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Chapter 18


CHAPTER XVIII.

COL. GRANGERFORD was a gentleman, you see.
He was a gentleman all over; and so was his
family. He was well born, as the saying is, and that's
worth as much in a man as it is in a horse, so the
Widow Douglas said, and nobody ever denied that she
was of the first aristocracy in our town; and pap he
always said it, too, though he warn't no more quality
than a mudcat himself. Col. Grangerford was very tall
and very slim, and had a darkish-paly complexion, not
a sign of red in it anywheres; he was clean shaved
every morning all over his thin face, and he had the
thinnest kind of lips, and the thinnest kind of nostrils,
and a high nose, and heavy eyebrows, and the blackest
kind of eyes, sunk so deep back that they seemed like
they was looking out of caverns at you, as you may
say. His forehead was high, and his hair was black
and straight and hung to his shoulders. His hands
was long and thin, and every day of his life he put on
a clean shirt and a full suit from head to foot made
out of linen so white it hurt your eyes to look at it;
and on Sundays he wore a blue tail-coat with brass
buttons on it. He carried a mahogany cane with a
silver head to it. There warn't no frivolishness about
him, not a bit, and he warn't ever loud. He was as
kind as he could be -- you could feel that, you know,
and so you had confidence. Sometimes he smiled,
and it was good to see; but when he straightened him-
self up like a liberty-pole, and the lightning begun to
flicker out from under his eyebrows, you wanted to
climb a tree first, and find out what the matter was
afterwards. He didn't ever have to tell anybody to
mind their manners -- everybody was always good-
mannered where he was. Everybody loved to have
him around, too; he was sunshine most always -- I
mean he made it seem like good weather. When he
turned into a cloudbank it was awful dark for half a
minute, and that was enough; there wouldn't nothing
go wrong again for a week.

When him and the old lady come down in the morn-
ing all the family got up out of their chairs and give
them good-day, and didn't set down again till they had
set down. Then Tom and Bob went to the sideboard
where the decanter was, and mixed a glass of bitters
and handed it to him, and he held it in his hand and
waited till Tom's and Bob's was mixed, and then they
bowed and said, "Our duty to you, sir, and madam;"
and THEY bowed the least bit in the world and said
thank you, and so they drank, all three, and Bob and
Tom poured a spoonful of water on the sugar and the
mite of whisky or apple brandy in the bottom of their
tumblers, and give it to me and Buck, and we drank to
the old people too.

Bob was the oldest and Tom next -- tall, beautiful
men with very broad shoulders and brown faces, and
long black hair and black eyes. They dressed in white
linen from head to foot, like the old gentleman, and
wore broad Panama hats.

Then there was Miss Charlotte; she was twenty-
five, and tall and proud and grand, but as good as she
could be when she warn't stirred up; but when she
was she had a look that would make you wilt in your
tracks, like her father. She was beautiful.

So was her sister, Miss Sophia, but it was a different
kind. She was gentle and sweet like a dove, and she
was only twenty.

Each person had their own nigger to wait on them --
Buck too. My nigger had a monstrous easy time, be-
cause I warn't used to having anybody do anything
for me, but Buck's was on the jump most of the time.

This was all there was of the family now, but there
used to be more -- three sons; they got killed; and
Emmeline that died.

The old gentleman owned a lot of farms and over a
hundred niggers. Sometimes a stack of people would
come there, horseback, from ten or fifteen mile around,
and stay five or six days, and have such junketings
round about and on the river, and dances and picnics
in the woods daytimes, and balls at the house nights.
These people was mostly kinfolks of the family. The
men brought their guns with them. It was a hand-
some lot of quality, I tell you.

There was another clan of aristocracy around there
-- five or six families -- mostly of the name of Shep-
herdson. They was as high-toned and well born and
rich and grand as the tribe of Grangerfords. The
Shepherdsons and Grangerfords used the same steam-
boat landing, which was about two mile above our
house; so sometimes when I went up there with a lot
of our folks I used to see a lot of the Shepherdsons
there on their fine horses.

One day Buck and me was away out in the woods
hunting, and heard a horse coming. We was crossing
the road. Buck says:

"Quick! Jump for the woods!"

We done it, and then peeped down the woods
through the leaves. Pretty soon a splendid young
man come galloping down the road, setting his horse
easy and looking like a soldier. He had his gun across
his pommel. I had seen him before. It was young
Harney Shepherdson. I heard Buck's gun go off at
my ear, and Harney's hat tumbled off from his head.
He grabbed his gun and rode straight to the place
where we was hid. But we didn't wait. We started
through the woods on a run. The woods warn't thick,
so I looked over my shoulder to dodge the bullet, and
twice I seen Harney cover Buck with his gun; and
then he rode away the way he come -- to get his hat,
I reckon, but I couldn't see. We never stopped run-
ning till we got home. The old gentleman's eyes
blazed a minute -- 'twas pleasure, mainly, I judged --
then his face sort of smoothed down, and he says,
kind of gentle:

"I don't like that shooting from behind a bush.
Why didn't you step into the road, my boy?"

"The Shepherdsons don't, father. They always
take advantage."

Miss Charlotte she held her head up like a queen
while Buck was telling his tale, and her nostrils spread
and her eyes snapped. The two young men looked
dark, but never said nothing. Miss Sophia she turned
pale, but the color come back when she found the
man warn't hurt.

Soon as I could get Buck down by the corn-cribs
under the trees by ourselves, I says:

"Did you want to kill him, Buck?"

"Well, I bet I did."

"What did he do to you?"

"Him? He never done nothing to me."

"Well, then, what did you want to kill him for?"

"Why, nothing -- only it's on account of the feud."

"What's a feud?"

"Why, where was you raised? Don't you know
what a feud is?"

"Never heard of it before -- tell me about it."

"Well," says Buck, "a feud is this way: A man
has a quarrel with another man, and kills him; then
that other man's brother kills HIM; then the other
brothers, on both sides, goes for one another; then
the COUSINS chip in -- and by and by everybody's killed
off, and there ain't no more feud. But it's kind of
slow, and takes a long time."

"Has this one been going on long, Buck?"

"Well, I should RECKON! It started thirty year ago,
or som'ers along there. There was trouble 'bout
something, and then a lawsuit to settle it; and the
suit went agin one of the men, and so he up and shot
the man that won the suit -- which he would naturally
do, of course. Anybody would."

"What was the trouble about, Buck? -- land?"

"I reckon maybe -- I don't know."

"Well, who done the shooting? Was it a Granger-
ford or a Shepherdson?"

"Laws, how do I know? It was so long ago."

"Don't anybody know?"

"Oh, yes, pa knows, I reckon, and some of the
other old people; but they don't know now what the
row was about in the first place."

"Has there been many killed, Buck?"

"Yes; right smart chance of funerals. But they
don't always kill. Pa's got a few buckshot in him;
but he don't mind it 'cuz he don't weigh much, any-
way. Bob's been carved up some with a bowie, and
Tom's been hurt once or twice."

"Has anybody been killed this year, Buck?"

"Yes; we got one and they got one. 'Bout three
months ago my cousin Bud, fourteen year old, was
riding through the woods on t'other side of the river,
and didn't have no weapon with him, which was blame'
foolishness, and in a lonesome place he hears a horse
a-coming behind him, and sees old Baldy Shepherdson
a-linkin' after him with his gun in his hand and his
white hair a-flying in the wind; and 'stead of jumping
off and taking to the brush, Bud 'lowed he could out-
run him; so they had it, nip and tuck, for five mile or
more, the old man a-gaining all the time; so at last
Bud seen it warn't any use, so he stopped and faced
around so as to have the bullet holes in front, you
know, and the old man he rode up and shot him
down. But he didn't git much chance to enjoy his
luck, for inside of a week our folks laid HIM out."

"I reckon that old man was a coward, Buck."

"I reckon he WARN'T a coward. Not by a blame'
sight. There ain't a coward amongst them Shepherd-
sons -- not a one. And there ain't no cowards amongst
the Grangerfords either. Why, that old man kep' up
his end in a fight one day for half an hour against
three Grangerfords, and come out winner. They was
all a-horseback; he lit off of his horse and got behind
a little woodpile, and kep' his horse before him to stop
the bullets; but the Grangerfords stayed on their
horses and capered around the old man, and peppered
away at him, and he peppered away at them. Him
and his horse both went home pretty leaky and crip-
pled, but the Grangerfords had to be FETCHED home --
and one of 'em was dead, and another died the next
day. No, sir; if a body's out hunting for cowards he
don't want to fool away any time amongst them Shep-
herdsons, becuz they don't breed any of that KIND."

Next Sunday we all went to church, about three
mile, everybody a-horseback. The men took their
guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their
knees or stood them handy against the wall. The
Shepherdsons done the same. It was pretty ornery
preaching -- all about brotherly love, and such-like
tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good ser-
mon, and they all talked it over going home, and had
such a powerful lot to say about faith and good works
and free grace and preforeordestination, and I don't
know what all, that it did seem to me to be one of the
roughest Sundays I had run across yet.

About an hour after dinner everybody was dozing
around, some in their chairs and some in their rooms,
and it got to be pretty dull. Buck and a dog was
stretched out on the grass in the sun sound asleep. I
went up to our room, and judged I would take a nap
myself. I found that sweet Miss Sophia standing in
her door, which was next to ours, and she took me in
her room and shut the door very soft, and asked me if
I liked her, and I said I did; and she asked me if I
would do something for her and not tell anybody,
and I said I would. Then she said she'd forgot her
Testament, and left it in the seat at church between two
other books, and would I slip out quiet and go there
and fetch it to her, and not say nothing to nobody. I
said I would. So I slid out and slipped off up the
road, and there warn't anybody at the church, except
maybe a hog or two, for there warn't any lock on the
door, and hogs likes a puncheon floor in summer-time
because it's cool. If you notice, most folks don't go
to church only when they've got to; but a hog is
different.

Says I to myself, something's up; it ain't natural
for a girl to be in such a sweat about a Testament.
So I give it a shake, and out drops a little piece of
paper with "HALF-PAST TWO" wrote on it with a pencil.
I ransacked it, but couldn't find anything else. I
couldn't make anything out of that, so I put the paper
in the book again, and when I got home and upstairs
there was Miss Sophia in her door waiting for me.
She pulled me in and shut the door; then she looked
in the Testament till she found the paper, and as soon
as she read it she looked glad; and before a body
could think she grabbed me and give me a squeeze,
and said I was the best boy in the world, and not to
tell anybody. She was mighty red in the face for a
minute, and her eyes lighted up, and it made her
powerful pretty. I was a good deal astonished, but
when I got my breath I asked her what the paper was
about, and she asked me if I had read it, and I said
no, and she asked me if I could read writing, and I
told her "no, only coarse-hand," and then she said
the paper warn't anything but a book-mark to keep
her place, and I might go and play now.

I went off down to the river, studying over this
thing, and pretty soon I noticed that my nigger was
following along behind. When we was out of sight of
the house he looked back and around a second, and
then comes a-running, and says:

"Mars Jawge, if you'll come down into de swamp
I'll show you a whole stack o' water-moccasins."

Thinks I, that's mighty curious; he said that yester-
day. He oughter know a body don't love water-
moccasins enough to go around hunting for them.
What is he up to, anyway? So I says:

"All right; trot ahead."

I followed a half a mile; then he struck out over the
swamp, and waded ankle deep as much as another
half-mile. We come to a little flat piece of land which
was dry and very thick with trees and bushes and
vines, and he says:

"You shove right in dah jist a few steps, Mars
Jawge; dah's whah dey is. I's seed 'm befo'; I
don't k'yer to see 'em no mo'."

Then he slopped right along and went away, and
pretty soon the trees hid him. I poked into the place
a-ways and come to a little open patch as big as a
bedroom all hung around with vines, and found a man
laying there asleep -- and, by jings, it was my old Jim!

I waked him up, and I reckoned it was going to be
a grand surprise to him to see me again, but it warn't.
He nearly cried he was so glad, but he warn't sur-
prised. Said he swum along behind me that night,
and heard me yell every time, but dasn't answer, be-
cause he didn't want nobody to pick HIM up and take
him into slavery again. Says he:

"I got hurt a little, en couldn't swim fas', so I wuz
a considable ways behine you towards de las'; when
you landed I reck'ned I could ketch up wid you on de
lan' 'dout havin' to shout at you, but when I see dat
house I begin to go slow. I 'uz off too fur to hear
what dey say to you -- I wuz 'fraid o' de dogs; but
when it 'uz all quiet agin I knowed you's in de house,
so I struck out for de woods to wait for day. Early
in de mawnin' some er de niggers come along, gwyne
to de fields, en dey tuk me en showed me dis place,
whah de dogs can't track me on accounts o' de water,
en dey brings me truck to eat every night, en tells me
how you's a-gitt'n along."

"Why didn't you tell my Jack to fetch me here
sooner, Jim?"

"Well, 'twarn't no use to 'sturb you, Huck, tell we
could do sumfn -- but we's all right now. I ben a-
buyin' pots en pans en vittles, as I got a chanst, en a-
patchin' up de raf' nights when --"

"WHAT raft, Jim?"

"Our ole raf'."

"You mean to say our old raft warn't smashed all
to flinders?"

"No, she warn't. She was tore up a good deal --
one en' of her was; but dey warn't no great harm
done, on'y our traps was mos' all los'. Ef we hadn'
dive' so deep en swum so fur under water, en de night
hadn' ben so dark, en we warn't so sk'yerd, en ben
sich punkin-heads, as de sayin' is, we'd a seed de raf'.
But it's jis' as well we didn't, 'kase now she's all fixed
up agin mos' as good as new, en we's got a new lot o'
stuff, in de place o' what 'uz los'."

"Why, how did you get hold of the raft again, Jim
-- did you catch her?"

"How I gwyne to ketch her en I out in de woods?
No; some er de niggers foun' her ketched on a snag
along heah in de ben', en dey hid her in a crick
'mongst de willows, en dey wuz so much jawin' 'bout
which un 'um she b'long to de mos' dat I come to
heah 'bout it pooty soon, so I ups en settles de trouble
by tellin' 'um she don't b'long to none uv um, but to
you en me; en I ast 'm if dey gwyne to grab a young
white genlman's propaty, en git a hid'n for it? Den I
gin 'm ten cents apiece, en dey 'uz mighty well satis-
fied, en wisht some mo' raf's 'ud come along en make
'm rich agin. Dey's mighty good to me, dese niggers
is, en whatever I wants 'm to do fur me I doan' have
to ast 'm twice, honey. Dat Jack's a good nigger, en
pooty smart."

"Yes, he is. He ain't ever told me you was here;
told me to come, and he'd show me a lot of water-
moccasins. If anything happens HE ain't mixed up in
it. He can say he never seen us together, and it 'll
be the truth."

I don't want to talk much about the next day. I
reckon I'll cut it pretty short. I waked up about
dawn, and was a-going to turn over and go to sleep
again when I noticed how still it was -- didn't seem
to be anybody stirring. That warn't usual. Next I
noticed that Buck was up and gone. Well, I gets up,
a-wondering, and goes down stairs -- nobody around;
everything as still as a mouse. Just the same outside.
Thinks I, what does it mean? Down by the wood-
pile I comes across my Jack, and says:

"What's it all about?"

Says he:

"Don't you know, Mars Jawge?"

"No," says I, "I don't."

"Well, den, Miss Sophia's run off! 'deed she has.
She run off in de night some time -- nobody don't
know jis' when; run off to get married to dat young
Harney Shepherdson, you know -- leastways, so dey
'spec. De fambly foun' it out 'bout half an hour
ago -- maybe a little mo' -- en' I TELL you dey warn't
no time los'. Sich another hurryin' up guns en hosses
YOU never see! De women folks has gone for to stir
up de relations, en ole Mars Saul en de boys tuck dey
guns en rode up de river road for to try to ketch dat
young man en kill him 'fo' he kin git acrost de river
wid Miss Sophia. I reck'n dey's gwyne to be mighty
rough times."

"Buck went off 'thout waking me up."

"Well, I reck'n he DID! Dey warn't gwyne to mix
you up in it. Mars Buck he loaded up his gun en
'lowed he's gwyne to fetch home a Shepherdson or
bust. Well, dey'll be plenty un 'm dah, I reck'n, en
you bet you he'll fetch one ef he gits a chanst."

I took up the river road as hard as I could put. By
and by I begin to hear guns a good ways off. When
I came in sight of the log store and the woodpile
where the steamboats lands I worked along under the
trees and brush till I got to a good place, and then I
clumb up into the forks of a cottonwood that was out
of reach, and watched. There was a wood-rank four
foot high a little ways in front of the tree, and first I
was going to hide behind that; but maybe it was
luckier I didn't.

There was four or five men cavorting around on their
horses in the open place before the log store, cussing
and yelling, and trying to get at a couple of young
chaps that was behind the wood-rank alongside of
the steamboat landing; but they couldn't come it.
Every time one of them showed himself on the river
side of the woodpile he got shot at. The two boys
was squatting back to back behind the pile, so they
could watch both ways.

By and by the men stopped cavorting around and
yelling. They started riding towards the store; then
up gets one of the boys, draws a steady bead over the
wood-rank, and drops one of them out of his saddle.
All the men jumped off of their horses and grabbed the
hurt one and started to carry him to the store; and
that minute the two boys started on the run. They
got half way to the tree I was in before the men
noticed. Then the men see them, and jumped on
their horses and took out after them. They gained on
the boys, but it didn't do no good, the boys had too
good a start; they got to the woodpile that was in
front of my tree, and slipped in behind it, and so they
had the bulge on the men again. One of the boys
was Buck, and the other was a slim young chap about
nineteen years old.

The men ripped around awhile, and then rode away.
As soon as they was out of sight I sung out to Buck
and told him. He didn't know what to make of my
voice coming out of the tree at first. He was awful
surprised. He told me to watch out sharp and let him
know when the men come in sight again; said they
was up to some devilment or other -- wouldn't be gone
long. I wished I was out of that tree, but I dasn't
come down. Buck begun to cry and rip, and 'lowed
that him and his cousin Joe (that was the other young
chap) would make up for this day yet. He said his
father and his two brothers was killed, and two or
three of the enemy. Said the Shepherdsons laid for
them in ambush. Buck said his father and brothers
ought to waited for their relations -- the Shepherdsons
was too strong for them. I asked him what was be-
come of young Harney and Miss Sophia. He said
they'd got across the river and was safe. I was glad
of that; but the way Buck did take on because he
didn't manage to kill Harney that day he shot at him
-- I hain't ever heard anything like it.

All of a sudden, bang! bang! bang! goes three or
four guns -- the men had slipped around through the
woods and come in from behind without their horses!
The boys jumped for the river -- both of them hurt --
and as they swum down the current the men run along
the bank shooting at them and singing out, "Kill
them, kill them!" It made me so sick I most fell out
of the tree. I ain't a-going to tell ALL that happened --
it would make me sick again if I was to do that. I
wished I hadn't ever come ashore that night to see
such things. I ain't ever going to get shut of them --
lots of times I dream about them.

I stayed in the tree till it begun to get dark, afraid
to come down. Sometimes I heard guns away off in
the woods; and twice I seen little gangs of men gallop
past the log store with guns; so I reckoned the trouble
was still a-going on. I was mighty downhearted; so I
made up my mind I wouldn't ever go anear that house
again, because I reckoned I was to blame, somehow.
I judged that that piece of paper meant that Miss
Sophia was to meet Harney somewheres at half-past
two and run off; and I judged I ought to told her
father about that paper and the curious way she acted,
and then maybe he would a locked her up, and this
awful mess wouldn't ever happened.

When I got down out of the tree I crept along down
the river bank a piece, and found the two bodies laying
in the edge of the water, and tugged at them till I got
them ashore; then I covered up their faces, and got
away as quick as I could. I cried a little when I was
covering up Buck's face, for he was mighty good to me.

It was just dark now. I never went near the house,
but struck through the woods and made for the
swamp. Jim warn't on his island, so I tramped off in
a hurry for the crick, and crowded through the willows,
red-hot to jump aboard and get out of that awful
country. The raft was gone! My souls, but I was
scared! I couldn't get my breath for most a minute.
Then I raised a yell. A voice not twenty-five foot
from me says:

"Good lan'! is dat you, honey? Doan' make no
noise."

It was Jim's voice -- nothing ever sounded so good
before. I run along the bank a piece and got aboard,
and Jim he grabbed me and hugged me, he was so glad
to see me. He says:

"Laws bless you, chile, I 'uz right down sho' you's
dead agin. Jack's been heah; he say he reck'n you's
ben shot, kase you didn' come home no mo'; so I's
jes' dis minute a startin' de raf' down towards de mouf
er de crick, so's to be all ready for to shove out en
leave soon as Jack comes agin en tells me for certain
you IS dead. Lawsy, I's mighty glad to git you back
again, honey.

I says:

"All right -- that's mighty good; they won't find
me, and they'll think I've been killed, and floated down
the river -- there's something up there that 'll help them
think so -- so don't you lose no time, Jim, but just
shove off for the big water as fast as ever you can."

I never felt easy till the raft was two mile below
there and out in the middle of the Mississippi. Then
we hung up our signal lantern, and judged that we was
free and safe once more. I hadn't had a bite to eat
since yesterday, so Jim he got out some corn-dodgers
and buttermilk, and pork and cabbage and greens --
there ain't nothing in the world so good when it's
cooked right -- and whilst I eat my supper we talked
and had a good time. I was powerful glad to get
away from the feuds, and so was Jim to get away from
the swamp. We said there warn't no home like a
raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up
and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free
and easy and comfortable on a raft.

Mark Twain