The sun was up so high when I
waked that I judged it was after eight o’clock.
I laid there in the grass and the cool shade thinking
about things, and feeling rested and ruther comfortable
and satisfied. I could see the sun out at one
or two holes, but mostly it was big trees all about,
and gloomy in there amongst them. There was freckled
places on the ground where the light sifted down through
the leaves, and the freckled places swapped about
a little, showing there was a little breeze up there.
A couple of squirrels set on a limb and jabbered at
me very friendly.
I was powerful lazy and comfortable didn’t
want to get up and cook breakfast. Well, I was
dozing off again when I thinks I hears a deep sound
of “boom!” away up the river. I rouses
up, and rests on my elbow and listens; pretty soon
I hears it again. I hopped up, and went and
looked out at a hole in the leaves, and I see a bunch
of smoke laying on the water a long ways up about
abreast the ferry. And there was the ferryboat
full of people floating along down. I knowed
what was the matter now. “Boom!”
I see the white smoke squirt out of the ferryboat’s
side. You see, they was firing cannon over the
water, trying to make my carcass come to the top.
I was pretty hungry, but it warn’t
going to do for me to start a fire, because they might
see the smoke. So I set there and watched the
cannon-smoke and listened to the boom. The river
was a mile wide there, and it always looks pretty
on a summer morning so I was having a good
enough time seeing them hunt for my remainders if I
only had a bite to eat. Well, then I happened
to think how they always put quicksilver in loaves
of bread and float them off, because they always go
right to the drownded carcass and stop there.
So, says I, I’ll keep a lookout, and if any
of them’s floating around after me I’ll
give them a show. I changed to the Illinois
edge of the island to see what luck I could have, and
I warn’t disappointed. A big double loaf
come along, and I most got it with a long stick, but
my foot slipped and she floated out further.
Of course I was where the current set in the closest
to the shore I knowed enough for that.
But by and by along comes another one, and this time
I won. I took out the plug and shook out the
little dab of quicksilver, and set my teeth in.
It was “baker’s bread” what
the quality eat; none of your low-down corn-pone.
I got a good place amongst the leaves,
and set there on a log, munching the bread and watching
the ferry-boat, and very well satisfied. And
then something struck me. I says, now I reckon
the widow or the parson or somebody prayed that this
bread would find me, and here it has gone and done
it. So there ain’t no doubt but there is
something in that thing that is, there’s
something in it when a body like the widow or the parson
prays, but it don’t work for me, and I reckon
it don’t work for only just the right kind.
I lit a pipe and had a good long smoke,
and went on watching. The ferryboat was floating
with the current, and I allowed I’d have a chance
to see who was aboard when she come along, because
she would come in close, where the bread did.
When she’d got pretty well along down towards
me, I put out my pipe and went to where I fished out
the bread, and laid down behind a log on the bank
in a little open place. Where the log forked
I could peep through.
By and by she come along, and she
drifted in so close that they could a run out a plank
and walked ashore. Most everybody was on the
boat. Pap, and Judge Thatcher, and Bessie Thatcher,
and Jo Harper, and Tom Sawyer, and his old Aunt Polly,
and Sid and Mary, and plenty more. Everybody
was talking about the murder, but the captain broke
in and says:
“Look sharp, now; the current
sets in the closest here, and maybe he’s washed
ashore and got tangled amongst the brush at the water’s
edge. I hope so, anyway.”
I didn’t hope so. They
all crowded up and leaned over the rails, nearly in
my face, and kept still, watching with all their might.
I could see them first-rate, but they couldn’t
see me. Then the captain sung out:
“Stand away!” and the
cannon let off such a blast right before me that it
made me deef with the noise and pretty near blind with
the smoke, and I judged I was gone. If they’d
a had some bullets in, I reckon they’d a got
the corpse they was after. Well, I see I warn’t
hurt, thanks to goodness. The boat floated on
and went out of sight around the shoulder of the island.
I could hear the booming now and then, further and
further off, and by and by, after an hour, I didn’t
hear it no more. The island was three mile long.
I judged they had got to the foot, and was giving
it up. But they didn’t yet a while.
They turned around the foot of the island and started
up the channel on the Missouri side, under steam,
and booming once in a while as they went. I crossed
over to that side and watched them. When they
got abreast the head of the island they quit shooting
and dropped over to the Missouri shore and went home
to the town.
I knowed I was all right now.
Nobody else would come a-hunting after me. I
got my traps out of the canoe and made me a nice camp
in the thick woods. I made a kind of a tent
out of my blankets to put my things under so the rain
couldn’t get at them. I catched a catfish
and haggled him open with my saw, and towards sundown
I started my camp fire and had supper. Then
I set out a line to catch some fish for breakfast.
When it was dark I set by my camp
fire smoking, and feeling pretty well satisfied; but
by and by it got sort of lonesome, and so I went and
set on the bank and listened to the current swashing
along, and counted the stars and drift logs and rafts
that come down, and then went to bed; there ain’t
no better way to put in time when you are lonesome;
you can’t stay so, you soon get over it.
And so for three days and nights.
No difference just the same thing.
But the next day I went exploring around down through
the island. I was boss of it; it all belonged
to me, so to say, and I wanted to know all about it;
but mainly I wanted to put in the time. I found
plenty strawberries, ripe and prime; and green summer
grapes, and green razberries; and the green blackberries
was just beginning to show. They would all come
handy by and by, I judged.
Well, I went fooling along in the
deep woods till I judged I warn’t far from the
foot of the island. I had my gun along, but I
hadn’t shot nothing; it was for protection;
thought I would kill some game nigh home. About
this time I mighty near stepped on a good-sized snake,
and it went sliding off through the grass and flowers,
and I after it, trying to get a shot at it. I
clipped along, and all of a sudden I bounded right
on to the ashes of a camp fire that was still smoking.
My heart jumped up amongst my lungs.
I never waited for to look further, but uncocked
my gun and went sneaking back on my tiptoes as fast
as ever I could. Every now and then I stopped
a second amongst the thick leaves and listened, but
my breath come so hard I couldn’t hear nothing
else. I slunk along another piece further, then
listened again; and so on, and so on. If I see
a stump, I took it for a man; if I trod on a stick
and broke it, it made me feel like a person had cut
one of my breaths in two and I only got half, and
the short half, too.
When I got to camp I warn’t
feeling very brash, there warn’t much sand in
my craw; but I says, this ain’t no time to be
fooling around. So I got all my traps into my
canoe again so as to have them out of sight, and I
put out the fire and scattered the ashes around to
look like an old last year’s camp, and then
clumb a tree.
I reckon I was up in the tree two
hours; but I didn’t see nothing, I didn’t
hear nothing I only thought I heard
and seen as much as a thousand things. Well,
I couldn’t stay up there forever; so at last
I got down, but I kept in the thick woods and on the
lookout all the time. All I could get to eat
was berries and what was left over from breakfast.
By the time it was night I was pretty
hungry. So when it was good and dark I slid
out from shore before moonrise and paddled over to
the Illinois bank about a quarter of a
mile. I went out in the woods and cooked a supper,
and I had about made up my mind I would stay there
all night when I hear a PLUNKETY-Plunk, PLUNKETY-Plunk,
and says to myself, horses coming; and next I hear
people’s voices. I got everything into
the canoe as quick as I could, and then went creeping
through the woods to see what I could find out.
I hadn’t got far when I hear a man say:
“We better camp here if we can
find a good place; the horses is about beat out.
Let’s look around.”
I didn’t wait, but shoved out
and paddled away easy. I tied up in the old
place, and reckoned I would sleep in the canoe.
I didn’t sleep much. I
couldn’t, somehow, for thinking. And every
time I waked up I thought somebody had me by the neck.
So the sleep didn’t do me no good. By
and by I says to myself, I can’t live this way;
I’m a-going to find out who it is that’s
here on the island with me; I’ll find it out
or bust. Well, I felt better right off.
So I took my paddle and slid out from
shore just a step or two, and then let the canoe drop
along down amongst the shadows. The moon was
shining, and outside of the shadows it made it most
as light as day. I poked along well on to an
hour, everything still as rocks and sound asleep.
Well, by this time I was most down to the foot of the
island. A little ripply, cool breeze begun to
blow, and that was as good as saying the night was
about done. I give her a turn with the paddle
and brung her nose to shore; then I got my gun and
slipped out and into the edge of the woods.
I sat down there on a log, and looked out through the
leaves. I see the moon go off watch, and the
darkness begin to blanket the river. But in a
little while I see a pale streak over the treetops,
and knowed the day was coming. So I took my
gun and slipped off towards where I had run across
that camp fire, stopping every minute or two to listen.
But I hadn’t no luck somehow; I couldn’t
seem to find the place. But by and by, sure
enough, I catched a glimpse of fire away through the
trees. I went for it, cautious and slow.
By and by I was close enough to have a look, and
there laid a man on the ground. It most give
me the fan-tods. He had a blanket around his
head, and his head was nearly in the fire. I
set there behind a clump of bushes, in about six foot
of him, and kept my eyes on him steady. It was
getting gray daylight now. Pretty soon he gapped
and stretched himself and hove off the blanket, and
it was Miss Watson’s Jim! I bet I was
glad to see him. I says:
“Hello, Jim!” and skipped out.
He bounced up and stared at me wild.
Then he drops down on his knees, and puts his hands
together and says:
“Doan’ hurt me don’t!
I hain’t ever done no harm to a ghos’.
I alwuz liked dead people, en done all I could for
’em. You go en git in de river agin, whah
you b’longs, en doan’ do nuffn to Olé
Jim, ’at ’uz awluz yo’ fren’.”
Well, I warn’t long making him
understand I warn’t dead. I was ever so
glad to see Jim. I warn’t lonesome now.
I told him I warn’t afraid of him telling
the people where I was. I talked along, but he
only set there and looked at me; never said nothing.
Then I says:
“It’s good daylight.
Le’s get breakfast. Make up your camp
“What’s de use er makin’
up de camp fire to cook strawbries en sich truck?
But you got a gun, hain’t you? Den we kin
git sumfn better den strawbries.”
“Strawberries and such truck,”
I says. “Is that what you live on?”
“I couldn’ git nuffn else,” he says.
“Why, how long you been on the island, Jim?”
“I come heah de night arter you’s killed.”
“What, all that time?”
“And ain’t you had nothing but that kind
of rubbage to eat?”
“No, sah nuffn else.”
“Well, you must be most starved, ain’t
“I reck’n I could eat
a hoss. I think I could. How long you ben
on de islan’?”
“Since the night I got killed.”
“No! W’y, what has
you lived on? But you got a gun. Oh, yes,
you got a gun. Dat’s good. Now you
kill sumfn en I’ll make up de fire.”
So we went over to where the canoe
was, and while he built a fire in a grassy open place
amongst the trees, I fetched meal and bacon and coffee,
and coffee-pot and frying-pan, and sugar and tin cups,
and the nigger was set back considerable, because
he reckoned it was all done with witchcraft.
I catched a good big catfish, too, and Jim cleaned
him with his knife, and fried him.
When breakfast was ready we lolled
on the grass and eat it smoking hot. Jim laid
it in with all his might, for he was most about starved.
Then when we had got pretty well stuffed, we laid
off and lazied. By and by Jim says:
“But looky here, Huck, who wuz
it dat ’uz killed in dat shanty ef it warn’t
Then I told him the whole thing, and
he said it was smart. He said Tom Sawyer couldn’t
get up no better plan than what I had. Then I
“How do you come to be here, Jim, and how’d
you get here?”
He looked pretty uneasy, and didn’t
say nothing for a minute. Then he says:
“Maybe I better not tell.”
“Well, dey’s reasons.
But you wouldn’ tell on me ef I uz to tell you,
would you, Huck?”
“Blamed if I would, Jim.”
“Well, I b’lieve you, Huck. I I
“But mind, you said you wouldn’
tell you know you said you wouldn’
“Well, I did. I said I
wouldn’t, and I’ll stick to it. Honest
injun, I will. People would call me a low-down
Abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum but
that don’t make no difference. I ain’t
a-going to tell, and I ain’t a-going back there,
anyways. So, now, le’s know all about
“Well, you see, it ’uz
dis way. Olé missus dat’s
Miss Watson she pecks on me all de time,
en treats me pooty rough, but she awluz said she wouldn’
sell me down to Orleans. But I noticed dey wuz
a nigger trader roun’ de place considable lately,
en I begin to git oneasy. Well, one night I
creeps to de do’ pooty late, en de do’
warn’t quite shet, en I hear old missus tell
de widder she gwyne to sell me down to Orleans, but
she didn’ want to, but she could git eight hund’d
dollars for me, en it ‘uz sich a big stack
o’ money she couldn’ resis’.
De widder she try to git her to say she wouldn’
do it, but I never waited to hear de res’.
I lit out mighty quick, I tell you.
“I tuck out en shin down de
hill, en ’spec to steal a skift ‘long de
sho’ som’ers ’bove de town, but
dey wuz people a-stirring yit, so I hid in de olé
tumble-down cooper-shop on de bank to wait for everybody
to go ’way. Well, I wuz dah all night.
Dey wuz somebody roun’ all de time. ’Long
‘bout six in de mawnin’ skifts begin to
go by, en ’bout eight er nine every skift dat
went ‘long wuz talkin’ ‘bout how
yo’ pap come over to de town en say you’s
killed. Dese las’ skifts wuz full o’
ladies en genlmen a-goin’ over for to see de
place. Sometimes dey’d pull up at de sho’
en take a res’ b’fo’ dey started
acrost, so by de talk I got to know all ‘bout
de killin’. I ’uz powerful sorry
you’s killed, Huck, but I ain’t no mo’
“I laid dah under de shavin’s
all day. I ’uz hungry, but I warn’t
afeard; bekase I knowed olé missus en de widder
wuz goin’ to start to de camp-meet’n’
right arter breakfas’ en be gone all day, en
dey knows I goes off wid de cattle ‘bout daylight,
so dey wouldn’ ’spec to see me roun’
de place, en so dey wouldn’ miss me tell arter
dark in de evenin’. De yuther servants
wouldn’ miss me, kase dey’d shin out en
take holiday soon as de olé folks ’uz
out’n de way.
“Well, when it come dark I tuck
out up de river road, en went ’bout two mile
er more to whah dey warn’t no houses. I’d
made up my mine ’bout what I’s agwyne
to do. You see, ef I kep’ on tryin’
to git away afoot, de dogs ’ud track me; ef
I stole a skift to cross over, dey’d miss dat
skift, you see, en dey’d know ‘bout whah
I’d lan’ on de yuther side, en whah to
pick up my track. So I says, a raff is what I’s
arter; it doan’ make no track.
“I see a light a-comin’
roun’ de p’int bymeby, so I wade’
in en shove’ a log ahead o’ me en swum
more’n half way acrost de river, en got in ‘mongst
de drift-wood, en kep’ my head down low, en kinder
swum agin de current tell de raff come along.
Den I swum to de stern uv it en tuck a-holt.
It clouded up en ’uz pooty dark for a little
while. So I clumb up en laid down on de planks.
De men ’uz all ’way yonder in de middle,
whah de lantern wuz. De river wuz a-risin’,
en dey wuz a good current; so I reck’n’d
‘at by fo’ in de mawnin’ I’d
be twenty-five mile down de river, en den I’d
slip in jis b’fo’ daylight en swim asho’,
en take to de woods on de Illinois side.
“But I didn’ have no luck.
When we ‘uz mos’ down to de head er de
islan’ a man begin to come aft wid de lantern,
I see it warn’t no use fer to wait,
so I slid overboard en struck out fer de islan’.
Well, I had a notion I could lan’ mos’
anywhers, but I couldn’t bank too
bluff. I ’uz mos’ to de foot er
de islan’ b’fo’ I found’ a
good place. I went into de woods en jedged I
wouldn’ fool wid raffs no mo’, long as
dey move de lantern roun’ so. I had my
pipe en a plug er dog-leg, en some matches in my cap,
en dey warn’t wet, so I ’uz all right.”
“And so you ain’t had
no meat nor bread to eat all this time? Why didn’t
you get mud-turkles?”
“How you gwyne to git ’m?
You can’t slip up on um en grab um;
en how’s a body gwyne to hit um wid a rock?
How could a body do it in de night? En I warn’t
gwyne to show mysef on de bank in de daytime.”
“Well, that’s so.
You’ve had to keep in the woods all the time,
of course. Did you hear ’em shooting the
“Oh, yes. I knowed dey
was arter you. I see um go by heah watched
um thoo de bushes.”
Some young birds come along, flying
a yard or two at a time and lighting. Jim said
it was a sign it was going to rain. He said it
was a sign when young chickens flew that way, and
so he reckoned it was the same way when young birds
done it. I was going to catch some of them, but
Jim wouldn’t let me. He said it was death.
He said his father laid mighty sick once, and some
of them catched a bird, and his old granny said his
father would die, and he did.
And Jim said you mustn’t count
the things you are going to cook for dinner, because
that would bring bad luck. The same if you shook
the table-cloth after sundown. And he said if
a man owned a beehive and that man died, the bees
must be told about it before sun-up next morning, or
else the bees would all weaken down and quit work and
die. Jim said bees wouldn’t sting idiots;
but I didn’t believe that, because I had tried
them lots of times myself, and they wouldn’t
I had heard about some of these things
before, but not all of them. Jim knowed all
kinds of signs. He said he knowed most everything.
I said it looked to me like all the signs was about
bad luck, and so I asked him if there warn’t
any good-luck signs. He says:
“Mighty few an’
dey ain’t no use to a body. What you
want to know when good luck’s a-comin’
for? Want to keep it off?” And he said:
“Ef you’s got hairy arms en a hairy breas’,
it’s a sign dat you’s agwyne to be rich.
Well, dey’s some use in a sign like dat, ’kase
it’s so fur ahead. You see, maybe you’s
got to be po’ a long time fust, en so you
might git discourage’ en kill yo’sef ‘f
you didn’ know by de sign dat you gwyne to be
“Have you got hairy arms and a hairy breast,
“What’s de use to ax dat question?
Don’t you see I has?”
“Well, are you rich?”
“No, but I ben rich wunst,
and gwyne to be rich agin. Wunst I had foteen
dollars, but I tuck to specalat’n’, en
got busted out.”
“What did you speculate in, Jim?”
“Well, fust I tackled stock.”
“What kind of stock?”
“Why, live stock cattle,
you know. I put ten dollars in a cow. But
I ain’ gwyne to resk no mo’ money in stock.
De cow up ‘n’ died on my han’s.”
“So you lost the ten dollars.”
“No, I didn’t lose it
all. I on’y los’ ’bout nine
of it. I sole de hide en taller for a dollar
en ten cents.”
“You had five dollars and ten cents left.
Did you speculate any more?”
“Yes. You know that one-laigged
nigger dat b’longs to old Misto Bradish?
Well, he sot up a bank, en say anybody dat put in a
dollar would git fo’ dollars mo’ at de
en’ er de year. Well, all de niggers went
in, but dey didn’t have much. I wuz de
on’y one dat had much. So I stuck out for
mo’ dan fo’ dollars, en I said ‘f
I didn’ git it I’d start a bank mysef.
Well, o’ course dat nigger want’ to keep
me out er de business, bekase he says dey warn’t
business ’nough for two banks, so he say I could
put in my five dollars en he pay me thirty-five at
de en’ er de year.
“So I done it. Den I reck’n’d
I’d inves’ de thirty-five dollars right
off en keep things a-movin’. Dey wuz a
nigger name’ Bob, dat had ketched a wood-flat,
en his marster didn’ know it; en I bought it
off’n him en told him to take de thirty-five
dollars when de en’ er de year come; but somebody
stole de wood-flat dat night, en nex day de one-laigged
nigger say de bank’s busted. So dey didn’
none uv us git no money.”
“What did you do with the ten cents, Jim?”
“Well, I ‘uz gwyne to
spen’ it, but I had a dream, en de dream tole
me to give it to a nigger name’ Balum Balum’s
Ass dey call him for short; he’s one er
dem chuckleheads, you know. But he’s
lucky, dey say, en I see I warn’t lucky.
De dream say let Balum inves’ de ten cents en
he’d make a raise for me. Well, Balum
he tuck de money, en when he wuz in church he hear
de preacher say dat whoever give to de po’
len’ to de Lord, en boun’ to git
his money back a hund’d times. So Balum
he tuck en give de ten cents to de po’,
en laid low to see what wuz gwyne to come of it.”
“Well, what did come of it, Jim?”
“Nuffn never come of it.
I couldn’ manage to k’leck dat money no
way; en Balum he couldn’. I ain’
gwyne to len’ no mo’ money ’dout
I see de security. Boun’ to git yo’
money back a hund’d times, de preacher says!
Ef I could git de ten cents back, I’d call
it squah, en be glad er de chanst.”
“Well, it’s all right
anyway, Jim, long as you’re going to be rich
again some time or other.”
“Yes; en I’s rich now,
come to look at it. I owns mysef, en I’s
wuth eight hund’d dollars. I wisht I had
de money, I wouldn’ want no mo’.”