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Mark Twain > Tom Sawyer, Detective > Chapter IX

Tom Sawyer, Detective

Chapter IX


IN the next two or three days Dummy he got to be powerful
popular. He went associating around with the neighbors,
and they made much of him, and was proud to have such a
rattling curiosity among them. They had him to breakfast,
they had him to dinner, they had him to supper; they kept
him loaded up with hog and hominy, and warn't ever tired
staring at him and wondering over him, and wishing they
knowed more about him, he was so uncommon and romantic.
His signs warn't no good; people couldn't understand them
and he prob'ly couldn't himself, but he done a sight of
goo-gooing, and so everybody was satisfied, and admired to hear
him go it. He toted a piece of slate around, and a pencil;
and people wrote questions on it and he wrote answers;
but there warn't anybody could read his writing but
Brace Dunlap. Brace said he couldn't read it very good,
but he could manage to dig out the meaning most of the time.
He said Dummy said he belonged away off somers and used to be
well off, but got busted by swindlers which he had trusted,
and was poor now, and hadn't any way to make a living.

Everybody praised Brace Dunlap for being so good to
that stranger. He let him have a little log-cabin
all to himself, and had his niggers take care of it,
and fetch him all the vittles he wanted.

Dummy was at our house some, because old Uncle Silas was
so afflicted himself, these days, that anybody else that was
afflicted was a comfort to him. Me and Tom didn't let on
that we had knowed him before, and he didn't let on that he
had knowed us before. The family talked their troubles
out before him the same as if he wasn't there, but we
reckoned it wasn't any harm for him to hear what they said.
Generly he didn't seem to notice, but sometimes he did.

Well, two or three days went along, and everybody got to
getting uneasy about Jubiter Dunlap. Everybody was asking
everybody if they had any idea what had become of him.
No, they hadn't, they said: and they shook their heads
and said there was something powerful strange about it.
Another and another day went by; then there was a report got
around that praps he was murdered. You bet it made a big
stir! Everybody's tongue was clacking away after that.
Saturday two or three gangs turned out and hunted the
woods to see if they could run across his remainders.
Me and Tom helped, and it was noble good times and exciting.
Tom he was so brimful of it he couldn't eat nor rest.
He said if we could find that corpse we would be celebrated,
and more talked about than if we got drownded.

The others got tired and give it up; but not Tom
Sawyer--that warn't his style. Saturday night he
didn't sleep any, hardly, trying to think up a plan;
and towards daylight in the morning he struck it.
He snaked me out of bed and was all excited, and says:

"Quick, Huck, snatch on your clothes--I've got it! Bloodhound!"

In two minutes we was tearing up the river road in the dark
towards the village. Old Jeff Hooker had a bloodhound,
and Tom was going to borrow him. I says:

"The trail's too old, Tom--and besides, it's rained,
you know."

"It don't make any difference, Huck. If the body's hid
in the woods anywhere around the hound will find it.
If he's been murdered and buried, they wouldn't bury him deep,
it ain't likely, and if the dog goes over the spot he'll
scent him, sure. Huck, we're going to be celebrated,
sure as you're born!"

He was just a-blazing; and whenever he got afire he was most
likely to get afire all over. That was the way this time.
In two minutes he had got it all ciphered out, and wasn't
only just going to find the corpse--no, he was going to
get on the track of that murderer and hunt HIM down, too;
and not only that, but he was going to stick to him till--
"Well," I says, "you better find the corpse first;
I reckon that's a-plenty for to-day. For all we know,
there AIN'T any corpse and nobody hain't been murdered.
That cuss could 'a' gone off somers and not been killed
at all."

That graveled him, and he says:

"Huck Finn, I never see such a person as you to want
to spoil everything. As long as YOU can't see anything
hopeful in a thing, you won't let anybody else. What good
can it do you to throw cold water on that corpse and get
up that selfish theory that there ain't been any murder?
None in the world. I don't see how you can act so.
I wouldn't treat you like that, and you know it.
Here we've got a noble good opportunity to make
a ruputation, and--"

"Oh, go ahead," I says. "I'm sorry, and I take it all back.
I didn't mean nothing. Fix it any way you want it.
HE ain't any consequence to me. If he's killed, I'm as glad
of it as you are; and if he--"

"I never said anything about being glad; I only--"

"Well, then, I'm as SORRY as you are. Any way you
druther have it, that is the way I druther have it. He--"

"There ain't any druthers ABOUT it, Huck Finn; nobody said
anything about druthers. And as for--"

He forgot he was talking, and went tramping along, studying.
He begun to get excited again, and pretty soon he says:

"Huck, it'll be the bulliest thing that ever happened
if we find the body after everybody else has quit looking,
and then go ahead and hunt up the murderer. It won't only
be an honor to us, but it'll be an honor to Uncle Silas
because it was us that done it. It'll set him up again,
you see if it don't."

But Old Jeff Hooker he throwed cold water on the whole
business when we got to his blacksmith shop and told him
what we come for.

"You can take the dog," he says, "but you ain't a-going
to find any corpse, because there ain't any corpse to find.
Everybody's quit looking, and they're right. Soon as they
come to think, they knowed there warn't no corpse.
And I'll tell you for why. What does a person kill another
person for, Tom Sawyer?--answer me that."

"Why, he--er--"

"Answer up! You ain't no fool. What does he kill him FOR?"

"Well, sometimes it's for revenge, and--"

"Wait. One thing at a time. Revenge, says you; and right
you are. Now who ever had anything agin that poor trifling
no-account? Who do you reckon would want to kill HIM?--
that rabbit!"

Tom was stuck. I reckon he hadn't thought of a person
having to have a REASON for killing a person before,
and now he sees it warn't likely anybody would have that
much of a grudge against a lamb like Jubiter Dunlap.
The blacksmith says, by and by:

"The revenge idea won't work, you see. Well, then,
what's next? Robbery? B'gosh, that must 'a' been it,
Tom! Yes, sirree, I reckon we've struck it this time.
Some feller wanted his gallus-buckles, and so he--"

But it was so funny he busted out laughing, and just went
on laughing and laughing and laughing till he was 'most dead,
and Tom looked so put out and cheap that I knowed he
was ashamed he had come, and he wished he hadn't. But
old Hooker never let up on him. He raked up everything
a person ever could want to kill another person about,
and any fool could see they didn't any of them fit
this case, and he just made no end of fun of the whole
business and of the people that had been hunting the body;
and he said:

"If they'd had any sense they'd 'a' knowed the lazy cuss slid
out because he wanted a loafing spell after all this work.
He'll come pottering back in a couple of weeks, and then
how'll you fellers feel? But, laws bless you, take the dog,
and go and hunt his remainders. Do, Tom."

Then he busted out, and had another of them forty-rod laughs
of hisn. Tom couldn't back down after all this, so he said,
"All right, unchain him;" and the blacksmith done it,
and we started home and left that old man laughing yet.

It was a lovely dog. There ain't any dog that's got
a lovelier disposition than a bloodhound, and this one
knowed us and liked us. He capered and raced around ever
so friendly, and powerful glad to be free and have a holiday;
but Tom was so cut up he couldn't take any intrust
in him, and said he wished he'd stopped and thought
a minute before he ever started on such a fool errand.
He said old Jeff Hooker would tell everybody, and we'd
never hear the last of it.

So we loafed along home down the back lanes, feeling pretty
glum and not talking. When we was passing the far corner
of our tobacker field we heard the dog set up a long howl
in there, and we went to the place and he was scratching
the ground with all his might, and every now and then
canting up his head sideways and fetching another howl.

It was a long square, the shape of a grave; the rain had made
it sink down and show the shape. The minute we come and
stood there we looked at one another and never said a word.
When the dog had dug down only a few inches he grabbed
something and pulled it up, and it was an arm and a sleeve.
Tom kind of gasped out, and says:

"Come away, Huck--it's found."

I just felt awful. We struck for the road and fetched
the first men that come along. They got a spade at
the crib and dug out the body, and you never see such
an excitement. You couldn't make anything out of the face,
but you didn't need to. Everybody said:

"Poor Jubiter; it's his clothes, to the last rag!"

Some rushed off to spread the news and tell the justice
of the peace and have an inquest, and me and Tom lit out
for the house. Tom was all afire and 'most out of breath
when we come tearing in where Uncle Silas and Aunt Sally
and Benny was. Tom sung out:

"Me and Huck's found Jubiter Dunlap's corpse all by ourselves
with a bloodhound, after everybody else had quit hunting
and given it up; and if it hadn't a been for us it never
WOULD 'a' been found; and he WAS murdered too--they done
it with a club or something like that; and I'm going
to start in and find the murderer, next, and I bet I'll do it!"

Aunt Sally and Benny sprung up pale and astonished,
but Uncle Silas fell right forward out of his chair on
to the floor and groans out:

"Oh, my God, you've found him NOW!"

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