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Trembling on the Trail
THE ADVENTURE OF THE DAY mightily tormented Tom’s dreams that night.
Four times he had his hands on that rich treasure and four times it wasted to
nothingness in his fingers as sleep forsook him and wakefulness brought back
the hard reality of his misfortune. As he lay in the early morning recalling the
incidents of his great adventure, he noticed that they seemed curiously subdued
and far away-somewhat as if they had happened in another world, or in a time
long gone by. Then it occurred to him that the great adventure itself must be a
dream! There was one very strong argument in favor of this idea-namely, that
the quantity of coin he had seen was too vast to be real. He had never seen as
much as fifty dollars in one mass before, and he was like all boys of his age and
station in life, in that he imagined that all references to “hundreds” and
“thousands” were mere fanciful forms of speech, and that no such sums really
existed in the world.
He never had supposed for a moment that so large a sum as a hundred dollars
was to be found in actual money in anyone’s possession. If his notions of hidden
treasure had been analyzed, they would have been found to consist of a handful
of real dimes and a bushel of vague, splendid, ungraspable dollars.
But the incidents of his adventure grew sensibly sharper and clearer under the
attrition of thinking them over, and so he presently found himself leaning to the
impression that the thing might not have been a dream, after all. This
uncertainty must be swept away. He would snatch a hurried breakfast and go
and find Huck.
Huck was sitting on the gunwale of a flatboat, listlessly dangling his feet in the
water and looking very melancholy. Tom concluded to let Huck lead up to the
subject. If he did not do it, then the adventure would be proved to have been
only a dream.
“Hello, Huck!” “Hello, yourself.” [Silence, for a minute.] “Tom, if we’d a left the
blame tools at the dead tree, we’d ‘a’ got the money.
O, ain’t it awful!” “’Tain’t a dream, then, ‘tain’t a dream! Somehow I most wish
it was. Dog’d if I don’t, Huck.” “What ain’t a dream?” “O, that thing yesterday. I
been half thinking it was.” “Dream! If them stairs hadn’t broke down you’d ‘a’
seen how much dream it was! I’ve had dreams enough all night-with that patch-
eyed Spanish devil going for me all through ‘em-rot him!” “No, not rot him.
Find him! Track the money!”
“Tom, we’ll never find him. A feller don’t have only one chance for such a pile-
and that one’s lost. I’d feel mighty shaky if I was to see him, anyway.” “Well,
so’d I; but I’d like to see him, anyway-and track him out-to his Number Two.”
“Number Two-yes, that’s it. I ben thinking ‘bout that. But I can’t make nothing
out of it. What do you reckon it is?” “I dono. It’s too deep. Say, Huck-maybe it’s
the number of a house!” “Goody!...... No, Tom, that ain’t it. If it is, it ain’t in this
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