The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 1
I’m Huck Finn. You don’t know about me unless you read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. That book was written by Mr. .Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There were things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. I never saw anybody who didn’t lie one time or another, unless it was Aunt Polly or the Widow Douglas. Aunt Polly Tom Sawyer’s Aunt Polly, she and the Widow Douglas are all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some little stretching of the truth, as I said before.
Now the way that book winds up is this: Tom and I found the money that the robbers hid in the cave, and it made us rich. We got six thousand dollars each all gold. It was an awful lot of money when it was piled up. Well, Judge Thatcher put it out at interest and it brought us each a dollar a day all the year round more than a body could tell what to do with. The Widow Douglas, she took me for her son, and planned to civilize me. But it was rough living in a house all the time, considering how regular and decent the Widow was in all her ways. So, when J couldn’t stand it any longer, I ran away. I got into my old clothes and slept in my same old barrel down by the river, and I was fine once more and satisfied. But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and told me he was going to start a gang of robbers, and I might join if I would go back to the Widow and be respectable. So I went back.
The Widow cried over me, and called me a poor lost sheep, and she called me a lot of other names too, but she never meant any harm by it. She put me in those new clothes again, and I couldn’t do anything but sweat and feel most uncomfortable. Well, the old thing started all over again. The Widow rang a bell for supper and you had to come on time. When you got to the table you couldn’t go right to eating but had to wait for the Widow to bow her head and mumble a few words over the food, though there wasn’t really anything the matter with it that is, nothing only everything was cooked by itself, instead of being all mixed up and cooked together in one big pot as it properly should be. Things have more taste that way.
After supper she got out her Bible and read to me about Moses and how he was born, and I was in a sweat to find out all about him. But by and by she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so then I didn’t care any more about him, because I don’t take any stock in dead people.
Pretty soon I wanted to smoke and asked the Widow to let me. But she wouldn’t. She said it was a mean practice and wasn’t clean. Besides it was bad for a young boy only twelve or thirteen years old like me. She said I must try not to do it any more. That’s the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don’t know anything about it. Here she was worrying about Moses, who was no relation to her, and no use to anybody, being dead and gone, yet finding a lot of fault with me for doing a thing that had some good in it.
Her sister, Miss Watson, a thin old maid, with glasses, had just come to live with her, and she took a go at me with a spelling book, trying to teach me spelling. She worked me hard for about an hour, then the Widow made her ease up. I couldn’t stand it much longer. Then for an hour it was deadly dull and I was restless. Miss Watson would say, “Don’t put your feet up there, Huckleberry”; and “Don’t lean over that way, Huckleberry sit up straight.” And pretty soon she would say “Don’t open your mouth and stretch like that, Huckleberry why don’t you try to behave?” Then she told me all about Hell the bad place, as she called it and I said I wished I was there. She got mad then; but I didn’t mean no harm. All I wanted was to go somewhere. All I wanted was a change I wasn’t particular. She said it was wicked to say what I said said she wouldn’t say it for the whole world she was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well, I couldn’t see any advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn’t try for it. But I never said so because it would only make trouble, and wouldn’t do any good.
Now she had a start she went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a person would have to do up there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn't think much of it. But I didn’t say so. I asked her if she thought Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said definitely not. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.
Miss Watson, she kept picking at me and it got very tiresome. By and by they brought the Negroes in and had prayers and then everybody went off to bed. I went up to my room with a piece of candle and put it on the table. Then I sat down in a chair by the window and tried to think of something cheerful, but it wasn’t any use. I felt so lonesome I wished I was dead. The stars were shining and the leaves made a sad sound in the- woods. I heard a dog crying far away; he cried in the way a dog cries when someone is going to die. Then I heard that kind of sound out in the woods that a ghost makes when it can’t make itself understood and so can’t rest easy in its grave and has to go about every night moaning and crying. I was so sad and scared and I wished I had some company. Pretty soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder and I knocked it off and it landed in the candle and burned up. I didn’t need anybody to tell me that was an awfully bad sign and would bring me some bad luck, and I was so scared I almost shook my clothes off me. I got up and turned around three times and crossed my chest three times; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair to keep the witches away. But I hadn’t any confidence; I never heard of any good way to keep off bad luck when you killed a spider.
I sat down again, shaking all over, and got out my pipe for a smoke, for the house was as still as death now and so the Widow wouldn’t know. Well, after a long time I heard a sound down in the dark among the trees something was stirring. I sat still and listened. Directly I could just barely hear a “meow! meow!" down there. That was good. Says I, “meow! meow!” as soft as I could, and then I put out the light and climbed out the window on the porch. Then I slipped down to the ground and crawled in among the trees, and, sure enough, there was Tom Sawyer waiting for me.
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
A. 1. What other book by Mark Twain tells about Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer?
2. How had Huck and Tom become rich?
3. Who was the Widow Douglas? Why did Huck run away from her house?
4. Why did Huck find it difficult to live with the Widow?
5. Why didn’t the Widow want Huck to smoke?
6. Who was Miss Watson? What did she try to teach Huck?
7. Why did Huck say that he wished he were in Hell?
8. What did Huck think about when he went up to his room?
9. What did he think was a bad sign? What did he do to keep off the bad luck?
10. What sound did he finally hear? What did he do? Who was waiting for him?
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
wicked wind up
tiresome run away
candle on time
lonesome find out
scare find fault with
We went tiptoeing along a path among.the trees toward the end of the Widow’s garden when I fell over a root and made a noise. We lay down and kept still. Miss Watson’s big Negro, named Jim, was sitting in the kitchen door; we could see him pretty clearly, because there was a light behind him. He got up and stretched his neck out for about a minute, listening. Then he says:
He listened some more, then he came tiptoeing and stood right between us we could’ve touched him, nearly. Well, likely it was minutes and minutes there wasn’t a sound, and we all there so close together. There was a place on my leg that got to itching, but I daren’t scratch it; and then my ear began to itch; and next my back, right between my shoulders. Seemed as if I’d die if I couldn’t scratch. Well, I’ve noticed that thing plenty times since. If you are with important people, or at a funeral, or trying to go to sleep when you’re not sleepy if you are anywhere where it won’t do for you to scratch, why you will itch all over in more than a thousand places. Pretty soon Jim says:
“Say, who are you? Where are you? I’m sure I heard something. Well, I know what I’m going to do just sit here and listen until I hear it again.”
So he sat down on the ground between Tom and me. He leaned his back up against a tree, and stretched out his legs until one of them almost touched one of mine. My nose began to itch. It itched until the tears came into my eyes. But I daren’t scratch. Then it began to itch on the inside. I didn’t know how I was going to keep still. I was itching in eleven different places now. I thought I couldn’t stand it much longer but I set my teeth and got ready to try. Then after a few minutes, Jim began to breathe heavy; next he began to snore and then I was pretty soon comfortable again.
Tom he made a sign to me a kind of little noise with his mouth and we went creeping away on our hands and knees. When we were ten feet away Tom whispered to me he wanted to tie Jim to the tree for fun. But I said no he might wake up and make trouble, and then they’d find out I wasn’t in. I was in a sweat to get away, but nothing would do Tom but he must crawl on his hands and knees to where Jim was and play some trick on him. I waited, and it seemed a good while, everything was so still and lonesome.
As soon as Tom was back, we cut along the path, around the garden fence, and by and by we reached the top of the hill on the other side of the house. Tom said he slipped Jim’s hat off his head and hung it on a branch right over him, and Jim stirred a little but he didn’t wake. Afterwards Jim said that witches had taken possession of him and rode him all over the state, and then set him under the tree again, and hung his hat on a branch to show who did it. And next time Jim told the story he said they rode him down to New Orleans; and after that, every time he told it he spread it more and more, until by and by he said they rode him all over the world, and tired him almost to death. Jim was very proud about it, and he got so he wouldn’t hardly notice the other Negroes. Negroes would come miles to hear Jim tell about it, and he was more looked up to than any other Negro in that section. Strange Negroes would stand with their mouths open and look him all over, same as if he was a wonder of some kind. Of course, Jim was almost ruined as a servant after this because he got so stuck up on account of having seen the devil and been rode by witches.
Well, when Tom and I got to the top of the hill we looked away down into the town and could see three or four lights shining, where there were sick folks, maybe. The river, the broad Mississippi, also lay below us, a whole mile wide, and awfully still and beautiful. We went dowi> the other side of the hill in the direction of the river and there found Joe Harper and Ben Rogers, and two or three more of the boys, waiting for us. So we untied a rowboat and pulled down the river two miles and a half to a cut in the mountains, and then went on shore.
Then Tom showed us'a hole in the hill,, right in the thickest part of the woods. We lit candles which Tom had brought along, and cradled in on our hands and knees. We went in about a hundred yards, and then the cave opened up. Next, Tom led us under a wall where you wouldn’t have noticed there was a hole at all. We went along a narrow place and got into a kind of room, all damp and cold, and there we stopped, and Tom said:
“Now we’ll start a gang and call it Tom Sawyer’s Gang. Everybody that wants to join has got to take an oath, and write his name in blood.”
Everybody was willing. So Tom got out a piece of paper that he had wrote the oath on, and read it. It swore every boy to stick to the gang, and never tell any of the secrets; and if anybody did anything to any boy in the gang, whichever boy was ordered to kill that person and his family must do it; and he mustn’t eat, and he mustn’t sleep till he had killed them and cut a cross on their chests, which was the sign of the gang. And nobody that didn’t belong to the gang could use that mark, and if he did he must be taken to court and if he did it again he must be killed. And if anybody that belonged to the gang told the secrets, he must have his throat cut, and then have his body burned and the ashes thrown all around, and his name crossed off the list with blood and never mentioned again by the gang, but have a curse put on it and be forgotten forever.
Everybody said it was a really beautiful oath, and asked Tom if he got it out of his own head. He said some of it, but the rest was out of pirate books and robber books, and every gang that was high-class had it.
Some thought it would be good to kill the families of boys that told the secrets. Tom said it was a good idea, so he took a pencil and wrote it in. Then Ben Rogers says:
“Here’s Huck Finn, he ain’t got any family. What’re you going to do about him?”
“Well, ain’t he got a father?” says Tom Sawyer.
“Yes, he’s got a father, but you can’t ever find him these days. He used to lie drunk with the pigs in the town, but he hasn’t been seen in these parts for more than a year or more.”
They talked it over, and they were going to rule me out, because they said every boy must have a family or somebody to kill, or else it wouldn’t be fair for the others. Well, nobody could think of anything to do. They just sat there all confused without saying anything. I was almost ready to cry; but all at once I thought of a way, and so I offered them Miss Watson they could kill her. Everybody said:
“Oh, she’ll do. That’s all right. Huck can come into the gang.”
Then they all stuck a pin in their fingers to get blood to sign with, and I made my mark on the paper.
“Now,” says Ben Rogers, “what’s the line of business of this gang?”
“Nothing only robbery and murder,” Tom said.
“But who are we going to rob? Houses, or horses, or ” “Heavens! Stealing horses and such things ain’t robbery; it’s burglary,” says Tom Sawyer. “We ain’t burglars. There ain’t no style in that. We’re highwaymen. We stop stagecoaches and carriages on the road, with our faces covered, and kill the people and take their watches and money.”
“Must we always kill the people?”
“Oh, certainly. It’s best. Some authorities think different, but mostly it’s considered best to kill them except some that you bring to the cave here, and keep them till they are ransomed.” “Ransomed? What’s that?”
“I don’t know. But that’s what they do. I’ve seen it in books; and so of course that’s what we’ve got to do.”
“But how can we do it if we don’t know what it is?”
“Why, blame it all, we’ve got to do it. Don’t I tell you it’s in the books? Do you want to go doing different from what’s in the books, and get things all mixed up?”
“Oh, that’s all very fine to say, Tom Sawyer, but how in the world are these fellows going to be ransomed if we don’t know how to do it to them?”
“Well, I don’t know. But perhaps if we keep them till they’re ransomed, it means that we keep thent till they’re dead.”
“Now, that’s something like it. That’ll answer. Why couldn’t you have said that before? We’ll keep them till they’re ransomed to death; and a lot of bother they’ll be, too eating up everything, and always trying to get loose.”
“How you talk, Ben Rogers. How can they get loose when there’s a guard over them, ready to shoot them down if they move a step?”
“A guard! Well, that’s good. So somebody’s got to sit up all night and never get any sleep, just so as to watch them. I think that’s foolish. Why can’t a body take a club and ransom them as soon as they get here?”
“Because it ain’t in the books so that’s why. Now Ben Rogers, do you want to do things regular, or don’t you? that’s the idea. Don’t you know that the people that made them books know what’s the correct thing to do? Do you imagine you can teach’em anything? Not by a good deal. No, sir, we’ll just go on and ransom them in the regular way.”
“All right. I don’t mind; but I say it’s a fool way, anyhow. Say, do we kill the women, too?”
“Well, Ben Rogers, if I was as ignorant as you I wouldn’t let on. Kill the women? No; nobody ever saw anything in the books like that. You bring them to the cave, and you’re always as polite as anything to them; and by and by they fall in love with you, and never want to go home any more.”
“Well, if that’s the way, I’m agreed, but I don’t take any stock in it. Pretty soon we’ll have the cave so full of women, and fellows waiting to be ransomed, that there won’t be any place for the robbers. But go ahead, I ain’t got anything to say.” Little Tommy Barnes was asleep now, and when they woke him up he was scared, and cried, and said he wanted to go home to his mother, and didn’t want to be a robber any more.
So they made fun of him, and called him cry-baby, and that made him mad, and he said he would go straight and tell all the secrets. But Tom gave him five cents to keep him quiet, and said we would go home and meet next week, and rob somebody and kill some people.
Ben Rogers said he couldn’t get out much, only Sundays, and so he wanted to begin next Sunday; but all the boys said it would be wicked to do it on Sunday, and that settled the thing. They agreed to get together and fix a day as soon as they could, and then we elected Tom Sawyer first captain and Joe Harper second captain of the gang, and so started home.
I climbed up the porch and crept into my window just before day was breaking. My new clothes were all dirty, and I was dog- tired.
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
A. 1. What happened to Huck while they were going through the
2. How did Huck feel while they were hiding from Jim?
3. Where did Jim sit down?
4. What made Huck feel comfortable again?
5. What trick did Tom play on Jim?
6. What was the story that Jim later told?
7. On what river was the town located?
8. What other boys did they meet? Where did Tom lead them?
9. What did the gang’s oath make the boys swear to?
10. Why weren’t the boys going to let Huck take the oath?
11. What was the gang’s line of business going to be?
12. What were they going to do with their prisoners?
13. Why did their meeting break up?
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
tiptoe look up to
kitchen stuck up
itch dare to do it
sleepy play a trick on
snore rule out
damp get loose
ignorant fall in love