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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Chapters 36 to the Last

Mark Twain

  Produced by David Widger


  By Mark Twain

  Part 8.


  AS soon as we reckoned everybody was asleep that night we went down thelightning-rod, and shut ourselves up in the lean-to, and got out our pileof fox-fire, and went to work. We cleared everything out of the way,about four or five foot along the middle of the bottom log. Tom said wewas right behind Jim's bed now, and we'd dig in under it, and when we gotthrough there couldn't nobody in the cabin ever know there was any holethere, because Jim's counter-pin hung down most to the ground, and you'dhave to raise it up and look under to see the hole. So we dug and dugwith the case-knives till most midnight; and then we was dog-tired, andour hands was blistered, and yet you couldn't see we'd done anythinghardly. At last I says:

  "This ain't no thirty-seven year job; this is a thirty-eight year job,Tom Sawyer."

  He never said nothing. But he sighed, and pretty soon he stoppeddigging, and then for a good little while I knowed that he was thinking.Then he says:

  "It ain't no use, Huck, it ain't a-going to work. If we was prisoners itwould, because then we'd have as many years as we wanted, and no hurry;and we wouldn't get but a few minutes to dig, every day, while they waschanging watches, and so our hands wouldn't get blistered, and we couldkeep it up right along, year in and year out, and do it right, and theway it ought to be done. But WE can't fool along; we got to rush; weain't got no time to spare. If we was to put in another night this waywe'd have to knock off for a week to let our hands get well--couldn'ttouch a case-knife with them sooner."

  "Well, then, what we going to do, Tom?"

  "I'll tell you. It ain't right, and it ain't moral, and I wouldn't likeit to get out; but there ain't only just the one way: we got to dig himout with the picks, and LET ON it's case-knives."

  "NOW you're TALKING!" I says; "your head gets leveler and leveler allthe time, Tom Sawyer," I says. "Picks is the thing, moral or no moral;and as for me, I don't care shucks for the morality of it, nohow. When Istart in to steal a nigger, or a watermelon, or a Sunday-school book, Iain't no ways particular how it's done so it's done. What I want is mynigger; or what I want is my watermelon; or what I want is mySunday-school book; and if a pick's the handiest thing, that's the thingI'm a-going to dig that nigger or that watermelon or that Sunday-schoolbook out with; and I don't give a dead rat what the authorities thinksabout it nuther."

  "Well," he says, "there's excuse for picks and letting-on in a case likethis; if it warn't so, I wouldn't approve of it, nor I wouldn't stand byand see the rules broke--because right is right, and wrong is wrong, anda body ain't got no business doing wrong when he ain't ignorant and knowsbetter. It might answer for YOU to dig Jim out with a pick, WITHOUT anyletting on, because you don't know no better; but it wouldn't for me,because I do know better. Gimme a case-knife."

  He had his own by him, but I handed him mine. He flung it down, andsays:

  "Gimme a CASE-KNIFE."

  I didn't know just what to do--but then I thought. I scratched aroundamongst the old tools, and got a pickaxe and give it to him, and he tookit and went to work, and never said a word.

  He was always just that particular. Full of principle.

  So then I got a shovel, and then we picked and shoveled, turn about, andmade the fur fly. We stuck to it about a half an hour, which was as longas we could stand up; but we had a good deal of a hole to show for it.When I got up stairs I looked out at the window and see Tom doing hislevel best with the lightning-rod, but he couldn't come it, his hands wasso sore. At last he says:

  "It ain't no use, it can't be done. What you reckon I better do? Can'tyou think of no way?"

  "Yes," I says, "but I reckon it ain't regular. Come up the stairs, andlet on it's a lightning-rod."

  So he done it.

  Next day Tom stole a pewter spoon and a brass candlestick in the house,for to make some pens for Jim out of, and six tallow candles; and I hungaround the nigger cabins and laid for a chance, and stole three tinplates. Tom says it wasn't enough; but I said nobody wouldn't ever seethe plates that Jim throwed out, because they'd fall in the dog-fenneland jimpson weeds under the window-hole--then we could tote them back andhe could use them over again. So Tom was satisfied. Then he says:

  "Now, the thing to study out is, how to get the things to Jim."

  "Take them in through the hole," I says, "when we get it done."

  He only just looked scornful, and said something about nobody ever heardof such an idiotic idea, and then he went to studying. By and by he saidhe had ciphered out two or three ways, but there warn't no need to decideon any of them yet. Said we'd got to post Jim first.

  That night we went down the lightning-rod a little after ten, and tookone of the candles along, and listened under the window-hole, and heardJim snoring; so we pitched it in, and it didn't wake him. Then wewhirled in with the pick and shovel, and in about two hours and a halfthe job was done. We crept in under Jim's bed and into the cabin, andpawed around and found the candle and lit it, and stood over Jim awhile,and found him looking hearty and healthy, and then we woke him up gentleand gradual. He was so glad to see us he most cried; and called ushoney, and all the pet names he could think of; and was for having ushunt up a cold-chisel to cut the chain off of his leg with right away,and clearing out without losing any time. But Tom he showed him howunregular it would be, and set down and told him all about our plans, andhow we could alter them in a minute any time there was an alarm; and notto be the least afraid, because we would see he got away, SURE. So Jimhe said it was all right, and we set there and talked over old timesawhile, and then Tom asked a lot of questions, and when Jim told himUncle Silas come in every day or two to pray with him, and Aunt Sallycome in to see if he was comfortable and had plenty to eat, and both ofthem was kind as they could be, Tom says:

  "NOW I know how to fix it. We'll send you some things by them."

  I said, "Don't do nothing of the kind; it's one of the most jackass ideasI ever struck;" but he never paid no attention to me; went right on. Itwas his way when he'd got his plans set.

  So he told Jim how we'd have to smuggle in the rope-ladder pie and otherlarge things by Nat, the nigger that fed him, and he must be on thelookout, and not be surprised, and not let Nat see him open them; and wewould put small things in uncle's coat-pockets and he must steal themout; and we would tie things to aunt's apron-strings or put them in herapron-pocket, if we got a chance; and told him what they would be andwhat they was for. And told him how to keep a journal on the shirt withhis blood, and all that. He told him everything. Jim he couldn't see nosense in the most of it, but he allowed we was white folks and knowedbetter than him; so he was satisfied, and said he would do it all just asTom said.

  Jim had plenty corn-cob pipes and tobacco; so we had a right down goodsociable time; then we crawled out through the hole, and so home to bed,with hands that looked like they'd been chawed. Tom was in high spirits.He said it was the best fun he ever had in his life, and the mostintellectural; and said if he only could see his way to it we would keepit up all the rest of our lives and leave Jim to our children to get out;for he believed Jim would come to like it better and better the more hegot used to it. He said that in that way it could be strung out to asmuch as eighty year, and would be the best time on record. And he saidit would make us all celebrated that had a hand in it.

  In the morning we went out to the woodpile and chopped up the brasscandlestick into handy sizes, and Tom put them and the pewter spoon inhis pocket. Then we went to the nigger cabins, and while I
got Nat'snotice off, Tom shoved a piece of candlestick into the middle of acorn-pone that was in Jim's pan, and we went along with Nat to see how itwould work, and it just worked noble; when Jim bit into it it most mashedall his teeth out; and there warn't ever anything could a worked better.Tom said so himself. Jim he never let on but what it was only just apiece of rock or something like that that's always getting into bread,you know; but after that he never bit into nothing but what he jabbed hisfork into it in three or four places first.

  And whilst we was a-standing there in the dimmish light, here comes acouple of the hounds bulging in from under Jim's bed; and they kept onpiling in till there was eleven of them, and there warn't hardly room inthere to get your breath. By jings, we forgot to fasten that lean-todoor! The nigger Nat he only just hollered "Witches" once, and keeledover on to the floor amongst the dogs, and begun to groan like he wasdying. Tom jerked the door open and flung out a slab of Jim's meat, andthe dogs went for it, and in two seconds he was out himself and backagain and shut the door, and I knowed he'd fixed the other door too.Then he went to work on the nigger, coaxing him and petting him, andasking him if he'd been imagining he saw something again. He raised up,and blinked his eyes around, and says:

  "Mars Sid, you'll say I's a fool, but if I didn't b'lieve I see most amillion dogs, er devils, er some'n, I wisht I may die right heah in desetracks. I did, mos' sholy. Mars Sid, I FELT um--I FELT um, sah; dey wasall over me. Dad fetch it, I jis' wisht I could git my han's on one erdem witches jis' wunst--on'y jis' wunst--it's all I'd ast. But mos'ly Iwisht dey'd lemme 'lone, I does."

  Tom says:

  "Well, I tell you what I think. What makes them come here just at thisrunaway nigger's breakfast-time? It's because they're hungry; that's thereason. You make them a witch pie; that's the thing for YOU to do."

  "But my lan', Mars Sid, how's I gwyne to make 'm a witch pie? I doan'know how to make it. I hain't ever hearn er sich a thing b'fo'."

  "Well, then, I'll have to make it myself."

  "Will you do it, honey?--will you? I'll wusshup de groun' und' yo' foot,I will!"

  "All right, I'll do it, seeing it's you, and you've been good to us andshowed us the runaway nigger. But you got to be mighty careful. When wecome around, you turn your back; and then whatever we've put in the pan,don't you let on you see it at all. And don't you look when Jim unloadsthe pan--something might happen, I don't know what. And above all, don'tyou HANDLE the witch-things."

  "HANNEL 'm, Mars Sid? What IS you a-talkin' 'bout? I wouldn' lay deweight er my finger on um, not f'r ten hund'd thous'n billion dollars, Iwouldn't."