Chapter 23





CHAPTER XXIII.

WELL, all day him and the king was hard at it,
rigging up a stage and a curtain and a row of
candles for footlights; and that night the house was
jam full of men in no time. When the place couldn't
hold no more, the duke he quit tending door and went
around the back way and come on to the stage and
stood up before the curtain and made a little speech,
and praised up this tragedy, and said it was the most
thrillingest one that ever was; and so he went on a-
bragging about the tragedy, and about Edmund Kean
the Elder, which was to play the main principal part
in it; and at last when he'd got everybody's expecta-
tions up high enough, he rolled up the curtain, and
the next minute the king come a-prancing out on all
fours, naked; and he was painted all over, ring-
streaked-and-striped, all sorts of colors, as splendid
as a rainbow. And -- but never mind the rest of his
outfit; it was just wild, but it was awful funny. The
people most killed themselves laughing; and when the
king got done capering and capered off behind the
scenes, they roared and clapped and stormed and haw-
hawed till he come back and done it over again, and
after that they made him do it another time. Well, it
would make a cow laugh to see the shines that old
idiot cut.

Then the duke he lets the curtain down, and bows to
the people, and says the great tragedy will be per-
formed only two nights more, on accounts of pressing
London engagements, where the seats is all sold already
for it in Drury Lane; and then he makes them another
bow, and says if he has succeeded in pleasing them
and instructing them, he will be deeply obleeged if
they will mention it to their friends and get them to
come and see it.

Twenty people sings out:

"What, is it over? Is that ALL?"

The duke says yes. Then there was a fine time.
Everybody sings out, "Sold!" and rose up mad, and
was a-going for that stage and them tragedians. But a
big, fine looking man jumps up on a bench and
shouts:

"Hold on! Just a word, gentlemen." They stopped
to listen. "We are sold -- mighty badly sold. But
we don't want to be the laughing stock of this whole
town, I reckon, and never hear the last of this thing as
long as we live. NO. What we want is to go out of
here quiet, and talk this show up, and sell the REST of
the town! Then we'll all be in the same boat. Ain't
that sensible?" ("You bet it is! -- the jedge is
right!" everybody sings out.) "All right, then --
not a word about any sell. Go along home, and ad-
vise everybody to come and see the tragedy."

Next day you couldn't hear nothing around that
town but how splendid that show was. House was
jammed again that night, and we sold this crowd the
same way. When me and the king and the duke got
home to the raft we all had a supper; and by and by,
about midnight, they made Jim and me back her out
and float her down the middle of the river, and fetch
her in and hide her about two mile below town.

The third night the house was crammed again -- and
they warn't new-comers this time, but people that was
at the show the other two nights. I stood by the duke
at the door, and I see that every man that went in had
his pockets bulging, or something muffled up under
his coat -- and I see it warn't no perfumery, neither,
not by a long sight. I smelt sickly eggs by the barrel,
and rotten cabbages, and such things; and if I know
the signs of a dead cat being around, and I bet I do,
there was sixty-four of them went in. I shoved in
there for a minute, but it was too various for me; I
couldn't stand it. Well, when the place couldn't hold
no more people the duke he give a fellow a quarter
and told him to tend door for him a minute, and then
he started around for the stage door, I after him; but
the minute we turned the corner and was in the dark
he says:

"Walk fast now till you get away from the houses,
and then shin for the raft like the dickens was after
you!"

I done it, and he done the same. We struck the
raft at the same time, and in less than two seconds we
was gliding down stream, all dark and still, and edging
towards the middle of the river, nobody saying a word.
I reckoned the poor king was in for a gaudy time of it
with the audience, but nothing of the sort; pretty
soon he crawls out from under the wigwam, and says:

"Well, how'd the old thing pan out this time,
duke?" He hadn't been up-town at all.

We never showed a light till we was about ten mile
below the village. Then we lit up and had a supper,
and the king and the duke fairly laughed their bones
loose over the way they'd served them people. The
duke says:

"Greenhorns, flatheads! I knew the first house
would keep mum and let the rest of the town get roped
in; and I knew they'd lay for us the third night, and
consider it was THEIR turn now. Well, it IS their turn,
and I'd give something to know how much they'd take
for it. I WOULD just like to know how they're putting
in their opportunity. They can turn it into a picnic if
they want to -- they brought plenty provisions."

Them rapscallions took in four hundred and sixty-
five dollars in that three nights. I never see money
hauled in by the wagon-load like that before.
By and by, when they was asleep and snoring, Jim
says:

"Don't it s'prise you de way dem kings carries on,
Huck?"

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

"Why don't it, Huck?"

"Well, it don't, because it's in the breed. I reckon
they're all alike,"

"But, Huck, dese kings o' ourn is reglar rapscal-
lions; dat's jist what dey is; dey's reglar rapscallions."

"Well, that's what I'm a-saying; all kings is
mostly rapscallions, as fur as I can make out."

"Is dat so?"

"You read about them once -- you'll see. Look
at Henry the Eight; this 'n 's a Sunday-school Super-
intendent to HIM. And look at Charles Second, and
Louis Fourteen, and Louis Fifteen, and James Second,
and Edward Second, and Richard Third, and forty
more; besides all them Saxon heptarchies that used
to rip around so in old times and raise Cain. My,
you ought to seen old Henry the Eight when he was
in bloom. He WAS a blossom. He used to marry a
new wife every day, and chop off her head next morn-
ing. And he would do it just as indifferent as if he
was ordering up eggs. 'Fetch up Nell Gwynn,' he
says. They fetch her up. Next morning, 'Chop off
her head!' And they chop it off. 'Fetch up Jane
Shore,' he says; and up she comes, Next morning,
'Chop off her head' -- and they chop it off. 'Ring
up Fair Rosamun.' Fair Rosamun answers the bell.
Next morning, 'Chop off her head.' And he made
every one of them tell him a tale every night; and he
kept that up till he had hogged a thousand and one
tales that way, and then he put them all in a book,
and called it Domesday Book -- which was a good
name and stated the case. You don't know kings,
Jim, but I know them; and this old rip of ourn is one
of the cleanest I've struck in history. Well, Henry
he takes a notion he wants to get up some trouble with
this country. How does he go at it -- give notice? --
give the country a show? No. All of a sudden he
heaves all the tea in Boston Harbor overboard, and
whacks out a declaration of independence, and dares
them to come on. That was HIS style -- he never give
anybody a chance. He had suspicions of his father,
the Duke of Wellington. Well, what did he do? Ask
him to show up? No -- drownded him in a butt of
mamsey, like a cat. S'pose people left money laying
around where he was -- what did he do? He collared
it. S'pose he contracted to do a thing, and you paid
him, and didn't set down there and see that he done
it -- what did he do? He always done the other thing.
S'pose he opened his mouth -- what then? If he
didn't shut it up powerful quick he'd lose a lie every
time. That's the kind of a bug Henry was; and if
we'd a had him along 'stead of our kings he'd a fooled
that town a heap worse than ourn done. I don't say
that ourn is lambs, because they ain't, when you come
right down to the cold facts; but they ain't nothing to
THAT old ram, anyway. All I say is, kings is kings,
and you got to make allowances. Take them all
around, they're a mighty ornery lot. It's the way
they're raised."

"But dis one do SMELL so like de nation, Huck."

"Well, they all do, Jim. We can't help the way a
king smells; history don't tell no way."

"Now de duke, he's a tolerble likely man in some
ways."

"Yes, a duke's different. But not very different.
This one's a middling hard lot for a duke. When
he's drunk there ain't no near-sighted man could tell
him from a king."

"Well, anyways, I doan' hanker for no mo' un um,
Huck. Dese is all I kin stan'."

"It's the way I feel, too, Jim. But we've got them
on our hands, and we got to remember what they are,
and make allowances. Sometimes I wish we could
hear of a country that's out of kings."

What was the use to tell Jim these warn't real kings
and dukes? It wouldn't a done no good; and, be-
sides, it was just as I said: you couldn't tell them from
the real kind.

I went to sleep, and Jim didn't call me when it was
my turn. He often done that. When I waked up
just at daybreak he was sitting there with his head
down betwixt his knees, moaning and mourning to
himself. I didn't take notice nor let on. I knowed
what it was about. He was thinking about his wife
and his children, away up yonder, and he was low and
homesick; because he hadn't ever been away from
home before in his life; and I do believe he cared just
as much for his people as white folks does for their'n.
It don't seem natural, but I reckon it's so. He was
often moaning and mourning that way nights, when
he judged I was asleep, and saying, "Po' little 'Liza-
beth! po' little Johnny! it's mighty hard; I spec' I
ain't ever gwyne to see you no mo', no mo'!" He
was a mighty good nigger, Jim was.

But this time I somehow got to talking to him about
his wife and young ones; and by and by he says:

"What makes me feel so bad dis time 'uz bekase I
hear sumpn over yonder on de bank like a whack, er
a slam, while ago, en it mine me er de time I treat my
little 'Lizabeth so ornery. She warn't on'y 'bout fo'
year ole, en she tuck de sk'yarlet fever, en had a
powful rough spell; but she got well, en one day she
was a-stannin' aroun', en I says to her, I says:

"'Shet de do'.'

"She never done it; jis' stood dah, kiner smilin' up
at me. It make me mad; en I says agin, mighty loud,
I says:

"'Doan' you hear me? Shet de do'!'

"She jis stood de same way, kiner smilin' up. I
was a-bilin'! I says:

"'I lay I MAKE you mine!'

"En wid dat I fetch' her a slap side de head dat
sont her a-sprawlin'. Den I went into de yuther
room, en 'uz gone 'bout ten minutes; en when I
come back dah was dat do' a-stannin' open YIT, en
dat chile stannin' mos' right in it, a-lookin' down and
mournin', en de tears runnin' down. My, but I WUZ
mad! I was a-gwyne for de chile, but jis' den -- it
was a do' dat open innerds -- jis' den, 'long come de
wind en slam it to, behine de chile, ker-BLAM! -- en my
lan', de chile never move'! My breff mos' hop outer
me; en I feel so -- so -- I doan' know HOW I feel. I
crope out, all a-tremblin', en crope aroun' en open de
do' easy en slow, en poke my head in behine de chile,
sof' en still, en all uv a sudden I says POW! jis' as
loud as I could yell. SHE NEVER BUDGE! Oh, Huck, I
bust out a-cryin' en grab her up in my arms, en say,
'Oh, de po' little thing! De Lord God Amighty
fogive po' ole Jim, kaze he never gwyne to fogive his-
self as long's he live!' Oh, she was plumb deef en
dumb, Huck, plumb deef en dumb -- en I'd ben a-
treat'n her so!"



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