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In this chapter the question of lying will come up again. You remember that Huck gave up $6000 to avoid having to tell his father a lie. In this chapter you'll see him concoct tales about himself with all the confidence of an experienced artist painting a portrait.
He not only has no qualms about telling such lies, he seems to enjoy it (and he's very good at it, besides). As you read the chapter, think about his apparently contradictory attitude toward telling the truth.
He goes into the woman's house and presents himself as a girl on her way to her uncle's house at the other end of town. He gets the woman to talking, and when she finally gets around to the stuff that matters, he learns that Pap has disappeared and that Jim is a prime suspect in Huck's murder. Worse than that, the woman has seen campfire smoke on Jackson's Island. Her husband is planning to go there with a friend late that night to hunt for the runaway slave and collect the reward.
In his nervousness over hearing this news, Huck starts fooling with the woman's sewing equipment. She watches him try to thread a needle, and the way he does it makes her suspicious. She then comes up with two other "tests" for Huck, and the way he reacts convinces her she's talking to a boy, not a girl.
Has Huck's real identity been discovered? Huck is too quick witted to let that happen. He admits that the woman is right, but makes up a sad story about the terrible events that led him to try this disguise. The woman not only believes him; she offers him some advice on how to act more like a girl, and she prepares a snack for him to have on the rest of his trip. (You'll have to decide for yourself on the reliability of the woman's tests for the differences between males and females.)
As soon as Huck's out of the woman's sight, he races to the canoe and paddles back to the island. He stops first at the north end and lights a campfire to attract the men who will be looking for Jim. Then he goes to the south end and rouses Jim.
When Huck says "They're after us!," Jim acts quickly, without asking questions. They pack everything they own on the raft, push it out, and silently leave the island. Their long journey down the Mississippi River has begun.