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Chapter 4


WELL, three or four months run along, and it was
well into the winter now. I had been to school
most all the time and could spell and read and write
just a little, and could say the multiplication table up
to six times seven is thirty-five, and I don't reckon I
could ever get any further than that if I was to live
forever. I don't take no stock in mathematics, any-

At first I hated the school, but by and by I got so I
could stand it. Whenever I got uncommon tired I
played hookey, and the hiding I got next day done me
good and cheered me up. So the longer I went to
school the easier it got to be. I was getting sort of
used to the widow's ways, too, and they warn't so
raspy on me. Living in a house and sleeping in a bed
pulled on me pretty tight mostly, but before the cold
weather I used to slide out and sleep in the woods
sometimes, and so that was a rest to me. I liked the
old ways best, but I was getting so I liked the new
ones, too, a little bit. The widow said I was coming
along slow but sure, and doing very satisfactory. She
said she warn't ashamed of me.

One morning I happened to turn over the salt-cellar
at breakfast. I reached for some of it as quick as I
could to throw over my left shoulder and keep off the
bad luck, but Miss Watson was in ahead of me, and
crossed me off. She says, "Take your hands away,
Huckleberry; what a mess you are always making!"
The widow put in a good word for me, but that warn't
going to keep off the bad luck, I knowed that well
enough. I started out, after breakfast, feeling worried
and shaky, and wondering where it was going to fall
on me, and what it was going to be. There is ways to
keep off some kinds of bad luck, but this wasn't one
of them kind; so I never tried to do anything, but just
poked along low-spirited and on the watch-out.

I went down to the front garden and clumb over the
stile where you go through the high board fence.
There was an inch of new snow on the ground, and I
seen somebody's tracks. They had come up from the
quarry and stood around the stile a while, and then
went on around the garden fence. It was funny they
hadn't come in, after standing around so. I couldn't
make it out. It was very curious, somehow. I was
going to follow around, but I stooped down to look at
the tracks first. I didn't notice anything at first, but
next I did. There was a cross in the left boot-heel
made with big nails, to keep off the devil.

I was up in a second and shinning down the hill. I
looked over my shoulder every now and then, but I
didn't see nobody. I was at Judge Thatcher's as quick
as I could get there. He said:

"Why, my boy, you are all out of breath. Did
you come for your interest?"

"No, sir," I says; "is there some for me?"

"Oh, yes, a half-yearly is in last night -- over a
hundred and fifty dollars. Quite a fortune for you.
You had better let me invest it along with your six
thousand, because if you take it you'll spend it."

"No, sir," I says, "I don't want to spend it. I
don't want it at all -- nor the six thousand, nuther.
I want you to take it; I want to give it to you -- the
six thousand and all."

He looked surprised. He couldn't seem to make
it out. He says:

"Why, what can you mean, my boy?"

I says, "Don't you ask me no questions about it,
please. You'll take it -- won't you?"

He says:

"Well, I'm puzzled. Is something the matter?"

"Please take it," says I, "and don't ask me noth-
ing -- then I won't have to tell no lies."

He studied a while, and then he says:

"Oho-o! I think I see. You want to SELL all your
property to me -- not give it. That's the correct

Then he wrote something on a paper and read it
over, and says:

"There; you see it says 'for a consideration.' That
means I have bought it of you and paid you for it.
Here's a dollar for you. Now you sign it."

So I signed it, and left.

Miss Watson's nigger, Jim, had a hair-ball as big as
your fist, which had been took out of the fourth
stomach of an ox, and he used to do magic with it.
He said there was a spirit inside of it, and it knowed
everything. So I went to him that night and told him
pap was here again, for I found his tracks in the snow.
What I wanted to know was, what he was going to do,
and was he going to stay? Jim got out his hair-ball
and said something over it, and then he held it up and
dropped it on the floor. It fell pretty solid, and only
rolled about an inch. Jim tried it again, and then
another time, and it acted just the same. Jim got
down on his knees, and put his ear against it and
listened. But it warn't no use; he said it wouldn't
talk. He said sometimes it wouldn't talk without
money. I told him I had an old slick counterfeit
quarter that warn't no good because the brass showed
through the silver a little, and it wouldn't pass nohow,
even if the brass didn't show, because it was so slick
it felt greasy, and so that would tell on it every time.
(I reckoned I wouldn't say nothing about the dollar I
got from the judge.) I said it was pretty bad money,
but maybe the hair-ball would take it, because maybe
it wouldn't know the difference. Jim smelt it and bit
it and rubbed it, and said he would manage so the
hair-ball would think it was good. He said he would
split open a raw Irish potato and stick the quarter in
between and keep it there all night, and next morning
you couldn't see no brass, and it wouldn't feel greasy
no more, and so anybody in town would take it in a
minute, let alone a hair-ball. Well, I knowed a potato
would do that before, but I had forgot it.

Jim put the quarter under the hair-ball, and got
down and listened again. This time he said the hair-
ball was all right. He said it would tell my whole
fortune if I wanted it to. I says, go on. So the hair-
ball talked to Jim, and Jim told it to me. He says:

"Yo' ole father doan' know yit what he's a-gwyne
to do. Sometimes he spec he'll go 'way, en den agin
he spec he'll stay. De bes' way is to res' easy en let
de ole man take his own way. Dey's two angels
hoverin' roun' 'bout him. One uv 'em is white en
shiny, en t'other one is black. De white one gits him
to go right a little while, den de black one sail in en
bust it all up. A body can't tell yit which one gwyne
to fetch him at de las'. But you is all right. You
gwyne to have considable trouble in yo' life, en con-
sidable joy. Sometimes you gwyne to git hurt, en
sometimes you gwyne to git sick; but every time you's
gwyne to git well agin. Dey's two gals flyin' 'bout
you in yo' life. One uv 'em's light en t'other one is
dark. One is rich en t'other is po'. You's gwyne to
marry de po' one fust en de rich one by en by. You
wants to keep 'way fum de water as much as you kin,
en don't run no resk, 'kase it's down in de bills dat
you's gwyne to git hung."

When I lit my candle and went up to my room that
night there sat pap -- his own self!

Mark Twain