The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 10
As soon as we figured everybody was asleep that night we went down the lightning rod and began to dig behind Jim's hut. We dug with knives until about midnight, and then we were dog tired and our hands were blistered—yet you couldn’t see that we had done anything. I told Tom that this was more than a thirty-seven year job, and he agreed. He said that if we were prisoners, of course, we’d have as many years as we wanted to dig, but we had to rush; we didn’t have any time to lose. Besides, if we were to put in another night this way, digging with knives, we’d have to knock off for a week to let our hands get well—couldn’t touch a knife with them sooner. He •said it wasn’t right, and it wasn’t regular, and he wouldn’t want anybody to find out about it, but we would just have to dig Jim out with picks and pretend they were knives.
“Now, you’re talking!” I says. “Your head gets leveler and leveler all the time!”
“Well,” he says, “there’s an excuse for picks and for pretending in a case like this. If it weren’t so I wouldn’t approve of it, nor would I stand by and see the rules broken this way. A body ain’t got no business doing wrong when he knows better. It might be all right for you to dig Jim out with a pick, without pretending, because you don’t know any better, but it wouldn’t do for me, because I do know better. Now give me a knife.”
He had his own knife with him, but I handed him mine. He threw it down, and says. “Give me a knife.”
I didn’t know just what he meant but then I thought. I scratched around among the old tools lying around the yard, and got a pick and gave it to him, and he took it and went to work, and never said a word. He was always just that particular. Full of principle.
So then I got a shovel, and then we picked and shoveled, and made real good progress. We stuck to it about half an hour, but we had a good deal of a hole to show for it. Then we overed up the hole so no one could see it and went back to me house. When I got upstairs I looked out of the window and saw Tom doing his best to climb up the lightning rod, but he couldn’t make it, his hands were so sore. At last he says: “It ain’t any use, it can’t be done. What do you suppose I better do? Can’t you think of any way?”
“Yes,” I says “but I don’t think it’s regular. Come up the stairs, and pretend it’s the lightning rod.” So he did it.
Next day Tom stole a spoon and a metal candlestick, in order to make some pens for Jim to write with, and I hung around #ie Negro cabins and waited for a chance and stole three tin plates for Jim to write messages on. Tom said three weren’t enough; but I said nobody would ever see the plates that Jim threw out because they’d fall in the tall grass under the window hole then we could use them over again. So Tom was satisfied, and then went to studying how to get the things in to Jim. I said we could take them through the hole when we got it finished, but Tom only looked disgusted and said that by and by he would figure out some way that was more regular.
That night, again, we dug some more and made good progress. Sometimes we would stop and listen and hear Jim snoring inside; it didn’t wake him. We worked about two hours and a half, and finally the job was done. We crept in through the hole and came up right under Jim’s bed which was what we figured to do the hole could not be seen from inside since the bed would cover it. We crawled around and found the candle and lit it, and stood over Jim a while, and found him looking strong and healthy; then we woke him up gentle and gradual.
Jim was so glad to see us he almost cried. He called us all the pet names he could think of; and was for having us hunt something to cut the chain off his leg right away, and clearing out without losing any time. But Tom he showed him how irregular this would be, and sat down and told him all our plans and how we could change them in a minute if it was necessary and not to be afraid, because we would see he got away, sure. Then we sat and talked over old times a while, and Tom asked Jim a lot of questions, and when Jim told him Uncle Silas came in every day to pray with him, and Aunt Sally came to see if he was comfortable and had plenty to eat, Tom says, “Now, I know how to fix it. We’ll send some things in by them.”
I said, “Don’t do anything of the kind; it’s one of the most foolish ideas I ever heard of.” He never paid any attention to me but went right on. It was his way when he’d got his plans set.
So Tom told Jim how we’d have to smuggle in the rope ladder pie and other large things by Nat, the Negro that fed him, and he must be on the lookout, and not be surprised, and not let Nat see him open them. We would put small things in uncle’s coat pockets or tie them to Aunt Sally’s apron strings and he must steal them away. Tom told Jim what they were for and explained how he must keep a daily record on the shirt with his blood, and all that. Jim couldn’t see the sense in most of it but he supposed that, being white folks, we knew what we were doing; so he was satisfied and said he would do it all just as Tom said.
We all had a smoke together. Then Tom and I crawled out through the hole, and went home to bed. Tom was in high spirits. He said it was the best fun he ever had, and that if he could only see his way clear, we would keep it up all the rest of our lives and leave Jim to our children to get him out for he believed Jim would come to like it better and better the more he got used to it. He said that in this way it could be stretched out as much as eighty years, and would be a record, and make us all famous.
In the morning we went out to the wood pile and cut up the metal candlestick into small pieces; then we went to the Negro cabins. While I got Nat’s notice off, Tom shoved a piece of candlestick into the middle of some com bread that was in Jim’s pan, and we went along with Nat to see how it would work, and it just worked fine. When Jim bit into it he almost smashed all his teeth and there wasn’t anything could’ve worked better Tom said so himself. Jim he never let on but what it was only a piece of rock or something like that, that’s always getting into bread, you know; but after that he never bit into anything without poking his fork into it three or four times first.
And while we were standing there, here come a couple of dogs crawling out from under Jim’s bed. They’d come through the hole under the cabin and they kept piling in until there was eleven of them. Well, Nat, the Negro, just yelled “Witches” once and fainted right away. It was real funny, but Tom, he chased the dogs out and, when Nat came to, he explained that witches got hungry too, and that’s why they always came at this hour. He said that Nat should make them a witch pie, which was what they wanted—that would keep them away.
“But my lord, Mister Sid,” said Nat, “How am I goin’ to make them a witch pie when I never even heard of such a thing before?”
Then Tom said he would make the witch pie himself, and the only thing Nat would have to do would be to carry it in. Nat agreed. Of course, it was Tom’s idea to put into the pie some things he wanted to send in to Jim, and in this way, smuggle them in. And the idea was good, too except that we had a devil of a time cookin’ up that pie.
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
A. 1. Why did Tom finally agree to use a pick instead of a knife for the digging?
2. Why did he ask for a knife when he wanted a pick?
3. What did Huck suggest to Tom when Tom couldn’t climb up the lightning rod?
4. How did Huck satisfy Tom that three plates would be enough for Jim’s “messages”?
5. How long did it take them to finish the hole? Where did it come up?
6. How did Tom plan to smuggle things in to Jim?
What happened when they put a piece of metal candlestick in Jim’s food?
7. How did the dogs get into the hut? What did Nat think they were?
8. What did Tom tell Nat they could do to keep the witches away?
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
midnight threw out
tool figure out
principle clear out
sore talk over
apron be on the lookout
smash keep it up
do your best come to
First, we scratched around in the backyard and found an old tin wash-pan, and stopped up the holes as well as we could, to bake the pie in, and then we went down the cellar and stole enough flour to fill it. We fixed it up way down in the woods, and cooked it there. We got it done at last, and very satisfactory, too, but not all in one day. And we had to use up three wash pans full of flour before we got through, and we got burnt pretty much all over, because you see, we didn’t want anything but a crust, and we couldn’t hold it up right and it would always cave in. But of course we thought of the right way at last which was to cook the rope ladder right in the pie. So Jim helped us the second night and we tore up the sheet in long, narrow strips and twisted them together, and long before daylight we had a lovely rope that you could’ve hung a person with. We pretended it took nine months to make it.
The following morning we took it down to the woods, but it wouldn’t go into the pie. Being made of a whole sheet, that way, there was enough rope for forty pies if we’d have wanted them. But we just cut off what we needed and threw the rest away. So we got everything all fixed at last, and lined the wash pan with dough, and loaded her with the rope ladder, and put on a dough roof, and put hot coals around it, and in fifteen minutes she turned out to be a pie that was a satisfaction to look at. But, of course, the person that had to eat it would have had a little trouble and also a little indigestion besides. Jim, naturally, understood this and when we sent the pie in with Nat, he just took out the rope ladder and hid it in his bed. We really never intended to use the rope ladder for anything anyway, but Tom said that when the people found it later in Jim’s bed it would confuse them considerable and throw them off the track. We also sent the three tin plates in to Jim, and he scratched some marks on them and threw them out the window.
Making those pens for Jim to write with was another tough job, and so was the saw. We tried to file down the spoon and the pieces of candlestick, but all we got was sore hands. Finally Tom came up with a good idea. He said there was a big grindstone down at the mill and we could borrow it and file out the saw and pens on it, and maybe Jim could also use it to cut some inscriptions on. We decided to try it.
It wasn’t quite midnight yet, so we cleared out for the mill, leaving Jim behind. We stole the grindstone, and set out to roll it home but it was a terrible job. We couldn’t keep it from falling over, and several times she came near smashing us proper. Finally we were pretty nearly played out, and almost drowned with sweat. We saw it wasn’t any use; we just had to go and bring Jim along to help us. So we raised up his bed and slid the chain off the bed leg and wrapped it around him a couple of times, and we crawled out through the hole and went down there, and Jim and I laid into that grindstone and walked her along like nothing; and Tom simply directed us. He could out’ direct any boy I ever saw. He knew how to do everything.
Our hole was pretty big, but it wasn’t big enough to get the grindstone through; but Jim he took the pick and soon made it big enough. Then Tom marked out some things on the grindstone with a nail, which he said would be inscriptions, and Jim could work at cutting them out when we were gone. We helped Jim fix his chain back on the bed leg, and were ready for bed ourselves. But then Tom thought of something and explained to Jim that if he was going to be a real prisoner he ought to have some spiders and rats and things like that in his cell with him. He said all prisoners have them and they make pets of them and train them, and the rats and spiders come to love them and sit on the bed with them and crawl all over them.
Jim said he didn’t like the idea at all. He said rats were the worst thing there was to disturb a body they run over him and bite his feet—and he said he’d almost rather have a rattlesnake livin’ with him. Well, that just gave Tom another idea, and he said we’d get Jim a rattlesnake too. Well, Jim almost fainted, and he said that if Tom and I brought in a rattlesnake for him to live with, he was going to leave, that was for sure.
They argued back and forth and Tom insisted it was a new idea because no prisoner he ever read about had a rattlesnake to train and it would bring Jim a lot of honor. Finally they settled for a couple of garter snakes. Jim said he could stand garter snakes but, blame it, he could also get along without them too. He said he never knew it was so much trouble being a prisoner. On top of training rats and spiders and garter snakes, he had all that other work with the inscriptions, and making pens, and a daily record it was too much. Then it was Tom’s turn to lose his patience. He said Jim was loaded down with more wonderful chances than a prisoner ever had in this world and yet he didn’t know how to appreciate them, and they were just about wasted on him. So Jim said he was sorry, and he wouldn’t behave so any more, and then Tom and I shoved for bed.
In the morning we started right out to round up the spiders and rats and things to take into Jim. Right after breakfast we went up to the village and bought a big rat trap and brought it home and stopped up all the rat holes in the cellar but one, and in about an hour we had fifteen of the best rats you ever saw. Then we took the trap and put it in a safe place under Aunt Sally’s bed. But while we were out looking for spiders, one of Aunt Sally’s children found it there, and opened the door of it to see if the rats would come out, and they did. Aunt Sally she came in, and when we got back she was standing on top of the bed raising the devil, and the rats were doing what they could to keep her busy. So she gave us a whipping, and we were as much as two hours catching another fifteen or sixteen rats, and they weren’t the best rats either, because the first bunch, I guess, was the pick of the family.
We got a fine stock of spiders, and some other bugs, and then went for the snakes, and grabbed a couple of dozen garter snakes and house-snakes, and put them in a bag, and put the bag in our room, and by that time it was supper time, and a good honest day’s work it had been, and we were hungry. But, you know, there wasn’t a blessed snake up there in our room when we went back we didn’t half tie the bag, and they worked out somehow, and left. But it didn’t matter much because they were still around the house somewheres. So we judged we could easily catch some of them again.
No, there was no real scarcity of snakes about the house for a considerable spell. You’d see them hanging from the ceiling and other places every now and then, and they generally landed in your plate, or down your neck, and most of the time where you didn’t want them. Well, they were all striped and beautiful, and there was no harm in a million of them, but that never made any difference to Aunt Sally. She just hated snakes, no matter what kind they were, and every time one of them flopped down on her, it didn’t make any difference what she was doing she would just lay that work down and fly out of there. I never saw such a woman. And you could hear her scream to Jericho. You couldn’t get her to take hold of one of those snakes for any amount of money, and if she turned over and found one in bed, she would beat it out of there and let out a cry as though the house was on fire. Why, after every last snake had been gone from the house for more than a week, she still wasn’t over it. When she was sitting thinking about something you could touch her on the back of her neck with a feather and she would jump right out of her shoes. It was very curious.
Of course, we got a licking every time one of our snakes came in her way, but I didn’t mind because her lickings never amounted to anything but I minded the trouble we had to lay in another lot of snakes. But we got them laid in and all the other things, and you never saw a cabin so lively as Jim’s when they’d all come out and go for him. Jim said the only trouble was a body couldn’t sleep because they never slept at the one time, but took turns so when the snakes were asleep, the rats were on deck, and, when the rats turned- in, the snakes came on watch, so he always had one gang or the other crawling over him in the bed; and, if he got up to hunt a new place to rest, the spiders would take a turn 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.
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
A. 1. What troubles did the boys have with the pie and the rope?
2. What did Tom think of using to file down the spoon and candlestick?
3. How did they get the grindstone into the cabin?
4. What else did Tom think of after they had the grindstone in the cabin?
5. What did Jim think of the idea of having rats and snakes in the cabin?
6. Why did Tom lose patience with Jim?
7. What happened with the rats that they caught?
8. What happened with the snakes that they caught?
9. How did the rats and snakes keep Jim from sleeping?
10. What did Jim say about being a prisoner?
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
cellar stop up
crust use up
twist full of
indigestion tear up
lively turn out
flop take turns