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THE STORY - CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
The story of Injun Joe speeds up in this chapter. It also picks up some complications enough to add to the suspense and keep you turning pages.
The next day, the boys meet at the dead tree to collect their tools. They are about to traipse off to a nearby haunted house when Huck remembers that it's Friday-an unlucky day. Huck remembers that the night before he dreamed about rats-a sign, to the superstitious, that the dreamer has secret enemies.
Tom and Huck quickly change their plans. They play Robin Hood all afternoon and return for their tools on Saturday. They smoke and do a little more digging-something that will cause problems later-then head for the haunted house. They are upstairs exploring when two men enter. The boys watch them through the holes in the floor. They recognize one as a deaf and dumb Spaniard who has recently visited the town. But the Spaniard is really Injun Joe, something the boys realize as soon as he speaks.
The two men have planned a "dangerous job," and Injun Joe wants his partner to go "up the river" until the time is right to pull it off. After a lengthy nap, Injun Joe digs a hole in a corner to bury their "swag" (stolen money) in. While digging, his knife strikes a chest full of gold coins. The stranger guesses that the chest was left by a gang led by John A. Murrell (misspelled by Twain as Murrel), an outlaw whose bloody exploits were well known to children growing up along the Mississippi during the 1840s.
With all that money, the stranger suggests that they won't have to do the "job" they'd planned. Injun Joe disagrees. His goal is not just robbery but revenge.
NOTE: INJUN JOE'S MOTIVE
Revenge is a common motive in this novel. Tom pays Sid back for tattling and vows to avenge Becky's snub. Becky lets Tom get whipped for something he didn't do in order to avenge a deed she expects him to commit. The smaller students take vengeance on Mr. Dobbins by baring his gilded head. And Injun Joe, who murdered Dr. Robinson to avenge an old slight, now plans another vengeful act-one that will be described in Chapter 29.
To Tom and Huck's distress, Injun Joe decides not to leave the treasure in the house. Fresh dirt on the boys' tools has made him suspicious. He'll take the booty to his "den": "Number Two- under the cross. The other place [Number One]," he says, "is bad-too common." These clues are not explained further, but you can be sure you'll discover their meaning later on.
NOTE: "BY THE GREAT SACHEM"
Injun Joe swears "by the great Sachem" that he won't rebury the treasure in the house. A sachem was the chief of some American Indian tribes and tribal confederations. In effect, Joe is saying something like, "Good Lord no!" Why might it seem appropriate for Injun Joe to use the word Sachem instead of Lord or God? How might its use suggest that Joe doesn't share the religious values of the people of St. Petersburg?
Injun Joe begins to climb the stairs to see if the pick's owner is on the second floor. But the rotten staircase crumbles beneath his weight. Before dark, he and his crony leave the house and head "toward the river" with the treasure.
The boys curse the fact that they brought their dirty tools into the house and made Injun Joe suspicious enough to remove the treasure. They resolve to keep watch out for him and follow him to "Number Two," wherever that might be.