old man was uptown again before breakfast, but couldn't
get no track of Tom; and both of them set at the table thinking, and
not saying nothing, and looking mournful, and their coffee getting
cold, and not eating anything. And by and by the old man says:
"Did I give you the letter?"
"The one I got yesterday out of the
"No, you didn't give me no letter."
"Well, I must a forgot it."
So he rummaged his pockets, and then
went off somewheres where he had laid it down, and fetched it, and give
it to her. She says:
"Why, it's from St. Petersburg -- it's
I allowed another walk would do me good;
but I couldn't stir. But before she could break it open she dropped it
and run -- for she see something. And so did I. It was Tom Sawyer on a
mattress; and that old doctor; and Jim, in her calico dress,
with his hands tied behind him; and a lot of people. I hid the letter
behind the first thing that come handy, and rushed. She flung herself
at Tom, crying, and says:
"Oh, he's dead, he's dead, I know he's
And Tom he turned his head a little, and
something or other, which showed he warn't in his right mind; then she
flung up her hands, and says:
"He's alive, thank God! And that's
enough!" and she snatched a kiss of him, and flew for the house to get
the bed ready, and scattering orders right and left at the niggers and
everybody else, as fast as her tongue could go, every jump of the way.
I followed the men to see what they was
going to do with Jim; and the old doctor and Uncle Silas followed after
Tom into the house. The men was very huffy, and some of them wanted to
hang Jim for an example to all the other niggers around there, so they
wouldn't be trying to run away like Jim done, and making such a raft of
trouble, and keeping a whole family scared most to death for days and
nights. But the others said, don't do it, it wouldn't answer at all; he
ain't our nigger, 288 and his owner
would turn up and make us pay for him, sure. So that cooled them down a
little, because the people that's always the most anxious for to hang a
nigger that hain't done just right is always the very ones that ain't
the most anxious to pay for him when they've got their satisfaction out
They cussed Jim considerble, though, and
give him a cuff or two side the head once in a while, but Jim never
said nothing, and he never let on to know me, and they took him to the
same cabin, and put his own clothes on him, and chained him again, and
not to no bed-leg this time, but to a big staple drove into the bottom
log, and chained his hands, too, and both legs, and said he warn't to
have nothing but bread and water to eat after this till his owner come,
or he was sold at auction because he didn't
come in a certain length of time, and filled up our hole, and said a couple of
farmers with guns must stand watch around about the cabin every night,
and a bulldog tied to the door in the day-time; and about this time
they was through with the job and was tapering off with a kind of
generl good-bye cussing, and then the old doctor comes and takes a
look, and says:
"Don't be no rougher on him than you're
obleeged to, because he ain't a bad nigger. When I got to where I found
the boy I see I couldn't cut the bullet out without some help, and he
warn't in no condition for me to leave to go and get help; and he got a
little worse and a little worse, and after a long time he went out of
his head, and wouldn't let me come a-nigh him any more, and said if I
chalked his raft he'd kill me, and no end of wild foolishness like
that, and I see I couldn't do anything at all with him; so I says, I
got to have help somehow; and the minute I says it out crawls
this nigger from somewheres and says he'll help, 289
and he done it, too, and done it very well. Of course
I judged he must be a runaway nigger, and there I was! and
there I had to stick right straight along all the rest of the day and
all night. It was a fix, I tell you! I had a couple of patients with
the chills, and of course I'd of liked to run up to town and see them,
but I dasn't, because the nigger might get away, and then I'd be to
blame; and yet never a skiff come close enough for me to hail. So there
I had to stick plumb until daylight this morning; and I never see a
nigger that was a better nuss or faithfuller, and yet he was risking
his freedom to do it, and was all tired out, too, and I see plain
enough he'd been worked main hard lately. I liked the nigger for that;
you, gentlemen, a nigger like that is worth a thousand dollars -- and
kind treatment, too. I had everything I needed, and the boy was doing
as well there as he would a done at home -- better, maybe, because it
was so quiet; but there I was, with both of 'm on my hands, and
there I had to stick till about dawn this morning; then some men in a
skiff come by, and as good luck would have it the nigger was setting by
the pallet with his head propped on his knees sound asleep; so I
motioned them in quiet, and they slipped up on him and grabbed him and
tied him before he knowed what he was about, and we never had no
trouble. And the boy being in a kind of a flighty sleep, too, we
muffled the oars and hitched the raft on, and towed her over very nice
and quiet, and the nigger never made the least row nor said a word from
the start. He
ain't no bad nigger, gentlemen; that's what I think about him."
"Well, it sounds very good, doctor, I'm
obleeged to say."
Then the others softened up a little,
too, and I was mighty thankful to that old doctor for doing Jim that
good turn; and I was glad it was according to my judgment of him, too;
because I thought he had a good heart in him and was a good man the
first time I see him. Then they all agreed that Jim had acted very
well, and was deserving to have some notice took of it, and reward. So
every one of them promised, right out and hearty, that they wouldn't
cuss him no more.
Then they come out and locked him up. I
hoped they was going to say he could have one or two of
the chains took off, because they was rotten heavy, or could have meat
and greens with his bread and water; but they didn't think of it, and I
reckoned it warn't best for me to mix in, but I judged I'd get the
doctor's yarn to Aunt Sally somehow or other as soon as I'd got through
the breakers that was laying just ahead of me -- explanations, I mean,
of how I forgot to mention about Sid being shot when I was telling how
him and me put in that dratted night paddling around hunting the
But I had plenty time. Aunt Sally she
stuck to the sick-room all day and all night, and every time I see
Uncle Silas mooning around I dodged him.
Next morning I heard Tom was a good deal
better, and they said Aunt Sally was gone to get a nap. So I slips to
the sick-room, and if I found him awake I reckoned we could put up a
yarn for the family that would wash. But he was sleeping, and sleeping
very peaceful, too; and pale, not fire-faced the way he was when he
come. So I set down and laid for him to wake. In about half an hour
Aunt Sally comes gliding in, 290 and
there I was, up a stump again! She motioned me to be still, and set
down by me, and begun to whisper, and said we could all be joyful now,
because all the symptoms was first-rate, and he'd been sleeping like
that for ever so long, and looking better and peacefuller all the time,
and ten to one he'd wake up in his right mind.
So we set there watching, and by and by
he stirs a bit, and opened his eyes very natural, and takes a look, and
"Hello! -- why, I'm at home! How's
that? Where's the raft?"
"It's all right," I says.
"The same," I says, but couldn't say it
pretty brash. But he never noticed, but says:
"Good! Splendid! Now we're all
right and safe! Did you tell Aunty?"
I was going to say yes; but she chipped
in and says: "About what, Sid?"
"Why, about the way the whole thing was
"What whole thing?"
"Why, the whole thing. There
ain't but one; how we set the runaway nigger free -- me and Tom."
"Good land! Set the run -- What is
the child talking about! Dear, dear, out of his head again!"
"No, I ain't out of my head;
I know all what I'm talking about. We did set him free -- me
and Tom. We laid out to do it, and we done it. And we done it
elegant, too." He'd got a start, and she never checked him up, just set
and stared and stared, and let him clip along, and I see it warn't no
use for me to put in. "Why, Aunty, it cost us a power of work
-- weeks of it -- hours and hours, every night, whilst you was all
asleep. And we had to steal candles, and the sheet, and the shirt, and
your dress, and spoons, and tin plates, and case-knives, and the
warming-pan, and the grindstone, and flour, and just no end of things,
and you can't think what work it was to make the saws, and pens, and
inscriptions, and one thing or another, and you can't think half
the fun it was. And we had to make up the pictures of coffins and
things, and nonnamous letters from the robbers, and get up and down the
lightning-rod, and dig the hole into the cabin, and made the rope
ladder and send it in cooked up in a
pie, and send in spoons and things to work with in your apron pocket --
" -- and load up the cabin with rats
and snakes and so on, for company for Jim; and then you kept Tom here
so long with the butter in his hat that you come near spiling the whole
business, because the men come before we was out of the cabin, and we
had to rush, and they heard us and let drive at us, and I got my share,
and we dodged out of the path and let them go by, and when the dogs
come they warn't interested in us, but went for the most noise, and we
got our canoe, and made for the raft, and was all safe, and Jim was a
free man, and we done it all by ourselves, and wasn't it bully,
"Well, I never heard the likes of it in
all my born days! So it was you, you little rapscallions,
that's been making all this trouble, and turned everybody's wits clean
inside out and scared us all most to death. I've as 291 good a notion as ever I had in my
life to take it out o' you this very minute. To think, here I've been,
night after night, a -- you just get well once, you young
scamp, and I lay I'll tan the Old Harry out o' both o' ye!"
But Tom, he was so proud and
joyful, he just couldn't hold in, and his tongue just went
it -- she a-chipping in, and spitting fire all along, and both of them
going it at once, like a cat convention; and she says:
"Well, you get all the enjoyment
you can out of it now, for mind I tell you if I catch you
meddling with him again -- "
"Meddling with who?" Tom says,
dropping his smile and looking surprised.
"With who? Why, the runaway
nigger, of course. Who'd you reckon?"
Tom looks at me very grave, and says:
"Tom, didn't you just tell me he was all
right? Hasn't he got away?"
"Him?" says Aunt Sally; "the
runaway nigger? 'Deed he hasn't. They've got him back, safe and sound,
and he's in that cabin again, on bread and water, and loaded down with
chains, till he's claimed or sold!"
rose square up in bed, with his eye hot, and his nostrils opening
and shutting like gills, and sings out to me:
"They hain't no right to shut
him up! Shove! -- and don't you lose a minute. Turn him loose!
he ain't no slave; he's as free as any cretur that walks this earth!"
"What does the child mean?"
"I mean every word I say, Aunt
Sally, and if somebody don't go, I'll go. I've knowed him all
his life, and so has Tom, there. Old Miss Watson died two months ago,
and she was ashamed she ever was going to sell him down the river, and said
so; and she set him free in her will."
"Then what on earth did you want
to set him free for, seeing he was already free?"
"Well, that is a question, I
must say; and just like women! Why, I wanted the adventure
of it; and I'd a waded neck-deep in blood to -- goodness alive, AUNT
If she warn't standing right there, just
inside the door, looking as sweet and contented as an angel half full
of pie, I wish I may never!
Aunt Sally jumped for her, and most
hugged the head off of her, and cried over her, and I found a good
enough place for me under the bed, for it was getting pretty sultry for
us, seemed to me. And I peeped out, and in a little
while Tom's Aunt Polly shook herself loose and stood there looking
across at Tom over her spectacles -- kind of grinding him into the
earth, you know. And then she says:
"Yes, you better turn y'r head
away -- I would if I was you, Tom."
"Oh, deary me!" says Aunt Sally; "is
he changed so? Why, that ain't Tom, it's Sid; Tom's -- Tom's --
why, where is Tom? He was here a minute ago."
"You mean where's Huck Finn --
that's what you mean! I reckon I hain't raised such a scamp as my Tom
all these years not to know him when I see him. That would
be a pretty howdy-do. Come out from under that bed, Huck Finn."
So I done it. But not feeling brash.
Aunt Sally she was one of the
mixed-upest-looking persons I ever see -- except one, and that was
Uncle Silas, when he come in and they told it all to him. It kind of
made him drunk, as you may say, and he didn't know nothing at all the
rest of the day, and preached a prayer-meeting sermon that night that
gave him a rattling ruputation, because the oldest man in the world
couldn't a understood it. So Tom's Aunt Polly, she told all about who I
was, and what; and I had to up and tell how I was in such a tight place
that when Mrs. Phelps took me for Tom Sawyer -- she chipped in and
says, "Oh, go on and call me Aunt
I'm used to it now, and
'tain't no need to change" -- that when Aunt Sally took me for Tom
Sawyer I had to stand it -- there warn't no other way, and I knowed he
wouldn't mind, because it would be nuts for him, being a mystery, and
he'd make an adventure out of it, and be perfectly satisfied. And so it
turned out, and he let on to be Sid, and made things as soft as he
could for me.
And his Aunt Polly she said Tom was
right about old Miss Watson setting Jim free in her will; and so, sure
enough, Tom Sawyer had gone and took all that trouble and bother to set
a free nigger free! and I couldn't ever understand before, until that
minute and that talk, how he could help a body set a nigger
free with his bringing-up.
Well, Aunt Polly she said that when Aunt
Sally wrote to her that Tom and Sid had come all right and
safe, she says to herself:
"Look at that, now! I might have
expected it, letting him go off that way without anybody to watch him.
So now I got to go and traipse all the way down the river, eleven
hundred mile, and find out what that creetur's up to this time,
as long as I couldn't seem to get any answer out of you about it."
"Why, I never heard nothing from you,"
says Aunt Sally.
"Well, I wonder! Why, I wrote you twice
to ask you what you could mean by Sid being here." 293
"Well, I never got 'em, Sis."
Aunt Polly she turns around slow and
severe, and says:
"Well -- what?" he says, kind of
"Don t you what me, you impudent
hand out them letters."
"Them letters. I be bound, if I
have to take a-holt of you I'll -- "
"They're in the trunk. There, now. And
they're just the same as they was when I got them out of the office. I
hain't looked into them, I hain't touched them. But I knowed they'd
make trouble, and I thought if you warn't in no hurry, I'd -- "
"Well, you do need skinning,
there ain't no mistake about it. And I wrote another one to tell you I
was coming; and I s'pose he -- "
"No, it come yesterday; I hain't read it
yet, but it's all right, I've got that one."
I wanted to offer to bet two dollars she
hadn't, but I reckoned maybe it was just as safe to not to. So I never
first time I catched Tom private I asked him what was his
idea, time of the evasion? -- what it was he'd planned to do if the
evasion worked all right and he managed to set a nigger free that was
already free before? And he said, what he had planned in his head from
the start, if we got Jim out all safe, was for us to run him down the
river on the raft, and have adventures plumb to the mouth of the river,
and then tell him about his being free, and take him back up home on a
steamboat, in style, and pay him for his lost time, and write word
ahead and get out all the niggers around, and have them waltz him into
town with a torchlight procession and a brass-band, and then he would
be a hero, and so would we. But I reckoned it was about as well the way
We had Jim out of the chains in no time,
and when Aunt Polly and Uncle Silas and Aunt Sally found out how good
he helped the doctor nurse Tom, they made a heap of fuss over him, and
fixed him up prime, and give him all he wanted to eat, and a good time,
and nothing to do. And we had him up to the sick-room, and had a high
talk; and Tom
give Jim forty dollars for being prisoner for us so patient, and
doing it up so good, and Jim was pleased most to death, and busted out,
"Dah, now, Huck, what I tell
you? -- what I tell
you up dah on Jackson islan'? I tole you I got a hairy breas',
en what's de sign un it; en I tole you I ben rich wunst, en
gwineter to be rich agin en it's come true; en heah she is!
Dah, now! doan' talk to me -- signs is signs, mine
I tell you; 295 en I knowed jis' 's well
'at I 'uz gwineter be rich agin as I's a-stannin' heah dis minute!"
And then Tom he talked along and
talked along, and says, le's all three slide out of here one of these
nights and get an outfit, and go for howling adventures amongst the
Injuns, over in the Territory, for a couple of weeks or two; and I
says, all right, that suits me, but I ain't got no money for to buy the
outfit, and I reckon I couldn't get none from home, because it's likely
pap's been back before now, and got it all away from Judge Thatcher and
drunk it up.
"No, he hain't," Tom says; "it's all
there yet -- six thousand dollars and more; and your pap hain't ever
been back since. Hadn't when I come away, anyhow."
Jim says, kind of solemn:
"He ain't a-comin' back no mo', Huck."
"Nemmine why, Huck -- but he ain't
comin' back no mo."
But I kept at him; so at last he says:
"Doan' you 'member de house dat was
float'n down de river, en dey wuz a man in dah, kivered up, en I went
in en unkivered him and didn' let you come in? Well, den, you kin git
yo' money when you wants it, kase dat wuz him."
Tom's most well now, and got his
bullet around his
neck on a watch-guard for a watch, and is always seeing what time it
is, and so there ain't nothing more to write about, and I am rotten
glad of it, because if I'd a knowed what a trouble it was to make a
book I wouldn't a tackled it, 296 and
ain't a-going to no more. But I reckon I got to light out for the
Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me
and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.
End. Yours Truly, Huck Finn.