The adventures of huckle.., p.39
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       The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade), p.39

           Mark Twain
 

  CHAPTER XXXVII

  _That_ was all fixed. So then we went away and went to therubbage-pile in the back yard, where they keep the old boots, andrags, and pieces of bottles, and wore-out tin things, and all suchtruck, and scratched around and found an old tin washpan, and stoppedup the holes as well as we could, to bake the pie in, and took it downcellar and stole it full of flour and started for breakfast, and founda couple of shingle-nails that Tom said would be handy for a prisonerto scrabble his name and sorrows on the dungeon walls with, anddropped one of them in Aunt Sally's apron pocket which was hanging ona chair, and t'other we stuck in the band of Uncle Silas's hat, whichwas on the bureau, because we heard the children say their pa and mawas going to the runaway nigger's house this morning, and then went tobreakfast, and Tom dropped the pewter spoon in Uncle Silas's coatpocket, and Aunt Sally wasn't come yet, so we had to wait a littlewhile.

  And when she come she was hot and red and cross, and couldn't hardlywait for the blessing; and then she went to sluicing out coffee withone hand and cracking the handiest child's head with her thimble withthe other, and says:

  "I've hunted high and I've hunted low, and it does beat all what _has_become of your other shirt."

  My heart fell down amongst my lungs and livers and things, and a hardpiece of corn-crust started down my throat after it and got met on theroad with a cough, and was shot across the table, and took one of thechildren in the eye and curled him up like a fishing-worm, and let acry out of him the size of a war-whoop, and Tom he turned kinder bluearound the gills, and it all amounted to a considerable state ofthings for about a quarter of a minute or as much as that, and I would'a' sold out for half price if there was a bidder. But after that wewas all right again--it was the sudden surprise of it that knocked usso kind of cold. Uncle Silas he says:

  "It's most uncommon curious, I can't understand it. I know perfectlywell I took it _off_, because--"

  "Because you hain't got but one _on_. Just _listen_ at the man! I knowyou took it off, and know it by a better way than your wool-getheringmemory, too, because it was on the clo's-line yesterday--I see itthere myself. But it's gone, that's the long and the short of it, andyou'll just have to change to a red flann'l one till I can get time tomake a new one. And it 'll be the third I've made in two years. Itjust keeps a body on the jump to keep you in shirts; and whatever youdo manage to _do_ with 'm all is more'n I can make out. A body'd thinkyou _would_ learn to take some sort of care of 'em at your time oflife."

  "I know it, Sally, and I do try all I can. But it oughtn't to bealtogether my fault, because, you know, I don't see them nor havenothing to do with them except when they're on me; and I don't believeI've ever lost one of them _off_ of me."

  "Well, it ain't _your_ fault if you haven't, Silas; you'd 'a' done itif you could, I reckon. And the shirt ain't all that's gone, nuther.Ther's a spoon gone; and _that_ ain't all. There was ten, and nowther' only nine. The calf got the shirt, I reckon, but the calf nevertook the spoon, _that's_ certain."

  "Why, what else is gone, Sally?"

  "Ther's six _candles_ gone--that's what. The rats could 'a' got thecandles, and I reckon they did; I wonder they don't walk off with thewhole place, the way you're always going to stop their holes and don'tdo it; and if they warn't fools they'd sleep in your hair,Silas--_you'd_ never find it out; but you can't lay the _spoon_ on therats, and that I _know_."

  "Well, Sally, I'm in fault, and I acknowledge it; I've been remiss;but I won't let to-morrow go by without stopping up them holes."

  "Oh, I wouldn't hurry; next year 'll do. Matilda Angelina Araminta_Phelps!_"

  Whack comes the thimble, and the child snatches her claws out of thesugar-bowl without fooling around any. Just then the nigger womansteps onto the passage, and says:

  "Missus, dey's a sheet gone."

  "A _sheet_ gone! Well, for the land's sake!"

  "I'll stop up them holes to-day," says Uncle Silas, looking sorrowful.

  "Oh, _do_ shet up!--s'pose the rats took the _sheet?_ _Where's_ itgone, Lize?"

  "Clah to goodness I hain't no notion, Miss' Sally. She wuz on declo's-line yistiddy, but she done gone: she ain' dah no mo' now."

  "I reckon the world _is_ coming to an end. I _never_ see the beat ofit in all my born days. A shirt, and a sheet, and a spoon, and sixcan--"

  "Missus," comes a young yaller wench, "dey's a brass cannelstickmiss'n."

  "Cler out from here, you hussy, er I'll take a skillet to ye!"

  Well, she was just a-biling. I begun to lay for a chance; I reckoned Iwould sneak out and go for the woods till the weather moderated. Shekept a-raging right along, running her insurrection all by herself,and everybody else mighty meek and quiet; and at last Uncle Silas,looking kind of foolish, fishes up that spoon out of his pocket. Shestopped, with her mouth open and her hands up; and as for me, I wishedI was in Jeruslem or somewheres. But not long, because she says:

  "It's _just_ as I expected. So you had it in your pocket all the time;and like as not you've got the other things there, too. How'd it getthere?"

  "I reely don't know, Sally," he says, kind of apologizing, "or youknow I would tell. I was a-studying over my text in Acts Seventeenbefore breakfast, and I reckon I put it in there, not noticing,meaning to put my Testament in, and it must be so, because myTestament ain't in; but I'll go and see; and if the Testament is whereI had it, I'll know I didn't put it in, and that will show that I laidthe Testament down and took up the spoon, and--"

  "Oh, for the land's sake! Give a body a rest! Go 'long now, the wholekit and biling of ye; and don't come nigh me again till I've got backmy peace of mind."

  I'd 'a' heard her if she'd 'a' said it to herself, let alone speakingit out; and I'd 'a' got up and obeyed her if I'd 'a' been dead. As wewas passing through the setting-room the old man he took up his hat,and the shingle-nail fell out on the floor, and he just merely pickedit up and laid it on the mantel-shelf, and never said nothing, andwent out. Tom see him do it, and remembered about the spoon, and says:

  "Well, it ain't no use to send things by _him_ no more, he ain'treliable." Then he says: "But he done us a good turn with the spoon,anyway, without knowing it, and so we'll go and do him one without_him_ knowing it--stop up his rat-holes."

  There was a noble good lot of them down cellar, and it took us a wholehour, but we done the job tight and good and shipshape. Then we heardsteps on the stairs, and blowed out our light and hid; and here comesthe old man, with a candle in one hand and a bundle of stuff int'other, looking as absent-minded as year before last. He wenta-mooning around, first to one rat-hole and then another, till he'dbeen to them all. Then he stood about five minutes, pickingtallow-drip off of his candle and thinking. Then he turns off slow anddreamy towards the stairs, saying:

  "Well, for the life of me I can't remember when I done it. I couldshow her now that I warn't to blame on account of the rats. But nevermind--let it go. I reckon it wouldn't do no good."

  And so he went on a-mumbling up-stairs, and then we left. He was amighty nice old man. And always is.

  Tom was a good deal bothered about what to do for a spoon, but he saidwe'd got to have it; so he took a think. When he had ciphered it outhe told me how we was to do; then we went and waited around thespoon-basket till we see Aunt Sally coming, and then Tom went tocounting the spoons and laying them out to one side, and I slid one ofthem up my sleeve, and Tom says:

  "Why, Aunt Sally, there ain't but nine spoons _yet_."

  She says:

  "Go 'long to your play, and don't bother me. I know better, I counted'm myself."

  "Well, I've counted them twice, Aunty, and _I_ can't make but nine."

  She looked out of all patience, but of course she come tocount--anybody would.

  "I declare to gracious ther' _ain't_ but nine!" she says. "Why, whatin the world--plague _take_ the things, I'll count 'm again."

  So I slipped back the one I had, and when she got done counting, shesays:

  "Hang the troublesome rubbage, ther's _te
n_ now!" and she looked huffyand bothered both. But Tom says:

  "Why, Aunty, I don't think there's ten."

  "You numskull, didn't you see me _count_ 'm?"

  "I know, but--"

  "Well, I'll count 'm again."

  So I smouched one, and they come out nine, same as the other time.Well, she _was_ in a tearing way--just a-trembling all over, she wasso mad. But she counted and counted till she got that addled she'dstart to count in the basket for a spoon sometimes; and so, threetimes they come out right, and three times they come out wrong. Thenshe grabbed up the basket and slammed it across the house and knockedthe cat galley-west; and she said cler out and let her have somepeace, and if we come bothering around her again betwixt that anddinner she'd skin us. So we had the odd spoon, and dropped it in herapron pocket whilst she was a-giving us our sailing orders, and Jimgot it all right, along with her shingle-nail, before noon. We wasvery well satisfied with this business, and Tom allowed it was worthtwice the trouble it took, because he said _now_ she couldn't evercount them spoons twice alike again to save her life; and wouldn'tbelieve she'd counted them right if she _did_; and said that aftershe'd about counted her head off for the next three days he judgedshe'd give it up and offer to kill anybody that wanted her to evercount them any more.

  So we put the sheet back on the line that night, and stole one out ofher closet; and kept on putting it back and stealing it again for acouple of days till she didn't know how many sheets she had any more,and she didn't _care_, and warn't a-going to bullyrag the rest of hersoul out about it, and wouldn't count them again not to save her life;she druther die first.

  So we was all right now, as to the shirt and the sheet and the spoonand the candles, by the help of the calf and the rats and the mixed-upcounting; and as to the candlestick, it warn't no consequence, itwould blow over by and by.

  But that pie was a job; we had no end of trouble with that pie. Wefixed it up away down in the woods, and cooked it there; and we got itdone at last, and very satisfactory, too; but not all in one day; andwe had to use up three wash-pans full of flour before we got through,and we got burnt pretty much all over, in places, and eyes put outwith the smoke; because, you see, we didn't want nothing but a crust,and we couldn't prop it up right, and she would always cave in. But ofcourse we thought of the right way at last--which was to cook theladder, too, in the pie. So then we laid in with Jim the second night,and tore up the sheet all in little strings and twisted them together,and long before daylight we had a lovely rope that you could 'a' hunga person with. We let on it took nine months to make it.

  And in the forenoon we took it down to the woods, but it wouldn't gointo the pie. Being made of a whole sheet, that way, there was ropeenough for forty pies if we'd 'a' wanted them, and plenty left overfor soup, or sausage, or anything you choose. We could 'a' had a wholedinner.

  But we didn't need it. All we needed was just enough for the pie, andso we throwed the rest away. We didn't cook none of the pies in thewashpan--afraid the solder would melt; but Uncle Silas he had a noblebrass warming-pan which he thought considerable of, because itbelonged to one of his ancesters with a long wooden handle that comeover from England with William the Conqueror in the _Mayflower_ or oneof them early ships and was hid away up garret with a lot of other oldpots and things that was valuable, not on account of being anyaccount, because they warn't, but on account of them being relicts,you know, and we snaked her out, private, and took her down there, butshe failed on the first pies, because we didn't know how, but she comeup smiling on the last one. We took and lined her with dough, and sether in the coals, and loaded her up with rag rope, and put on a doughroof, and shut down the lid, and put hot embers on top, and stood offfive foot, with the long handle, cool and comfortable, and in fifteenminutes she turned out a pie that was a satisfaction to look at. Butthe person that et it would want to fetch a couple of kags oftoothpicks along, for if that rope ladder wouldn't cramp him down tobusiness I don't know nothing what I'm talking about, and lay him inenough stomach-ache to last him till next time, too. Nat didn't lookwhen we put the witch pie in Jim's pan; and we put the three tinplates in the bottom of the pan under the vittles; and so Jim goteverything all right, and as soon as he was by himself he busted intothe pie and hid the rope ladder inside of his straw tick, andscratched some marks on a tin plate and throwed it out of thewindow-hole.

 

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