and where torun across it was the bother. We've got it now, and we'll keep itquiet, only we'll let Joe Harper and Ben Rogers in--because of coursethere's got to be a Gang, or else there wouldn't be any style about it.Tom Sawyer's Gang--it sounds splendid, don't it, Huck?"
WITHIN a few minutes the news had spread, and a dozen skiff-loads ofmen were on their way to McDougal's cave, and the ferryboat, wellfilled with passengers, soon followed. Tom Sawyer was in the skiff thatbore Judge Thatcher.
When the cave door was unlocked, a sorrowful sight presented itself inthe dim twilight of the place. Injun Joe lay stretched upon the ground,dead, with his face close to the crack of the door, as if his longingeyes had been fixed, to the latest moment, upon the light and the cheerof the free world outside. Tom was touched, for he knew by his ownexperience how this wretch had suffered. His pity was moved, butnevertheless he felt an abounding sense of relief and security, now,which revealed to him in a degree which he had not fully appreciatedbefore how vast a weight of dread had been lying upon him since the dayhe lifted his voice against this bloody-minded outcast.
Injun Joe's bowie-knife lay close by, its blade broken in two. Thegreat foundation-beam of the door had been chipped and hacked through,with tedious labor; useless labor, too, it was, for the native rockformed a sill outside it, and upon that stubborn material the knife hadwrought no effect; the only damage done was to the knife itself. But ifthere had been no stony obstruction there the labor would have beenuseless still, for if the beam had been wholly cut away Injun Joe couldnot have squeezed his body under the door, and he knew it. So he hadonly hacked that place in order to be doing something--in order to passthe weary time--in order to employ his tortured faculties. Ordinarilyone could find half a dozen bits of candle stuck around in the crevicesof this vestibule, left there by tourists; but there were none now. Theprisoner had searched them out and eaten them. He had also contrived tocatch a few bats, and these, also, he had eaten, leaving only theirclaws. The poor unfortunate had starved to death. In one place, near athand, a stalagmite had been slowly growing up from the ground for ages,builded by the water-drip from a stalactite overhead. The captive hadbroken off the stalagmite, and upon the stump had placed a stone,wherein he had scooped a shallow hollow to catch the precious dropthat fell once in every three minutes with the dreary regularity of aclock-tick--a dessertspoonful once in four and twenty hours. That dropwas falling when the Pyramids were new; when Troy fell; when thefoundations of Rome were laid when Christ was crucified; when theConqueror created the British empire; when Columbus sailed; when themassacre at Lexington was "news." It is falling now; it will still befalling when all these things shall have sunk down the afternoon ofhistory, and the twilight of tradition, and been swallowed up in thethick night of oblivion. Has everything a purpose and a mission? Didthis drop fall patiently during five thousand years to be ready forthis flitting human insect's need? and has it another important objectto accomplish ten thousand years to come? No matter. It is many andmany a year since the hapless half-breed scooped out the stone to catchthe priceless drops, but to this day the tourist stares longest at thatpathetic stone and that slow-dropping water when he comes to see thewonders of McDougal's cave. Injun Joe's cup stands first in the list ofthe cavern's marvels; even "Aladdin's Palace" cannot rival it.
Injun Joe was buried near the mouth of the cave; and people flockedthere in boats and wagons from the towns and from all the farms andhamlets for seven miles around; they brought their children, and allsorts of provisions, and confessed that they had had almost assatisfactory a time at the funeral as they could have had at thehanging.
This funeral stopped the further growth of one thing--the petition tothe governor for Injun Joe's pardon. The petition had been largelysigned; many tearful and eloquent meetings had been held, and acommittee of sappy women been appointed to go in deep mourning and wailaround the governor, and implore him to be a merciful ass and tramplehis duty under foot. Injun Joe was believed to have killed fivecitizens of the village, but what of that? If he had been Satan himselfthere would have been plenty of weaklings ready to scribble their namesto a pardon-petition, and drip a tear on it from their permanentlyimpaired and leaky water-works.
The morning after the funeral Tom took Huck to a private place to havean important talk. Huck had learned all about Tom's adventure from theWelshman and the Widow Douglas, by this time, but Tom said he reckonedthere was one thing they had not told him; that thing was what hewanted to talk about now. Huck's face saddened. He said:
"I know what it is. You got into No. 2 and never found anything butwhiskey. Nobody told me it was you; but I just knowed it must 'a' benyou, soon as I heard 'bout that whiskey business; and I knowed youhadn't got the money becuz you'd 'a' got at me some way or other andtold me even if you was mum to everybody else. Tom, something's alwaystold me we'd never get holt of that swag."
"Why, Huck, I never told on that tavern-keeper. YOU know his tavernwas all right the Saturday I went to the picnic. Don't you remember youwas to watch there that night?"
"Oh yes! Why, it seems 'bout a year ago. It was that very night that Ifollered Injun Joe to the widder's."
"YOU followed him?"
"Yes--but you keep mum. I reckon Injun Joe's left friends behind him,and I don't want 'em souring on me and doing me mean tricks. If ithadn't ben for me he'd be down in Texas now, all right."
Then Huck told his entire adventure in confidence to Tom, who had onlyheard of the Welshman's part of it before.
"Well," said Huck, presently, coming back to the main question,"whoever nipped the whiskey in No. 2, nipped the money, too, I reckon--anyways it's a goner for us, Tom."
"Huck, that money wasn't ever in No. 2!"
"What!" Huck searched his comrade's face keenly. "Tom, have you got onthe track of that money again?"
"Huck, it's in the cave!"
Huck's eyes blazed.
"Say it again, Tom."
"The money's in the cave!"
"Tom--honest injun, now--is it fun, or earnest?"
"Earnest, Huck--just as earnest as ever I was in my life. Will you goin there with me and help get it out?"
"I bet I will! I will if it's where we can blaze our way to it and notget lost."
"Huck, we can do that without the least little bit of trouble in theworld."
"Good as wheat! What makes you think the money's--"
"Huck, you just wait till we get in there. If we don't find it I'llagree to give you my drum and every thing I've got in the world. Iwill, by jings."
"All right--it's a whiz. When do you say?"
"Right now, if you say it. Are you strong enough?"
"Is it far in the cave? I ben on my pins a little, three or four days,now, but I can't walk more'n a mile, Tom--least I don't think I could."
"It's about five mile into there the way anybody but me would go,Huck, but there's a mighty short cut that they don't anybody but meknow about. Huck, I'll take you right to it in a skiff. I'll float theskiff down there, and I'll pull it back again all by myself. Youneedn't ever turn your hand over."
"Less start right off, Tom."
"All right. We want some bread and meat, and our pipes, and a littlebag or two, and two or three kite-strings, and some of thesenew-fangled things they call lucifer matches. I tell you, many'sthe time I wished I had some when I was in there before."
A trifle after noon the boys borrowed a small skiff from a citizen whowas absent, and got under way at once. When they were several milesbelow "Cave Hollow," Tom said:
"Now you see this bluff here looks all alike all the way down from thecave hollow--no houses, no wood-yards, bushes all alike. But do you seethat white place up yonder where there's been a landslide? Well, that'sone of my marks. We'll get ashore, now."
"Now, Huck, where we're a-standing you could touch that hole I got outof with a fishing-pole. See if you can find it."
Huck searched all the place about, and found nothing. Tom proudlymarched into a thick clump of sumach bushes and said:
"Here you are! Look at it, Huck; it's the snuggest hole in thiscountry. You just keep mum about it. All along I've been wanting to bea robber, but I knew I'd got to have a thing like this,
"Well, it just does, Tom. And who'll we rob?"
"Oh, most anybody. Waylay people--that's mostly the way."
"And kill them?"
"No, not always. Hive them in the cave till they raise a ransom."