Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Chapters 26 to 30 eBook: Page1

Mark Twain (2004)




  Produced by David Widger

  HUCKLEBERRY FINN

  By Mark Twain

  Part 6.

  CHAPTER XXVI.

  WELL, when they was all gone the king he asks Mary Jane how they was offfor spare rooms, and she said she had one spare room, which would do forUncle William, and she'd give her own room to Uncle Harvey, which was alittle bigger, and she would turn into the room with her sisters andsleep on a cot; and up garret was a little cubby, with a pallet in it.The king said the cubby would do for his valley--meaning me.

  So Mary Jane took us up, and she showed them their rooms, which was plainbut nice. She said she'd have her frocks and a lot of other traps tookout of her room if they was in Uncle Harvey's way, but he said theywarn't. The frocks was hung along the wall, and before them was acurtain made out of calico that hung down to the floor. There was an oldhair trunk in one corner, and a guitar-box in another, and all sorts oflittle knickknacks and jimcracks around, like girls brisken up a roomwith. The king said it was all the more homely and more pleasanter forthese fixings, and so don't disturb them. The duke's room was prettysmall, but plenty good enough, and so was my cubby.

  That night they had a big supper, and all them men and women was there,and I stood behind the king and the duke's chairs and waited on them, andthe niggers waited on the rest. Mary Jane she set at the head of thetable, with Susan alongside of her, and said how bad the biscuits was,and how mean the preserves was, and how ornery and tough the friedchickens was--and all that kind of rot, the way women always do for toforce out compliments; and the people all knowed everything was tiptop,and said so--said "How DO you get biscuits to brown so nice?" and "Where,for the land's sake, DID you get these amaz'n pickles?" and all that kindof humbug talky-talk, just the way people always does at a supper, youknow.

  And when it was all done me and the hare-lip had supper in the kitchenoff of the leavings, whilst the others was helping the niggers clean upthe things. The hare-lip she got to pumping me about England, and blestif I didn't think the ice was getting mighty thin sometimes. She says:

  "Did you ever see the king?"

  "Who? William Fourth? Well, I bet I have--he goes to our church." Iknowed he was dead years ago, but I never let on. So when I says he goesto our church, she says:

  "What--regular?"

  "Yes--regular. His pew's right over opposite ourn--on t'other side thepulpit."

  "I thought he lived in London?"

  "Well, he does. Where WOULD he live?"

  "But I thought YOU lived in Sheffield?"

  I see I was up a stump. I had to let on to get choked with a chickenbone, so as to get time to think how to get down again. Then I says:

  "I mean he goes to our church regular when he's in Sheffield. That'sonly in the summer time, when he comes there to take the sea baths."

  "Why, how you talk--Sheffield ain't on the sea."

  "Well, who said it was?"

  "Why, you did."

  "I DIDN'T nuther."

  "You did!"

  "I didn't."

  "You did."

  "I never said nothing of the kind."

  "Well, what DID you say, then?"

  "Said he come to take the sea BATHS--that's what I said."

  "Well, then, how's he going to take the sea baths if it ain't on thesea?"

  "Looky here," I says; "did you ever see any Congress-water?"

  "Yes."

  "Well, did you have to go to Congress to get it?"

  "Why, no."

  "Well, neither does William Fourth have to go to the sea to get a seabath."

  "How does he get it, then?"

  "Gets it the way people down here gets Congress-water--in barrels. Therein the palace at Sheffield they've got furnaces, and he wants his waterhot. They can't bile that amount of water away off there at the sea.They haven't got no conveniences for it."

  "Oh, I see, now. You might a said that in the first place and savedtime."

  When she said that I see I was out of the woods again, and so I wascomfortable and glad. Next, she says:

  "Do you go to church, too?"

  "Yes--regular."

  "Where do you set?"

  "Why, in our pew."

  "WHOSE pew?"

  "Why, OURN--your Uncle Harvey's."

  "His'n? What does HE want with a pew?"

  "Wants it to set in. What did you RECKON he wanted with it?"

  "Why, I thought he'd be in the pulpit."

  Rot him, I forgot he was a preacher. I see I was up a stump again, so Iplayed another chicken bone and got another think. Then I says:

  "Blame it, do you suppose there ain't but one preacher to a church?"

  "Why, what do they want with more?"

  "What!--to preach before a king? I never did see such a girl as you.They don't have no less than seventeen."

  "Seventeen! My land! Why, I wouldn't set out such a string as that, notif I NEVER got to glory. It must take 'em a week."

  "Shucks, they don't ALL of 'em preach the same day--only ONE of 'em."

  "Well, then, what does the rest of 'em do?"

  "Oh, nothing much. Loll around, pass the plate--and one thing oranother. But mainly they don't do nothing."

  "Well, then, what are they FOR?"

  "Why, they're for STYLE. Don't you know nothing?"

  "Well, I don't WANT to know no such foolishness as that. How is servantstreated in England? Do they treat 'em better 'n we treat our niggers?"

  "NO! A servant ain't nobody there. They treat them worse than dogs."

  "Don't they give 'em holidays, the way we do, Christmas and New Year'sweek, and Fourth of July?"

  "Oh, just listen! A body could tell YOU hain't ever been to England bythat. Why, Hare-l--why, Joanna, they never see a holiday from year's endto year's end; never go to the circus, nor theater, nor nigger shows, nornowheres."

  "Nor church?"

  "Nor church."

  "But YOU always went to church."

  Well, I was gone up again. I forgot I was the old man's servant. Butnext minute I whirled in on a kind of an explanation how a valley wasdifferent from a common servant and HAD to go to church whether he wantedto or not, and set with the family, on account of its being the law. ButI didn't do it pretty good, and when I got done I see she warn'tsatisfied. She says:

  "Honest injun, now, hain't you been telling me a lot of lies?"

  "Honest injun," says I.

  "None of it at all?"

  "None of it at all. Not a lie in it," says I.

  "Lay your hand on this book and say it."

  I see it warn't nothing but a dictionary, so I laid my hand on it andsaid it. So then she looked a little better satisfied, and says:

  "Well, then, I'll believe some of it; but I hope to gracious if I'llbelieve the rest."

  "What is it you won't believe, Joe?" says Mary Jane, stepping in withSusan behind her. "It ain't right nor kind for you to talk so to him,and him a stranger and so far from his people. How would you like to betreated so?"

  "That's always your way, Maim--always sailing in to help somebody beforethey're hurt. I hain't done nothing to him. He's told some stretchers,I reckon, and I said I wouldn't swallow it all; and that's every bit andgrain I DID say. I reckon he can stand a little thing like that, can'the?"

  "I don't care whether 'twas little or whether 'twas big; he's here in ourhouse and a stranger, and it wasn't good of you to say it. If you was inhis place it would make you feel ashamed; and so you oughtn't to say athing to another person that will make THEM feel ashamed."

  "Why, Maim, he said--"

  "It don't make
no difference what he SAID--that ain't the thing. Thething is for you to treat him KIND, and not be saying things to make himremember he ain't in his own country and amongst his own folks."

  I says to myself, THIS is a girl that I'm letting that old reptle rob herof her money!

  Then Susan SHE waltzed in; and if you'll believe me, she did giveHare-lip hark from the tomb!

  Says I to myself, and this is ANOTHER one that I'm letting him rob her ofher money!

  Then Mary Jane she took another inning, and went in sweet and lovelyagain--which was her way; but when she got done there warn't hardlyanything left o' poor Hare-lip. So she hollered.

  "All right, then," says the other girls; "you just ask his pardon."

  She done it, too; and she done it beautiful. She done it so beautiful itwas good to hear; and I wished I could tell her a thousand lies, so shecould do it again.

  I says to myself, this is ANOTHER one that I'm letting him rob her of hermoney. And when she got through they all jest laid theirselves out tomake me feel at home and know I was amongst friends. I felt so orneryand low down and mean that I says to myself, my mind's made up; I'll hivethat money for them or bust.

  So then I lit out--for bed, I said, meaning some time or another. When Igot by myself I went to thinking the thing over. I says to myself, shallI go to that doctor, private, and blow on these frauds? No--that won'tdo. He might tell who told him; then the king and the duke would make itwarm for me. Shall I go, private, and tell Mary Jane? No--I dasn't doit. Her face would give them a hint, sure; they've got the money, andthey'd slide right out and get away with it. If she was to fetch in helpI'd get mixed up in the business before it was done with, I judge. No;there ain't no good way but one. I got to steal that money, somehow; andI got to steal it some way that they won't suspicion that I done it.They've got a good thing here, and they ain't a-going to leave tillthey've played this family and this town for all they're worth, so I'llfind a chance time enough. I'll steal it and hide it; and by and by, whenI'm away down the river, I'll write a letter and tell Mary Jane whereit's hid. But I better hive it tonight if I can, because the doctormaybe hasn't let up as much as he lets on he has; he might scare them outof here yet.

  So, thinks I, I'll go and search them rooms. Upstairs the hall was dark,but I found the duke's room, and started to paw around it with my hands;but I recollected it wouldn't be much like the king to let anybody elsetake care of that money but his own self; so then I went to his room andbegun to paw around there. But I see I couldn't do nothing without acandle, and I dasn't light one, of course. So I judged I'd got to do theother thing--lay for them and eavesdrop. About that time I hears theirfootsteps coming, and was going to skip under the bed; I reached for it,but it wasn't where I thought it would be; but I touched the curtain thathid Mary Jane's frocks, so I jumped in behind that and snuggled inamongst the gowns, and stood there perfectly still.

  They come in and shut the door; and the first thing the duke done was toget down and look under the bed. Then I was glad I hadn't found the bedwhen I wanted it. And yet, you know, it's kind of natural to hide underthe bed when you are up to anything private. They sets down then, andthe king says:

  "Well, what is it? And cut it middlin' short, because it's better for usto be down there a-whoopin' up the mournin' than up here givin' 'em achance to talk us over."

  "Well, this is it, Capet. I ain't easy; I ain't comfortable. Thatdoctor lays on my mind. I wanted to know your plans. I've got a notion,and I think it's a sound one."

  "What is it, duke?"

  "That we better glide out of this before three in the morning, and clipit down the river with what we've got. Specially, seeing we got it soeasy--GIVEN back to us, flung at our heads, as you may say, when ofcourse we allowed to have to steal it back. I'm for knocking off andlighting out."

  That made me feel pretty bad. About an hour or two ago it would a been alittle different, but now it made me feel bad and disappointed, The kingrips out and says:

  "What! And not sell out the rest o' the property? March off like apassel of fools and leave eight or nine thous'n' dollars' worth o'property layin' around jest sufferin' to be scooped in?--and all good,salable stuff, too."

  The duke he grumbled; said the bag of gold was enough, and he didn't wantto go no deeper--didn't want to rob a lot of orphans of EVERYTHING theyhad.

  "Why, how you talk!" says the king. "We sha'n't rob 'em of nothing atall but jest this money. The people that BUYS the property is thesuff'rers; because as soon 's it's found out 'at we didn't own it--whichwon't be long after we've slid--the sale won't be valid, and it 'll allgo back to the estate. These yer orphans 'll git their house back agin,and that's enough for THEM; they're young and spry, and k'n easy earn alivin'. THEY ain't a-goin to suffer. Why, jest think--there's thous'n'sand thous'n's that ain't nigh so well off. Bless you, THEY ain't gotnoth'n' to complain of."

  Well, the king he talked him blind; so at last he give in, and said allright, but said he believed it was blamed foolishness to stay, and thatdoctor hanging over them. But the king says:

  "Cuss the doctor! What do we k'yer for HIM? Hain't we got all the foolsin town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?"

  So they got ready to go down stairs again. The duke says:

  "I don't think we put that money in a good place."

  That cheered me up. I'd begun to think I warn't going to get a hint ofno kind to help me. The king says:

  "Why?"

  "Because Mary Jane 'll be in mourning from this out; and first you knowthe nigger that does up the rooms will get an order to box these duds upand put 'em away; and do you reckon a nigger can run across money and notborrow some of it?"

  "Your head's level agin, duke," says the king; and he comes a-fumblingunder the curtain two or three foot from where I was. I stuck tight tothe wall and kept mighty still, though quivery; and I wondered what themfellows would say to me if they catched me; and I tried to think what I'dbetter do if they did catch me. But the king he got the bag before Icould think more than about a half a thought, and he never suspicioned Iwas around. They took and shoved the bag through a rip in the straw tickthat was under the feather-bed, and crammed it in a foot or two amongstthe straw and said it was all right now, because a nigger only makes upthe feather-bed, and don't turn over the straw tick only about twice ayear, and so it warn't in no danger of getting stole now.

  But I knowed better. I had it out of there before they was half-way downstairs. I groped along up to my cubby, and hid it there till I could geta chance to do better. I judged I better hide it outside of the housesomewheres, because if they missed it they would give the house a goodransacking: I knowed that very well. Then I turned in, with my clothesall on; but I couldn't a gone to sleep if I'd a wanted to, I was in sucha sweat to get through with the business. By and by I heard the king andthe duke come up; so I rolled off my pallet and laid with my chin at thetop of my ladder, and waited to see if anything was going to happen. Butnothing did.

  So I held on till all the late sounds had quit and the early ones hadn'tbegun yet; and then I slipped down the ladder.