Part 5 out of 5
the left, Huck at his heels. Tom turned a short curve, by-and-by, and
"My goodness, Huck, lookyhere!"
It was the treasure-box, sure enough, occupying a snug little cavern,
along with an empty powder-keg, a couple of guns in leather cases, two
or three pairs of old moccasins, a leather belt, and some other rubbish
well soaked with the water-drip.
"Got it at last!" said Huck, ploughing among the tarnished coins with
his hand. "My, but we're rich, Tom!"
"Huck, I always reckoned we'd get it. It's just too good to believe,
but we HAVE got it, sure! Say--let's not fool around here. Let's snake
it out. Lemme see if I can lift the box."
It weighed about fifty pounds. Tom could lift it, after an awkward
fashion, but could not carry it conveniently.
"I thought so," he said; "THEY carried it like it was heavy, that day
at the ha'nted house. I noticed that. I reckon I was right to think of
fetching the little bags along."
The money was soon in the bags and the boys took it up to the cross
"Now less fetch the guns and things," said Huck.
"No, Huck--leave them there. They're just the tricks to have when we
go to robbing. We'll keep them there all the time, and we'll hold our
orgies there, too. It's an awful snug place for orgies."
"I dono. But robbers always have orgies, and of course we've got to
have them, too. Come along, Huck, we've been in here a long time. It's
getting late, I reckon. I'm hungry, too. We'll eat and smoke when we
get to the skiff."
They presently emerged into the clump of sumach bushes, looked warily
out, found the coast clear, and were soon lunching and smoking in the
skiff. As the sun dipped toward the horizon they pushed out and got
under way. Tom skimmed up the shore through the long twilight, chatting
cheerily with Huck, and landed shortly after dark.
"Now, Huck," said Tom, "we'll hide the money in the loft of the
widow's woodshed, and I'll come up in the morning and we'll count it
and divide, and then we'll hunt up a place out in the woods for it
where it will be safe. Just you lay quiet here and watch the stuff till
I run and hook Benny Taylor's little wagon; I won't be gone a minute."
He disappeared, and presently returned with the wagon, put the two
small sacks into it, threw some old rags on top of them, and started
off, dragging his cargo behind him. When the boys reached the
Welshman's house, they stopped to rest. Just as they were about to move
on, the Welshman stepped out and said:
"Hallo, who's that?"
"Huck and Tom Sawyer."
"Good! Come along with me, boys, you are keeping everybody waiting.
Here--hurry up, trot ahead--I'll haul the wagon for you. Why, it's not
as light as it might be. Got bricks in it?--or old metal?"
"Old metal," said Tom.
"I judged so; the boys in this town will take more trouble and fool
away more time hunting up six bits' worth of old iron to sell to the
foundry than they would to make twice the money at regular work. But
that's human nature--hurry along, hurry along!"
The boys wanted to know what the hurry was about.
"Never mind; you'll see, when we get to the Widow Douglas'."
Huck said with some apprehension--for he was long used to being
"Mr. Jones, we haven't been doing nothing."
The Welshman laughed.
"Well, I don't know, Huck, my boy. I don't know about that. Ain't you
and the widow good friends?"
"Yes. Well, she's ben good friends to me, anyway."
"All right, then. What do you want to be afraid for?"
This question was not entirely answered in Huck's slow mind before he
found himself pushed, along with Tom, into Mrs. Douglas' drawing-room.
Mr. Jones left the wagon near the door and followed.
The place was grandly lighted, and everybody that was of any
consequence in the village was there. The Thatchers were there, the
Harpers, the Rogerses, Aunt Polly, Sid, Mary, the minister, the editor,
and a great many more, and all dressed in their best. The widow
received the boys as heartily as any one could well receive two such
looking beings. They were covered with clay and candle-grease. Aunt
Polly blushed crimson with humiliation, and frowned and shook her head
at Tom. Nobody suffered half as much as the two boys did, however. Mr.
"Tom wasn't at home, yet, so I gave him up; but I stumbled on him and
Huck right at my door, and so I just brought them along in a hurry."
"And you did just right," said the widow. "Come with me, boys."
She took them to a bedchamber and said:
"Now wash and dress yourselves. Here are two new suits of clothes--
shirts, socks, everything complete. They're Huck's--no, no thanks,
Huck--Mr. Jones bought one and I the other. But they'll fit both of you.
Get into them. We'll wait--come down when you are slicked up enough."
Then she left.
HUCK said: "Tom, we can slope, if we can find a rope. The window ain't
high from the ground."
"Shucks! what do you want to slope for?"
"Well, I ain't used to that kind of a crowd. I can't stand it. I ain't
going down there, Tom."
"Oh, bother! It ain't anything. I don't mind it a bit. I'll take care
"Tom," said he, "auntie has been waiting for you all the afternoon.
Mary got your Sunday clothes ready, and everybody's been fretting about
you. Say--ain't this grease and clay, on your clothes?"
"Now, Mr. Siddy, you jist 'tend to your own business. What's all this
blow-out about, anyway?"
"It's one of the widow's parties that she's always having. This time
it's for the Welshman and his sons, on account of that scrape they
helped her out of the other night. And say--I can tell you something,
if you want to know."
"Why, old Mr. Jones is going to try to spring something on the people
here to-night, but I overheard him tell auntie to-day about it, as a
secret, but I reckon it's not much of a secret now. Everybody knows--
the widow, too, for all she tries to let on she don't. Mr. Jones was
bound Huck should be here--couldn't get along with his grand secret
without Huck, you know!"
"Secret about what, Sid?"
"About Huck tracking the robbers to the widow's. I reckon Mr. Jones
was going to make a grand time over his surprise, but I bet you it will
drop pretty flat."
Sid chuckled in a very contented and satisfied way.
"Sid, was it you that told?"
"Oh, never mind who it was. SOMEBODY told--that's enough."
"Sid, there's only one person in this town mean enough to do that, and
that's you. If you had been in Huck's place you'd 'a' sneaked down the
hill and never told anybody on the robbers. You can't do any but mean
things, and you can't bear to see anybody praised for doing good ones.
There--no thanks, as the widow says"--and Tom cuffed Sid's ears and
helped him to the door with several kicks. "Now go and tell auntie if
you dare--and to-morrow you'll catch it!"
Some minutes later the widow's guests were at the supper-table, and a
dozen children were propped up at little side-tables in the same room,
after the fashion of that country and that day. At the proper time Mr.
Jones made his little speech, in which he thanked the widow for the
honor she was doing himself and his sons, but said that there was
another person whose modesty--
And so forth and so on. He sprung his secret about Huck's share in the
adventure in the finest dramatic manner he was master of, but the
surprise it occasioned was largely counterfeit and not as clamorous and
effusive as it might have been under happier circumstances. However,
the widow made a pretty fair show of astonishment, and heaped so many
compliments and so much gratitude upon Huck that he almost forgot the
nearly intolerable discomfort of his new clothes in the entirely
intolerable discomfort of being set up as a target for everybody's gaze
and everybody's laudations.
The widow said she meant to give Huck a home under her roof and have
him educated; and that when she could spare the money she would start
him in business in a modest way. Tom's chance was come. He said:
"Huck don't need it. Huck's rich."
Nothing but a heavy strain upon the good manners of the company kept
back the due and proper complimentary laugh at this pleasant joke. But
the silence was a little awkward. Tom broke it:
"Huck's got money. Maybe you don't believe it, but he's got lots of
it. Oh, you needn't smile--I reckon I can show you. You just wait a
Tom ran out of doors. The company looked at each other with a
perplexed interest--and inquiringly at Huck, who was tongue-tied.
"Sid, what ails Tom?" said Aunt Polly. "He--well, there ain't ever any
making of that boy out. I never--"
Tom entered, struggling with the weight of his sacks, and Aunt Polly
did not finish her sentence. Tom poured the mass of yellow coin upon
the table and said:
"There--what did I tell you? Half of it's Huck's and half of it's mine!"
The spectacle took the general breath away. All gazed, nobody spoke
for a moment. Then there was a unanimous call for an explanation. Tom
said he could furnish it, and he did. The tale was long, but brimful of
interest. There was scarcely an interruption from any one to break the
charm of its flow. When he had finished, Mr. Jones said:
"I thought I had fixed up a little surprise for this occasion, but it
don't amount to anything now. This one makes it sing mighty small, I'm
willing to allow."
The money was counted. The sum amounted to a little over twelve
thousand dollars. It was more than any one present had ever seen at one
time before, though several persons were there who were worth
considerably more than that in property.
THE reader may rest satisfied that Tom's and Huck's windfall made a
mighty stir in the poor little village of St. Petersburg. So vast a
sum, all in actual cash, seemed next to incredible. It was talked
about, gloated over, glorified, until the reason of many of the
citizens tottered under the strain of the unhealthy excitement. Every
"haunted" house in St. Petersburg and the neighboring villages was
dissected, plank by plank, and its foundations dug up and ransacked for
hidden treasure--and not by boys, but men--pretty grave, unromantic
men, too, some of them. Wherever Tom and Huck appeared they were
courted, admired, stared at. The boys were not able to remember that
their remarks had possessed weight before; but now their sayings were
treasured and repeated; everything they did seemed somehow to be
regarded as remarkable; they had evidently lost the power of doing and
saying commonplace things; moreover, their past history was raked up
and discovered to bear marks of conspicuous originality. The village
paper published biographical sketches of the boys.
The Widow Douglas put Huck's money out at six per cent., and Judge
Thatcher did the same with Tom's at Aunt Polly's request. Each lad had
an income, now, that was simply prodigious--a dollar for every week-day
in the year and half of the Sundays. It was just what the minister got--
no, it was what he was promised--he generally couldn't collect it. A
dollar and a quarter a week would board, lodge, and school a boy in
those old simple days--and clothe him and wash him, too, for that
Judge Thatcher had conceived a great opinion of Tom. He said that no
commonplace boy would ever have got his daughter out of the cave. When
Becky told her father, in strict confidence, how Tom had taken her
whipping at school, the Judge was visibly moved; and when she pleaded
grace for the mighty lie which Tom had told in order to shift that
whipping from her shoulders to his own, the Judge said with a fine
outburst that it was a noble, a generous, a magnanimous lie--a lie that
was worthy to hold up its head and march down through history breast to
breast with George Washington's lauded Truth about the hatchet! Becky
thought her father had never looked so tall and so superb as when he
walked the floor and stamped his foot and said that. She went straight
off and told Tom about it.
Judge Thatcher hoped to see Tom a great lawyer or a great soldier some
day. He said he meant to look to it that Tom should be admitted to the
National Military Academy and afterward trained in the best law school
in the country, in order that he might be ready for either career or
Huck Finn's wealth and the fact that he was now under the Widow
Douglas' protection introduced him into society--no, dragged him into
it, hurled him into it--and his sufferings were almost more than he
could bear. The widow's servants kept him clean and neat, combed and
brushed, and they bedded him nightly in unsympathetic sheets that had
not one little spot or stain which he could press to his heart and know
for a friend. He had to eat with a knife and fork; he had to use
napkin, cup, and plate; he had to learn his book, he had to go to
church; he had to talk so properly that speech was become insipid in
his mouth; whithersoever he turned, the bars and shackles of
civilization shut him in and bound him hand and foot.
He bravely bore his miseries three weeks, and then one day turned up
missing. For forty-eight hours the widow hunted for him everywhere in
great distress. The public were profoundly concerned; they searched
high and low, they dragged the river for his body. Early the third
morning Tom Sawyer wisely went poking among some old empty hogsheads
down behind the abandoned slaughter-house, and in one of them he found
the refugee. Huck had slept there; he had just breakfasted upon some
stolen odds and ends of food, and was lying off, now, in comfort, with
his pipe. He was unkempt, uncombed, and clad in the same old ruin of
rags that had made him picturesque in the days when he was free and
happy. Tom routed him out, told him the trouble he had been causing,
and urged him to go home. Huck's face lost its tranquil content, and
took a melancholy cast. He said:
"Don't talk about it, Tom. I've tried it, and it don't work; it don't
work, Tom. It ain't for me; I ain't used to it. The widder's good to
me, and friendly; but I can't stand them ways. She makes me get up just
at the same time every morning; she makes me wash, they comb me all to
thunder; she won't let me sleep in the woodshed; I got to wear them
blamed clothes that just smothers me, Tom; they don't seem to any air
git through 'em, somehow; and they're so rotten nice that I can't set
down, nor lay down, nor roll around anywher's; I hain't slid on a
cellar-door for--well, it 'pears to be years; I got to go to church and
sweat and sweat--I hate them ornery sermons! I can't ketch a fly in
there, I can't chaw. I got to wear shoes all Sunday. The widder eats by
a bell; she goes to bed by a bell; she gits up by a bell--everything's
so awful reg'lar a body can't stand it."
"Well, everybody does that way, Huck."
"Tom, it don't make no difference. I ain't everybody, and I can't
STAND it. It's awful to be tied up so. And grub comes too easy--I don't
take no interest in vittles, that way. I got to ask to go a-fishing; I
got to ask to go in a-swimming--dern'd if I hain't got to ask to do
everything. Well, I'd got to talk so nice it wasn't no comfort--I'd got
to go up in the attic and rip out awhile, every day, to git a taste in
my mouth, or I'd a died, Tom. The widder wouldn't let me smoke; she
wouldn't let me yell, she wouldn't let me gape, nor stretch, nor
scratch, before folks--" [Then with a spasm of special irritation and
injury]--"And dad fetch it, she prayed all the time! I never see such a
woman! I HAD to shove, Tom--I just had to. And besides, that school's
going to open, and I'd a had to go to it--well, I wouldn't stand THAT,
Tom. Looky here, Tom, being rich ain't what it's cracked up to be. It's
just worry and worry, and sweat and sweat, and a-wishing you was dead
all the time. Now these clothes suits me, and this bar'l suits me, and
I ain't ever going to shake 'em any more. Tom, I wouldn't ever got into
all this trouble if it hadn't 'a' ben for that money; now you just take
my sheer of it along with your'n, and gimme a ten-center sometimes--not
many times, becuz I don't give a dern for a thing 'thout it's tollable
hard to git--and you go and beg off for me with the widder."
"Oh, Huck, you know I can't do that. 'Tain't fair; and besides if
you'll try this thing just a while longer you'll come to like it."
"Like it! Yes--the way I'd like a hot stove if I was to set on it long
enough. No, Tom, I won't be rich, and I won't live in them cussed
smothery houses. I like the woods, and the river, and hogsheads, and
I'll stick to 'em, too. Blame it all! just as we'd got guns, and a
cave, and all just fixed to rob, here this dern foolishness has got to
come up and spile it all!"
Tom saw his opportunity--
"Lookyhere, Huck, being rich ain't going to keep me back from turning
"No! Oh, good-licks; are you in real dead-wood earnest, Tom?"
"Just as dead earnest as I'm sitting here. But Huck, we can't let you
into the gang if you ain't respectable, you know."
Huck's joy was quenched.
"Can't let me in, Tom? Didn't you let me go for a pirate?"
"Yes, but that's different. A robber is more high-toned than what a
pirate is--as a general thing. In most countries they're awful high up
in the nobility--dukes and such."
"Now, Tom, hain't you always ben friendly to me? You wouldn't shet me
out, would you, Tom? You wouldn't do that, now, WOULD you, Tom?"
"Huck, I wouldn't want to, and I DON'T want to--but what would people
say? Why, they'd say, 'Mph! Tom Sawyer's Gang! pretty low characters in
it!' They'd mean you, Huck. You wouldn't like that, and I wouldn't."
Huck was silent for some time, engaged in a mental struggle. Finally
"Well, I'll go back to the widder for a month and tackle it and see if
I can come to stand it, if you'll let me b'long to the gang, Tom."
"All right, Huck, it's a whiz! Come along, old chap, and I'll ask the
widow to let up on you a little, Huck."
"Will you, Tom--now will you? That's good. If she'll let up on some of
the roughest things, I'll smoke private and cuss private, and crowd
through or bust. When you going to start the gang and turn robbers?"
"Oh, right off. We'll get the boys together and have the initiation
"Have the which?"
"Have the initiation."
"It's to swear to stand by one another, and never tell the gang's
secrets, even if you're chopped all to flinders, and kill anybody and
all his family that hurts one of the gang."
"That's gay--that's mighty gay, Tom, I tell you."
"Well, I bet it is. And all that swearing's got to be done at
midnight, in the lonesomest, awfulest place you can find--a ha'nted
house is the best, but they're all ripped up now."
"Well, midnight's good, anyway, Tom."
"Yes, so it is. And you've got to swear on a coffin, and sign it with
"Now, that's something LIKE! Why, it's a million times bullier than
pirating. I'll stick to the widder till I rot, Tom; and if I git to be
a reg'lar ripper of a robber, and everybody talking 'bout it, I reckon
she'll be proud she snaked me in out of the wet."
SO endeth this chronicle. It being strictly a history of a BOY, it
must stop here; the story could not go much further without becoming
the history of a MAN. When one writes a novel about grown people, he
knows exactly where to stop--that is, with a marriage; but when he
writes of juveniles, he must stop where he best can.
Most of the characters that perform in this book still live, and are
prosperous and happy. Some day it may seem worth while to take up the
story of the younger ones again and see what sort of men and women they
turned out to be; therefore it will be wisest not to reveal any of that
part of their lives at present.