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Summary Chapter 4

Huck’s learning is progressing still four months later. He doesn’t do as well in math. He hated school but eventually learns to tolerate it. He enjoys the occasional flogging he gets for playing hooky.

He is adapting to his new life with the Widow as well and finding it less oppressive. He prefers his carefree old life, but he starts liking some things about the new life as well. The Widow is pleased with his slow but sure progress.

He overturns a salt shaker and tries to throw salt over his shoulder to ward off bad luck. Miss Watson stops him, fussing over how he always makes a mess. He is feeling bad luck looming over him.

When he goes outside, he notices tracks in the snow. He recognizes the left boot heel, which has nails formed into a cross to ward off the devil. He rushes to Judge Thatcher, looking over his shoulder repeatedly.

Judge Thatcher tells him he has an additional $150, which he’ll invest for Huck. Huck doesn’t want any of the money. He wants the judge to have it. He doesn’t want the judge to ask him questions. Judge Thatcher assumes he wants to sell his property. He gives him a dollar and has Huck sign a paper.

Jim has a hairball from an ox. Huck tells him that his father is back. He found Mr. Finn’s tracks in the snow. He wants Jim to use the hairball oracle to determine what his father is going to do. The oracle is silent. Jim says it needs money. Huck offers a counterfeit quarter. Jim accepts it, and so does the oracle.

Jim says the oracle says that the father is indecisive. Two angels hover over him. One persuades him to do right, but the other convinces him to do wrong. He advises Huck to let his father choose his own path. Huck will be fine. He’ll have some troubles and get hurt, but things will turn out well for him. There are two women in his life. One is rich and one is poor. He’ll marry the poor one first. He needs to stay away from the water and not do anything risky, or he’ll get hung.

When Huck goes to his room, he finds his father sitting there.

Mark Twain