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Respectable Huck Joins the Gang
THE READER MAY REST SATISFIED that Tom’s and Huck’s windfall made a
mighty stir in the poor little village of St. Petersburg. So vast a sum, all in actual
cash, seemed next to incredible. It was talked about, gloated over, glorified, until
the reason of many of the citizens tottered under the strain of the unhealthy
excitement. Every “haunted” house in St. Petersburg and the neighboring
villages was dissected, plank by plank, and its foundations dug up and
ransacked for hidden treasure-and not by boys, but men-pretty grave,
unromantic men, too, some of them. Wherever Tom and Huck appeared they
were courted, admired, stared at.
The boys were not able to remember that their remarks had possessed weight
before; but now their sayings were treasured and repeated; everything they did
seemed somehow to be regarded as remarkable; they had evidently lost the
power of doing and saying commonplace things; moreover, their past history
was raked up and discovered to bear marks of conspicuous originality. The
village paper published biographical sketches of the boys.
The widow Douglas put Huck’s money out at six per cent, and Judge Thatcher
did the same with Tom’s at Aunt Polly’s request. Each lad had an income, now,
that was simply prodigious-a dollar for every week-day in the year and half of
the Sundays. It was just what the minister got-no, it was what he was promised-
he generally couldn’t collect it. A dollar and a quarter a week would board,
lodge and school a boy in those old simple days-and clothe him and wash him,
too, for that matter.
Judge Thatcher had conceived a great opinion of Tom. He said that no
commonplace boy would ever have got his daughter out of the cave. When
Becky told her father, in strict confidence, how Tom had taken her whipping at
school, the Judge was visibly moved; and when she pleaded grace for the
mighty lie which Tom had told in order to shift that whipping from her
shoulders to his own, the Judge said with a fine outburst that it was a noble, a
generous, a magnanimous liea lie that was worthy to hold up its head and march
down through history breast to breast with George Washington’s lauded Truth
about the hatchet! Becky thought her father had never looked so tall and so
superb as when he walked the floor and stamped his foot and said that. She
went straight off and told Tom about it.
Judge Thatcher hoped to see Tom a great lawyer or a great soldier some day.
He said he meant to look to it that Tom should be admitted to the National
Military Academy and afterwards trained in the best law school in the country,
in order that he might be ready for either career or both.
Huck Finn’s wealth and the fact that he was now under the widow Douglas’s
protection, introduced him into society-no, dragged him into it, hurled him into
itand his sufferings were almost more then he could bear. The widow’s servants
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