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Summary Chapter 23

The duke and king put up a stage. The house is full when the production starts. The king comes out on all fours, naked, and painted in stripes. Everyone laughs hard. They get angry, though, when that is the extent of the act. However, the duke tells them to encourage their friends to see it—and then everyone will be a fool.

The house sells out again the second night. The third night it is sold out, but it is full of the people who had seen the show before the previous two nights. Their pockets are full of smelly items like rotting cabbages. The duke, king, and Huck run for it. The two con artists laugh at how they were able to fool the townspeople. They made $465.

When they sleep, Jim professes surprise at what a scoundrel the king is. Huck believes all kings are scoundrels. He brings up Henry VIII, who married women and then chopped their heads off. Huck confuses Henry VIII with the king that married Scheherazade. Jim says the duke is likable, though just as big of a scoundrel. Jim doesn’t want to run into any more kings or dukes.

When Huck wakes up, he finds Jim in low spirits. He blames it on homesickness. Jim often misses his children.

Jim tells Huck how guilty he feels about how he treated his daughter Elizabeth. She had caught scarlet fever but had recovered. One day he ordered her to shut the door. She didn’t obey, so he smacked her. He eventually realized that she was deaf and dumb and couldn’t hear him.

Mark Twain