The adventures of huckle.., p.41
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       The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade), p.41

           Mark Twain
 

  CHAPTER XXXIX

  In the morning we went up to the village and bought a wire rat-trapand fetched it down, and unstopped the best rat-hole, and in about anhour we had fifteen of the bulliest kind of ones; and then we took itand put it in a safe place under Aunt Sally's bed. But while we wasgone for spiders little Thomas Franklin Benjamin Jefferson ElexanderPhelps found it there, and opened the door of it to see if the ratswould come out, and they did; and Aunt Sally she come in, and when wegot back she was a-standing on top of the bed raising Cain, and therats was doing what they could to keep off the dull times for her. Soshe took and dusted us both with the hickry, and we was as much as twohours catching another fifteen or sixteen, drat that meddlesome cub,and they warn't the likeliest, nuther, because the first haul was thepick of the flock. I never see a likelier lot of rats than what thatfirst haul was.

  We got a splendid stock of sorted spiders, and bugs, and frogs, andcaterpillars, and one thing or another; and we like to got a hornet'snest, but we didn't. The family was at home. We didn't give it rightup, but stayed with them as long as we could; because we allowed we'dtire them out or they'd got to tire us out, and they done it. Then wegot allycumpain and rubbed on the places, and was pretty near allright again, but couldn't set down convenient. And so we went for thesnakes, and grabbed a couple of dozen garters and house-snakes, andput them in a bag, and put it in our room, and by that time it wassupper-time, and a rattling good honest day's work: and hungry?--oh,no, I reckon not! And there warn't a blessed snake up there when wewent back--we didn't half tie the sack, and they worked out somehow,and left. But it didn't matter much, because they was still on thepremises somewheres. So we judged we could get some of them again. No,there warn't no real scarcity of snakes about the house for aconsiderable spell. You'd see them dripping from the rafters andplaces every now and then; and they generly landed in your plate, ordown the back of your neck, and most of the time where you didn't wantthem. Well, they was handsome and striped, and there warn't no harm ina million of them; but that never made no difference to Aunt Sally;she despised snakes, be the breed what they might, and she couldn'tstand them no way you could fix it; and every time one of them floppeddown on her, it didn't make no difference what she was doing, shewould just lay that work down and light out. I never see such a woman.And you could hear her whoop to Jericho. You couldn't get her to takea-holt of one of them with the tongs. And if she turned over and foundone in bed she would scramble out and lift a howl that you would thinkthe house was afire. She disturbed the old man so that he said hecould most wish there hadn't ever been no snakes created. Why, afterevery last snake had been gone clear out of the house for as much as aweek Aunt Sally warn't over it yet; she warn't near over it; when shewas setting thinking about something you could touch her on the backof her neck with a feather and she would jump right out of herstockings. It was very curious. But Tom said all women was just so. Hesaid they was made that way for some reason or other.

  We got a licking every time one of our snakes come in her way, and sheallowed these lickings warn't nothing to what she would do if we everloaded up the place again with them. I didn't mind the lickings,because they didn't amount to nothing; but I minded the trouble we hadto lay in another lot. But we got them laid in, and all the otherthings; and you never see a cabin as blithesome as Jim's was whenthey'd all swarm out for music and go for him. Jim didn't like thespiders, and the spiders didn't like Jim; and so they'd lay for him,and make it mighty warm for him. And he said that between the rats andthe snakes and the grindstone there warn't no room in bed for him,skasely; and when there was, a body couldn't sleep, it was so lively,and it was always lively, he said, because _they_ never all slept atone time, but took turn about, so when the snakes was asleep the ratswas on deck, and when the rats turned in the snakes come on watch, sohe always had one gang under him, in his way, and t'other gang havinga circus over him, and if he got up to hunt a new place the spiderswould take a chance at him as he crossed over. He said if he ever gotout this time he wouldn't ever be a prisoner again, not for a salary.

  Well, by the end of three weeks everything was in pretty good shape.The shirt was sent in early, in a pie, and every time a rat bit Jim hewould get up and write a line in his journal whilst the ink was fresh;the pens was made, the inscriptions and so on was all carved on thegrindstone; the bed-leg was sawed in two, and we had et up thesawdust, and it give us a most amazing stomach-ache. We reckoned wewas all going to die, but didn't. It was the most undigestible sawdustI ever see; and Tom said the same. But as I was saying, we'd got allthe work done now, at last; and we was all pretty much fagged out,too, but mainly Jim. The old man had wrote a couple of times to theplantation below Orleans to come and get their runaway nigger, buthadn't got no answer, because there warn't no such plantation; so heallowed he would advertise Jim in the St. Louis and New Orleanspapers; and when he mentioned the St. Louis ones it give me the coldshivers, and I see we hadn't no time to lose. So Tom said, now for thenonnamous letters.

  "What's them?" I says.

  "Warnings to the people that something is up. Sometimes it's done oneway, sometimes another. But there's always somebody spying around thatgives notice to the governor of the castle. When Louis XVI. was goingto light out of the Tooleries a servant-girl done it. It's a very goodway, and so is the nonnamous letters. We'll use them both. And it'susual for the prisoner's mother to change clothes with him, and shestays in, and he slides out in her clothes. We'll do that, too."

  "But looky here, Tom, what do we want to _warn_ anybody for thatsomething's up? Let them find it out for themselves--it's theirlookout."

  "Yes, I know; but you can't depend on them. It's the way they've actedfrom the very start--left us to do _everything_. They're so confidingand mullet-headed they don't take notice of nothing at all. So if wedon't _give_ them notice there won't be nobody nor nothing tointerfere with us, and so after all our hard work and trouble thisescape 'll go off perfectly flat; won't amount to nothing--won't benothing _to_ it."

  "Well, as for me, Tom, that's the way I'd like."

  "Shucks!" he says, and looked disgusted. So I says:

  "But I ain't going to make no complaint. Any way that suits you suitsme. What you going to do about the servant-girl?"

  "You'll be her. You slide in, in the middle of the night, and hookthat yaller girl's frock."

  "Why, Tom, that 'll make trouble next morning; because, of course, sheprob'bly hain't got any but that one."

  "I know; but you don't want it but fifteen minutes, to carry thenonnamous letter and shove it under the front door."

  "All right, then, I'll do it; but I could carry it just as handy in myown togs."

  "You wouldn't look like a servant-girl _then_, would you?"

  "No, but there won't be nobody to see what I look like, _anyway_."

  "That ain't got nothing to do with it. The thing for us to do is justto do our _duty_, and not worry about whether anybody _sees_ us do itor not. Hain't you got no principle at all?"

  "All right, I ain't saying nothing; I'm the servant-girl. Who's Jim'smother?"

  "I'm his mother. I'll hook a gown from Aunt Sally."

  "Well, then, you'll have to stay in the cabin when me and Jim leaves."

  "Not much. I'll stuff Jim's clothes full of straw and lay it on hisbed to represent his mother in disguise, and Jim 'll take the niggerwoman's gown off of me and wear it, and we'll all evade together. Whena prisoner of style escapes it's called an evasion. It's always calledso when a king escapes, f'rinstance. And the same with a king's son;it don't make no difference whether he's a natural one or an unnaturalone."

  So Tom he wrote the nonnamous letter, and I smouched the yallerwench's frock that night, and put it on, and shoved it under the frontdoor, the way Tom told me to. It said:

  _Beware. Trouble is brewing. Keep a sharp lookout. UNKNOWN FRIEND._

  Next night we stuck a picture, which Tom drawed in blood, of a skulland crossbones on the front door; and next night another one
of acoffin on the back door. I never see a family in such a sweat. Theycouldn't 'a' been worse scared if the place had 'a' been full ofghosts laying for them behind everything and under the beds andshivering through the air. If a door banged, Aunt Sally she jumped andsaid "ouch!" if anything fell, she jumped and said "ouch!" if youhappened to touch her, when she warn't noticing, she done the same;she couldn't face no way and be satisfied, because she allowed therewas something behind her every time--so she was always a-whirlingaround sudden, and saying "ouch," and before she'd got two-thirdsaround she'd whirl back again, and say it again; and she was afraid togo to bed, but she dasn't set up. So the thing was working very well,Tom said; he said he never see a thing work more satisfactory. He saidit showed it was done right.

  So he said, now for the grand bulge! So the very next morning at thestreak of dawn we got another letter ready, and was wondering what webetter do with it, because we heard them say at supper they was goingto have a nigger on watch at both doors all night. Tom he went downthe lightning-rod to spy around; and the nigger at the back door wasasleep, and he stuck it in the back of his neck and come back. Thisletter said:

  _Don't betray me, I wish to be your friend. There is a desprate gangof cutthroats from over in the Indian Territory going to steal yourrunaway nigger to-night, and they have been trying to scare you so asyou will stay in the house and not bother them. I am one of the gang,but have got religgion and wish to quit it and lead an honest lifeagain, and will betray the helish design. They will sneak down fromnorthards, along the fence, at midnight exact, with a false key, andgo in the nigger's cabin to get him. I am to be off a piece and blow atin horn if I see any danger; but stead of that I will BA like a sheepsoon as they get in and not blow at all; then whilst they are gettinghis chains loose, you slip there and lock them in, and can kill themat your leasure. Don't do anything but just the way I am telling you;if you do they will suspicion something and raise whoop-jamboreehoo. Ido not wish any reward but to know I have done the right thing.

  UNKNOWN FRIEND._

 

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