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Chapter 14


CHAPTER XIV.

BY and by, when we got up, we turned over the
truck the gang had stole off of the wreck, and
found boots, and blankets, and clothes, and all sorts of
other things, and a lot of books, and a spyglass, and
three boxes of seegars. We hadn't ever been this rich
before in neither of our lives. The seegars was prime.
We laid off all the afternoon in the woods talking, and
me reading the books, and having a general good time.
I told Jim all about what happened inside the wreck
and at the ferryboat, and I said these kinds of things
was adventures; but he said he didn't want no more
adventures. He said that when I went in the texas
and he crawled back to get on the raft and found her
gone he nearly died, because he judged it was all up
with HIM anyway it could be fixed; for if he didn't get
saved he would get drownded; and if he did get
saved, whoever saved him would send him back home
so as to get the reward, and then Miss Watson would
sell him South, sure. Well, he was right; he was
most always right; he had an uncommon level head
for a nigger.

I read considerable to Jim about kings and dukes
and earls and such, and how gaudy they dressed, and
how much style they put on, and called each other
your majesty, and your grace, and your lordship, and
so on, 'stead of mister; and Jim's eyes bugged out,
and he was interested. He says:

"I didn' know dey was so many un um. I hain't
hearn 'bout none un um, skasely, but ole King Soller-
mun, onless you counts dem kings dat's in a pack er
k'yards. How much do a king git?"

"Get?" I says; "why, they get a thousand dollars
a month if they want it; they can have just as much
as they want; everything belongs to them."

"AIN' dat gay? En what dey got to do, Huck?"

"THEY don't do nothing! Why, how you talk!
They just set around."

"No; is dat so?"

"Of course it is. They just set around -- except,
maybe, when there's a war; then they go to the war.
But other times they just lazy around; or go hawking
-- just hawking and sp -- Sh! -- d' you hear a noise?"

We skipped out and looked; but it warn't nothing
but the flutter of a steamboat's wheel away down,
coming around the point; so we come back.

"Yes," says I, "and other times, when things is
dull, they fuss with the parlyment; and if everybody
don't go just so he whacks their heads off. But
mostly they hang round the harem."

"Roun' de which?"

"Harem."

"What's de harem?"

"The place where he keeps his wives. Don't you
know about the harem? Solomon had one; he had
about a million wives."

"Why, yes, dat's so; I -- I'd done forgot it. A
harem's a bo'd'n-house, I reck'n. Mos' likely dey
has rackety times in de nussery. En I reck'n de wives
quarrels considable; en dat 'crease de racket. Yit dey
say Sollermun de wises' man dat ever live'. I doan'
take no stock in dat. Bekase why: would a wise man
want to live in de mids' er sich a blim-blammin' all de
time? No -- 'deed he wouldn't. A wise man 'ud take
en buil' a biler-factry; en den he could shet DOWN de
biler-factry when he want to res'."

"Well, but he WAS the wisest man, anyway; be-
cause the widow she told me so, her own self."

"I doan k'yer what de widder say, he WARN'T no
wise man nuther. He had some er de dad-fetchedes'
ways I ever see. Does you know 'bout dat chile dat
he 'uz gwyne to chop in two?"

"Yes, the widow told me all about it."

"WELL, den! Warn' dat de beatenes' notion in de
worl'? You jes' take en look at it a minute. Dah's
de stump, dah -- dat's one er de women; heah's you
-- dat's de yuther one; I's Sollermun; en dish yer
dollar bill's de chile. Bofe un you claims it. What
does I do? Does I shin aroun' mongs' de neighbors
en fine out which un you de bill DO b'long to, en han'
it over to de right one, all safe en soun', de way dat
anybody dat had any gumption would? No; I take
en whack de bill in TWO, en give half un it to you, en
de yuther half to de yuther woman. Dat's de way
Sollermun was gwyne to do wid de chile. Now I
want to ast you: what's de use er dat half a bill? --
can't buy noth'n wid it. En what use is a half a
chile? I wouldn' give a dern for a million un um."

"But hang it, Jim, you've clean missed the point --
blame it, you've missed it a thousand mile."

"Who? Me? Go 'long. Doan' talk to me 'bout
yo' pints. I reck'n I knows sense when I sees it; en
dey ain' no sense in sich doin's as dat. De 'spute
warn't 'bout a half a chile, de 'spute was 'bout a
whole chile; en de man dat think he kin settle a
'spute 'bout a whole chile wid a half a chile doan'
know enough to come in out'n de rain. Doan' talk
to me 'bout Sollermun, Huck, I knows him by de back."

"But I tell you you don't get the point."

"Blame de point! I reck'n I knows what I knows.
En mine you, de REAL pint is down furder -- it's down
deeper. It lays in de way Sollermun was raised.
You take a man dat's got on'y one or two chillen; is
dat man gwyne to be waseful o' chillen? No, he
ain't; he can't 'ford it. HE know how to value 'em.
But you take a man dat's got 'bout five million chillen
runnin' roun' de house, en it's diffunt. HE as soon
chop a chile in two as a cat. Dey's plenty mo'. A
chile er two, mo' er less, warn't no consekens to
Sollermun, dad fatch him!"

I never see such a nigger. If he got a notion in his
head once, there warn't no getting it out again. He
was the most down on Solomon of any nigger I ever
see. So I went to talking about other kings, and let
Solomon slide. I told about Louis Sixteenth that got
his head cut off in France long time ago; and about
his little boy the dolphin, that would a been a king,
but they took and shut him up in jail, and some say he
died there.

"Po' little chap."

"But some says he got out and got away, and come
to America."

"Dat's good! But he'll be pooty lonesome -- dey
ain' no kings here, is dey, Huck?"

"No."

"Den he cain't git no situation. What he gwyne
to do?"

"Well, I don't know. Some of them gets on the
police, and some of them learns people how to talk
French."

"Why, Huck, doan' de French people talk de same
way we does?"

"NO, Jim; you couldn't understand a word they
said -- not a single word."

"Well, now, I be ding-busted! How do dat
come?"

"I don't know; but it's so. I got some of their
jabber out of a book. S'pose a man was to come to
you and say Polly-voo-franzy -- what would you
think?"

"I wouldn' think nuff'n; I'd take en bust him over
de head -- dat is, if he warn't white. I wouldn't 'low
no nigger to call me dat."

"Shucks, it ain't calling you anything. It's only
saying, do you know how to talk French?"

"Well, den, why couldn't he SAY it?"

"Why, he IS a-saying it. That's a Frenchman's
WAY of saying it."

"Well, it's a blame ridicklous way, en I doan' want
to hear no mo' 'bout it. Dey ain' no sense in it."

"Looky here, Jim; does a cat talk like we do?"

"No, a cat don't."

"Well, does a cow?"

"No, a cow don't, nuther."

"Does a cat talk like a cow, or a cow talk like a
cat?"

"No, dey don't."

"It's natural and right for 'em to talk different from
each other, ain't it?"

"Course."

"And ain't it natural and right for a cat and a cow
to talk different from US?"

"Why, mos' sholy it is."

"Well, then, why ain't it natural and right for a
FRENCHMAN to talk different from us? You answer me
that."

"Is a cat a man, Huck?"

"No."

"Well, den, dey ain't no sense in a cat talkin' like a
man. Is a cow a man? -- er is a cow a cat?"

"No, she ain't either of them."

"Well, den, she ain't got no business to talk like
either one er the yuther of 'em. Is a Frenchman a
man?"

"Yes."

"WELL, den! Dad blame it, why doan' he TALK like
a man? You answer me DAT!"

I see it warn't no use wasting words -- you can't
learn a nigger to argue. So I quit.

Mark Twain