“Git up! What you ’bout?”
I opened my eyes and looked around,
trying to make out where I was. It was after
sun-up, and I had been sound asleep. Pap was
standing over me looking sour and sick, too.
“What you doin’ with this gun?”
I judged he didn’t know nothing about what he
had been doing, so I says:
“Somebody tried to get in, so I was laying for
“Why didn’t you roust me out?”
“Well, I tried to, but I couldn’t; I couldn’t
“Well, all right. Don’t
stand there palavering all day, but out with you and
see if there’s a fish on the lines for breakfast.
I’ll be along in a minute.”
He unlocked the door, and I cleared
out up the river-bank. I noticed some pieces
of limbs and such things floating down, and a sprinkling
of bark; so I knowed the river had begun to rise.
I reckoned I would have great times now if I was
over at the town. The June rise used to be always
luck for me; because as soon as that rise begins here
comes cordwood floating down, and pieces of log rafts sometimes
a dozen logs together; so all you have to do is to
catch them and sell them to the wood-yards and the
I went along up the bank with one
eye out for pap and t’other one out for what
the rise might fetch along. Well, all at once
here comes a canoe; just a beauty, too, about thirteen
or fourteen foot long, riding high like a duck.
I shot head-first off of the bank like a frog, clothes
and all on, and struck out for the canoe. I
just expected there’d be somebody laying down
in it, because people often done that to fool folks,
and when a chap had pulled a skiff out most to it they’d
raise up and laugh at him. But it warn’t
so this time. It was a drift-canoe sure enough,
and I clumb in and paddled her ashore. Thinks
I, the old man will be glad when he sees this she’s
worth ten dollars. But when I got to shore pap
wasn’t in sight yet, and as I was running her
into a little creek like a gully, all hung over with
vines and willows, I struck another idea: I
judged I’d hide her good, and then, ’stead
of taking to the woods when I run off, I’d go
down the river about fifty mile and camp in one place
for good, and not have such a rough time tramping on
It was pretty close to the shanty,
and I thought I heard the old man coming all the time;
but I got her hid; and then I out and looked around
a bunch of willows, and there was the old man down
the path a piece just drawing a bead on a bird with
his gun. So he hadn’t seen anything.
When he got along I was hard at it
taking up a “trot” line. He abused
me a little for being so slow; but I told him I fell
in the river, and that was what made me so long.
I knowed he would see I was wet, and then he would
be asking questions. We got five catfish off
the lines and went home.
While we laid off after breakfast
to sleep up, both of us being about wore out, I got
to thinking that if I could fix up some way to keep
pap and the widow from trying to follow me, it would
be a certainer thing than trusting to luck to get
far enough off before they missed me; you see, all
kinds of things might happen. Well, I didn’t
see no way for a while, but by and by pap raised up
a minute to drink another barrel of water, and he
“Another time a man comes a-prowling
round here you roust me out, you hear? That man
warn’t here for no good. I’d a shot
him. Next time you roust me out, you hear?”
Then he dropped down and went to sleep
again; but what he had been saying give me the very
idea I wanted. I says to myself, I can fix it
now so nobody won’t think of following me.
About twelve o’clock we turned
out and went along up the bank. The river was
coming up pretty fast, and lots of driftwood going
by on the rise. By and by along comes part of
a log raft nine logs fast together.
We went out with the skiff and towed it ashore.
Then we had dinner. Anybody but pap would a
waited and seen the day through, so as to catch more
stuff; but that warn’t pap’s style.
Nine logs was enough for one time; he must shove
right over to town and sell. So he locked me
in and took the skiff, and started off towing the
raft about half-past three. I judged he wouldn’t
come back that night. I waited till I reckoned
he had got a good start; then I out with my saw, and
went to work on that log again. Before he was
t’other side of the river I was out of the hole;
him and his raft was just a speck on the water away
I took the sack of corn meal and took
it to where the canoe was hid, and shoved the vines
and branches apart and put it in; then I done the same
with the side of bacon; then the whisky-jug.
I took all the coffee and sugar there was, and all
the ammunition; I took the wadding; I took the bucket
and gourd; I took a dipper and a tin cup, and my old
saw and two blankets, and the skillet and the coffee-pot.
I took fish-lines and matches and other things everything
that was worth a cent. I cleaned out the place.
I wanted an axe, but there wasn’t any, only
the one out at the woodpile, and I knowed why I was
going to leave that. I fetched out the gun,
and now I was done.
I had wore the ground a good deal
crawling out of the hole and dragging out so many
things. So I fixed that as good as I could from
the outside by scattering dust on the place, which
covered up the smoothness and the sawdust. Then
I fixed the piece of log back into its place, and put
two rocks under it and one against it to hold it there,
for it was bent up at that place and didn’t
quite touch ground. If you stood four or five
foot away and didn’t know it was sawed, you
wouldn’t never notice it; and besides, this
was the back of the cabin, and it warn’t likely
anybody would go fooling around there.
It was all grass clear to the canoe,
so I hadn’t left a track. I followed around
to see. I stood on the bank and looked out over
the river. All safe. So I took the gun
and went up a piece into the woods, and was hunting
around for some birds when I see a wild pig; hogs soon
went wild in them bottoms after they had got away from
the prairie farms. I shot this fellow and took
him into camp.
I took the axe and smashed in the
door. I beat it and hacked it considerable a-doing
it. I fetched the pig in, and took him back nearly
to the table and hacked into his throat with the axe,
and laid him down on the ground to bleed; I say ground
because it was ground hard packed, and
no boards. Well, next I took an old sack and
put a lot of big rocks in it all I could
drag and I started it from the pig, and
dragged it to the door and through the woods down
to the river and dumped it in, and down it sunk, out
of sight. You could easy see that something had
been dragged over the ground. I did wish Tom
Sawyer was there; I knowed he would take an interest
in this kind of business, and throw in the fancy touches.
Nobody could spread himself like Tom Sawyer in such
a thing as that.
Well, last I pulled out some of my
hair, and blooded the axe good, and stuck it on the
back side, and slung the axe in the corner. Then
I took up the pig and held him to my breast with my
jacket (so he couldn’t drip) till I got a good
piece below the house and then dumped him into the
river. Now I thought of something else.
So I went and got the bag of meal and my old saw
out of the canoe, and fetched them to the house.
I took the bag to where it used to stand, and ripped
a hole in the bottom of it with the saw, for there
warn’t no knives and forks on the place pap
done everything with his clasp-knife about the cooking.
Then I carried the sack about a hundred yards across
the grass and through the willows east of the house,
to a shallow lake that was five mile wide and full
of rushes and ducks too, you might say,
in the season. There was a slough or a creek
leading out of it on the other side that went miles
away, I don’t know where, but it didn’t
go to the river. The meal sifted out and made
a little track all the way to the lake. I dropped
pap’s whetstone there too, so as to look like
it had been done by accident. Then I tied up
the rip in the meal sack with a string, so it wouldn’t
leak no more, and took it and my saw to the canoe again.
It was about dark now; so I dropped
the canoe down the river under some willows that hung
over the bank, and waited for the moon to rise.
I made fast to a willow; then I took a bite to eat,
and by and by laid down in the canoe to smoke a pipe
and lay out a plan. I says to myself, they’ll
follow the track of that sackful of rocks to the shore
and then drag the river for me. And they’ll
follow that meal track to the lake and go browsing
down the creek that leads out of it to find the robbers
that killed me and took the things. They won’t
ever hunt the river for anything but my dead carcass.
They’ll soon get tired of that, and won’t
bother no more about me. All right; I can stop
anywhere I want to. Jackson’s Island is
good enough for me; I know that island pretty well,
and nobody ever comes there. And then I can paddle
over to town nights, and slink around and pick up
things I want. Jackson’s Island’s
I was pretty tired, and the first
thing I knowed I was asleep. When I woke up
I didn’t know where I was for a minute.
I set up and looked around, a little scared.
Then I remembered. The river looked miles and
miles across. The moon was so bright I could
a counted the drift logs that went a-slipping along,
black and still, hundreds of yards out from shore.
Everything was dead quiet, and it looked late, and
smelt late. You know what I mean I
don’t know the words to put it in.
I took a good gap and a stretch, and
was just going to unhitch and start when I heard a
sound away over the water. I listened.
Pretty soon I made it out. It was that dull
kind of a regular sound that comes from oars working
in rowlocks when it’s a still night. I
peeped out through the willow branches, and there
it was a skiff, away across the water.
I couldn’t tell how many was in it. It
kept a-coming, and when it was abreast of me I see
there warn’t but one man in it. Think’s
I, maybe it’s pap, though I warn’t expecting
him. He dropped below me with the current, and
by and by he came a-swinging up shore in the easy water,
and he went by so close I could a reached out the
gun and touched him. Well, it was pap,
sure enough and sober, too, by the way he
laid his oars.
I didn’t lose no time.
The next minute I was a-spinning down stream soft
but quick in the shade of the bank. I made two
mile and a half, and then struck out a quarter of
a mile or more towards the middle of the river, because
pretty soon I would be passing the ferry landing, and
people might see me and hail me. I got out amongst
the driftwood, and then laid down in the bottom of
the canoe and let her float. I laid there, and
had a good rest and a smoke out of my pipe, looking
away into the sky; not a cloud in it. The sky
looks ever so deep when you lay down on your back
in the moonshine; I never knowed it before. And
how far a body can hear on the water such nights!
I heard people talking at the ferry landing.
I heard what they said, too every word of
it. One man said it was getting towards the
long days and the short nights now. T’other
one said this warn’t one of the short ones,
he reckoned and then they laughed, and
he said it over again, and they laughed again; then
they waked up another fellow and told him, and laughed,
but he didn’t laugh; he ripped out something
brisk, and said let him alone. The first fellow
said he ’lowed to tell it to his old woman she
would think it was pretty good; but he said that warn’t
nothing to some things he had said in his time.
I heard one man say it was nearly three o’clock,
and he hoped daylight wouldn’t wait more than
about a week longer. After that the talk got
further and further away, and I couldn’t make
out the words any more; but I could hear the mumble,
and now and then a laugh, too, but it seemed a long
I was away below the ferry now.
I rose up, and there was Jackson’s Island,
about two mile and a half down stream, heavy timbered
and standing up out of the middle of the river, big
and dark and solid, like a steamboat without any lights.
There warn’t any signs of the bar at the head it
was all under water now.
It didn’t take me long to get
there. I shot past the head at a ripping rate,
the current was so swift, and then I got into the dead
water and landed on the side towards the Illinois
shore. I run the canoe into a deep dent in the
bank that I knowed about; I had to part the willow
branches to get in; and when I made fast nobody could
a seen the canoe from the outside.
I went up and set down on a log at
the head of the island, and looked out on the big
river and the black driftwood and away over to the
town, three mile away, where there was three or four
lights twinkling. A monstrous big lumber-raft
was about a mile up stream, coming along down, with
a lantern in the middle of it. I watched it
come creeping down, and when it was most abreast of
where I stood I heard a man say, “Stern oars,
there! heave her head to stabboard!” I heard
that just as plain as if the man was by my side.
There was a little gray in the sky
now; so I stepped into the woods, and laid down for
a nap before breakfast.