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Chapter 29

Huck Saves the Widow

THE FIRST THING Tom heard on Friday morning was a glad piece of
newsJudge Thatcher’s family had come back to town the night before. Both Injun
Joe and the treasure sunk into secondary importance for a moment, and Becky
took the chief place in the boy’s interest. He saw her and they had an exhausting
good time playing “hi-spy” and “gully-keeper” with a crowd of their
schoolmates. The day was completed and crowned in a peculiarly satisfactory
way: Becky teased her mother to appoint the next day for the long-promised and
long-delayed picnic, and she consented. The child’s delight was boundless; and
Tom’s not more moderate. The invitations were sent out before sunset, and
straightway the young folks of the village were thrown into a fever of
preparation and pleasurable anticipation. Tom’s excitement enabled him to keep
awake until a pretty late hour, and he had good hopes of hearing Huck’s
“meow,” and of having his treasure to astonish Becky and the picnickers with,
next day; but he was disappointed. No signal came that night.

Morning came, eventually, and by ten or eleven o’clock a giddy and rollicking
company were gathered at Judge Thatcher’s, and everything was ready for a
start. It was not the custom for elderly people to mar picnics with their presence.
The children were considered safe enough under the wings of a few young
ladies of eighteen and a few young gentlemen of twenty-three or thereabouts.
The old steam ferry boat was chartered for the occasion; presently the gay throng
filed up the main street laden with provision baskets. Sid was sick and had to
miss the fun; Mary remained at home to entertain him. The last thing Mrs.
Thatcher said to Becky, was“You’ll not get back till late. Perhaps you’d better
stay all night with some of the girls that live near the ferry landing, child.”
“Then I’ll stay with Susy Harper, mamma.” “Very well. And mind and behave
yourself and don’t be any trouble.” Presently, as they tripped along, Tom said to
Becky: “Say-I’ll tell you what we’ll do. ‘Stead of going to Joe Harper’s we’ll
climb right up the hill and stop at the Widow Douglas’s. She’ll have ice cream!
She has it ‘most every day-dead loads of it. And she’ll be awful glad to have
us.” “O, that will be fun!” Then Becky reflected a moment and said: “But what
will mamma say?” “How’ll she ever know?” The girl turned the idea over in her
mind, and said reluctantly: “I reckon it’s wrong-but-”

“But shucks! Your mother won’t know, and so what’s the harm? All she wants is
that you’ll be safe; and I bet you she’d ‘a’ said go there if she’d ‘a’ thought of it. I
know she would!” The widow Douglas’s splendid hospitality was a tempting
bait. It and Tom’s persuasions presently carried the day. So it was decided to say
nothing to anybody about the night’s programme. Presently it occurred to Tom
that maybe Huck might come this very night and give the signal. The thought
took a deal of the spirit out of his anticipations. Still he could not bear to give up
the fun at Widow Douglas’s. And why should he give it up, he reasoned-the

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