The adventures of huckle.., p.28
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade), p.28

           Mark Twain


  Well, when they was all gone the king he asks Mary Jane how they wasoff for spare rooms, and she said she had one spare room, which woulddo for Uncle William, and she'd give her own room to Uncle Harvey,which was a little bigger, and she would turn into the room with hersisters and sleep on a cot; and up garret was a little cubby, with apallet in it. The king said the cubby would do for his valley--meaningme.

  So Mary Jane took us up, and she showed them their rooms, which wasplain but nice. She said she'd have her frocks and a lot of othertraps took out of her room if they was in Uncle Harvey's way, but hesaid they warn't. The frocks was hung along the wall, and before themwas a curtain made out of calico that hung down to the floor. Therewas an old hair trunk in one corner, and a guitar-box in another, andall sorts of little knickknacks and jimcracks around, like girlsbrisken up a room with. The king said it was all the more homely andmore pleasanter for these fixings, and so don't disturb them. Theduke's room was pretty small, but plenty good enough, and so was mycubby.

  That night they had a big supper, and all them men and women wasthere, and I stood behind the king and the duke's chairs and waited onthem, and the niggers waited on the rest. Mary Jane she set at thehead of the table, with Susan alongside of her, and said how bad thebiscuits was, and how mean the preserves was, and how ornery and toughthe fried chickens was--and all that kind of rot, the way women alwaysdo for to force out compliments; and the people all knowed everythingwas tiptop, and said so--said "How _do_ you get biscuits to brown sonice?" and "Where, for the land's sake, _did_ you get these amaz'npickles?" and all that kind of humbug talky-talk, just the way peoplealways does at a supper, you know.

  And when it was all done me and the hare-lip had supper in the kitchenoff of the leavings, whilst the others was helping the niggers cleanup the things. The hare-lip she got to pumping me about England, andblest if I didn't think the ice was getting mighty thin sometimes. Shesays:

  "Did you ever see the king?"

  "Who? William Fourth? Well, I bet I have--he goes to our church." Iknowed he was dead years ago, but I never let on. So when I says hegoes to our church, she says:


  "Yes--regular. His pew's right over opposite ourn--on t'other side thepulpit."

  "I thought he lived in London?"

  "Well, he does. Where _would_ he live?"

  "But I thought _you_ lived in Sheffield?"

  I see I was up a stump. I had to let on to get choked with achicken-bone, so as to get time to think how to get down again. Then Isays:

  "I mean he goes to our church regular when he's in Sheffield. That'sonly in the summer-time, when he comes there to take the sea baths."

  "Why, how you talk--Sheffield ain't on the sea."

  "Well, who said it was?"

  "Why, you did."

  "I _didn't_, nuther."

  "You did!"

  "I didn't."

  "You did."

  "I never said nothing of the kind."

  "Well, what _did_ you say, then?"

  "Said he come to take the sea _baths_--that's what I said."

  "Well, then, how's he going to take the sea baths if it ain't on thesea?"

  "Looky here," I says; "did you ever see any Congress-water?"


  "Well, did you have to go to Congress to get it?"

  "Why, no."

  "Well, neither does William Fourth have to go to the sea to get a seabath."

  "How does he get it, then?"

  "Gets it the way people down here gets Congress-water--in barrels.There in the palace at Sheffield they've got furnaces, and he wantshis water hot. They can't bile that amount of water away off there atthe sea. They haven't got no conveniences for it."

  "Oh, I see, now. You might 'a' said that in the first place and savedtime."

  When she said that I see I was out of the woods again, and so I wascomfortable and glad. Next, she says:

  "Do you go to church, too?"


  "Where do you set?"

  "Why, in our pew."

  "_Whose_ pew?"

  "Why, _ourn_--your Uncle Harvey's."

  "His'n? What does _he_ want with a pew?"

  "Wants it to set in. What did you _reckon_ he wanted with it?"

  "Why, I thought he'd be in the pulpit."

  Rot him, I forgot he was a preacher. I see I was up a stump again, soI played another chicken-bone and got another think. Then I says:

  "Blame it, do you suppose there ain't but one preacher to a church?"

  "Why, what do they want with more?"

  "What!--to preach before a king? I never did see such a girl as you.They don't have no less than seventeen."

  "Seventeen! My land! Why, I wouldn't set out such a string as that,not if I _never_ got to glory. It must take 'em a week."

  "Shucks, they don't _all_ of 'em preach the same day--only _one_ of'em."

  "Well, then, what does the rest of 'em do?"

  "Oh, nothing much. Loll around, pass the plate--and one thing oranother. But mainly they don't do nothing."

  "Well, then, what are they _for_?"

  "Why, they're for _style_. Don't you know nothing?"

  "Well, I don't _want_ to know no such foolishness as that. How isservants treated in England? Do they treat 'em better 'n we treat ourniggers?"

  "_No!_ A servant ain't nobody there. They treat them worse than dogs."

  "Don't they give 'em holidays, the way we do, Christmas and New Year'sweek, and Fourth of July?"

  "Oh, just listen! A body could tell _you_ hain't ever been to Englandby that. Why, Hare-l--why, Joanna, they never see a holiday fromyear's end to year's end; never go to the circus, nor theater, nornigger shows, nor nowheres."

  "Nor church?"

  "Nor church."

  "But _you_ always went to church."

  Well, I was gone up again. I forgot I was the old man's servant. Butnext minute I whirled in on a kind of an explanation how a valley wasdifferent from a common servant, and _had_ to go to church whether hewanted to or not, and set with the family, on account of its being thelaw. But I didn't do it pretty good, and when I got done I see shewarn't satisfied. She says:

  "Honest injun, now, hain't you been telling me a lot of lies?"

  "Honest injun," says I.

  "None of it at all?"

  "None of it at all. Not a lie in it," says I.

  "Lay your hand on this book and say it."

  I see it warn't nothing but a dictionary, so I laid my hand on it andsaid it. So then she looked a little better satisfied, and says:

  "Well, then, I'll believe some of it; but I hope to gracious if I'llbelieve the rest."

  "What is it you won't believe, Jo?" says Mary Jane, stepping in withSusan behind her. "It ain't right nor kind for you to talk so to him,and him a stranger and so far from his people. How would you like tobe treated so?"

  "That's always your way, Maim--always sailing in to help somebodybefore they're hurt. I hain't done nothing to him. He's told somestretchers, I reckon, and I said I wouldn't swallow it all; and that'severy bit and grain I _did_ say. I reckon he can stand a little thinglike that, can't he?"

  "I don't care whether 'twas little or whether 'twas big; he's here inour house and a stranger, and it wasn't good of you to say it. If youwas in his place it would make you feel ashamed; and so you oughtn'tto say a thing to another person that will make _them_ feel ashamed."

  "Why, Maim, he said--"

  "It don't make no difference what he _said_--that ain't the thing. Thething is for you to treat him _kind,_ and not be saying things to makehim remember he ain't in his own country and amongst his own folks."

  I says to myself, _this_ is a girl that I'm letting that old reptilerob her of her money!

  Then Susan _she_ waltzed in; and if you'll believe me, she did giveHare-lip hark from the tomb!

  Says I to myself, and this is _another_ one that I'm letting him robher of her money!

Then Mary Jane she took another inning, and went in sweet and lovelyagain--which was her way; but when she got done there warn't hardlyanything left o' poor Hare-lip. So she hollered.

  "All right, then," says the other girls; "you just ask his pardon."

  She done it, too; and she done it beautiful. She done it so beautifulit was good to hear; and I wished I could tell her a thousand lies, soshe could do it again.

  I says to myself, this is _another_ one that I'm letting him rob herof her money. And when she got through they all jest laid theirselvesout to make me feel at home and know I was amongst friends. I felt soornery and low down and mean that I says to myself, my mind's made up;I'll hive that money for them or bust.

  So then I lit out--for bed, I said, meaning some time or another. WhenI got by myself I went to thinking the thing over. I says to myself,shall I go to that doctor, private, and blow on these frauds? No--thatwon't do. He might tell who told him; then the king and the duke wouldmake it warm for me. Shall I go, private, and tell Mary Jane? No--Idasn't do it. Her face would give them a hint, sure; they've got themoney, and they'd slide right out and get away with it. If she was tofetch in help I'd get mixed up in the business before it was donewith, I judge. No; there ain't no good way but one. I got to stealthat money, somehow; and I got to steal it some way that they won'tsuspicion that I done it. They've got a good thing here, and theyain't a-going to leave till they've played this family and this townfor all they're worth, so I'll find a chance time enough. I'll stealit and hide it; and by and by, when I'm away down the river, I'llwrite a letter and tell Mary Jane where it's hid. But I better hive itto-night if I can, because the doctor maybe hasn't let up as much ashe lets on he has; he might scare them out of here yet.

  So, thinks I, I'll go and search them rooms. Upstairs the hall wasdark, but I found the duke's room, and started to paw around it withmy hands; but I recollected it wouldn't be much like the king to letanybody else take care of that money but his own self; so then I wentto his room and begun to paw around there. But I see I couldn't donothing without a candle, and I dasn't light one, of course. So Ijudged I'd got to do the other thing--lay for them and eavesdrop.About that time I hears their footsteps coming, and was going to skipunder the bed; I reached for it, but it wasn't where I thought itwould be; but I touched the curtain that hid Mary Jane's frocks, so Ijumped in behind that and snuggled in amongst the gowns, and stoodthere perfectly still. They come in and shut the door; and the firstthing the duke done was to get down and look under the bed. Then I wasglad I hadn't found the bed when I wanted it. And yet, you know, it'skind of natural to hide under the bed when you are up to anythingprivate. They sets down then, and the king says:

  "Well, what is it? And cut it middlin' short, because it's better forus to be down there a-whoopin' up the mournin' than up here givin' 'ema chance to talk us over."

  "Well, this is it, Capet. I ain't easy; I ain't comfortable. Thatdoctor lays on my mind. I wanted to know your plans. I've got anotion, and I think it's a sound one."

  "What is it, duke?"

  "That we better glide out of this before three in the morning, andclip it down the river with what we've got. Specially, seeing we gotit so easy--_given_ back to us, flung at our heads, as you may say,when of course we allowed to have to steal it back. I'm for knockingoff and lighting out."

  That made me feel pretty bad. About an hour or two ago it would 'a'been a little different, but now it made me feel bad and disappointed.The king rips out and says:

  "What! And not sell out the rest o' the property? March off like apassel of fools and leave eight or nine thous'n' dollars' worth o'property layin' around jest sufferin' to be scooped in?--and all good,salable stuff, too."

  The duke he grumbled; said the bag of gold was enough, and he didn'twant to go no deeper--didn't want to rob a lot of orphans of_everything_ they had.

  "Why, how you talk!" says the king. "We sha'n't rob 'em of nothing atall but jest this money. The people that _buys_ the property is thesuff'rers; because as soon 's it's found out 'at we didn't ownit--which won't be long after we've slid--the sale won't be valid, andit 'll all go back to the estate. These yer orphans 'll git theirhouse back ag'in, and that's enough for _them;_ they're young andspry, and k'n easy earn a livin'. _They_ ain't a-goin' to suffer. Why,jest think--there's thous'n's and thous'n's that ain't nigh so welloff. Bless you, _they_ ain't got noth'n' to complain of."

  Well, the king he talked him blind; so at last he give in, and saidall right, but said he believed it was blamed foolishness to stay, andthat doctor hanging over them. But the king says:

  "Cuss the doctor! What do we k'yer for _him?_ Hain't we got all thefools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in anytown?"

  So they got ready to go down-stairs again. The duke says:

  "I don't think we put that money in a good place."

  That cheered me up. I'd begun to think I warn't going to get a hint ofno kind to help me. The king says:


  "Because Mary Jane 'll be in mourning from this out; and first youknow the nigger that does up the rooms will get an order to box theseduds up and put 'em away; and do you reckon a nigger can run acrossmoney and not borrow some of it?"

  "Your head's level ag'in, duke," says the king; and he comesa-fumbling under the curtain two or three foot from where I was. Istuck tight to the wall and kept mighty still, though quivery; and Iwondered what them fellows would say to me if they catched me; and Itried to think what I'd better do if they did catch me. But the kinghe got the bag before I could think more than about a half a thought,and he never suspicioned I was around. They took and shoved the bagthrough a rip in the straw tick that was under the feather-bed, andcrammed it in a foot or two amongst the straw and said it was allright now, because a nigger only makes up the feather-bed, and don'tturn over the straw tick only about twice a year, and so it warn't inno danger of getting stole now.

  But I knowed better. I had it out of there before they was half-waydown-stairs. I groped along up to my cubby, and hid it there till Icould get a chance to do better. I judged I better hide it outside ofthe house somewheres, because if they missed it they would give thehouse a good ransacking: I knowed that very well. Then I turned in,with my clothes all on; but I couldn't 'a' gone to sleep if I'd 'a'wanted to, I was in such a sweat to get through with the business. Byand by I heard the king and the duke come up; so I rolled off mypallet and laid with my chin at the top of my ladder, and waited tosee if anything was going to happen. But nothing did.

  So I held on till all the late sounds had quit and the early oneshadn't begun yet; and then I slipped down the ladder.


Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Add comment

Add comment