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Mark Twain > Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn > Chapter XXXIII

Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

Chapter XXXIII


SO I started for town in the wagon, and when I was half-way I see a wagon
coming, and sure enough it was Tom Sawyer, and I stopped and waited till
he come along. I says "Hold on!" and it stopped alongside, and his mouth
opened up like a trunk, and stayed so; and he swallowed two or three
times like a person that's got a dry throat, and then says:

"I hain't ever done you no harm. You know that. So, then, what you want
to come back and ha'nt ME for?"

I says:

"I hain't come back--I hain't been GONE."

When he heard my voice it righted him up some, but he warn't quite
satisfied yet. He says:

"Don't you play nothing on me, because I wouldn't on you. Honest injun,
you ain't a ghost?"

"Honest injun, I ain't," I says.

"Well--I--I--well, that ought to settle it, of course; but I can't
somehow seem to understand it no way. Looky here, warn't you ever
murdered AT ALL?"

"No. I warn't ever murdered at all--I played it on them. You come in
here and feel of me if you don't believe me."

So he done it; and it satisfied him; and he was that glad to see me again
he didn't know what to do. And he wanted to know all about it right off,
because it was a grand adventure, and mysterious, and so it hit him where
he lived. But I said, leave it alone till by and by; and told his driver
to wait, and we drove off a little piece, and I told him the kind of a
fix I was in, and what did he reckon we better do? He said, let him
alone a minute, and don't disturb him. So he thought and thought, and
pretty soon he says:

"It's all right; I've got it. Take my trunk in your wagon, and let on
it's your'n; and you turn back and fool along slow, so as to get to the
house about the time you ought to; and I'll go towards town a piece, and
take a fresh start, and get there a quarter or a half an hour after you;
and you needn't let on to know me at first."

I says:

"All right; but wait a minute. There's one more thing--a thing that
NOBODY don't know but me. And that is, there's a nigger here that I'm a-
trying to steal out of slavery, and his name is JIM--old Miss Watson's
Jim."

He says:

"What! Why, Jim is--"

He stopped and went to studying. I says:

"I know what you'll say. You'll say it's dirty, low-down business; but
what if it is? I'm low down; and I'm a-going to steal him, and I want
you keep mum and not let on. Will you?"

His eye lit up, and he says:

"I'll HELP you steal him!"

Well, I let go all holts then, like I was shot. It was the most
astonishing speech I ever heard--and I'm bound to say Tom Sawyer fell
considerable in my estimation. Only I couldn't believe it. Tom Sawyer a
NIGGER-STEALER!

"Oh, shucks!" I says; "you're joking."

"I ain't joking, either."

"Well, then," I says, "joking or no joking, if you hear anything said
about a runaway nigger, don't forget to remember that YOU don't know
nothing about him, and I don't know nothing about him."

Then we took the trunk and put it in my wagon, and he drove off his way
and I drove mine. But of course I forgot all about driving slow on
accounts of being glad and full of thinking; so I got home a heap too
quick for that length of a trip. The old gentleman was at the door, and
he says:

"Why, this is wonderful! Whoever would a thought it was in that mare to
do it? I wish we'd a timed her. And she hain't sweated a hair--not a
hair. It's wonderful. Why, I wouldn't take a hundred dollars for that
horse now--I wouldn't, honest; and yet I'd a sold her for fifteen
before, and thought 'twas all she was worth."

That's all he said. He was the innocentest, best old soul I ever see.
But it warn't surprising; because he warn't only just a farmer, he was a
preacher, too, and had a little one-horse log church down back of the
plantation, which he built it himself at his own expense, for a church
and schoolhouse, and never charged nothing for his preaching, and it was
worth it, too. There was plenty other farmer-preachers like that, and
done the same way, down South.

In about half an hour Tom's wagon drove up to the front stile, and Aunt
Sally she see it through the window, because it was only about fifty
yards, and says:

"Why, there's somebody come! I wonder who 'tis? Why, I do believe it's
a stranger. Jimmy" (that's one of the children) "run and tell Lize to
put on another plate for dinner."

Everybody made a rush for the front door, because, of course, a stranger
don't come EVERY year, and so he lays over the yaller-fever, for
interest, when he does come. Tom was over the stile and starting for the
house; the wagon was spinning up the road for the village, and we was all
bunched in the front door. Tom had his store clothes on, and an
audience--and that was always nuts for Tom Sawyer. In them circumstances
it warn't no trouble to him to throw in an amount of style that was
suitable. He warn't a boy to meeky along up that yard like a sheep; no,
he come ca'm and important, like the ram. When he got a-front of us he
lifts his hat ever so gracious and dainty, like it was the lid of a box
that had butterflies asleep in it and he didn't want to disturb them, and
says:

"Mr. Archibald Nichols, I presume?"

"No, my boy," says the old gentleman, "I'm sorry to say 't your driver
has deceived you; Nichols's place is down a matter of three mile more.
Come in, come in."

Tom he took a look back over his shoulder, and says, "Too late--he's out
of sight."

"Yes, he's gone, my son, and you must come in and eat your dinner with
us; and then we'll hitch up and take you down to Nichols's."

"Oh, I CAN'T make you so much trouble; I couldn't think of it. I'll walk
--I don't mind the distance."

"But we won't LET you walk--it wouldn't be Southern hospitality to do it.
Come right in."

"Oh, DO," says Aunt Sally; "it ain't a bit of trouble to us, not a bit in
the world. You must stay. It's a long, dusty three mile, and we can't
let you walk. And, besides, I've already told 'em to put on another
plate when I see you coming; so you mustn't disappoint us. Come right in
and make yourself at home."

So Tom he thanked them very hearty and handsome, and let himself be
persuaded, and come in; and when he was in he said he was a stranger from
Hicksville, Ohio, and his name was William Thompson--and he made another
bow.

Well, he run on, and on, and on, making up stuff about Hicksville and
everybody in it he could invent, and I getting a little nervious, and
wondering how this was going to help me out of my scrape; and at last,
still talking along, he reached over and kissed Aunt Sally right on the
mouth, and then settled back again in his chair comfortable, and was
going on talking; but she jumped up and wiped it off with the back of her
hand, and says:

"You owdacious puppy!"

He looked kind of hurt, and says:

"I'm surprised at you, m'am."

"You're s'rp--Why, what do you reckon I am? I've a good notion to take
and--Say, what do you mean by kissing me?"

He looked kind of humble, and says:

"I didn't mean nothing, m'am. I didn't mean no harm. I--I--thought
you'd like it."

"Why, you born fool!" She took up the spinning stick, and it looked like
it was all she could do to keep from giving him a crack with it. "What
made you think I'd like it?"

"Well, I don't know. Only, they--they--told me you would."

"THEY told you I would. Whoever told you's ANOTHER lunatic. I never
heard the beat of it. Who's THEY?"

"Why, everybody. They all said so, m'am."

It was all she could do to hold in; and her eyes snapped, and her fingers
worked like she wanted to scratch him; and she says:

"Who's 'everybody'? Out with their names, or ther'll be an idiot short."

He got up and looked distressed, and fumbled his hat, and says:

"I'm sorry, and I warn't expecting it. They told me to. They all told
me to. They all said, kiss her; and said she'd like it. They all said
it--every one of them. But I'm sorry, m'am, and I won't do it no more
--I won't, honest."

"You won't, won't you? Well, I sh'd RECKON you won't!"

"No'm, I'm honest about it; I won't ever do it again--till you ask me."

"Till I ASK you! Well, I never see the beat of it in my born days! I
lay you'll be the Methusalem-numskull of creation before ever I ask you--
or the likes of you."

"Well," he says, "it does surprise me so. I can't make it out, somehow.
They said you would, and I thought you would. But--" He stopped and
looked around slow, like he wished he could run across a friendly eye
somewheres, and fetched up on the old gentleman's, and says, "Didn't YOU
think she'd like me to kiss her, sir?"

"Why, no; I--I--well, no, I b'lieve I didn't."

Then he looks on around the same way to me, and says:

"Tom, didn't YOU think Aunt Sally 'd open out her arms and say, 'Sid
Sawyer--'"

"My land!" she says, breaking in and jumping for him, "you impudent young
rascal, to fool a body so--" and was going to hug him, but he fended her
off, and says:

"No, not till you've asked me first."

So she didn't lose no time, but asked him; and hugged him and kissed him
over and over again, and then turned him over to the old man, and he took
what was left. And after they got a little quiet again she says:

"Why, dear me, I never see such a surprise. We warn't looking for YOU at
all, but only Tom. Sis never wrote to me about anybody coming but him."

"It's because it warn't INTENDED for any of us to come but Tom," he says;
"but I begged and begged, and at the last minute she let me come, too;
so, coming down the river, me and Tom thought it would be a first-rate
surprise for him to come here to the house first, and for me to by and by
tag along and drop in, and let on to be a stranger. But it was a
mistake, Aunt Sally. This ain't no healthy place for a stranger to
come."

"No--not impudent whelps, Sid. You ought to had your jaws boxed; I
hain't been so put out since I don't know when. But I don't care, I
don't mind the terms--I'd be willing to stand a thousand such jokes to
have you here. Well, to think of that performance! I don't deny it, I
was most putrified with astonishment when you give me that smack."

We had dinner out in that broad open passage betwixt the house and the
kitchen; and there was things enough on that table for seven families--
and all hot, too; none of your flabby, tough meat that's laid in a
cupboard in a damp cellar all night and tastes like a hunk of old cold
cannibal in the morning. Uncle Silas he asked a pretty long blessing
over it, but it was worth it; and it didn't cool it a bit, neither, the
way I've seen them kind of interruptions do lots of times. There was a
considerable good deal of talk all the afternoon, and me and Tom was on
the lookout all the time; but it warn't no use, they didn't happen to say
nothing about any runaway nigger, and we was afraid to try to work up to
it. But at supper, at night, one of the little boys says:

"Pa, mayn't Tom and Sid and me go to the show?"

"No," says the old man, "I reckon there ain't going to be any; and you
couldn't go if there was; because the runaway nigger told Burton and me
all about that scandalous show, and Burton said he would tell the people;
so I reckon they've drove the owdacious loafers out of town before this
time."

So there it was!--but I couldn't help it. Tom and me was to sleep in the
same room and bed; so, being tired, we bid good-night and went up to bed
right after supper, and clumb out of the window and down the lightning-
rod, and shoved for the town; for I didn't believe anybody was going to
give the king and the duke a hint, and so if I didn't hurry up and give
them one they'd get into trouble sure.

On the road Tom he told me all about how it was reckoned I was murdered,
and how pap disappeared pretty soon, and didn't come back no more, and
what a stir there was when Jim run away; and I told Tom all about our
Royal Nonesuch rapscallions, and as much of the raft voyage as I had time
to; and as we struck into the town and up through the--here comes a
raging rush of people with torches, and an awful whooping and yelling,
and banging tin pans and blowing horns; and we jumped to one side to let
them go by; and as they went by I see they had the king and the duke
astraddle of a rail--that is, I knowed it WAS the king and the duke,
though they was all over tar and feathers, and didn't look like nothing
in the world that was human--just looked like a couple of monstrous big
soldier-plumes. Well, it made me sick to see it; and I was sorry for
them poor pitiful rascals, it seemed like I couldn't ever feel any
hardness against them any more in the world. It was a dreadful thing to
see. Human beings CAN be awful cruel to one another.

We see we was too late--couldn't do no good. We asked some stragglers
about it, and they said everybody went to the show looking very innocent;
and laid low and kept dark till the poor old king was in the middle of
his cavortings on the stage; then somebody give a signal, and the house
rose up and went for them.

So we poked along back home, and I warn't feeling so brash as I was
before, but kind of ornery, and humble, and to blame, somehow--though I
hadn't done nothing. But that's always the way; it don't make no
difference whether you do right or wrong, a person's conscience ain't got
no sense, and just goes for him anyway. If I had a yaller dog that
didn't know no more than a person's conscience does I would pison him.
It takes up more room than all the rest of a person's insides, and yet
ain't no good, nohow. Tom Sawyer he says the same.

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