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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 12


 Chapter 12



The doctor was an old man a very nice, kind-looking man. I told him that my brother and I had been over on Spanish Island camping and that about midnight my brother must’ve kicked his gun in his dreams, for it went off and shot him in the leg, and I wanted him to go over there and fix it and not say anything about it because my brother and I didn’t want to wor­ry our folks.


Who are your folks?” he says.


The Phelps!”


Oh,” he says and after a minute, “How did you say he got shot?”


He had a dream,” I says, “and it shot him.”


A strange dream,” he says.


Anyway, he lit up his lantern, and we got started. But when he saw the canoe he said it was big enough for one, but didn’t look safe for two.


Oh, you needn’t be afraid, sir, she carried the three of us,” I says.


What three?”


Why, me and Sid, and and the guns; that’s what I mean.”


Oh,” he says. And he put his foot on the canoe and rocked her, and shook his head. He looked around for a bigger one, but they were all chained and locked. So he took my canoe and told me to wait until he came back, or maybe I’d better go back home and tell my family what had happened. I said I’d wait, and I told him how to find the raft.

I crept into the woods to get some sleep; and the next time I woke up the sun was away up over my head, so that I knew it was late in the morning. I shot out and went for the doctor’s house, and they told me he wasn’t back yet. Well, thinks I, that looks awfully bad for Tom, and I’d better try to get over to the island right away. I turned the corner, and nearly ran my head into Uncle Silas’ stomach. He says, “Why, Tom! Where have you been all this time, you rascal? Your aunt’s been mighty uneasy.”

She needn’t be,” I says, “because I’m all right.” Then I told him that Tom and I had followed the men and the dogs but we lost them. We thought we heard them on the water, so we got a canoe and crossed over, but couldn’t find anything of them. So we floated along until we got tired, and we tied up the canoe and went to sleep, and never woke up until an hour ago. Then we paddled over here to get the news, and Sid was somewhere around town.


Naturally, Uncle Silas took me home with him, and there was no way I could get away. When we got home Aunt Sally hugged me, and then gave me one of those lickings of hers that don’t amount to anything, and said that Sid’d get the same when he got home.

The place was full of farmers and farmers’ wives, to dinner; and they were all talking about the escape of the runaway Ne­gro last night and about how the robbers had stolen him away, with sixteen men and twenty two dogs right on their heels. Aunt Sally was telling them how the gang had also been stealing things from the house during the past several weeks, and right under her very nose: a bed sheet, one of Uncle Silas’ best white shirts, a metal candle holder, and things like that. Everyone was chattering along at a great speed, and I thought maybe I would get a chance to sneak out and get over to the island and help Tom, but Aunt Sally kept her eye on me all the time.

That night, when I went up to bed, she even came up with a candle and tucked me in and mothered me so much I felt pretty mean, and I couldn’t look her in the face. She kept ask­ing me questions if I thought Sid had got lost, or hurt, or may­be drowned, and the tears would drip down silent, and I would tell her Sid was all right. Then she’d squeeze my hand and kiss me and tell me to say it again. And when she was going she looked in my eyes, so gentle and steady and says: “You’ll be good, won’t you. The door ain’t going to be locked, and there’s the window and the lightning rod. But you won’t try to go out tonight and make me worry about you too, will you? Please for my sake?”

Heavens knows I wanted to go bad enough to see about Tom, because I was just as worried about him as she was. Twice I went down the road and I saw her sitting there by the window with tears in her eyes, waiting for him to come. I wished I could do something for her. And the third time I went down, at dawn, she was there yet, and her old gray head was resting on her hand, and she was asleep.

Well, Tom didn’t show up until late in the afternoon, and when he did appear he was carried in on a mattress, and with the old doctor behind him. Jim walked next in line, with his hands tied behind him, and there was a crowd of people around him. Aunt Sally, who was watching, naturally had eyes only for Tom, and she rushed out and threw herself at him, crying, and says: “Oh, he’s dead, he’s dead. I know he’s dead.”

And Tom turned his head a little and mumbled something that showed he wasn’t in his right mind. Then Aunt Sally threw up her hands, and says, “He’s alive, thank God!” And she kissed him and flew for the house to get the bed ready, and was giving orders right and left to the Negroes and everybody else.


The doctor and Uncle Silas followed after Tom into the house; and I followed them to see what they were going to do with Jim. Some of them wanted to hang Jim as an example to all the other Negroes, so they wouldn’t try to run away. But others said don’t do it he’s not our Negro and his owner might turn up and make us pay for him. So that cooled them down.

They cursed Jim considerable and gave him a kick or two, but Jim he never said a word, and he never let on he knew me. They took him to the cabin, and chained his hands and both legs, and not to a bed either, but to a big piece of iron which they drove into the bottom log. They said he wasn’t to have anything but bread and water until he was claimed by his prop­er owner or sold. They filled up the hole we had dug and said a couple of farmers would stand guard every night, and a bull­dog would be tied to the door in the daytime. Then the old doc­tor comes and takes a look, and says:

Don’t be any rougher on him than you have to, because he’s not a bad Negro. When I got to the boy, he wasn’t in any condition to be moved, and I saw I couldn’t cut the bullet out without some help. I couldn’t get near him because he was out of his head, and talking wild. So I says, I got to have help some­how; and with that, out comes this Negro from the bushes, and says he'll help, and he did it, and he did it well. Of course, I judged he was a runaway Negro and there I was. I wanted to get back to town and look after some of my patients, but I was afraid the Negro would get away, and I’d be to blame. Well, I had to stay there all night and most of today, and it wasn’t until late this afternoon that a rowboat came along. The Ne­gro was asleep and I motioned to the men in the boat and they slipped up and tied him before he knew it. But he never gave us any trouble, and never said a word. I never saw a Negro that was a better nurse or more faithful, and he was risking his freedom to do it. I tell you, gentlemen, a Negro like that is worth a thousand dollars and kind treatment too.”

Somebody says, “Well, it sounds very good, doctor.” And they softened up some, and I was mighty grateful to that doc­tor for doing Jim that good turn. They all agreed Jim had acted well, and they promised they wouldn’t curse him any more. I hoped they were going to take some of his chains off and say he could have something to eat besides bread and wa­ter, but they didn’t. And I figured it was best for me not to mix in and to keep out of every one’s way, specially Aunt Sally’s at least until I got a good story made up to explain how Tom was shot. But I had plenty of time. Aunt Sally she stuck to the sickroom, and every time I saw Uncle Silas, I just got out of his way.

Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review

  1.  What did Huck tell the doctor?

  1. Why did the doctor leave Huck behind?

  2. Why couldn’t Huck go back to the island the next morning?

  3. What did Huck tell Uncle Silas?

  4. What was Aunt Sally telling the farmers and farmers’ wives?

  5. Why didn’t Huck go out that night?

  6. How did Tom and Jim come home?

  7. Why didn’t they hang Jim right then?

  8. What did they do to Jim?

  9. What did the doctor tell them about Jim?

  10. Why did Huck think he shouldn’t mix in right then?

  1. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:


Next morning, they said Tom was a good deal better, and I heard Aunt Sally was taking a nap. So I sneaked into tne sickroom with the hope that Tom was awake so we could make tuck treatment get started look around for get tired up a good story everyone would believe. But he was sleeping, very peaceful, too. So I sat down a while and Aunt Sally comes slipping in, and there I was, up a tree again. She motioned to me to be still, and she sat down by me and whispered we could all be happy now because Tom was feeling better and ten to one he’d wake up in his right mind. We sat there watching, and by and by, he stirs a bit, opens his eyes, and takes a look and says: “Hello! Why I’m at home!

Where’s the raft and where’s Jim?”

Everything’s all right,” I says.

Good!” he says. “Did you tell Aunty?”

I was going to say yes, but she cut in and says: “About what, Sid?”

Why, the way the whole thing was done how we got the Negro free Tom and I.”

Dear, dear,” says Aunt Sally. “He’s out of his head again.” “No, I ain’t out of my head,” says Tom. “I know what I’m talking about. We did set him free Tom and I. We set out to do it, and we did it and elegant too.” He’d got a start and she never checked him just stared and stared and let him sail right along. I saw it was no use for me to break in. “Why, Aunty,” Tom goes on, “it cost us a lot of work weeks and weeks of it, hours and hours every night while you were all asleep. And we had to steal candles, and the sheet, and the shirt, and your dress, and spoons, and tin plates, and knives, and the grind­stone, and flour ”

Heavens sakes!”

and load up the cabin with spiders and snakes and so on for company for Jim”

Well, I never heard the likes of it in all my bora days. So it was you, you little rascals, that made all that trouble. You just get well once, and I’ll give you both the best licking you ever had."

But Tom he was so proud and happy he just couldn’t hold in, and he chattered along telling Aunt Sally every last detail.

Well, if I catch you fooling around with that runaway Ne­gro again,” she says at last.

Tom looks at me very grave, and says: “Didn’t you just tell me everything was all right? Didn’t Jim get away?”

The runaway Negro?” says she. “He certainly did not. They’ve got him back, safe and sound, and he’s in that cabin again, on bread and water, and loaded down with chains.” Tom rose up in bed, with his eyes hot and excited looking, and says: “They’ve no right to shut him up. Turn him loose this minute; he ain’t no slave. I’ve known him all my life, and so has Tom, there. Old Miss Watson died two months ago and was ashamed she ever thought of selling him down the river, and so she set him free in her will.

Then what in the world did you want to set him free for, seeing he was already free?” asked Aunt Sally.

I must say,” says Tom, “that is just like a woman asking a question like that. Why, I wanted the adventure of it.” He looks toward the door, and shouts: “Heavens alive! AUNT POLLY!”

It was true. There stood Tom’s Aunt Polly, looking as sweet and contented as an angel half full of pie.

Aunt Sally jumped for her, and almost hugged her head off, and cried over her and I sneaked under the bed, for it was getting warm, it seemed to me. I looked out and I saw Tom’s Aunt Polly looking across at Tom over her eyeglasses kind of grinding him into the earth, you might say. And then she says, “You better turn your head away I would if I were you, Tom Sawyer!”

Oh, dear me!” says Aunt Sally, “is he changed that much? Why that isn’t Tom; that’s Sid.”

 It’s Tom all right,” says Aunt Polly, “and that other rascal is Huck Finn. I guess I haven’t raised such a devil as Tom all these years not to know him when I see him. Come out from under that bed, Huck Finn.” So I did, but not feeling too happy

Aunt Sally she was the most mixed-up looking person I ever saw except Uncle Silas when he came in and they told him. Next, Aunt Polly she told them all about who I was and what. And I tried to tell Mrs. Phelps how I had come to let her take me for Tom Sawyer but she cut in and says, “Oh, call me Aunt Sally, I’m used to it now.”

Aunt Polly she said Tom was right about Miss Watson’s setting Jim free in her will. And, sure enough, Tom Sawyer had gone and took all that trouble to set a free Negro free. And then I understood how he could help a body set a Negro free, with his bringing up.

Aunt Polly said that when she got Aunt Sally’s letter saying Tom and Sid had come all right, she says to herself: “I might have expected it; letting Tom go off that way without anybody to watch him. So now I have to go all the way down the river, eleven hundred miles, and find out what he’s up to this time, since I couldn’t seem to get an answer out of any of you about it.”

And then Aunt Polly explained that she had written three letters to Aunt Sally, but, of course, Aunt Sally never received them because Tom got hold of them first and hid them in his trunk, because he knew that if Aunt Sally got them and read them they would make trouble for us.

Well, you do need a skinning, Tom Sawyer” said Aunt Polly when she heard this. But naturally she didn’t mean to do anything because she was so glad to see he was all right and was getting better, and the whole family was so happy to be all together again that they could hardly talk about anything else.

The first chance I got I asked Tom what he had planned to do if the escape had worked all right and he hadn’t got shot in the leg, and he said he planned to run down the river in the raft and have adventures all the way down to New Orleans, and then tell Jim about his being free, and then take him back up home on a steamboat, in style, and pay him for his lost time, and write ahead and have all the Negroes dance him into town with a torch light parade and a brass band—then he would be a hero, and so would we.

We had Jim out of chains in no time, and when Aunt Sally and Uncle Silas and Aunt Polly heard how well he had helped the doctor to nurse Tom, they were pleased, and fixed him up, and gave him all he wanted to eat, and nothing to do.

And we had him up to the sickroom and had a good talk. And Tom gave him forty dollars for being a prisoner so pa­tient. Jim was pleased to death, and says, “There now, Huck, what did I tell you? Didn’t I say back there on Jackson’s Island that I had hair on my chest and that it was a sign I was goin’to be rich again? and it’s come true.”

Then Tom says, let’s all slide out of here some night and get some supplies and go for adventures in Indian Territory for a couple of weeks. I says, all right, that suits me, but I ain’t got any money to buy anything with, and I guess I can’t get any from home because likely Pap’s been back and got it away from Judge Thatcher and drunk it all up.

No, he hasn’t,” Tom says. “It’s all there yet six thousand dollars and more; and your Pap ain’t ever been backanyhow, he hadn’t when I came away.”

Jim says, rather seriously, “He ain’t ever cornin’ back any more, Huck.”

What do you mean, Jim?”

Never mind, Huck but he ain’t cornin’ back any more.” And then when I kept pressing him to tell me what he meant, Jim went on, and says, “Don’t you remember the house that was floatin’ down the river, and there was a dead man in there, covered up, and I didn’t let you look at him? Well, then, you can get your money when you want it, because that was your Pap.”

Tom’s almost well now, and he has his bullet, that the doctor took out of his leg, on his watch chain, and is always seeing what time it is. And so there ain’t anything more to write about, and I’m sure glad of it, because if I had known what trouble it was to write a book, I would never have started it. I guess I’ve got to light out for the Indian Territory ahead of the rest, be­cause Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and civilize me, and I can’t stand that. I already tried it once before.

Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review


1. Why did Huck want to talk to Tom as soon as possible?

  1. When Tom woke up, what did he tell Aunt Sally?

  2. What did Tom tell them about Jim?

  3. Who came in at that moment?

  4. Where did Huck try to hide?

  5. Why had Aunt Polly decided she had to come to the Phelps’ plantation?

7.What had Tom planned to do if the escape had worked all


8.How was Jim treated after that? What did Tom give him?

9.What had happened to Huck’s father?

10. Why did Huck guess that he had to light out for the Indian Territory?

B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:

grind                          be used to

parade                      break in

brass                        mixed- up

band                         find out

take a nap               be pleased