Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 2


WE went tiptoeing along a path amongst the trees
back towards the end of the widow's garden,
stooping down so as the branches wouldn't scrape our
heads. When we was passing by the kitchen I fell
over a root and made a noise. We scrouched down
and laid still. Miss Watson's big nigger, named Jim,
was setting in the kitchen door; we could see him
pretty clear, because there was a light behind him.
He got up and stretched his neck out about a minute,
listening. Then he says:

"Who dah?"

He listened some more; then he come tiptoeing
down and stood right between us; we could a touched
him, nearly. Well, likely it was minutes and minutes
that there warn't a sound, and we all there so close
together. There was a place on my ankle that got to
itching, but I dasn't scratch it; and then my ear begun
to itch; and next my back, right between my shoul-
ders. Seemed like I'd die if I couldn't scratch. Well,
I've noticed that thing plenty times since. If you are
with the quality, or at a funeral, or trying to go to
sleep when you ain't sleepy -- if you are anywheres
where it won't do for you to scratch, why you will itch
all over in upwards of a thousand places. Pretty soon
Jim says:

"Say, who is you? Whar is you? Dog my cats
ef I didn' hear sumf'n. Well, I know what I's gwyne
to do: I's gwyne to set down here and listen tell I
hears it agin."

So he set down on the ground betwixt me and Tom.
He leaned his back up against a tree, and stretched his
legs out till one of them most touched one of mine.
My nose begun to itch. It itched till the tears come
into my eyes. But I dasn't scratch. Then it begun
to itch on the inside. Next I got to itching under-
neath. I didn't know how I was going to set still.
This miserableness went on as much as six or seven
minutes; but it seemed a sight longer than that. I
was itching in eleven different places now. I reckoned
I couldn't stand it more'n a minute longer, but I set
my teeth hard and got ready to try. Just then Jim
begun to breathe heavy; next he begun to snore --
and then I was pretty soon comfortable again.

Tom he made a sign to me -- kind of a little noise
with his mouth -- and we went creeping away on our
hands and knees. When we was ten foot off Tom
whispered to me, and wanted to tie Jim to the tree for
fun. But I said no; he might wake and make a dis-
turbance, and then they'd find out I warn't in. Then
Tom said he hadn't got candles enough, and he would
slip in the kitchen and get some more. I didn't want
him to try. I said Jim might wake up and come.
But Tom wanted to resk it; so we slid in there and got
three candles, and Tom laid five cents on the table for
pay. Then we got out, and I was in a sweat to get
away; but nothing would do Tom but he must crawl
to where Jim was, on his hands and knees, and play
something on him. I waited, and it seemed a good
while, everything was so still and lonesome.

As soon as Tom was back we cut along the path,
around the garden fence, and by and by fetched up on
the steep top of the hill the other side of the house.
Tom said he slipped Jim's hat off of his head and hung
it on a limb right over him, and Jim stirred a little, but
he didn't wake. Afterwards Jim said the witches be-
witched him and put him in a trance, and rode him all
over the State, and then set him under the trees again,
and hung his hat on a limb to show who done it. And
next time Jim told it he said they rode him down to
New Orleans; and, after that, every time he told it he
spread it more and more, till by and by he said they
rode him all over the world, and tired him most to
death, and his back was all over saddle-boils. Jim
was monstrous proud about it, and he got so he
wouldn't hardly notice the other niggers. Niggers
would come miles to hear Jim tell about it, and he was
more looked up to than any nigger in that country.
Strange niggers would stand with their mouths open
and look him all over, same as if he was a wonder.
Niggers is always talking about witches in the dark by
the kitchen fire; but whenever one was talking and
letting on to know all about such things, Jim would
happen in and say, "Hm! What you know 'bout
witches?" and that nigger was corked up and had to
take a back seat. Jim always kept that five-center
piece round his neck with a string, and said it was a
charm the devil give to him with his own hands, and
told him he could cure anybody with it and fetch
witches whenever he wanted to just by saying some-
thing to it; but he never told what it was he said to it.
Niggers would come from all around there and give
Jim anything they had, just for a sight of that five-
center piece; but they wouldn't touch it, because the
devil had had his hands on it. Jim was most ruined
for a servant, because he got stuck up on account of
having seen the devil and been rode by witches.

Well, when Tom and me got to the edge of the hill-
top we looked away down into the village and could
see three or four lights twinkling, where there was sick
folks, maybe; and the stars over us was sparkling ever
so fine; and down by the village was the river, a whole
mile broad, and awful still and grand. We went down
the hill and found Jo Harper and Ben Rogers, and
two or three more of the boys, hid in the old tanyard.
So we unhitched a skiff and pulled down the river two
mile and a half, to the big scar on the hillside, and
went ashore.

We went to a clump of bushes, and Tom made
everybody swear to keep the secret, and then showed
them a hole in the hill, right in the thickest part of the
bushes. Then we lit the candles, and crawled in on
our hands and knees. We went about two hundred
yards, and then the cave opened up. Tom poked
about amongst the passages, and pretty soon ducked
under a wall where you wouldn't a noticed that there
was a hole. We went along a narrow place and got
into a kind of room, all damp and sweaty and cold,
and there we stopped. Tom says:

"Now, we'll start this band of robbers and call it
Tom Sawyer's Gang. Everybody that wants to join
has got to take an oath, and write his name in blood."

Everybody was willing. So Tom got out a sheet of
paper that he had wrote the oath on, and read it. It
swore every boy to stick to the band, and never tell
any of the secrets; and if anybody done anything to
any boy in the band, whichever boy was ordered to
kill that person and his family must do it, and he
mustn't eat and he mustn't sleep till he had killed them
and hacked a cross in their breasts, which was the sign
of the band. And nobody that didn't belong to the
band could use that mark, and if he did he must be
sued; and if he done it again he must be killed. And
if anybody that belonged to the band told the secrets,
he must have his throat cut, and then have his carcass
burnt up and the ashes scattered all around, and his
name blotted off of the list with blood and never men-
tioned again by the gang, but have a curse put on it
and be forgot forever.

Everybody said it was a real beautiful oath, and
asked Tom if he got it out of his own head. He said,
some of it, but the rest was out of pirate-books and
robber-books, and every gang that was high-toned
had it.

Some thought it would be good to kill the FAMILIES
of boys that told the secrets. Tom said it was a good
idea, so he took a pencil and wrote it in. Then Ben
Rogers says:

"Here's Huck Finn, he hain't got no family; what
you going to do 'bout him?"

"Well, hain't he got a father?" says Tom Sawyer.

"Yes, he's got a father, but you can't never find
him these days. He used to lay drunk with the hogs
in the tanyard, but he hain't been seen in these parts
for a year or more."

They talked it over, and they was going to rule me
out, because they said every boy must have a family
or somebody to kill, or else it wouldn't be fair and
square for the others. Well, nobody could think of
anything to do -- everybody was stumped, and set
still. I was most ready to cry; but all at once I
thought of a way, and so I offered them Miss Watson
-- they could kill her. Everybody said:

"Oh, she'll do. That's all right. Huck can come

Then they all stuck a pin in their fingers to get
blood to sign with, and I made my mark on the paper.

"Now," says Ben Rogers, "what's the line of busi-
ness of this Gang?"

"Nothing only robbery and murder," Tom said.

"But who are we going to rob? -- houses, or cattle,
or --"

"Stuff! stealing cattle and such things ain't rob-
bery; it's burglary," says Tom Sawyer. "We ain't
burglars. That ain't no sort of style. We are high-
waymen. We stop stages and carriages on the road,
with masks on, and kill the people and take their
watches and money."

"Must we always kill the people?"

"Oh, certainly. It's best. Some authorities think
different, but mostly it's considered best to kill them --
except some that you bring to the cave here, and keep
them till they're ransomed."

"Ransomed? What's that?"

"I don't know. But that's what they do. I've
seen it in books; and so of course that's what we've
got to do."

"But how can we do it if we don't know what it is?"

"Why, blame it all, we've GOT to do it. Don't I tell
you it's in the books? Do you want to go to doing
different from what's in the books, and get things all
muddled up?"

"Oh, that's all very fine to SAY, Tom Sawyer, but
how in the nation are these fellows going to be ran-
somed if we don't know how to do it to them? -- that's
the thing I want to get at. Now, what do you reckon
it is?"

"Well, I don't know. But per'aps if we keep them
till they're ransomed, it means that we keep them till
they're dead. "

"Now, that's something LIKE. That'll answer.
Why couldn't you said that before? We'll keep them
till they're ransomed to death; and a bothersome lot
they'll be, too -- eating up everything, and always
trying to get loose."

"How you talk, Ben Rogers. How can they get
loose when there's a guard over them, ready to shoot
them down if they move a peg?"

"A guard! Well, that IS good. So somebody's
got to set up all night and never get any sleep, just so
as to watch them. I think that's foolishness. Why
can't a body take a club and ransom them as soon as
they get here?"

"Because it ain't in the books so -- that's why.
Now, Ben Rogers, do you want to do things regular,
or don't you? -- that's the idea. Don't you reckon
that the people that made the books knows what's the
correct thing to do? Do you reckon YOU can learn
'em anything? Not by a good deal. No, sir, we'll
just go on and ransom them in the regular way."

"All right. I don't mind; but I say it's a fool
way, anyhow. Say, do we kill the women, too?"

"Well, Ben Rogers, if I was as ignorant as you I
wouldn't let on. Kill the women? No; nobody ever
saw anything in the books like that. You fetch them
to the cave, and you're always as polite as pie to them;
and by and by they fall in love with you, and never
want to go home any more."

"Well, if that's the way I'm agreed, but I don't
take no stock in it. Mighty soon we'll have the cave
so cluttered up with women, and fellows waiting to be
ransomed, that there won't be no place for the rob-
bers. But go ahead, I ain't got nothing to say."

Little Tommy Barnes was asleep now, and when
they waked him up he was scared, and cried, and said
he wanted to go home to his ma, and didn't want to
be a robber any more.

So they all made fun of him, and called him cry-
baby, and that made him mad, and he said he would
go straight and tell all the secrets. But Tom give him
five cents to keep quiet, and said we would all go home
and meet next week, and rob somebody and kill some

Ben Rogers said he couldn't get out much, only
Sundays, and so he wanted to begin next Sunday; but
all the boys said it would be wicked to do it on Sunday,
and that settled the thing. They agreed to get to-
gether and fix a day as soon as they could, and then
we elected Tom Sawyer first captain and Jo Harper
second captain of the Gang, and so started home.

I clumb up the shed and crept into my window just
before day was breaking. My new clothes was all
greased up and clayey, and I was dog-tired.

Mark Twain