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Home -> Mark Twain -> Huckleberry Finn -> Chapter 39

Huckleberry Finn - Chapter 39

1. Chapter 1

2. Chapter 2

3. Chapter 3

4. Chapter 4

5. Chapter 5

6. Chapter 6

7. Chapter 7

8. Chapter 8

9. Chapter 9

10. Chapter 10

11. Chapter 11

12. Chapter 12

13. Chapter 13

14. Chapter 14

15. Chapter 15

16. Chapter 16

17. Chapter 17

18. Chapter 18

19. Chapter 19

20. Chapter 20

21. Chapter 21

22. Chapter 22

23. Chapter 23

24. Chapter 24

25. Chapter 25

26. Chapter 26

27. Chapter 27

28. Chapter 28

29. Chapter 29

30. Chapter 30

31. Chapter 31

32. Chapter 32

33. Chapter 33

34. Chapter 34

35. Chapter 35

36. Chapter 36

37. Chapter 37

38. Chapter 38

39. Chapter 39

40. Chapter 40

41. Chapter 41

42. Chapter 42

43. Chapter The Last

IN the morning we went up to the village and bought a wire rat-trap and
fetched it down, and unstopped the best rat-hole, and in about an hour we
had fifteen of the bulliest kind of ones; and then we took it and put it
in a safe place under Aunt Sally's bed. But while we was gone for
spiders little Thomas Franklin Benjamin Jefferson Elexander Phelps found
it there, and opened the door of it to see if the rats would come out,
and they did; and Aunt Sally she come in, and when we got back she was
a-standing on top of the bed raising Cain, and the rats was doing what
they could to keep off the dull times for her. So she took and dusted us
both with the hickry, and we was as much as two hours catching another
fifteen or sixteen, drat that meddlesome cub, and they warn't the
likeliest, nuther, because the first haul was the pick of the flock.
I never see a likelier lot of rats than what that first haul was.

We got a splendid stock of sorted spiders, and bugs, and frogs, and
caterpillars, and one thing or another; and we like to got a hornet's
nest, but we didn't. The family was at home. We didn't give it right
up, but stayed with them as long as we could; because we allowed we'd
tire them out or they'd got to tire us out, and they done it. Then we
got allycumpain and rubbed on the places, and was pretty near all right
again, but couldn't set down convenient. And so we went for the snakes,
and grabbed a couple of dozen garters and house-snakes, and put them in a
bag, and put it in our room, and by that time it was supper-time, and a
rattling good honest day's work: and hungry?--oh, no, I reckon not! And
there warn't a blessed snake up there when we went back--we didn't half
tie the sack, and they worked out somehow, and left. But it didn't
matter much, because they was still on the premises somewheres. So we
judged we could get some of them again. No, there warn't no real
scarcity of snakes about the house for a considerable spell. You'd see
them dripping from the rafters and places every now and then; and they
generly landed in your plate, or down the back of your neck, and most of
the time where you didn't want them. Well, they was handsome and
striped, and there warn't no harm in a million of them; but that never
made no difference to Aunt Sally; she despised snakes, be the breed what
they might, and she couldn't stand them no way you could fix it; and
every time one of them flopped down on her, it didn't make no difference
what she was doing, she would just lay that work down and light out. I
never see such a woman. And you could hear her whoop to Jericho. You
couldn't get her to take a-holt of one of them with the tongs. And if
she turned over and found one in bed she would scramble out and lift a
howl that you would think the house was afire. She disturbed the old man
so that he said he could most wish there hadn't ever been no snakes
created. Why, after every last snake had been gone clear out of the
house for as much as a week Aunt Sally warn't over it yet; she warn't
near over it; when she was setting thinking about something you could
touch her on the back of her neck with a feather and she would jump right
out of her stockings. It was very curious. But Tom said all women was
just so. He said they was made that way for some reason or other.

We got a licking every time one of our snakes come in her way, and she
allowed these lickings warn't nothing to what she would do if we ever
loaded up the place again with them. I didn't mind the lickings, because
they didn't amount to nothing; but I minded the trouble we had to lay in
another lot. But we got them laid in, and all the other things; and you
never see a cabin as blithesome as Jim's was when they'd all swarm out
for music and go for him. Jim didn't like the spiders, and the spiders
didn't like Jim; and so they'd lay for him, and make it mighty warm for
him. And he said that between the rats and the snakes and the grindstone
there warn't no room in bed for him, skasely; and when there was, a body
couldn't sleep, it was so lively, and it was always lively, he said,
because THEY never all slept at one time, but took turn about, so when
the snakes was asleep the rats was on deck, and when the rats turned in
the snakes come on watch, so he always had one gang under him, in his
way, and t'other gang having a circus over him, and if he got up to hunt
a new place the spiders would take a chance at him as he crossed over.
He said if he ever got out this time he wouldn't ever be a prisoner
again, not for a salary.

Well, by the end of three weeks everything was in pretty good shape. The
shirt was sent in early, in a pie, and every time a rat bit Jim he would
get up and write a little in his journal whilst the ink was fresh; the
pens was made, the inscriptions and so on was all carved on the
grindstone; the bed-leg was sawed in two, and we had et up the sawdust,
and it give us a most amazing stomach-ache. We reckoned we was all going
to die, but didn't. It was the most undigestible sawdust I ever see; and
Tom said the same. But as I was saying, we'd got all the work done now,
at last; and we was all pretty much fagged out, too, but mainly Jim. The
old man had wrote a couple of times to the plantation below Orleans to
come and get their runaway nigger, but hadn't got no answer, because
there warn't no such plantation; so he allowed he would advertise Jim in
the St. Louis and New Orleans papers; and when he mentioned the St. Louis
ones it give me the cold shivers, and I see we hadn't no time to lose.
So Tom said, now for the nonnamous letters.

"What's them?" I says.

"Warnings to the people that something is up. Sometimes it's done one
way, sometimes another. But there's always somebody spying around that
gives notice to the governor of the castle. When Louis XVI. was going to
light out of the Tooleries a servant-girl done it. It's a very good way,
and so is the nonnamous letters. We'll use them both. And it's usual
for the prisoner's mother to change clothes with him, and she stays in,
and he slides out in her clothes. We'll do that, too."

"But looky here, Tom, what do we want to WARN anybody for that
something's up? Let them find it out for themselves--it's their

"Yes, I know; but you can't depend on them. It's the way they've acted
from the very start--left us to do EVERYTHING. They're so confiding and
mullet-headed they don't take notice of nothing at all. So if we don't
GIVE them notice there won't be nobody nor nothing to interfere with us,
and so after all our hard work and trouble this escape 'll go off
perfectly flat; won't amount to nothing--won't be nothing TO it."

"Well, as for me, Tom, that's the way I'd like."

"Shucks!" he says, and looked disgusted. So I says:

"But I ain't going to make no complaint. Any way that suits you suits
me. What you going to do about the servant-girl?"

"You'll be her. You slide in, in the middle of the night, and hook that
yaller girl's frock."

"Why, Tom, that 'll make trouble next morning; because, of course, she
prob'bly hain't got any but that one."

"I know; but you don't want it but fifteen minutes, to carry the
nonnamous letter and shove it under the front door."

"All right, then, I'll do it; but I could carry it just as handy in my
own togs."

"You wouldn't look like a servant-girl THEN, would you?"

"No, but there won't be nobody to see what I look like, ANYWAY."

"That ain't got nothing to do with it. The thing for us to do is just to
do our DUTY, and not worry about whether anybody SEES us do it or not.
Hain't you got no principle at all?"

"All right, I ain't saying nothing; I'm the servant-girl. Who's Jim's

"I'm his mother. I'll hook a gown from Aunt Sally."

"Well, then, you'll have to stay in the cabin when me and Jim leaves."

"Not much. I'll stuff Jim's clothes full of straw and lay it on his bed
to represent his mother in disguise, and Jim 'll take the nigger woman's
gown off of me and wear it, and we'll all evade together. When a
prisoner of style escapes it's called an evasion. It's always called so
when a king escapes, f'rinstance. And the same with a king's son; it
don't make no difference whether he's a natural one or an unnatural one."

So Tom he wrote the nonnamous letter, and I smouched the yaller wench's
frock that night, and put it on, and shoved it under the front door, the
way Tom told me to. It said:

Beware. Trouble is brewing. Keep a sharp lookout. UNKNOWN FRIEND.

Next night we stuck a picture, which Tom drawed in blood, of a skull and
crossbones on the front door; and next night another one of a coffin on
the back door. I never see a family in such a sweat. They couldn't a
been worse scared if the place had a been full of ghosts laying for them
behind everything and under the beds and shivering through the air. If a
door banged, Aunt Sally she jumped and said "ouch!" if anything fell, she
jumped and said "ouch!" if you happened to touch her, when she warn't
noticing, she done the same; she couldn't face noway and be satisfied,
because she allowed there was something behind her every time--so she was
always a-whirling around sudden, and saying "ouch," and before she'd got
two-thirds around she'd whirl back again, and say it again; and she was
afraid to go to bed, but she dasn't set up. So the thing was working
very well, Tom said; he said he never see a thing work more satisfactory.
He said it showed it was done right.

So he said, now for the grand bulge! So the very next morning at the
streak of dawn we got another letter ready, and was wondering what we
better do with it, because we heard them say at supper they was going to
have a nigger on watch at both doors all night. Tom he went down the
lightning-rod to spy around; and the nigger at the back door was asleep,
and he stuck it in the back of his neck and come back. This letter said:

Don't betray me, I wish to be your friend. There is a desprate gang of
cut-throats from over in the Indian Territory going to steal your runaway
nigger to-night, and they have been trying to scare you so as you will
stay in the house and not bother them. I am one of the gang, but have
got religgion and wish to quit it and lead an honest life again, and will
betray the helish design. They will sneak down from northards, along the
fence, at midnight exact, with a false key, and go in the nigger's cabin
to get him. I am to be off a piece and blow a tin horn if I see any
danger; but stead of that I will BA like a sheep soon as they get in and
not blow at all; then whilst they are getting his chains loose, you slip
there and lock them in, and can kill them at your leasure. Don't do
anything but just the way I am telling you; if you do they will suspicion
something and raise whoop-jamboreehoo. I do not wish any reward but to
know I have done the right thing. UNKNOWN FRIEND.

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