up 'n' died on my
"So you lost the ten dollars."
"No, I didn't lose it all. I on'y los' 'bout nine of it. I sole de
hide en taller for a dollar en ten cents."
"You had five dollars and ten cents left. Did you speculate any more?"
"Yes. You know that one-laigged nigger dat b'longs to old Misto
Bradish? Well, he sot up a bank, en say anybody dat put in a dollar
would git fo' dollars mo' at de en' er de year. Well, all de niggers
went in, but dey didn't have much. I wuz de on'y one dat had much. So
I stuck out for mo' dan fo' dollars, en I said 'f I didn' git it I'd
start a bank mysef. Well, o' course dat nigger want' to keep me out er
de business, bekase he says dey warn't business 'nough for two banks, so
he say I could put in my five dollars en he pay me thirty-five at de en'
er de year.
"So I done it. Den I reck'n'd I'd inves' de thirty-five dollars right
off en keep things a-movin'. Dey wuz a nigger name' Bob, dat had
ketched a wood-flat, en his marster didn' know it; en I bought it off'n
him en told him to take de thirty-five dollars when de en' er de
year come; but somebody stole de wood-flat dat night, en nex day de
one-laigged nigger say de bank's busted. So dey didn' none uv us git no
"What did you do with the ten cents, Jim?"
"Well, I 'uz gwyne to spen' it, but I had a dream, en de dream tole me
to give it to a nigger name' BalumBalum'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 stairswhere
it's long stairs and they bounce a good deal, you know.
"Jim, this is nice," I says. "I wouldn't want to be nowhere else but
here. Pass me along another hunk of fish and some hot corn-bread."
"Well, you wouldn't a ben here 'f it hadn't a ben for Jim. You'd a ben
down dah in de woods widout any dinner, en gittn' mos' drownded, too;
dat you would, honey. Chickens knows when it's gwyne to rain, en so do
de birds, chile."
The river went on raising and raising for ten or twelve days, till at
last it was over the banks. The water was three or four foot deep on
the island in the low places and on the Illinois bottom. On that side
it was a good many miles wide, but on the Missouri side it was the same
old distance acrossa half a milebecause 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 turtlesthey 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 raftnice pine planks.
It was twelve foot wide and about fifteen or sixteen foot long, and
the top stood above water six or seven inchesa 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
aboardclumb 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 asleephe's dead. You hold stillI'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 faceit'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 canoeit 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
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 aloneand so on and so on,
till I was afeard I had made a mistake coming to her to find out what
was going on in the town; but by and by she dropped on to pap and the
murder, and then I was pretty willing to let her clatter right along.
She told about me and Tom Sawyer finding the six thousand dollars (only
she got it ten) and all about pap and what a hard lot he was, and what
a hard lot I was, and at last she got down to where I was murdered. I
"Who done it? We've heard considerable about these goings on down in
Hookerville, but we don't know who 'twas that killed Huck Finn."
"Well, I reckon there's a right smart chance of people _here_ that'd
like to know who killed him. Some think old Finn done it himself."
"Nois 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 himthree hundred dollars. And there's a reward out for
old Finn, tootwo 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 thembut 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 seehim 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 interestedand I was, tooand 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 upseemed to me I said it was Sarah; so I felt sort of cornered,
and was afeared maybe I was looking it, too. I wished the woman would
say something more; the longer she set still the uneasier I was. But
now she says:
"Honey, I thought you said it was Sarah when you first come in?"
"Oh, yes'm, I did. Sarah Mary Williams. Sarah's my first name. Some
calls me Sarah, some calls me Mary."
"Oh, that's the way of it?"
I was feeling better then, but I wished I was out of there, anyway. I
couldn't look up yet.
Well, the woman fell to talking about how hard times was, and how poor
they had to live, and how the rats was as free as if they owned the
place, and so forth and so on, and then I got easy again. She was right
about the rats. You'd see one stick his nose out of a hole in the corner
every little while. She said she had to have things handy to throw at
them when she was alone, or they wouldn't give her no peace. She showed
me a bar of lead twisted up into a knot, and said she was a good shot
with it generly, but she'd wrenched her arm a day or two ago, and didn't
know whether she could throw true now. But she watched for a chance,
and directly banged away at a rat; but she missed him wide, and said
"Ouch!" it hurt her arm so. Then she told me to try for the next one.
I wanted to be getting away before the old man got back, but of course
I didn't let on. I got the thing, and the first rat that showed his
nose I let drive, and if he'd a stayed where he was he'd a been a
tolerable sick rat. She said that was first-rate, and she reckoned I
would hive the next one. She went and got the lump of lead and fetched
it back, and brought along a hank of yarn which she wanted me to help
her with. I held up my two hands and she put the hank over them, and
went on talking about her and her husband's matters. But she broke off
"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
"Please to don't poke fun at a poor girl like me, mum. If I'm in the
way here, I'll"
"No, you won't. Set down and stay where you are. I ain't going to hurt
you, and I ain't going to tell on you, nuther. You just tell me your
secret, and trust me. I'll keep it; and, what's more, I'll help
you. So'll my old man if you want him to. You see, you're a runaway
'prentice, that's all. It ain't anything. There ain't no harm in it.
You've been treated bad, and you made up your mind to cut. Bless you,
child, I wouldn't tell on you. Tell me all about it now, that's a good
So I said it wouldn't be no use to try to play it any longer, and I
would just make a clean breast and tell her everything, but she musn't
go back on her promise. Then I told her my father and mother was dead,
and the law had bound me out to a mean old farmer in the country thirty
mile back from the river, and he treated me so bad I couldn't stand it
no longer; he went away to be gone a couple of days, and so I took my
chance and stole some of his daughter's old clothes and cleared out, and
I had been three nights coming the thirty miles. I traveled nights,
and hid daytimes and slept, and the bag of bread and meat I carried from
home lasted me all the way, and I had a-plenty. I said I believed my
uncle Abner Moore would take care of me, and so that was why I struck
out for this town of Goshen.
"Goshen, child? This ain't Goshen. This is St. Petersburg. Goshen's
ten mile further up the river. Who told you this was Goshen?"
"Why, a man I met at daybreak this morning, just as I was going to turn
into the woods for my regular sleep. He told me when the roads forked I
must take the right hand, and five mile would fetch me to Goshen."
"He was drunk, I reckon. He told you just exactly wrong."
"Well, he did act like he was drunk, but it ain't no matter now. I got
to be moving along. I'll fetch Goshen before daylight."
"Hold on a minute. I'll put you up a snack to eat. You might want it."
So she put me up a snack, and says:
"Say, when a cow's laying down, which end of her gets up first? Answer
up prompt nowdon'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 cleareleven. 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 after that.
I took the canoe out from the shore a little piece, and took a look;
but if there was a boat around I couldn't see it, for stars and shadows
ain't good to see by. Then we got out the raft and slipped along down
in the shade, past the foot of the island dead stillnever saying a
IT must a been close on to one o'clock when we got below the island at
last, and the raft did seem to go mighty slow. If a boat was to come
along we was going to take to the canoe and break for the Illinois
shore; and it was well a boat didn't come, for we hadn't ever thought to
put the gun in the canoe, or a fishing-line, or anything to eat. We
was in ruther too much of a sweat to think of so many things. It warn't
good judgment to put _everything_ on the raft.
If the men went to the island I just expect they found the camp fire I
built, and watched it all night for Jim to come. Anyways, they stayed
away from us, and if my building the fire never fooled them it warn't no
fault of mine. I played it as low down on them as I could.
When the first streak of day began to show we tied up to a towhead in a
big bend on the Illinois side, and hacked off cottonwood branches with
the hatchet, and covered up the raft with them so she looked like there
had been a cave-in in the bank there. A tow-head is a sandbar that has
cottonwoods on it as thick as harrow-teeth.
We had mountains on the Missouri shore and heavy timber on the Illinois
side, and the channel was down the Missouri shore at that place, so we
warn't afraid of anybody running across us. We laid there all day,
and watched the rafts and steamboats spin down the Missouri shore, and
up-bound steamboats fight the big river in the middle. I told Jim all
about the time I had jabbering with that woman; and Jim said she was
a smart one, and if she was to start after us herself she wouldn't set
down and watch a camp fireno, 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 villageno, indeedy, we would be in that same old town again.
So I said I didn't care what was the reason they didn't get us as long
as they didn't.
When it was beginning to come on dark we poked our heads out of the
cottonwood thicket, and looked up and down and across; nothing in sight;
so Jim took up some of the top planks of the raft and built a snug
wigwam to get under in blazing weather and rainy, and to keep the things
dry. Jim made a floor for the wigwam, and raised it a foot or more above
the level of the raft, so now the blankets and all the traps was out of
reach of steamboat waves. Right in the middle of the wigwam we made a
layer of dirt about five or six inches deep with a frame around it for
to hold it to its place; this was to build a fire on in sloppy weather
or chilly; the wigwam would keep it from being seen. We made an extra
steering-oar, too, because one of the others might get broke on a snag
or something. We fixed up a short forked stick to hang the old lantern
on, because we must always light the lantern whenever we see a steamboat
coming down-stream, to keep from getting run over; but we wouldn't have
to light it for up-stream boats unless we see we was in what they call
a "crossing"; for the river was pretty high yet, very low banks being
still a little under water; so up-bound boats didn't always run the
channel, but hunted easy water.
This second night we run between seven and eight hours, with a current
that was making over four mile an hour. We catched fish and talked,
and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of
solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs looking
up at the stars, and we didn't ever feel like talking loud, and it
warn't often that we laughedonly a little kind of a low chuckle. We
had mighty good weather as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to
us at allthat 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 morethen 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 youand 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 adventurethat'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
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
By this time Jim was gone for the raft. I was just a-biling with
curiosity; and I says to myself, Tom Sawyer wouldn't back out now,
and so I won't either; I'm a-going to see what's going on here. So I
dropped on my hands and knees in the little passage, and crept aft
in the dark till there warn't but one stateroom betwixt me and the
cross-hall of the texas. Then in there I see a man stretched on the
floor and tied hand and foot, and two men standing over him, and one
of them had a dim lantern in his hand, and the other one had a pistol.
This one kept pointing the pistol at the man's head on the floor, and
"I'd _like_ to! And I orter, tooa mean skunk!"
The man on the floor would shrivel up and say, "Oh, please don't, Bill;
I hain't ever goin' to tell."
And every time he said that the man with the lantern would laugh and
"'Deed you _ain't!_ You never said no truer thing 'n that, you bet
you." And once he said: "Hear him beg! and yit if we hadn't got the
best of him and tied him he'd a killed us both. And what _for_? Jist
for noth'n. Jist because we stood on our _rights_that's what for. But
I lay you ain't a-goin' to threaten nobody any more, Jim Turner. Put
_up_ that pistol, Bill."
"I don't want to, Jake Packard. I'm for killin' himand didn't he kill
old Hatfield jist the same wayand 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:
"Herecome 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
"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 fixfor the sheriff 'll get 'em.
Quickhurry! 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 Ien 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 nowhad to have it for ourselves. So we went
a-quaking and shaking down the stabboard side, and slow work it was,
tooseemed a week before we got to the stern. No sign of a boat. Jim
said he didn't believe he could go any furtherso scared he hadn't
hardly any strength left, he said. But I said, come on, if we get left
on this wreck we are in a fix, sure. So on we prowled again. We struck
for the stern of the texas, and found it, and then scrabbled along
forwards on the skylight, hanging on from shutter to shutter, for the
edge of the skylight was in the water. When we got pretty close to the
cross-hall door there was the skiff, sure enough! I could just barely
see her. I felt ever so thankful. In another second I would a been
aboard of her, but just then the door opened. One of the men stuck his
head out only about a couple of foot from me, and I thought I was gone;
but he jerked it in again, and says:
"Heave that blame lantern out o' sight, Bill!"
He flung a bag of something into the boat, and then got in himself and
set down. It was Packard. Then Bill _he_ come out and got in. Packard
says, in a low voice:
"All readyshove off!"
I couldn't hardly hang on to the shutters, I was so weak. But Bill
"Hold on'd you go through him?"
"No. Didn't you?"
"No. So he's got his share o' the cash yet."
"Well, then, come along; no use to take truck and leave money."
"Say, won't he suspicion what we're up to?"
"Maybe he won't. But we got to have it anyway. Come along."
So they got out and went in.
The door slammed to because it was on the careened side; and in a half
second I was in the boat, and Jim come tumbling after me. I out with my
knife and cut the rope, and away we went!
We didn't touch an oar, and we didn't speak nor whisper, nor hardly even
breathe. We went gliding swift along, dead silent, past the tip of the
paddle-box, and past the stern; then in a second or two more we was a
hundred yards below the wreck, and the darkness soaked her up, every
last sign of her, and we was safe, and knowed it.
When we was three or four hundred yards down-stream we see the lantern
show like a little spark at the texas door for a second, and we knowed
by that that the rascals had missed their boat, and was beginning to
understand that they was in just as much trouble now as Jim Turner was.
Then Jim manned the oars, and we took out after our raft. Now was the
first time that I begun to worry about the menI reckon I hadn't
had time to before. I begun to think how dreadful it was, even for
murderers, to be in such a fix. I says to myself, there ain't no
telling but I might come to be a murderer myself yet, and then how would
I like it? So says I to Jim:
"The first light we see we'll land a hundred yards below it or above
it, in a place where it's a good hiding-place for you and the skiff, and
then I'll go and fix up some kind of a yarn, and get somebody to go for
that gang and get them out of their scrape, so they can be hung when
their time comes."
But that idea was a failure; for pretty soon it begun to storm again,
and this time worse than ever. The rain poured down, and never a light
showed; everybody in bed, I reckon. We boomed along down the river,
watching for lights and watching for our raft. After a long time the
rain let up, but the clouds stayed, and the lightning kept whimpering,
and by and by a flash showed us a black thing ahead, floating, and we
made for it.
It was the raft, and mighty glad was we to get aboard of it again. We
seen a light now away down to the right, on shore. So I said I would
go for it. The skiff was half full of plunder which that gang had stole
there on the wreck. We hustled it on to the raft in a pile, and I told
Jim to float along down, and show a light when he judged he had gone
about two mile, and keep it burning till I come; then I manned my oars
and shoved for the light. As I got down towards it three or four more
showedup on a hillside. It was a village. I closed in above the shore
light, and laid on my oars and floated. As I went by I see it was a
lantern hanging on the jackstaff of a double-hull ferryboat. I skimmed
around for the watchman, a-wondering whereabouts he slept; and by and
by I found him roosting on the bitts forward, with his head down between
his knees. I gave his shoulder two or three little shoves, and begun to
He stirred up in a kind of a startlish way; but when he see it was only
me he took a good gap and stretch, and then he says:
"Hello, what's up? Don't cry, bub. What's the trouble?"
"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'rethey'reare 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 Landinggo 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 nameand 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 Whippleand oh, he _was_ the best cretur!I most wish 't it had
been me, I do."
"My George! It's the beatenest thing I ever struck. And _then_ what
did you all do?"
"Well, we hollered and took on, but it's so wide there we couldn't
make nobody hear. So pap said somebody got to get ashore and get help
somehow. I was the only one that could swim, so I made a dash for it,
and Miss Hooker she said if I didn't strike help sooner, come here and
hunt up her uncle, and he'd fix the thing. I made the land about a mile
below, and been fooling along ever since, trying to get people to do
something, but they said, 'What, in such a night and such a current?
There ain't no sense in it; go for the steam ferry.' Now if you'll go
"By Jackson, I'd _like_ to, and, blame it, I don't know but I will; but
who in the dingnation's a-going' to _pay_ for it? Do you reckon your
"Why _that's_ all right. Miss Hooker she tole me, _particular_, that
her uncle Hornback"
"Great guns! is _he_ her uncle? Looky here, you break for that light
over yonder-way, and turn out west when you git there, and about a
quarter of a mile out you'll come to the tavern; tell 'em to dart you
out to Jim Hornback's, and he'll foot the bill. And don't you fool
around any, because he'll want to know the news. Tell him I'll have
his niece all safe before he can get to town. Hump yourself, now; I'm
a-going up around the corner here to roust out my engineer."
I struck for the light, but as soon as he turned the corner I went back
and got into my skiff and bailed her out, and then pulled up shore in
the easy water about six hundred yards, and tucked myself in among
some woodboats; for I couldn't rest easy till I could see the ferryboat
start. But take it all around, I was feeling ruther comfortable on
accounts of taking all this trouble for that gang, for not many would
a done it. I wished the widow knowed about it. I judged she would be
proud of me for helping these rapscallions, because rapscallions and
dead beats is the kind the widow and good people takes the most interest
Well, before long here comes the wreck, dim and dusky, sliding along
down! A kind of cold shiver went through me, and then I struck out for
her. She was very deep, and I see in a minute there warn't much chance
for anybody being alive in her. I pulled all around her and hollered
a little, but there wasn't any answer; all dead still. I felt a little
bit heavy-hearted about the gang, but not much, for I reckoned if they
could stand it I could.
Then here comes the ferryboat; so I shoved for the middle of the river
on a long down-stream slant; and when I judged I was out of eye-reach
I laid on my oars, and looked back and see her go and smell around the
wreck for Miss Hooker's remainders, because the captain would know her
uncle Hornback would want them; and then pretty soon the ferryboat give
it up and went for the shore, and I laid into my work and went a-booming
down the river.
It did seem a powerful long time before Jim's light showed up; and when
it did show it looked like it was a thousand mile off. By the time I
got there the sky was beginning to get a little gray in the east; so we
struck for an island, and hid the raft, and sunk the skiff, and turned
in and slept like dead people.
BY and by, when we got up, we turned over the truck the gang had stole
off of the wreck, and found boots, and blankets, and clothes, and all
sorts of other things, and a lot of books, and a spyglass, and three
boxes of seegars. We hadn't ever been this rich before in neither of
our lives. The seegars was prime. We laid off all the afternoon in the
woods talking, and me reading the books, and having a general good
time. I told Jim all about what happened inside the wreck and at the
ferryboat, and I said these kinds of things was adventures; but he said
he didn't want no more adventures. He said that when I went in the
texas and he crawled back to get on the raft and found her gone he
nearly died, because he judged it was all up with _him_ anyway it could
be fixed; for if he didn't get saved he would get drownded; and if he
did get saved, whoever saved him would send him back home so as to get
the reward, and then Miss Watson would sell him South, sure. Well, he
was right; he was most always right; he had an uncommon level head for a
I read considerable to Jim about kings and dukes and earls and such, and
how gaudy they dressed, and how much style they put on, and called each
other your majesty, and your grace, and your lordship, and so on, 'stead
of mister; and Jim's eyes bugged out, and he was interested. He says:
"I didn' know dey was so many un um. I hain't hearn 'bout none un um,
skasely, but ole King Sollermun, onless you counts dem kings dat's in a
pack er k'yards. How much do a king git?"
"Get?" I says; "why, they get a thousand dollars a month if they want
it; they can have just as much as they want; everything belongs to
"_Ain'_ dat gay? En what dey got to do, Huck?"
"_They_ don't do nothing! Why, how you talk! They just set around."
"No; is dat so?"
"Of course it is. They just set aroundexcept, maybe, when there's a
war; then they go to the war. But other times they just lazy around; or
go hawkingjust hawking and spSh!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; II'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, dahdat's one er de women;
heah's youdat'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 pointblame 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 furderit's down deeper. It lays in de way Sollermun was
raised. You take a man dat's got on'y one or two chillen; is dat man
gwyne to be waseful o' chillen? No, he ain't; he can't 'ford it. _He_
know how to value 'em. But you take a man dat's got 'bout five million
chillen runnin' roun' de house, en it's diffunt. _He_ as soon chop a
chile in two as a cat. Dey's plenty mo'. A chile er two, mo' er less,
warn't no consekens to Sollermun, dad fatch him!"
I never see such a nigger. If he got a notion in his head once, there
warn't no getting it out again. He was the most down on Solomon of
any nigger I ever see. So I went to talking about other kings, and let
Solomon slide. I told about Louis Sixteenth that got his head cut off
in France long time ago; and about his little boy the dolphin, that
would a been a king, but they took and shut him up in jail, and some say
he died there.
"Po' little chap."
"But some says he got out and got away, and come to America."
"Dat's good! But he'll be pooty lonesomedey 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 saidnot 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-franzywhat would you
"I wouldn' think nuff'n; I'd take en bust him over de headdat 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
I see it warn't no use wasting wordsyou 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 meand
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 itand not gaining on it much either, for
I was flying around, this way and that and t'other, but it was going
straight ahead all the time.
I did wish the fool would think to beat a tin pan, and beat it all the
time, but he never did, and it was the still places between the whoops
that was making the trouble for me. Well, I fought along, and directly
I hears the whoop _behind_ me. I was tangled good now. That was
somebody else's whoop, or else I was turned around.
I throwed the paddle down. I heard the whoop again; it was behind me
yet, but in a different place; it kept coming, and kept changing its
place, and I kept answering, till by and by it was in front of me again,
and I knowed the current had swung the canoe's head down-stream, and I
was all right if that was Jim and not some other raftsman hollering.
I couldn't tell nothing about voices in a fog, for nothing don't look
natural nor sound natural in a fog.
The whooping went on, and in about a minute I come a-booming down on a
cut bank with smoky ghosts of big trees on it, and the current throwed
me off to the left and shot by, amongst a lot of snags that fairly
roared, the currrent was tearing by them so swift.
In another second or two it was solid white and still again. I set
perfectly still then, listening to my heart thump, and I reckon I didn't
draw a breath while it thumped a hundred.
I just give up then. I knowed what the matter was. That cut bank
was an island, and Jim had gone down t'other side of it. It warn't no
towhead that you could float by in ten minutes. It had the big timber
of a regular island; it might be five or six miles long and more than
half a mile wide.
I kept quiet, with my ears cocked, about fifteen minutes, I reckon. I
was floating along, of course, four or five miles an hour; but you don't
ever think of that. No, you _feel_ like you are laying dead still on
the water; and if a little glimpse of a snag slips by you don't think to
yourself how fast _you're_ going, but you catch your breath and think,
my! how that snag's tearing along. If you think it ain't dismal and
lonesome out in a fog that way by yourself in the night, you try it
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 mesometimes 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 hearingit 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' deadyou ain'
drowndedyou'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 Huckde 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?"
"HuckHuck 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
"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, bossain't it so? You
answer me dat."
"Well, this is too many for me, Jim. I hain't seen no fog, nor no
islands, nor no troubles, nor nothing. I been setting here talking with
you all night till you went to sleep about ten minutes ago, and I reckon
I done the same. You couldn't a got drunk in that time, so of course
you've been dreaming."
"Dad fetch it, how is I gwyne to dream all dat in ten minutes?"
"Well, hang it all, you did dream it, because there didn't any of it
"But, Huck, it's all jis' as plain to me as"
"It don't make no difference how plain it is; there ain't nothing in it.
I know, because I've been here all the time."
Jim didn't say nothing for about five minutes, but set there studying
over it. Then he says:
"Well, den, I reck'n I did dream it, Huck; but dog my cats ef it ain't
de powerfullest dream I ever see. En I hain't ever had no dream b'fo'
dat's tired me like dis one."
"Oh, well, that's all right, because a dream does tire a body like
everything sometimes. But this one was a staving dream; tell me all
about it, Jim."
So Jim went to work and told me the whole thing right through, just as
it happened, only he painted it up considerable. Then he said he must
start in and "'terpret" it, because it was sent for a warning. He said
the first towhead stood for a man that would try to do us some good, but
the current was another man that would get us away from him. The whoops
was warnings that would come to us every now and then, and if we didn't
try hard to make out to understand them they'd just take us into bad
luck, 'stead of keeping us out of it. The lot of towheads was troubles
we was going to get into with quarrelsome people and all kinds of mean
folks, but if we minded our business and didn't talk back and aggravate
them, we would pull through and get out of the fog and into the big
clear river, which was the free States, and wouldn't have no more
It had clouded up pretty dark just after I got on to the raft, but it
was clearing up again now.
"Oh, well, that's all interpreted well enough as far as it goes, Jim," I
says; "but what does _these_ things stand for?"
It was the leaves and rubbish on the raft and the smashed oar. You
could see them first-rate now.
Jim looked at the trash, and then looked at me, and back at the trash
again. He had got the dream fixed so strong in his head that he
couldn't seem to shake it loose and get the facts back into its place
again right away. But when he did get the thing straightened around he
looked at me steady without ever smiling, and says:
"What do dey stan' for? I'se gwyne to tell you. When I got all wore
out wid work, en wid de callin' for you, en went to sleep, my heart wuz
mos' broke bekase you wuz los', en I didn' k'yer no' mo' what become
er me en de raf'. En when I wake up en fine you back agin, all safe
en soun', de tears come, en I could a got down on my knees en kiss yo'
foot, I's so thankful. En all you wuz thinkin' 'bout wuz how you could
make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truck dah is _trash_; en trash
is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes 'em
Then he got up slow and walked to the wigwam, and went in there without
saying anything but that. But that was enough. It made me feel so mean
I could almost kissed _his_ foot to get him to take it back.
It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble
myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it
afterwards, neither. I didn't do him no more mean tricks, and I
wouldn't done that one if I'd a knowed it would make him feel that way.
WE slept most all day, and started out at night, a little ways behind a
monstrous long raft that was as long going by as a procession. She had
four long sweeps at each end, so we judged she carried as many as thirty
men, likely. She had five big wigwams aboard, wide apart, and an open
camp fire in the middle, and a tall flag-pole at each end. There was a
power of style about her. It _amounted_ to something being a raftsman
on such a craft as that.
We went drifting down into a big bend, and the night clouded up and got
hot. The river was very wide, and was walled with solid timber on
both sides; you couldn't see a break in it hardly ever, or a light. We
talked about Cairo, and wondered whether we would know it when we got to
it. I said likely we wouldn't, because I had heard say there warn't but
about a dozen houses there, and if they didn't happen to have them lit
up, how was we going to know we was passing a town? Jim said if the two
big rivers joined together there, that would show. But I said maybe
we might think we was passing the foot of an island and coming into the
same old river again. That disturbed Jimand me too. So the question
was, what to do? I said, paddle ashore the first time a light showed,
and tell them pap was behind, coming along with a trading-scow, and
was a green hand at the business, and wanted to know how far it was to
Cairo. Jim thought it was a good idea, so we took a smoke on it and
There warn't nothing to do now but to look out sharp for the town, and
not pass it without seeing it. He said he'd be mighty sure to see it,
because he'd be a free man the minute he seen it, but if he missed it
he'd be in a slave country again and no more show for freedom. Every
little while he jumps up and says:
"Dah she is?"
But it warn't. It was Jack-o'-lanterns, or lightning bugs; so he set
down again, and went to watching, same as before. Jim said it made him
all over trembly and feverish to be so close to freedom. Well, I can
tell you it made me all over trembly and feverish, too, to hear him,
because I begun to get it through my head that he _was_ most freeand
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 soI 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 childrenchildren 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 meit ain't too late yetI'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
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 itI 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
enoughhadn'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 sickand 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 your father?"
"It's theathewell, it