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Mark Twain > Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn > Chapter III

Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

Chapter III


WELL, I got a good going-over in the morning from old Miss Watson on
account of my clothes; but the widow she didn't scold, but only cleaned
off the grease and clay, and looked so sorry that I thought I would
behave awhile if I could. Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet and
prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray every day, and
whatever I asked for I would get it. But it warn't so. I tried it.
Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks. It warn't any good to me without
hooks. I tried for the hooks three or four times, but somehow I couldn't
make it work. By and by, one day, I asked Miss Watson to try for me, but
she said I was a fool. She never told me why, and I couldn't make it out
no way.

I set down one time back in the woods, and had a long think about it. I
says to myself, if a body can get anything they pray for, why don't
Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork? Why can't the widow get
back her silver snuffbox that was stole? Why can't Miss Watson fat up?
No, says I to my self, there ain't nothing in it. I went and told the
widow about it, and she said the thing a body could get by praying for it
was "spiritual gifts." This was too many for me, but she told me what
she meant--I must help other people, and do everything I could for other
people, and look out for them all the time, and never think about myself.
This was including Miss Watson, as I took it. I went out in the woods
and turned it over in my mind a long time, but I couldn't see no
advantage about it--except for the other people; so at last I reckoned I
wouldn't worry about it any more, but just let it go. Sometimes the
widow would take me one side and talk about Providence in a way to make a
body's mouth water; but maybe next day Miss Watson would take hold and
knock it all down again. I judged I could see that there was two
Providences, and a poor chap would stand considerable show with the
widow's Providence, but if Miss Watson's got him there warn't no help for
him any more. I thought it all out, and reckoned I would belong to the
widow's if he wanted me, though I couldn't make out how he was a-going to
be any better off then than what he was before, seeing I was so ignorant,
and so kind of low-down and ornery.

Pap he hadn't been seen for more than a year, and that was comfortable
for me; I didn't want to see him no more. He used to always whale me
when he was sober and could get his hands on me; though I used to take to
the woods most of the time when he was around. Well, about this time he
was found in the river drownded, about twelve mile above town, so people
said. They judged it was him, anyway; said this drownded man was just
his size, and was ragged, and had uncommon long hair, which was all like
pap; but they couldn't make nothing out of the face, because it had been
in the water so long it warn't much like a face at all. They said he was
floating on his back in the water. They took him and buried him on the
bank. But I warn't comfortable long, because I happened to think of
something. I knowed mighty well that a drownded man don't float on his
back, but on his face. So I knowed, then, that this warn't pap, but a
woman dressed up in a man's clothes. So I was uncomfortable again. I
judged the old man would turn up again by and by, though I wished he
wouldn't.

We played robber now and then about a month, and then I resigned. All
the boys did. We hadn't robbed nobody, hadn't killed any people, but
only just pretended. We used to hop out of the woods and go charging
down on hog-drivers and women in carts taking garden stuff to market, but
we never hived any of them. Tom Sawyer called the hogs "ingots," and he
called the turnips and stuff "julery," and we would go to the cave and
powwow over what we had done, and how many people we had killed and
marked. But I couldn't see no profit in it. One time Tom sent a boy to
run about town with a blazing stick, which he called a slogan (which was
the sign for the Gang to get together), and then he said he had got
secret news by his spies that next day a whole parcel of Spanish
merchants and rich A-rabs was going to camp in Cave Hollow with two
hundred elephants, and six hundred camels, and over a thousand "sumter"
mules, all loaded down with di'monds, and they didn't have only a guard
of four hundred soldiers, and so we would lay in ambuscade, as he called
it, and kill the lot and scoop the things. He said we must slick up our
swords and guns, and get ready. He never could go after even a turnip-
cart but he must have the swords and guns all scoured up for it, though
they was only lath and broomsticks, and you might scour at them till you
rotted, and then they warn't worth a mouthful of ashes more than what
they was before. I didn't believe we could lick such a crowd of
Spaniards and A-rabs, but I wanted to see the camels and elephants, so I
was on hand next day, Saturday, in the ambuscade; and when we got the
word we rushed out of the woods and down the hill. But there warn't no
Spaniards and A-rabs, and there warn't no camels nor no elephants. It
warn't anything but a Sunday-school picnic, and only a primer-class at
that. We busted it up, and chased the children up the hollow; but we
never got anything but some doughnuts and jam, though Ben Rogers got a
rag doll, and Jo Harper got a hymn-book and a tract; and then the teacher
charged in, and made us drop everything and cut. I didn't see no
di'monds, and I told Tom Sawyer so. He said there was loads of them
there, anyway; and he said there was A-rabs there, too, and elephants and
things. I said, why couldn't we see them, then? He said if I warn't so
ignorant, but had read a book called Don Quixote, I would know without
asking. He said it was all done by enchantment. He said there was
hundreds of soldiers there, and elephants and treasure, and so on, but we
had enemies which he called magicians; and they had turned the whole
thing into an infant Sunday-school, just out of spite. I said, all
right; then the thing for us to do was to go for the magicians. Tom
Sawyer said I was a numskull.

"Why," said he, "a magician could call up a lot of genies, and they would
hash you up like nothing before you could say Jack Robinson. They are as
tall as a tree and as big around as a church."

"Well," I says, "s'pose we got some genies to help US--can't we lick the
other crowd then?"

"How you going to get them?"

"I don't know. How do THEY get them?"

"Why, they rub an old tin lamp or an iron ring, and then the genies come
tearing in, with the thunder and lightning a-ripping around and the smoke
a-rolling, and everything they're told to do they up and do it. They
don't think nothing of pulling a shot-tower up by the roots, and belting
a Sunday-school superintendent over the head with it--or any other man."

"Who makes them tear around so?"

"Why, whoever rubs the lamp or the ring. They belong to whoever rubs the
lamp or the ring, and they've got to do whatever he says. If he tells
them to build a palace forty miles long out of di'monds, and fill it full
of chewing-gum, or whatever you want, and fetch an emperor's daughter
from China for you to marry, they've got to do it--and they've got to do
it before sun-up next morning, too. And more: they've got to waltz that
palace around over the country wherever you want it, you understand."

"Well," says I, "I think they are a pack of flat-heads for not keeping
the palace themselves 'stead of fooling them away like that. And what's
more--if I was one of them I would see a man in Jericho before I would
drop my business and come to him for the rubbing of an old tin lamp."

"How you talk, Huck Finn. Why, you'd HAVE to come when he rubbed it,
whether you wanted to or not."

"What! and I as high as a tree and as big as a church? All right, then;
I WOULD come; but I lay I'd make that man climb the highest tree there
was in the country."

"Shucks, it ain't no use to talk to you, Huck Finn. You don't seem to
know anything, somehow--perfect saphead."

I thought all this over for two or three days, and then I reckoned I
would see if there was anything in it. I got an old tin lamp and an iron
ring, and went out in the woods and rubbed and rubbed till I sweat like
an Injun, calculating to build a palace and sell it; but it warn't no
use, none of the genies come. So then I judged that all that stuff was
only just one of Tom Sawyer's lies. I reckoned he believed in the A-rabs
and the elephants, but as for me I think different. It had all the marks
of a Sunday-school.

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