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Chapter 40


CHAPTER XL.

WE was feeling pretty good after breakfast, and
took my canoe and went over the river a-fishing,
with a lunch, and had a good time, and took a look at
the raft and found her all right, and got home late to
supper, and found them in such a sweat and worry
they didn't know which end they was standing on, and
made us go right off to bed the minute we was done
supper, and wouldn't tell us what the trouble was, and
never let on a word about the new letter, but didn't
need to, because we knowed as much about it as
anybody did, and as soon as we was half up stairs and
her back was turned we slid for the cellar cubboard
and loaded up a good lunch and took it up to our
room and went to bed, and got up about half-past
eleven, and Tom put on Aunt Sally's dress that he
stole and was going to start with the lunch, but says:

"Where's the butter?"

"I laid out a hunk of it," I says, "on a piece of a
corn-pone."

"Well, you LEFT it laid out, then -- it ain't here."

"We can get along without it," I says.

"We can get along WITH it, too," he says; "just
you slide down cellar and fetch it. And then mosey
right down the lightning-rod and come along. I'll go
and stuff the straw into Jim's clothes to represent his
mother in disguise, and be ready to BA like a sheep
and shove soon as you get there."

So out he went, and down cellar went I. The hunk
of butter, big as a person's fist, was where I had left
it, so I took up the slab of corn-pone with it on, and
blowed out my light, and started up stairs very
stealthy, and got up to the main floor all right, but
here comes Aunt Sally with a candle, and I clapped
the truck in my hat, and clapped my hat on my head,
and the next second she see me; and she says:

"You been down cellar?"

"Yes'm."

"What you been doing down there?"

"Noth'n."

"NOTH'N!"

"No'm."

"Well, then, what possessed you to go down there
this time of night?"

"I don't know 'm."

"You don't KNOW? Don't answer me that way.
Tom, I want to know what you been DOING down
there."

"I hain't been doing a single thing, Aunt Sally, I
hope to gracious if I have."

I reckoned she'd let me go now, and as a generl
thing she would; but I s'pose there was so many
strange things going on she was just in a sweat about
every little thing that warn't yard-stick straight; so she
says, very decided:

"You just march into that setting-room and stay
there till I come. You been up to something you no
business to, and I lay I'll find out what it is before I'M
done with you."

So she went away as I opened the door and walked
into the setting-room. My, but there was a crowd
there! Fifteen farmers, and every one of them had a
gun. I was most powerful sick, and slunk to a chair
and set down. They was setting around, some of them
talking a little, in a low voice, and all of them fidgety
and uneasy, but trying to look like they warn't; but I
knowed they was, because they was always taking off
their hats, and putting them on, and scratching their
heads, and changing their seats, and fumbling with
their buttons. I warn't easy myself, but I didn't take
my hat off, all the same.

I did wish Aunt Sally would come, and get done
with me, and lick me, if she wanted to, and let me get
away and tell Tom how we'd overdone this thing, and
what a thundering hornet's-nest we'd got ourselves
into, so we could stop fooling around straight off, and
clear out with Jim before these rips got out of patience
and come for us.

At last she come and begun to ask me questions,
but I COULDN'T answer them straight, I didn't know
which end of me was up; because these men was in
such a fidget now that some was wanting to start right
NOW and lay for them desperadoes, and saying it warn't
but a few minutes to midnight; and others was trying
to get them to hold on and wait for the sheep-signal;
and here was Aunty pegging away at the questions,
and me a-shaking all over and ready to sink down in
my tracks I was that scared; and the place getting
hotter and hotter, and the butter beginning to melt and
run down my neck and behind my ears; and pretty
soon, when one of them says, "I'M for going and
getting in the cabin FIRST and right NOW, and catching
them when they come," I most dropped; and a streak
of butter come a-trickling down my forehead, and
Aunt Sally she see it, and turns white as a sheet, and
says:

"For the land's sake, what IS the matter with the
child? He's got the brain-fever as shore as you're
born, and they're oozing out!"

And everybody runs to see, and she snatches off my
hat, and out comes the bread and what was left of the
butter, and she grabbed me, and hugged me, and
says:

"Oh, what a turn you did give me! and how glad
and grateful I am it ain't no worse; for luck's against
us, and it never rains but it pours, and when I see that
truck I thought we'd lost you, for I knowed by the
color and all it was just like your brains would be if --
Dear, dear, whyd'nt you TELL me that was what you'd
been down there for, I wouldn't a cared. Now cler
out to bed, and don't lemme see no more of you till
morning!"

I was up stairs in a second, and down the lightning-
rod in another one, and shinning through the dark for
the lean-to. I couldn't hardly get my words out, I
was so anxious; but I told Tom as quick as I could
we must jump for it now, and not a minute to lose --
the house full of men, yonder, with guns!

His eyes just blazed; and he says:

"No! -- is that so? AIN'T it bully! Why, Huck,
if it was to do over again, I bet I could fetch two hun-
dred! If we could put it off till --"

"Hurry! HURRY!" I says. "Where's Jim?"

"Right at your elbow; if you reach out your arm
you can touch him. He's dressed, and everything's
ready. Now we'll slide out and give the sheep-
signal."

But then we heard the tramp of men coming to the
door, and heard them begin to fumble with the pad-
lock, and heard a man say:

"I TOLD you we'd be too soon; they haven't come
-- the door is locked. Here, I'll lock some of you
into the cabin, and you lay for 'em in the dark and kill
'em when they come; and the rest scatter around a
piece, and listen if you can hear 'em coming."

So in they come, but couldn't see us in the dark, and
most trod on us whilst we was hustling to get under
the bed. But we got under all right, and out through
the hole, swift but soft -- Jim first, me next, and Tom
last, which was according to Tom's orders. Now we
was in the lean-to, and heard trampings close by out-
side. So we crept to the door, and Tom stopped us
there and put his eye to the crack, but couldn't make
out nothing, it was so dark; and whispered and said
he would listen for the steps to get further, and when
he nudged us Jim must glide out first, and him last.
So he set his ear to the crack and listened, and
listened, and listened, and the steps a-scraping around
out there all the time; and at last he nudged us, and
we slid out, and stooped down, not breathing, and not
making the least noise, and slipped stealthy towards the
fence in Injun file, and got to it all right, and me and
Jim over it; but Tom's britches catched fast on a splinter
on the top rail, and then he hear the steps coming, so he
had to pull loose, which snapped the splinter and made
a noise; and as he dropped in our tracks and started
somebody sings out:

"Who's that? Answer, or I'll shoot!"

But we didn't answer; we just unfurled our heels
and shoved. Then there was a rush, and a BANG, BANG,
BANG! and the bullets fairly whizzed around us! We
heard them sing out:

"Here they are! They've broke for the river!
After 'em, boys, and turn loose the dogs!"

So here they come, full tilt. We could hear them
because they wore boots and yelled, but we didn't wear
no boots and didn't yell. We was in the path to the
mill; and when they got pretty close on to us we
dodged into the bush and let them go by, and then
dropped in behind them. They'd had all the dogs
shut up, so they wouldn't scare off the robbers; but
by this time somebody had let them loose, and here
they come, making powwow enough for a million; but
they was our dogs; so we stopped in our tracks till
they catched up; and when they see it warn't nobody
but us, and no excitement to offer them, they only just
said howdy, and tore right ahead towards the shouting
and clattering; and then we up-steam again, and
whizzed along after them till we was nearly to the
mill, and then struck up through the bush to where
my canoe was tied, and hopped in and pulled for dear
life towards the middle of the river, but didn't make
no more noise than we was obleeged to. Then we
struck out, easy and comfortable, for the island where
my raft was; and we could hear them yelling and
barking at each other all up and down the bank, till we
was so far away the sounds got dim and died out.
And when we stepped on to the raft I says:

"NOW, old Jim, you're a free man again, and I bet
you won't ever be a slave no more."

"En a mighty good job it wuz, too, Huck. It 'uz
planned beautiful, en it 'uz done beautiful; en dey
ain't NOBODY kin git up a plan dat's mo' mixed-up en
splendid den what dat one wuz."

We was all glad as we could be, but Tom was the
gladdest of all because he had a bullet in the calf of
his leg.

When me and Jim heard that we didn't feel so brash
as what we did before. It was hurting him consider-
able, and bleeding; so we laid him in the wigwam and
tore up one of the duke's shirts for to bandage him,
but he says:

"Gimme the rags; I can do it myself. Don't stop
now; don't fool around here, and the evasion booming
along so handsome; man the sweeps, and set her
loose! Boys, we done it elegant! -- 'deed we did. I
wish WE'D a had the handling of Louis XVI., there
wouldn't a been no 'Son of Saint Louis, ascend to
heaven!' wrote down in HIS biography; no, sir, we'd
a whooped him over the BORDER -- that's what we'd a
done with HIM -- and done it just as slick as nothing
at all, too. Man the sweeps -- man the sweeps!"

But me and Jim was consulting -- and thinking.
And after we'd thought a minute, I says:

"Say it, Jim."

So he says:

"Well, den, dis is de way it look to me, Huck. Ef
it wuz HIM dat 'uz bein' sot free, en one er de boys
wuz to git shot, would he say, 'Go on en save me,
nemmine 'bout a doctor f'r to save dis one?' Is dat
like Mars Tom Sawyer? Would he say dat? You BET
he wouldn't! WELL, den, is JIM gywne to say it?
No, sah -- I doan' budge a step out'n dis place 'dout
a DOCTOR, not if it's forty year!"

I knowed he was white inside, and I reckoned he'd
say what he did say -- so it was all right now, and I
told Tom I was a-going for a doctor. He raised con-
siderable row about it, but me and Jim stuck to it and
wouldn't budge; so he was for crawling out and set-
ting the raft loose himself; but we wouldn't let him.
Then he give us a piece of his mind, but it didn't do
no good.

So when he sees me getting the canoe ready, he
says:

"Well, then, if you re bound to go, I'll tell you the
way to do when you get to the village. Shut the door
and blindfold the doctor tight and fast, and make him
swear to be silent as the grave, and put a purse full of
gold in his hand, and then take and lead him all around
the back alleys and everywheres in the dark, and then
fetch him here in the canoe, in a roundabout way
amongst the islands, and search him and take his chalk
away from him, and don't give it back to him till
you get him back to the village, or else he will chalk
this raft so he can find it again. It's the way they
all do."

So I said I would, and left, and Jim was to hide in
the woods when he see the doctor coming till he was
gone again.

Mark Twain