The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 8
When I gat to the Phelps’ everything was still and Sundaylike. The hands had all gone to the fields, and there was that faint sound of bugs and flies in the air that makes it seem so lonesome and as if everybody was dead and gone. Phelps’ was one of those one-horse cotton plantations, and they all look the same: a wood fence around a two-acre yard; some sick-looking patches of grass in the big yard, but mostly the yard all looked bare and smooth; a big double log house for the white folks with the cracks between the logs stopped up with mud, and then these mud stripes had been painted white some time or other; a round log kitchen, with a big open, but roofed passage, joining it to the house; a log smokehouse back of the kitchen; three little Negro cabins in a row on the other side of the smokehouse; one little hut all by itself down by the back fence; dogs lying asleep everywhere in the sun; some berry bushes in one place by the fence; outside of the fence a garden and a watermelon patch; then the cotton fields beyond and after the fields the woods.
I went around and climbed over the fence and started for the kitchen. I hadn’t fixed any particular plan, but was just trusting in Heaven to put the right words into my mouth when the time came. When I got half way there, one dog and then an- other got up and went for me, and of course I stopped and faced them, and kept still. They kept barking, and more kept coming until there was a circle of fifteen of them packed together around me. A Negro woman came tearing out of the kitchen and started chasing off the dogs. She gave first one and then another a sharp crack with her hand and sent them yelling, and then the rest followed. The next minute half of them came back wagging their tails, and making friends with me. There ain’t any real harm in a dog, anyway.
And behind the Negro woman comes a little Negro girl and two little Negro boys without anything on but little cotton shirts, and they hung on to their mother’s dress, and looked out from behind her at me, shy, the way they always do. And next comes the white woman running from the house, about forty-five or fifty years old; and behind her come her white children, acting the same way the little Negro children did. She was smiling all over so she could hardly stand and says:
“It’s you, at last ain’t it?”
“Yes’m” I said before I could even think.
She grabbed me and hugged me tight; and the tears came into her eyes, and ran down over her cheeks. She couldn’t seem to hug me enough, and kept saying, “You don’t look as much like your mother as I expected you would, but Heavens, I don’t care about that, I’m so glad to see you. Dear, dear, it seems I could eat you up. Children, it’s your cousin Tom say How-do- you-do to him.”
But they were shy, and put their fingers in their mouths, and hid behind her. So she ran on:
“Lize, hurry up and get him a hot breakfast or did you get your breakfast on the boat?”
“Yes’m,” I said. “I got it on the boat.”
“Don’t say yes’m say Aunt Sally,” she said.
By this time she had led me to the house and set me down in a chair and begun to talk to me a mile a minute. She said they had been expecting me for several days and she asked me whether the boat had grounded somewhere. I said there had been some trouble with the engine.
“Heavens! Anybody hurt?”
“No’m. Killed a Negro.”
“Well, sometimes people do get hurt.” Then she told me a story about a man she heard of who got hurt on a boat when the engine blew up, and later he died. Then she got back to me and says, “Your uncle’s been up to town every day to meet you; he’ll be back any minute now. Funny you didn’t meet him on the road.”
“No, I didn’t see anybody, Aunt Sally. The boat landed at daylight, and I left my baggage on the dock, and went looking around the town and I guess I came down here the back way.” “Who’d you give your baggage to? It’ll be stolen if you left it at the dock.”
“Not where I hid it, it won’t,” I says.
“How’d you get your breakfast so early on the boat?”
It was rather thin ice I was walking on, but I says: “The captain saw me standing around, and told me I better have something to eat before going ashore, so he took me in to the officers’ lunch and gave me all I wanted.”
I was getting so uneasy I couldn’t listen to her well. I was hoping I could get some of the children aside and pump them a little and find out who I was supposed to be. But Mrs. Phelps kept it up and ran on so I didn’t get a chance. Pretty soon she made the cold chills streak down my back, because she says:
“But here we are, running on this way, and you haven’t told me a word about Sis. Now I’ll keep quiet and you talk; just tell me everything tell me about them all, every one of them how they are and what they’re doing, and what they told you to tell me every last thing.”
Well, I saw that I was up a tree and up it good. Heaven had helped me so far but now I was stuck. I saw that it was no use to go ahead, and this was one place where I would have to risk the truth. I opened my mouth to begin; but she grabbed me and pushed me in behind the bed, and says:
“Here he comes! Stick your head down lower so he can’t see you. We’ll play a good joke on him. Children, don’t say a word.”
I saw I was in a fix now for sure but there was no use to worry, and so I did what she said. Well, pretty soon in comes the old gentleman and Mrs. Phelps jumps for him and says: “Has he come?”
“No,” says her husband.
“Heavens alive! What in the world can have become of that boy?” And then she starts to devil the old man with how worried she is and how sure she was that something terrible had happened. Then her husband says he is just as worried as she and this goes on until at last she feels he’s had enough and says suddenly, “Why, Silas! Look there down the road ain’t that somebody coming?”
He jumped to the window and that gave Mrs. Phelps the chance she wanted. She pulled me out from behind the bed, and when her husband turned back, from the window, she was smiling at him, just as pleased as she could be. The old gentleman stared at me, and sajfs; .“Why, who’s that?”
“Who do you think it is?” she says.
“I haven’t any idea. Who is it?”
“It’s Tom Sawyer!”
Well, I almost fell through the floor. But I had little time to think, for the old man grabbed me and shook me by the hand and Mrs. Phelps danced around and laughed and cried; and then they both fired questions at me about Sid, Mary, and the rest of the family.
But if they were cheerful, it wasn’t anything to what I was. In the next two hours I told them more about my family that is, about the family of Tom Sawyer than ever happened to any six families. I talked until my chin was tired.
Now I was feeling pretty comfortable in one way, but pretty uncomfortable in another. Being Tom Sawyer was easy, and it continued easy until by and by I heard a steamboat coming along down the river. Then I says to myself, suppose Tom Sawyer arrives on that boat? And suppose he steps in here any minute and sings out my name before I get a chance to speak to him?
Well, I didn’t want to run such a risk; it wouldn’t do at all. I must go up the road and head him off. So I told the folks I was going up to town and get my baggage. The old gentleman was all for going along with me, but I said no, I could drive the horse myself, and I didn’t want him to trouble himself about me.
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
A. 1. Describe the Phelps’ place.
2. What happened with Huck and the dogs?
3. What did Mrs. Phelps say to Huck when she saw him?
4. How did Huck explain that he had gotten to the plantation?
5. What did Mrs. Phelps aşk Huck that made cold chills streak down hisjjack?
6. How was Huck saved from having to tell her the news about his ‘family’?
7. Who did the Phelps think that Huck was?
8. Why was Huck able to tell them so much about Tom Sawyer and his family?
9. What did Huck decide that he had to do?
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
plantation play a joke on
hut get up
wag get through
stop up get hurt
climb over get away with
chase off get over
hang on to get along
blow up get back
run on get home
So I started up for town in the wagon, and when I was halfway I saw another wagon approaching, and sure enough it was Tom Sawyer. I called to him and his mouth dropped open like a trunk; and he swallowed two or three times like a person that’s got a dry throat, and then he says: “I never did you any harm. You know that. So, then, why do you want to come back and haunt me?”
I says: “I haven’t come back I haven’t been gone.”
When he heard my voice it helped him some, but he was still suspicious. But then I explained that I wasn’t a ghost and that I wasn’t ever murdered at all. It was just a joke I played on them. I told him to come and feel me if he didn’t believe it.
So he did it, and it satisfied him, and he was so glad to see me again, he didn’t know what to do. And he wanted to know all about it right off, because it was a great adventure, and mysterious, and that was just what he liked. But I said I’d tell him about it later; and asked his driver to wait for us, and we drove off a ways, and I told him the kind of a fix I was in, and what did he think we better do?
He said, let him alone a minute, and don’t disturb him. So he thought and thought, and pretty soon he says: “It’s all right. I’ve got it. Take my trunk in your wagon and pretend it’s yours; and you turn back and fool along slow so as to get to the house about the time you ought to; and I’ll go towards town a ways and take a fresh start, and get to the Phelps’ a quarter or half an hour after you; and you needn’t let on to know me at first.” I says, “All right: but wait a minute.” Then I told him about Jim and about how I was trying to steal him away from the Phelps’ place.
“Jim?” he says. “Old Miss Watson’s Jim why he’s ” Then he stopped and began to think again. And I says:
“I know what you’ll say, Tom. You’ll say it’s a dirty low- down business, helping a Negro to escape but I don’t care. I’m going to steal him, and I want you to keep quiet and not let on. Will you?”
His eyes lit up, and he says: “I’ll help you to steal him.” Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather, I was so surprised. I’m bound to say I never expected it of a boy raised so well as Tom and from such a good family. I couldn’t believe it. Tom Sawyer a Negro-stealer! I said he must be joking, but he said he wasn’t.
“Well, then,” I says, “joking or no joking, if you hear anything about a runaway Negro, don’t forget to remember that you don’t know anything about him, and I don’t either.”
Then he took his trunk and put it in my wagon, and he drove off his way and I drove mine. I got to the Phelps’ place in a little while and twenty minutes later Tom arrived. His plan was very simple; of course the Phelps thought I was Tom Sawyer, so he pretended he was my brother Sid Sawyer. Naturally he didn’t say he was Sid Sawyer right off. That wasn’t his style. In circumstances like this it wasn’t ever any trouble for Tom to throw in a few extras. So first he said he was a stranger from Hicks- ville, Ohio, and his name was William Thompson, and he ran on and on making up stuff about Hicksville and everybody in it he could imagine; and I was getting a little nervous and wondering what it was all about. At last, still talking along, he reached over and kissed Aunt Sally right on the mouth, and settled back again in his chair comfortable. Well, Aunt Sally jumped up and wiped his kiss off with the back of her hand, and says, “You fresh puppy!”
He looked a little hurt and says: “I’m surprised at you, ma’am. I didn’t mean any harm. I thought you’d like it.”
“Why, you born fool!” she says, jumping up and looking as mad as could be and just about ready to throw him out of the place. “What made you think I’d like it?”
“Well, I don’t know,” he says. “Only, they told me you would. But I promise you I won’t ever do it again until you ask me.”
“Until I ask you?” she says. “Well, I never saw the beat of it in all my days. You can bet I’ll be as old as Methuselah before I ever ask you or the likes of you.”
“Well,” he says, “it does surprise me. They said you would,- and I thought you would.” Then he turns toward her husband and says, “Didn’t you think she’d want me to kiss her?”
“Why, no; IIwell, no. I don’t believe so,” says the old gentleman.
Then he looks toward me and says, “Tom, didn’t you think Aunt Sally would open up her arms and say, ‘Sid Sawyer’ ” “My Lord!” she says, breaking in and jumping for him. “You young rascal, to fool a body so.” And she was going to kiss him, but he held her off, and says: “No, not until you’ve asked me first.”
So she didn’t lose any time, but asked him, and hugged him and kissed him over and over again, and finally says, “Why, dear me! I never had such a surprise. We weren’t looking for you at all, but only Tom. Sis never wrote me about anybody coming with him.”
“It’s because it wasn’t intended for any of us to come except Tom,” he says, “but I begged and begged and at the last min-ute she let me come, too; so coming down the river Tom and I thought it would be a good surprise for him to arrive first and for me to appear later and pretend to be a stranger.”
“You both ought to have a good whipping. I ain’t been so put out since I don’t know when. But I don’t care I’d be willing to stand a thousand such jokes to have you here.”
We had dinner out in that broad open passage between the house and the kitchen and there were things enough on that table for seven families and all hot too. Uncle Silas he said a particularly long blessing over the food, but it wasn’t any use, it didn’t cool it a bit. There was a lot of talk in general, and Tom and I were on watch all the time but no one said anything about a runaway Negro, and we were afraid to mention anything about it ourselves. But at supper, at night, one of the little boys says, “Pa, mayn’t Tom and Sid and me go to the show?” “No,” says the old man, “I don’t believe there’s going to be a show, and you couldn’t go if there was one, because the runaway Negro told Burton and me all about that awful show, and Burton said he would tell the people; so I imagine maybe they’ve already driven the loafers out of town.”
So there it was but I couldn’t help it. Tom and I were to sleep in the same room and bed; so, being tired, we said goodnight and went up to bed right after supper, and then climbed down the lightning rod immediately, and started to town, for I wanted to warn the King and the Duke if there was still time.
On the road I told Tom all about our “Royal Nonesuch” rascals and as much of the raft trip as I had time to. As we reached town, and were walking up through the middle of it it was half past eight then here comes a rush of people with torches, all shouting and yelling and banging tin pans and making all kinds of noise. We jumped to one side, and as they went by I saw they had the King and the Duke riding on a rail that is, I knew it was the King and the Duke, though they were covered all over with tar and feathers, and looked like a couple of big, ugly birds. Well, it made me sick to see them, and I was really sorry for those poor rascals. It was a dreadful thing to see. Human beings can be awful cruel to one another at times.
We saw we were too late to do any good. We asked some people what had happened and they said everybody went to the show looking very innocent and kept quiet, until the King was in the middle of his act on the stage; then somebody gave a signal and the whole house went for them.
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
A. 1. What^did Tom think he was seeing when he met Huck?
2. How did the boys plan to arrive at the Phelps’ house?
3. What did Tom agree to help Huck do?
4. Who did Tom decide to tell Aunt Sally that he was?
5. How did he go about telling her?
6. What did one of the little boys ask at dinner?
7. Why didn’t Mr. Phelps want the boys to go to the show?
8. How did Tom and Huck get out of the house?
9. What was happening to the King and the Duke when the boys saw them?
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
mysterious play a joke on
torch let on
bang knock over
rail keep quiet
tin wake up