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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 27: Dead Peter Has His Gold
Huck creeps down the stairs to go out and hide the gold. He finds the front door locked and wonders what he should do. When he hears a noise behind him, he goes into the parlor with Peter Wilks’ coffin. Finding no better hiding place, he drops the bag of gold in the coffin. Going upstairs, he thinks about writing a letter to Mary Jane to tell her where to find the gold. The funeral takes place the next day without the missing bag of gold being discovered.
The day after the funeral, the girls receive their first jolt. Slave traders come and buy their servants, a transaction handled by the Dauphin. Huck keeps mum because he knows that the sale is not valid, and the slaves can be returned to the farm in a few days. The next day, the Dauphin decides to hold an auction to sell the farm.
Huck is awakened by the noise of the Dauphin, and he immediately realizes that the two frauds have come to know that the bag of gold is missing. Huck is asked whether he has been anywhere near the room or has seen anybody going in there. After thinking for a minute, Huck replies that he has seen the servants go in several times. The Duke and Dauphin assume the Negroes have stolen the money and are furious with themselves because they did not adequately safeguard the gold. The clever Huck is happy that he has shifted the blame to the black servants, who are no longer around to be hurt by his insinuation.
In this chapter, Huck plans to hide the stolen moneybag outside the house, but has to change his plans in haste when he hears a noise. Huck’s quick thinking comes to his aid, and he successfully hides the money in Peter Wilks’ coffin. It is buried with the body the next day. When the Duke and Dauphin discover that the money is missing after the funeral, they question Huck. He insinuates that the servants have probably stolen the gold, since he has seen them go in and out of the room several times. Once again, Huck shows his quick thinking to shift the blame away from himself. He is glad that the servants are not around to be punished.
The total baseness of the Dauphin is clearly shown again in this chapter. He arranges to sell the servants and plans to auction the house, both of which belong to the three nieces. Of course, his plan is to steal the money from the proceeds, leaving the Wilks’ girls destitute and with no way to earn a living in the frontier town.
Readers reacted adversely to some of the objectionable scenes in the novel when it first appeared. They claimed that Twain’s strong satire and blunt realism hurt their sensibility. One of the scenes to which there were strong objections was the funeral. The readers felt that Twain had reduced a serious and solemn event to a melodrama. Today, Twain’s satiric depictions, including the funeral, have become classic.