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Chapter 6


CHAPTER VI.

WELL, pretty soon the old man was up and around
again, and then he went for Judge Thatcher in
the courts to make him give up that money, and he
went for me, too, for not stopping school. He catched
me a couple of times and thrashed me, but I went to
school just the same, and dodged him or outrun him
most of the time. I didn't want to go to school much
before, but I reckoned I'd go now to spite pap. That
law trial was a slow business -- appeared like they
warn't ever going to get started on it; so every now
and then I'd borrow two or three dollars off of the
judge for him, to keep from getting a cowhiding.
Every time he got money he got drunk; and every
time he got drunk he raised Cain around town; and
every time he raised Cain he got jailed. He was just
suited -- this kind of thing was right in his line.

He got to hanging around the widow's too much
and so she told him at last that if he didn't quit using
around there she would make trouble for him. Well,
WASN'T he mad? He said he would show who was
Huck Finn's boss. So he watched out for me one day
in the spring, and catched me, and took me up the
river about three mile in a skiff, and crossed over to
the Illinois shore where it was woody and there warn't
no houses but an old log hut in a place where the
timber was so thick you couldn't find it if you didn't
know where it was.

He kept me with him all the time, and I never got a
chance to run off. We lived in that old cabin, and he
always locked the door and put the key under his head
nights. He had a gun which he had stole, I reckon,
and we fished and hunted, and that was what we lived
on. Every little while he locked me in and went down
to the store, three miles, to the ferry, and traded fish
and game for whisky, and fetched it home and got
drunk and had a good time, and licked me. The
widow she found out where I was by and by, and she
sent a man over to try to get hold of me; but pap
drove him off with the gun, and it warn't long after
that till I was used to being where I was, and liked
it -- all but the cowhide part.

It was kind of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable
all day, smoking and fishing, and no books nor study.
Two months or more run along, and my clothes got to
be all rags and dirt, and I didn't see how I'd ever got
to like it so well at the widow's, where you had to
wash, and eat on a plate, and comb up, and go to bed
and get up regular, and be forever bothering over a
book, and have old Miss Watson pecking at you all the
time. I didn't want to go back no more. I had
stopped cussing, because the widow didn't like it; but
now I took to it again because pap hadn't no objec-
tions. It was pretty good times up in the woods
there, take it all around.

But by and by pap got too handy with his hick'ry,
and I couldn't stand it. I was all over welts. He got
to going away so much, too, and locking me in. Once
he locked me in and was gone three days. It was
dreadful lonesome. I judged he had got drowned,
and I wasn't ever going to get out any more. I was
scared. I made up my mind I would fix up some way
to leave there. I had tried to get out of that cabin
many a time, but I couldn't find no way. There
warn't a window to it big enough for a dog to get
through. I couldn't get up the chimbly; it was too
narrow. The door was thick, solid oak slabs. Pap
was pretty careful not to leave a knife or anything in
the cabin when he was away; I reckon I had hunted
the place over as much as a hundred times; well, I
was most all the time at it, because it was about the
only way to put in the time. But this time I found
something at last; I found an old rusty wood-saw
without any handle; it was laid in between a rafter
and the clapboards of the roof. I greased it up and
went to work. There was an old horse-blanket nailed
against the logs at the far end of the cabin behind the
table, to keep the wind from blowing through the
chinks and putting the candle out. I got under the
table and raised the blanket, and went to work to saw
a section of the big bottom log out -- big enough to
let me through. Well, it was a good long job, but I
was getting towards the end of it when I heard pap's
gun in the woods. I got rid of the signs of my work,
and dropped the blanket and hid my saw, and pretty
soon pap come in.

Pap warn't in a good humor -- so he was his natural
self. He said he was down town, and everything was
going wrong. His lawyer said he reckoned he would
win his lawsuit and get the money if they ever got
started on the trial; but then there was ways to put it
off a long time, and Judge Thatcher knowed how to do
it And he said people allowed there'd be another
trial to get me away from him and give me to the
widow for my guardian, and they guessed it would win
this time. This shook me up considerable, because I
didn't want to go back to the widow's any more and
be so cramped up and sivilized, as they called it.
Then the old man got to cussing, and cussed every-
thing and everybody he could think of, and then cussed
them all over again to make sure he hadn't skipped
any, and after that he polished off with a kind of a
general cuss all round, including a considerable parcel
of people which he didn't know the names of, and so
called them what's-his-name when he got to them, and
went right along with his cussing.

He said he would like to see the widow get me.
He said he would watch out, and if they tried to come
any such game on him he knowed of a place six or
seven mile off to stow me in, where they might hunt
till they dropped and they couldn't find me. That
made me pretty uneasy again, but only for a minute;
I reckoned I wouldn't stay on hand till he got that
chance.

The old man made me go to the skiff and fetch the
things he had got. There was a fifty-pound sack of
corn meal, and a side of bacon, ammunition, and a
four-gallon jug of whisky, and an old book and two
newspapers for wadding, besides some tow. I toted
up a load, and went back and set down on the bow of
the skiff to rest. I thought it all over, and I reckoned
I would walk off with the gun and some lines, and take
to the woods when I run away. I guessed I wouldn't
stay in one place, but just tramp right across the
country, mostly night times, and hunt and fish to keep
alive, and so get so far away that the old man nor the
widow couldn't ever find me any more. I judged I
would saw out and leave that night if pap got drunk
enough, and I reckoned he would. I got so full of it
I didn't notice how long I was staying till the old man
hollered and asked me whether I was asleep or
drownded.

I got the things all up to the cabin, and then it was
about dark. While I was cooking supper the old man
took a swig or two and got sort of warmed up, and
went to ripping again. He had been drunk over in
town, and laid in the gutter all night, and he was a
sight to look at. A body would a thought he was
Adam -- he was just all mud. Whenever his liquor
begun to work he most always went for the govment.
his time he says:

"Call this a govment! why, just look at it and see
what it's like. Here's the law a-standing ready to take
a man's son away from him -- a man's own son, which
he has had all the trouble and all the anxiety and all
the expense of raising. Yes, just as that man has got
that son raised at last, and ready to go to work and
begin to do suthin' for HIM and give him a rest, the law
up and goes for him. And they call THAT govment!
That ain't all, nuther. The law backs that old Judge
Thatcher up and helps him to keep me out o' my
property. Here's what the law does: The law takes a
man worth six thousand dollars and up'ards, and jams
him into an old trap of a cabin like this, and lets him
go round in clothes that ain't fitten for a hog. They
call that govment! A man can't get his rights in a
govment like this. Sometimes I've a mighty notion to
just leave the country for good and all. Yes, and I
TOLD 'em so; I told old Thatcher so to his face. Lots
of 'em heard me, and can tell what I said. Says I,
for two cents I'd leave the blamed country and never
come a-near it agin. Them's the very words. I says
look at my hat -- if you call it a hat -- but the lid
raises up and the rest of it goes down till it's below
my chin, and then it ain't rightly a hat at all, but more
like my head was shoved up through a jint o' stove-
pipe. Look at it, says I -- such a hat for me to wear
-- one of the wealthiest men in this town if I could git
my rights.

"Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful.
Why, looky here. There was a free nigger there from
Ohio -- a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He
had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the
shiniest hat; and there ain't a man in that town that's
got as fine clothes as what he had; and he had a gold
watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane -- the awful-
est old gray-headed nabob in the State. And what do
you think? They said he was a p'fessor in a college,
and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed
everything. And that ain't the wust. They said he
could VOTE when he was at home. Well, that let me
out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It
was 'lection day, and I was just about to go and vote
myself if I warn't too drunk to get there; but when
they told me there was a State in this country where
they'd let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I'll
never vote agin. Them's the very words I said; they
all heard me; and the country may rot for all me --
I'll never vote agin as long as I live. And to see the
cool way of that nigger -- why, he wouldn't a give me
the road if I hadn't shoved him out o' the way. I
says to the people, why ain't this nigger put up at
auction and sold? -- that's what I want to know. And
what do you reckon they said? Why, they said he
couldn't be sold till he'd been in the State six months,
and he hadn't been there that long yet. There, now --
that's a specimen. They call that a govment that can't
sell a free nigger till he's been in the State six months.
Here's a govment that calls itself a govment, and lets
on to be a govment, and thinks it is a govment, and
yet's got to set stock-still for six whole months before
it can take a hold of a prowling, thieving, infernal,
white-shirted free nigger, and --"

Pap was agoing on so he never noticed where his
old limber legs was taking him to, so he went head over
heels over the tub of salt pork and barked both shins,
and the rest of his speech was all the hottest kind of
language -- mostly hove at the nigger and the gov-
ment, though he give the tub some, too, all along,
here and there. He hopped around the cabin con-
siderable, first on one leg and then on the other, hold-
ing first one shin and then the other one, and at last he
let out with his left foot all of a sudden and fetched
the tub a rattling kick. But it warn't good judgment,
because that was the boot that had a couple of his toes
leaking out of the front end of it; so now he raised a
howl that fairly made a body's hair raise, and down he
went in the dirt, and rolled there, and held his toes;
and the cussing he done then laid over anything he
had ever done previous. He said so his own self after-
wards. He had heard old Sowberry Hagan in his
best days, and he said it laid over him, too; but I
reckon that was sort of piling it on, maybe.

After supper pap took the jug, and said he had
enough whisky there for two drunks and one delirium
tremens. That was always his word. I judged he
would be blind drunk in about an hour, and then I
would steal the key, or saw myself out, one or t'other.
He drank and drank, and tumbled down on his
blankets by and by; but luck didn't run my way. He
didn't go sound asleep, but was uneasy. He groaned
and moaned and thrashed around this way and that for
a long time. At last I got so sleepy I couldn't keep
my eyes open all I could do, and so before I knowed
what I was about I was sound asleep, and the candle
burning.

I don't know how long I was asleep, but all of a
sudden there was an awful scream and I was up.
There was pap looking wild, and skipping around every
which way and yelling about snakes. He said they
was crawling up his legs; and then he would give a
jump and scream, and say one had bit him on the
cheek -- but I couldn't see no snakes. He started
and run round and round the cabin, hollering "Take
him off! take him off! he's biting me on the neck!"
I never see a man look so wild in the eyes. Pretty
soon he was all fagged out, and fell down panting;
then he rolled over and over wonderful fast, kicking
things every which way, and striking and grabbing at
the air with his hands, and screaming and saying there
was devils a-hold of him. He wore out by and by,
and laid still a while, moaning. Then he laid stiller,
and didn't make a sound. I could hear the owls and
the wolves away off in the woods, and it seemed terri-
ble still. He was laying over by the corner. By and
by he raised up part way and listened, with his head
to one side. He says, very low:

"Tramp -- tramp -- tramp; that's the dead; tramp
-- tramp -- tramp; they're coming after me; but I
won't go. Oh, they're here! don't touch me -- don't!
hands off -- they're cold; let go. Oh, let a poor devil
alone!"

Then he went down on all fours and crawled off,
begging them to let him alone, and he rolled himself
up in his blanket and wallowed in under the old pine
table, still a-begging; and then he went to crying. I
could hear him through the blanket.

By and by he rolled out and jumped up on his feet
looking wild, and he see me and went for me. He
chased me round and round the place with a clasp-
knife, calling me the Angel of Death, and saying he
would kill me, and then I couldn't come for him no
more. I begged, and told him I was only Huck; but
he laughed SUCH a screechy laugh, and roared and
cussed, and kept on chasing me up. Once when I
turned short and dodged under his arm he made a
grab and got me by the jacket between my shoulders,
and I thought I was gone; but I slid out of the jacket
quick as lightning, and saved myself. Pretty soon he
was all tired out, and dropped down with his back
against the door, and said he would rest a minute and
then kill me. He put his knife under him, and said
he would sleep and get strong, and then he would see
who was who.

So he dozed off pretty soon. By and by I got the
old split-bottom chair and clumb up as easy as I could,
not to make any noise, and got down the gun. I
slipped the ramrod down it to make sure it was loaded,
then I laid it across the turnip barrel, pointing
towards pap, and set down behind it to wait for him to
stir. And how slow and still the time did drag along.

Mark Twain