The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Part 7. eBook: Page1
Mark Twain (2004)
Produced by David Widger
THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER BY MARK TWAIN (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
THAT night Tom and Huck were ready for their adventure. They hungabout the neighborhood of the tavern until after nine, one watching thealley at a distance and the other the tavern door. Nobody entered thealley or left it; nobody resembling the Spaniard entered or left thetavern door. The night promised to be a fair one; so Tom went home withthe understanding that if a considerable degree of darkness came on,Huck was to come and "maow," whereupon he would slip out and try thekeys. But the night remained clear, and Huck closed his watch andretired to bed in an empty sugar hogshead about twelve.
Tuesday the boys had the same ill luck. Also Wednesday. But Thursdaynight promised better. Tom slipped out in good season with his aunt'sold tin lantern, and a large towel to blindfold it with. He hid thelantern in Huck's sugar hogshead and the watch began. An hour beforemidnight the tavern closed up and its lights (the only onesthereabouts) were put out. No Spaniard had been seen. Nobody hadentered or left the alley. Everything was auspicious. The blackness ofdarkness reigned, the perfect stillness was interrupted only byoccasional mutterings of distant thunder.
Tom got his lantern, lit it in the hogshead, wrapped it closely in thetowel, and the two adventurers crept in the gloom toward the tavern.Huck stood sentry and Tom felt his way into the alley. Then there was aseason of waiting anxiety that weighed upon Huck's spirits like amountain. He began to wish he could see a flash from the lantern--itwould frighten him, but it would at least tell him that Tom was aliveyet. It seemed hours since Tom had disappeared. Surely he must havefainted; maybe he was dead; maybe his heart had burst under terror andexcitement. In his uneasiness Huck found himself drawing closer andcloser to the alley; fearing all sorts of dreadful things, andmomentarily expecting some catastrophe to happen that would take awayhis breath. There was not much to take away, for he seemed only able toinhale it by thimblefuls, and his heart would soon wear itself out, theway it was beating. Suddenly there was a flash of light and Tom cametearing by him: "Run!" said he; "run, for your life!"
He needn't have repeated it; once was enough; Huck was making thirtyor forty miles an hour before the repetition was uttered. The boysnever stopped till they reached the shed of a deserted slaughter-houseat the lower end of the village. Just as they got within its shelterthe storm burst and the rain poured down. As soon as Tom got his breathhe said:
"Huck, it was awful! I tried two of the keys, just as soft as I could;but they seemed to make such a power of racket that I couldn't hardlyget my breath I was so scared. They wouldn't turn in the lock, either.Well, without noticing what I was doing, I took hold of the knob, andopen comes the door! It warn't locked! I hopped in, and shook off thetowel, and, GREAT CAESAR'S GHOST!"
"What!--what'd you see, Tom?"
"Huck, I most stepped onto Injun Joe's hand!"
"Yes! He was lying there, sound asleep on the floor, with his oldpatch on his eye and his arms spread out."
"Lordy, what did you do? Did he wake up?"
"No, never budged. Drunk, I reckon. I just grabbed that towel andstarted!"
"I'd never 'a' thought of the towel, I bet!"
"Well, I would. My aunt would make me mighty sick if I lost it."
"Say, Tom, did you see that box?"
"Huck, I didn't wait to look around. I didn't see the box, I didn'tsee the cross. I didn't see anything but a bottle and a tin cup on thefloor by Injun Joe; yes, I saw two barrels and lots more bottles in theroom. Don't you see, now, what's the matter with that ha'nted room?"
"Why, it's ha'nted with whiskey! Maybe ALL the Temperance Taverns havegot a ha'nted room, hey, Huck?"
"Well, I reckon maybe that's so. Who'd 'a' thought such a thing? Butsay, Tom, now's a mighty good time to get that box, if Injun Joe'sdrunk."
"It is, that! You try it!"
"Well, no--I reckon not."
"And I reckon not, Huck. Only one bottle alongside of Injun Joe ain'tenough. If there'd been three, he'd be drunk enough and I'd do it."
There was a long pause for reflection, and then Tom said:
"Lookyhere, Huck, less not try that thing any more till we know InjunJoe's not in there. It's too scary. Now, if we watch every night, we'llbe dead sure to see him go out, some time or other, and then we'llsnatch that box quicker'n lightning."
"Well, I'm agreed. I'll watch the whole night long, and I'll do itevery night, too, if you'll do the other part of the job."
"All right, I will. All you got to do is to trot up Hooper Street ablock and maow--and if I'm asleep, you throw some gravel at the windowand that'll fetch me."
"Agreed, and good as wheat!"
"Now, Huck, the storm's over, and I'll go home. It'll begin to bedaylight in a couple of hours. You go back and watch that long, willyou?"
"I said I would, Tom, and I will. I'll ha'nt that tavern every nightfor a year! I'll sleep all day and I'll stand watch all night."
"That's all right. Now, where you going to sleep?"
"In Ben Rogers' hayloft. He lets me, and so does his pap's nigger man,Uncle Jake. I tote water for Uncle Jake whenever he wants me to, andany time I ask him he gives me a little something to eat if he canspare it. That's a mighty good nigger, Tom. He likes me, becuz I don'tever act as if I was above him. Sometime I've set right down and eatWITH him. But you needn't tell that. A body's got to do things whenhe's awful hungry he wouldn't want to do as a steady thing."
"Well, if I don't want you in the daytime, I'll let you sleep. I won'tcome bothering around. Any time you see something's up, in the night,just skip right around and maow."