The Complete Works of Mark Twain


 
 
Mark Twain > Tom Sawyer Abroad > Chapter III

Tom Sawyer Abroad

Chapter III


TOM EXPLAINS

WE went to sleep about four o'clock, and woke up
about eight. The professor was setting back
there at his end, looking glum. He pitched us some
breakfast, but he told us not to come abaft the midship
compass. That was about the middle of the boat.
Well, when you are sharp-set, and you eat and satisfy
yourself, everything looks pretty different from what it
done before. It makes a body feel pretty near com-
fortable, even when he is up in a balloon with a genius.
We got to talking together.

There was one thing that kept bothering me, and by
and by I says:

"Tom, didn't we start east?"

"Yes."

"How fast have we been going?"

"Well, you heard what the professor said when he
was raging round. Sometimes, he said, we was making
fifty miles an hour, sometimes ninety, sometimes a
hundred; said that with a gale to help he could make
three hundred any time, and said if he wanted the gale,
and wanted it blowing the right direction, he only had
to go up higher or down lower to find it."

"Well, then, it's just as I reckoned. The professor
lied."

"Why?"

"Because if we was going so fast we ought to be
past Illinois, oughtn't we?"

"Certainly."

"Well, we ain't."

"What's the reason we ain't?"

"I know by the color. We're right over Illinois
yet. And you can see for yourself that Indiana ain't
in sight."

"I wonder what's the matter with you, Huck. You
know by the COLOR?"

"Yes, of course I do."

"What's the color got to do with it?"

"It's got everything to do with it. Illinois is green,
Indiana is pink. You show me any pink down here,
if you can. No, sir; it's green."

"Indiana PINK? Why, what a lie!"

"It ain't no lie; I've seen it on the map, and it's
pink."

You never see a person so aggravated and disgusted.
He says:

"Well, if I was such a numbskull as you, Huck
Finn, I would jump over. Seen it on the map! Huck
Finn, did you reckon the States was the same color
out-of-doors as they are on the map?"

"Tom Sawyer, what's a map for? Ain't it to learn
you facts?"

"Of course."

"Well, then, how's it going to do that if it tells lies?
That's what I want to know."

"Shucks, you muggins! It don't tell lies."

"It don't, don't it?"

"No, it don't."

"All right, then; if it don't, there ain't no two
States the same color. You git around THAT if you
can, Tom Sawyer."

He see I had him, and Jim see it too; and I tell
you, I felt pretty good, for Tom Sawyer was always a
hard person to git ahead of. Jim slapped his leg and
says:

"I tell YOU! dat's smart, dat's right down smart.
Ain't no use, Mars Tom; he got you DIS time, sho'!"
He slapped his leg again, and says, "My LAN', but it
was smart one!"

I never felt so good in my life; and yet I didn't
know I was saying anything much till it was out. I
was just mooning along, perfectly careless, and not
expecting anything was going to happen, and never
THINKING of such a thing at all, when, all of a sudden,
out it came. Why, it was just as much a surprise to
me as it was to any of them. It was just the same way
it is when a person is munching along on a hunk of
corn-pone, and not thinking about anything, and all of
a sudden bites into a di'mond. Now all that HE knows
first off is that it's some kind of gravel he's bit into;
but he don't find out it's a di'mond till he gits it out
and brushes off the sand and crumbs and one thing or
another, and has a look at it, and then he's surprised
and glad -- yes, and proud too; though when you
come to look the thing straight in the eye, he ain't
entitled to as much credit as he would 'a' been if he'd
been HUNTING di'monds. You can see the difference
easy if you think it over. You see, an accident, that
way, ain't fairly as big a thing as a thing that's done
a-purpose. Anybody could find that di'mond in that
corn-pone; but mind you, it's got to be somebody
that's got THAT KIND OF A CORN-PONE. That's where that
feller's credit comes in, you see; and that's where
mine comes in. I don't claim no great things -- I
don't reckon I could 'a' done it again -- but I done it
that time; that's all I claim. And I hadn't no more
idea I could do such a thing, and warn't any more
thinking about it or trying to, than you be this minute.
Why, I was just as ca'm, a body couldn't be any
ca'mer, and yet, all of a sudden, out it come. I've
often thought of that time, and I can remember just
the way everything looked, same as if it was only last
week. I can see it all: beautiful rolling country with
woods and fields and lakes for hundreds and hundreds
of miles all around, and towns and villages scattered
everywheres under us, here and there and yonder; and
the professor mooning over a chart on his little table,
and Tom's cap flopping in the rigging where it was
hung up to dry. And one thing in particular was a
bird right alongside, not ten foot off, going our way
and trying to keep up, but losing ground all the time;
and a railroad train doing the same thing down there,
sliding among the trees and farms, and pouring out a
long cloud of black smoke and now and then a little
puff of white; and when the white was gone so long
you had almost forgot it, you would hear a little faint
toot, and that was the whistle. And we left the bird
and the train both behind, 'WAY behind, and done it
easy, too.

But Tom he was huffy, and said me and Jim was a
couple of ignorant blatherskites, and then he says:

"Suppose there's a brown calf and a big brown dog,
and an artist is making a picture of them. What is the
MAIN thing that that artist has got to do? He has got
to paint them so you can tell them apart the minute
you look at them, hain't he? Of course. Well, then,
do you want him to go and paint BOTH of them brown?
Certainly you don't. He paints one of them blue,
and then you can't make no mistake. It's just the
same with the maps. That's why they make every
State a different color; it ain't to deceive you, it's to
keep you from deceiving yourself."

But I couldn't see no argument about that, and
neither could Jim. Jim shook his head, and says:

"Why, Mars Tom, if you knowed what chuckle-
heads dem painters is, you'd wait a long time before
you'd fetch one er DEM in to back up a fac'. I's
gwine to tell you, den you kin see for you'self. I see
one of 'em a-paintin' away, one day, down in ole
Hank Wilson's back lot, en I went down to see, en he
was paintin' dat old brindle cow wid de near horn
gone -- you knows de one I means. En I ast him
what he's paintin' her for, en he say when he git her
painted, de picture's wuth a hundred dollars. Mars
Tom, he could a got de cow fer fifteen, en I tole him
so. Well, sah, if you'll b'lieve me, he jes' shuck his
head, dat painter did, en went on a-dobbin'. Bless
you, Mars Tom, DEY don't know nothin'."

Tom lost his temper. I notice a person 'most always
does that's got laid out in an argument. He told us to
shut up, and maybe we'd feel better. Then he see a
town clock away off down yonder, and he took up the
glass and looked at it, and then looked at his silver
turnip, and then at the clock, and then at the turnip
again, and says:

"That's funny! That clock's near about an hour
fast."

So he put up his turnip. Then he see another clock,
and took a look, and it was an hour fast too. That
puzzled him.

"That's a mighty curious thing," he says. "I
don't understand it."

Then he took the glass and hunted up another clock,
and sure enough it was an hour fast too. Then his
eyes began to spread and his breath to come out kinder
gaspy like, and he says:

"Ger-reat Scott, it's the LONGITUDE!"

I says, considerably scared:

"Well, what's been and gone and happened now?"

"Why, the thing that's happened is that this old
bladder has slid over Illinois and Indiana and Ohio like
nothing, and this is the east end of Pennsylvania or
New York, or somewheres around there."

"Tom Sawyer, you don't mean it!"

"Yes, I do, and it's dead sure. We've covered
about fifteen degrees of longitude since we left St.
Louis yesterday afternoon, and them clocks are right.
We've come close on to eight hundred miles."

I didn't believe it, but it made the cold streaks
trickle down my back just the same. In my experi-
ence I knowed it wouldn't take much short of two
weeks to do it down the Mississippi on a raft.
Jim was working his mind and studying. Pretty
soon he says:

"Mars Tom, did you say dem clocks uz right?"

"Yes, they're right."

"Ain't yo' watch right, too?"

"She's right for St. Louis, but she's an hour wrong
for here."

"Mars Tom, is you tryin' to let on dat de time ain't
de SAME everywheres?"

"No, it ain't the same everywheres, by a long
shot."

Jim looked distressed, and says:

"It grieves me to hear you talk like dat, Mars Tom;
I's right down ashamed to hear you talk like dat, arter
de way you's been raised. Yassir, it'd break yo' Aunt
Polly's heart to hear you."

Tom was astonished. He looked Jim over wonder-
ing, and didn't say nothing, and Jim went on:

"Mars Tom, who put de people out yonder in St.
Louis? De Lord done it. Who put de people here
whar we is? De Lord done it. Ain' dey bofe his
children? 'Cose dey is. WELL, den! is he gwine to
SCRIMINATE 'twixt 'em?"

"Scriminate! I never heard such ignorance. There
ain't no discriminating about it. When he makes you
and some more of his children black, and makes the
rest of us white, what do you call that?"

Jim see the p'int. He was stuck. He couldn't
answer. Tom says:

"He does discriminate, you see, when he wants to;
but this case HERE ain't no discrimination of his, it's
man's. The Lord made the day, and he made the
night; but he didn't invent the hours, and he didn't
distribute them around. Man did that."

"Mars Tom, is dat so? Man done it?"

"Certainly."

"Who tole him he could?"

"Nobody. He never asked."

Jim studied a minute, and says:

"Well, dat do beat me. I wouldn't 'a' tuck no
sich resk. But some people ain't scared o' nothin'.
Dey bangs right ahead; DEY don't care what happens.
So den dey's allays an hour's diff'unce everywhah,
Mars Tom?"

"An hour? No! It's four minutes difference for
every degree of longitude, you know. Fifteen of 'em's
an hour, thirty of 'em's two hours, and so on. When
it's one clock Tuesday morning in England, it's eight
o'clock the night before in New York."

Jim moved a little way along the locker, and you
could see he was insulted. He kept shaking his head
and muttering, and so I slid along to him and patted
him on the leg, and petted him up, and got him over
the worst of his feelings, and then he says:

"Mars Tom talkin' sich talk as dat! Choosday in
one place en Monday in t'other, bofe in the same day!
Huck, dis ain't no place to joke -- up here whah we is.
Two days in one day! How you gwine to get two
days inter one day? Can't git two hours inter one
hour, kin you? Can't git two niggers inter one nigger
skin, kin you? Can't git two gallons of whisky inter a
one-gallon jug, kin you? No, sir, 'twould strain de
jug. Yes, en even den you couldn't, I don't believe.
Why, looky here, Huck, s'posen de Choosday was
New Year's -- now den! is you gwine to tell me it's
dis year in one place en las' year in t'other, bofe in de
identical same minute? It's de beatenest rubbage! I
can't stan' it -- I can't stan' to hear tell 'bout it."
Then he begun to shiver and turn gray, and Tom
says:

"NOW what's the matter? What's the trouble?"

Jim could hardly speak, but he says:

"Mars Tom, you ain't jokin', en it's SO?"

"No, I'm not, and it is so."

Jim shivered again, and says:

"Den dat Monday could be de las' day, en dey
wouldn't be no las' day in England, en de dead
wouldn't be called. We mustn't go over dah, Mars
Tom. Please git him to turn back; I wants to be
whah --"

All of a sudden we see something, and all jumped
up, and forgot everything and begun to gaze. Tom
says:

"Ain't that the --" He catched his breath, then
says: "It IS, sure as you live! It's the ocean!"

That made me and Jim catch our breath, too. Then
we all stood petrified but happy, for none of us had
ever seen an ocean, or ever expected to. Tom kept
muttering:

"Atlantic Ocean -- Atlantic. Land, don't it sound
great! And that's IT -- and WE are looking at it -- we!
Why, it's just too splendid to believe!"

Then we see a big bank of black smoke; and when
we got nearer, it was a city -- and a monster she was,
too, with a thick fringe of ships around one edge; and
we wondered if it was New York, and begun to jaw
and dispute about it, and, first we knowed, it slid from
under us and went flying behind, and here we was, out
over the very ocean itself, and going like a cyclone.
Then we woke up, I tell you!

We made a break aft and raised a wail, and begun to
beg the professor to turn back and land us, but
he jerked out his pistol and motioned us back,
and we went, but nobody will ever know how bad we
felt.

The land was gone, all but a little streak, like a
snake, away off on the edge of the water, and down
under us was just ocean, ocean, ocean -- millions of
miles of it, heaving and pitching and squirming, and
white sprays blowing from the wave-tops, and only a
few ships in sight, wallowing around and laying over,
first on one side and then on t'other, and sticking their
bows under and then their sterns; and before long
there warn't no ships at all, and we had the sky and
the whole ocean all to ourselves, and the roomiest place
I ever see and the lonesomest.

< Back
Forward >












Index Index

Other Authors Other Authors


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