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Mark Twain > Tom Sawyer Abroad > Chapter X

Tom Sawyer Abroad

Chapter X


TOM said it happened like this.

A dervish was stumping it along through the
Desert, on foot, one blazing hot day, and he had come
a thousand miles and was pretty poor, and hungry,
and ornery and tired, and along about where we are
now he run across a camel-driver with a hundred
camels, and asked him for some a'ms. But the camel-
driver he asked to be excused. The dervish said:

"Don't you own these camels?"

"Yes, they're mine."

"Are you in debt?"

"Who -- me? No."

"Well, a man that owns a hundred camels and ain't
in debt is rich -- and not only rich, but very rich.
Ain't it so?"

The camel-driver owned up that it was so. Then
the dervish says:

"God has made you rich, and He has made me
poor. He has His reasons, and they are wise, blessed
be His name. But He has willed that His rich shall
help His poor, and you have turned away from me,
your brother, in my need, and He will remember this,
and you will lose by it."

That made the camel-driver feel shaky, but all the
same he was born hoggish after money and didn't like
to let go a cent; so he begun to whine and explain,
and said times was hard, and although he had took a
full freight down to Balsora and got a fat rate for it,
he couldn't git no return freight, and so he warn't
making no great things out of his trip. So the dervish
starts along again, and says:

"All right, if you want to take the risk; but I
reckon you've made a mistake this time, and missed a

Of course the camel-driver wanted to know what
kind of a chance he had missed, because maybe there
was money in it; so he run after the dervish, and
begged him so hard and earnest to take pity on him
that at last the dervish gave in, and says:

"Do you see that hill yonder? Well, in that hill is
all the treasures of the earth, and I was looking around
for a man with a particular good kind heart and a
noble, generous disposition, because if I could find just
that man, I've got a kind of a salve I could put on
his eyes and he could see the treasures and get them

So then the camel-driver was in a sweat; and he
cried, and begged, and took on, and went down on his
knees, and said he was just that kind of a man, and
said he could fetch a thousand people that would say
he wasn't ever described so exact before.

"Well, then," says the dervish, "all right. If we
load the hundred camels, can I have half of them?"

The driver was so glad he couldn't hardly hold in,
and says:

"Now you're shouting."

So they shook hands on the bargain, and the dervish
got out his box and rubbed the salve on the driver's
right eye, and the hill opened and he went in, and
there, sure enough, was piles and piles of gold and
jewels sparkling like all the stars in heaven had fell down.

So him and the dervish laid into it, and they loaded
every camel till he couldn't carry no more; then they
said good-bye, and each of them started off with his
fifty. But pretty soon the camel-driver come a-running
and overtook the dervish and says:

"You ain't in society, you know, and you don't
really need all you've got. Won't you be good, and
let me have ten of your camels?"

"Well," the dervish says, "I don't know but what
you say is reasonable enough."

So he done it, and they separated and the dervish
started off again with his forty. But pretty soon here
comes the camel-driver bawling after him again, and
whines and slobbers around and begs another ten off of
him, saying thirty camel loads of treasures was enough
to see a dervish through, because they live very simple,
you know, and don't keep house, but board around
and give their note.

But that warn't the end yet. That ornery hound
kept coming and coming till he had begged back all
the camels and had the whole hundred. Then he was
satisfied, and ever so grateful, and said he wouldn't
ever forgit the dervish as long as he lived, and nobody
hadn't been so good to him before, and liberal. So
they shook hands good-bye, and separated and started
off again.

But do you know, it warn't ten minutes till the
camel-driver was unsatisfied again -- he was the low-
downest reptyle in seven counties -- and he come a-
running again. And this time the thing he wanted was
to get the dervish to rub some of the salve on his other

"Why?" said the dervish.

"Oh, you know," says the driver.

"Know what?"

"Well, you can't fool me," says the driver.
"You're trying to keep back something from me,
you know it mighty well. You know, I reckon, that
if I had the salve on the other eye I could see a lot
more things that's valuable. Come -- please put it on."

The dervish says:

"I wasn't keeping anything back from you. I
don't mind telling you what would happen if I put it
on. You'd never see again. You'd be stone-blind the
rest of your days."

But do you know that beat wouldn't believe him.
No, he begged and begged, and whined and cried, till
at last the dervish opened his box and told him to put
it on, if he wanted to. So the man done it, and sure
enough he was as blind as a bat in a minute.

Then the dervish laughed at him and mocked at him
and made fun of him; and says:

"Good-bye -- a man that's blind hain't got no use
for jewelry."

And he cleared out with the hundred camels, and
left that man to wander around poor and miserable and
friendless the rest of his days in the Desert.

Jim said he'd bet it was a lesson to him.

"Yes," Tom says, "and like a considerable many
lessons a body gets. They ain't no account, because
the thing don't ever happen the same way again -- and
can't. The time Hen Scovil fell down the chimbly
and crippled his back for life, everybody said it would
be a lesson to him. What kind of a lesson? How
was he going to use it? He couldn't climb chimblies
no more, and he hadn't no more backs to break."

"All de same, Mars Tom, dey IS sich a thing as
learnin' by expe'ence. De Good Book say de burnt
chile shun de fire."

"Well, I ain't denying that a thing's a lesson if it's
a thing that can happen twice just the same way.
There's lots of such things, and THEY educate a person,
that's what Uncle Abner always said; but there's forty
MILLION lots of the other kind -- the kind that don't
happen the same way twice -- and they ain't no real
use, they ain't no more instructive than the small-pox.
When you've got it, it ain't no good to find out you
ought to been vaccinated, and it ain't no good to git
vaccinated afterward, because the small-pox don't
come but once. But, on the other hand, Uncle Abner
said that the person that had took a bull by the tail
once had learnt sixty or seventy times as much as a
person that hadn't, and said a person that started in to
carry a cat home by the tail was gitting knowledge that
was always going to be useful to him, and warn't ever
going to grow dim or doubtful. But I can tell you,
Jim, Uncle Abner was down on them people that's all
the time trying to dig a lesson out of everything that
happens, no matter whether --"

But Jim was asleep. Tom looked kind of ashamed,
because you know a person always feels bad when he
is talking uncommon fine and thinks the other person
is admiring, and that other person goes to sleep that
way. Of course he oughtn't to go to sleep, because
it's shabby; but the finer a person talks the certainer
it is to make you sleep, and so when you come to look
at it it ain't nobody's fault in particular; both of
them's to blame.

Jim begun to snore -- soft and blubbery at first,
then a long rasp, then a stronger one, then a half a
dozen horrible ones like the last water sucking down
the plug-hole of a bath-tub, then the same with more
power to it, and some big coughs and snorts flung in,
the way a cow does that is choking to death; and
when the person has got to that point he is at his level
best, and can wake up a man that is in the next block
with a dipperful of loddanum in him, but can't wake
himself up although all that awful noise of his'n ain't
but three inches from his own ears. And that is the
curiosest thing in the world, seems to me. But you
rake a match to light the candle, and that little bit of a
noise will fetch him. I wish I knowed what was the
reason of that, but there don't seem to be no way to
find out. Now there was Jim alarming the whole
Desert, and yanking the animals out, for miles and
miles around, to see what in the nation was going on
up there; there warn't nobody nor nothing that was as
close to the noise as HE was, and yet he was the only
cretur that wasn't disturbed by it. We yelled at him
and whooped at him, it never done no good; but the
first time there come a little wee noise that wasn't of a
usual kind it woke him up. No, sir, I've thought it
all over, and so has Tom, and there ain't no way to
find out why a snorer can't hear himself snore.

Jim said he hadn't been asleep; he just shut his eyes
so he could listen better.

Tom said nobody warn't accusing him.

That made him look like he wished he hadn't said
anything. And he wanted to git away from the sub-
ject, I reckon, because he begun to abuse the camel-
driver, just the way a person does when he has got
catched in something and wants to take it out of some-
body else. He let into the camel-driver the hardest he
knowed how, and I had to agree with him; and he
praised up the dervish the highest he could, and I had
to agree with him there, too. But Tom says:

"I ain't so sure. You call that dervish so dreadful
liberal and good and unselfish, but I don't quite see it.
He didn't hunt up another poor dervish, did he? No,
he didn't. If he was so unselfish, why didn't he go in
there himself and take a pocketful of jewels and go
along and be satisfied? No, sir, the person he was
hunting for was a man with a hundred camels. He
wanted to get away with all the treasure he could."

"Why, Mars Tom, he was willin' to divide, fair and
square; he only struck for fifty camels."

"Because he knowed how he was going to get all of
them by and by."

"Mars Tom, he TOLE de man de truck would make
him bline."

"Yes, because he knowed the man's character. It
was just the kind of a man he was hunting for -- a
man that never believes in anybody's word or any-
body's honorableness, because he ain't got none of his
own. I reckon there's lots of people like that dervish.
They swindle, right and left, but they always make the
other person SEEM to swindle himself. They keep inside
of the letter of the law all the time, and there ain't no
way to git hold of them. THEY don't put the salve on
-- oh, no, that would be sin; but they know how to
fool YOU into putting it on, then it's you that blinds
yourself. I reckon the dervish and the camel-driver
was just a pair -- a fine, smart, brainy rascal, and a
dull, coarse, ignorant one, but both of them rascals,
just the same."

"Mars Tom, does you reckon dey's any o' dat kind
o' salve in de worl' now?"

"Yes, Uncle Abner says there is. He says they've
got it in New York, and they put it on country people's
eyes and show them all the railroads in the world, and
they go in and git them, and then when they rub the
salve on the other eye the other man bids them good-
bye and goes off with their railroads. Here's the
treasure-hill now. Lower away!"

We landed, but it warn't as interesting as I thought
it was going to be, because we couldn't find the place
where they went in to git the treasure. Still, it was
plenty interesting enough, just to see the mere hill
itself where such a wonderful thing happened. Jim
said he wou'dn't 'a' missed it for three dollars, and I
felt the same way.

And to me and Jim, as wonderful a thing as any was
the way Tom could come into a strange big country
like this and go straight and find a little hump like that
and tell it in a minute from a million other humps that
was almost just like it, and nothing to help him but
only his own learning and his own natural smartness.
We talked and talked it over together, but couldn't
make out how he done it. He had the best head on
him I ever see; and all he lacked was age, to make a
name for himself equal to Captain Kidd or George
Washington. I bet you it would 'a' crowded either of
THEM to find that hill, with all their gifts, but it warn't
nothing to Tom Sawyer; he went across Sahara and
put his finger on it as easy as you could pick a nigger
out of a bunch of angels.

We found a pond of salt water close by and scraped
up a raft of salt around the edges, and loaded up the
lion's skin and the tiger's so as they would keep till Jim
could tan them.

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