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Aunt Polly also. Judge Thatcher sent messages of hope and encouragement from
the cave, but they conveyed no real cheer.

The old Welchman came home toward daylight, spattered with candle grease,
smeared with clay, and almost worn out. He found Huck still in the bed that had
been provided for him, and delirious with fever. The physicians were all at the
cave, so the Widow Douglas came and took charge of the patient. She said she
would do her best by him, because, whether he was good, bad, or indifferent, he
was the Lord’s, and nothing that was the Lord’s was a thing to be neglected. The
Welchman said Huck had good spots in him, and the widow said“You can
depend on it. That’s the Lord’s mark. He don’t leave it off. He never does. Puts it
somewhere on every creature that comes from His hands.” Early in the forenoon
parties of jaded men began to straggle into the village, but the strongest of the
citizens continued searching. All the news that could be gained was that
remotenesses of the cavern were being ransacked that had never been visited
before; that every corner and crevice was going to be thoroughly searched; that
wherever one wandered through the maze of passages, lights were to be seen
flitting hither and thither in the distance, and shoutings and pistol shots sent
their hollow reverberations to the ear down the somber aisles. In one place, far
from the section usually traversed by tourists, the names “BECKY & TOM” had
been found traced upon the rocky wall with candle smoke, and near at hand a
grease-soiled bit of ribbon. Mrs. Thatcher recognized the ribbon and cried over

She said it was the last relic she should ever have of her child; and that no other
memorial of her could ever be so precious, because this one parted latest from
the living body before the awful death came. Some said that now and then, in
the cave, a far-away speck of light would glimmer, and then a glorious shout
would burst forth and a score of men go trooping down the echoing aisle-and
then a sickening disappointment always followed; the children were not there; it
was only a searcher’s light.

Three dreadful days and nights dragged their tedious hours along, and the
village sank into a hopeless stupor. No one had heart for anything. The
accidental discovery, just made, that the proprietor of the Temperance Tavern
kept liquor on his premises, scarcely fluttered the public pulse, tremendous as
the fact was. In a lucid interval, Huck feebly led up to the subject of taverns, and
finally askeddimly dreading the worst-if anything had been discovered at the
Temperance Tavern since he had been ill? “Yes.” said the widow.

Huck started up in bed, wild-eyed: “What! What was it?” “Liquor!- and the
place has been shut up. Lie down, child-what a turn you did give me!” “Only
tell me just one thing-only just one-please! Was it Tom Sawyer that found it?”
The widow burst into tears.

“Hush, hush, child, hush! I’ve told you before, you must not talk. You are very,
very sick!”

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