The adventures of huckle.., p.6
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       The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade), p.6

           Mark Twain
 

  CHAPTER IV

  Well, three or four months run along, and it was well into the winternow. I had been to school most all the time and could spell and readand write just a little, and could say the multiplication table up tosix times seven is thirty-five, and I don't reckon I could ever getany further than that if I was to live forever. I don't take no stockin mathematics, anyway.

  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 gotnext day done me good and cheered me up. So the longer I went toschool the easier it got to be. I was getting sort of used to thewidow's ways, too, and they warn't so raspy on me. Living in a houseand sleeping in a bed pulled on me pretty tight mostly, but before thecold weather I used to slide out and sleep in the woods sometimes, andso that was a rest to me. I liked the old ways best, but I was gettingso I liked the new ones, too, a little bit. The widow said I wascoming along slow but sure, and doing very satisfactory. She said shewarn't ashamed of me.

  One morning I happened to turn over the salt-cellar at breakfast. Ireached for some of it as quick as I could to throw over my leftshoulder and keep off the bad luck, but Miss Watson was in ahead ofme, 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 forme, but that warn't going to keep off the bad luck, I knowed that wellenough. I started out, after breakfast, feeling worried and shaky, andwondering where it was going to fall on me, and what it was going tobe. There is ways to keep off some kinds of bad luck, but this wasn'tone of them kind; so I never tried to do anything, but just pokedalong low-spirited and on the watch-out.

  I went down to the front garden and clumb over the stile where you gothrough the high board fence. There was an inch of new snow on theground, and I seen somebody's tracks. They had come up from the quarryand stood around the stile awhile, and then went on around the gardenfence. It was funny they hadn't come in, after standing around so. Icouldn't make it out. It was very curious, somehow. I was going tofollow around, but I stooped down to look at the tracks first. Ididn't notice anything at first, but next I did. There was a cross inthe 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 myshoulder every now and then, but I didn't see nobody. I was at JudgeThatcher's as quick as I could get there. He said:

  "Why, my boy, you are all out of breath. Did you come for yourinterest?"

  "No, sir," I says; "is there some for me?"

  "Oh, yes, a half-yearly is in last night--over a hundred and fiftydollars. Quite a fortune for you. You had better let me invest italong 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 atall--nor the six thousand, nuther. I want you to take it; I want togive 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 takeit--won't you?"

  He says:

  "Well, I'm puzzled. Is something the matter?"

  "Please take it," says I, "and don't ask me nothing--then I won't haveto tell no lies."

  He studied awhile, and then he says:

  "Oho-o! I think I see. You want to _sell_ all your property to me--notgive it. That's the correct idea."

  Then he wrote something on a paper and read it over, and says:

  "There; you see it says 'for a consideration.' That means I havebought it of you and paid you for it. Here's a dollar for you. Now yousign it."

  So I signed it, and left.

  Miss Watson's nigger, Jim, had a hair-ball as big as your fist, whichhad been took out of the fourth stomach of an ox, and he used to domagic with it. He said there was a spirit inside of it, and it knowedeverything. So I went to him that night and told him pap was hereagain, 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 hishair-ball and said something over it, and then he held it up anddropped it on the floor. It fell pretty solid, and only rolled aboutan inch. Jim tried it again, and then another time, and it acted justthe same. Jim got down on his knees, and put his ear against it andlistened. But it warn't no use; he said it wouldn't talk. He saidsometimes it wouldn't talk without money. I told him I had an oldslick counterfeit quarter that warn't no good because the brass showedthrough the silver a little, and it wouldn't pass nohow, even if thebrass didn't show, because it was so slick it felt greasy, and so thatwould tell on it every time. (I reckoned I wouldn't say nothing aboutthe dollar I got from the judge.) I said it was pretty bad money, butmaybe the hair-ball would take it, because maybe it wouldn't know thedifference. Jim smelt it and bit it and rubbed it, and said he wouldmanage so the hair-ball would think it was good. He said he wouldsplit open a raw Irish potato and stick the quarter in between andkeep 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 takeit in a minute, let alone a hair-ball. Well, I knowed a potato woulddo that before, but I had forgot it.

  Jim put the quarter under the hair-ball, and got down and listenedagain. This time he said the hair-ball was all right. He said it wouldtell my whole fortune if I wanted it to. I says, go on. So thehair-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 hespec he'll go 'way, en den ag'in he spec he'll stay. De bes' way is tores' easy en let de ole man take his own way. Dey's two angelshoverin' roun' 'bout him. One uv 'em is white en shiny, en t'other oneis black. De white one gits him to go right a little while, den deblack one sail in en bust it all up. A body can't tell yit which onegwyne to fetch him at de las'. But you is all right. You gwyne to haveconsidable trouble in yo' life, en considable joy. Sometimes you gwyneto git hurt, en sometimes you gwyne to git sick; but every time you'sgwyne to git well ag'in. 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 ispo'. You's gwyne to marry de po' one fust en de rich one by en by. Youwants to keep 'way fum de water as much as you kin, en don't run noresk, '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 satpap--his own self!

 

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