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CHAPTER SIX (continued)
I got the things all up to the cabin, and then it was about dark. While I was cooking supper the old man took a swig or two and got sort of warmed up, and went to ripping again. He had been drunk over in town, and laid in the gutter all night, and he was a sight to look at. A body would a thought he was Adam, he was just all mud. Whenever his liquor begun to work, he most always went for the govment. This time he says: ďCall this a govment! why, just look at it and see what itís like. Hereís the law astanding ready to take a manís son away from him-a manís own son, which he has had all the trouble and all the anxiety and all the expense of raising. Yes, just as that man has got that son raised at last, and ready to go to work and begin to do suthiní for him and give him a rest, the law up and goes for him. And they call that govment! That ainít all, nuther. The law backs that old Judge Thatcher up and helps him to keep me out oí my property. Hereís what the law does. The law takes a man worth six thousand dollars and upards, and jams him into an old trap of a cabin like this, and lets him go round in clothes that ainít fitten for a hog.
They call that govment! A man canít get his rights in a govment like this. Sometimes Iíve a mighty notion to just leave the country for good and all. Yes, and I told Ďem so; I told old Thatcher so to his face. Lots of Ďem heard me, and can tell what I said. Says I, for two cents Iíd leave the blamed country and never come anear it agin. Themís the very words. I says, look at my hat-if you call it a hatbut the lid raises up and the rest of it goes down till itís below my chin, and then it ainít rightly a hat at all, but more like my head was shoved up through a jint oí stove-pipe. Look at it, says I-such a hat for me to wear-one of the wealthiest men in this town, if I could git my rights.
ďOh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here. There was a free nigger there, from Ohio; a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the shiniest hat; and there ainít a man in that town thatís got as fine clothes as what he had; and he had a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane-the awfulest old gray-headed nabob in the State. And what do you think? they said he was a pífessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ainít the wust. They said he could vote, when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was Ďlection day, and I was just about to go and vote, myself, if I warnít too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where theyíd let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says Iíll never vote agin. Themís the very words I said; they all heard me; and the country may rot for all me-Iíll never vote agin as long as I live. And to see the cool way of that nigger-why, he wouldnít a give me the road if I hadnít shoved him out oí the way. I says to the people, why ainít this nigger put up at auction and sold-thatís what I want to know. And what do you reckon they said? Why, they said he couldnít be sold till heíd been in the State six months, and he hadnít been there that long yet. There, now-thatís a specimen.
They call that a govment that canít sell a free nigger till heís been in the State six months. Hereís a govment that calls itself a govment, and lets on to be a govment, and thinks it is a govment, and yetís got to set stock-still for six whole months before it can take ahold of a prowling, thieving, infernal, white-shirted nigger, and-Ē Pap was agoing on so, he never noticed where his old limber legs was taking him to, so he went head over heels over the tub of salt pork, and barked both shins, and the rest of his speech was all the hottest kind of language-mostly hove at the nigger and the govment, though he give the tub some, too, all along, here and there. He hopped around the cabin considerable, first on one leg and then on the other, holding first one shin and then the other one, and at last he let out with his left foot all of a sudden and fetched the tub a rattling kick. But it warnít good judgment, because that was the boot that had a couple of his toes leaking out of the front end of it; so now he raised a howl that fairly made a bodyís hair raise, and down he went in the dirt, and rolled there, and held his toes; and the cussing he done then laid over anything he had ever done previous. He said so his own self, afterwards. He had heard old Sowberry Hagan in his best days, and he said it laid over him, too; but I reckon that was sort of piling it on, maybe.
After supper pap took the jug, and said he had enough whisky there for two drunks and one delirium tremens. That was always his word. I judged he would be blind drunk in about an hour, and then I would steal the key, or saw myself out, one or Ďtother. He drank, and drank, and tumbled down on his blankets, byand-by; but luck didnít run my way. He didnít go sound asleep, but was uneasy.
He groaned, and moaned, and thrashed around this way and that, for a long time. At last I got so sleepy I couldnít keep my eyes open, all I could do, and so before I knowed what I was about I was sound asleep, and the candle burning.
I donít know how long I was asleep, but all of a sudden there was an awful scream and I was up. There was pap, looking wild and skipping around every which way and yelling about snakes. He said they was crawling up his legs; and then he would give a jump and scream, and say one had bit him on the cheek-but I couldnít see no snakes. He started and run round and round the cabin, hollering ďtake him off! take him off! heís biting me on the neck!Ē I never see a man look so wild in the eyes. Pretty soon he was all fagged out, and fell down panting; then he rolled over and over, wonderful fast, kicking things every which way, and striking and grabbing at the air with his hands, and screaming, and saying there was devils ahold of him. He wore out, by-andby, and laid still a while, moaning.
Then he laid stiller, and didnít make a sound. I could hear the owls and the wolves, away off in the woods, and it seemed terrible still. He was laying over by the corner. By-and-by he raised up, part way, and listened, with his head to one side. He says very low: ďTramp-tramp-tramp; thatís the dead; tramp-tramp-tramp; theyíre coming after me; but I wonít go-Oh, theyíre here! donít touch me-donít! hands offtheyíre cold; let go-Oh, let a poor devil alone!Ē Then he went down on all fours and crawled off begging them to let him alone, and he rolled himself up in his blanket and wallowed in under the old pine table, still a-begging; and then he went to crying. I could hear him through the blanket.
By-and-by he rolled out and jumped up on his feet looking wild, and he see me and went for me. He chased me round and round the place, with a clasp-knife, calling me the Angel of Death and saying he would kill me and then I couldnít come for him no more. I begged, and told him I was only Huck, but he laughed such a screechy laugh, and roared and cussed, and kept on chasing me up. Once when I turned short and dodged under his arm he made a grab and got me by the jacket between my shoulders, and I thought I was gone; but I slid out of the jacket quick as lightning, and saved myself. Pretty soon he was all tired out, and dropped down with his back against the door, and said he would rest a minute and then kill me. He put his knife under him, and said he would sleep and get strong, and then he would see who was who.
So he dozed off, pretty soon. By-and-by I got the old splitbottom chair and clumb up, as easy as I could, not to make any noise, and got down the gun. I slipped the ramrod down it to make sure it was loaded, and then I laid it across the turnip barrel, pointing towards pap, and set down behind it to wait for him to stir. And how slow and still the time did drag along.