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
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
Aunt Polly—Tom's Aunt Polly, she is—and Mary,
and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that
book, which is mostly a true book, with some
stretchers, as I said before.
Now the way
that the book winds up is this:
Tom and me found the money that the robbers
hid in the cave, and it made us rich.
We got six thousand dollars apiece—all gold.
It was an awful sight of money when it was
Well, Judge Thatcher he took it and put it
out at interest, and it fetched us a dollar a day
apiece all the year round—more than a body could
tell what to do with.
The Widow Douglas she took me for her son,
and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough
living in the house all the time, considering how
dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her
ways; and so when I couldn't stand it no longer I
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
So I went back.
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.
she got out her book and learned me about Moses and
the Bulrushers, and I was in a sweat to find out all
about him; but by and by she let it out that Moses
had been dead a considerable long time; so then I
didn't care no more about him, because I don't take
no stock in dead people.
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.
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
Miss Watson would say, "Don't put your feet
up there, Huckleberry;" and "Don't scrunch up like
that, Huckleberry—set up straight;" and pretty soon
she would say, "Don't gap and stretch like that,
Huckleberry—why don't you try to behave?"
Then she told me all about the bad place, and
I said I wished I was there. She got mad then, but I
didn't mean no harm.
All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I
wanted was a change, I warn't particular.
She said it was wicked to say what I said;
said she wouldn't say it for the whole world; she
was going to live so as to go to the good place.
Well, I couldn't see no advantage in going
where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn't
try for it.
But I never said so, because it would only
make trouble, and wouldn't do no good.
Now she had
got a start, and she went on and told me all about
the good place.
She said all a body would have to do there
was to go around all day long with a harp and sing,
forever and ever.
So I didn't think much of it. But I never
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.
she kept pecking at me, and it got tiresome and
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
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
I didn't need anybody to tell me that that
was an awful bad sign and would fetch me some bad
luck, so I was scared and most shook the clothes off
of me. I got up and turned around in my tracks three
times and crossed my breast every time; and then I
tied up a little lock of my hair with a thread to
keep witches away.
But I hadn't no confidence.
You do that when you've lost a horseshoe that
you've found, instead of nailing it up over the
door, but I hadn't ever heard anybody say it was any
way to keep off bad luck when you'd killed a spider.
I set down
again, a-shaking all over, and got out my pipe for a
smoke; for the house was all as still as death now,
and so the widow wouldn't know. Well, after a long
time I heard the clock away off in the town go
boom—boom—boom—twelve licks; and all still
again—stiller than ever. Pretty soon I heard a twig
snap down in the dark amongst the trees—something
was a stirring.
I set still and listened.
Directly I could just barely hear a "me-yow!
me-yow!" down there.
That was good!
Says I, "me-yow! me-yow!" as soft as I could,
and then I put out the light and scrambled out of
the window on to the shed.
Then I slipped down to the ground and crawled
in among the trees, and, sure enough, there was Tom
Sawyer waiting for me.
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
Then he says:
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
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
Seemed like I'd die if I couldn't scratch.
Well, I've noticed that thing plenty times
If you are with the quality, or at a funeral, or
trying to go to sleep when you ain't sleepy—if you
are anywheres where it won't do for you to scratch,
why you will itch all over in upwards of a thousand
places. Pretty soon Jim says:
"Say, who is
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
Just then Jim begun to breathe heavy; next he begun
to snore—and then I was pretty soon comfortable
Tom he made
a sign to me—kind of a little noise with his
mouth—and we went creeping away on our hands and
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
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
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.
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.
start this band of robbers and call it Tom Sawyer's
Gang. Everybody that wants to join has got to take
an oath, and write his name in blood."
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.
said it was a real beautiful oath, and asked Tom if
he got it out of his own head.
He said, some of it, but the rest was out of
pirate-books and robber-books, and every gang that
was high-toned had it.
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:
Finn, he hain't got no family; what you going to do
hain't he got a father?" says Tom Sawyer.
got a father, but you can't never find him these
used to lay drunk with the hogs in the tanyard, but
he hain't been seen in these parts for a year or
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
Well, nobody could think of anything to
do—everybody was stumped, and set still.
I was most ready to cry; but all at once I
thought of a way, and so I offered them Miss
Watson—they could kill her.
That's all right.
Huck can come in."
all stuck a pin in their fingers to get blood to
sign with, and I made my mark on the paper.
Ben Rogers, "what's the line of business of this
only robbery and murder," Tom said.
"But who are
we going to rob?—houses, or cattle, or—"
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."
always kill the people?"
Some authorities think different, but mostly
it's considered best to kill them—except some that
you bring to the cave here, and keep them till
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?"
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?"
all very fine to SAY, Tom Sawyer, but how in the
nation are these fellows going to be ransomed if we
don't know how to do it to them?—that's the thing I
want to get at.
Now, what do you reckon it is?"
But per'aps if we keep them till they're
ransomed, it means that we keep them till they're
Why couldn't you said that before?
We'll keep them till they're ransomed to
death; and a bothersome lot they'll be, too—eating
up everything, and always trying to get loose."
talk, Ben Rogers.
How can they get loose when there's a guard
over them, ready to shoot them down if they move a
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
ain't in the books so—that's why.
Now, Ben Rogers, do you want to do things
regular, or don't you?—that's the idea.
Don't you reckon that the people that made
the books knows what's the correct thing to do?
Do you reckon YOU can learn 'em anything?
Not by a good deal. No, sir, we'll just go on
and ransom them in the regular way."
I don't mind; but I say it's a fool way,
Say, do we kill the women, too?"
Rogers, if I was as ignorant as you I wouldn't let
No; nobody ever saw anything in the books
You fetch them to the cave, and you're always
as polite as pie to them; and by and by they fall in
love with you, and never want to go home any more."
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."
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.
said he couldn't get out much, only Sundays, and so
he wanted to begin next Sunday; but all the boys
said it would be wicked to do it on Sunday, and that
settled the thing.
They agreed to get together and fix a day as
soon as they could, and then we elected Tom Sawyer
first captain and Jo Harper second captain of the
Gang, and so started home.
I clumb up
the shed and crept into my window just before day
was breaking. My new clothes was all greased up and
clayey, and I was dog-tired.
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
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
I says to myself, if a body can get anything
they pray for, why don't Deacon Winn get back the
money he lost on pork?
Why can't the widow get back her silver
snuffbox that was stole?
Why can't Miss Watson fat up? No, says I to
my self, there ain't nothing in it.
I went and told the widow about it, and she
said the thing a body could get by praying for it
was "spiritual gifts."
This was too many for me, but she told me
what she meant—I must help other people, and do
everything I could for other people, and look out
for them all the time, and never think about myself.
This was including Miss Watson, as I took it.
I went out in the woods and turned it over in
my mind a long time, but I couldn't see no advantage
about it—except for the other people; so at last I
reckoned I wouldn't worry about it any more, but
just let it go.
Sometimes the widow would take me one side
and talk about Providence in a way to make a body's
mouth water; but maybe next day Miss Watson would
take hold and knock it all down again.
I judged I could see that there was two
Providences, and a poor chap would stand
considerable show with the widow's Providence, but
if Miss Watson's got him there warn't no help for
him any more.
I thought it all out, and reckoned I would
belong to the widow's if he wanted me, though I
couldn't make out how he was a-going to be any
better off then than what he was before, seeing I
was so ignorant, and so kind of low-down and ornery.
hadn't been seen for more than a year, and that was
comfortable for me; I didn't want to see him no
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
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
They took him and buried him on the bank.
But I warn't comfortable long, because I
happened to think of something.
I knowed mighty well that a drownded man
don't float on his back, but on his face.
So I knowed, then, that this warn't pap, but
a woman dressed up in a man's clothes.
So I was uncomfortable again.
I judged the old man would turn up again by
and by, though I wished he wouldn't.
robber now and then about a month, and then I
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
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
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.
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."
says, "s'pose we got some genies to help US—can't we
lick the other crowd then?"
going to get them?"
How do THEY get them?"
rub an old tin lamp or an iron ring, and then the
genies come tearing in, with the thunder and
lightning a-ripping around and the smoke a-rolling,
and everything they're told to do they up and do it.
They don't think nothing of pulling a
shot-tower up by the roots, and belting a
Sunday-school superintendent over the head with
it—or any other man."
them tear around so?"
whoever rubs the lamp or the ring.
They belong to whoever rubs the lamp or the
ring, and they've got to do whatever he says.
If he tells them to build a palace forty
miles long out of di'monds, and fill it full of
chewing-gum, or whatever you want, and fetch an
emperor's daughter from China for you to marry,
they've got to do it—and they've got to do it before
sun-up next morning, too.
they've got to waltz that palace around over
the country wherever you want it, you understand."
I, "I think they are a pack of flat-heads for not
keeping the palace themselves 'stead of fooling them
away like that.
And what's more—if I was one of them I would
see a man in Jericho before I would drop my business
and come to him for the rubbing of an old tin lamp."
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
ain't no use to talk to you, Huck Finn.
You don't seem to know anything,
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
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.
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
I don't take no stock in mathematics, anyway.
At first I
hated the school, but by and by I got so I could
stand it. Whenever I got uncommon tired I played
hookey, and the hiding I got next day done me good
and cheered me up.
So the longer I went to school the easier it
got to be.
I was getting sort of used to the widow's
ways, too, and they warn't so raspy on me.
Living in a house and sleeping in a bed
pulled on me pretty tight mostly, but before the
cold weather I used to slide out and sleep in the
woods sometimes, and so that was a rest to me.
I liked the old ways best, but I was getting
so I liked the new ones, too, a little bit. The
widow said I was coming along slow but sure, and
doing very satisfactory.
She said she warn't ashamed of me.
I happened to turn over the salt-cellar at
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
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
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
boy, you are all out of breath.
Did you come for your interest?"
"No, sir," I
says; "is there some for me?"
"Oh, yes, a
half-yearly is in last night—over a hundred and
Quite a fortune for you.
You had better let me invest it along with
your six thousand, because if you take it you'll
"No, sir," I
says, "I don't want to spend it.
I don't want it at all—nor the six thousand,
I want you to take it; I want to give it to you—the
six thousand and all."
He couldn't seem to make it out.
can you mean, my boy?"
"Don't you ask me no questions about it, please.
You'll take it—won't you?"
Is something the matter?"
it," says I, "and don't ask me nothing—then I won't
have to tell no lies."
He studied a
while, and then he says:
I think I see.
You want to SELL all your property to me—not
That's the correct idea."
wrote something on a paper and read it over, and
see it says 'for a consideration.'
That means I have bought it of you and paid
you for it.
Here's a dollar for you.
Now you sign it."
So I signed
it, and left.
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
It fell pretty solid, and only rolled about
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
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
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
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
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.
father doan' know yit what he's a-gwyne to do.
Sometimes he spec he'll go 'way, en den agin
he spec he'll stay.
De bes' way is to res' easy en let de ole man
take his own way.
Dey's two angels hoverin' roun' 'bout him.
One uv 'em is white en shiny, en t'other one
is black. De white one gits him to go right a little
while, den de black one sail in en bust it all up.
A body can't tell yit which one gwyne to
fetch him at de las'.
But you is all right.
You gwyne to have considable trouble in yo'
life, en considable joy.
Sometimes you gwyne to git hurt, en sometimes
you gwyne to git sick; but every time you's gwyne to
git well agin.
Dey's two gals flyin' 'bout you in yo' life.
One uv 'em's light en t'other one is dark.
One is rich en t'other is po'.
You's gwyne to marry de po' one fust en de
rich one by en by.
You wants to keep 'way fum de water as much
as you kin, en don't run no resk, 'kase it's down in
de bills dat you's gwyne to git hung."
When I lit
my candle and went up to my room that night there
sat pap his own self!
I HAD shut
the door to.
Then I turned around and there he was.
I used to be scared of him all the time, he
tanned me so much.
I reckoned I was scared now, too; but in a
minute I see I was mistaken—that is, after the first
jolt, as you may say, when my breath sort of
hitched, he being so unexpected; but right away
after I see I warn't scared of him worth bothring
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,
There warn't no color in his face, where his
face showed; it was white; not like another man's
white, but a white to make a body sick, a white to
make a body's flesh crawl—a tree-toad white, a
As for his clothes—just rags, that was all.
He had one ankle resting on t'other knee; the
boot on that foot was busted, and two of his toes
stuck through, and he worked them now and then.
His hat was laying on the floor—an old black
slouch with the top caved in, like a lid.
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:
You think you're a good deal of a big-bug,
"Maybe I am,
maybe I ain't," I says.
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
You're educated, too, they say—can read and
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?"
She told me."
hey?—and who told the widow she could put in her
shovel about a thing that ain't none of her
never told her."
learn her how to meddle.
here—you drop that school, you hear?
I'll learn people to bring up a boy to put on
airs over his own father and let on to be better'n
what HE is.
You lemme catch you fooling around that
school again, you hear?
Your mother couldn't read, and she couldn't
write, nuther, before she died.
None of the family couldn't before THEY died.
I can't; and here you're a-swelling yourself
up like this.
I ain't the man to stand it—you hear? Say,
lemme hear you read."
I took up a
book and begun something about General Washington
and the wars. When I'd read about a half a minute,
he fetched the book a whack with his hand and
knocked it across the house.
You can do it.
I had my doubts when you told me.
Now looky here; you stop that putting on
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 says:
something they give me for learning my lessons
He tore it
up, and says:
you something better—I'll give you a cowhide."
He set there
a-mumbling and a-growling a minute, and then he
"AIN'T you a
sweet-scented dandy, though?
A bed; and bedclothes; and a look'n'-glass;
and a piece of carpet on the floor—and your own
father got to sleep with the hogs in the tanyard.
I never see such a son.
I bet I'll take some o' these frills out o'
you before I'm done with you. Why, there ain't no
end to your airs—they say you're rich.
here—mind how you talk to me; I'm a-standing about
all I can stand now—so don't gimme no sass.
I've been in town two days, and I hain't
heard nothing but about you bein' rich.
I heard about it away down the river, too.
That's why I come.
You git me that money to-morrow—I want it."
got no money."
"It's a lie.
Judge Thatcher's got it.
You git it.
I want it."
got no money, I tell you.
You ask Judge Thatcher; he'll tell you the
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."
got only a dollar, and I want that to—"
make no difference what you want it for—you just
shell it out."
He took it
and bit it to see if it was good, and then he said
he was going down town to get some whisky; said he
hadn't had a drink all day. When he had got out on
the shed he put his head in again, and cussed me for
putting on frills and trying to be better than him;
and when I reckoned he was gone he come back and put
his head in again, and told me to mind about that
school, because he was going to lay for me and lick
me if I didn't drop that.
Next day he
was drunk, and he went to Judge Thatcher's and
bullyragged him, and tried to make him give up the
money; but he couldn't, and then he swore he'd make
the law force him.
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
So Judge Thatcher and the widow had to quit on the
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
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
old man said that what a man wanted that was down
was sympathy, and the judge said it was so; so they
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
You mark them words—don't forget I said them.
It's a clean hand now; shake it—don't be
shook it, one after the other, all around, and
The judge's wife she kissed it.
Then the old man he signed a pledge—made his
mark. The judge said it was the holiest time on
record, or something like that. Then they tucked the
old man into a beautiful room, which was the spare
room, and in the night some time he got powerful
thirsty and clumb out on to the porch-roof and slid
down a stanchion and traded his new coat for a jug
of forty-rod, and clumb back again and had a good
old time; and towards daylight he crawled out again,
drunk as a fiddler, and rolled off the porch and
broke his left arm in two places, and was most froze
to death when somebody found him after sun-up.
And when they come to look at that spare room
they had to take soundings before they could
The judge he
felt kind of sore.
He said he reckoned a body could reform the
old man with a shotgun, maybe, but he didn't know no
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
He catched me a couple of times and thrashed
me, but I went to school just the same, and dodged
him or outrun him most of the time.
I didn't want to go to school much before,
but I reckoned I'd go now to spite pap.
That law trial was a slow business—appeared
like they warn't ever going to get started on it; so
every now and then I'd borrow two or three dollars
off of the judge for him, to keep from getting a
Every time he got money he got drunk; and
every time he got drunk he raised Cain around town;
and every time he raised Cain he got jailed.
He was just suited—this kind of thing was
right in his line.
He got to
hanging around the widow's too much and so she told
him at last that if he didn't quit using around
there she would make trouble for him. Well, WASN'T
He 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
He had a gun which he had stole, I reckon, and we
fished and hunted, and that was what we lived on.
Every little while he locked me in and went
down to the store, three miles, to the ferry, and
traded fish and game for whisky, and fetched it home
and got drunk and had a good time, and licked me.
The widow she found out where I was by and
by, and she sent a man over to try to get hold of
me; but pap drove him off with the gun, and it
warn't long after that till I was used to being
where I was, and liked it—all but the cowhide part.
It was kind
of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable all day,
smoking and fishing, and no books nor study.
Two months or more run along, and my clothes
got to be all rags and dirt, and I didn't see how
I'd ever got to like it so well at the widow's,
where you had to wash, and eat on a plate, and comb
up, and go to bed and get up regular, and be forever
bothering over a book, and have old Miss Watson
pecking at you all the time.
I didn't want to go back no more.
I had stopped cussing, because the widow
didn't like it; but now I took to it again because
pap hadn't no objections.
It was pretty good times up in the woods
there, take it all around.
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
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
The door was thick, solid oak slabs.
Pap was pretty careful not to leave a knife
or anything in the cabin when he was away; I reckon
I had hunted the place over as much as a hundred
times; well, I was most all the time at it, because
it was about the only way to put in the time.
But this time I found something at last; I
found an old rusty wood-saw without any handle; it
was laid in between a rafter and the clapboards of
the roof. I greased it up and went to work.
There was an old horse-blanket nailed against
the logs at the far end of the cabin behind the
table, to keep the wind from blowing through the
chinks and putting the candle out.
I got under the table and raised the blanket,
and went to work to saw a section of the big bottom
log out—big enough to let me through.
Well, it was a good long job, but I was
getting towards the end of it when I heard pap's gun
in the woods.
I got rid of the signs of my work, and
dropped the blanket and hid my saw, and pretty soon
pap come in.
in a good humor—so he was his natural self.
He said he was down town, and everything was
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
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
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
made me pretty uneasy again, but only for a minute;
I reckoned I wouldn't stay on hand till he got that
The old man
made me go to the skiff and fetch the things he had
got. There was a fifty-pound sack of corn meal, and
a side of bacon, ammunition, and a four-gallon jug
of whisky, and an old book and two newspapers for
wadding, besides some tow.
I toted up a load, and went back and set down
on the bow of the skiff to rest.
I thought it all over, and I reckoned I would
walk off with the gun and some lines, and take to
the woods when I run away.
I guessed I wouldn't stay in one place, but
just tramp right across the country, mostly night
times, and hunt and fish to keep alive, and so get
so far away that the old man nor the widow couldn't
ever find me any more.
I judged I would saw out and leave that night
if pap got drunk enough, and I reckoned he would.
I got so full of it I didn't notice how long
I was staying till the old man hollered and asked me
whether I was asleep or drownded.
I got the
things all up to the cabin, and then it was about
While I was cooking supper the old man took a swig
or two and got sort of warmed up, and went to
He had been drunk over in town, and laid in
the gutter all night, and he was a sight to look at.
A body would a thought he was Adam—he was
just all mud.
Whenever his liquor begun to work he most
always went for the govment, this time he says:
"Call this a
govment! why, just look at it and see what it's
like. Here's the law a-standing ready to take a
man's son away from him—a man's own son, which he
has had all the trouble and all the anxiety and all
the expense of raising.
Yes, just as that man has got that son raised
at last, and ready to go to work and begin to do
suthin' for HIM and give him a rest, the law up and
goes for him.
And they call THAT govment!
That ain't all, nuther.
The law backs that old Judge Thatcher up and
helps him to keep me out o' my property.
Here's what the law does:
The law takes a man worth six thousand
dollars and up'ards, and jams him into an old trap
of a cabin like this, and lets him go round in
clothes that ain't fitten for a hog. They call that
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
Says I, for two cents I'd leave the blamed country
and never come a-near it agin.
Them's the very words.
I says look at my hat—if you call it a
hat—but the lid raises up and the rest of it goes
down till it's below my chin, and then it ain't
rightly a hat at all, but more like my head was
shoved up through a jint o' stove-pipe.
Look at it, says I—such a hat for me to
wear—one of the wealthiest men in this town if I
could git my rights.
this is a wonderful govment, wonderful.
Why, looky here. There was a free nigger
there from Ohio—a mulatter, most as white as a white
had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the
shiniest hat; and there ain't a man in that town
that's got as fine clothes as what he had; and he
had a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed
cane—the awfulest old gray-headed nabob in the
And what do you think?
They said he was a p'fessor in a college, and
could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed
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
I says I'll never vote agin.
Them's the very words I said; they all heard
me; and the country may rot for all me—I'll never
vote agin as long as I live.
And to see the cool way of that nigger—why,
he wouldn't a give me the road if I hadn't shoved
him out o' the way.
I says to the people, why ain't this nigger
put up at auction and sold?—that's what I want to
And what do you reckon they said? Why, they said he
couldn't be sold till he'd been in the State six
months, and he hadn't been there that long yet.
There, now—that's a specimen.
They call that a govment that can't sell a
free nigger till he's been in the State six months.
Here's a govment that calls itself a govment,
and lets on to be a govment, and thinks it is a
govment, and yet's got to set stock-still for six
whole months before it can take a hold of a
prowling, thieving, infernal, white-shirted free
agoing on so he never noticed where his old limber
legs was taking him to, so he went head over heels
over the tub of salt pork and barked both shins, and
the rest of his speech was all the hottest kind of
language—mostly hove at the nigger and the govment,
though he give the tub some, too, all along, here
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.
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
I don't know
how long I was asleep, but all of a sudden there was
an awful scream and I was up.
There was pap looking wild, and skipping
around every which way and yelling about snakes.
He said they was crawling up his legs; and
then he would give a jump and scream, and say one
had bit him on the cheek—but I couldn't see no
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
Then he laid stiller, and didn't make a
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
He says, very low:
"Tramp—tramp—tramp; that's the dead;
tramp—tramp—tramp; they're coming after me; but I
Oh, they're here! don't touch me—don't! hands
off—they're cold; let go.
Oh, let a poor devil alone!"
Then he went
down on all fours and crawled off, begging them to
let him alone, and he rolled himself up in his
blanket and wallowed in under the old pine table,
still a-begging; and then he went to crying.
I could hear him through the blanket.
By and by he
rolled out and jumped up on his feet looking wild,
and he see me and went for me.
He chased me round and round the place with a
clasp-knife, calling me the Angel of Death, and
saying he would kill me, and then I couldn't come
for him no more.
I begged, and told him I was only Huck; but
he laughed SUCH a screechy laugh, and roared and
cussed, and kept on chasing me up.
Once when I turned short and dodged under his
arm he made a grab and got me by the jacket between
my shoulders, and I thought I was gone; but I slid
out of the jacket quick as lightning, and saved
myself. Pretty soon he was all tired out, and
dropped down with his back against the door, and
said he would rest a minute and then kill me. He put
his knife under him, and said he would sleep and get
strong, and then he would see who was who.
So he dozed
off pretty soon.
By and by I got the old split-bottom chair
and clumb up as easy as I could, not to make any
noise, and got down the gun.
I slipped the ramrod down it to make sure it
was loaded, then I laid it across the turnip barrel,
pointing towards pap, and set down behind it to wait
for him to stir.
And how slow and still the time did drag
What you 'bout?"
I opened my
eyes and looked around, trying to make out where I
was after sun-up, and I had been sound asleep.
Pap was standing over me looking sour and
doin' with this gun?"
I judged he
didn't know nothing about what he had been doing, so
tried to get in, so I was laying for him."
you roust me out?"
tried to, but I couldn't; I couldn't budge you."
Don't stand there palavering all day, but out with
you and see if there's a fish on the lines for
I'll be along in a minute."
the door, and I cleared out up the river-bank.
I noticed some pieces of limbs and such
things floating down, and a sprinkling of bark; so I
knowed the river had begun to rise.
I reckoned I would have great times now if I
was over at the town.
The June rise used to be always luck for me;
because as soon as that rise begins here comes
cordwood floating down, and pieces of log
rafts—sometimes a dozen logs together; so all you
have to do is to catch them and sell them to the
wood-yards and the sawmill.
I went along
up the bank with one eye out for pap and t'other one
out for what the rise might fetch along.
Well, all at once here comes a canoe; just a
beauty, too, about thirteen or fourteen foot long,
riding high like a duck.
I shot head-first off of the bank like a
frog, clothes and all on, and struck out for the
just expected there'd be somebody laying down in it,
because people often done that to fool folks, and
when a chap had pulled a skiff out most to it they'd
raise up and laugh at him.
But it warn't so this time.
It was a drift-canoe sure enough, and I clumb
in and paddled her ashore.
Thinks I, the old man will be glad when he
sees this—she's worth ten dollars.
But when I got to shore pap wasn't in sight
yet, and as I was running her into a little creek
like a gully, all hung over with vines and willows,
I struck another idea:
I judged I'd hide her good, and then, 'stead
of taking to the woods when I run off, I'd go down
the river about fifty mile and camp in one place for
good, and not have such a rough time tramping on
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
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
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:
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?"
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.
o'clock we turned out and went along up the bank.
The river was coming up pretty fast, and lots
of driftwood going by on the rise. By and by along
comes part of a log raft—nine logs fast together.
We went out with the skiff and towed it
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
I took fish-lines and matches and other
things—everything that was worth a cent.
I cleaned out the place.
I wanted an axe, but there wasn't any, only
the one out at the woodpile, and I knowed why I was
going to leave that.
I fetched out the gun, and now I was done.
I had wore
the ground a good deal crawling out of the hole and
dragging out so many things.
So I fixed that as good as I could from the
outside by scattering dust on the place, which
covered up the smoothness and the sawdust.
Then I fixed the piece of log back into its
place, and put two rocks under it and one against it
to hold it there, for it was bent up at that place
and didn't quite touch ground.
If you stood four or five foot away and
didn't know it was sawed, you wouldn't never notice
it; and besides, this was the back of the cabin, and
it warn't likely anybody would go fooling around
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
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
fetched the pig in, and took him back nearly to the
table and hacked into his throat with the axe, and
laid him down on the ground to bleed; I say ground
because it was ground—hard packed, and no boards.
Well, next I took an old sack and put a lot
of big rocks in it—all I could drag—and I started it
from the pig, and dragged it to the door and through
the woods down to the river and dumped it in, and
down it sunk, out of sight.
You could easy see that something had been
dragged over the ground.
I did wish Tom Sawyer was there; I knowed he
would take an interest in this kind of business, and
throw in the fancy touches.
Nobody could spread himself like Tom Sawyer
in such a thing as that.
Well, last I
pulled out some of my hair, and blooded the axe
good, and stuck it on the back side, and slung the
axe in the corner.
Then I took up the pig and held him to my
breast with my jacket (so he couldn't drip) till I
got a good piece below the house and then dumped him
into the river.
Now I thought of something else.
So I went and got the bag of meal and my old
saw out of the canoe, and fetched them to the house.
I took the bag to where it used to stand, and
ripped a hole in the bottom of it with the saw, for
there warn't no knives and forks on the place—pap
done everything with his clasp-knife about the
Then I carried the sack about a hundred yards across
the grass and through the willows east of the house,
to a shallow lake that was five mile wide and full
of rushes—and ducks too, you might say, in the
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
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
They won't ever hunt the river for anything
but my dead carcass. They'll soon get tired of that,
and won't bother no more about me.
All right; I can stop anywhere I want to.
Jackson's Island is good enough for me; I know that
island pretty well, and nobody ever comes there.
And then I can paddle over to town nights,
and slink around and pick up things I want.
Jackson's Island's the place.
I was pretty
tired, and the first thing I knowed I was asleep.
When I woke up I didn't know where I was for
I set up and looked around, a little scared.
Then I remembered.
The river looked miles and miles across.
The moon was so bright I could a counted the
drift logs that went a-slipping along, black and
still, hundreds of yards out from shore. Everything
was dead quiet, and it looked late, and SMELT late.
You know what I mean—I don't know the words to put
I took a
good gap and a stretch, and was just going to
unhitch and start when I heard a sound away over the
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
I peeped out through the willow branches, and
there it was—a skiff, away across the water.
I couldn't tell how many was in it.
It kept a-coming, and when it was abreast of
me I see there warn't but one man in it.
Think's I, maybe it's pap, though I warn't
He dropped below me with the current, and by
and by he came a-swinging up shore in the easy
water, and he went by so close I could a reached out
the gun and touched him.
Well, it WAS pap, sure enough—and sober, too,
by the way he laid his oars.
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
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
And how far a body can hear on the water such
I heard people talking at the ferry landing. I heard
what they said, too—every word of it.
One man said it was getting towards the long
days and the short nights now.
T'other one said THIS warn't one of the short
ones, he reckoned—and then they laughed, and he said
it over again, and they laughed again; then they
waked up another fellow and told him, and laughed,
but he didn't laugh; he ripped out something brisk,
and said let him alone.
The first fellow said he 'lowed to tell it to
his old woman—she would think it was pretty good;
but he said that warn't nothing to some things he
had said in his time. I heard one man say it was
nearly three o'clock, and he hoped daylight wouldn't
wait more than about a week longer.
After that the talk got further and further
away, and I couldn't make out the words any more;
but I could hear the mumble, and now and then a
laugh, too, but it seemed a long ways off.
I was away
below the ferry now.
I rose up, and there was Jackson's Island,
about two mile and a half down stream, heavy
timbered and standing up out of the middle of the
river, big and dark and solid, like a steamboat
without any lights.
There warn't any signs of the bar at the
head—it was all under water now.
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
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
I laid there in the grass and the cool shade
thinking about things, and feeling rested and ruther
comfortable and satisfied.
I could see the sun out at one or two holes,
but mostly it was big trees all about, and gloomy in
there amongst them.
There was freckled places on the ground where
the light sifted down through the leaves, and the
freckled places swapped about a little, showing
there was a little breeze up there.
A couple of squirrels set on a limb and
jabbered at me very friendly.
powerful lazy and comfortable—didn't want to get up
and cook breakfast.
Well, I was dozing off again when I thinks I
hears a deep sound of "boom!" away up the river.
I rouses up, and rests on my elbow and
listens; pretty soon I hears it again.
I hopped up, and went and looked out at a
hole in the leaves, and I see a bunch of smoke
laying on the water a long ways up—about abreast the
And there was the ferryboat full of people floating
I knowed what was the matter now.
"Boom!" I see the white smoke squirt out of
the ferryboat's side.
You see, they was firing cannon over the
water, trying to make my carcass come to the top.
I was pretty
hungry, but it warn't going to do for me to start a
fire, because they might see the smoke.
So I set there and watched the cannon-smoke
and listened to the boom.
The river was a mile wide there, and it
always looks pretty on a summer morning—so I was
having a good enough time seeing them hunt for my
remainders if I only had a bite to eat. Well, then I
happened to think how they always put quicksilver in
loaves of bread and float them off, because they
always go right to the drownded carcass and stop
So, says I, I'll keep a lookout, and if any of
them's floating around after me I'll give them a
changed to the Illinois edge of the island to see
what luck I could have, and I warn't disappointed.
A big double loaf come along, and I most got
it with a long stick, but my foot slipped and she
floated out further.
Of course I was where the current set in the
closest to the shore—I knowed enough for that.
But by and by along comes another one, and
this time I won.
I took out the plug and shook out the little
dab of quicksilver, and set my teeth in.
It was "baker's bread"—what the quality eat;
none of your low-down corn-pone.
I got a good
place amongst the leaves, and set there on a log,
munching the bread and watching the ferry-boat, and
very well satisfied.
And then something struck me.
I says, now I reckon the widow or the parson
or somebody prayed that this bread would find me,
and here it has gone and done it.
So there ain't no doubt but there is
something in that thing—that is, there's something
in it when a body like the widow or the parson
prays, but it don't work for me, and I reckon it
don't work for only just the right kind.
I lit a pipe
and had a good long smoke, and went on watching.
The ferryboat was floating with the current,
and I allowed I'd have a chance to see who was
aboard when she come along, because she would come
in close, where the bread did.
When she'd got pretty well along down towards
me, I put out my pipe and went to where I fished out
the bread, and laid down behind a log on the bank in
a little open place.
Where the log forked I could peep through.
By and by
she come along, and she drifted in so close that
they could a run out a plank and walked ashore.
Most everybody was on the boat.
Pap, and Judge Thatcher, and Bessie Thatcher,
and Jo Harper, and Tom Sawyer, and his old Aunt
Polly, and Sid and Mary, and plenty more.
Everybody was talking about the murder, but
the captain broke in and says:
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."
They all crowded up and leaned over the rails,
nearly in my face, and kept still, watching with all
I could see them first-rate, but they
couldn't see me. Then
the captain sung out:
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
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
catched a catfish and haggled him open with my saw,
and towards sundown I started my camp fire and had
Then I set out a line to catch some fish for
When it was
dark I set by my camp fire smoking, and feeling
pretty well satisfied; but by and by it got sort of
lonesome, and so I went and set on the bank and
listened to the current swashing along, and counted
the stars and drift logs and rafts that come down,
and then went to bed; there ain't no better way to
put in time when you are lonesome; you can't stay
so, you soon get over it.
And so for
three days and nights.
No difference—just the same thing. But the
next day I went exploring around down through the
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
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.
jumped up amongst my lungs.
I never waited for to look further, but
uncocked my gun and went sneaking back on my tiptoes
as fast as ever I could.
Every now and then I stopped a second amongst
the thick leaves and listened, but my breath come so
hard I couldn't hear nothing else.
I slunk along another piece further, then
listened again; and so on, and so on.
If I see a stump, I took it for a man; if I
trod on a stick and broke it, it made me feel like a
person had cut one of my breaths in two and I only
got half, and the short half, too.
When I got
to camp I warn't feeling very brash, there warn't
much sand in my craw; but I says, this ain't no time
to be fooling around.
So I got all my traps into my canoe again so
as to have them out of sight, and I put out the fire
and scattered the ashes around to look like an old
last year's camp, and then clumb a tree.
I reckon I
was up in the tree two hours; but I didn't see
nothing, I didn't hear nothing—I only THOUGHT I
heard and seen as much as a thousand things.
Well, I couldn't stay up there forever; so at
last I got down, but I kept in the thick woods and
on the lookout all the time. All I could get to eat
was berries and what was left over from breakfast.
By the time
it was night I was pretty hungry.
So when it was good and dark I slid out from
shore before moonrise and paddled over to the
Illinois bank—about a quarter of a mile.
I went out in the woods and cooked a supper,
and I had about made up my mind I would stay there
all night when I hear a PLUNKETY-PLUNK,
PLUNKETY-PLUNK, and says to myself, horses coming;
and next I hear people's voices.
I got everything into the canoe as quick as I
could, and then went creeping through the woods to
see what I could find out.
I hadn't got far when I hear a man say:
camp here if we can find a good place; the horses is
about beat out.
Let's look around."
wait, but shoved out and paddled away easy.
I tied up in the old place, and reckoned I
would sleep in the canoe.
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
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
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
I set there behind a clump of bushes, in
about six foot of him, and kept my eyes on him
It was getting gray daylight now.
Pretty soon he gapped and stretched himself
and hove off the blanket, and it was Miss Watson's
bet I was glad to see him.
Jim!" and skipped out.
up and stared at me wild.
Then he drops down on his knees, and puts his
hands together and says:
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
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:
Le's get breakfast.
Make up your camp fire good."
use er makin' up de camp fire to cook strawbries en
sich truck? But you got a gun, hain't you?
Den we kin git sumfn better den strawbries."
"Strawberries and such truck," I says.
"Is that what you live on?"
git nuffn else," he says.
long you been on the island, Jim?"
"I come heah
de night arter you's killed."
you had nothing but that kind of rubbage to eat?"
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
night I got killed."
W'y, what has you lived on?
But you got a gun.
Oh, yes, you got a gun.
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.
breakfast was ready we lolled on the grass and eat
it smoking hot. Jim laid it in with all his might,
for he was most about starved.
Then when we had got pretty well stuffed, we
laid off and lazied.
By and by Jim says:
here, Huck, who wuz it dat 'uz killed in dat shanty
ef it warn't you?"
Then I told
him the whole thing, and he said it was smart.
He said Tom Sawyer couldn't get up no better
plan than what I had.
Then I says:
"How do you
come to be here, Jim, and how'd you get here?"
pretty uneasy, and didn't say nothing for a minute.
Then he says:
better not tell."
But you wouldn' tell on me ef I uz to tell you,
would you, Huck?"
"Blamed if I
b'lieve you, Huck.
I—I RUN OFF."
you said you wouldn' tell—you know you said you
wouldn' tell, Huck."
said I wouldn't, and I'll stick to it.
Honest INJUN, I will.
People would call me a low-down Abolitionist
and despise me for keeping mum—but that don't make
I ain't a-going to tell, and I ain't a-going
back there, anyways.
So, now, le's know all about it."
see, it 'uz dis way.
Ole missus—dat's Miss Watson—she pecks on me
all de time, en treats me pooty rough, but she awluz
said she wouldn' sell me down to Orleans.
But I noticed dey wuz a nigger trader roun'
de place considable lately, en I begin to git
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.
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
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
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
So I clumb up en laid down on de planks.
De men 'uz all 'way yonder in de middle, whah
de lantern wuz.
De river wuz a-risin', en dey wuz a good
current; so I reck'n'd 'at by fo' in de mawnin' I'd
be twenty-five mile down de river, en den I'd slip
in jis b'fo' daylight en swim asho', en take to de
woods on de Illinois side.
"But I didn'
have no luck.
When we 'uz mos' down to de head er de islan'
a man begin to come aft wid de lantern, I see it
warn't no use fer to wait, so I slid overboard en
struck out fer de islan'.
Well, I had a notion I could lan' mos'
anywhers, but I couldn't—bank too bluff.
I 'uz mos' to de foot er de islan' b'fo' I
found' a good place.
I went into de woods en jedged I wouldn' fool
wid raffs no mo', long as dey move de lantern roun'
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?"
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
You've had to keep in the woods all the time,
of course. Did you hear 'em shooting the cannon?"
I knowed dey was arter you.
I see um go by heah—watched um thoo de
birds come along, flying a yard or two at a time and
lighting. Jim said it was a sign it was going to
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
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
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.
few—an' DEY ain't no use to a body.
What you want to know when good luck's
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."
got hairy arms and a hairy breast, Jim?"
use to ax dat question?
Don't you see I has?"
"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."
you speculate in, Jim?"
I tackled stock."
stock—cattle, you know.
I put ten dollars in a cow.
But I ain' gwyne to resk no mo' money in
De cow up 'n' died on my han's."
"So you lost
the ten dollars."
didn't lose it all.
I on'y los' 'bout nine of it.
I sole de hide en taller for a dollar en ten
five dollars and ten cents left.
Did you speculate any more?"
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
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
"So I done
I reck'n'd I'd inves' de thirty-five dollars right
off en keep things a-movin'.
Dey wuz a nigger name' Bob, dat had ketched a
wood-flat, en his marster didn' know it; en I bought
it off'n him en told him to take de thirty-five
dollars when de en' er de year come; but somebody
stole de wood-flat dat night, en nex day de
one-laigged nigger say de bank's busted.
So dey didn' none uv us git no money."
you do with the ten cents, Jim?"
"Well, I 'uz
gwyne to spen' it, but I had a dream, en de dream
tole me to give it to a nigger name' Balum—Balum's
Ass dey call him for short; he's one er dem
chuckleheads, you know.
But he's lucky, dey say, en I see I warn't
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
did come of it, Jim?"
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
Boun' to git yo' money back a hund'd times,
de preacher says! Ef I could git de ten CENTS back,
I'd call it squah, en be glad er de chanst."
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
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 wide.
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
was cool in there. Jim was for putting our traps in
there right away, but I said we didn't want to be
climbing up and down there all the time.
Jim said if
we had the canoe hid in a good place, and had all
the traps in the cavern, we could rush there if
anybody was to come to the island, and they would
never find us without dogs.
And, besides, he said them little birds had
said it was going to rain, and did I want the things
to get wet?
So we went
back and got the canoe, and paddled up abreast the
cavern, and lugged all the traps up there.
Then we hunted up a place close by to hide
the canoe in, amongst the thick willows.
We took some fish off of the lines and set
them again, and begun to get ready for dinner.
The door of
the cavern was big enough to roll a hogshead in, and
on one side of the door the floor stuck out a little
bit, and was flat and a good place to build a fire
we built it there and cooked dinner.
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
Directly it begun to rain, and it rained like all
fury, too, and I never see the wind blow so.
It was one of these regular summer storms.
It would get so dark that it looked all
blue-black outside, and lovely; and the rain would
thrash along by so thick that the trees off a little
ways looked dim and spider-webby; and here would
come a blast of wind that would bend the trees down
and turn up the pale underside of the leaves; and
then a perfect ripper of a gust would follow along
and set the branches to tossing their arms as if
they was just wild; and next, when it was just about
the bluest and blackest—FST! it was as bright as
glory, and you'd have a little glimpse of tree-tops
a-plunging about away off yonder in the storm,
hundreds of yards further than you could see before;
dark as sin again in a second, and now you'd hear
the thunder let go with an awful crash, and then go
rumbling, grumbling, tumbling, down the sky towards
the under side of the world, like rolling empty
barrels down stairs—where it's long stairs and they
bounce a good deal, you know.
is nice," I says.
"I wouldn't want to be nowhere else but here.
Pass me along another hunk of fish and some hot
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,
Chickens knows when it's gwyne to rain, en so do de
went on raising and raising for ten or twelve days,
till at last it was over the banks.
The water was three or four foot deep on the
island in the low places and on the Illinois bottom.
On that side it was a good many miles wide,
but on the Missouri side it was the same old
distance across—a half a mile—because the Missouri
shore was just a wall of high bluffs.
paddled all over the island in the canoe, It was
mighty cool and shady in the deep woods, even if the
sun was blazing outside.
We went winding in and out amongst the trees,
and sometimes the vines hung so thick we had to back
away and go some other way.
Well, on every old broken-down tree you could
see rabbits and snakes and such things; and when the
island had been overflowed a day or two they got so
tame, on account of being hungry, that you could
paddle right up and put your hand on them if you
wanted to; but not the snakes and turtles—they would
slide off in the water.
The ridge our cavern was in was full of them.
We could a had pets enough if we'd wanted them.
One night we
catched a little section of a lumber raft—nice pine
planks. It was twelve foot wide and about fifteen or
sixteen foot long, and the top stood above water six
or seven inches—a solid, level floor.
We could see saw-logs go by in the daylight
sometimes, but we let them go; we didn't show
ourselves in daylight.
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
We paddled out and got aboard—clumb in at an
But it was too dark to see yet, so we made
the canoe fast and set in her to wait for daylight.
begun to come before we got to the foot of the
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
There was something laying on the floor in the far
corner that looked like a man.
So Jim says:
So I hollered again, and then Jim says:
ain't asleep—he's dead.
You hold still—I'll go en see."
He went, and
bent down and looked, and says:
"It's a dead
Yes, indeedy; naked, too.
He's ben shot in de back. I reck'n he's ben
dead two er three days.
Come in, Huck, but doan' look at his
face—it's too gashly."
look at him at all.
Jim throwed some old rags over him, but he
needn't done it; I didn't want to see him.
There was heaps of old greasy cards scattered
around over the floor, and old whisky bottles, and a
couple of masks made out of black cloth; and all
over the walls was the ignorantest kind of words and
pictures made with charcoal.
There was two old dirty calico dresses, and a
sun-bonnet, and some women's underclothes hanging
against the wall, and some men's clothing, too.
We put the lot into the canoe—it might come
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
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
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.
breakfast I wanted to talk about the dead man and
guess out how he come to be killed, but Jim didn't
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.
the clothes we'd got, and found eight dollars in
silver sewed up in the lining of an old blanket
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.
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
I wish we could have some bad luck like this
every day, Jim."
mind, honey, never you mind.
Don't you git too peart.
Mind I tell you, it's a-comin'."
It did come,
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
He jumped up
yelling, and the first thing the light showed was
the varmint curled up and ready for another spring.
I laid him out in a second with a stick, and
Jim grabbed pap's whisky-jug and begun to pour it
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
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
His foot swelled up pretty big, and so did
his leg; but by and by the drunk begun to come, and
so I judged he was all right; but I'd druther been
bit with a snake than pap's whisky.
Jim was laid
up for four days and nights.
Then the swelling was all gone and he was
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.
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
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.
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
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
Jim hitched it behind with the hooks, and it was a
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
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
I took notice, and done better.
I started up
the Illinois shore in the canoe just after dark.
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
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.
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