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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Chapters 06 to 10

Mark Twain

  Produced by David Widger


  By Mark Twain

  Part 2.


  WELL, pretty soon the old man was up and around again, and then he wentfor Judge Thatcher in the courts to make him give up that money, and hewent for me, too, for not stopping school. He catched me a couple oftimes and thrashed me, but I went to school just the same, and dodged himor outrun him most of the time. I didn't want to go to school muchbefore, but I reckoned I'd go now to spite pap. That law trial was aslow business--appeared like they warn't ever going to get started onit; so every now and then I'd borrow two or three dollars off of thejudge for him, to keep from getting a cowhiding. Every time he got moneyhe got drunk; and every time he got drunk he raised Cain around town; andevery time he raised Cain he got jailed. He was just suited--this kindof thing was right in his line.

  He got to hanging around the widow's too much and so she told him at lastthat if he didn't quit using around there she would make trouble for him.Well, WASN'T he mad? He said he would show who was Huck Finn's boss. Sohe watched out for me one day in the spring, and catched me, and took meup the river about three mile in a skiff, and crossed over to theIllinois shore where it was woody and there warn't no houses but an oldlog hut in a place where the timber was so thick you couldn't find it ifyou didn't know where it was.

  He kept me with him all the time, and I never got a chance to run off.We lived in that old cabin, and he always locked the door and put the keyunder his head nights. He had a gun which he had stole, I reckon, and wefished and hunted, and that was what we lived on. Every little while helocked me in and went down to the store, three miles, to the ferry, andtraded fish and game for whisky, and fetched it home and got drunk andhad a good time, and licked me. The widow she found out where I was byand by, and she sent a man over to try to get hold of me; but pap drovehim off with the gun, and it warn't long after that till I was used tobeing where I was, and liked it--all but the cowhide part.

  It was kind of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable all day, smokingand fishing, and no books nor study. Two months or more run along, andmy clothes got to be all rags and dirt, and I didn't see how I'd ever gotto like it so well at the widow's, where you had to wash, and eat on aplate, and comb up, and go to bed and get up regular, and be foreverbothering over a book, and have old Miss Watson pecking at you all thetime. I didn't want to go back no more. I had stopped cussing, becausethe widow didn't like it; but now I took to it again because pap hadn'tno objections. It was pretty good times up in the woods there, take itall around.

  But by and by pap got too handy with his hick'ry, and I couldn't standit. I was all over welts. He got to going away so much, too, and lockingme in. Once he locked me in and was gone three days. It was dreadfullonesome. I judged he had got drowned, and I wasn't ever going to getout any more. I was scared. I made up my mind I would fix up some wayto leave there. I had tried to get out of that cabin many a time, but Icouldn't find no way. There warn't a window to it big enough for a dogto get through. I couldn't get up the chimbly; it was too narrow. Thedoor was thick, solid oak slabs. Pap was pretty careful not to leave aknife or anything in the cabin when he was away; I reckon I had huntedthe place over as much as a hundred times; well, I was most all the timeat it, because it was about the only way to put in the time. But thistime I found something at last; I found an old rusty wood-saw without anyhandle; it was laid in between a rafter and the clapboards of the roof.I greased it up and went to work. There was an old horse-blanket nailedagainst the logs at the far end of the cabin behind the table, to keepthe wind from blowing through the chinks and putting the candle out. Igot under the table and raised the blanket, and went to work to saw asection of the big bottom log out--big enough to let me through. Well,it was a good long job, but I was getting towards the end of it when Iheard pap's gun in the woods. I got rid of the signs of my work, anddropped the blanket and hid my saw, and pretty soon pap come in.

  Pap warn't in a good humor--so he was his natural self. He said he wasdown town, and everything was going wrong. His lawyer said he reckonedhe would win his lawsuit and get the money if they ever got started onthe trial; but then there was ways to put it off a long time, and JudgeThatcher knowed how to do it. And he said people allowed there'd beanother trial to get me away from him and give me to the widow for myguardian, and they guessed it would win this time. This shook me upconsiderable, because I didn't want to go back to the widow's any moreand be so cramped up and sivilized, as they called it. Then the old mangot to cussing, and cussed everything and everybody he could think of,and then cussed them all over again to make sure he hadn't skipped any,and after that he polished off with a kind of a general cuss all round,including a considerable parcel of people which he didn't know the namesof, and so called them what's-his-name when he got to them, and wentright along with his cussing.

  He said he would like to see the widow get me. He said he would watchout, and if they tried to come any such game on him he knowed of a placesix or seven mile off to stow me in, where they might hunt till theydropped and they couldn't find me. That made me pretty uneasy again, butonly for a minute; I reckoned I wouldn't stay on hand till he got thatchance.

  The old man made me go to the skiff and fetch the things he had got.There was a fifty-pound sack of corn meal, and a side of bacon,ammunition, and a four-gallon jug of whisky, and an old book and twonewspapers for wadding, besides some tow. I toted up a load, and wentback and set down on the bow of the skiff to rest. I thought it allover, and I reckoned I would walk off with the gun and some lines, andtake to the woods when I run away. I guessed I wouldn't stay in oneplace, but just tramp right across the country, mostly night times, andhunt and fish to keep alive, and so get so far away that the old man northe widow couldn't ever find me any more. I judged I would saw out andleave that night if pap got drunk enough, and I reckoned he would. I gotso full of it I didn't notice how long I was staying till the old manhollered and asked me whether I was asleep or drownded.

  I got the things all up to the cabin, and then it was about dark. WhileI was cooking supper the old man took a swig or two and got sort ofwarmed up, and went to ripping again. He had been drunk over in town,and laid in the gutter all night, and he was a sight to look at. A bodywould a thought he was Adam--he was just all mud. Whenever his liquorbegun to work he most always went for the govment, this time he says:

  "Call this a govment! why, just look at it and see what it's like.Here's the law a-standing ready to take a man's son away from him--aman's own son, which he has had all the trouble and all the anxiety andall the expense of raising. Yes, just as that man has got that sonraised at last, and ready to go to work and begin to do suthin' for HIMand give him a rest, the law up and goes for him. And they call THATgovment! That ain't all, nuther. The law backs that old Judge Thatcherup and helps him to keep me out o' my property. Here's what the lawdoes: The law takes a man worth six thousand dollars and up'ards, andjams him into an old trap of a cabin like this, and lets him go round inclothes that ain't fitten for a hog. They call that govment! A man can'tget his rights in a govment like this. Sometimes I've a mighty notion tojust leave the country for good and all. Yes, and I TOLD 'em so; I toldold Thatcher so to his face. Lots of 'em heard me, and can tell what Isaid. Says I, for two cents I'd leave the blamed country and never comea-near it agin. Them's the very words. I says look at my hat--if youcall it a hat--but the lid raises up and the rest of it goes down tillit's below my chin, and then it ain't rightly a hat at all, but more likemy head was shoved up through a jint o' stove-pipe. Look at
it, says I--such a hat for me to wear--one of the wealthiest men in this town if Icould git my rights.

  "Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here.There was a free nigger there from Ohio--a mulatter, most as white as awhite man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and theshiniest hat; and there ain't a man in that town that's got as fineclothes as what he had; and he had a gold watch and chain, and asilver-headed cane--the awfulest old gray-headed nabob in the State. Andwhat do you think? They said he was a p'fessor in a college, and couldtalk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain't thewust. They said he could VOTE when he was at home. Well, that let meout. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was 'lection day, andI was just about to go and vote myself if I warn't too drunk to getthere; but when they told me there was a State in this country wherethey'd let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I'll never vote agin.Them's the very words I said; they all heard me; and the country may rotfor all me --I'll never vote agin as long as I live. And to see the coolway of that nigger--why, he wouldn't a give me the road if I hadn'tshoved him out o' the way. I says to the people, why ain't this niggerput up at auction and sold?--that's what I want to know. And what do youreckon they said? Why, they said he couldn't be sold till he'd been inthe State six months, and he hadn't been there that long yet. There,now--that's a specimen. They call that a govment that can't sell a freenigger till he's been in the State six months. Here's a govment thatcalls itself a govment, and lets on to be a govment, and thinks it is agovment, and yet's got to set stock-still for six whole months before itcan take a hold of a prowling, thieving, infernal, white-shirted freenigger, and--"

  Pap was agoing on so he never noticed where his old limber legs wastaking him to, so he went head over heels over the tub of salt pork andbarked both shins, and the rest of his speech was all the hottest kind oflanguage--mostly hove at the nigger and the govment, though he give thetub some, too, all along, here and there. He hopped around the cabinconsiderable, first on one leg and then on the other, holding first oneshin and then the other one, and at last he let out with his left footall of a sudden and fetched the tub a rattling kick. But it warn't goodjudgment, because that was the boot that had a couple of his toes leakingout of the front end of it; so now he raised a howl that fairly made abody's hair raise, and down he went in the dirt, and rolled there, andheld his toes; and the cussing he done then laid over anything he hadever done previous. He said so his own self afterwards. He had heardold Sowberry Hagan in his best days, and he said it laid over him, too;but I reckon that was sort of piling it on, maybe.

  After supper pap took the jug, and said he had enough whisky there fortwo drunks and one delirium tremens. That was always his word. I judgedhe would be blind drunk in about an hour, and then I would steal the key,or saw myself out, one or t'other. He drank and drank, and tumbled downon his blankets by and by; but luck didn't run my way. He didn't gosound asleep, but was uneasy. He groaned and moaned and thrashed aroundthis way and that for a long time. At last I got so sleepy I couldn'tkeep my eyes open all I could do, and so before I knowed what I was aboutI was sound asleep, and the candle burning.

  I don't know how long I was asleep, but all of a sudden there was anawful scream and I was up. There was pap looking wild, and skippingaround every which way and yelling about snakes. He said they wascrawling up his legs; and then he would give a jump and scream, and sayone had bit him on the cheek--but I couldn't see no snakes. He startedand run round and round the cabin, hollering "Take him off! take him off!he's biting me on the neck!" I never see a man look so wild in the eyes.Pretty soon he was all fagged out, and fell down panting; then he rolledover and over wonderful fast, kicking things every which way, andstriking and grabbing at the air with his hands, and screaming and sayingthere was devils a-hold of him. He wore out by and by, and laid still awhile, moaning. Then he laid stiller, and didn't make a sound. I couldhear the owls and the wolves away off in the woods, and it seemedterrible still. He was laying over by the corner. By and by he raised uppart way and listened, with his head to one side. He says, very low:

  "Tramp--tramp--tramp; that's the dead; tramp--tramp--tramp; they'recoming after me; but I won't go. Oh, they're here! don't touch me--don't! hands off--they're cold; let go. Oh, let a poor devil alone!"

  Then he went down on all fours and crawled off, begging them to let himalone, and he rolled himself up in his blanket and wallowed in under theold pine table, still a-begging; and then he went to crying. I couldhear him through the blanket.

  By and by he rolled out and jumped up on his feet looking wild, and hesee me and went for me. He chased me round and round the place with aclasp-knife, calling me the Angel of Death, and saying he would kill me,and then I couldn't come for him no more. I begged, and told him I wasonly Huck; but he laughed SUCH a screechy laugh, and roared and cussed,and kept on chasing me up. Once when I turned short and dodged under hisarm he made a grab and got me by the jacket between my shoulders, and Ithought I was gone; but I slid out of the jacket quick as lightning, andsaved myself. Pretty soon he was all tired out, and dropped down with hisback against the door, and said he would rest a minute and then kill me.He put his knife under him, and said he would sleep and get strong, andthen he would see who was who.

  So he dozed off pretty soon. By and by I got the old split-bottom chairand clumb up as easy as I could, not to make any noise, and got down thegun. I slipped the ramrod down it to make sure it was loaded, then Ilaid it across the turnip barrel, pointing towards pap, and set downbehind it to wait for him to stir. And how slow and still the time diddrag along.