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Mark Twain > Tom Sawyer Abroad > Chapter IV

Tom Sawyer Abroad

Chapter IV


STORM

AND it got lonesomer and lonesomer. There was
the big sky up there, empty and awful deep; and
the ocean down there without a thing on it but just the
waves. All around us was a ring, where the sky and
the water come together; yes, a monstrous big ring it
was, and we right in the dead center of it -- plumb in
the center. We was racing along like a prairie fire, but
it never made any difference, we couldn't seem to git
past that center no way. I couldn't see that we ever
gained an inch on that ring. It made a body feel
creepy, it was so curious and unaccountable.

Well, everything was so awful still that we got to
talking in a very low voice, and kept on getting creepier
and lonesomer and less and less talky, till at last the
talk ran dry altogether, and we just set there and
"thunk," as Jim calls it, and never said a word the
longest time.

The professor never stirred till the sun was overhead,
then he stood up and put a kind of triangle to his eye,
and Tom said it was a sextant and he was taking the
sun to see whereabouts the balloon was. Then he
ciphered a little and looked in a book, and then he
begun to carry on again. He said lots of wild things,
and, among others, he said he would keep up this
hundred-mile gait till the middle of to-morrow after-
noon, and then he'd land in London.

We said we would be humbly thankful.

He was turning away, but he whirled around when
we said that, and give us a long look of his blackest
kind -- one of the maliciousest and suspiciousest looks
I ever see. Then he says:

"You want to leave me. Don't try to deny it."

We didn't know what to say, so we held in and
didn't say nothing at all.

He went aft and set down, but he couldn't seem to
git that thing out of his mind. Every now and then he
would rip out something about it, and try to make us
answer him, but we dasn't.

It got lonesomer and lonesomer right along, and it
did seem to me I couldn't stand it. It was still worse
when night begun to come on. By and by Tom
pinched me and whispers:

"Look!"

I took a glance aft, and see the professor taking a
whet out of a bottle. I didn't like the looks of that.
By and by he took another drink, and pretty soon he
begun to sing. It was dark now, and getting black
and stormy. He went on singing, wilder and wilder,
and the thunder begun to mutter, and the wind to
wheeze and moan among the ropes, and altogether it
was awful. It got so black we couldn't see him any
more, and wished we couldn't hear him, but we could.
Then he got still; but he warn't still ten minutes till
we got suspicious, and wished he would start up his
noise again, so we could tell where he was. By and by
there was a flash of lightning, and we see him start to
get up, but he staggered and fell down. We heard
him scream out in the dark:

"They don't want to go to England. All right, I'll
change the course. They want to leave me. I know
they do. Well, they shall -- and NOW!"

I 'most died when he said that. Then he was still
again -- still so long I couldn't bear it, and it did seem
to me the lightning wouldn't EVER come again. But at
last there was a blessed flash, and there he was, on his
hands and knees crawling, and not four feet from us.
My, but his eyes was terrible! He made a lunge for
Tom, and says, "Overboard YOU go!" but it was
already pitch-dark again, and I couldn't see whether
he got him or not, and Tom didn't make a sound.

There was another long, horrible wait; then there
was a flash, and I see Tom's head sink down outside
the boat and disappear. He was on the rope-ladder
that dangled down in the air from the gunnel. The
professor let off a shout and jumped for him, and
straight off it was pitch-dark again, and Jim groaned
out, "Po' Mars Tom, he's a goner!" and made a
jump for the professor, but the professor warn't there.

Then we heard a couple of terrible screams, and then
another not so loud, and then another that was 'way
below, and you could only JUST hear it; and I heard
Jim say, "Po' Mars Tom!"

Then it was awful still, and I reckon a person could
'a' counted four thousand before the next flash come.
When it come I see Jim on his knees, with his arms
on the locker and his face buried in them, and he was
crying. Before I could look over the edge it was all
dark again, and I was glad, because I didn't want to
see. But when the next flash come, I was watching,
and down there I see somebody a-swinging in the wind
on the ladder, and it was Tom!

"Come up!" I shouts; "come up, Tom!"

His voice was so weak, and the wind roared so, I
couldn't make out what he said, but I thought he asked
was the professor up there. I shouts:

"No, he's down in the ocean! Come up! Can
we help you?"

Of course, all this in the dark.

"Huck, who is you hollerin' at?"

"I'm hollerin' at Tom."

"Oh, Huck, how kin you act so, when you know
po' Mars Tom --" Then he let off an awful scream,
and flung his head and his arms back and let off another
one, because there was a white glare just then, and he
had raised up his face just in time to see Tom's, as
white as snow, rise above the gunnel and look him right
in the eye. He thought it was Tom's ghost, you
see.

Tom clumb aboard, and when Jim found it WAS him,
and not his ghost, he hugged him, and called him all
sorts of loving names, and carried on like he was gone
crazy, he was so glad. Says I:

"What did you wait for, Tom? Why didn't you
come up at first?"

"I dasn't, Huck. I knowed somebody plunged
down past me, but I didn't know who it was in the
dark. It could 'a' been you, it could 'a' been Jim."

That was the way with Tom Sawyer -- always sound.
He warn't coming up till he knowed where the pro-
fessor was.

The storm let go about this time with all its might;
and it was dreadful the way the thunder boomed and
tore, and the lightning glared out, and the wind sung
and screamed in the rigging, and the rain come down.
One second you couldn't see your hand before you,
and the next you could count the threads in your coat-
sleeve, and see a whole wide desert of waves pitching
and tossing through a kind of veil of rain. A storm
like that is the loveliest thing there is, but it ain't at its
best when you are up in the sky and lost, and it's wet
and lonesome, and there's just been a death in the
family.

We set there huddled up in the bow, and talked low
about the poor professor; and everybody was sorry
for him, and sorry the world had made fun of him and
treated him so harsh, when he was doing the best he
could, and hadn't a friend nor nobody to encourage
him and keep him from brooding his mind away and
going deranged. There was plenty of clothes and
blankets and everything at the other end, but we
thought we'd ruther take the rain than go meddling
back there.

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