YOU don't know about me without you have read a
book by the name of The Adventures of Tom
Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was
made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth,
mainly. There was things which he stretched, but
mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never
seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it
was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt
Polly -- Tom's Aunt Polly, she is -- and Mary, and
the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book,
which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as
I said before.
Now the way that the book winds up is this: Tom
and me found the money that the robbers hid in the
cave, and it made us rich. We got six thousand dollars
apiece -- all gold. It was an awful sight of money
when it was piled up. Well, Judge Thatcher he took
it and put it out at interest, and it fetched us a dollar
a day apiece all the year round -- more than a body
could tell what to do with. The Widow Douglas she
took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize
me; but it was rough living in the house all the time,
considering how dismal regular and decent the widow
was in all her ways; and so when I couldn't stand it
no longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and my
sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied. But
Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and said he was going
to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I would
go back to the widow and be respectable. So I went
The widow she cried over me, and called me a poor
lost lamb, and she called me a lot of other names,
too, but she never meant no harm by it. She put me
in them new clothes again, and I couldn't do nothing
but sweat and sweat, and feel all cramped up. Well,
then, the old thing commenced again. The widow
rung a bell for supper, and you had to come to time.
When you got to the table you couldn't go right to
eating, but you had to wait for the widow to tuck
down her head and grumble a little over the victuals,
though there warn't really anything the matter with
them, -- that is, nothing only everything was cooked
by itself. In a barrel of odds and ends it is different;
things get mixed up, and the juice kind of swaps
around, and the things go better.
After supper she got out her book and learned me
about Moses and the Bulrushers, and I was in a sweat
to find out all about him; but by and by she let it out
that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so
then I didn't care no more about him, because I don't
take no stock in dead people.
Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow
to let me. But she wouldn't. She said it was a mean
practice and wasn't clean, and I must try to not do it
any more. That is just the way with some people.
They get down on a thing when they don't know
nothing about it. Here she was a-bothering about
Moses, which was no kin to her, and no use to any-
body, being gone, you see, yet finding a power of
fault with me for doing a thing that had some good in
it. And she took snuff, too; of course that was all
right, because she done it herself.
Her sister, Miss Watson, a tolerable slim old maid,
with goggles on, had just come to live with her, and
took a set at me now with a spelling-book. She
worked me middling hard for about an hour, and then
the widow made her ease up. I couldn't stood it
much longer. Then for an hour it was deadly dull,
and I was fidgety. Miss Watson would say, "Don't
put your feet up there, Huckleberry;" and "Don't
scrunch up like that, Huckleberry -- set up straight;"
and pretty soon she would say, "Don't gap and stretch
like that, Huckleberry -- why don't you try to be-
have?" Then she told me all about the bad place,
and I said I wished I was there. She got mad then,
but I didn't mean no harm. All I wanted was to go
somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn't
particular. She said it was wicked to say what I said;
said she wouldn't say it for the whole world; she was
going to live so as to go to the good place. Well, I
couldn't see no advantage in going where she was
going, so I made up my mind I wouldn't try for it.
But I never said so, because it would only make
trouble, and wouldn't do no good.
Now she had got a start, and she went on and told
me all about the good place. She said all a body
would have to do there was to go around all day long
with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn't
think much of it. But I never said so. I asked her if
she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she
said not by a considerable sight. I was glad about
that, because I wanted him and me to be together.
Miss Watson she kept pecking at me, and it got
tiresome and lonesome. By and by they fetched the
niggers in and had prayers, and then everybody was
off to bed. I went up to my room with a piece of
candle, and put it on the table. Then I set down in a
chair by the window and tried to think of something
cheerful, but it warn't no use. I felt so lonesome I
most wished I was dead. The stars were shining, and
the leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and
I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing about some-
body that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog cry-
ing about somebody that was going to die; and the
wind was trying to whisper something to me, and I
couldn't make out what it was, and so it made the cold
shivers run over me. Then away out in the woods I
heard that kind of a sound that a ghost makes when it
wants to tell about something that's on its mind and
can't make itself understood, and so can't rest easy in
its grave, and has to go about that way every night
grieving. I got so down-hearted and scared I did wish
I had some company. Pretty soon a spider went
crawling up my shoulder, and I flipped it off and it lit
in the candle; and before I could budge it was all
shriveled up. I didn't need anybody to tell me that
that was an awful bad sign and would fetch me some
bad luck, so I was scared and most shook the clothes
off of me. I got up and turned around in my tracks
three times and crossed my breast every time; and
then I tied up a little lock of my hair with a thread to
keep witches away. But I hadn't no confidence.
You do that when you've lost a horseshoe that you've
found, instead of nailing it up over the door, but I
hadn't ever heard anybody say it was any way to keep
off bad luck when you'd killed a spider.
I set down again, a-shaking all over, and got out my
pipe for a smoke; for the house was all as still as
death now, and so the widow wouldn't know. Well,
after a long time I heard the clock away off in the
town go boom -- boom -- boom -- twelve licks; and
all still again -- stiller than ever. Pretty soon I heard
a twig snap down in the dark amongst the trees --
something was a stirring. I set still and listened.
Directly I could just barely hear a "me-yow! me-
yow!" down there. That was good! Says I, "me-
yow! me-yow!" as soft as I could, and then I put
out the light and scrambled out of the window on to
the shed. Then I slipped down to the ground and
crawled in among the trees, and, sure enough, there
was Tom Sawyer waiting for me.
WE went tiptoeing along a path amongst the trees
back towards the end of the widow's garden,
stooping down so as the branches wouldn't scrape our
heads. When we was passing by the kitchen I fell
over a root and made a noise. We scrouched down
and laid still. Miss Watson's big nigger, named Jim,
was setting in the kitchen door; we could see him
pretty clear, because there was a light behind him.
He got up and stretched his neck out about a minute,
listening. Then he says:
He listened some more; then he come tiptoeing
down and stood right between us; we could a touched
him, nearly. Well, likely it was minutes and minutes
that there warn't a sound, and we all there so close
together. There was a place on my ankle that got to
itching, but I dasn't scratch it; and then my ear begun
to itch; and next my back, right between my shoul-
ders. Seemed like I'd die if I couldn't scratch. Well,
I've noticed that thing plenty times since. If you are
with the quality, or at a funeral, or trying to go to
sleep when you ain't sleepy -- if you are anywheres
where it won't do for you to scratch, why you will itch
all over in upwards of a thousand places. Pretty soon
"Say, who is you? Whar is you? Dog my cats
ef I didn' hear sumf'n. Well, I know what I's gwyne
to do: I's gwyne to set down here and listen tell I
hears it agin."
So he set down on the ground betwixt me and Tom.
He leaned his back up against a tree, and stretched his
legs out till one of them most touched one of mine.
My nose begun to itch. It itched till the tears come
into my eyes. But I dasn't scratch. Then it begun
to itch on the inside. Next I got to itching under-
neath. I didn't know how I was going to set still.
This miserableness went on as much as six or seven
minutes; but it seemed a sight longer than that. I
was itching in eleven different places now. I reckoned
I couldn't stand it more'n a minute longer, but I set
my teeth hard and got ready to try. Just then Jim
begun to breathe heavy; next he begun to snore --
and then I was pretty soon comfortable again.
Tom he made a sign to me -- kind of a little noise
with his mouth -- and we went creeping away on our
hands and knees. When we was ten foot off Tom
whispered to me, and wanted to tie Jim to the tree for
fun. But I said no; he might wake and make a dis-
turbance, and then they'd find out I warn't in. Then
Tom said he hadn't got candles enough, and he would
slip in the kitchen and get some more. I didn't want
him to try. I said Jim might wake up and come.
But Tom wanted to resk it; so we slid in there and got
three candles, and Tom laid five cents on the table for
pay. Then we got out, and I was in a sweat to get
away; but nothing would do Tom but he must crawl
to where Jim was, on his hands and knees, and play
something on him. I waited, and it seemed a good
while, everything was so still and lonesome.
As soon as Tom was back we cut along the path,
around the garden fence, and by and by fetched up on
the steep top of the hill the other side of the house.
Tom said he slipped Jim's hat off of his head and hung
it on a limb right over him, and Jim stirred a little, but
he didn't wake. Afterwards Jim said the witches be-
witched him and put him in a trance, and rode him all
over the State, and then set him under the trees again,
and hung his hat on a limb to show who done it. And
next time Jim told it he said they rode him down to
New Orleans; and, after that, every time he told it he
spread it more and more, till by and by he said they
rode him all over the world, and tired him most to
death, and his back was all over saddle-boils. Jim
was monstrous proud about it, and he got so he
wouldn't hardly notice the other niggers. Niggers
would come miles to hear Jim tell about it, and he was
more looked up to than any nigger in that country.
Strange niggers would stand with their mouths open
and look him all over, same as if he was a wonder.
Niggers is always talking about witches in the dark by
the kitchen fire; but whenever one was talking and
letting on to know all about such things, Jim would
happen in and say, "Hm! What you know 'bout
witches?" and that nigger was corked up and had to
take a back seat. Jim always kept that five-center
piece round his neck with a string, and said it was a
charm the devil give to him with his own hands, and
told him he could cure anybody with it and fetch
witches whenever he wanted to just by saying some-
thing to it; but he never told what it was he said to it.
Niggers would come from all around there and give
Jim anything they had, just for a sight of that five-
center piece; but they wouldn't touch it, because the
devil had had his hands on it. Jim was most ruined
for a servant, because he got stuck up on account of
having seen the devil and been rode by witches.
Well, when Tom and me got to the edge of the hill-
top 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
We went to a clump of bushes, and Tom made
everybody swear to keep the secret, and then showed
them a hole in the hill, right in the thickest part of the
bushes. Then we lit the candles, and crawled in on
our hands and knees. We went about two hundred
yards, and then the cave opened up. Tom poked
about amongst the passages, and pretty soon ducked
under a wall where you wouldn't a noticed that there
was a hole. We went along a narrow place and got
into a kind of room, all damp and sweaty and cold,
and there we stopped. Tom says:
"Now, we'll start this band of robbers and call it
Tom Sawyer's Gang. Everybody that wants to join
has got to take an oath, and write his name in blood."
Everybody was willing. So Tom got out a sheet of
paper that he had wrote the oath on, and read it. It
swore every boy to stick to the band, and never tell
any of the secrets; and if anybody done anything to
any boy in the band, whichever boy was ordered to
kill that person and his family must do it, and he
mustn't eat and he mustn't sleep till he had killed them
and hacked a cross in their breasts, which was the sign
of the band. And nobody that didn't belong to the
band could use that mark, and if he did he must be
sued; and if he done it again he must be killed. And
if anybody that belonged to the band told the secrets,
he must have his throat cut, and then have his carcass
burnt up and the ashes scattered all around, and his
name blotted off of the list with blood and never men-
tioned again by the gang, but have a curse put on it
and be forgot forever.
Everybody said it was a real beautiful oath, and
asked Tom if he got it out of his own head. He said,
some of it, but the rest was out of pirate-books and
robber-books, and every gang that was high-toned
Some thought it would be good to kill the FAMILIES
of boys that told the secrets. Tom said it was a good
idea, so he took a pencil and wrote it in. Then Ben
"Here's Huck Finn, he hain't got no family; what
you going to do 'bout him?"
"Well, hain't he got a father?" says Tom Sawyer.
"Yes, he's got a father, but you can't never find
him these days. He used to lay drunk with the hogs
in the tanyard, but he hain't been seen in these parts
for a year or more."
They talked it over, and they was going to rule me
out, because they said every boy must have a family
or somebody to kill, or else it wouldn't be fair and
square for the others. Well, nobody could think of
anything to do -- everybody was stumped, and set
still. I was most ready to cry; but all at once I
thought of a way, and so I offered them Miss Watson
-- they could kill her. Everybody said:
"Oh, she'll do. That's all right. Huck can come
Then they all stuck a pin in their fingers to get
blood to sign with, and I made my mark on the paper.
"Now," says Ben Rogers, "what's the line of busi-
ness of this Gang?"
"Nothing only robbery and murder," Tom said.
"But who are we going to rob? -- houses, or cattle,
"Stuff! stealing cattle and such things ain't rob-
bery; it's burglary," says Tom Sawyer. "We ain't
burglars. That ain't no sort of style. We are high-
waymen. We stop stages and carriages on the road,
with masks on, and kill the people and take their
watches and money."
"Must we always kill the people?"
"Oh, certainly. It's best. Some authorities think
different, but mostly it's considered best to kill them --
except some that you bring to the cave here, and keep
them till they're ransomed."
"Ransomed? What's that?"
"I don't know. But that's what they do. I've
seen it in books; and so of course that's what we've
got to do."
"But how can we do it if we don't know what it is?"
"Why, blame it all, we've GOT to do it. Don't I tell
you it's in the books? Do you want to go to doing
different from what's in the books, and get things all
"Oh, that's all very fine to SAY, Tom Sawyer, but
how in the nation are these fellows going to be ran-
somed 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
"Well, I don't know. But per'aps if we keep them
till they're ransomed, it means that we keep them till
they're dead. "
"Now, that's something LIKE. That'll answer.
Why couldn't you said that before? We'll keep them
till they're ransomed to death; and a bothersome lot
they'll be, too -- eating up everything, and always
trying to get loose."
"How you talk, Ben Rogers. How can they get
loose when there's a guard over them, ready to shoot
them down if they move a peg?"
"A guard! Well, that IS good. So somebody's
got to set up all night and never get any sleep, just so
as to watch them. I think that's foolishness. Why
can't a body take a club and ransom them as soon as
they get here?"
"Because it ain't in the books so -- that's why.
Now, Ben Rogers, do you want to do things regular,
or don't you? -- that's the idea. Don't you reckon
that the people that made the books knows what's the
correct thing to do? Do you reckon YOU can learn
'em anything? Not by a good deal. No, sir, we'll
just go on and ransom them in the regular way."
"All right. I don't mind; but I say it's a fool
way, anyhow. Say, do we kill the women, too?"
"Well, Ben Rogers, if I was as ignorant as you I
wouldn't let on. Kill the women? No; nobody ever
saw anything in the books like that. You fetch them
to the cave, and you're always as polite as pie to them;
and by and by they fall in love with you, and never
want to go home any more."
"Well, if that's the way I'm agreed, but I don't
take no stock in it. Mighty soon we'll have the cave
so cluttered up with women, and fellows waiting to be
ransomed, that there won't be no place for the rob-
bers. But go ahead, I ain't got nothing to say."
Little Tommy Barnes was asleep now, and when
they waked him up he was scared, and cried, and said
he wanted to go home to his ma, and didn't want to
be a robber any more.
So they all made fun of him, and called him cry-
baby, and that made him mad, and he said he would
go straight and tell all the secrets. But Tom give him
five cents to keep quiet, and said we would all go home
and meet next week, and rob somebody and kill some
Ben Rogers said he couldn't get out much, only
Sundays, and so he wanted to begin next Sunday; but
all the boys said it would be wicked to do it on Sunday,
and that settled the thing. They agreed to get to-
gether 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 hooks.
It warn't any good to me without hooks. I tried for
the hooks three or four times, but somehow I couldn't
make it work. By and by, one day, I asked Miss
Watson to try for me, but she said I was a fool. She
never told me why, and I couldn't make it out no way.
I set down one time back in the woods, and had a
long think about it. I says to myself, if a body can
get anything they pray for, why don't Deacon Winn
get back the money he lost on pork? Why can't the
widow get back her silver snuffbox that was stole?
Why can't Miss Watson fat up? No, says I to my
self, there ain't nothing in it. I went and told the
widow about it, and she said the thing a body could
get by praying for it was "spiritual gifts." This was
too many for me, but she told me what she 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 peo-
ple; 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 Wat-
son's got him there warn't no help for him any more.
I thought it all out, and reckoned I would belong to
the widow's if he wanted me, though I couldn't make
out how he was a-going to be any better off then than
what he was before, seeing I was so ignorant, and so
kind of low-down and ornery.
Pap he hadn't been seen for more than a year, and
that was comfortable for me; I didn't want to see him
no more. He used to always whale me when he was
sober and could get his hands on me; though I used
to take to the woods most of the time when he was
around. Well, about this time he was found in the
river drownded, about twelve mile above town, so
people said. They judged it was him, anyway; said
this drownded man was just his size, and was ragged,
and had uncommon long hair, which was all like pap;
but they couldn't make nothing out of the face, be-
cause it had been in the water so long it warn't much
like a face at all. They said he was floating on his
back in the water. They took him and buried him on
the bank. But I warn't comfortable long, because I
happened to think of something. I knowed mighty
well that a drownded man don't float on his back, but
on his face. So I knowed, then, that this warn't pap,
but a woman dressed up in a man's clothes. So I was
uncomfortable again. I judged the old man would
turn up again by and by, though I wished he wouldn't.
We played robber now and then about a month, and
then I resigned. All the boys did. We hadn't robbed
nobody, hadn't killed any people, but only just pre-
tended. We used to hop out of the woods and go
charging down on hog-drivers and women in carts
taking garden stuff to market, but we never hived any
of them. Tom Sawyer called the hogs "ingots," and
he called the turnips and stuff "julery," and we would
go to the cave and powwow over what we had done,
and how many people we had killed and marked. But
I couldn't see no profit in it. One time Tom sent a
boy to run about town with a blazing stick, which he
called a slogan (which was the sign for the Gang to
get together), and then he said he had got secret news
by his spies that next day a whole parcel of Spanish
merchants and rich A-rabs was going to camp in Cave
Hollow with two hundred elephants, and six hundred
camels, and over a thousand "sumter" mules, all
loaded down with di'monds, and they didn't have only
a guard of four hundred soldiers, and so we would lay
in ambuscade, as he called it, and kill the lot and
scoop the things. He said we must slick up our swords
and guns, and get ready. He never could go after
even a turnip-cart but he must have the swords and
guns all scoured up for it, though they was only lath
and broomsticks, and you might scour at them till you
rotted, and then they warn't worth a mouthful of ashes
more than what they was before. I didn't believe we
could lick such a crowd of Spaniards and A-rabs, but
I wanted to see the camels and elephants, so I was on
hand next day, Saturday, in the ambuscade; and when
we got the word we rushed out of the woods and down
the hill. But there warn't no Spaniards and A-rabs,
and there warn't no camels nor no elephants. It
warn't anything but a Sunday-school picnic, and only
a primer-class at that. We busted it up, and chased
the children up the hollow; but we never got anything
but some doughnuts and jam, though Ben Rogers got
a rag doll, and Jo Harper got a hymn-book and a
tract; and then the teacher charged in, and made us
drop everything and cut. I didn't see no di'monds,
and I told Tom Sawyer so. He said there was loads
of them there, anyway; and he said there was A-rabs
there, too, and elephants and things. I said, why
couldn't we see them, then? He said if I warn't so
ignorant, but had read a book called Don Quixote, I
would know without asking. He said it was all done
by enchantment. He said there was hundreds of
soldiers there, and elephants and treasure, and so on,
but we had enemies which he called magicians; and
they had turned the whole thing into an infant Sunday-
school, just out of spite. I said, all right; then the
thing for us to do was to go for the magicians. Tom
Sawyer said I was a numskull.
"Why," said he, "a magician could call up a lot
of genies, and they would hash you up like nothing
before you could say Jack Robinson. They are as tall
as a tree and as big around as a church."
"Well," I says, "s'pose we got some genies to
help US -- can't we lick the other crowd then?"
"How you going to get them?"
"I don't know. How do THEY get them?"
"Why, they rub an old tin lamp or an iron ring,
and then the genies come tearing in, with the thunder
and lightning a-ripping around and the smoke a-rolling,
and everything they're told to do they up and do it.
They don't think nothing of pulling a shot-tower up
by the roots, and belting a Sunday-school superinten-
dent over the head with it -- or any other man."
"Who makes them tear around so?"
"Why, whoever rubs the lamp or the ring. They
belong to whoever rubs the lamp or the ring, and
they've got to do whatever he says. If he tells them
to build a palace forty miles long out of di'monds, and
fill it full of chewing-gum, or whatever you want, and
fetch an emperor's daughter from China for you to
marry, they've got to do it -- and they've got to do it
before sun-up next morning, too. And more: they've
got to waltz that palace around over the country
wherever you want it, you understand."
"Well," says I, "I think they are a pack of flat-
heads for not keeping the palace themselves 'stead of
fooling them away like that. And what's more -- if I
was one of them I would see a man in Jericho before I
would drop my business and come to him for the rub-
bing of an old tin lamp."
"How you talk, Huck Finn. Why, you'd HAVE to
come when he rubbed it, whether you wanted to or
"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
"Shucks, it ain't no use to talk to you, Huck Finn.
You don't seem to know anything, somehow -- perfect
I thought all this over for two or three days, and
then I reckoned I would see if there was anything in it.
I got an old tin lamp and an iron ring, and went out in
the woods and rubbed and rubbed till I sweat like an
Injun, calculating to build a palace and sell it; but it
warn't no use, none of the genies come. So then I
judged that all that stuff was only just one of Tom
Sawyer's lies. I reckoned he believed in the A-rabs
and the elephants, but as for me I think different. It
had all the marks of a Sunday-school.
WELL, three or four months run along, and it was
well into the winter now. I had been to school
most all the time and could spell and read and write
just a little, and could say the multiplication table up
to six times seven is thirty-five, and I don't reckon I
could ever get any further than that if I was to live
forever. I don't take no stock in mathematics, any-
At first I hated the school, but by and by I got so I
could stand it. Whenever I got uncommon tired I
played hookey, and the hiding I got next day done me
good and cheered me up. So the longer I went to
school the easier it got to be. I was getting sort of
used to the widow's ways, too, and they warn't so
raspy on me. Living in a house and sleeping in a bed
pulled on me pretty tight mostly, but before the cold
weather I used to slide out and sleep in the woods
sometimes, and so that was a rest to me. I liked the
old ways best, but I was getting so I liked the new
ones, too, a little bit. The widow said I was coming
along slow but sure, and doing very satisfactory. She
said she warn't ashamed of me.
One morning I happened to turn over the salt-cellar
at breakfast. I reached for some of it as quick as I
could to throw over my left shoulder and keep off the
bad luck, but Miss Watson was in ahead of me, and
crossed me off. She says, "Take your hands away,
Huckleberry; what a mess you are always making!"
The widow put in a good word for me, but that warn't
going to keep off the bad luck, I knowed that well
enough. I started out, after breakfast, feeling worried
and shaky, and wondering where it was going to fall
on me, and what it was going to be. There is ways to
keep off some kinds of bad luck, but this wasn't one
of them kind; so I never tried to do anything, but just
poked along low-spirited and on the watch-out.
I went down to the front garden and clumb over the
stile where you go through the high board fence.
There was an inch of new snow on the ground, and I
seen somebody's tracks. They had come up from the
quarry and stood around the stile a while, and then
went on around the garden fence. It was funny they
hadn't come in, after standing around so. I couldn't
make it out. It was very curious, somehow. I was
going to follow around, but I stooped down to look at
the tracks first. I didn't notice anything at first, but
next I did. There was a cross in the left boot-heel
made with big nails, to keep off the devil.
I was up in a second and shinning down the hill. I
looked over my shoulder every now and then, but I
didn't see nobody. I was at Judge Thatcher's as quick
as I could get there. He said:
"Why, my boy, you are all out of breath. Did
you come for your interest?"
"No, sir," I says; "is there some for me?"
"Oh, yes, a half-yearly is in last night -- over a
hundred and fifty dollars. Quite a fortune for you.
You had better let me invest it along with your six
thousand, because if you take it you'll spend it."
"No, sir," I says, "I don't want to spend it. I
don't want it at all -- nor the six thousand, nuther.
I want you to take it; I want to give it to you -- the
six thousand and all."
He looked surprised. He couldn't seem to make
it out. He says:
"Why, what can you mean, my boy?"
I says, "Don't you ask me no questions about it,
please. You'll take it -- won't you?"
"Well, I'm puzzled. Is something the matter?"
"Please take it," says I, "and don't ask me noth-
ing -- then I won't have to tell no lies."
He studied a while, and then he says:
"Oho-o! I think I see. You want to SELL all your
property to me -- not give it. That's the correct
Then he wrote something on a paper and read it
over, and says:
"There; you see it says 'for a consideration.' That
means I have bought it of you and paid you for it.
Here's a dollar for you. Now you sign it."
So I signed it, and left.
Miss Watson's nigger, Jim, had a hair-ball as big as
your fist, which had been took out of the fourth
stomach of an ox, and he used to do magic with it.
He said there was a spirit inside of it, and it knowed
everything. So I went to him that night and told him
pap was here again, for I found his tracks in the snow.
What I wanted to know was, what he was going to do,
and was he going to stay? Jim got out his hair-ball
and said something over it, and then he held it up and
dropped it on the floor. It fell pretty solid, and only
rolled about an inch. Jim tried it again, and then
another time, and it acted just the same. Jim got
down on his knees, and put his ear against it and
listened. But it warn't no use; he said it wouldn't
talk. He said sometimes it wouldn't talk without
money. I told him I had an old slick counterfeit
quarter that warn't no good because the brass showed
through the silver a little, and it wouldn't pass nohow,
even if the brass didn't show, because it was so slick
it felt greasy, and so that would tell on it every time.
(I reckoned I wouldn't say nothing about the dollar I
got from the judge.) I said it was pretty bad money,
but maybe the hair-ball would take it, because maybe
it wouldn't know the difference. Jim smelt it and bit
it and rubbed it, and said he would manage so the
hair-ball would think it was good. He said he would
split open a raw Irish potato and stick the quarter in
between and keep it there all night, and next morning
you couldn't see no brass, and it wouldn't feel greasy
no more, and so anybody in town would take it in a
minute, let alone a hair-ball. Well, I knowed a potato
would do that before, but I had forgot it.
Jim put the quarter under the hair-ball, and got
down and listened again. This time he said the hair-
ball was all right. He said it would tell my whole
fortune if I wanted it to. I says, go on. So the hair-
ball talked to Jim, and Jim told it to me. He says:
"Yo' ole father doan' know yit what he's a-gwyne
to do. Sometimes he spec he'll go 'way, en den agin
he spec he'll stay. De bes' way is to res' easy en let
de ole man take his own way. Dey's two angels
hoverin' roun' 'bout him. One uv 'em is white en
shiny, en t'other one is black. De white one gits him
to go right a little while, den de black one sail in en
bust it all up. A body can't tell yit which one gwyne
to fetch him at de las'. But you is all right. You
gwyne to have considable trouble in yo' life, en con-
sidable 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
He was most fifty, and he looked it. His hair was
long and tangled and greasy, and hung down, and you
could see his eyes shining through like he was behind
vines. It was all black, no gray; so was his long,
mixed-up whiskers. There warn't no color in his face,
where his face showed; it was white; not like another
man's white, but a white to make a body sick, a white
to make a body's flesh crawl -- a tree-toad white, a
fish-belly white. As for his clothes -- just rags, that
was all. He had one ankle resting on t'other knee;
the boot on that foot was busted, and two of his toes
stuck through, and he worked them now and then.
His hat was laying on the floor -- an old black slouch
with the top caved in, like a lid.
I stood a-looking at him; he set there a-looking at
me, with his chair tilted back a little. I set the candle
down. I noticed the window was up; so he had clumb
in by the shed. He kept a-looking me all over. By
and by he says:
"Starchy clothes -- very. You think you're a good
deal of a big-bug, DON'T you?"
"Maybe I am, maybe I ain't," I says.
"Don't you give me none o' your lip," says he.
"You've put on considerable many frills since I been
away. I'll take you down a peg before I get done
with you. You're educated, too, they say -- can read
and write. You think you're better'n your father,
now, don't you, because he can't? I'LL take it out of
you. Who told you you might meddle with such
hifalut'n foolishness, hey? -- who told you you could?"
"The widow. She told me."
"The widow, hey? -- and who told the widow she
could put in her shovel about a thing that ain't none of
"Nobody never told her."
"Well, I'll learn her how to meddle. And looky
here -- you drop that school, you hear? I'll learn
people to bring up a boy to put on airs over his own
father and let on to be better'n what HE is. You lemme
catch you fooling around that school again, you hear?
Your mother couldn't read, and she couldn't write,
nuther, before she died. None of the family couldn't
before THEY died. I can't; and here you're a-swelling
yourself up like this. I ain't the man to stand it --
you hear? Say, lemme hear you read."
I took up a book and begun something about Gen-
eral Washington and the wars. When I'd read about
a half a minute, he fetched the book a whack with his
hand and knocked it across the house. He says:
"It's so. You can do it. I had my doubts when
you told me. Now looky here; you stop that putting
on frills. I won't have it. I'll lay for you, my
smarty; and if I catch you about that school I'll tan
you good. First you know you'll get religion, too. I
never see such a son.
He took up a little blue and yaller picture of some
cows and a boy, and says:
"It's something they give me for learning my
He tore it up, and says:
"I'll give you something better -- I'll give you a
He set there a-mumbling and a-growling a minute,
and then he says:
"AIN'T you a sweet-scented dandy, though? A
bed; and bedclothes; and a look'n'-glass; and a piece
of carpet on the floor -- and your own father got to
sleep with the hogs in the tanyard. I never see such a
son. I bet I'll take some o' these frills out o' you
before I'm done with you. Why, there ain't no end to
your airs -- they say you're rich. Hey? -- how's that?"
"They lie -- that's how."
"Looky here -- mind how you talk to me; I'm a-
standing about all I can stand now -- so don't gimme
no sass. I've been in town two days, and I hain't
heard nothing but about you bein' rich. I heard
about it away down the river, too. That's why I
come. You git me that money to-morrow -- I want
"I hain't got no money."
"It's a lie. Judge Thatcher's got it. You git it.
I want it."
"I hain't got no money, I tell you. You ask Judge
Thatcher; he'll tell you the same."
"All right. I'll ask him; and I'll make him pungle,
too, or I'll know the reason why. Say, how much
you got in your pocket? I want it."
"I hain't got only a dollar, and I want that to --"
"It don't make no difference what you want it for
-- you just shell it 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.
The judge and the widow went to law to get the
court to take me away from him and let one of them
be my guardian; but it was a new judge that had just
come, and he didn't know the old man; so he said
courts mustn't interfere and separate families if they
could help it; said he'd druther not take a child away
from its father. So Judge Thatcher and the widow
had to quit on the business.
That pleased the old man till he couldn't rest. He
said he'd cowhide me till I was black and blue if I
didn't raise some money for him. I borrowed three
dollars from Judge Thatcher, and pap took it and got
drunk, and went a-blowing around and cussing and
whooping and carrying on; and he kept it up all over
town, with a tin pan, till most midnight; then they
jailed him, and next day they had him before court,
and jailed him again for a week. But he said HE was
satisfied; said he was boss of his son, and he'd make
it warm for HIM.
When he got out the new judge said he was a-going
to make a man of him. So he took him to his
own house, and dressed him up clean and nice, and
had him to breakfast and dinner and supper with the
family, and was just old pie to him, so to speak. And
after supper he talked to him about temperance and
such things till the old man cried, and said he'd been a
fool, and fooled away his life; but now he was a-going
to turn over a new leaf and be a man nobody wouldn't
be ashamed of, and he hoped the judge would help
him and not look down on him. The judge said he
could hug him for them words; so he cried, and his
wife she cried again; pap said he'd been a man that had
always been misunderstood before, and the judge said
he believed it. The old man said that what a man
wanted that was down was sympathy, and the judge
said it was so; so they cried again. And when it was
bedtime the old man rose up and held out his hand,
"Look at it, gentlemen and ladies all; take a-hold
of it; shake it. There's a hand that was the hand of
a hog; but it ain't so no more; it's the hand of a man
that's started in on a new life, and'll die before he'll
go back. You mark them words -- don't forget I said
them. It's a clean hand now; shake it -- don't be
So they shook it, one after the other, all around, and
cried. The judge's wife she kissed it. Then the old
man he signed a pledge -- made his mark. The judge
said it was the holiest time on record, or something
like that. Then they tucked the old man into a beauti-
ful 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 navigate it.
The judge he felt kind of sore. He said he reckoned
a body could reform the old man with a shotgun,
maybe, but he didn't know no other way.
WELL, pretty soon the old man was up and around
again, and then he went for Judge Thatcher in
the courts to make him give up that money, and he
went for me, too, for not stopping school. He catched
me a couple of times and thrashed me, but I went to
school just the same, and dodged him or outrun him
most of the time. I didn't want to go to school much
before, but I reckoned I'd go now to spite pap. That
law trial was a slow business -- appeared like they
warn't ever going to get started on it; so every now
and then I'd borrow two or three dollars off of the
judge for him, to keep from getting a cowhiding.
Every time he got money he got drunk; and every
time he got drunk he raised Cain around town; and
every time he raised Cain he got jailed. He was just
suited -- this kind of thing was right in his line.
He got to hanging around the widow's too much
and so she told him at last that if he didn't quit using
around there she would make trouble for him. Well,
WASN'T he mad? He said he would show who was
Huck Finn's boss. So he watched out for me one day
in the spring, and catched me, and took me up the
river about three mile in a skiff, and crossed over to
the Illinois shore where it was woody and there warn't
no houses but an old log hut in a place where the
timber was so thick you couldn't find it if you didn't
know where it was.
He kept me with him all the time, and I never got a
chance to run off. We lived in that old cabin, and he
always locked the door and put the key under his head
nights. He had a gun which he had stole, I reckon,
and we fished and hunted, and that was what we lived
on. Every little while he locked me in and went down
to the store, three miles, to the ferry, and traded fish
and game for whisky, and fetched it home and got
drunk and had a good time, and licked me. The
widow she found out where I was by and by, and she
sent a man over to try to get hold of me; but pap
drove him off with the gun, and it warn't long after
that till I was used to being where I was, and liked
it -- all but the cowhide part.
It was kind of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable
all day, smoking and fishing, and no books nor study.
Two months or more run along, and my clothes got to
be all rags and dirt, and I didn't see how I'd ever got
to like it so well at the widow's, where you had to
wash, and eat on a plate, and comb up, and go to bed
and get up regular, and be forever bothering over a
book, and have old Miss Watson pecking at you all the
time. I didn't want to go back no more. I had
stopped cussing, because the widow didn't like it; but
now I took to it again because pap hadn't no objec-
tions. 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 drowned,
and I wasn't ever going to get out any more. I was
scared. I made up my mind I would fix up some way
to leave there. I had tried to get out of that cabin
many a time, but I couldn't find no way. There
warn't a window to it big enough for a dog to get
through. I couldn't get up the chimbly; it was too
narrow. The door was thick, solid oak slabs. Pap
was pretty careful not to leave a knife or anything in
the cabin when he was away; I reckon I had hunted
the place over as much as a hundred times; well, I
was most all the time at it, because it was about the
only way to put in the time. But this time I found
something at last; I found an old rusty wood-saw
without any handle; it was laid in between a rafter
and the clapboards of the roof. I greased it up and
went to work. There was an old horse-blanket nailed
against the logs at the far end of the cabin behind the
table, to keep the wind from blowing through the
chinks and putting the candle out. I got under the
table and raised the blanket, and went to work to saw
a section of the big bottom log out -- big enough to
let me through. Well, it was a good long job, but I
was getting towards the end of it when I heard pap's
gun in the woods. I got rid of the signs of my work,
and dropped the blanket and hid my saw, and pretty
soon pap come in.
Pap warn't in a good humor -- so he was his natural
self. He said he was down town, and everything was
going wrong. His lawyer said he reckoned he would
win his lawsuit and get the money if they ever got
started on the trial; but then there was ways to put it
off a long time, and Judge Thatcher knowed how to do
it And he said people allowed there'd be another
trial to get me away from him and give me to the
widow for my guardian, and they guessed it would win
this time. This shook me up considerable, because I
didn't want to go back to the widow's any more and
be so cramped up and sivilized, as they called it.
Then the old man got to cussing, and cussed every-
thing and everybody he could think of, and then cussed
them all over again to make sure he hadn't skipped
any, and after that he polished off with a kind of a
general cuss all round, including a considerable parcel
of people which he didn't know the names of, and so
called them what's-his-name when he got to them, and
went right along with his cussing.
He said he would like to see the widow get me.
He said he would watch out, and if they tried to come
any such game on him he knowed of a place six or
seven mile off to stow me in, where they might hunt
till they dropped and they couldn't find me. That
made me pretty uneasy again, but only for a minute;
I reckoned I wouldn't stay on hand till he got that
The old man made me go to the skiff and fetch the
things he had got. There was a fifty-pound sack of
corn meal, and a side of bacon, ammunition, and a
four-gallon jug of whisky, and an old book and two
newspapers for wadding, besides some tow. I toted
up a load, and went back and set down on the bow of
the skiff to rest. I thought it all over, and I reckoned
I would walk off with the gun and some lines, and take
to the woods when I run away. I guessed I wouldn't
stay in one place, but just tramp right across the
country, mostly night times, and hunt and fish to keep
alive, and so get so far away that the old man nor the
widow couldn't ever find me any more. I judged I
would saw out and leave that night if pap got drunk
enough, and I reckoned he would. I got so full of it
I didn't notice how long I was staying till the old man
hollered and asked me whether I was asleep or
I got the things all up to the cabin, and then it was
about dark. While I was cooking supper the old man
took a swig or two and got sort of warmed up, and
went to ripping again. He had been drunk over in
town, and laid in the gutter all night, and he was a
sight to look at. A body would a thought he was
Adam -- he was just all mud. Whenever his liquor
begun to work he most always went for the govment.
his time he says:
"Call this a govment! why, just look at it and see
what it's like. Here's the law a-standing ready to take
a man's son away from him -- a man's own son, which
he has had all the trouble and all the anxiety and all
the expense of raising. Yes, just as that man has got
that son raised at last, and ready to go to work and
begin to do suthin' for HIM and give him a rest, the law
up and goes for him. And they call THAT govment!
That ain't all, nuther. The law backs that old Judge
Thatcher up and helps him to keep me out o' my
property. Here's what the law does: The law takes a
man worth six thousand dollars and up'ards, and jams
him into an old trap of a cabin like this, and lets him
go round in clothes that ain't fitten for a hog. They
call that govment! A man can't get his rights in a
govment like this. Sometimes I've a mighty notion to
just leave the country for good and all. Yes, and I
TOLD 'em so; I told old Thatcher so to his face. Lots
of 'em heard me, and can tell what I said. Says I,
for two cents I'd leave the blamed country and never
come a-near it agin. Them's the very words. I says
look at my hat -- if you call it a hat -- but the lid
raises up and the rest of it goes down till it's below
my chin, and then it ain't rightly a hat at all, but more
like my head was shoved up through a jint o' stove-
pipe. Look at it, says I -- such a hat for me to wear
-- one of the wealthiest men in this town if I could git
"Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful.
Why, looky here. There was a free nigger there from
Ohio -- a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He
had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the
shiniest hat; and there ain't a man in that town that's
got as fine clothes as what he had; and he had a gold
watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane -- the awful-
est old gray-headed nabob in the State. And what do
you think? They said he was a p'fessor in a college,
and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed
everything. And that ain't the wust. They said he
could VOTE when he was at home. Well, that let me
out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It
was 'lection day, and I was just about to go and vote
myself if I warn't too drunk to get there; but when
they told me there was a State in this country where
they'd let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I'll
never vote agin. Them's the very words I said; they
all heard me; and the country may rot for all me --
I'll never vote agin as long as I live. And to see the
cool way of that nigger -- why, he wouldn't a give me
the road if I hadn't shoved him out o' the way. I
says to the people, why ain't this nigger put up at
auction and sold? -- that's what I want to know. And
what do you reckon they said? Why, they said he
couldn't be sold till he'd been in the State six months,
and he hadn't been there that long yet. There, now --
that's a specimen. They call that a govment that can't
sell a free nigger till he's been in the State six months.
Here's a govment that calls itself a govment, and lets
on to be a govment, and thinks it is a govment, and
yet's got to set stock-still for six whole months before
it can take a hold of a prowling, thieving, infernal,
white-shirted free nigger, and --"
Pap was agoing on so he never noticed where his
old limber legs was taking him to, so he went head over
heels over the tub of salt pork and barked both shins,
and the rest of his speech was all the hottest kind of
language -- mostly hove at the nigger and the gov-
ment, though he give the tub some, too, all along,
here and there. He hopped around the cabin con-
siderable, first on one leg and then on the other, hold-
ing 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 after-
wards. He had heard old Sowberry Hagan in his
best days, and he said it laid over him, too; but I
reckon that was sort of piling it on, maybe.
After supper pap took the jug, and said he had
enough whisky there for two drunks and one delirium
tremens. That was always his word. I judged he
would be blind drunk in about an hour, and then I
would steal the key, or saw myself out, one or t'other.
He drank and drank, and tumbled down on his
blankets by and by; but luck didn't run my way. He
didn't go sound asleep, but was uneasy. He groaned
and moaned and thrashed around this way and that for
a long time. At last I got so sleepy I couldn't keep
my eyes open all I could do, and so before I knowed
what I was about I was sound asleep, and the candle
I don't know how long I was asleep, but all of a
sudden there was an awful scream and I was up.
There was pap looking wild, and skipping around every
which way and yelling about snakes. He said they
was crawling up his legs; and then he would give a
jump and scream, and say one had bit him on the
cheek -- but I couldn't see no snakes. He started
and run round and round the cabin, hollering "Take
him off! take him off! he's biting me on the neck!"
I never see a man look so wild in the eyes. Pretty
soon he was all fagged out, and fell down panting;
then he rolled over and over wonderful fast, kicking
things every which way, and striking and grabbing at
the air with his hands, and screaming and saying there
was devils a-hold of him. He wore out by and by,
and laid still a while, moaning. Then he laid stiller,
and didn't make a sound. I could hear the owls and
the wolves away off in the woods, and it seemed terri-
ble still. He was laying over by the corner. By and
by he raised up part way and listened, with his head
to one side. He says, very low:
"Tramp -- tramp -- tramp; that's the dead; tramp
-- tramp -- tramp; they're coming after me; but I
won't go. Oh, they're here! don't touch me -- don't!
hands off -- they're cold; let go. Oh, let a poor devil
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 along
RGIT up! What you 'bout?"
I opened my eyes and looked around, trying
to make out where I was. It was after sun-up, and I
had been sound asleep. Pap was standing over me
looking sourQand sick, too. He says:
"What you doin' with this gun?"
I judged he didn't know nothing about what he had
been doing, so I says:
"Somebody tried to get in, so I was laying for
"Why didn't you roust me out?"
"Well, I tried to, but I couldn't; I couldn't budge
"Well, all right. Don't stand there palavering all
day, but out with you and see if there's a fish on the
lines for breakfast. I'll be along in a minute."
He unlocked the door, and I cleared out up the
river-bank. I noticed some pieces of limbs and such
things floating down, and a sprinkling of bark; so I
knowed the river had begun to rise. I reckoned I
would have great times now if I was over at the town.
The June rise used to be always luck for me; because
as soon as that rise begins here comes cordwood float-
ing down, and pieces of log rafts -- sometimes a dozen
logs together; so all you have to do is to catch them
and sell them to the wood-yards and the sawmill.
I went along up the bank with one eye out for pap
and t'other one out for what the rise might fetch
along. Well, all at once here comes a canoe; just a
beauty, too, about thirteen or fourteen foot long,
riding high like a duck. I shot head-first off of the
bank like a frog, clothes and all on, and struck out for
the canoe. I just expected there'd be somebody lay-
ing 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
It was pretty close to the shanty, and I thought I
heard the old man coming all the time; but I got her
hid; and then I out and looked around a bunch of
willows, and there was the old man down the path
a piece just drawing a bead on a bird with his gun. So
he hadn't seen anything.
When he got along I was hard at it taking up a
"trot" line. He abused me a little for being so slow;
but I told him I fell in the river, and that was what
made me so long. I knowed he would see I was wet,
and then he would be asking questions. We got five
catfish off the lines and went home.
While we laid off after breakfast to sleep up, both of
us being about wore out, I got to thinking that if I could
fix up some way to keep pap and the widow from trying
to follow me, it would be a certainer thing than trust-
ing to luck to get far enough off before they missed
me; you see, all kinds of things might happen. Well,
I didn't see no way for a while, but by and by pap
raised up a minute to drink another barrel of water,
and he says:
"Another time a man comes a-prowling round here
you roust me out, you hear? That man warn't here
for no good. I'd a shot him. Next time you roust
me out, you hear?"
Then he dropped down and went to sleep again; but
what he had been saying give me the very idea I
wanted. I says to myself, I can fix it now so nobody
won't think of following me.
About twelve o'clock we turned out and went along
up the bank. The river was coming up pretty fast,
and lots of driftwood going by on the rise. By and
by along comes part of a log raft -- nine logs fast
together. We went out with the skiff and towed it
ashore. Then we had dinner. Anybody but pap
would a waited and seen the day through, so as to
catch more stuff; but that warn't pap's style. Nine
logs was enough for one time; he must shove right
over to town and sell. So he locked me in and took
the skiff, and started off towing the raft about half-
past three. I judged he wouldn't come back that
night. I waited till I reckoned he had got a good
start; then I out with my saw, and went to work on
that log again. Before he was t'other side of the river
I was out of the hole; him and his raft was just a
speck on the water away off yonder.
I took the sack of corn meal and took it to where
the canoe was hid, and shoved the vines and branches
apart and put it in; then I done the same with the
side of bacon; then the whisky-jug. I took all the
coffee and sugar there was, and all the ammunition; I
took the wadding; I took the bucket and gourd; I
took a dipper and a tin cup, and my old saw and two
blankets, and the skillet and the coffee-pot. I took
fish-lines and matches and other things -- everything
that was worth a cent. I cleaned out the place. I
wanted an axe, but there wasn't any, only the one out
at the woodpile, and I knowed why I was going to leave
that. I fetched out the gun, and now I was done.
I had wore the ground a good deal crawling out of
the hole and dragging out so many things. So I
fixed that as good as I could from the outside by
scattering dust on the place, which covered up the
smoothness and the sawdust. Then I fixed the piece
of log back into its place, and put two rocks under it
and one against it to hold it there, for it was bent up
at that place and didn't quite touch ground. If you
stood four or five foot away and didn't know it was
sawed, you wouldn't never notice it; and besides, this
was the back of the cabin, and it warn't likely anybody
would go fooling around there.
It was all grass clear to the canoe, so I hadn't left a
track. I followed around to see. I stood on the
bank and looked out over the river. All safe. So I
took the gun and went up a piece into the woods, and
was hunting around for some birds when I see a wild
pig; hogs soon went wild in them bottoms after they
had got away from the prairie farms. I shot this fel-
low and took him into camp.
I took the axe and smashed in the door. I beat it
and hacked it considerable a-doing it. I fetched the
pig in, and took him back nearly to the table and
hacked into his throat with the axe, and laid him down
on the ground to bleed; I say ground because it was
ground -- hard packed, and no boards. Well, next I
took an old sack and put a lot of big rocks in it -- all I
could drag -- and I started it from the pig, and dragged
it to the door and through the woods down to the river
and dumped it in, and down it sunk, out of sight.
You could easy see that something had been dragged
over the ground. I did wish Tom Sawyer was there;
I knowed he would take an interest in this kind of
business, and throw in the fancy touches. Nobody
could spread himself like Tom Sawyer in such a thing
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 some-
thing else. So I went and got the bag of meal
and my old saw out of the canoe, and fetched
them to the house. I took the bag to where it
used to stand, and ripped a hole in the bottom of it
with the saw, for there warn't no knives and forks on
the place -- pap done everything with his clasp-knife
about the cooking. Then I carried the sack about a
hundred yards across the grass and through the willows
east of the house, to a shallow lake that was five mile
wide and full of rushes -- and ducks too, you might
say, in the season. There was a slough or a creek
leading out of it on the other side that went miles away,
I don't know where, but it didn't go to the river. The
meal sifted out and made a little track all the way to
the lake. I dropped pap's whetstone there too, so as
to look like it had been done by accident. Then I tied
up the rip in the meal sack with a string, so it wouldn't
leak no more, and took it and my saw to the canoe
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 sack-
ful of rocks to the shore and then drag the river for
me. And they'll follow that meal track to the lake
and go browsing down the creek that leads out of it to
find the robbers that killed me and took the things.
They won't ever hunt the river for anything but my
dead carcass. They'll soon get tired of that, and
won't bother no more about me. All right; I can
stop anywhere I want to. Jackson's Island is good
enough for me; I know that island pretty well, and
nobody ever comes there. And then I can paddle
over to town nights, and slink around and pick up
things I want. Jackson's Island's the place.
I was pretty tired, and the first thing I knowed I
was asleep. When I woke up I didn't know where I
was for a minute. I set up and looked around, a little
scared. Then I remembered. The river looked miles
and miles across. The moon was so bright I could a
counted the drift logs that went a-slipping along, black
and still, hundreds of yards out from shore. Every-
thing was dead quiet, and it looked late, and SMELT
late. You know what I mean -- I don't know the
words to put it in.
I took a good gap and a stretch, and was just going
to unhitch and start when I heard a sound away over
the water. I listened. Pretty soon I made it out. It
was that dull kind of a regular sound that comes from
oars working in rowlocks when it's a still night. I
peeped out through the willow branches, and there it
was -- a skiff, away across the water. I couldn't tell
how many was in it. It kept a-coming, and when it
was abreast of me I see there warn't but one man in it.
Think's I, maybe it's pap, though I warn't expecting
him. He dropped below me with the current, and
by and by he came a-swinging up shore in the easy
water, and he went by so close I could a reached out
the gun and touched him. Well, it WAS pap, sure
enough -- and sober, too, by the way he laid his oars.
I didn't lose no time. The next minute I was a-
spinning down stream soft but quick in the shade of
the bank. I made two mile and a half, and then
struck out a quarter of a mile or more towards the
middle of the river, because pretty soon I would be
passing the ferry landing, and people might see me
and hail me. I got out amongst the driftwood, and
then laid down in the bottom of the canoe and let her
float. I laid there, and had a good rest and a smoke
out of my pipe, looking away into the sky; not a
cloud in it. The sky looks ever so deep when you lay
down on your back in the moonshine; I never knowed
it before. And how far a body can hear on the water
such nights! I heard people talking at the ferry land-
ing. I heard what they said, too -- every word of it.
One man said it was getting towards the long days and
the short nights now. T'other one said THIS warn't
one of the short ones, he reckoned -- and then they
laughed, and he said it over again, and they laughed
again; then they waked up another fellow and told
him, and laughed, but he didn't laugh; he ripped out
something brisk, and said let him alone. The first
fellow said he 'lowed to tell it to his old woman -- she
would think it was pretty good; but he said that
warn't nothing to some things he had said in his time.
I heard one man say it was nearly three o'clock, and
he hoped daylight wouldn't wait more than about a
week longer. After that the talk got further and
further away, and I couldn't make out the words any
more; but I could hear the mumble, and now and then
a laugh, too, but it seemed a long ways off.
I was away below the ferry now. I rose up, and
there was Jackson's Island, about two mile and a half
down stream, heavy timbered and standing up out of
the middle of the river, big and dark and solid, like a
steamboat without any lights. There warn't any signs
of the bar at the head -- it was all under water now.
It didn't take me long to get there. I shot past the
head at a ripping rate, the current was so swift, and
then I got into the dead water and landed on the side
towards the Illinois shore. I run the canoe into a deep
dent in the bank that I knowed about; I had to part
the willow branches to get in; and when I made fast
nobody could a seen the canoe from the outside.
I went up and set down on a log at the head of the
island, and looked out on the big river and the black
driftwood and away over to the town, three mile
away, where there was three or four lights twinkling.
A monstrous big lumber-raft was about a mile up
stream, coming along down, with a lantern in the
middle of it. I watched it come creeping down, and
when it was most abreast of where I stood I heard a
man say, "Stern oars, there! heave her head to stab-
board!" 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 break-
THE sun was up so high when I waked that I judged
it was after eight o'clock. I laid there in the
grass and the cool shade thinking about things, and
feeling rested and ruther comfortable and satisfied. I
could see the sun out at one or two holes, but mostly
it was big trees all about, and gloomy in there amongst
them. There was freckled places on the ground where
the light sifted down through the leaves, and the
freckled places swapped about a little, showing there
was a little breeze up there. A couple of squirrels set
on a limb and jabbered at me very friendly.
I was powerful lazy and comfortable -- didn't want
to get up and cook breakfast. Well, I was dozing off
again when I thinks I hears a deep sound of "boom!"
away up the river. I rouses up, and rests on my elbow
and listens; pretty soon I hears it again. I hopped
up, and went and looked out at a hole in the leaves,
and I see a bunch of smoke laying on the water a long
ways up -- about abreast the ferry. And there was
the ferryboat full of people floating along down. I
knowed what was the matter now. "Boom!" I see
the white smoke squirt out of the ferryboat's side.
You see, they was firing cannon over the water, trying
to make my carcass come to the top.
I was pretty hungry, but it warn't going to do for
me to start a fire, because they might see the smoke.
So I set there and watched the cannon-smoke and
listened to the boom. The river was a mile wide there,
and it always looks pretty on a summer morning -- so
I was having a good enough time seeing them hunt for
my remainders if I only had a bite to eat. Well, then
I happened to think how they always put quicksilver
in loaves of bread and float them off, because they
always go right to the drownded carcass and stop
there. So, says I, I'll keep a lookout, and if any of
them's floating around after me I'll give them a show.
I changed to the Illinois edge of the island to see what
luck I could have, and I warn't disappointed. A big
double loaf come along, and I most got it with a long
stick, but my foot slipped and she floated out further.
Of course I was where the current set in the closest to
the shore -- I knowed enough for that. But by and
by along comes another one, and this time I won. I
took out the plug and shook out the little dab of quick-
silver, and set my teeth in. It was "baker's bread"
-- what the quality eat; none of your low-down
I got a good place amongst the leaves, and set there
on a log, munching the bread and watching the ferry-
boat, and very well satisfied. And then something
struck me. I says, now I reckon the widow or the
parson or somebody prayed that this bread would find
me, and here it has gone and done it. So there ain't
no doubt but there is something in that thing -- that is,
there's something in it when a body like the widow or
the parson prays, but it don't work for me, and I
reckon it don't work for only just the right kind.
I lit a pipe and had a good long smoke, and went
on watching. The ferryboat was floating with the
current, and I allowed I'd have a chance to see who
was aboard when she come along, because she would
come in close, where the bread did. When she'd got
pretty well along down towards me, I put out my pipe
and went to where I fished out the bread, and laid
down behind a log on the bank in a little open place.
Where the log forked I could peep through.
By and by she come along, and she drifted in so
close that they could a run out a plank and walked
ashore. Most everybody was on the boat. Pap, and
Judge Thatcher, and Bessie Thatcher, and Jo Harper,
and Tom Sawyer, and his old Aunt Polly, and Sid and
Mary, and plenty more. Everybody was talking about
the murder, but the captain broke in and says:
"Look sharp, now; the current sets in the closest
here, and maybe he's washed ashore and got tangled
amongst the brush at the water's edge. I hope so,
"I didn't hope so. They all crowded up and leaned
over the rails, nearly in my face, and kept still, watch-
ing with all their might. I could see them first-rate,
but they couldn't see me. Then the captain sung out:
"Stand away!" and the cannon let off such a blast
right before me that it made me deef with the noise and
pretty near blind with the smoke, and I judged I was
gone. If they'd a had some bullets in, I reckon
they'd a got the corpse they was after. Well, I see I
warn't hurt, thanks to goodness. The boat floated on
and went out of sight around the shoulder of the island.
I could hear the booming now and then, further and
further off, and by and by, after an hour, I didn't hear
it no more. The island was three mile long. I judged
they had got to the foot, and was giving it up. But
they didn't yet a while. They turned around the foot
of the island and started up the channel on the Mis-
souri side, under steam, and booming once in a while
as they went. I crossed over to that side and watched
them. When they got abreast the head of the island
they quit shooting and dropped over to the Missouri
shore and went home to the town.
I knowed I was all right now. Nobody else would
come a-hunting after me. I got my traps out of the
canoe and made me a nice camp in the thick woods. I
made a kind of a tent out of my blankets to put my
things under so the rain couldn't get at them. I
catched a catfish and haggled him open with my saw,
and towards sundown I started my camp fire and had
supper. Then I set out a line to catch some fish for
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 explor-
ing around down through the island. I was boss of it;
it all belonged to me, so to say, and I wanted to know
all about it; but mainly I wanted to put in the time.
I found plenty strawberries, ripe and prime; and green
summer grapes, and green razberries; and the green
blackberries was just beginning to show. They would
all come handy by and by, I judged.
Well, I went fooling along in the deep woods till I
judged I warn't far from the foot of the island. I had
my gun along, but I hadn't shot nothing; it was for
protection; thought I would kill some game nigh
home. About this time I mighty near stepped on a
good-sized snake, and it went sliding off through the
grass and flowers, and I after it, trying to get a shot at
it. I clipped along, and all of a sudden I bounded
right on to the ashes of a camp fire that was still
My heart jumped up amongst my lungs. I never
waited for to look further, but uncocked my gun and
went sneaking back on my tiptoes as fast as ever I
could. Every now and then I stopped a second amongst
the thick leaves and listened, but my breath come so
hard I couldn't hear nothing else. I slunk along an-
other piece further, then listened again; and so on,
and so on. If I see a stump, I took it for a man; if I
trod on a stick and broke it, it made me feel like a
person had cut one of my breaths in two and I only
got half, and the short half, too.
When I got to camp I warn't feeling very brash,
there warn't much sand in my craw; but I says, this
ain't no time to be fooling around. So I got all my
traps into my canoe again so as to have them out of
sight, and I put out the fire and scattered the ashes
around to look like an old last year's camp, and then
clumb a tree.
I reckon I was up in the tree two hours; but I
didn't see nothing, I didn't hear nothing -- I only
THOUGHT I heard and seen as much as a thousand
things. Well, I couldn't stay up there forever; so at
last I got down, but I kept in the thick woods and on
the lookout all the time. All I could get to eat was
berries and what was left over from breakfast.
By the time it was night I was pretty hungry. So
when it was good and dark I slid out from shore before
moonrise and paddled over to the Illinois bank -- about
a quarter of a mile. I went out in the woods and
cooked a supper, and I had about made up my mind
I would stay there all night when I hear a PLUNKETY-
PLUNK, PLUNKETY-PLUNK, and says to myself, horses
coming; and next I hear people's voices. I got
everything into the canoe as quick as I could, and then
went creeping through the woods to see what I could
find out. I hadn't got far when I hear a man say:
"We better camp here if we can find a good place;
the horses is about beat out. Let's look around."
I didn't wait, but shoved out and paddled away
easy. I tied up in the old place, and reckoned I would
sleep in the canoe.
I didn't sleep much. I couldn't, somehow, for
thinking. And every time I waked up I thought
somebody had me by the neck. So the sleep didn't
do me no good. By and by I says to myself, I can't
live this way; I'm a-going to find out who it is that's
here on the island with me; I'll find it out or bust.
Well, I felt better right off.
So I took my paddle and slid out from shore just a
step or two, and then let the canoe drop along down
amongst the shadows. The moon was shining, and out-
side of the shadows it made it most as light as day. I
poked along well on to an hour, everything still as
rocks and sound asleep. Well, by this time I was
most down to the foot of the island. A little ripply,
cool breeze begun to blow, and that was as good as
saying the night was about done. I give her a turn
with the paddle and brung her nose to shore; then I
got my gun and slipped out and into the edge of the
woods. I sat down there on a log, and looked out
through the leaves. I see the moon go off watch, and
the darkness begin to blanket the river. But in a little
while I see a pale streak over the treetops, and knowed
the day was coming. So I took my gun and slipped
off towards where I had run across that camp fire,
stopping every minute or two to listen. But I hadn't
no luck somehow; I couldn't seem to find the place.
But by and by, sure enough, I catched a glimpse of
fire away through the trees. I went for it, cautious
and slow. By and by I was close enough to have a
look, and there laid a man on the ground. It most
give me the fantods. He had a blanket around his
head, and his head was nearly in the fire. I set there
behind a clump of bushes in about six foot of him,
and kept my eyes on him steady. It was getting gray
daylight now. Pretty soon he gapped and stretched
himself and hove off the blanket, and it was Miss
Watson's Jim! I bet I was glad to see him. I says:
"Hello, Jim!" and skipped out.
He bounced up and stared at me wild. Then he
drops down on his knees, and puts his hands together
"Doan' hurt me -- don't! I hain't ever done no
harm to a ghos'. I alwuz liked dead people, en done
all I could for 'em. You go en git in de river agin,
whah you b'longs, en doan' do nuffn to Ole Jim, 'at
'uz awluz yo' fren'."
Well, I warn't long making him understand I warn't
dead. I was ever so glad to see Jim. I warn't lone-
some 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
"It's good daylight. Le's get breakfast. Make up
your camp fire good."
"What's de use er makin' up de camp fire to cook
strawbries en sich truck? But you got a gun, hain't
you? Den we kin git sumfn better den strawbries."
"Strawberries and such truck," I says. "Is that
what you live on?"
"I couldn' git nuffn else," he says.
"Why, how long you been on the island, Jim?"
"I come heah de night arter you's killed."
"What, all that time?"
"Yes -- indeedy."
"And ain't you had nothing but that kind of rub-
bage to eat?"
"No, sah -- nuffn else."
"Well, you must be most starved, ain't you?"
"I reck'n I could eat a hoss. I think I could.
How long you ben on de islan'?"
"Since the night I got killed."
"No! W'y, what has you lived on? But you got
a gun. Oh, yes, you got a gun. Dat's good. Now
you kill sumfn en I'll make up de fire."
So we went over to where the canoe was, and while
he built a fire in a grassy open place amongst the trees,
I fetched meal and bacon and coffee, and coffee-pot
and frying-pan, and sugar and tin cups, and the nigger
was set back considerable, because he reckoned it was
all done with witchcraft. I catched a good big catfish,
too, and Jim cleaned him with his knife, and fried
When breakfast was ready we lolled on the grass and
eat it smoking hot. Jim laid it in with all his might,
for he was most about starved. Then when we had
got pretty well stuffed, we laid off and lazied.
By and by Jim says:
"But looky 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
He looked pretty uneasy, and didn't say nothing for
a minute. Then he says:
"Maybe I better not tell."
"Well, dey's reasons. But you wouldn' tell on me
ef I uz to tell you, would you, Huck?"
"Blamed if I would, Jim."
"Well, I b'lieve you, Huck. I -- I RUN OFF."
"But mind, you said you wouldn' tell -- you know
you said you wouldn' tell, Huck."
"Well, I did. I said I wouldn't, and I'll stick to it.
Honest INJUN, I will. People would call me a low-
down Abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum --
but that don't make no difference. I ain't a-going to
tell, and I ain't a-going back there, anyways. So,
now, le's know all about it."
"Well, you see, it 'uz dis way. Ole missus -- dat's
Miss Watson -- she pecks on me all de time, en treats
me pooty rough, but she awluz said she wouldn' sell
me down to Orleans. But I noticed dey wuz a nigger
trader roun' de place considable lately, en I begin to
git oneasy. Well, one night I creeps to de do' pooty
late, en de do' warn't quite shet, en I hear old missus
tell de widder she gwyne to sell me down to Orleans,
but she didn' want to, but she could git eight hund'd
dollars for me, en it 'uz sich a big stack o' money she
couldn' resis'. De widder she try to git her to say
she wouldn' do it, but I never waited to hear de res'.
I lit out mighty quick, I tell you.
"I tuck out en shin down de hill, en 'spec to steal a
skift 'long de sho' som'ers 'bove de town, but dey wuz
people a-stirring yit, so I hid in de ole tumble-down
cooper-shop on de bank to wait for everybody to go
'way. Well, I wuz dah all night. Dey wuz somebody
roun' all de time. 'Long 'bout six in de mawnin'
skifts begin to go by, en 'bout eight er nine every
skift dat went 'long wuz talkin' 'bout how yo' pap
come over to de town en say you's killed. Dese las'
skifts wuz full o' ladies en genlmen a-goin' over for to
see de place. Sometimes dey'd pull up at de sho' en
take a res' b'fo' dey started acrost, so by de talk I got
to know all 'bout de killin'. I 'uz powerful sorry
you's killed, Huck, but I ain't no mo' now.
"I laid dah under de shavin's all day. I 'uz
hungry, but I warn't afeard; bekase I knowed ole
missus en de widder wuz goin' to start to de camp-
meet'n' right arter breakfas' en be gone all day, en
dey knows I goes off wid de cattle 'bout daylight, so
dey wouldn' 'spec to see me roun' de place, en so dey
wouldn' miss me tell arter dark in de evenin'. De
yuther servants wouldn' miss me, kase dey'd shin out
en take holiday soon as de ole folks 'uz out'n de way.
"Well, when it come dark I tuck out up de river
road, en went 'bout two mile er more to whah dey
warn't no houses. I'd made up my mine 'bout what
I's agwyne to do. You see, ef I kep' on tryin' to git
away afoot, de dogs 'ud track me; ef I stole a skift to
cross over, dey'd miss dat skift, you see, en dey'd
know 'bout whah I'd lan' on de yuther side, en whah
to pick up my track. So I says, a raff is what I's
arter; it doan' MAKE no track.
"I see a light a-comin' roun' de p'int bymeby, so I
wade' in en shove' a log ahead o' me en swum more'n
half way acrost de river, en got in 'mongst de drift-
wood, en kep' my head down low, en kinder swum
agin de current tell de raff come along. Den I swum
to de stern uv it en tuck a-holt. It clouded up en 'uz
pooty dark for a little while. So I clumb up en laid
down on de planks. De men 'uz all 'way yonder in
de middle, whah de lantern wuz. De river wuz a-
risin', en dey wuz a good current; so I reck'n'd 'at
by fo' in de mawnin' I'd be twenty-five mile down de
river, en den I'd slip in jis b'fo' daylight en swim
asho', en take to de woods on de Illinois side.
"But I didn' have no luck. When we 'uz mos'
down to de head er de islan' a man begin to come aft
wid de lantern, I see it warn't no use fer to wait, so I
slid overboard en struck out fer de islan'. Well, I had
a notion I could lan' mos' anywhers, but I couldn't --
bank too bluff. I 'uz mos' to de foot er de islan'
b'fo' I found' a good place. I went into de woods en
jedged I wouldn' fool wid raffs no mo', long as dey
move de lantern roun' so. I had my pipe en a plug er
dog-leg, en some matches in my cap, en dey warn't
wet, so I 'uz all right."
"And so you ain't had no meat nor bread to eat all
this time? Why didn't you get mud-turkles?"
"How you gwyne to git 'm? You can't slip up on
um en grab um; en how's a body gwyne to hit um
wid a rock? How could a body do it in de night?
En I warn't gwyne to show mysef on de bank in de
"Well, that's so. You've had to keep in the woods
all the time, of course. Did you hear 'em shooting
"Oh, yes. I knowed dey was arter you. I see um
go by heah -- watched um thoo de bushes."
Some young birds come along, flying a yard or two
at a time and lighting. Jim said it was a sign it was
going to rain. He said it was a sign when young
chickens flew that way, and so he reckoned it was the
same way when young birds done it. I was going to
catch some of them, but Jim wouldn't let me. He
said it was death. He said his father laid mighty sick
once, and some of them catched a bird, and his old
granny said his father would die, and he did.
And Jim said you mustn't count the things you are
going to cook for dinner, because that would bring
bad luck. The same if you shook the table-cloth after
sundown. And he said if a man owned a beehive and
that man died, the bees must be told about it before
sun-up next morning, or else the bees would all
weaken down and quit work and die. Jim said bees
wouldn't sting idiots; but I didn't believe that, be-
cause I had tried them lots of times myself, and they
wouldn't sting me.
I had heard about some of these things before, but
not all of them. Jim knowed all kinds of signs. He
said he knowed most everything. I said it looked to
me like all the signs was about bad luck, and so I
asked him if there warn't any good-luck signs. He
"Mighty few -- an' DEY ain't no use to a body.
What you want to know when good luck's a-comin'
for? Want to keep it off?" And he said: "Ef you's
got hairy arms en a hairy breas', it's a sign dat you's
agwyne to be rich. Well, dey's some use in a sign
like dat, 'kase it's so fur ahead. You see, maybe
you's got to be po' a long time fust, en so you might
git discourage' en kill yo'sef 'f you didn' know by de
sign dat you gwyne to be rich bymeby."
"Have you got hairy arms and a hairy breast,
"What's de use to ax dat question? Don't you
see I has?"
"Well, are you rich?"
"No, but I ben rich wunst, and gwyne to be rich
agin. Wunst I had foteen dollars, but I tuck to
specalat'n', en got busted out."
"What did you speculate in, Jim?"
"Well, fust I tackled stock."
"What kind of stock?"
"Why, live stock -- cattle, you know. I put ten
dollars in a cow. But I ain' gwyne to resk no mo'
money in stock. De cow up 'n' died on my han's."
"So you lost the ten dollars."
"No, I didn't lose it all. I on'y los' 'bout nine of
it. I sole de hide en taller for a dollar en ten cents."
"You had five dollars and ten cents left. Did you
speculate any more?"
"Yes. You know that one-laigged nigger dat
b'longs to old Misto Bradish? Well, he sot up a
bank, en say anybody dat put in a dollar would git fo'
dollars mo' at de en' er de year. Well, all de niggers
went in, but dey didn't have much. I wuz de on'y
one dat had much. So I stuck out for mo' dan fo'
dollars, en I said 'f I didn' git it I'd start a bank my-
sef. Well, o' course dat nigger want' to keep me out
er de business, bekase he says dey warn't business
'nough for two banks, so he say I could put in my five
dollars en he pay me thirty-five at de en' er de year.
"So I done it. Den I reck'n'd I'd inves' de
thirty-five dollars right off en keep things a-movin'.
Dey wuz a nigger name' Bob, dat had ketched a wood-
flat, en his marster didn' know it; en I bought it off'n
him en told him to take de thirty-five dollars when de
en' er de year come; but somebody stole de wood-flat
dat night, en nex day de one-laigged nigger say de
bank's busted. So dey didn' none uv us git no
"What did you do with the ten cents, Jim?"
"Well, I 'uz gwyne to spen' it, but I had a dream,
en de dream tole me to give it to a nigger name'
Balum -- Balum's Ass dey call him for short; he's
one er dem chuckleheads, you know. But he's lucky,
dey say, en I see I warn't lucky. De dream say let
Balum inves' de ten cents en he'd make a raise for me.
Well, Balum he tuck de money, en when he wuz in
church he hear de preacher say dat whoever give to de
po' len' to de Lord, en boun' to git his money back a
hund'd times. So Balum he tuck en give de ten cents
to de po', en laid low to see what wuz gwyne to come
"Well, what did come of it, Jim?"
"Nuffn never come of it. I couldn' manage to
k'leck dat money no way; en Balum he couldn'. I
ain' gwyne to len' no mo' money 'dout I see de
security. Boun' to git yo' money back a hund'd
times, de preacher says! Ef I could git de ten CENTS
back, I'd call it squah, en be glad er de chanst."
"Well, it's all right anyway, Jim, long as you're
going to be rich again some time or other."
"Yes; en I's rich now, come to look at it. I owns
mysef, en I's wuth eight hund'd dollars. I wisht I
had de money, I wouldn' want no mo'."
I WANTED to go and look at a place right about the
middle of the island that I'd found when I was
exploring; so we started and soon got to it, because
the island was only three miles long and a quarter of a
This place was a tolerable long, steep hill or ridge
about forty foot high. We had a rough time getting
to the top, the sides was so steep and the bushes so
thick. We tramped and clumb around all over it, and
by and by found a good big cavern in the rock, most
up to the top on the side towards Illinois. The cavern
was as big as two or three rooms bunched together,
and Jim could stand up straight in it. It was cool in
there. Jim was for putting our traps in there right
away, but I said we didn't want to be climbing up and
down there all the time.
Jim said if we had the canoe hid in a good place,
and had all the traps in the cavern, we could rush there
if anybody was to come to the island, and they would
never find us without dogs. And, besides, he said
them little birds had said it was going to rain, and did
I want the things to 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
The door of the cavern was big enough to roll a
hogshead in, and on one side of the door the floor
stuck out a little bit, and was flat and a good place to
build a fire on. So we built it there and cooked
We spread the blankets inside for a carpet, and eat
our dinner in there. We put all the other things handy
at the back of the cavern. Pretty soon it darkened up,
and begun to thunder and lighten; so the birds was
right about it. Directly it begun to rain, and it rained
like all fury, too, and I never see the wind blow so.
It was one of these regular summer storms. It would
get so dark that it looked all blue-black outside, and
lovely; and the rain would thrash along by so thick
that the trees off a little ways looked dim and spider-
webby; and here would come a blast of wind that
would bend the trees down and turn up the pale under-
side 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 rum-
bling, 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.
"Jim, this is nice," I says. "I wouldn't want to
be nowhere else but here. Pass me along another
hunk of fish and some hot corn-bread."
"Well, you wouldn't a ben here 'f it hadn't a ben
for Jim. You'd a ben down dah in de woods widout
any dinner, en gittn' mos' drownded, too; dat you
would, honey. Chickens knows when it's gwyne to
rain, en so do de birds, chile."
The river went on raising and raising for ten or
twelve days, till at last it was over the banks. The
water was three or four foot deep on the island in the
low places and on the Illinois bottom. On that side it
was a good many miles wide, but on the Missouri side
it was the same old distance across -- a half a mile --
because the Missouri shore was just a wall of high
Daytimes we paddled all over the island in the canoe,
It was mighty cool and shady in the deep woods, even
if the sun was blazing outside. We went winding in
and out amongst the trees, and sometimes the vines
hung so thick we had to back away and go some other
way. Well, on every old broken-down tree you could
see rabbits and snakes and such things; and when
the island had been overflowed a day or two they got
so tame, on account of being hungry, that you could
paddle right up and put your hand on them if you
wanted to; but not the snakes and turtles -- they would
slide off in the water. The ridge our cavern was in
was full of them. We could a had pets enough if we'd
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 some-
times, but we let them go; we didn't show ourselves
Another night when we was up at the head of the
island, just before daylight, here comes a frame-house
down, on the west side. She was a two-story, and
tilted over considerable. We paddled out and got
aboard -- clumb in at an upstairs window. But it was
too dark to see yet, so we made the canoe fast and set
in her to wait for daylight.
The light begun to come before we got to the foot
of the island. Then we looked in at the window. We
could make out a bed, and a table, and two old chairs,
and lots of things around about on the floor, and there
was clothes hanging against the wall. There was
something laying on the floor in the far corner that
looked like a man. So Jim says:
But it didn't budge. So I hollered again, and then
"De man ain't asleep -- he's dead. You hold still
-- I'll go en see."
He went, and bent down and looked, and says:
"It's a dead man. Yes, indeedy; naked, too.
He's ben shot in de back. I reck'n he's ben dead
two er three days. Come in, Huck, but doan' look at
his face -- it's too gashly."
I didn't look at him at all. Jim throwed some old
rags over him, but he needn't done it; I didn't want
to see him. There was heaps of old greasy cards
scattered around over the floor, and old whisky bottles,
and a couple of masks made out of black cloth; and
all over the walls was the ignorantest kind of words
and pictures made with charcoal. There was two old
dirty calico dresses, and a sun-bonnet, and some
women's underclothes hanging against the wall, and
some men's clothing, too. We put the lot into the
canoe -- it might come good. There was a boy's old
speckled straw hat on the floor; I took that, too.
And there was a bottle that had had milk in it, and it
had a rag stopper for a baby to suck. We would a
took the bottle, but it was broke. There was a seedy
old chest, and an old hair trunk with the hinges broke.
They stood open, but there warn't nothing left in them
that was any account. The way things was scattered
about we reckoned the people left in a hurry, and
warn't fixed so as to carry off most of their stuff.
We got an old tin lantern, and a butcher-knife with-
out 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 mon-
strous hooks on it, and a roll of buckskin, and a
leather dog-collar, and a horseshoe, and some vials of
medicine that didn't have no label on them; and just
as we was leaving I found a tolerable good curry-comb,
and Jim he found a ratty old fiddle-bow, and a wooden
leg. The straps was broke off of it, but, barring that,
it was a good enough leg, though it was too long for
me and not long enough for Jim, and we couldn't find
the other one, though we hunted all around.
And so, take it all around, we made a good haul.
When we was ready to shove off we was a quarter of a
mile below the island, and it was pretty broad day; so
I made Jim lay down in the canoe and cover up with
the quilt, because if he set up people could tell he was
a nigger a good ways off. I paddled over to the
Illinois shore, and drifted down most a half a mile
doing it. I crept up the dead water under the bank,
and hadn't no accidents and didn't see nobody. We
got home all safe.
AFTER breakfast I wanted to talk about the dead
man and guess out how he come to be killed, but
Jim didn't want to. He said it would fetch bad luck;
and besides, he said, he might come and ha'nt us; he
said a man that warn't buried was more likely to go a-
ha'nting around than one that was planted and com-
fortable. That sounded pretty reasonable, so I didn't
say no more; but I couldn't keep from studying over
it and wishing I knowed who shot the man, and what
they done it for.
We rummaged the clothes we'd got, and found eight
dollars in silver sewed up in the lining of an old blanket
overcoat. Jim said he reckoned the people in that
house stole the coat, because if they'd a knowed the
money was there they wouldn't a left it. I said I
reckoned they killed him, too; but Jim didn't want to
talk about that. I says:
"Now you think it's bad luck; but what did you
say when I fetched in the snake-skin that I found on
the top of the ridge day before yesterday? You said
it was the worst bad luck in the world to touch a
snake-skin with my hands. Well, here's your bad
luck! We've raked in all this truck and eight dollars
besides. I wish we could have some bad luck like this
every day, Jim."
"Never you mind, honey, never you mind. Don't
you git too peart. It's a-comin'. Mind I tell you,
It did come, too. It was a Tuesday that we had
that talk. Well, after dinner Friday we was laying
around in the grass at the upper end of the ridge, and
got out of tobacco. I went to the cavern to get some,
and found a rattlesnake in there. I killed him, and
curled him up on the foot of Jim's blanket, ever so
natural, thinking there'd be some fun when Jim found
him there. Well, by night I forgot all about the
snake, and when Jim flung himself down on the blanket
while I struck a light the snake's mate was there, and
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 down.
He was barefooted, and the snake bit him right on
the heel. That all comes of my being such a fool as
to not remember that wherever you leave a dead snake
its mate always comes there and curls around it. Jim
told me to chop off the snake's head and throw it
away, and then skin the body and roast a piece of it.
I done it, and he eat it and said it would help cure
him. He made me take off the rattles and tie them
around his wrist, too. He said that that would help.
Then I slid out quiet and throwed the snakes clear
away amongst the bushes; for I warn't going to let
Jim find out it was all my fault, not if I could help it.
Jim sucked and sucked at the jug, and now and then
he got out of his head and pitched around and yelled;
but every time he come to himself he went to sucking
at the jug again. His foot swelled up pretty big, and
so did his leg; but by and by the drunk begun to
come, and so I judged he was all right; but I'd
druther been bit with a snake than pap's whisky.
Jim was laid up for four days and nights. Then
the swelling was all gone and he was around again. I
made up my mind I wouldn't ever take a-holt of a
snake-skin again with my hands, now that I see what
had come of it. Jim said he reckoned I would believe
him next time. And he said that handling a snake-
skin was such awful bad luck that maybe we hadn't
got to the end of it yet. He said he druther see the
new moon over his left shoulder as much as a thousand
times than take up a snake-skin in his hand. Well, I
was getting to feel that way myself, though I've always
reckoned that looking at the new moon over your left
shoulder is one of the carelessest and foolishest things
a body can do. Old Hank Bunker done it once, and
bragged about it; and in less than two years he got
drunk and fell off of the shot-tower, and spread him-
self 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
Well, the days went along, and the river went down
between its banks again; and about the first thing we
done was to bait one of the big hooks with a skinned
rabbit and set it and catch a catfish that was as big as
a man, being six foot two inches long, and weighed
over two hundred pounds. We couldn't handle him,
of course; he would a flung us into Illinois. We just
set there and watched him rip and tear around till he
drownded. We found a brass button in his stomach
and a round ball, and lots of rubbage. We split the
ball open with the hatchet, and there was a spool in it.
Jim said he'd had it there a long time, to coat it over
so and make a ball of it. It was as big a fish as was
ever catched in the Mississippi, I reckon. Jim said he
hadn't ever seen a bigger one. He would a been
worth a good deal over at the village. They peddle
out such a fish as that by the pound in the market-
house there; everybody buys some of him; his meat's
as white as snow and makes a good fry.
Next morning I said it was getting slow and dull,
and I wanted to get a stirring up some way. I said I
reckoned I would slip over the river and find out what
was going on. Jim liked that notion; but he said I
must go in the dark and look sharp. Then he studied
it over and said, couldn't I put on some of them old
things and dress up like a girl? That was a good
notion, too. So we shortened up one of the calico
gowns, and I turned up my trouser-legs to my knees
and got into it. Jim hitched it behind with the hooks,
and it was a fair fit. I put on the sun-bonnet and tied
it under my chin, and then for a body to look in and
see my face was like looking down a joint of stove-
pipe. Jim said nobody would know me, even in the
daytime, hardly. I practiced around all day to get
the hang of the things, and by and by I could do
pretty well in them, only Jim said I didn't walk like a
girl; and he said I must quit pulling up my gown to
get at my britches-pocket. I took notice, and done
I started up the Illinois shore in the canoe just after
I started across to the town from a little below the
ferry-landing, and the drift of the current fetched me
in at the bottom of the town. I tied up and started
along the bank. There was a light burning in a little
shanty that hadn't been lived in for a long time, and I
wondered who had took up quarters there. I slipped
up and peeped in at the window. There was a woman
about forty year old in there knitting by a candle that
was on a pine table. I didn't know her face; she was
a stranger, for you couldn't start a face in that town
that I didn't know. Now this was lucky, because I
was weakening; I was getting afraid I had come;
people might know my voice and find me out. But if
this woman had been in such a little town two days
she could tell me all I wanted to know; so I knocked
at the door, and made up my mind I wouldn't forget I
was a girl.