The Complete Works of

Mark-Twain    

[http://www.mtwain.com]

 
 
Mark Twain > Adventures Of Tom Sawyer > Chapter XXXIII

Adventures Of Tom Sawyer

Chapter XXXIII


WITHIN a few minutes the news had spread, and a dozen skiff-loads of
men were on their way to McDougal's cave, and the ferryboat, well
filled with passengers, soon followed. Tom Sawyer was in the skiff that
bore Judge Thatcher.

When the cave door was unlocked, a sorrowful sight presented itself in
the dim twilight of the place. Injun Joe lay stretched upon the ground,
dead, with his face close to the crack of the door, as if his longing
eyes had been fixed, to the latest moment, upon the light and the cheer
of the free world outside. Tom was touched, for he knew by his own
experience how this wretch had suffered. His pity was moved, but
nevertheless he felt an abounding sense of relief and security, now,
which revealed to him in a degree which he had not fully appreciated
before how vast a weight of dread had been lying upon him since the day
he lifted his voice against this bloody-minded outcast.

Injun Joe's bowie-knife lay close by, its blade broken in two. The
great foundation-beam of the door had been chipped and hacked through,
with tedious labor; useless labor, too, it was, for the native rock
formed a sill outside it, and upon that stubborn material the knife had
wrought no effect; the only damage done was to the knife itself. But if
there had been no stony obstruction there the labor would have been
useless still, for if the beam had been wholly cut away Injun Joe could
not have squeezed his body under the door, and he knew it. So he had
only hacked that place in order to be doing something--in order to pass
the weary time--in order to employ his tortured faculties. Ordinarily
one could find half a dozen bits of candle stuck around in the crevices
of this vestibule, left there by tourists; but there were none now. The
prisoner had searched them out and eaten them. He had also contrived to
catch a few bats, and these, also, he had eaten, leaving only their
claws. The poor unfortunate had starved to death. In one place, near at
hand, a stalagmite had been slowly growing up from the ground for ages,
builded by the water-drip from a stalactite overhead. The captive had
broken off the stalagmite, and upon the stump had placed a stone,
wherein he had scooped a shallow hollow to catch the precious drop that
fell once in every three minutes with the dreary regularity of a clock-
tick--a dessertspoonful once in four and twenty hours. That drop was
falling when the Pyramids were new; when Troy fell; when the
foundations of Rome were laid when Christ was crucified; when the
Conqueror created the British empire; when Columbus sailed; when the
massacre at Lexington was "news." It is falling now; it will still be
falling when all these things shall have sunk down the afternoon of
history, and the twilight of tradition, and been swallowed up in the
thick night of oblivion. Has everything a purpose and a mission? Did
this drop fall patiently during five thousand years to be ready for
this flitting human insect's need? and has it another important object
to accomplish ten thousand years to come? No matter. It is many and
many a year since the hapless half-breed scooped out the stone to catch
the priceless drops, but to this day the tourist stares longest at that
pathetic stone and that slow-dropping water when he comes to see the
wonders of McDougal's cave. Injun Joe's cup stands first in the list of
the cavern's marvels; even "Aladdin's Palace" cannot rival it.

Injun Joe was buried near the mouth of the cave; and people flocked
there in boats and wagons from the towns and from all the farms and
hamlets for seven miles around; they brought their children, and all
sorts of provisions, and confessed that they had had almost as
satisfactory a time at the funeral as they could have had at the
hanging.

This funeral stopped the further growth of one thing--the petition to
the governor for Injun Joe's pardon. The petition had been largely
signed; many tearful and eloquent meetings had been held, and a
committee of sappy women been appointed to go in deep mourning and wail
around the governor, and implore him to be a merciful ass and trample
his duty under foot. Injun Joe was believed to have killed five
citizens of the village, but what of that? If he had been Satan himself
there would have been plenty of weaklings ready to scribble their names
to a pardon-petition, and drip a tear on it from their permanently
impaired and leaky water-works.

The morning after the funeral Tom took Huck to a private place to have
an important talk. Huck had learned all about Tom's adventure from the
Welshman and the Widow Douglas, by this time, but Tom said he reckoned
there was one thing they had not told him; that thing was what he
wanted to talk about now. Huck's face saddened. He said:

"I know what it is. You got into No. 2 and never found anything but
whiskey. Nobody told me it was you; but I just knowed it must 'a' ben
you, soon as I heard 'bout that whiskey business; and I knowed you
hadn't got the money becuz you'd 'a' got at me some way or other and
told me even if you was mum to everybody else. Tom, something's always
told me we'd never get holt of that swag."

"Why, Huck, I never told on that tavern-keeper. YOU know his tavern
was all right the Saturday I went to the picnic. Don't you remember you
was to watch there that night?"

"Oh yes! Why, it seems 'bout a year ago. It was that very night that I
follered Injun Joe to the widder's."

"YOU followed him?"

"Yes--but you keep mum. I reckon Injun Joe's left friends behind him,
and I don't want 'em souring on me and doing me mean tricks. If it
hadn't ben for me he'd be down in Texas now, all right."

Then Huck told his entire adventure in confidence to Tom, who had only
heard of the Welshman's part of it before.

"Well," said Huck, presently, coming back to the main question,
"whoever nipped the whiskey in No. 2, nipped the money, too, I reckon--
anyways it's a goner for us, Tom."

"Huck, that money wasn't ever in No. 2!"

"What!" Huck searched his comrade's face keenly. "Tom, have you got on
the track of that money again?"

"Huck, it's in the cave!"

Huck's eyes blazed.

"Say it again, Tom."

"The money's in the cave!"

"Tom--honest injun, now--is it fun, or earnest?"

"Earnest, Huck--just as earnest as ever I was in my life. Will you go
in there with me and help get it out?"

"I bet I will! I will if it's where we can blaze our way to it and not
get lost."

"Huck, we can do that without the least little bit of trouble in the
world."

"Good as wheat! What makes you think the money's--"

"Huck, you just wait till we get in there. If we don't find it I'll
agree to give you my drum and every thing I've got in the world. I
will, by jings."

"All right--it's a whiz. When do you say?"

"Right now, if you say it. Are you strong enough?"

"Is it far in the cave? I ben on my pins a little, three or four days,
now, but I can't walk more'n a mile, Tom--least I don't think I could."

"It's about five mile into there the way anybody but me would go,
Huck, but there's a mighty short cut that they don't anybody but me
know about. Huck, I'll take you right to it in a skiff. I'll float the
skiff down there, and I'll pull it back again all by myself. You
needn't ever turn your hand over."

"Less start right off, Tom."

"All right. We want some bread and meat, and our pipes, and a little
bag or two, and two or three kite-strings, and some of these new-
fangled things they call lucifer matches. I tell you, many's the time I
wished I had some when I was in there before."

A trifle after noon the boys borrowed a small skiff from a citizen who
was absent, and got under way at once. When they were several miles
below "Cave Hollow," Tom said:

"Now you see this bluff here looks all alike all the way down from the
cave hollow--no houses, no wood-yards, bushes all alike. But do you see
that white place up yonder where there's been a landslide? Well, that's
one of my marks. We'll get ashore, now."

They landed.

"Now, Huck, where we're a-standing you could touch that hole I got out
of with a fishing-pole. See if you can find it."

Huck searched all the place about, and found nothing. Tom proudly
marched into a thick clump of sumach bushes and said:

"Here you are! Look at it, Huck; it's the snuggest hole in this
country. You just keep mum about it. All along I've been wanting to be
a robber, but I knew I'd got to have a thing like this, and where to
run across it was the bother. We've got it now, and we'll keep it
quiet, only we'll let Joe Harper and Ben Rogers in--because of course
there's got to be a Gang, or else there wouldn't be any style about it.
Tom Sawyer's Gang--it sounds splendid, don't it, Huck?"

"Well, it just does, Tom. And who'll we rob?"

"Oh, most anybody. Waylay people--that's mostly the way."

"And kill them?"

"No, not always. Hive them in the cave till they raise a ransom."

"What's a ransom?"

"Money. You make them raise all they can, off'n their friends; and
after you've kept them a year, if it ain't raised then you kill them.
That's the general way. Only you don't kill the women. You shut up the
women, but you don't kill them. They're always beautiful and rich, and
awfully scared. You take their watches and things, but you always take
your hat off and talk polite. They ain't anybody as polite as robbers--
you'll see that in any book. Well, the women get to loving you, and
after they've been in the cave a week or two weeks they stop crying and
after that you couldn't get them to leave. If you drove them out they'd
turn right around and come back. It's so in all the books."

"Why, it's real bully, Tom. I believe it's better'n to be a pirate."

"Yes, it's better in some ways, because it's close to home and
circuses and all that."

By this time everything was ready and the boys entered the hole, Tom
in the lead. They toiled their way to the farther end of the tunnel,
then made their spliced kite-strings fast and moved on. A few steps
brought them to the spring, and Tom felt a shudder quiver all through
him. He showed Huck the fragment of candle-wick perched on a lump of
clay against the wall, and described how he and Becky had watched the
flame struggle and expire.

The boys began to quiet down to whispers, now, for the stillness and
gloom of the place oppressed their spirits. They went on, and presently
entered and followed Tom's other corridor until they reached the
"jumping-off place." The candles revealed the fact that it was not
really a precipice, but only a steep clay hill twenty or thirty feet
high. Tom whispered:

"Now I'll show you something, Huck."

He held his candle aloft and said:

"Look as far around the corner as you can. Do you see that? There--on
the big rock over yonder--done with candle-smoke."

"Tom, it's a CROSS!"

"NOW where's your Number Two? 'UNDER THE CROSS,' hey? Right yonder's
where I saw Injun Joe poke up his candle, Huck!"

Huck stared at the mystic sign awhile, and then said with a shaky voice:

"Tom, less git out of here!"

"What! and leave the treasure?"

"Yes--leave it. Injun Joe's ghost is round about there, certain."

"No it ain't, Huck, no it ain't. It would ha'nt the place where he
died--away out at the mouth of the cave--five mile from here."

"No, Tom, it wouldn't. It would hang round the money. I know the ways
of ghosts, and so do you."

Tom began to fear that Huck was right. Misgivings gathered in his
mind. But presently an idea occurred to him--

"Lookyhere, Huck, what fools we're making of ourselves! Injun Joe's
ghost ain't a going to come around where there's a cross!"

The point was well taken. It had its effect.

"Tom, I didn't think of that. But that's so. It's luck for us, that
cross is. I reckon we'll climb down there and have a hunt for that box."

Tom went first, cutting rude steps in the clay hill as he descended.
Huck followed. Four avenues opened out of the small cavern which the
great rock stood in. The boys examined three of them with no result.
They found a small recess in the one nearest the base of the rock, with
a pallet of blankets spread down in it; also an old suspender, some
bacon rind, and the well-gnawed bones of two or three fowls. But there
was no money-box. The lads searched and researched this place, but in
vain. Tom said:

"He said UNDER the cross. Well, this comes nearest to being under the
cross. It can't be under the rock itself, because that sets solid on
the ground."

They searched everywhere once more, and then sat down discouraged.
Huck could suggest nothing. By-and-by Tom said:

"Lookyhere, Huck, there's footprints and some candle-grease on the
clay about one side of this rock, but not on the other sides. Now,
what's that for? I bet you the money IS under the rock. I'm going to
dig in the clay."

"That ain't no bad notion, Tom!" said Huck with animation.

Tom's "real Barlow" was out at once, and he had not dug four inches
before he struck wood.

"Hey, Huck!--you hear that?"

Huck began to dig and scratch now. Some boards were soon uncovered and
removed. They had concealed a natural chasm which led under the rock.
Tom got into this and held his candle as far under the rock as he
could, but said he could not see to the end of the rift. He proposed to
explore. He stooped and passed under; the narrow way descended
gradually. He followed its winding course, first to the right, then to
the left, Huck at his heels. Tom turned a short curve, by-and-by, and
exclaimed:

"My goodness, Huck, lookyhere!"

It was the treasure-box, sure enough, occupying a snug little cavern,
along with an empty powder-keg, a couple of guns in leather cases, two
or three pairs of old moccasins, a leather belt, and some other rubbish
well soaked with the water-drip.

"Got it at last!" said Huck, ploughing among the tarnished coins with
his hand. "My, but we're rich, Tom!"

"Huck, I always reckoned we'd get it. It's just too good to believe,
but we HAVE got it, sure! Say--let's not fool around here. Let's snake
it out. Lemme see if I can lift the box."

It weighed about fifty pounds. Tom could lift it, after an awkward
fashion, but could not carry it conveniently.

"I thought so," he said; "THEY carried it like it was heavy, that day
at the ha'nted house. I noticed that. I reckon I was right to think of
fetching the little bags along."

The money was soon in the bags and the boys took it up to the cross
rock.

"Now less fetch the guns and things," said Huck.

"No, Huck--leave them there. They're just the tricks to have when we
go to robbing. We'll keep them there all the time, and we'll hold our
orgies there, too. It's an awful snug place for orgies."

"What orgies?"

"I dono. But robbers always have orgies, and of course we've got to
have them, too. Come along, Huck, we've been in here a long time. It's
getting late, I reckon. I'm hungry, too. We'll eat and smoke when we
get to the skiff."

They presently emerged into the clump of sumach bushes, looked warily
out, found the coast clear, and were soon lunching and smoking in the
skiff. As the sun dipped toward the horizon they pushed out and got
under way. Tom skimmed up the shore through the long twilight, chatting
cheerily with Huck, and landed shortly after dark.

"Now, Huck," said Tom, "we'll hide the money in the loft of the
widow's woodshed, and I'll come up in the morning and we'll count it
and divide, and then we'll hunt up a place out in the woods for it
where it will be safe. Just you lay quiet here and watch the stuff till
I run and hook Benny Taylor's little wagon; I won't be gone a minute."

He disappeared, and presently returned with the wagon, put the two
small sacks into it, threw some old rags on top of them, and started
off, dragging his cargo behind him. When the boys reached the
Welshman's house, they stopped to rest. Just as they were about to move
on, the Welshman stepped out and said:

"Hallo, who's that?"

"Huck and Tom Sawyer."

"Good! Come along with me, boys, you are keeping everybody waiting.
Here--hurry up, trot ahead--I'll haul the wagon for you. Why, it's not
as light as it might be. Got bricks in it?--or old metal?"

"Old metal," said Tom.

"I judged so; the boys in this town will take more trouble and fool
away more time hunting up six bits' worth of old iron to sell to the
foundry than they would to make twice the money at regular work. But
that's human nature--hurry along, hurry along!"

The boys wanted to know what the hurry was about.

"Never mind; you'll see, when we get to the Widow Douglas'."

Huck said with some apprehension--for he was long used to being
falsely accused:

"Mr. Jones, we haven't been doing nothing."

The Welshman laughed.

"Well, I don't know, Huck, my boy. I don't know about that. Ain't you
and the widow good friends?"

"Yes. Well, she's ben good friends to me, anyway."

"All right, then. What do you want to be afraid for?"

This question was not entirely answered in Huck's slow mind before he
found himself pushed, along with Tom, into Mrs. Douglas' drawing-room.
Mr. Jones left the wagon near the door and followed.

The place was grandly lighted, and everybody that was of any
consequence in the village was there. The Thatchers were there, the
Harpers, the Rogerses, Aunt Polly, Sid, Mary, the minister, the editor,
and a great many more, and all dressed in their best. The widow
received the boys as heartily as any one could well receive two such
looking beings. They were covered with clay and candle-grease. Aunt
Polly blushed crimson with humiliation, and frowned and shook her head
at Tom. Nobody suffered half as much as the two boys did, however. Mr.
Jones said:

"Tom wasn't at home, yet, so I gave him up; but I stumbled on him and
Huck right at my door, and so I just brought them along in a hurry."

"And you did just right," said the widow. "Come with me, boys."

She took them to a bedchamber and said:

"Now wash and dress yourselves. Here are two new suits of clothes--
shirts, socks, everything complete. They're Huck's--no, no thanks,
Huck--Mr. Jones bought one and I the other. But they'll fit both of you.
Get into them. We'll wait--come down when you are slicked up enough."

Then she left.

< Back
Forward >












Index Index

Other Authors Other Authors


Mark Twain. Copyright 2008, mtwain.com
Contact the webmaster
Disclaimer here. Privacy Policy here.