Part 6 out of 6
engrailed, and three invected lines on a field AZURE, with the nombril
points rampant on a dancette indented; crest, a runaway nigger, SABLE,
with his bundle over his shoulder on a bar sinister; and a couple of
gules for supporters, which is you and me; motto, MAGGIORE FRETTA, MINORE
OTTO. Got it out of a book--means the more haste the less speed."
"Geewhillikins," I says, "but what does the rest of it mean?"
"We ain't got no time to bother over that," he says; "we got to dig in
like all git-out."
"Well, anyway," I says, "what's SOME of it? What's a fess?"
"A fess--a fess is--YOU don't need to know what a fess is. I'll show him
how to make it when he gets to it."
"Shucks, Tom," I says, "I think you might tell a person. What's a bar
"Oh, I don't know. But he's got to have it. All the nobility does."
That was just his way. If it didn't suit him to explain a thing to you,
he wouldn't do it. You might pump at him a week, it wouldn't make no
He'd got all that coat of arms business fixed, so now he started in to
finish up the rest of that part of the work, which was to plan out a
mournful inscription--said Jim got to have one, like they all done. He
made up a lot, and wrote them out on a paper, and read them off, so:
1. Here a captive heart busted. 2. Here a poor prisoner, forsook by the
world and friends, fretted his sorrowful life. 3. Here a lonely heart
broke, and a worn spirit went to its rest, after thirty-seven years of
solitary captivity. 4. Here, homeless and friendless, after thirty-seven
years of bitter captivity, perished a noble stranger, natural son of
Tom's voice trembled whilst he was reading them, and he most broke down.
When he got done he couldn't no way make up his mind which one for Jim to
scrabble on to the wall, they was all so good; but at last he allowed he
would let him scrabble them all on. Jim said it would take him a year to
scrabble such a lot of truck on to the logs with a nail, and he didn't
know how to make letters, besides; but Tom said he would block them out
for him, and then he wouldn't have nothing to do but just follow the
lines. Then pretty soon he says:
"Come to think, the logs ain't a-going to do; they don't have log walls
in a dungeon: we got to dig the inscriptions into a rock. We'll fetch a
Jim said the rock was worse than the logs; he said it would take him such
a pison long time to dig them into a rock he wouldn't ever get out. But
Tom said he would let me help him do it. Then he took a look to see how
me and Jim was getting along with the pens. It was most pesky tedious
hard work and slow, and didn't give my hands no show to get well of the
sores, and we didn't seem to make no headway, hardly; so Tom says:
"I know how to fix it. We got to have a rock for the coat of arms and
mournful inscriptions, and we can kill two birds with that same rock.
There's a gaudy big grindstone down at the mill, and we'll smouch it, and
carve the things on it, and file out the pens and the saw on it, too."
It warn't no slouch of an idea; and it warn't no slouch of a grindstone
nuther; but we allowed we'd tackle it. It warn't quite midnight yet, so
we cleared out for the mill, leaving Jim at work. We smouched the
grindstone, and set out to roll her home, but it was a most nation tough
job. Sometimes, do what we could, we couldn't keep her from falling over,
and she come mighty near mashing us every time. Tom said she was going
to get one of us, sure, before we got through. We got her half way; and
then we was plumb played out, and most drownded with sweat. We see it
warn't no use; we got to go and fetch Jim So he raised up his bed and
slid the chain off of the bed-leg, and wrapt it round and round his neck,
and we crawled out through our hole and down there, and Jim and me laid
into that grindstone and walked her along like nothing; and Tom
superintended. He could out-superintend any boy I ever see. He knowed
how to do everything.
Our hole was pretty big, but it warn't big enough to get the grindstone
through; but Jim he took the pick and soon made it big enough. Then Tom
marked out them things on it with the nail, and set Jim to work on them,
with the nail for a chisel and an iron bolt from the rubbage in the
lean-to for a hammer, and told him to work till the rest of his candle
quit on him, and then he could go to bed, and hide the grindstone under
his straw tick and sleep on it. Then we helped him fix his chain back on
the bed-leg, and was ready for bed ourselves. But Tom thought of
something, and says:
"You got any spiders in here, Jim?"
"No, sah, thanks to goodness I hain't, Mars Tom."
"All right, we'll get you some."
"But bless you, honey, I doan' WANT none. I's afeard un um. I jis' 's
soon have rattlesnakes aroun'."
Tom thought a minute or two, and says:
"It's a good idea. And I reckon it's been done. It MUST a been done; it
stands to reason. Yes, it's a prime good idea. Where could you keep
"Keep what, Mars Tom?"
"Why, a rattlesnake."
"De goodness gracious alive, Mars Tom! Why, if dey was a rattlesnake to
come in heah I'd take en bust right out thoo dat log wall, I would, wid
Why, Jim, you wouldn't be afraid of it after a little. You could tame
"Yes--easy enough. Every animal is grateful for kindness and petting,
and they wouldn't THINK of hurting a person that pets them. Any book
will tell you that. You try--that's all I ask; just try for two or three
days. Why, you can get him so in a little while that he'll love you; and
sleep with you; and won't stay away from you a minute; and will let you
wrap him round your neck and put his head in your mouth."
"PLEASE, Mars Tom--DOAN' talk so! I can't STAN' it! He'd LET me shove
his head in my mouf--fer a favor, hain't it? I lay he'd wait a pow'ful
long time 'fo' I AST him. En mo' en dat, I doan' WANT him to sleep wid
"Jim, don't act so foolish. A prisoner's GOT to have some kind of a dumb
pet, and if a rattlesnake hain't ever been tried, why, there's more glory
to be gained in your being the first to ever try it than any other way
you could ever think of to save your life."
"Why, Mars Tom, I doan' WANT no sich glory. Snake take 'n bite Jim's
chin off, den WHAH is de glory? No, sah, I doan' want no sich doin's."
"Blame it, can't you TRY? I only WANT you to try--you needn't keep it up
if it don't work."
"But de trouble all DONE ef de snake bite me while I's a tryin' him.
Mars Tom, I's willin' to tackle mos' anything 'at ain't onreasonable, but
ef you en Huck fetches a rattlesnake in heah for me to tame, I's gwyne to
LEAVE, dat's SHORE."
"Well, then, let it go, let it go, if you're so bull-headed about it. We
can get you some garter-snakes, and you can tie some buttons on their
tails, and let on they're rattlesnakes, and I reckon that 'll have to
"I k'n stan' DEM, Mars Tom, but blame' 'f I couldn' get along widout um,
I tell you dat. I never knowed b'fo' 't was so much bother and trouble
to be a prisoner."
"Well, it ALWAYS is when it's done right. You got any rats around here?"
"No, sah, I hain't seed none."
"Well, we'll get you some rats."
"Why, Mars Tom, I doan' WANT no rats. Dey's de dadblamedest creturs to
'sturb a body, en rustle roun' over 'im, en bite his feet, when he's
tryin' to sleep, I ever see. No, sah, gimme g'yarter-snakes, 'f I's got
to have 'm, but doan' gimme no rats; I hain' got no use f'r um, skasely."
"But, Jim, you GOT to have 'em--they all do. So don't make no more fuss
about it. Prisoners ain't ever without rats. There ain't no instance of
it. And they train them, and pet them, and learn them tricks, and they
get to be as sociable as flies. But you got to play music to them. You
got anything to play music on?"
"I ain' got nuffn but a coase comb en a piece o' paper, en a juice-harp;
but I reck'n dey wouldn' take no stock in a juice-harp."
"Yes they would. THEY don't care what kind of music 'tis. A jews-harp's
plenty good enough for a rat. All animals like music--in a prison they
dote on it. Specially, painful music; and you can't get no other kind
out of a jews-harp. It always interests them; they come out to see
what's the matter with you. Yes, you're all right; you're fixed very
well. You want to set on your bed nights before you go to sleep, and
early in the mornings, and play your jews-harp; play 'The Last Link is
Broken'--that's the thing that 'll scoop a rat quicker 'n anything else;
and when you've played about two minutes you'll see all the rats, and the
snakes, and spiders, and things begin to feel worried about you, and
come. And they'll just fairly swarm over you, and have a noble good
"Yes, DEY will, I reck'n, Mars Tom, but what kine er time is JIM havin'?
Blest if I kin see de pint. But I'll do it ef I got to. I reck'n I
better keep de animals satisfied, en not have no trouble in de house."
Tom waited to think it over, and see if there wasn't nothing else; and
pretty soon he says:
"Oh, there's one thing I forgot. Could you raise a flower here, do you
"I doan know but maybe I could, Mars Tom; but it's tolable dark in heah,
en I ain' got no use f'r no flower, nohow, en she'd be a pow'ful sight o'
"Well, you try it, anyway. Some other prisoners has done it."
"One er dem big cat-tail-lookin' mullen-stalks would grow in heah, Mars
Tom, I reck'n, but she wouldn't be wuth half de trouble she'd coss."
"Don't you believe it. We'll fetch you a little one and you plant it in
the corner over there, and raise it. And don't call it mullen, call it
Pitchiola--that's its right name when it's in a prison. And you want to
water it with your tears."
"Why, I got plenty spring water, Mars Tom."
"You don't WANT spring water; you want to water it with your tears. It's
the way they always do."
"Why, Mars Tom, I lay I kin raise one er dem mullen-stalks twyste wid
spring water whiles another man's a START'N one wid tears."
"That ain't the idea. You GOT to do it with tears."
"She'll die on my han's, Mars Tom, she sholy will; kase I doan' skasely
So Tom was stumped. But he studied it over, and then said Jim would have
to worry along the best he could with an onion. He promised he would go
to the nigger cabins and drop one, private, in Jim's coffee-pot, in the
morning. Jim said he would "jis' 's soon have tobacker in his coffee;"
and found so much fault with it, and with the work and bother of raising
the mullen, and jews-harping the rats, and petting and flattering up the
snakes and spiders and things, on top of all the other work he had to do
on pens, and inscriptions, and journals, and things, which made it more
trouble and worry and responsibility to be a prisoner than anything he
ever undertook, that Tom most lost all patience with him; and said he was
just loadened down with more gaudier chances than a prisoner ever had in
the world to make a name for himself, and yet he didn't know enough to
appreciate them, and they was just about wasted on him. So Jim he was
sorry, and said he wouldn't behave so no more, and then me and Tom shoved
IN the morning we went up to the village and bought a wire rat-trap and
fetched it down, and unstopped the best rat-hole, and in about an hour we
had fifteen of the bulliest kind of ones; and then we took it and put it
in a safe place under Aunt Sally's bed. But while we was gone for
spiders little Thomas Franklin Benjamin Jefferson Elexander Phelps found
it there, and opened the door of it to see if the rats would come out,
and they did; and Aunt Sally she come in, and when we got back she was
a-standing on top of the bed raising Cain, and the rats was doing what
they could to keep off the dull times for her. So she took and dusted us
both with the hickry, and we was as much as two hours catching another
fifteen or sixteen, drat that meddlesome cub, and they warn't the
likeliest, nuther, because the first haul was the pick of the flock.
I never see a likelier lot of rats than what that first haul was.
We got a splendid stock of sorted spiders, and bugs, and frogs, and
caterpillars, and one thing or another; and we like to got a hornet's
nest, but we didn't. The family was at home. We didn't give it right
up, but stayed with them as long as we could; because we allowed we'd
tire them out or they'd got to tire us out, and they done it. Then we
got allycumpain and rubbed on the places, and was pretty near all right
again, but couldn't set down convenient. And so we went for the snakes,
and grabbed a couple of dozen garters and house-snakes, and put them in a
bag, and put it in our room, and by that time it was supper-time, and a
rattling good honest day's work: and hungry?--oh, no, I reckon not! And
there warn't a blessed snake up there when we went back--we didn't half
tie the sack, and they worked out somehow, and left. But it didn't
matter much, because they was still on the premises somewheres. So we
judged we could get some of them again. No, there warn't no real
scarcity of snakes about the house for a considerable spell. You'd see
them dripping from the rafters and places every now and then; and they
generly landed in your plate, or down the back of your neck, and most of
the time where you didn't want them. Well, they was handsome and
striped, and there warn't no harm in a million of them; but that never
made no difference to Aunt Sally; she despised snakes, be the breed what
they might, and she couldn't stand them no way you could fix it; and
every time one of them flopped down on her, it didn't make no difference
what she was doing, she would just lay that work down and light out. I
never see such a woman. And you could hear her whoop to Jericho. You
couldn't get her to take a-holt of one of them with the tongs. And if
she turned over and found one in bed she would scramble out and lift a
howl that you would think the house was afire. She disturbed the old man
so that he said he could most wish there hadn't ever been no snakes
created. Why, after every last snake had been gone clear out of the
house for as much as a week Aunt Sally warn't over it yet; she warn't
near over it; when she was setting thinking about something you could
touch her on the back of her neck with a feather and she would jump right
out of her stockings. It was very curious. But Tom said all women was
just so. He said they was made that way for some reason or other.
We got a licking every time one of our snakes come in her way, and she
allowed these lickings warn't nothing to what she would do if we ever
loaded up the place again with them. I didn't mind the lickings, because
they didn't amount to nothing; but I minded the trouble we had to lay in
another lot. But we got them laid in, and all the other things; and you
never see a cabin as blithesome as Jim's was when they'd all swarm out
for music and go for him. Jim didn't like the spiders, and the spiders
didn't like Jim; and so they'd lay for him, and make it mighty warm for
him. And he said that between the rats and the snakes and the grindstone
there warn't no room in bed for him, skasely; and when there was, a body
couldn't sleep, it was so lively, and it was always lively, he said,
because THEY never all slept at one time, but took turn about, so when
the snakes was asleep the rats was on deck, and when the rats turned in
the snakes come on watch, so he always had one gang under him, in his
way, and t'other gang having a circus over him, and if he got up to hunt
a new place the spiders would take a chance at him as he crossed over.
He said if he ever got out this time he wouldn't ever be a prisoner
again, not for a salary.
Well, by the end of three weeks everything was in pretty good shape. The
shirt was sent in early, in a pie, and every time a rat bit Jim he would
get up and write a little in his journal whilst the ink was fresh; the
pens was made, the inscriptions and so on was all carved on the
grindstone; the bed-leg was sawed in two, and we had et up the sawdust,
and it give us a most amazing stomach-ache. We reckoned we was all going
to die, but didn't. It was the most undigestible sawdust I ever see; and
Tom said the same. But as I was saying, we'd got all the work done now,
at last; and we was all pretty much fagged out, too, but mainly Jim. The
old man had wrote a couple of times to the plantation below Orleans to
come and get their runaway nigger, but hadn't got no answer, because
there warn't no such plantation; so he allowed he would advertise Jim in
the St. Louis and New Orleans papers; and when he mentioned the St. Louis
ones it give me the cold shivers, and I see we hadn't no time to lose.
So Tom said, now for the nonnamous letters.
"What's them?" I says.
"Warnings to the people that something is up. Sometimes it's done one
way, sometimes another. But there's always somebody spying around that
gives notice to the governor of the castle. When Louis XVI. was going to
light out of the Tooleries a servant-girl done it. It's a very good way,
and so is the nonnamous letters. We'll use them both. And it's usual
for the prisoner's mother to change clothes with him, and she stays in,
and he slides out in her clothes. We'll do that, too."
"But looky here, Tom, what do we want to WARN anybody for that
something's up? Let them find it out for themselves--it's their
"Yes, I know; but you can't depend on them. It's the way they've acted
from the very start--left us to do EVERYTHING. They're so confiding and
mullet-headed they don't take notice of nothing at all. So if we don't
GIVE them notice there won't be nobody nor nothing to interfere with us,
and so after all our hard work and trouble this escape 'll go off
perfectly flat; won't amount to nothing--won't be nothing TO it."
"Well, as for me, Tom, that's the way I'd like."
"Shucks!" he says, and looked disgusted. So I says:
"But I ain't going to make no complaint. Any way that suits you suits
me. What you going to do about the servant-girl?"
"You'll be her. You slide in, in the middle of the night, and hook that
yaller girl's frock."
"Why, Tom, that 'll make trouble next morning; because, of course, she
prob'bly hain't got any but that one."
"I know; but you don't want it but fifteen minutes, to carry the
nonnamous letter and shove it under the front door."
"All right, then, I'll do it; but I could carry it just as handy in my
"You wouldn't look like a servant-girl THEN, would you?"
"No, but there won't be nobody to see what I look like, ANYWAY."
"That ain't got nothing to do with it. The thing for us to do is just to
do our DUTY, and not worry about whether anybody SEES us do it or not.
Hain't you got no principle at all?"
"All right, I ain't saying nothing; I'm the servant-girl. Who's Jim's
"I'm his mother. I'll hook a gown from Aunt Sally."
"Well, then, you'll have to stay in the cabin when me and Jim leaves."
"Not much. I'll stuff Jim's clothes full of straw and lay it on his bed
to represent his mother in disguise, and Jim 'll take the nigger woman's
gown off of me and wear it, and we'll all evade together. When a
prisoner of style escapes it's called an evasion. It's always called so
when a king escapes, f'rinstance. And the same with a king's son; it
don't make no difference whether he's a natural one or an unnatural one."
So Tom he wrote the nonnamous letter, and I smouched the yaller wench's
frock that night, and put it on, and shoved it under the front door, the
way Tom told me to. It said:
Beware. Trouble is brewing. Keep a sharp lookout. UNKNOWN FRIEND.
Next night we stuck a picture, which Tom drawed in blood, of a skull and
crossbones on the front door; and next night another one of a coffin on
the back door. I never see a family in such a sweat. They couldn't a
been worse scared if the place had a been full of ghosts laying for them
behind everything and under the beds and shivering through the air. If a
door banged, Aunt Sally she jumped and said "ouch!" if anything fell, she
jumped and said "ouch!" if you happened to touch her, when she warn't
noticing, she done the same; she couldn't face noway and be satisfied,
because she allowed there was something behind her every time--so she was
always a-whirling around sudden, and saying "ouch," and before she'd got
two-thirds around she'd whirl back again, and say it again; and she was
afraid to go to bed, but she dasn't set up. So the thing was working
very well, Tom said; he said he never see a thing work more satisfactory.
He said it showed it was done right.
So he said, now for the grand bulge! So the very next morning at the
streak of dawn we got another letter ready, and was wondering what we
better do with it, because we heard them say at supper they was going to
have a nigger on watch at both doors all night. Tom he went down the
lightning-rod to spy around; and the nigger at the back door was asleep,
and he stuck it in the back of his neck and come back. This letter said:
Don't betray me, I wish to be your friend. There is a desprate gang of
cut-throats from over in the Indian Territory going to steal your runaway
nigger to-night, and they have been trying to scare you so as you will
stay in the house and not bother them. I am one of the gang, but have
got religgion and wish to quit it and lead an honest life again, and will
betray the helish design. They will sneak down from northards, along the
fence, at midnight exact, with a false key, and go in the nigger's cabin
to get him. I am to be off a piece and blow a tin horn if I see any
danger; but stead of that I will BA like a sheep soon as they get in and
not blow at all; then whilst they are getting his chains loose, you slip
there and lock them in, and can kill them at your leasure. Don't do
anything but just the way I am telling you; if you do they will suspicion
something and raise whoop-jamboreehoo. I do not wish any reward but to
know I have done the right thing. UNKNOWN FRIEND.
WE was feeling pretty good after breakfast, and took my canoe and went
over the river a-fishing, with a lunch, and had a good time, and took a
look at the raft and found her all right, and got home late to supper,
and found them in such a sweat and worry they didn't know which end they
was standing on, and made us go right off to bed the minute we was done
supper, and wouldn't tell us what the trouble was, and never let on a
word about the new letter, but didn't need to, because we knowed as much
about it as anybody did, and as soon as we was half up stairs and her
back was turned we slid for the cellar cupboard and loaded up a good
lunch and took it up to our room and went to bed, and got up about
half-past eleven, and Tom put on Aunt Sally's dress that he stole and
was going to start with the lunch, but says:
"Where's the butter?"
"I laid out a hunk of it," I says, "on a piece of a corn-pone."
"Well, you LEFT it laid out, then--it ain't here."
"We can get along without it," I says.
"We can get along WITH it, too," he says; "just you slide down cellar and
fetch it. And then mosey right down the lightning-rod and come along.
I'll go and stuff the straw into Jim's clothes to represent his mother in
disguise, and be ready to BA like a sheep and shove soon as you get
So out he went, and down cellar went I. The hunk of butter, big as a
person's fist, was where I had left it, so I took up the slab of
corn-pone with it on, and blowed out my light, and started up stairs very
stealthy, and got up to the main floor all right, but here comes Aunt
Sally with a candle, and I clapped the truck in my hat, and clapped my
hat on my head, and the next second she see me; and she says:
"You been down cellar?"
"What you been doing down there?"
"Well, then, what possessed you to go down there this time of night?"
"I don't know 'm."
"You don't KNOW? Don't answer me that way. Tom, I want to know what you
been DOING down there."
"I hain't been doing a single thing, Aunt Sally, I hope to gracious if I
I reckoned she'd let me go now, and as a generl thing she would; but I
s'pose there was so many strange things going on she was just in a sweat
about every little thing that warn't yard-stick straight; so she says,
"You just march into that setting-room and stay there till I come. You
been up to something you no business to, and I lay I'll find out what it
is before I'M done with you."
So she went away as I opened the door and walked into the setting-room.
My, but there was a crowd there! Fifteen farmers, and every one of them
had a gun. I was most powerful sick, and slunk to a chair and set down.
They was setting around, some of them talking a little, in a low voice,
and all of them fidgety and uneasy, but trying to look like they warn't;
but I knowed they was, because they was always taking off their hats, and
putting them on, and scratching their heads, and changing their seats,
and fumbling with their buttons. I warn't easy myself, but I didn't take
my hat off, all the same.
I did wish Aunt Sally would come, and get done with me, and lick me, if
she wanted to, and let me get away and tell Tom how we'd overdone this
thing, and what a thundering hornet's-nest we'd got ourselves into, so we
could stop fooling around straight off, and clear out with Jim before
these rips got out of patience and come for us.
At last she come and begun to ask me questions, but I COULDN'T answer
them straight, I didn't know which end of me was up; because these men
was in such a fidget now that some was wanting to start right NOW and lay
for them desperadoes, and saying it warn't but a few minutes to midnight;
and others was trying to get them to hold on and wait for the
sheep-signal; and here was Aunty pegging away at the questions, and me
a-shaking all over and ready to sink down in my tracks I was that scared;
and the place getting hotter and hotter, and the butter beginning to melt
and run down my neck and behind my ears; and pretty soon, when one of
them says, "I'M for going and getting in the cabin FIRST and right NOW,
and catching them when they come," I most dropped; and a streak of butter
come a-trickling down my forehead, and Aunt Sally she see it, and turns
white as a sheet, and says:
"For the land's sake, what IS the matter with the child? He's got the
brain-fever as shore as you're born, and they're oozing out!"
And everybody runs to see, and she snatches off my hat, and out comes the
bread and what was left of the butter, and she grabbed me, and hugged me,
"Oh, what a turn you did give me! and how glad and grateful I am it ain't
no worse; for luck's against us, and it never rains but it pours, and
when I see that truck I thought we'd lost you, for I knowed by the color
and all it was just like your brains would be if--Dear, dear, whyd'nt you
TELL me that was what you'd been down there for, I wouldn't a cared. Now
cler out to bed, and don't lemme see no more of you till morning!"
I was up stairs in a second, and down the lightning-rod in another one,
and shinning through the dark for the lean-to. I couldn't hardly get my
words out, I was so anxious; but I told Tom as quick as I could we must
jump for it now, and not a minute to lose--the house full of men, yonder,
His eyes just blazed; and he says:
"No!--is that so? AIN'T it bully! Why, Huck, if it was to do over
again, I bet I could fetch two hundred! If we could put it off till--"
"Hurry! HURRY!" I says. "Where's Jim?"
"Right at your elbow; if you reach out your arm you can touch him. He's
dressed, and everything's ready. Now we'll slide out and give the
But then we heard the tramp of men coming to the door, and heard them
begin to fumble with the pad-lock, and heard a man say:
"I TOLD you we'd be too soon; they haven't come--the door is locked.
Here, I'll lock some of you into the cabin, and you lay for 'em in the
dark and kill 'em when they come; and the rest scatter around a piece,
and listen if you can hear 'em coming."
So in they come, but couldn't see us in the dark, and most trod on us
whilst we was hustling to get under the bed. But we got under all right,
and out through the hole, swift but soft--Jim first, me next, and Tom
last, which was according to Tom's orders. Now we was in the lean-to,
and heard trampings close by outside. So we crept to the door, and Tom
stopped us there and put his eye to the crack, but couldn't make out
nothing, it was so dark; and whispered and said he would listen for the
steps to get further, and when he nudged us Jim must glide out first, and
him last. So he set his ear to the crack and listened, and listened, and
listened, and the steps a-scraping around out there all the time; and at
last he nudged us, and we slid out, and stooped down, not breathing, and
not making the least noise, and slipped stealthy towards the fence in
Injun file, and got to it all right, and me and Jim over it; but Tom's
britches catched fast on a splinter on the top rail, and then he hear the
steps coming, so he had to pull loose, which snapped the splinter and
made a noise; and as he dropped in our tracks and started somebody sings
"Who's that? Answer, or I'll shoot!"
But we didn't answer; we just unfurled our heels and shoved. Then there
was a rush, and a BANG, BANG, BANG! and the bullets fairly whizzed around
us! We heard them sing out:
"Here they are! They've broke for the river! After 'em, boys, and turn
loose the dogs!"
So here they come, full tilt. We could hear them because they wore boots
and yelled, but we didn't wear no boots and didn't yell. We was in the
path to the mill; and when they got pretty close on to us we dodged into
the bush and let them go by, and then dropped in behind them. They'd had
all the dogs shut up, so they wouldn't scare off the robbers; but by this
time somebody had let them loose, and here they come, making powwow
enough for a million; but they was our dogs; so we stopped in our tracks
till they catched up; and when they see it warn't nobody but us, and no
excitement to offer them, they only just said howdy, and tore right ahead
towards the shouting and clattering; and then we up-steam again, and
whizzed along after them till we was nearly to the mill, and then struck
up through the bush to where my canoe was tied, and hopped in and pulled
for dear life towards the middle of the river, but didn't make no more
noise than we was obleeged to. Then we struck out, easy and comfortable,
for the island where my raft was; and we could hear them yelling and
barking at each other all up and down the bank, till we was so far away
the sounds got dim and died out. And when we stepped on to the raft I
"NOW, old Jim, you're a free man again, and I bet you won't ever be a
slave no more."
"En a mighty good job it wuz, too, Huck. It 'uz planned beautiful, en it
'uz done beautiful; en dey ain't NOBODY kin git up a plan dat's mo'
mixed-up en splendid den what dat one wuz."
We was all glad as we could be, but Tom was the gladdest of all because
he had a bullet in the calf of his leg.
When me and Jim heard that we didn't feel so brash as what we did before.
It was hurting him considerable, and bleeding; so we laid him in the
wigwam and tore up one of the duke's shirts for to bandage him, but he
"Gimme the rags; I can do it myself. Don't stop now; don't fool around
here, and the evasion booming along so handsome; man the sweeps, and set
her loose! Boys, we done it elegant!--'deed we did. I wish WE'D a had
the handling of Louis XVI., there wouldn't a been no 'Son of Saint Louis,
ascend to heaven!' wrote down in HIS biography; no, sir, we'd a whooped
him over the BORDER--that's what we'd a done with HIM--and done it just
as slick as nothing at all, too. Man the sweeps--man the sweeps!"
But me and Jim was consulting--and thinking. And after we'd thought a
minute, I says:
"Say it, Jim."
So he says:
"Well, den, dis is de way it look to me, Huck. Ef it wuz HIM dat 'uz
bein' sot free, en one er de boys wuz to git shot, would he say, 'Go on
en save me, nemmine 'bout a doctor f'r to save dis one?' Is dat like
Mars Tom Sawyer? Would he say dat? You BET he wouldn't! WELL, den, is
JIM gywne to say it? No, sah--I doan' budge a step out'n dis place 'dout
a DOCTOR, not if it's forty year!"
I knowed he was white inside, and I reckoned he'd say what he did say--so
it was all right now, and I told Tom I was a-going for a doctor. He
raised considerable row about it, but me and Jim stuck to it and wouldn't
budge; so he was for crawling out and setting the raft loose himself; but
we wouldn't let him. Then he give us a piece of his mind, but it didn't
do no good.
So when he sees me getting the canoe ready, he says:
"Well, then, if you re bound to go, I'll tell you the way to do when you
get to the village. Shut the door and blindfold the doctor tight and
fast, and make him swear to be silent as the grave, and put a purse full
of gold in his hand, and then take and lead him all around the back
alleys and everywheres in the dark, and then fetch him here in the canoe,
in a roundabout way amongst the islands, and search him and take his
chalk away from him, and don't give it back to him till you get him back
to the village, or else he will chalk this raft so he can find it again.
It's the way they all do."
So I said I would, and left, and Jim was to hide in the woods when he see
the doctor coming till he was gone again.
THE doctor was an old man; a very nice, kind-looking old man when I got
him up. I told him me and my brother was over on Spanish Island hunting
yesterday afternoon, and camped on a piece of a raft we found, and about
midnight he must a kicked his gun in his dreams, for it went off and shot
him in the leg, and we wanted him to go over there and fix it and not say
nothing about it, nor let anybody know, because we wanted to come home
this evening and surprise the folks.
"Who is your folks?" he says.
"The Phelpses, down yonder."
"Oh," he says. And after a minute, he says:
"How'd you say he got shot?"
"He had a dream," I says, "and it shot him."
"Singular dream," he says.
So he lit up his lantern, and got his saddle-bags, and we started. But
when he sees the canoe he didn't like the look of her--said she was big
enough for one, but didn't look pretty safe for two. I says:
"Oh, you needn't be afeard, sir, she carried the three of us easy
"Why, me and Sid, and--and--and THE GUNS; that's what I mean."
"Oh," he says.
But he put his foot on the gunnel and rocked her, and shook his head, and
said he reckoned he'd look around for a bigger one. But they was all
locked and chained; so he took my canoe, and said for me to wait till he
come back, or I could hunt around further, or maybe I better go down home
and get them ready for the surprise if I wanted to. But I said I didn't;
so I told him just how to find the raft, and then he started.
I struck an idea pretty soon. I says to myself, spos'n he can't fix that
leg just in three shakes of a sheep's tail, as the saying is? spos'n it
takes him three or four days? What are we going to do?--lay around there
till he lets the cat out of the bag? No, sir; I know what I'LL do. I'll
wait, and when he comes back if he says he's got to go any more I'll get
down there, too, if I swim; and we'll take and tie him, and keep him, and
shove out down the river; and when Tom's done with him we'll give him
what it's worth, or all we got, and then let him get ashore.
So then I crept into a lumber-pile to get some sleep; and next time I
waked up the sun was away up over my head! I shot out and went for the
doctor's house, but they told me he'd gone away in the night some time or
other, and warn't back yet. Well, thinks I, that looks powerful bad for
Tom, and I'll dig out for the island right off. So away I shoved, and
turned the corner, and nearly rammed my head into Uncle Silas's stomach!
"Why, TOM! Where you been all this time, you rascal?"
"I hain't been nowheres," I says, "only just hunting for the runaway
nigger--me and Sid."
"Why, where ever did you go?" he says. "Your aunt's been mighty uneasy."
"She needn't," I says, "because we was all right. We followed the men
and the dogs, but they outrun us, and we lost them; but we thought we
heard them on the water, so we got a canoe and took out after them and
crossed over, but couldn't find nothing of them; so we cruised along
up-shore till we got kind of tired and beat out; and tied up the canoe
and went to sleep, and never waked up till about an hour ago; then we
paddled over here to hear the news, and Sid's at the post-office to see
what he can hear, and I'm a-branching out to get something to eat for us,
and then we're going home."
So then we went to the post-office to get "Sid"; but just as I
suspicioned, he warn't there; so the old man he got a letter out of the
office, and we waited awhile longer, but Sid didn't come; so the old man
said, come along, let Sid foot it home, or canoe it, when he got done
fooling around--but we would ride. I couldn't get him to let me stay and
wait for Sid; and he said there warn't no use in it, and I must come
along, and let Aunt Sally see we was all right.
When we got home Aunt Sally was that glad to see me she laughed and cried
both, and hugged me, and give me one of them lickings of hern that don't
amount to shucks, and said she'd serve Sid the same when he come.
And the place was plum full of farmers and farmers' wives, to dinner; and
such another clack a body never heard. Old Mrs. Hotchkiss was the worst;
her tongue was a-going all the time. She says:
"Well, Sister Phelps, I've ransacked that-air cabin over, an' I b'lieve
the nigger was crazy. I says to Sister Damrell--didn't I, Sister
Damrell?--s'I, he's crazy, s'I--them's the very words I said. You all
hearn me: he's crazy, s'I; everything shows it, s'I. Look at that-air
grindstone, s'I; want to tell ME't any cretur 't's in his right mind 's a
goin' to scrabble all them crazy things onto a grindstone, s'I? Here
sich 'n' sich a person busted his heart; 'n' here so 'n' so pegged along
for thirty-seven year, 'n' all that--natcherl son o' Louis somebody, 'n'
sich everlast'n rubbage. He's plumb crazy, s'I; it's what I says in the
fust place, it's what I says in the middle, 'n' it's what I says last 'n'
all the time--the nigger's crazy--crazy 's Nebokoodneezer, s'I."
"An' look at that-air ladder made out'n rags, Sister Hotchkiss," says old
Mrs. Damrell; "what in the name o' goodness COULD he ever want of--"
"The very words I was a-sayin' no longer ago th'n this minute to Sister
Utterback, 'n' she'll tell you so herself. Sh-she, look at that-air rag
ladder, sh-she; 'n' s'I, yes, LOOK at it, s'I--what COULD he a-wanted of
it, s'I. Sh-she, Sister Hotchkiss, sh-she--"
"But how in the nation'd they ever GIT that grindstone IN there, ANYWAY?
'n' who dug that-air HOLE? 'n' who--"
"My very WORDS, Brer Penrod! I was a-sayin'--pass that-air sasser o'
m'lasses, won't ye?--I was a-sayin' to Sister Dunlap, jist this minute,
how DID they git that grindstone in there, s'I. Without HELP, mind you
--'thout HELP! THAT'S wher 'tis. Don't tell ME, s'I; there WUZ help,
s'I; 'n' ther' wuz a PLENTY help, too, s'I; ther's ben a DOZEN a-helpin'
that nigger, 'n' I lay I'd skin every last nigger on this place but I'D
find out who done it, s'I; 'n' moreover, s'I--"
"A DOZEN says you!--FORTY couldn't a done every thing that's been done.
Look at them case-knife saws and things, how tedious they've been made;
look at that bed-leg sawed off with 'm, a week's work for six men; look
at that nigger made out'n straw on the bed; and look at--"
"You may WELL say it, Brer Hightower! It's jist as I was a-sayin' to
Brer Phelps, his own self. S'e, what do YOU think of it, Sister
Hotchkiss, s'e? Think o' what, Brer Phelps, s'I? Think o' that bed-leg
sawed off that a way, s'e? THINK of it, s'I? I lay it never sawed
ITSELF off, s'I--somebody SAWED it, s'I; that's my opinion, take it or
leave it, it mayn't be no 'count, s'I, but sich as 't is, it's my
opinion, s'I, 'n' if any body k'n start a better one, s'I, let him DO it,
s'I, that's all. I says to Sister Dunlap, s'I--"
"Why, dog my cats, they must a ben a house-full o' niggers in there every
night for four weeks to a done all that work, Sister Phelps. Look at
that shirt--every last inch of it kivered over with secret African writ'n
done with blood! Must a ben a raft uv 'm at it right along, all the
time, amost. Why, I'd give two dollars to have it read to me; 'n' as for
the niggers that wrote it, I 'low I'd take 'n' lash 'm t'll--"
"People to HELP him, Brother Marples! Well, I reckon you'd THINK so if
you'd a been in this house for a while back. Why, they've stole
everything they could lay their hands on--and we a-watching all the time,
mind you. They stole that shirt right off o' the line! and as for that
sheet they made the rag ladder out of, ther' ain't no telling how many
times they DIDN'T steal that; and flour, and candles, and candlesticks,
and spoons, and the old warming-pan, and most a thousand things that I
disremember now, and my new calico dress; and me and Silas and my Sid and
Tom on the constant watch day AND night, as I was a-telling you, and not
a one of us could catch hide nor hair nor sight nor sound of them; and
here at the last minute, lo and behold you, they slides right in under
our noses and fools us, and not only fools US but the Injun Territory
robbers too, and actuly gets AWAY with that nigger safe and sound, and
that with sixteen men and twenty-two dogs right on their very heels at
that very time! I tell you, it just bangs anything I ever HEARD of.
Why, SPERITS couldn't a done better and been no smarter. And I reckon
they must a BEEN sperits--because, YOU know our dogs, and ther' ain't no
better; well, them dogs never even got on the TRACK of 'm once! You
explain THAT to me if you can!--ANY of you!"
"Well, it does beat--"
"Laws alive, I never--"
"So help me, I wouldn't a be--"
"HOUSE-thieves as well as--"
"Goodnessgracioussakes, I'd a ben afeard to live in sich a--"
"'Fraid to LIVE!--why, I was that scared I dasn't hardly go to bed, or
get up, or lay down, or SET down, Sister Ridgeway. Why, they'd steal the
very--why, goodness sakes, you can guess what kind of a fluster I was
in by the time midnight come last night. I hope to gracious if I warn't
afraid they'd steal some o' the family! I was just to that pass I didn't
have no reasoning faculties no more. It looks foolish enough NOW, in the
daytime; but I says to myself, there's my two poor boys asleep, 'way up
stairs in that lonesome room, and I declare to goodness I was that uneasy
't I crep' up there and locked 'em in! I DID. And anybody would.
Because, you know, when you get scared that way, and it keeps running on,
and getting worse and worse all the time, and your wits gets to addling,
and you get to doing all sorts o' wild things, and by and by you think to
yourself, spos'n I was a boy, and was away up there, and the door ain't
locked, and you--" She stopped, looking kind of wondering, and then she
turned her head around slow, and when her eye lit on me--I got up and
took a walk.
Says I to myself, I can explain better how we come to not be in that room
this morning if I go out to one side and study over it a little. So I
done it. But I dasn't go fur, or she'd a sent for me. And when it was
late in the day the people all went, and then I come in and told her the
noise and shooting waked up me and "Sid," and the door was locked, and we
wanted to see the fun, so we went down the lightning-rod, and both of us
got hurt a little, and we didn't never want to try THAT no more. And
then I went on and told her all what I told Uncle Silas before; and then
she said she'd forgive us, and maybe it was all right enough anyway, and
about what a body might expect of boys, for all boys was a pretty
harum-scarum lot as fur as she could see; and so, as long as no harm
hadn't come of it, she judged she better put in her time being grateful
we was alive and well and she had us still, stead of fretting over what
was past and done. So then she kissed me, and patted me on the head, and
dropped into a kind of a brown study; and pretty soon jumps up, and says:
"Why, lawsamercy, it's most night, and Sid not come yet! What HAS become
of that boy?"
I see my chance; so I skips up and says:
"I'll run right up to town and get him," I says.
"No you won't," she says. "You'll stay right wher' you are; ONE'S enough
to be lost at a time. If he ain't here to supper, your uncle 'll go."
Well, he warn't there to supper; so right after supper uncle went.
He come back about ten a little bit uneasy; hadn't run across Tom's
track. Aunt Sally was a good DEAL uneasy; but Uncle Silas he said there
warn't no occasion to be--boys will be boys, he said, and you'll see this
one turn up in the morning all sound and right. So she had to be
satisfied. But she said she'd set up for him a while anyway, and keep a
light burning so he could see it.
And then when I went up to bed she come up with me and fetched her
candle, and tucked me in, and mothered me so good I felt mean, and like I
couldn't look her in the face; and she set down on the bed and talked
with me a long time, and said what a splendid boy Sid was, and didn't
seem to want to ever stop talking about him; and kept asking me every now
and then if I reckoned he could a got lost, or hurt, or maybe drownded,
and might be laying at this minute somewheres suffering or dead, and she
not by him to help him, and so the tears would drip down silent, and I
would tell her that Sid was all right, and would be home in the morning,
sure; and she would squeeze my hand, or maybe kiss me, and tell me to say
it again, and keep on saying it, because it done her good, and she was in
so much trouble. And when she was going away she looked down in my eyes
so steady and gentle, and says:
"The door ain't going to be locked, Tom, and there's the window and the
rod; but you'll be good, WON'T you? And you won't go? For MY sake."
Laws knows I WANTED to go bad enough to see about Tom, and was all
intending to go; but after that I wouldn't a went, not for kingdoms.
But she was on my mind and Tom was on my mind, so I slept very restless.
And twice I went down the rod away in the night, and slipped around
front, and see her setting there by her candle in the window with her
eyes towards the road and the tears in them; and I wished I could do
something for her, but I couldn't, only to swear that I wouldn't never do
nothing to grieve her any more. And the third time I waked up at dawn,
and slid down, and she was there yet, and her candle was most out, and
her old gray head was resting on her hand, and she was asleep.
THE old man was uptown again before breakfast, but couldn't get no track
of Tom; and both of them set at the table thinking, and not saying
nothing, and looking mournful, and their coffee getting cold, and not
eating anything. And by and by the old man says:
"Did I give you the letter?"
"The one I got yesterday out of the post-office."
"No, you didn't give me no letter."
"Well, I must a forgot it."
So he rummaged his pockets, and then went off somewheres where he had
laid it down, and fetched it, and give it to her. She says:
"Why, it's from St. Petersburg--it's from Sis."
I allowed another walk would do me good; but I couldn't stir. But before
she could break it open she dropped it and run--for she see something.
And so did I. It was Tom Sawyer on a mattress; and that old doctor; and
Jim, in HER calico dress, with his hands tied behind him; and a lot of
people. I hid the letter behind the first thing that come handy, and
rushed. She flung herself at Tom, crying, and says:
"Oh, he's dead, he's dead, I know he's dead!"
And Tom he turned his head a little, and muttered something or other,
which showed he warn't in his right mind; then she flung up her hands,
"He's alive, thank God! And that's enough!" and she snatched a kiss of
him, and flew for the house to get the bed ready, and scattering orders
right and left at the niggers and everybody else, as fast as her tongue
could go, every jump of the way.
I followed the men to see what they was going to do with Jim; and the old
doctor and Uncle Silas followed after Tom into the house. The men was
very huffy, and some of them wanted to hang Jim for an example to all the
other niggers around there, so they wouldn't be trying to run away like
Jim done, and making such a raft of trouble, and keeping a whole family
scared most to death for days and nights. But the others said, don't do
it, it wouldn't answer at all; he ain't our nigger, and his owner would
turn up and make us pay for him, sure. So that cooled them down a
little, because the people that's always the most anxious for to hang a
nigger that hain't done just right is always the very ones that ain't the
most anxious to pay for him when they've got their satisfaction out of
They cussed Jim considerble, though, and give him a cuff or two side the
head once in a while, but Jim never said nothing, and he never let on to
know me, and they took him to the same cabin, and put his own clothes on
him, and chained him again, and not to no bed-leg this time, but to a big
staple drove into the bottom log, and chained his hands, too, and both
legs, and said he warn't to have nothing but bread and water to eat after
this till his owner come, or he was sold at auction because he didn't
come in a certain length of time, and filled up our hole, and said a
couple of farmers with guns must stand watch around about the cabin every
night, and a bulldog tied to the door in the daytime; and about this time
they was through with the job and was tapering off with a kind of generl
good-bye cussing, and then the old doctor comes and takes a look, and
"Don't be no rougher on him than you're obleeged to, because he ain't a
bad nigger. When I got to where I found the boy I see I couldn't cut the
bullet out without some help, and he warn't in no condition for me to
leave to go and get help; and he got a little worse and a little worse,
and after a long time he went out of his head, and wouldn't let me come
a-nigh him any more, and said if I chalked his raft he'd kill me, and no
end of wild foolishness like that, and I see I couldn't do anything at
all with him; so I says, I got to have HELP somehow; and the minute I
says it out crawls this nigger from somewheres and says he'll help, and
he done it, too, and done it very well. Of course I judged he must be a
runaway nigger, and there I WAS! and there I had to stick right straight
along all the rest of the day and all night. It was a fix, I tell you!
I had a couple of patients with the chills, and of course I'd of liked to
run up to town and see them, but I dasn't, because the nigger might get
away, and then I'd be to blame; and yet never a skiff come close enough
for me to hail. So there I had to stick plumb until daylight this
morning; and I never see a nigger that was a better nuss or faithfuller,
and yet he was risking his freedom to do it, and was all tired out, too,
and I see plain enough he'd been worked main hard lately. I liked the
nigger for that; I tell you, gentlemen, a nigger like that is worth a
thousand dollars--and kind treatment, too. I had everything I needed,
and the boy was doing as well there as he would a done at home--better,
maybe, because it was so quiet; but there I WAS, with both of 'm on my
hands, and there I had to stick till about dawn this morning; then some
men in a skiff come by, and as good luck would have it the nigger was
setting by the pallet with his head propped on his knees sound asleep; so
I motioned them in quiet, and they slipped up on him and grabbed him and
tied him before he knowed what he was about, and we never had no trouble.
And the boy being in a kind of a flighty sleep, too, we muffled the oars
and hitched the raft on, and towed her over very nice and quiet, and the
nigger never made the least row nor said a word from the start. He ain't
no bad nigger, gentlemen; that's what I think about him."
"Well, it sounds very good, doctor, I'm obleeged to say."
Then the others softened up a little, too, and I was mighty thankful to
that old doctor for doing Jim that good turn; and I was glad it was
according to my judgment of him, too; because I thought he had a good
heart in him and was a good man the first time I see him. Then they all
agreed that Jim had acted very well, and was deserving to have some
notice took of it, and reward. So every one of them promised, right out
and hearty, that they wouldn't cuss him no more.
Then they come out and locked him up. I hoped they was going to say he
could have one or two of the chains took off, because they was rotten
heavy, or could have meat and greens with his bread and water; but they
didn't think of it, and I reckoned it warn't best for me to mix in, but I
judged I'd get the doctor's yarn to Aunt Sally somehow or other as soon
as I'd got through the breakers that was laying just ahead of me
--explanations, I mean, of how I forgot to mention about Sid being shot
when I was telling how him and me put in that dratted night paddling
around hunting the runaway nigger.
But I had plenty time. Aunt Sally she stuck to the sick-room all day and
all night, and every time I see Uncle Silas mooning around I dodged him.
Next morning I heard Tom was a good deal better, and they said Aunt Sally
was gone to get a nap. So I slips to the sick-room, and if I found him
awake I reckoned we could put up a yarn for the family that would wash.
But he was sleeping, and sleeping very peaceful, too; and pale, not
fire-faced the way he was when he come. So I set down and laid for him
to wake. In about half an hour Aunt Sally comes gliding in, and there I
was, up a stump again! She motioned me to be still, and set down by me,
and begun to whisper, and said we could all be joyful now, because all
the symptoms was first-rate, and he'd been sleeping like that for ever so
long, and looking better and peacefuller all the time, and ten to one
he'd wake up in his right mind.
So we set there watching, and by and by he stirs a bit, and opened his
eyes very natural, and takes a look, and says:
"Hello!--why, I'm at HOME! How's that? Where's the raft?"
"It's all right," I says.
"The same," I says, but couldn't say it pretty brash. But he never
noticed, but says:
"Good! Splendid! NOW we're all right and safe! Did you tell Aunty?"
I was going to say yes; but she chipped in and says: "About what, Sid?"
"Why, about the way the whole thing was done."
"What whole thing?"
"Why, THE whole thing. There ain't but one; how we set the runaway
nigger free--me and Tom."
"Good land! Set the run--What IS the child talking about! Dear, dear,
out of his head again!"
"NO, I ain't out of my HEAD; I know all what I'm talking about. We DID
set him free--me and Tom. We laid out to do it, and we DONE it. And we
done it elegant, too." He'd got a start, and she never checked him up,
just set and stared and stared, and let him clip along, and I see it
warn't no use for ME to put in. "Why, Aunty, it cost us a power of work
--weeks of it--hours and hours, every night, whilst you was all asleep.
And we had to steal candles, and the sheet, and the shirt, and your
dress, and spoons, and tin plates, and case-knives, and the warming-pan,
and the grindstone, and flour, and just no end of things, and you can't
think what work it was to make the saws, and pens, and inscriptions, and
one thing or another, and you can't think HALF the fun it was. And we
had to make up the pictures of coffins and things, and nonnamous letters
from the robbers, and get up and down the lightning-rod, and dig the hole
into the cabin, and made the rope ladder and send it in cooked up in a
pie, and send in spoons and things to work with in your apron pocket--"
"--and load up the cabin with rats and snakes and so on, for company for
Jim; and then you kept Tom here so long with the butter in his hat that
you come near spiling the whole business, because the men come before we
was out of the cabin, and we had to rush, and they heard us and let drive
at us, and I got my share, and we dodged out of the path and let them go
by, and when the dogs come they warn't interested in us, but went for the
most noise, and we got our canoe, and made for the raft, and was all
safe, and Jim was a free man, and we done it all by ourselves, and WASN'T
it bully, Aunty!"
"Well, I never heard the likes of it in all my born days! So it was YOU,
you little rapscallions, that's been making all this trouble, and turned
everybody's wits clean inside out and scared us all most to death. I've
as good a notion as ever I had in my life to take it out o' you this very
minute. To think, here I've been, night after night, a--YOU just get
well once, you young scamp, and I lay I'll tan the Old Harry out o' both
But Tom, he WAS so proud and joyful, he just COULDN'T hold in, and his
tongue just WENT it--she a-chipping in, and spitting fire all along, and
both of them going it at once, like a cat convention; and she says:
"WELL, you get all the enjoyment you can out of it NOW, for mind I tell
you if I catch you meddling with him again--"
"Meddling with WHO?" Tom says, dropping his smile and looking surprised.
"With WHO? Why, the runaway nigger, of course. Who'd you reckon?"
Tom looks at me very grave, and says:
"Tom, didn't you just tell me he was all right? Hasn't he got away?"
"HIM?" says Aunt Sally; "the runaway nigger? 'Deed he hasn't. They've
got him back, safe and sound, and he's in that cabin again, on bread and
water, and loaded down with chains, till he's claimed or sold!"
Tom rose square up in bed, with his eye hot, and his nostrils opening and
shutting like gills, and sings out to me:
"They hain't no RIGHT to shut him up! SHOVE!--and don't you lose a
minute. Turn him loose! he ain't no slave; he's as free as any cretur
that walks this earth!"
"What DOES the child mean?"
"I mean every word I SAY, Aunt Sally, and if somebody don't go, I'LL go.
I've knowed him all his life, and so has Tom, there. Old Miss Watson
died two months ago, and she was ashamed she ever was going to sell him
down the river, and SAID so; and she set him free in her will."
"Then what on earth did YOU want to set him free for, seeing he was
"Well, that IS a question, I must say; and just like women! Why, I
wanted the ADVENTURE of it; and I'd a waded neck-deep in blood to
--goodness alive, AUNT POLLY!"
If she warn't standing right there, just inside the door, looking as
sweet and contented as an angel half full of pie, I wish I may never!
Aunt Sally jumped for her, and most hugged the head off of her, and cried
over her, and I found a good enough place for me under the bed, for it
was getting pretty sultry for us, seemed to me. And I peeped out, and in
a little while Tom's Aunt Polly shook herself loose and stood there
looking across at Tom over her spectacles--kind of grinding him into the
earth, you know. And then she says:
"Yes, you BETTER turn y'r head away--I would if I was you, Tom."
"Oh, deary me!" says Aunt Sally; "IS he changed so? Why, that ain't TOM,
it's Sid; Tom's--Tom's--why, where is Tom? He was here a minute ago."
"You mean where's Huck FINN--that's what you mean! I reckon I hain't
raised such a scamp as my Tom all these years not to know him when I SEE
him. That WOULD be a pretty howdy-do. Come out from under that bed,
So I done it. But not feeling brash.
Aunt Sally she was one of the mixed-upest-looking persons I ever see
--except one, and that was Uncle Silas, when he come in and they told it
all to him. It kind of made him drunk, as you may say, and he didn't
know nothing at all the rest of the day, and preached a prayer-meeting
sermon that night that gave him a rattling ruputation, because the oldest
man in the world couldn't a understood it. So Tom's Aunt Polly, she told
all about who I was, and what; and I had to up and tell how I was in such
a tight place that when Mrs. Phelps took me for Tom Sawyer--she chipped
in and says, "Oh, go on and call me Aunt Sally, I'm used to it now, and
'tain't no need to change"--that when Aunt Sally took me for Tom Sawyer I
had to stand it--there warn't no other way, and I knowed he wouldn't
mind, because it would be nuts for him, being a mystery, and he'd make an
adventure out of it, and be perfectly satisfied. And so it turned out,
and he let on to be Sid, and made things as soft as he could for me.
And his Aunt Polly she said Tom was right about old Miss Watson setting
Jim free in her will; and so, sure enough, Tom Sawyer had gone and took
all that trouble and bother to set a free nigger free! and I couldn't
ever understand before, until that minute and that talk, how he COULD
help a body set a nigger free with his bringing-up.
Well, Aunt Polly she said that when Aunt Sally wrote to her that Tom and
SID had come all right and safe, she says to herself:
"Look at that, now! I might have expected it, letting him go off that
way without anybody to watch him. So now I got to go and trapse all the
way down the river, eleven hundred mile, and find out what that creetur's
up to THIS time, as long as I couldn't seem to get any answer out of you
"Why, I never heard nothing from you," says Aunt Sally.
"Well, I wonder! Why, I wrote you twice to ask you what you could mean
by Sid being here."
"Well, I never got 'em, Sis."
Aunt Polly she turns around slow and severe, and says:
"Well--WHAT?" he says, kind of pettish.
"Don t you what ME, you impudent thing--hand out them letters."
"THEM letters. I be bound, if I have to take a-holt of you I'll--"
"They're in the trunk. There, now. And they're just the same as they
was when I got them out of the office. I hain't looked into them, I
hain't touched them. But I knowed they'd make trouble, and I thought if
you warn't in no hurry, I'd--"
"Well, you DO need skinning, there ain't no mistake about it. And I
wrote another one to tell you I was coming; and I s'pose he--"
"No, it come yesterday; I hain't read it yet, but IT'S all right, I've
got that one."
I wanted to offer to bet two dollars she hadn't, but I reckoned maybe it
was just as safe to not to. So I never said nothing.
CHAPTER THE LAST
THE first time I catched Tom private I asked him what was his idea, time
of the evasion?--what it was he'd planned to do if the evasion worked all
right and he managed to set a nigger free that was already free before?
And he said, what he had planned in his head from the start, if we got
Jim out all safe, was for us to run him down the river on the raft, and
have adventures plumb to the mouth of the river, and then tell him about
his being free, and take him back up home on a steamboat, in style, and
pay him for his lost time, and write word ahead and get out all the
niggers around, and have them waltz him into town with a torchlight
procession and a brass-band, and then he would be a hero, and so would
we. But I reckoned it was about as well the way it was.
We had Jim out of the chains in no time, and when Aunt Polly and Uncle
Silas and Aunt Sally found out how good he helped the doctor nurse Tom,
they made a heap of fuss over him, and fixed him up prime, and give him
all he wanted to eat, and a good time, and nothing to do. And we had him
up to the sick-room, and had a high talk; and Tom give Jim forty dollars
for being prisoner for us so patient, and doing it up so good, and Jim
was pleased most to death, and busted out, and says:
"DAH, now, Huck, what I tell you?--what I tell you up dah on Jackson
islan'? I TOLE you I got a hairy breas', en what's de sign un it; en I
TOLE you I ben rich wunst, en gwineter to be rich AGIN; en it's come
true; en heah she is! DAH, now! doan' talk to ME--signs is SIGNS, mine I
tell you; en I knowed jis' 's well 'at I 'uz gwineter be rich agin as I's
a-stannin' heah dis minute!"
And then Tom he talked along and talked along, and says, le's all three
slide out of here one of these nights and get an outfit, and go for
howling adventures amongst the Injuns, over in the Territory, for a
couple of weeks or two; and I says, all right, that suits me, but I ain't
got no money for to buy the outfit, and I reckon I couldn't get none from
home, because it's likely pap's been back before now, and got it all away
from Judge Thatcher and drunk it up.
"No, he hain't," Tom says; "it's all there yet--six thousand dollars and
more; and your pap hain't ever been back since. Hadn't when I come away,
Jim says, kind of solemn:
"He ain't a-comin' back no mo', Huck."
"Nemmine why, Huck--but he ain't comin' back no mo."
But I kept at him; so at last he says:
"Doan' you 'member de house dat was float'n down de river, en dey wuz a
man in dah, kivered up, en I went in en unkivered him and didn' let you
come in? Well, den, you kin git yo' money when you wants it, kase dat
Tom's most well now, and got his bullet around his neck on a watch-guard
for a watch, and is always seeing what time it is, and so there ain't
nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I'd a
knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn't a tackled it, and
ain't a-going to no more. But I reckon I got to light out for the
Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me
and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.