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Mark Twain > Tom Sawyer Abroad > Chapter XIII

Tom Sawyer Abroad

Chapter XIII


BY AND BY we left Jim to float around up there in
the neighborhood of the pyramids, and we clumb
down to the hole where you go into the tunnel, and
went in with some Arabs and candles, and away in
there in the middle of the pyramid we found a room and
a big stone box in it where they used to keep that king,
just as the man in the Sunday-school said; but he was
gone, now; somebody had got him. But I didn't take
no interest in the place, because there could be ghosts
there, of course; not fresh ones, but I don't like no

So then we come out and got some little donkeys and
rode a piece, and then went in a boat another piece,
and then more donkeys, and got to Cairo; and all the way
the road was as smooth and beautiful a road as ever I
see, and had tall date-pa'ms on both sides, and naked
children everywhere, and the men was as red as copper,
and fine and strong and handsome. And the city was
a curiosity. Such narrow streets -- why, they were
just lanes, and crowded with people with turbans, and
women with veils, and everybody rigged out in blazing
bright clothes and all sorts of colors, and you wondered
how the camels and the people got by each other in
such narrow little cracks, but they done it -- a perfect
jam, you see, and everybody noisy. The stores warn't
big enough to turn around in, but you didn't have to
go in; the storekeeper sat tailor fashion on his counter,
smoking his snaky long pipe, and had his things where
he could reach them to sell, and he was just as good as
in the street, for the camel-loads brushed him as they
went by.

Now and then a grand person flew by in a carriage
with fancy dressed men running and yelling in front of
it and whacking anybody with a long rod that didn't
get out of the way. And by and by along comes the
Sultan riding horseback at the head of a procession,
and fairly took your breath away his clothes was so
splendid; and everybody fell flat and laid on his
stomach while he went by. I forgot, but a feller
helped me to remember. He was one that had a rod
and run in front.

There was churches, but they don't know enough to
keep Sunday; they keep Friday and break the Sab-
bath. You have to take off your shoes when you go
in. There was crowds of men and boys in the church,
setting in groups on the stone floor and making no end
of noise -- getting their lessons by heart, Tom said, out
of the Koran, which they think is a Bible, and people
that knows better knows enough to not let on. I never
see such a big church in my life before, and most awful
high, it was; it made you dizzy to look up; our
village church at home ain't a circumstance to it; if
you was to put it in there, people would think it was a
drygoods box.

What I wanted to see was a dervish, because I was
interested in dervishes on accounts of the one that
played the trick on the camel-driver. So we found a
lot in a kind of a church, and they called themselves
Whirling Dervishes; and they did whirl, too. I never
see anything like it. They had tall sugar-loaf hats on,
and linen petticoats; and they spun and spun and
spun, round and round like tops, and the petticoats
stood out on a slant, and it was the prettiest thing I
ever see, and made me drunk to look at it. They was
all Moslems, Tom said, and when I asked him what a
Moslem was, he said it was a person that wasn't a
Presbyterian. So there is plenty of them in Missouri,
though I didn't know it before.

We didn't see half there was to see in Cairo, because
Tom was in such a sweat to hunt out places that was
celebrated in history. We had a most tiresome time to
find the granary where Joseph stored up the grain
before the famine, and when we found it it warn't
worth much to look at, being such an old tumble-down
wreck; but Tom was satisfied, and made more fuss over
it than I would make if I stuck a nail in my foot.
How he ever found that place was too many for me.
We passed as much as forty just like it before we come
to it, and any of them would 'a' done for me, but none
but just the right one would suit him; I never see any-
body so particular as Tom Sawyer. The minute he
struck the right one he reconnized it as easy as I would
reconnize my other shirt if I had one, but how he done
it he couldn't any more tell than he could fly; he said
so himself.

Then we hunted a long time for the house where the
boy lived that learned the cadi how to try the case of
the old olives and the new ones, and said it was out of
the Arabian Nights, and he would tell me and Jim
about it when he got time. Well, we hunted and
hunted till I was ready to drop, and I wanted Tom to
give it up and come next day and git somebody that
knowed the town and could talk Missourian and could
go straight to the place; but no, he wanted to find it
himself, and nothing else would answer. So on we
went. Then at last the remarkablest thing happened I
ever see. The house was gone -- gone hundreds of
years ago -- every last rag of it gone but just one mud
brick. Now a person wouldn't ever believe that a
backwoods Missouri boy that hadn't ever been in that
town before could go and hunt that place over and find
that brick, but Tom Sawyer done it. I know he done
it, because I see him do it. I was right by his very
side at the time, and see him see the brick and see him
reconnize it. Well, I says to myself, how DOES he do
it? Is it knowledge, or is it instink?

Now there's the facts, just as they happened: let
everybody explain it their own way. I've ciphered
over it a good deal, and it's my opinion that some of it
is knowledge but the main bulk of it is instink. The
reason is this: Tom put the brick in his pocket to give
to a museum with his name on it and the facts when he
went home, and I slipped it out and put another brick
considerable like it in its place, and he didn't know the
difference -- but there was a difference, you see. I
think that settles it -- it's mostly instink, not knowledge.
Instink tells him where the exact PLACE is for the brick to
be in, and so he reconnizes it by the place it's in, not
by the look of the brick. If it was knowledge, not
instink, he would know the brick again by the look of
it the next time he seen it -- which he didn't. So it
shows that for all the brag you hear about knowledge
being such a wonderful thing, instink is worth forty of
it for real unerringness. Jim says the same.

When we got back Jim dropped down and took us
in, and there was a young man there with a red skull-
cap and tassel on and a beautiful silk jacket and baggy
trousers with a shawl around his waist and pistols in it
that could talk English and wanted to hire to us as
guide and take us to Mecca and Medina and Central
Africa and everywheres for a half a dollar a day and his
keep, and we hired him and left, and piled on the
power, and by the time we was through dinner we was
over the place where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea
when Pharaoh tried to overtake them and was caught
by the waters. We stopped, then, and had a good
look at the place, and it done Jim good to see it. He
said he could see it all, now, just the way it happened;
he could see the Israelites walking along between the
walls of water, and the Egyptians coming, from away
off yonder, hurrying all they could, and see them start
in as the Israelites went out, and then when they was
all in, see the walls tumble together and drown the last
man of them. Then we piled on the power again and
rushed away and huvvered over Mount Sinai, and saw
the place where Moses broke the tables of stone, and
where the children of Israel camped in the plain and
worshiped the golden calf, and it was all just as
interesting as could be, and the guide knowed every
place as well as I knowed the village at home.

But we had an accident, now, and it fetched all the
plans to a standstill. Tom's old ornery corn-cob pipe
had got so old and swelled and warped that she couldn't
hold together any longer, notwithstanding the strings
and bandages, but caved in and went to pieces. Tom
he didn't know WHAT to do. The professor's pipe
wouldn't answer; it warn't anything but a mershum,
and a person that's got used to a cob pipe knows it
lays a long ways over all the other pipes in this world,
and you can't git him to smoke any other. He
wouldn't take mine, I couldn't persuade him. So
there he was.

He thought it over, and said we must scour around
and see if we could roust out one in Egypt or Arabia or
around in some of these countries, but the guide said no,
it warn't no use, they didn't have them. So Tom was
pretty glum for a little while, then he chirked up and said
he'd got the idea and knowed what to do. He says:

"I've got another corn-cob pipe, and it's a prime
one, too, and nearly new. It's laying on the rafter
that's right over the kitchen stove at home in the
village. Jim, you and the guide will go and get it,
and me and Huck will camp here on Mount Sinai till
you come back."

"But, Mars Tom, we couldn't ever find de village.
I could find de pipe, 'case I knows de kitchen, but my
lan', we can't ever find de village, nur Sent Louis, nur
none o' dem places. We don't know de way, Mars

That was a fact, and it stumped Tom for a minute.
Then he said:

"Looky here, it can be done, sure; and I'll tell you
how. You set your compass and sail west as straight
as a dart, till you find the United States. It ain't any
trouble, because it's the first land you'll strike the other
side of the Atlantic. If it's daytime when you strike it,
bulge right on, straight west from the upper part of the
Florida coast, and in an hour and three quarters you'll
hit the mouth of the Mississippi -- at the speed that
I'm going to send you. You'll be so high up in the
air that the earth will be curved considerable -- sorter
like a washbowl turned upside down -- and you'll see a
raft of rivers crawling around every which way, long
before you get there, and you can pick out the Miss-
issippi without any trouble. Then you can follow the
river north nearly, an hour and three quarters, till you
see the Ohio come in; then you want to look sharp,
because you're getting near. Away up to your left
you'll see another thread coming in -- that's the
Missouri and is a little above St. Louis. You'll come
down low then, so as you can examine the villages as
you spin along. You'll pass about twenty-five in the
next fifteen minutes, and you'll recognize ours when
you see it -- and if you don't, you can yell down and

"Ef it's dat easy, Mars Tom, I reckon we kin do
it -- yassir, I knows we kin."

The guide was sure of it, too, and thought that he
could learn to stand his watch in a little while.

"Jim can learn you the whole thing in a half an
hour," Tom said. "This balloon's as easy to manage
as a canoe."

Tom got out the chart and marked out the course
and measured it, and says:

"To go back west is the shortest way, you see.
It's only about seven thousand miles. If you went
east, and so on around, it's over twice as far." Then
he says to the guide, "I want you both to watch the
tell-tale all through the watches, and whenever it don't
mark three hundred miles an hour, you go higher or
drop lower till you find a storm-current that's going
your way. There's a hundred miles an hour in this
old thing without any wind to help. There's two-
hundred-mile gales to be found, any time you want to
hunt for them."

"We'll hunt for them, sir."

"See that you do. Sometimes you may have to
go up a couple of miles, and it'll be p'ison cold, but
most of the time you'll find your storm a good deal
lower. If you can only strike a cyclone -- that's the
ticket for you! You'll see by the professor's books
that they travel west in these latitudes; and they travel
low, too."

Then he ciphered on the time, and says --

"Seven thousand miles, three hundred miles an
hour -- you can make the trip in a day -- twenty-four
hours. This is Thursday; you'll be back here Sat-
urday afternoon. Come, now, hustle out some blankets
and food and books and things for me and Huck, and
you can start right along. There ain't no occasion to
fool around -- I want a smoke, and the quicker you
fetch that pipe the better."

All hands jumped for the things, and in eight min-
utes our things was out and the balloon was ready for
America. So we shook hands good-bye, and Tom
gave his last orders:

"It's 1O minutes to 2 P.M. now, Mount Sinai time.
In 24 hours you'll be home, and it'll be 6 to-mor-
row morning, village time. When you strike the
village, land a little back of the top of the hill, in the
woods, out of sight; then you rush down, Jim, and
shove these letters in the post-office, and if you see
anybody stirring, pull your slouch down over your face
so they won't know you. Then you go and slip in the
back way to the kitchen and git the pipe, and lay this
piece of paper on the kitchen table, and put something
on it to hold it, and then slide out and git away, and
don't let Aunt Polly catch a sight of you, nor nobody
else. Then you jump for the balloon and shove for
Mount Sinai three hundred miles an hour. You won't
have lost more than an hour. You'll start back at 7 or
8 A.M., village time, and be here in 24 hours, arriving
at 2 or 3 P.M., Mount Sinai time."

Tom he read the piece of paper to us. He had
wrote on it:

"THURSDAY AFTERNOON. Tom Sawyer the Erro-
nort sends his love to Aunt Polly from Mount Sinai
where the Ark was, and so does Huck Finn, and she
will get it to-morrow morning half-past six." *

[* This misplacing of the Ark is probably Huck's
error, not Tom's. -- M.T.]

"That'll make her eyes bulge out and the tears
come," he says. Then he says:

"Stand by! One -- two -- three -- away you go!"

And away she DID go! Why, she seemed to whiz
out of sight in a second.

Then we found a most comfortable cave that looked
out over the whole big plain, and there we camped to
wait for the pipe.

The balloon come hack all right, and brung the pipe;
but Aunt Polly had catched Jim when he was getting
it, and anybody can guess what happened: she sent
for Tom. So Jim he says:

"Mars Tom, she's out on de porch wid her eye sot on
de sky a-layin' for you, en she say she ain't gwyne to
budge from dah tell she gits hold of you. Dey's gwyne
to be trouble, Mars Tom, 'deed dey is."

So then we shoved for home, and not feeling very
gay, neither.


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