The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 6
As I said earlier, before we met up with the King and the Duke, things in general had been pretty quiet, but now all this changed. The King and the Duke were always figuring out something special to do. Of course, they asked Jim and me plenty of questionswanted to know why we covered up the raft and hid during the daytime instead of running was Jim a runaway Negro?
“Heavens! Would a runaway Negro run south?”
No, they admitted he wouldn’t. I had to account for things some way, so I says:
“My folks were living over in Pike County, in Missouri, where I was born, and they all died off but me and Pa and brother Ike. Pa, he decided we should all go down and live with Uncle Ben, who’s got a little farm on the river forty miles below New Orleans. Pa was pretty poor and by the time he paid off all his debts there wasn’t anything left but sixteen dollars and our Negro servant Jim. Well, that wasn’t enough money to take us fourteen hundred miles, deck passage or any other way.
“Well, when the river rose, Pa had a streak of luck one day. He found this piece of raft, so we decided we’d go down to New Orleans on it. Pa’s luck didn’t hold out. A steamboat ran over the forward corner of the raft one night, and we all went into the river and dove under the wheel. Jim and I came up all right, but Pa was drunk, and my little brother Ike was only four years old, so they never came up any more. Well, for the next day or two we had considerable trouble, because people were always coming out in rowboats and trying to take Jim away from me, saying they believed he was a runaway Negro. So we don’t run in the daytime any more now; nights no one bothers us.”
The Duke-said this sounded like a true story and he would figure out some way so we could run in the daytime if we wanted, without having any trouble about Jim. Well, it happened that the next day there was a little one horse town about three miles down the bend from where we were tied up, and the Duke said he had decided now what to do and would go down to the town and fix the thing. The King said he would go along too, and see if he could strike something. We were out of coffee, so Jim said I’d better go with them in the canoe and get some.
When we got to Parkville there wasn’t anybody stirring. We found a sick Negro sunning himself in a backyard, and he said everybody that wasn’t too young or too sick or too old was gone to the camp meeting, about two miles back in the woods. The King decided he would go and work the camp meeting, and I might go, too.
The Duke said that what he was looking for was a printing shop. We found one, a little place up over a carpenter shop carpenters and printers had all gone to the camp meeting, and left their doors unlocked. The Duke took off his coat and made himself right to home in the printing shop while the King and I set out for the camp meeting.
We got to the camp meeting in about an hour fairly dripping, for it was an awfully hot day. There were as many as a thousand people there from twenty miles around. The woods were full of teams and wagons tied up everywhere, and the horses were feeding and swinging their tails to keep off the flies. There were stands where they had all kinds of things for sale lemonade, watermelons, corn, cakes, and such like.
The preaching was going on in big tents. We went into one of them and the people were singing hymns. The preacher was leading them. It was wonderful to hear everybody singing; there were so many people there and they sang in such a stirring way. The preacher led them in one song after another, and the people woke up more and more and sang louder and louder; and towards the end some began to groan, and some began to shout.
Then the preacher began to preach, and seriously too. He moved from one side to the other of the platform, then leaned down over the front of it, with his arms and his body going all the time, and shouting out his words with all his strength. Every now and then he would hold up his Bible and spread it open and kind of pass it around this way and that, shouting out the name of the Lord and so on. You couldn’t make out what he was saying any more, on account of all the shouting and crying. Folks got up everywhere in the crowd and worked their way by pure strength to the front benches, with the tears running down their faces. Then they sang and shouted and threw themselves down on the straw, just crazy and wild.
Well, pretty soon the King saw his opportunity, and he got going too. You could hear him over everybody else. Next, he went charging up on to the platform, and the preacher he begged him to speak to the people, and he did it. He told them he was a pirate. He said he had been a pirate for thirty years in the Indian Ocean. What a liar that King was! He said his pirate crew had been thinned out in fights and he was home to take out some fresh men, and thanks to the Lord he’d been robbed the night before and put off the steamboat without a cent it was the most fortunate thing that ever happened to him, because now he had got religion and was happy for the first time in his life. Poor as he was, he said he was going to the Indian Ocean and put in the rest of his life trying to turn the pirates into the true path. And though it would take him a long time to get to the Indian Ocean without money, he would get there anyway, and every time he convinced a pirate to turn to the Lord he would say to him, “Don’t you thank me, don’t you give me any credit. It all belongs to the good people at the Parkville camp meeting, and that dear preacher there, the truest friend a pirate ever had.”
And then he burst into tears, and so did everybody. Then somebody sings out, “Take up a collection for him, take up a collection!” Well, a half dozen people made a jump to do it, but somebody sings out, “Let him pass the hat around!” Then everybody said it, the preacher too.
So the King went all through the crowd, wiping his eyes, and blessing the people and praising them and thanking them for being so good to the pirates away off there. And every little while the prettiest kind of girls, with tears running down their cheeks, would ask him to let them kiss him so that they could remember him better, and he always did it. And some of them, the prettiest ones, he hugged and kissed as many as five or six times and he was invited to stay a week. And everybody wanted him to stay in their houses, and said they would consider it an honor, but he said he was in a hurry to get to the Indian Ocean right away and go to work on the pirates.
When we got back to the raft and he came to count up, he found he had collected eighty seven dollars and seventy five cents. And then he had brought along a three gallon jug of whiskey, too, that he had found under a wagon when he was starting home from the woods. The King said, take it all around, it was the best day he had ever spent in the missionary line.
The Duke thought he’d been doing pretty well too, until the King showed up, but after that he didn’t think so. But he showed us something he had printed up in the printing shop while we were at the camp meeting. It had a picture of a runaway Negro with a stick and a pack over his shoulder, and “$200 reward” under it. The reading was all about Jim and described him exactly. It said he had run away from a big estate at St. Jacques, forty miles below New Orleans, last winter, and likely went north, and whoever would catch him and send him back could have the $200 reward and expenses.
“Now,” says the Duke, “after tonight we can run in the daytime if we want to. Whenever we see anybody coming we can tie Jim hand and foot with a rope and lay him in the wigwam and show this handbill and say we captured him up the river and were too poor to travel on a steamboat, so we got this little raft and are going down to get the reward.”
We all said the Duke was pretty smart, and there couldn’t be any trouble in the future about running in the daytime. We judged we could make miles enough that night to get out of reach of Parkville in case anything started up there as a result of the King’s missionary work or the Duke’s stealing into the print shop then we could sail right along every day if we wanted to.
We lay low and kept still, and never shoved out until ten o’clock. Then we slid by, pretty wide away from the town, and didn’t light our lantern until we were clear out of sight of it.
The King and the Duke had taken to sleeping nights in our beds in the wigwam, and, since there wasn’t enough room for Jim and me too, we had to sleep outside. We didn’t mind much but it rained a couple of nights and then it wasn’t so comfortable. They also made Jim and me stand watch during the night, just in case anything happened.
When Jim called me to take the watch at four o’clock on this particular morning not so long after we had passed Parkville he says:
“Huck, do you think we’re goin’ to run across any more kings on this here trip?”
“No,” I says, “I don’t believe so.”
“Well,” he says “that’s all right then. I don’t mind one or two kings, but that’s enough. This one’s finished almost that whole jug of whiskey and is awful drunk, and the Duke ain’t much better.”
I found out that Jim had been trying to get the King to talk French, so he could hear what it was like; but the King said he had been in this country so long, and had so much trouble, he’d forgotten it.
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
A. 1. What was the story that Huck told to account for their being on the raft?
2. Why wouldn’t a runaway Negro be going south?
3. Why wasn’t there anyone stirring in Parkville?
4. What did the Duke do while the King and Huck went to the camp meeting?
5. What did they see when they got to the camp meeting?
6. Describe the preacher and his preaching. What effect did it have on the people?
7. What did the King do?
8. What happened when they took up a collection for the King?
9.How much was there in the collection? What did the King spend the money on?
10. What had the Duke printed up?
11. What was the Duke’s reason for printing up this handbill?
12. What were the sleeping arrangements when they started on their trip again? ■'
13. Why didn’t Jim want to run across any more kings?
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
drip make out
feed make up
sale make away with
religion make believe
bless make uo your mind
hug make a decision
Well, the next morning we didn’t tie up as we had always done before, but went drifting right down the river in broad daylight. The King and the Duke got up by and by and both looked pretty sad; but after they’d jumped into the river and took a swim it freshened them up a good deal. Then after breakfast they sat around and played cards, and when they got tired of that they began to lay plans for what they were going to do in other towns when we got to them.
The Duke went down into his carpet bag and brought up a lot of handbills and advertisements of himself as an actor in various Shakespeare parts and such. The King said he didn’t know much about play-acting, but he got very much interested and said he was ready to learn. The Duke then got out his book and read the parts over in the most elegant way, dancing around and acting at the same time to show how it should be done. Then he gave the book to the King and told him to learn his part by heart. The Duke was supposed to be Romeo, and the King was Juliet. The Duke also fished out of his carpet bag the clothes he said they could wear, and they planned to put on a show as soon as the King got his part learned.
The first chance we got, the Duke he had some handbills printed. After that, for two or three days, the raft was a pretty busy place, for there wasn’t anything but sword fighting and practicing and speeches from Shakespeare going on all the time. The Duke had to teach the King over and over again to say every speech and he made him sigh, and put his hand over his heart and after a while he said the King did it pretty well, and he figured they were ready. We were pretty well down the state of Arkansas by this time, and when one morning we came in sight of a little one-horse town in a big bend we tied up about three quarters of a mile above it, and all of us but Jim took the canoe and went down there to see if there was any chance for our show.
We struck it mighty lucky; there was going to be a circus there that afternoon, and the country people were already beginning to come in, in all kinds of old wagons, and on horses. The circus would leave before night, so our show would have a pretty good chance. The Duke he rented the courthouse and we went around and stuck up our handbills. The handbills announced that the world famous actors, David Garrick, the younger, of Drury Lane Theatre, London, and Edmund Kean, the older, of the Royal Theatre, London, would appear that night and offer their famous balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. They would also present the famous sword scene from Richard II. The show would be limited to one night because both actors had many pressing European engagements.
Well, that night we had our show all right, but it wasn’t much of a success. There were only about twelve people there just enough to pay expenses. Either the people of the town were tired after seeing the circus in the afternoon and went home, or they just didn’t have any money left. The few people who came laughed all the time, and that made the Duke mad. Everybody left, anyway, before the show was over, but one boy who was asleep. So the Duke said these stupid Arkansas farmers didn’t appreciate Shakespeare; what they wanted was low comedy and maybe something even lower than low comedy he figured. He said he understood their style. So next morning he got some big sheets of wrapping paper and some black paint and made up some handbills and stuck them up all over the village. The handbills said:
At the Court House! for 3 nights only! The World-Famous Actors DAVID GARRICK, THE YOUNGER! and EDMUND KEAN, THE OLDER! Of the London and Continental theatre, in their Exciting Tragedy of THE KING’S CAMEL-LEOPARD or THE ROYAL NONESUCH!! Entrance price 50 cents.
Then at the bottom was the biggest line of all, which read: LADIES AND CHILDREN NOT PERMITTED
“There,” says he, “ if that line doesn’t bring them in, I don’t know Arkansas.”
Well, all day he and the King were hard at it, fixing up a stage and a curtain and a row of candles for footlights. That night the house was packed full of men in no time. When the place wouldn’t hold any more, the Duke he stopped taking care of the door and went around the back way and came to the stage and made a little speech, and praised this tragedy, and said it was the most exciting one that ever was. And so he went on bragging about the tragedy and about Edmund Kean, the older, who was to play the principal part in it. At last, when he’d got everybody’s interest all worked up high enough, he rolled up the curtain, and the next minute the King came dancing out on all fours, naked; and he was painted all over, in stripes and in all sorts of colors, as beautiful as a rainbow. And never mind the rest of the things he had stuck on him, but he looked just wild, and was awfully funny. The people almost killed themselves laughing, and when the King got done jumping around the stage and finally disappeared behind the scenes, they yelled and clapped and stormed and laughed until he came back and did it over again, and after that they made him do it another time. Well, it would make a cow laugh to see the way that old fool carried on.
Then the Duke lets the curtain down, and bows to the people, and says the great tragedy will be repeated only two nights more, on account of pressing London engagements, where the seats are already sold out for it in Drury Lane. Then he makes them another bow, and says if he has succeeded in pleasing ^them, he will be greatly obliged if they mention it to their friends and get them to come and see it.
Twenty people sing out: “What, is it over? Is that all?”
The Duke says yes. Then there was a fine time. Everybody sang out, “Sold!” “Cheated!” “Robbed!” and rose up mad and they were starting for the stage and those two actors. But a big, fine-looking man jumps up on a bench and shouts:
“Hold on! Just a word, gentlemen.” They stopped to listen. “We have been cheated badly cheated. But we don’t want to be the laughing stock of this whole town, and never hear the last of this thing, as long as we live do we? No! What we want is to go out of here quiet, and talk this show up, and sell the rest of the town. Then we’ll all be in the same boat. Ain’t that sensible?” (“You bet it is! The judge is right” everybody sings out.) “All right then not a word about being cheated. Go along home and advise everybody to come and see the tragedy.”
Next day you couldn’t hear anything around that town but how wonderful that show was. The house was packed again that night, and we sold this crowd the same way. The third night the House was full again but they weren’t newcomers this time, but people who had been at the show the other two nights. I stood by the Duke at the door, and I saw that every man that went in had his pockets full or something stuck up under his coat and it didn’t smell like perfume not by a long sight. I smelled bad eggs by the barrel and rotten vegetables, and such things. And if I know the signs of a dead cat being around, and I bet I do, there were sixty-four of them went in. I shoved in there for a minute, but the smell was too much for me. I couldn’t stand it. Well, when the place couldn’t hold any more people the Duke gave a fellow a quarter and told him to watch the door for him a minute, and then he started around for the stage door, I after him; but the minute we turned the corner and were out of sight of the crowd, he says: “Walk fast now until you get away from the houses and then beat it for the raft as though the devil was after you.”
I did it, and he did the same. We got to the raft at the same time, and in less than two minutes we were floating down stream, all dark and still, and edging towards the middle of the river, nobody saying a word. I thought the poor King was in for a bad time of it with that audience, but nothing of the sort; pretty soon he crawls out from under the wigwam, and says: “Well, how’d the show turn out this time, Duke?” He hadn’t been to the town at all. ’
We never showed a light until we were about ten miles below the village. Then we lit up and had supper, and the King and the Duke fairly laughed their bones loose over the way they’d cheated those people. The Duke says:
“The fools! I knew the first house would keep quiet and let the rest of the town get roped in; and I knew that they would lay for us the third night, and consider it was their turn now. Well, it is their turn, and I would just like to know what they plan to do about it. They can turn it into a picnic if they want to they brought along plenty of rotten food.”
Those rascals took in almost four hundred dollars in those three nights. I never saw money pulled in by the wagonload like that before.
By and by, when they were asleep and snoring, Jimsays: “Doesn’t it surprise you the way these kings carry on, Huck?” “No,” I says, “it doesn’t.”
“Why not, Huck?”
“Well, because it’s part of their nature. I guess all kings are the same.”
“But, Huck, these kings of ours are regular rascals, that’s what they are, they’re regular rascals.”
“Well, that’s what I’m telling you; all kings are mostly rascals, as far as I can make out. If you just read about them once, you’ll see what I mean. Look at Henry the Eight, and Charles Second, and Louis Fourteen and forty more. This king of ours is a Sunday school teacher compared with some of them. All I say is, kings are kings and you have to allow for them. Take them all around, they’re a mighty strange lot. It’s the way they’re raised.”
“But this king of ours smells so bad, Huck. He never washes or changes his clothes.”
“Well, that’s the way it is, Jim. We can’t help the way a king smells.”
“Now the Duke, he’s not such a bad sort in some ways.” “Yes, a duke’s different. But this one’s a pretty hard lot, and when he’s drunk there isn’t a nearsighted man who could tell him from a king.”
“Anyway, I don’t have any desire for any more of them, Huck. These are all I can stand.”
“Me, too, Jim. But we’ve got them on our hands and we’ve got to allow for them.” It was no use to tell Jim these weren’t real kings and dukes; and besides, according to what I had read in school, it was mighty hard to tell them from the real kind.
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Revie
A. 1. What Shakespeare parts did the Duke and the King begin to practice?
2. Why was the raft a busy place the next few days?
3. Where did they tie up? Why did they strike it lucky there?
4. Why wasn’t their show much of a success?
5. How did the Duke think he could bring in the customers?
6. What was the show that the Duke and the King put on?
7. How did a man in the audience stop the people from attacking the King and the Duke?
8. Who was in the audience the third night? What did the people bring with them?
9. What did Huck and the Duke do after they had collected the money?
10. Where was the King?
11. How much had they taken in for their show?
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
stripe strike it lucky
rainbow come in sight of
clap a one- horse town
perfume fix up