Produced by David Widger
By Mark Twain
PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted;persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; personsattempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR, Per G.G., Chief of Ordnance.
IN this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Missouri negrodialect; the extremest form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect; theordinary "Pike County" dialect; and four modified varieties of this last.The shadings have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guesswork;but painstakingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support ofpersonal familiarity with these several forms of speech.
I make this explanation for the reason that without it many readers wouldsuppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and notsucceeding.
Scene: The Mississippi Valley Time: Forty to fifty years ago
YOU don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of TheAdventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was madeby Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things whichhe stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I neverseen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, orthe widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly--Tom's Aunt Polly, she is--andMary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which ismostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.
Now the way that the book winds up is this: Tom and me found the moneythat the robbers hid in the cave, and it made us rich. We got sixthousand dollars apiece--all gold. It was an awful sight of money whenit was piled up. Well, Judge Thatcher he took it and put it out atinterest, and it fetched us a dollar a day apiece all the year round--more than a body could tell what to do with. The Widow Douglas she tookme for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was roughliving in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular anddecent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn't stand it nolonger I lit out. I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again,and was free and satisfied. But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and said hewas going to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I would go backto the widow and be respectable. So I went back.
The widow she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb, and shecalled me a lot of other names, too, but she never meant no harm by it.She put me in them new clothes again, and I couldn't do nothing but sweatand sweat, and feel all cramped up. Well, then, the old thing commencedagain. The widow rung a bell for supper, and you had to come to time.When you got to the table you couldn't go right to eating, but you had towait for the widow to tuck down her head and grumble a little over thevictuals, though there warn't really anything the matter with them,--thatis, nothing only everything was cooked by itself. In a barrel of oddsand ends it is different; things get mixed up, and the juice kind ofswaps around, and the things go better.
After supper she got out her book and learned me about Moses and theBulrushers, and I was in a sweat to find out all about him; but by and byshe let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so thenI didn't care no more about him, because I don't take no stock in deadpeople.
Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow to let me. But shewouldn't. She said it was a mean practice and wasn't clean, and I musttry to not do it any more. That is just the way with some people. Theyget down on a thing when they don't know nothing about it. Here she wasa-bothering about Moses, which was no kin to her, and no use to anybody,being gone, you see, yet finding a power of fault with me for doing athing that had some good in it. And she took snuff, too; of course thatwas all right, because she done it herself.
Her sister, Miss Watson, a tolerable slim old maid, with goggles on,had just come to live with her, and took a set at me now with aspelling-book. She worked me middling hard for about an hour, and thenthe widow made her ease up. I couldn't stood it much longer. Then foran hour it was deadly dull, and I was fidgety. Miss Watson would say,"Don't put your feet up there, Huckleberry;" and "Don't scrunch up likethat, Huckleberry--set up straight;" and pretty soon she would say,"Don't gap and stretch like that, Huckleberry--why don't you try tobehave?" Then she told me all about the bad place, and I said I wished Iwas there. She got mad then, but I didn't mean no harm. All I wanted wasto go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn't particular. Shesaid it was wicked to say what I said; said she wouldn't say it for thewhole world; she was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well,I couldn't see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up mymind I wouldn't try for it. But I never said so, because it would onlymake trouble, and wouldn't do no good.
Now she had got a start, and she went on and told me all about the goodplace. She said all a body would have to do there was to go around allday long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn't think muchof it. But I never said so. I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer wouldgo there, and she said not by a considerable sight. I was glad aboutthat, because I wanted him and me to be together.
Miss Watson she kept pecking at me, and it got tiresome and lonesome. Byand by they fetched the niggers in and had prayers, and then everybodywas off to bed. I went up to my room with a piece of candle, and put iton the table. Then I set down in a chair by the window and tried tothink of something cheerful, but it warn't no use. I felt so lonesome Imost wished I was dead. The stars were shining, and the leaves rustledin the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooingabout somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying aboutsomebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying to whispersomething to me, and I couldn't make out what it was, and so it made thecold shivers run over me. Then away out in the woods I heard that kind ofa sound that a ghost makes when it wants to tell about something that'son its mind and can't make itself understood, and so can't rest easy inits grave, and has to go about that way every night grieving. I got sodown-hearted and scared I did wish I had some company. Pretty soon aspider went crawling up my shoulder, and I flipped it off and it lit inthe candle; and before I could budge it was all shriveled up. I didn'tneed anybody to tell me that that was an awful bad sign and would fetchme some bad luck, so I was scared and most shook the clothes off of me.I got up and turned around in my tracks three times and crossed my breastevery time; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair with a thread tokeep witches away. But I hadn't no confidence. You do that when you'velost a horseshoe that you've found, instead of nailing it up over thedoor, but I hadn't ever heard anybody say it was any way to keep off badluck when you'd killed a spider.
I set down again, a-shaking all over, and got out my pipe for a smoke;for the house was all as still as death now, and so the widow wouldn'tknow. Well, after a long time I heard the clock away off in the town goboom--boom--boom--twelve licks; and all still again--stiller than ever.Pretty soon I heard a twig snap down in the dark amongst the trees--something was a stirring. I set still and listened. Directly I couldjust barely hear a "me-yow! me-yow!" down there. That was good! Says I,"me-yow! me-yow!" as soft as I could, and then I put out the light andscrambled out of the window on to the shed. Then I slipped down to theground and crawled in among the trees, and, sure enough, there was TomSawyer waiting for me.