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Chapter 7


CHAPTER VII.

RGIT up! What you 'bout?"

I opened my eyes and looked around, trying
to make out where I was. It was after sun-up, and I
had been sound asleep. Pap was standing over me
looking sourQand sick, too. He says:

"What you doin' with this gun?"

I judged he didn't know nothing about what he had
been doing, so I says:

"Somebody tried to get in, so I was laying for
him."

"Why didn't you roust me out?"

"Well, I tried to, but I couldn't; I couldn't budge
you."

"Well, all right. Don't stand there palavering all
day, but out with you and see if there's a fish on the
lines for breakfast. I'll be along in a minute."

He unlocked the door, and I cleared out up the
river-bank. I noticed some pieces of limbs and such
things floating down, and a sprinkling of bark; so I
knowed the river had begun to rise. I reckoned I
would have great times now if I was over at the town.
The June rise used to be always luck for me; because
as soon as that rise begins here comes cordwood float-
ing down, and pieces of log rafts -- sometimes a dozen
logs together; so all you have to do is to catch them
and sell them to the wood-yards and the sawmill.

I went along up the bank with one eye out for pap
and t'other one out for what the rise might fetch
along. Well, all at once here comes a canoe; just a
beauty, too, about thirteen or fourteen foot long,
riding high like a duck. I shot head-first off of the
bank like a frog, clothes and all on, and struck out for
the canoe. I just expected there'd be somebody lay-
ing down in it, because people often done that to fool
folks, and when a chap had pulled a skiff out most to
it they'd raise up and laugh at him. But it warn't so
this time. It was a drift-canoe sure enough, and I
clumb in and paddled her ashore. Thinks I, the old
man will be glad when he sees this -- she's worth ten
dollars. But when I got to shore pap wasn't in sight
yet, and as I was running her into a little creek like a
gully, all hung over with vines and willows, I struck
another idea: I judged I'd hide her good, and then,
'stead of taking to the woods when I run off, I'd go
down the river about fifty mile and camp in one place
for good, and not have such a rough time tramping on
foot.

It was pretty close to the shanty, and I thought I
heard the old man coming all the time; but I got her
hid; and then I out and looked around a bunch of
willows, and there was the old man down the path
a piece just drawing a bead on a bird with his gun. So
he hadn't seen anything.

When he got along I was hard at it taking up a
"trot" line. He abused me a little for being so slow;
but I told him I fell in the river, and that was what
made me so long. I knowed he would see I was wet,
and then he would be asking questions. We got five
catfish off the lines and went home.

While we laid off after breakfast to sleep up, both of
us being about wore out, I got to thinking that if I could
fix up some way to keep pap and the widow from trying
to follow me, it would be a certainer thing than trust-
ing to luck to get far enough off before they missed
me; you see, all kinds of things might happen. Well,
I didn't see no way for a while, but by and by pap
raised up a minute to drink another barrel of water,
and he says:

"Another time a man comes a-prowling round here
you roust me out, you hear? That man warn't here
for no good. I'd a shot him. Next time you roust
me out, you hear?"

Then he dropped down and went to sleep again; but
what he had been saying give me the very idea I
wanted. I says to myself, I can fix it now so nobody
won't think of following me.

About twelve o'clock we turned out and went along
up the bank. The river was coming up pretty fast,
and lots of driftwood going by on the rise. By and
by along comes part of a log raft -- nine logs fast
together. We went out with the skiff and towed it
ashore. Then we had dinner. Anybody but pap
would a waited and seen the day through, so as to
catch more stuff; but that warn't pap's style. Nine
logs was enough for one time; he must shove right
over to town and sell. So he locked me in and took
the skiff, and started off towing the raft about half-
past three. I judged he wouldn't come back that
night. I waited till I reckoned he had got a good
start; then I out with my saw, and went to work on
that log again. Before he was t'other side of the river
I was out of the hole; him and his raft was just a
speck on the water away off yonder.

I took the sack of corn meal and took it to where
the canoe was hid, and shoved the vines and branches
apart and put it in; then I done the same with the
side of bacon; then the whisky-jug. I took all the
coffee and sugar there was, and all the ammunition; I
took the wadding; I took the bucket and gourd; I
took a dipper and a tin cup, and my old saw and two
blankets, and the skillet and the coffee-pot. I took
fish-lines and matches and other things -- everything
that was worth a cent. I cleaned out the place. I
wanted an axe, but there wasn't any, only the one out
at the woodpile, and I knowed why I was going to leave
that. I fetched out the gun, and now I was done.

I had wore the ground a good deal crawling out of
the hole and dragging out so many things. So I
fixed that as good as I could from the outside by
scattering dust on the place, which covered up the
smoothness and the sawdust. Then I fixed the piece
of log back into its place, and put two rocks under it
and one against it to hold it there, for it was bent up
at that place and didn't quite touch ground. If you
stood four or five foot away and didn't know it was
sawed, you wouldn't never notice it; and besides, this
was the back of the cabin, and it warn't likely anybody
would go fooling around there.

It was all grass clear to the canoe, so I hadn't left a
track. I followed around to see. I stood on the
bank and looked out over the river. All safe. So I
took the gun and went up a piece into the woods, and
was hunting around for some birds when I see a wild
pig; hogs soon went wild in them bottoms after they
had got away from the prairie farms. I shot this fel-
low and took him into camp.

I took the axe and smashed in the door. I beat it
and hacked it considerable a-doing it. I fetched the
pig in, and took him back nearly to the table and
hacked into his throat with the axe, and laid him down
on the ground to bleed; I say ground because it was
ground -- hard packed, and no boards. Well, next I
took an old sack and put a lot of big rocks in it -- all I
could drag -- and I started it from the pig, and dragged
it to the door and through the woods down to the river
and dumped it in, and down it sunk, out of sight.
You could easy see that something had been dragged
over the ground. I did wish Tom Sawyer was there;
I knowed he would take an interest in this kind of
business, and throw in the fancy touches. Nobody
could spread himself like Tom Sawyer in such a thing
as that.

Well, last I pulled out some of my hair, and blooded
the axe good, and stuck it on the back side, and slung
the axe in the corner. Then I took up the pig and held
him to my breast with my jacket (so he couldn't drip)
till I got a good piece below the house and then
dumped him into the river. Now I thought of some-
thing else. So I went and got the bag of meal
and my old saw out of the canoe, and fetched
them to the house. I took the bag to where it
used to stand, and ripped a hole in the bottom of it
with the saw, for there warn't no knives and forks on
the place -- pap done everything with his clasp-knife
about the cooking. Then I carried the sack about a
hundred yards across the grass and through the willows
east of the house, to a shallow lake that was five mile
wide and full of rushes -- and ducks too, you might
say, in the season. There was a slough or a creek
leading out of it on the other side that went miles away,
I don't know where, but it didn't go to the river. The
meal sifted out and made a little track all the way to
the lake. I dropped pap's whetstone there too, so as
to look like it had been done by accident. Then I tied
up the rip in the meal sack with a string, so it wouldn't
leak no more, and took it and my saw to the canoe
again.

It was about dark now; so I dropped the canoe
down the river under some willows that hung over the
bank, and waited for the moon to rise. I made fast to
a willow; then I took a bite to eat, and by and by laid
down in the canoe to smoke a pipe and lay out a plan.
I says to myself, they'll follow the track of that sack-
ful of rocks to the shore and then drag the river for
me. And they'll follow that meal track to the lake
and go browsing down the creek that leads out of it to
find the robbers that killed me and took the things.
They won't ever hunt the river for anything but my
dead carcass. They'll soon get tired of that, and
won't bother no more about me. All right; I can
stop anywhere I want to. Jackson's Island is good
enough for me; I know that island pretty well, and
nobody ever comes there. And then I can paddle
over to town nights, and slink around and pick up
things I want. Jackson's Island's the place.

I was pretty tired, and the first thing I knowed I
was asleep. When I woke up I didn't know where I
was for a minute. I set up and looked around, a little
scared. Then I remembered. The river looked miles
and miles across. The moon was so bright I could a
counted the drift logs that went a-slipping along, black
and still, hundreds of yards out from shore. Every-
thing was dead quiet, and it looked late, and SMELT
late. You know what I mean -- I don't know the
words to put it in.

I took a good gap and a stretch, and was just going
to unhitch and start when I heard a sound away over
the water. I listened. Pretty soon I made it out. It
was that dull kind of a regular sound that comes from
oars working in rowlocks when it's a still night. I
peeped out through the willow branches, and there it
was -- a skiff, away across the water. I couldn't tell
how many was in it. It kept a-coming, and when it
was abreast of me I see there warn't but one man in it.
Think's I, maybe it's pap, though I warn't expecting
him. He dropped below me with the current, and
by and by he came a-swinging up shore in the easy
water, and he went by so close I could a reached out
the gun and touched him. Well, it WAS pap, sure
enough -- and sober, too, by the way he laid his oars.

I didn't lose no time. The next minute I was a-
spinning down stream soft but quick in the shade of
the bank. I made two mile and a half, and then
struck out a quarter of a mile or more towards the
middle of the river, because pretty soon I would be
passing the ferry landing, and people might see me
and hail me. I got out amongst the driftwood, and
then laid down in the bottom of the canoe and let her
float. I laid there, and had a good rest and a smoke
out of my pipe, looking away into the sky; not a
cloud in it. The sky looks ever so deep when you lay
down on your back in the moonshine; I never knowed
it before. And how far a body can hear on the water
such nights! I heard people talking at the ferry land-
ing. I heard what they said, too -- every word of it.
One man said it was getting towards the long days and
the short nights now. T'other one said THIS warn't
one of the short ones, he reckoned -- and then they
laughed, and he said it over again, and they laughed
again; then they waked up another fellow and told
him, and laughed, but he didn't laugh; he ripped out
something brisk, and said let him alone. The first
fellow said he 'lowed to tell it to his old woman -- she
would think it was pretty good; but he said that
warn't nothing to some things he had said in his time.
I heard one man say it was nearly three o'clock, and
he hoped daylight wouldn't wait more than about a
week longer. After that the talk got further and
further away, and I couldn't make out the words any
more; but I could hear the mumble, and now and then
a laugh, too, but it seemed a long ways off.

I was away below the ferry now. I rose up, and
there was Jackson's Island, about two mile and a half
down stream, heavy timbered and standing up out of
the middle of the river, big and dark and solid, like a
steamboat without any lights. There warn't any signs
of the bar at the head -- it was all under water now.

It didn't take me long to get there. I shot past the
head at a ripping rate, the current was so swift, and
then I got into the dead water and landed on the side
towards the Illinois shore. I run the canoe into a deep
dent in the bank that I knowed about; I had to part
the willow branches to get in; and when I made fast
nobody could a seen the canoe from the outside.

I went up and set down on a log at the head of the
island, and looked out on the big river and the black
driftwood and away over to the town, three mile
away, where there was three or four lights twinkling.
A monstrous big lumber-raft was about a mile up
stream, coming along down, with a lantern in the
middle of it. I watched it come creeping down, and
when it was most abreast of where I stood I heard a
man say, "Stern oars, there! heave her head to stab-
board!" I heard that just as plain as if the man was
by my side.

There was a little gray in the sky now; so I stepped
into the woods, and laid down for a nap before break-
fast.

Mark Twain