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Chapter 34


CHAPTER XXXIV.

WE stopped talking, and got to thinking. By and by
Tom says:

"Looky here, Huck, what fools we are to not think
of it before! I bet I know where Jim is."

"No! Where?"

"In that hut down by the ash-hopper. Why, looky
here. When we was at dinner, didn't you see a nigger
man go in there with some vittles?"

"Yes."

"What did you think the vittles was for?"

"For a dog."

"So 'd I. Well, it wasn't for a dog."

"Why?"

"Because part of it was watermelon."

"So it was -- I noticed it. Well, it does beat all
that I never thought about a dog not eating water-
melon. It shows how a body can see and don't see at
the same time."

"Well, the nigger unlocked the padlock when he
went in, and he locked it again when he came out. He
fetched uncle a key about the time we got up from
table -- same key, I bet. Watermelon shows man,
lock shows prisoner; and it ain't likely there's two
prisoners on such a little plantation, and where the
people's all so kind and good. Jim's the prisoner.
All right -- I'm glad we found it out detective fashion;
I wouldn't give shucks for any other way. Now you
work your mind, and study out a plan to steal Jim, and
I will study out one, too; and we'll take the one we
like the best."

What a head for just a boy to have! If I had Tom
Sawyer's head I wouldn't trade it off to be a duke, nor
mate of a steamboat, nor clown in a circus, nor nothing
I can think of. I went to thinking out a plan, but only
just to be doing something; I knowed very well where
the right plan was going to come from. Pretty soon
Tom says:

"Ready?"

"Yes," I says.

"All right -- bring it out."

"My plan is this," I says. "We can easy find out
if it's Jim in there. Then get up my canoe to-morrow
night, and fetch my raft over from the island. Then
the first dark night that comes steal the key out of the
old man's britches after he goes to bed, and shove off
down the river on the raft with Jim, hiding daytimes
and running nights, the way me and Jim used to do be-
fore. Wouldn't that plan work?"

"WORK? Why, cert'nly it would work, like rats
a-fighting. But it's too blame' simple; there ain't
nothing TO it. What's the good of a plan that ain't no
more trouble than that? It's as mild as goose-milk.
Why, Huck, it wouldn't make no more talk than break-
ing into a soap factory."

I never said nothing, because I warn't expecting noth-
ing different; but I knowed mighty well that whenever
he got HIS plan ready it wouldn't have none of them
objections to it.

And it didn't. He told me what it was, and I see in
a minute it was worth fifteen of mine for style, and
would make Jim just as free a man as mine would, and
maybe get us all killed besides. So I was satisfied, and
said we would waltz in on it. I needn't tell what it
was here, because I knowed it wouldn't stay the way, it
was. I knowed he would be changing it around every
which way as we went along, and heaving in new bull-
inesses wherever he got a chance. And that is what
he done.

Well, one thing was dead sure, and that was that Tom
Sawyer was in earnest, and was actuly going to help
steal that nigger out of slavery. That was the thing
that was too many for me. Here was a boy that was
respectable and well brung up; and had a character to
lose; and folks at home that had characters; and he
was bright and not leather-headed; and knowing and
not ignorant; and not mean, but kind; and yet here
he was, without any more pride, or rightness, or feel-
ing, than to stoop to this business, and make himself a
shame, and his family a shame, before everybody. I
COULDN'T understand it no way at all. It was outra-
geous, and I knowed I ought to just up and tell him so;
and so be his true friend, and let him quit the thing
right where he was and save himself. And I DID start
to tell him; but he shut me up, and says:

"Don't you reckon I know what I'm about? Don't
I generly know what I'm about?"

"Yes."

"Didn't I SAY I was going to help steal the nigger?"

"Yes."

"WELL, then."

That's all he said, and that's all I said. It warn't no
use to say any more; because when he said he'd do a
thing, he always done it. But I couldn't make out
how he was willing to go into this thing; so I just let it
go, and never bothered no more about it. If he was
bound to have it so, I couldn't help it.

When we got home the house was all dark and still;
so we went on down to the hut by the ash-hopper for
to examine it. We went through the yard so as to see
what the hounds would do. They knowed us, and
didn't make no more noise than country dogs is always
doing when anything comes by in the night. When
we got to the cabin we took a look at the front and the
two sides; and on the side I warn't acquainted with --
which was the north side -- we found a square window-
hole, up tolerable high, with just one stout board nailed
across it. I says:

"Here's the ticket. This hole's big enough for Jim
to get through if we wrench off the board."

Tom says:

"It's as simple as tit-tat-toe, three-in-a-row, and as
easy as playing hooky. I should HOPE we can find a
way that's a little more complicated than THAT, Huck
Finn."

"Well, then," I says, "how 'll it do to saw him out,
the way I done before I was murdered that time?"

"That's more LIKE," he says. "It's real mysterious,
and troublesome, and good," he says; "but I bet we
can find a way that's twice as long. There ain't no
hurry; le's keep on looking around."

Betwixt the hut and the fence, on the back side, was
a lean-to that joined the hut at the eaves, and was made
out of plank. It was as long as the hut, but narrow
-- only about six foot wide. The door to it was at the
south end, and was padlocked. Tom he went to the
soap-kettle and searched around, and fetched back the
iron thing they lift the lid with; so he took it and
prized out one of the staples. The chain fell down,
and we opened the door and went in, and shut it, and
struck a match, and see the shed was only built against
a cabin and hadn't no connection with it; and there
warn't no floor to the shed, nor nothing in it but some
old rusty played-out hoes and spades and picks and
a crippled plow. The match went out, and so did we,
and shoved in the staple again, and the door was locked
as good as ever. Tom was joyful. He says;

"Now we're all right. We'll DIG him out. It 'll
take about a week!"

Then we started for the house, and I went in the
back door -- you only have to pull a buckskin latch-
string, they don't fasten the doors -- but that warn't
romantical enough for Tom Sawyer; no way would do
him but he must climb up the lightning-rod. But after
he got up half way about three times, and missed fire
and fell every time, and the last time most busted his
brains out, he thought he'd got to give it up; but after
he was rested he allowed he would give her one more
turn for luck, and this time he made the trip.

In the morning we was up at break of day, and down
to the nigger cabins to pet the dogs and make friends
with the nigger that fed Jim -- if it WAS Jim that was
being fed. The niggers was just getting through break-
fast and starting for the fields; and Jim's nigger was
piling up a tin pan with bread and meat and things;
and whilst the others was leaving, the key come from
the house.

This nigger had a good-natured, chuckle-headed face,
and his wool was all tied up in little bunches with
thread. That was to keep witches off. He said the
witches was pestering him awful these nights, and mak-
ing him see all kinds of strange things, and hear all kinds
of strange words and noises, and he didn't believe he
was ever witched so long before in his life. He got
so worked up, and got to running on so about his
troubles, he forgot all about what he'd been a-going to
do. So Tom says:

"What's the vittles for? Going to feed the dogs?"

The nigger kind of smiled around graduly over his
face, like when you heave a brickbat in a mud-puddle,
and he says:

"Yes, Mars Sid, A dog. Cur'us dog, too. Does
you want to go en look at 'im?"

"Yes."

I hunched Tom, and whispers:

"You going, right here in the daybreak? THAT
warn't the plan."

"No, it warn't; but it's the plan NOW."

So, drat him, we went along, but I didn't like it
much. When we got in we couldn't hardly see any-
thing, it was so dark; but Jim was there, sure enough,
and could see us; and he sings out:

"Why, HUCK! En good LAN'! ain' dat Misto Tom?"

I just knowed how it would be; I just expected it.
I didn't know nothing to do; and if I had I couldn't
a done it, because that nigger busted in and says:

"Why, de gracious sakes! do he know you genl-
men?"

We could see pretty well now. Tom he looked at
the nigger, steady and kind of wondering, and says:

"Does WHO know us?"

"Why, dis-yer runaway nigger."

"I don't reckon he does; but what put that into
your head?"

"What PUT it dar? Didn' he jis' dis minute sing
out like he knowed you?"

Tom says, in a puzzled-up kind of way:

"Well, that's mighty curious. WHO sung out?
WHEN did he sing out? WHAT did he sing out?"
And turns to me, perfectly ca'm, and says, "Did
YOU hear anybody sing out?"

Of course there warn't nothing to be said but the one
thing; so I says:

"No; I ain't heard nobody say nothing."

Then he turns to Jim, and looks him over like he
never see him before, and says:

"Did you sing out?"

"No, sah," says Jim; " I hain't said nothing, sah."

"Not a word?"

"No, sah, I hain't said a word."

"Did you ever see us before?"

"No, sah; not as I knows on."

So Tom turns to the nigger, which was looking wild
and distressed, and says, kind of severe:

"What do you reckon's the matter with you, any-
way? What made you think somebody sung out?"

"Oh, it's de dad-blame' witches, sah, en I wisht I
was dead, I do. Dey's awluz at it, sah, en dey do
mos' kill me, dey sk'yers me so. Please to don't tell
nobody 'bout it sah, er ole Mars Silas he'll scole me;
'kase he say dey AIN'T no witches. I jis' wish to good-
ness he was heah now -- DEN what would he say! I
jis' bet he couldn' fine no way to git aroun' it DIS time.
But it's awluz jis' so; people dat's SOT, stays sot; dey
won't look into noth'n'en fine it out f'r deyselves, en
when YOU fine it out en tell um 'bout it, dey doan'
b'lieve you."

Tom give him a dime, and said we wouldn't tell no-
body; and told him to buy some more thread to tie up
his wool with; and then looks at Jim, and says:

"I wonder if Uncle Silas is going to hang this nigger.
If I was to catch a nigger that was ungrateful enough
to run away, I wouldn't give him up, I'd hang him."
And whilst the nigger stepped to the door to look at
the dime and bite it to see if it was good, he whispers
to Jim and says:

"Don't ever let on to know us. And if you hear
any digging going on nights, it's us; we're going to
set you free."

Jim only had time to grab us by the hand and squeeze
it; then the nigger come back, and we said we'd
come again some time if the nigger wanted us to; and
he said he would, more particular if it was dark, be-
cause the witches went for him mostly in the dark, and
it was good to have folks around then.

Mark Twain