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Mark Twain > Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn > Chapter XIV

Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

Chapter XIV


BY and by, when we got up, we turned over the truck the gang had stole
off of the wreck, and found boots, and blankets, and clothes, and all
sorts of other things, and a lot of books, and a spyglass, and three
boxes of seegars. We hadn't ever been this rich before in neither of our
lives. The seegars was prime. We laid off all the afternoon in the
woods talking, and me reading the books, and having a general good time.
I told Jim all about what happened inside the wreck and at the ferryboat,
and I said these kinds of things was adventures; but he said he didn't
want no more adventures. He said that when I went in the texas and he
crawled back to get on the raft and found her gone he nearly died,
because he judged it was all up with HIM anyway it could be fixed; for if
he didn't get saved he would get drownded; and if he did get saved,
whoever saved him would send him back home so as to get the reward, and
then Miss Watson would sell him South, sure. Well, he was right; he was
most always right; he had an uncommon level head for a nigger.

I read considerable to Jim about kings and dukes and earls and such, and
how gaudy they dressed, and how much style they put on, and called each
other your majesty, and your grace, and your lordship, and so on, 'stead
of mister; and Jim's eyes bugged out, and he was interested. He says:

"I didn' know dey was so many un um. I hain't hearn 'bout none un um,
skasely, but ole King Sollermun, onless you counts dem kings dat's in a
pack er k'yards. How much do a king git?"

"Get?" I says; "why, they get a thousand dollars a month if they want
it; they can have just as much as they want; everything belongs to them."

"AIN' dat gay? En what dey got to do, Huck?"

"THEY don't do nothing! Why, how you talk! They just set around."

"No; is dat so?"

"Of course it is. They just set around--except, maybe, when there's a
war; then they go to the war. But other times they just lazy around; or
go hawking--just hawking and sp--Sh!--d' you hear a noise?"

We skipped out and looked; but it warn't nothing but the flutter of a
steamboat's wheel away down, coming around the point; so we come back.

"Yes," says I, "and other times, when things is dull, they fuss with the
parlyment; and if everybody don't go just so he whacks their heads off.
But mostly they hang round the harem."

"Roun' de which?"

"Harem."

"What's de harem?"

"The place where he keeps his wives. Don't you know about the harem?
Solomon had one; he had about a million wives."

"Why, yes, dat's so; I--I'd done forgot it. A harem's a bo'd'n-house, I
reck'n. Mos' likely dey has rackety times in de nussery. En I reck'n de
wives quarrels considable; en dat 'crease de racket. Yit dey say
Sollermun de wises' man dat ever live'. I doan' take no stock in dat.
Bekase why: would a wise man want to live in de mids' er sich a blim-
blammin' all de time? No--'deed he wouldn't. A wise man 'ud take en
buil' a biler-factry; en den he could shet DOWN de biler-factry when he
want to res'."

"Well, but he WAS the wisest man, anyway; because the widow she told me
so, her own self."

"I doan k'yer what de widder say, he WARN'T no wise man nuther. He had
some er de dad-fetchedes' ways I ever see. Does you know 'bout dat chile
dat he 'uz gwyne to chop in two?"

"Yes, the widow told me all about it."

"WELL, den! Warn' dat de beatenes' notion in de worl'? You jes' take en
look at it a minute. Dah's de stump, dah--dat's one er de women; heah's
you--dat's de yuther one; I's Sollermun; en dish yer dollar bill's de
chile. Bofe un you claims it. What does I do? Does I shin aroun'
mongs' de neighbors en fine out which un you de bill DO b'long to, en
han' it over to de right one, all safe en soun', de way dat anybody dat
had any gumption would? No; I take en whack de bill in TWO, en give half
un it to you, en de yuther half to de yuther woman. Dat's de way
Sollermun was gwyne to do wid de chile. Now I want to ast you: what's
de use er dat half a bill?--can't buy noth'n wid it. En what use is a
half a chile? I wouldn' give a dern for a million un um."

"But hang it, Jim, you've clean missed the point--blame it, you've missed
it a thousand mile."

"Who? Me? Go 'long. Doan' talk to me 'bout yo' pints. I reck'n I
knows sense when I sees it; en dey ain' no sense in sich doin's as dat.
De 'spute warn't 'bout a half a chile, de 'spute was 'bout a whole chile;
en de man dat think he kin settle a 'spute 'bout a whole chile wid a half
a chile doan' know enough to come in out'n de rain. Doan' talk to me
'bout Sollermun, Huck, I knows him by de back."

"But I tell you you don't get the point."

"Blame de point! I reck'n I knows what I knows. En mine you, de REAL
pint is down furder--it's down deeper. It lays in de way Sollermun was
raised. You take a man dat's got on'y one or two chillen; is dat man
gwyne to be waseful o' chillen? No, he ain't; he can't 'ford it. HE
know how to value 'em. But you take a man dat's got 'bout five million
chillen runnin' roun' de house, en it's diffunt. HE as soon chop a chile
in two as a cat. Dey's plenty mo'. A chile er two, mo' er less, warn't
no consekens to Sollermun, dad fatch him!"

I never see such a nigger. If he got a notion in his head once, there
warn't no getting it out again. He was the most down on Solomon of any
nigger I ever see. So I went to talking about other kings, and let
Solomon slide. I told about Louis Sixteenth that got his head cut off in
France long time ago; and about his little boy the dolphin, that would a
been a king, but they took and shut him up in jail, and some say he died
there.

"Po' little chap."

"But some says he got out and got away, and come to America."

"Dat's good! But he'll be pooty lonesome--dey ain' no kings here, is
dey, Huck?"

"No."

"Den he cain't git no situation. What he gwyne to do?"

"Well, I don't know. Some of them gets on the police, and some of them
learns people how to talk French."

"Why, Huck, doan' de French people talk de same way we does?"

"NO, Jim; you couldn't understand a word they said--not a single word."

"Well, now, I be ding-busted! How do dat come?"

"I don't know; but it's so. I got some of their jabber out of a book.
S'pose a man was to come to you and say Polly-voo-franzy--what would you
think?"

"I wouldn' think nuff'n; I'd take en bust him over de head--dat is, if he
warn't white. I wouldn't 'low no nigger to call me dat."

"Shucks, it ain't calling you anything. It's only saying, do you know
how to talk French?"

"Well, den, why couldn't he SAY it?"

"Why, he IS a-saying it. That's a Frenchman's WAY of saying it."

"Well, it's a blame ridicklous way, en I doan' want to hear no mo' 'bout
it. Dey ain' no sense in it."

"Looky here, Jim; does a cat talk like we do?"

"No, a cat don't."

"Well, does a cow?"

"No, a cow don't, nuther."

"Does a cat talk like a cow, or a cow talk like a cat?"

"No, dey don't."

"It's natural and right for 'em to talk different from each other, ain't
it?"

"Course."

"And ain't it natural and right for a cat and a cow to talk different
from US?"

"Why, mos' sholy it is."

"Well, then, why ain't it natural and right for a FRENCHMAN to talk
different from us? You answer me that."

"Is a cat a man, Huck?"

"No."

"Well, den, dey ain't no sense in a cat talkin' like a man. Is a cow a
man?--er is a cow a cat?"

"No, she ain't either of them."

"Well, den, she ain't got no business to talk like either one er the
yuther of 'em. Is a Frenchman a man?"

"Yes."

"WELL, den! Dad blame it, why doan' he TALK like a man? You answer me
DAT!"

I see it warn't no use wasting words--you can't learn a nigger to argue.
So I quit.

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