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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 9


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 9
On the way home Tom and I got to thinking, and by and by Tom says: “Look here, Huck, what fools we are not to think about it before. I bet I know where Jim is in that hut down by the back fence. When we were at dinner, didn’t you see a Ne­gro go in there with food?”
“Yes,” I said, “but I thought he was taking it to a dog.” “Well, it wasn’t for a dog,” Tom says, “because part of it was watermelon.”
Tom was right. I noticed it but I never thought about a dog not eating watermelon. It shows how a body can see and not see at the same time. It also shows what a good head Tom has. If I had Tom Sawyer’s head I wouldn’t trade it off to be a duke, nor captain of a steamboat, nor a clown in a circus nor any­thing I can think of.
The next step, of course, was to study out a plan to steal Jim. Tom said he would think up one and I should think up one and we "could take the one we liked best. So I went thinking out a plan, but only just to be doing something. I knew very well where the right plan was going to come from. Pretty soon, I says to him, “My plan is this: we can easily find out if it’s Jim in there. Then the first dark night steal the key out of Uncle Silas’ trousers, and take Jim out to my raft and shove off down the river with him, hiding daytimes and running at night, the way Jim and I did before. Wouldn’t that plan work?”
“Work? Why, certainly it would work but it’s too blame simple. What’s the good of a plan that’s no more trouble than that? Why, Huck, that wouldn’t cause any talk at all.”
I never said anything; but I knew mighty well that when he got his plan ready it wouldn’t have any of these objections to it.
And it didn’t. He told me what it was, and I saw in a minute it was worth fifteen of mine for style and would make Jim just as free as mine would, and maybe get us killed besides. I needn’t tell you here what his plan was because I knew he’d be changing it around every which way as we went along. And that is what he did.
Anyway, when we got home the house was all dark and still, so we went down to the hut to examine it. We went through the yard so as to see what the dogs would do. They knew us and didn’t make any more noise than country dogs usually do when someone familiar comes by in the night. When we got to the hut we saw a square window hole, on one side, up fairly high, with a thick board nailed across it. I says: “This is easy. This hole’s big enough for Jim to get through if we pull off that board.”
Tom says: “But there’s one thing wrong about it. I should hope we can find a way more complicated than that, Huck Finn.”
“Well, then,” I says, “how’ll it do to saw him out, the way I sawed myself out of Pap’s cabin before I was murdered that time.”
‘That’s more like it,” he says. “It‘s more mysterious and more trouble, and good. But I bet maybe we can find a way that’ll take twice as long. There ain’t no hurry; let’s keep on looking around.”
So we looked around some more, and in back of the hut on the side which was away from the house, we found some old boards piled up. Tom was very pleased. He says: “Now we are all right. We’ll dig him out and we can cover the hole during the day with these boards. It’ll take about a week.”
Then we started for the house, and I went in the back door  none of the doors was ever locked but that wasn’t roman­tic enough for Tom Sawyer. No way would do but he must climb up the lightning rod. After he got up half-way about three times, and missed and fell every time, and the last time nearly knocked his brains out, he thought he’d give it up but after he rested, he decided to try it once more, and this time he made it.
In the morning we were up at the break of day, and down to the Negro cabins to pet the dogs and make friends with the Negro who fed Jim if it was Jim that was being fed. The Ne­groes were just getting through breakfast and starting for the fields. Jim’s Negro was filling up a tin pan with bread and meat and things. Soon the key was sent to him from the house
This Negro had a simple, good-natured face, and his wool was all tied up in little bunches with thread. This was to keep the witches away. He said the witches were bothering him some­thing awful these nights, and making him see and hear strange things. He got so worked up telling us about his troubles that he forgot all about what he was to do. So Tom says: “What’s the food for? Going to feed the dogs?”
A broad smile spread slowly over the Negro’s face like when you throw a rock into a pond and the waves move out gradually and he says: “Yes, Mr. Sid, a dog. Curious dog, too. Do you want to go and look at him?”
Tom said he did, and we went along, but I didn’t like it much because this wasn’t our plan, and I told Tom so, but he says, “No, it wasn’t our plan, but it’s our plan now.”
When we got inside the place we could hardly see anything, it was so dark; but Jim was there, sure enough, and could see us; and he sings out. “Why, Huck! And Good Lord! Ain’t that Mister Tom Sawyer?”
I just knew something like this would happen. The Negro, of course, says, “Why, fer'Heaven’s sake! Does he know you two gentlemen?”
“Does who know us?” says Tom, looking at the Negro, curi­ous-like.
“Why, this here runaway Negro!”
“I don’t believe he does; but what put that into your head?” “What put it there? Didn’t he just this minute sing out as though he knew you?”
Tom says, in a puzzled kind of way, “Well, that’s mighty curious. Who sang out? When did he sing out?” And then Tom turns to me, perfectly calm, and says, “Did you hear anybody sing out?”
Of course, there was only one answer I could give him, so I says, “No, I never heard anybody say anything.”
Then Tom turns to Jim and looks him over as if he had never seen him before, and says, “Did you sing out?”
Of course, Jim said that he didn’t sing out, and he said that he had never seen us before. So Tom turns to the Negro, who by this time was looking wild and worried, and says, “What do you suppose the matter’s with you, anyway? What made you think somebody sang out?”
“Oh, it’s those blame witches again, sir. and I wish I was dead, I do. They’re always at it, and they almost kill me, they scare me so. Please don’t tell anybody about it, sir, or old Mis­ter Silas he’ll scold me, because he says there ain’t no witches.” Tom gave him a dime, and said we wouldn’t tell anybody, and told him to buy some more thread to tie up his wool with. Then, while the Negro stepped to the door to examine the dime and bite it to see whether it was good, Tom whispers to Jim, “Don’t ever let on to know us. And if you hear any digging at night, it’s us: we’re going to set you free.”
Jim only had time to grab us by the hand and squeeze it. Then the Negro came back, and we said we’d come again some­time if the Negro wanted us to. He said he would be glad to have us, more particular if it was dark, because the witches bothered him mostly in the dark, and it was good to have folks around then.
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
A. 1. Why did Tom think Jim was in the hut down by the back fence?
2. What was Huck’s plan for freeing Jim?
3. Why didn’t Tom like Huck’s plan?
4. What did the dogs do when the boys went through the yard?
5. How did Tom think they should try to get Jim out of the hut?
6. How did Tom go back into the house?
7. Who did the boys make friends with the next morning?
8. How did they get the Negro to let them into Jim’s hut?
9. How did they get the Negro confused?
10. What did Tom give the Negro? What did he tell him to do with it?
11. Why did the Negro agree to let them come there again?
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
clown                          think about
complicated              part of
brain                           trade it off
pet                              keep on
bunch                         fill up
After we left the hut, Tom seemed to feel a little bit dis­gusted. “Blame it, this whole thing’s too easy,” he says. “And so it makes it awfully hard to work out a difficult plan. There’s no guard to be drugged there ought to be a guard. There ain’t even a dog to give some sleeping medicine to. And there’s Jim chained by one leg to the leg of his bed; why, all you have to do is lift up the bed and slip off the chain. And Uncle Silas he trusts everybody with the key to the place. Why, Huck, it’s the most stupid arrangement I ever saw. We got to invent all the difficulties. Anyway, there’s one thing to remember: I suppose there’s more honor in getting Jim out through a lot of difficul­ties and dangers when not one of them is furnished by the peo­ple whose duty it is to furnish them and you have to figure them all out of your head. While I think of it, we have to hunt up something to make a saw out of, the first chance we get because we’ve got to saw the leg of Jim’s bed off, so as to get the chain loose.”
“Why, you just said a body could lift up the bed and slip the chain off,” I said.
“Well, if that ain’t just like you, Huck Finn. You always think of the most simple way of going at a thing. Didn’t I just explain that we got to invent some difficulties? And ain’t you ever read any books at all? Who ever heard of getting a prisoner loose in such an old-maid way as that? No, the way all the best authorities do is to saw the bed leg in two, and leave it just so, and swallow the sawdust, so it can’t be found, and put some dirt around the sawed place so that the guard can’t see any sign of its being sawed so he’ll think the bed leg is perfectly sound. Then, the night you’re ready, you give the leg a kick down she goes; slip off your chain and there you are. Next, you climb down your rope ladder and break your leg in the canal but there’s your horse and faithful servant waiting for you, and away you ride to your own palace. It’s beautiful, Huck. I wish there was a canal to this cabin. If we get time, the night of the escape, we’ll dig one.”
I says: “What do we want a canal for if we’re going to dig Jim out from under the cabin?”
But he never heard me. He had his chin on his hand and was busy thinking. Pretty soon he says, “Maybe we ought to saw Jim’s leg off, instead.”
“Good Lord,” says I. “There ain’t no need for that. And what would you want to saw his leg off for, anyway?”
“Well, some of the best authorities have done it. They couldn’t get the chain off, so they just cut off the hand and then slipped the chain off. And a leg would be better still. But maybe it ain’t exactly necessary in this case; and besides, Jim’s a Negro and wouldn’t understand the reasons for it. But there’s one thing he can have a rope ladder; we can tear up our bed sheets and make him a rope ladder easy enough. And we can send it to him in a pie; it’s mostly done that way. And I’ve eaten worse pies.”
“Why, Tom Sawyer, how you talk,” I says. “Jim ain’t got any use for a rope ladder and besides, if we go tearing up our bed sheets to make him one, we’re going to get into trouble with Aunt Sally, just as sure as you’re born. Now the way I look at it, a regular ladder doesn’t cost anything because there’s one lying over there alongside the house. Why can’t we use that?” “Heavens, Huck Finn, if I was as ignorant as you, I’d keep still. Who ever heard of a state prisoner escaping with a regular ladder? Why, it’s perfectly ridiculous.”
“Well, all right, Tom, do it your own way; but if you take my advice you’ll let me borrow a sheet off the clothes line, in­stead of using our own bed sheets.”
He said that would do, and that gave him another idea, and he says, “Borrow a white shirt too so that Jim can have some­thing to keep a daily record on.”
“But Jim can’t write.”
“Suppose he can’t write he can make marks on the shirt, can’t he especially if we make him a pen out of a spoon or a piece of iron.”
“Why, Tom, we can pull a feather out of a goose and make him a real pen, and quicker too.”
“Prisoners don’t have geese running around their cells to pull pens out of. They always make them out of the hardest piece of metal they can find, and it takes them months to file it down. They wouldn’t use a regular pen if they had it. It just ain’t done that way.”
Next he said Jim would have to use his own blood as ink and when he wanted to send a message to the outside world he could scratch it on a tin plate with his fork and throw the plate out of the window. When I told him nobody would be able to read anything Jim wrote, he said that was not important. Most of the time you can’t read anything a prisoner writes on a tin plate or anywhere else. The breakfast bell rang about this time, so we cleared out for the house.
Along during the morning I borrowed a sheet and a white shirt off the clothesline; and I found an old bag to put them in. Tom said this was really borrowing and not stealing because we were representing a prisoner, and a prisoner has a perfect right to steal anything he needs to get away with. We waited until everybody was settled down to their morning work, and nobody in sight around the yard; then Tom took the bag and hid it dpwn behind Jim’s hut while I stood guard. Later, we talked some more and Tom said that the next thing we needed was something to dig Jim out with. I said I knew where there were two old picks we could borrow, but again Tom said this wouldn’t be regular. He said nobody ever heard of a prisoner having picks and shovels and all such modern conveniences. What we needed were a couple of old knives.
“It’s foolish, Tom,” I said; “we can’t dig the foundations out from under that cabin with knives.”
“It doesn’t make any difference if it’s foolish or not,” he says. “It’s the right way and it’s the regular way. And there ain’t any other way I ever heard of, and I’ve read all the books that give any information about these things. Prisoners always use knives to dig themselves out with and not through dirt either  generally it’s through solid rock and it takes them for ever and ever. Why, look at one of them prisoners in the Castle D’lf in Marseilles, that dug himself out that way. How long do you suppose he was at it?”
I said I guessed about a month and a half.
“Thirty-seven years,” Tom says. “And he came out in China.”
“But Jim don’t know anybody in China,” I says.
“What’s that got to do with it? Neither did that other fellow. But you’re always wandering off on another subject. Why can’t you stick to the main point?”
“All right,” I says. “I don’t care where Jim comes out, as long as he comes out. But there’s one thing—Jim’s too old to be dug out with a knife. He won’t last that long.”
“Yes he will last. You don’t think it’s going to take us thirty- seven years just to dig through dirt. Anyway, we can’t risk dig­ging him out as long as we ought to. Uncle Silas will find out soon that Jim ain’t from New Orleans, then his next move will be to advertise him. Things being so uncertain, what I recom- mend is this: that we really dig right in, as quick as we can. After that, we can pretend to ourselves that we were at it thirty- seven years. Then we can pull Jim out and rush him away the first time there’s an alarm.”
“Now, there’s sense in that,” I says. “Pretending doesn’t cost anything; it ain’t no trouble. If it serves any purpose I don’t mind pretending we were at it a hundred and fifty years. It wouldn’t strain me any, after I got used to it. Guess I’ll get go­ing now and borrow a couple of knives.”
“Get three,” he says. “We need one to make a saw out of.” “Tom, if it ain’t too irregular to suggest it,” I says, “there’s an old saw over in the smokehouse we can use.”
He looked a little tired and discouraged like, and says, “It ain’t much use to try to teach you anything, Huck. Run along and get the knives three of them.” So I did it.
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
A. 1. Why was Tom disgusted that it was so easy to free Jim?
2. What was Tom’s idea of the way the escape should work?
3. Why did Tom give up the idea of cutting off Jim’s leg?
4. What did he want to use for a ladder? How was he going to send the ladder to Jim? Why didn’t Huck think this was such a good idea?
5. What was Tom going to use to make a pen with?
6. How did Tom think Jim should send messages to the out­side world?
7. What did Huck “borrow” from the clothesline? Why did Tom say that this wasn’t stealing?
8. Why did Tom think they should use knives to dig with?
9. What did Tom agree to pretend?
10. Why did Tom want Huck to get three knives?
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
durg                                  irregular
invent                               cut out
spoon                              cut  down
file                                    cut off
foundation                      cut up
advertise                        cut in