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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 11

 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 11

 
The bed leg was sawed in two, and we had eaten up the sawdust Anyway, by the end of three weeks everything was in pretty good order. The shirt was smuggled in right under Nat’s nose; the pens were made; the inscriptions were cut on the grindstone; the bed leg was sawed in two, and we had eaten up the sawdust, and it gave us the most terrible stomach ache. We thought we were going to die, but didn’t. It was the most indigestible saw­dust I ever saw; and Tom said the same. But, as I was saying, we got all the work done at last. Meanwhile, Uncle Silas had written a couple of times to the plantation below New Orleans to come and get their runaway Negro, but hadn’t got an answer, because there wasn’t any such plantation. So he said he was going to put an advertisement in the St. Louis and New Orleans papers. That made chills run up and down my back, and I saw we had no time to lose. So Tom said, “Now for the anonymous letters.”
 
“What’re they?” I asked.
 
“Warnings to the people that something is up. Always some­body has got to give notice; sometimes a servant-girl does it. 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.”
“But look here, Tom, what do we want to warn anybody for? Let them find out for themselves it’s their problem.” “Yes, I know; but you can’t depend on them. They’re so trusting they don’t take notice of anything at all. So if we don’t give them notice, the escape will go off perfectly flat; won’t amount to anything at all.”
 
“Well, as for me, Tom, that’s the way I’d like it.” “Heavens!” he says, and looks disgusted. So I says:
 
“Well, any way that suits you suits me. What are you going to do about the servant girl?”
 
“You’ll be her, and I’ll be Jim’s mother. I’ll steal a dress from Aunt Sally.”
 
“Then you’ll have to stay in the cabin when Jim and I leave.” “Not much. I’ll stuff Jim’s clothes full of straw and lay them on his bed to represent his mother in disguise, and Jim’ll wear her dress, and we’ll all escape together. We’ll do it in real style.” So Tom he wrote the anonymous letter and that night, pre­tending I was a servant-girl, I shoved it under the front door, the way Tom told me to. It said:
 
Take care! Trouble is stirring. Keep a sharp lookout.
 
Unknown Friend.
 
Next night we stuck a picture, which Tom drew in blood, of a skull and crossbones on the front door, and the next night another one of a coffin on the back door. I never saw a family in such a sweat. They couldn’t’ve been worse scared if the place had been full of ghosts hiding behind everything and under the beds and flying 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, she did the same. Tom said he never saw a thing work so satisfactory, it showed it was done right.
 
So he said, now for the final touch! The next morning we got another letter ready. We heard them say at supper they were going to have a Negro on guard at both doors all night. So Tom he went down the lightning rod to spy around;, and the Negro at the back door was asleep, and he stuck the letter in the back of his neck and came back to bed. This letter said:
 
Don’t betray me, I wish to be your friend. There is a desperate gang of criminals from over in the Indian Territory going to steal your runaway Negro tonight, and they have been trying to scare you so you will stay in the house and not bother them. I am one of the gang but have got religion and wish to lead an honest life again, so I will betray their awful plan. They will sneak down from the north, along the fence, at midnight exact, with a false key, and go in the Negro’s cabin to get him. I am to warn them if I see any danger; but, instead I will ba-a-a like a sheep soon as they get in; then while they are getting the chains loose, you slip in there and lock them in, and can kill them later or whatever you want. Do just as I’m telling you. I do not wish any reward but to know I’ve done the right thing.
 
Unknown Friend
 
We were feeling pretty good after breakfast, and took my canoe, and went over the river fishing, and had a good time, and took a look at the raft and found her all right, and got home late to supper, and found them in such a sweat and so excited they didn’t know which end they were standing on, and made us go right off to bed the minute we finished supper. They wouldn’t tell us what the trouble was, and never let out a word about the new anonymous letter—but they didn’t need to, be­cause we knew more about it than anybody did. As soon as Aunt Sally’s back was turned we slid for the cellar and loaded up a good lunch to take along with us, then went back to our room and went to bed, and got up about half past eleven, and Tom put on Aunt Sally’s dress that he stole and went down the lightning rod. He told me to stay behind a few minutes and stand guard, while he went ahead and stuffed the straw into Jim’s clothes to represent his mother in disguise and got ready to ba-a-a like a sheep as soon as I got there.
 
I opened the door a little to look downstairs and there was a crowd of people there. Fifteen farmers, and every one of them had a gun! They were talking in low voices about how they were going to catch the criminals. I felt sick and had to sit down a moment. Then, the next minute, I was down the lightning rod and running through the dark to Jim’s hut. I could hardly get my words out, but I told Tom as quickly as I could we must jump for it now, and not a minute to lose the house was full of men with guns!
His eyes just shone, and he says, “No is that so? Ain’t it wonderful? Why, Huck, if I was to do it over again, I bet I could make two hundred of them come. If we could put it off until ”
 
“Hurry! hurry!” I says. “Where is Jim?”
 
“Right at your elbow; if you reach out your arm you can touch him. He’s dressed and everything is ready. Now we’ll slide out and give the sheep signal.”
 
But then we heard footsteps of men coming toward the door . of the hut, and we heard some of the men begin to work with the lock, and heard a man say:
 
“I told you we’d get here too soon; they haven’t come yet  the door is locked. Here, I’ll lock some of you in the cabin and you lay for them in the dark and kill them when they come. The rest spread around.”
 
So in they came, but couldn’t see us in the dark, and almost stepped on us while we were hurrying to get under the bed. But we got out all right out through the hole, swift but soft Jim first, me next, and Tom last, which was according to Tom’s orders. We bent low, not breathing, and not making the least noise, and slipped silently towards the fence in Indian file and got to it all right, and Jim and I got over; but Tom’s trousers caught fast on the top rail. Then he heard steps approaching, so he had to pull loose, which tore his trousers and made a noise. As he dropped behind us somebody sings out “Who’s that? Answer, or I’ll shoot.”
But we didn’t answer; we just ran as fast as we could. Then there was a rush of steps behind us, and a bang, bang, bang, and the bullets flew about us. We heard them sing out: “Here they are! They’re headin’ for the river. After ’em, boys, and turn loose the dogs.”
 
So here they came, full speed. We were running along the path that led to the river, but when they got pretty close to us, we turned aside and jumped into the bushes and let them go by and then dropped in behind them. Then here come the dogs, barking and making all kinds of noise. So we stopped until they caught up with us, and when they saw it was only us and recog­nized us they just said howdy* and tore right ahead after the shouting. We turned sharp upstream now and struck out through the bush to where my canoe was tied, and jumped in and paddled for dear life towards the middle of the river, and then we made it to the island, easy and comfortable. We could still hear the yelling and barking along the river bank, but it got farther away all the time and finally died out completely. When we stepped on to the raft, I says: “Now, Jim, you’re a free man again, and I bet you you won’t ever be a slave any more!”
 
“And a mighty good job it was, Huck,” says Jim, “it was planned beautiful, and was done beautiful; and there ain’t any­body can get a plan that’s more mixed up and wonderful than that one was.”
 
We were all glad as we could be, but Tom was the gladdest of all because he had a bullet in the calf of his leg.
When Jim and I heard that, we didn’t feel so happy as be­fore. It was hurting Tom a lot, and bleeding, so we laid him in the wigwam and tore up one of the Duke’s shirts to wrap around his leg. Tom says:
 
“Give me the rags; I can do it myself. Don’t fool around when the escape is moving along so beautifully. Let’s shove off.”
But Jim and I were thinking and talking it over between ourselves. And after we thought a minute, I says: “Say it, Jim.”
So he says: “Well, this is the way I look at it, Huck. If it was Tom who was being set free, and one of the others got shot, he wouldn’t say, ‘Go on and save me and never mind about a doc­tor.’ No sir, and I won’t say it either. What we need is a doc­tor, and before we take another step.”
 
Howdy: A colloquial or contracted form of How do you do.
 
I knew Jim was white inside, and he’d say something like this so it was all right now and I told Tom I was going for a doctor. He raised a considerable row about it, and we had to stop him from crawling out of the wigwam and setting the raft loose himself. But Jim and I stuck to our plan, and when, final­ly, Tom saw me getting the canoe ready, he says. “Well, then, if you’re bound to go, I’ll tell you the way to do it. When you get the doctor, blindfold him and make him swear to be as silent as the grave. Bring him here in the canoe in a way that’ll con­fuse him, so he won’t know the direction you’re taking, and then pay him well to keep quiet forever after.”
 
So I said I would, and left, and Jim was to hide in the woods when he saw the doctor coming.
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. What occurred during the next three weeks?
2. Why did Tom say that they had to send anonymous letters?
3. What were the first three messages that they sent?
4. What effect did the messages have on the family?
5. What did the last letter say?
6. Why did fifteen farmers come to the Phelps’ place?
7 What did the men do when they went to Jim’s cabin?
8. How did Jim and the boys get out of the cabin?
9. What happened when they were going over the fence?
10. How did they get away from the men and the dogs?
11. What did they find out had happened to Tom?
12. What did Jim and Huck decide they had to do for Tom?
 
B. «Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
  
stomach                        a cpuple of
bleed                              bind out
anonymous                   depend on
disguise                        load up
blindfold                        take (something) along