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out; how they sat there and cried for gladness; how some men came along in a
skiff and Tom hailed them and told them their situation and their famished
condition; how the men didn’t believe the wild tale at first, “because,” said they,
“you are five miles down the river below the valley the cave is in”- then took
them aboard, rowed to a house, gave them supper, made them rest till two or
three hours, after dark and then brought them home.
Before day-dawn, Judge Thatcher and the handful of searchers with him were
tracked out, in the cave, by the twine clues they had strung behind them, and
informed of the great news.
Three days and nights of toil and hunger in the cave were not to be shaken off at
once, as Tom and Becky soon discovered. They were bedridden all of
Wednesday and Thursday, and seemed to grow more and more tired and worn,
all the time. Tom got about, a little, on Thursday, was downtown Friday, and
nearly as whole as ever Saturday; but Becky did not leave her room until
Sunday, and then she looked as if she had passed through a wasting illness.
Tom learned of Huck’s sickness and went to see him on Friday, but could not be
admitted to the bedroom; neither could he on Saturday or Sunday. He was
admitted daily after that, but was warned to keep still about his adventure and
introduce no exciting topic. The widow Douglas stayed by to see that he obeyed.
At home Tom learned of the Cardiff Hill event; also that the “ragged man’s”
body had eventually been found in the river near the ferry landing; he had been
drowned while trying to escape, perhaps.
About a fortnight after Tom’s rescue from the cave, he started off to visit Huck,
who had grown plenty strong enough, now, to hear exciting talk, and Tom had
some that would interest him, he thought. Judge Thatcher’s house was on Tom’s
way, and he stopped to see Becky. The Judge and some friends set Tom to
talking, and some one asked him ironically if he wouldn’t like to go to the cave
again. Tom said yes, he thought he wouldn’t mind it. The judge said: “Well,
there are others just like you, Tom, I’ve not the least doubt. But we have taken
care of that. Nobody will get lost in that cave any more.” “Why?” “Because I had
its big door sheathed with boiler iron two weeks ago, and triple-locked-and I’ve
got the keys.” Tom turned as white as a sheet.
“What’s the matter, boy! Here, run, somebody! Fetch a glass of water!” The
water was brought and thrown into Tom’s face.
“Ah, now you’re all right. What was the matter with you, Tom?” “O, judge,
Injun Joe’s in the cave!”
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