The adventures of huckle.., p.38
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       The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade), p.38

           Mark Twain


  As soon as we reckoned everybody was asleep that night we went downthe lightning-rod, and shut ourselves up in the lean-to, and got outour pile of fox-fire, and went to work. We cleared everything out ofthe way, about four or five foot along the middle of the bottom log.Tom said we was right behind Jim's bed now, and we'd dig in under it,and when we got through there couldn't nobody in the cabin ever knowthere was any hole there, because Jim's counterpin hung down most tothe ground, and you'd have to raise it up and look under to see thehole. So we dug and dug with the case-knives till most midnight; andthen we was dog-tired, and our hands was blistered, and yet youcouldn't see we'd done anything hardly. At last I says:

  "This ain't no thirty-seven-year job; this is a thirty-eight-year job,Tom Sawyer."

  He never said nothing. But he sighed, and pretty soon he stoppeddigging, and then for a good little while I knowed that he wasthinking. Then he says:

  "It ain't no use, Huck, it ain't a-going to work. If we was prisonersit would, because then we'd have as many years as we wanted, and nohurry; and we wouldn't get but a few minutes to dig, every day, whilethey was changing watches, and so our hands wouldn't get blistered,and we could keep it up right along, year in and year out, and do itright, and the way it ought to be done. But _we_ can't fool along; wegot to rush; we ain't got no time to spare. If we was to put inanother night this way we'd have to knock off for a week to let ourhands get well--couldn't touch a case-knife with them sooner."

  "Well, then, what we going to do, Tom?"

  "I'll tell you. It ain't right, and it ain't moral, and I wouldn'tlike it to get out; but there ain't only just the one way: we got todig him out with the picks, and _let on_ it's case-knives."

  "_Now_ you're _talking!_" I says; "your head gets leveler and levelerall the time, Tom Sawyer," I says. "Picks is the thing, moral or nomoral; and as for me, I don't care shucks for the morality of it,nohow. When I start in to steal a nigger, or a watermelon, or aSunday-school book, I ain't no ways particular how it's done so it'sdone. What I want is my nigger; or what I want is my watermelon; orwhat I want is my Sunday-school book; and if a pick's the handiestthing, that's the thing I'm a-going to dig that nigger or thatwatermelon or that Sunday-school book out with; and I don't give adead rat what the authorities thinks about it nuther."

  "Well," he says, "there's excuse for picks and letting on in a caselike this; if it warn't so, I wouldn't approve of it, nor I wouldn'tstand by and see the rules broke--because right is right, and wrong iswrong, and a body ain't got no business doing wrong when he ain'tignorant and knows better. It might answer for _you_ to dig Jim outwith a pick, _without_ any letting on, because you don't know nobetter; but it wouldn't for me, because I do know better. Gimme acase-knife."

  He had his own by him, but I handed him mine. He flung it down, andsays:

  "Gimme a _case-knife._"

  I didn't know just what to do--but then I thought. I scratched aroundamongst the old tools, and got a pickax and give it to him, and hetook it and went to work, and never said a word.

  He was always just that particular. Full of principle.

  So then I got a shovel, and then we picked and shoveled, turn about,and made the fur fly. We stuck to it about a half an hour, which wasas long as we could stand up; but we had a good deal of a hole to showfor it. When I got up-stairs I looked out at the window and see Tomdoing his level best with the lightning-rod, but he couldn't come it,his hands was so sore. At last he says:

  "It ain't no use, it can't be done. What you reckon I better do? Can'tyou think of no way?"

  "Yes," I says, "but I reckon it ain't regular. Come up the stairs, andlet on it's a lightning-rod."

  So he done it.

  Next day Tom stole a pewter spoon and a brass candlestick in thehouse, for to make some pens for Jim out of, and six tallow candles;and I hung around the nigger cabins and laid for a chance, and stolethree tin plates. Tom says it wasn't enough; but I said nobodywouldn't ever see the plates that Jim throwed out, because they'd fallin the dog-fennel and jimpson weeds under the window-hole--then wecould tote them back and he could use them over again. So Tom wassatisfied. Then he says:

  "Now, the thing to study out is, how to get the things to Jim."

  "Take them in through the hole," I says, "when we get it done."

  He only just looked scornful, and said something about nobody everheard of such an idiotic idea, and then he went to studying. By and byhe said he had ciphered out two or three ways, but there warn't noneed to decide on any of them yet. Said we'd got to post Jim first.

  That night we went down the lightning-rod a little after ten, and tookone of the candles along, and listened under the window-hole, andheard Jim snoring; so we pitched it in, and it didn't wake him. Thenwe whirled in with the pick and shovel, and in about two hours and ahalf the job was done. We crept in under Jim's bed and into the cabin,and pawed around and found the candle and lit it, and stood over Jimawhile, and found him looking hearty and healthy, and then we woke himup gentle and gradual. He was so glad to see us he most cried; andcalled us honey, and all the pet names he could think of; and was forhaving us hunt up a cold-chisel to cut the chain off of his leg withright away, and clearing out without losing any time. But Tom heshowed him how unregular it would be, and set down and told him allabout our plans, and how we could alter them in a minute any timethere was an alarm; and not to be the least afraid, because we wouldsee he got away, _sure_. So Jim he said it was all right, and we setthere and talked over old times awhile, and then Tom asked a lot ofquestions, and when Jim told him Uncle Silas come in every day or twoto pray with him, and Aunt Sally come in to see if he was comfortableand had plenty to eat, and both of them was kind as they could be, Tomsays:

  "_Now_ I know how to fix it. We'll send you some things by them."

  I said, "Don't do nothing of the kind; it's one of the most jackassideas I ever struck"; but he never paid no attention to me; went righton. It was his way when he'd got his plans set.

  So he told Jim how we'd have to smuggle in the rope-ladder pie andother large things by Nat, the nigger that fed him, and he must be onthe lookout, and not be surprised, and not let Nat see him open them;and we would put small things in uncle's coat pockets and he muststeal them out; and we would tie things to aunt's apron-strings or putthem in her apron pocket, if we got a chance; and told him what theywould be and what they was for. And told him how to keep a journal onthe shirt with his blood, and all that. He told him everything. Jim hecouldn't see no sense in the most of it, but he allowed we was whitefolks and knowed better than him; so he was satisfied, and said hewould do it all just as Tom said.

  Jim had plenty corn-cob pipes and tobacco; so we had a right down goodsociable time; then we crawled out through the hole, and so home tobed, with hands that looked like they'd been chawed. Tom was in highspirits. He said it was the best fun he ever had in his life, and themost intellectural; and said if he only could see his way to it wewould keep it up all the rest of our lives and leave Jim to ourchildren to get out; for he believed Jim would come to like it betterand better the more he got used to it. He said that in that way itcould be strung out to as much as eighty year, and would be the besttime on record. And he said it would make us all celebrated that had ahand in it.

  In the morning we went out to the woodpile and chopped up the brasscandlestick into handy sizes, and Tom put them and the pewter spoon inhis pocket. Then we went to the nigger cabins, and while I got Nat'snotice off, Tom shoved a piece of candlestick into the middle of acorn-pone that was in Jim's pan, and we went along with Nat to see howit would work, and it just worked noble; when Jim bit into it it mostmashed all his teeth out; and there warn't ever anything could 'a'worked better. Tom said so himself. Jim he never let on but what itwas only just a piece of rock or something like that that's alwaysgetting into bread, you know; but after that he never bit into nothingbut what he jabbed his fork into it in three or four places first.

  And whilst we was a-st
anding there in the dimmish light, here comes acouple of the hounds bulging in from under Jim's bed; and they kept onpiling in till there was eleven of them, and there warn't hardly roomin there to get your breath. By jings, we forgot to fasten thatlean-to door! The nigger Nat he only just hollered "Witches" once, andkeeled over onto the floor amongst the dogs, and begun to groan likehe was dying. Tom jerked the door open and flung out a slab of Jim'smeat, and the dogs went for it, and in two seconds he was out himselfand back again and shut the door, and I knowed he'd fixed the otherdoor too. Then he went to work on the nigger, coaxing him and pettinghim, and asking him if he'd been imagining he saw something again. Heraised up, and blinked his eyes around, and says:

  "Mars Sid, you'll say I's a fool, but if I didn't b'lieve I see most amillion dogs, er devils, er some'n, I wisht I may die right heah indese tracks. I did, mos' sholy. Mars Sid, I _felt_ um--I _felt_ um,sah; dey was all over me. Dad fetch it, I jis' wisht I could git myhan's on one er dem witches jis' wunst--on'y jis' wunst--it's all I'dast. But mos'ly I wisht dey'd lemme 'lone, I does."

  Tom says:

  "Well, I tell you what _I_ think. What makes them come here just atthis runaway nigger's breakfast-time? It's because they're hungry;that's the reason. You make them a witch pie; that's the thing for_you_ to do."

  "But my lan', Mars Sid, how's I gwyne to make 'm a witch pie? I doan'know how to make it. I hain't ever hearn er sich a thing b'fo'."

  "Well, then, I'll have to make it myself."

  "Will you do it, honey?--will you? I'll wusshup de groun' und' yo'foot, I will!"


  "All right, I'll do it, seeing it's you, and you've been good to usand showed us the runaway nigger. But you got to be mighty careful.When we come around, you turn your back; and then whatever we've putin the pan, don't you let on you see it at all. And don't you lookwhen Jim unloads the pan--something might happen, I don't know what.And above all, don't you _handle_ the witch-things."

  "_Hannel_ 'm, Mars Sid? What _is_ you a-talkin' 'bout? I wouldn' layde weight er my finger on um, not f'r ten hund'd thous'n billiondollars, I wouldn't."


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