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CHAPTER SEVEN (continued)
Nobody could spread himself like Tom Sawyer in such a thing as that.
Well, last I pulled out some of my hair, and bloodied the axe good, and stuck it on the back side, and slung the axe in the corner. Then I took the pig and held him to my breast with my jacket (so he couldn’t drip) till I got a good piece below the house and then dumped him into the river. Now I thought of something else. So I went and got the bag of meal and my old saw out of the canoe and fetched them to the house. I took the bag to where it used to stand, and ripped a hole in the bottom of it with the saw, for there warn’t no knives and forks on the place-pap done everything with his clasp-knife, about the cooking. Then I carried the sack about a hundred yards across the grass and through the willows east of the house, to a shallow lake that was five mile wide and full of rushes-and ducks too, you might say, in the season. There was a slough or a creek leading out of it on the other side, that went miles away, I don’t know where, but it didn’t go to the river. The meal sifted out and made a little track all the way to the lake.
I dropped pap’s whetstone there too, so as to look like it had been done by accident. Then I tied up the rip in the meal sack with a string, so it wouldn’t leak no more, and took it and my saw to the canoe again.
It was about dark, now; so I dropped the canoe down the river under some willows that hung over the bank, and waited for the moon to rise. I made fast to a willow; then I took a bite to eat, and by-and-by laid down in the canoe to smoke a pipe and lay out a plan. I says to myself, they’ll follow the track of that sackful of rocks to the shore and then drag the river for me. And they’ll follow that meal track to the lake and go browsing down the creek that leads out of it to find the robbers that killed me and took the things. They won’t ever hunt the river for anything but my dead carcass. They’ll soon get tired of that, and won’t bother no more about me. All right; I can stop anywhere I want to. Jackson’s Island is good enough for me; I know that island pretty well, and nobody ever comes there. And then I can paddle over to town, nights, and slink around and pick up things I want. Jackson’s Island’s the place.
I was pretty tired, and the first thing I knowed, I was asleep. When I woke up I didn’t know where I was, for a minute. I set up and looked around, a little scared. Then I remembered. The river looked miles and miles across. The moon was so bright I could a counted the drift logs that went a slipping along, black and still, hundreds of yards out from shore. Everything was dead quiet, and it looked late, and smelt late. You know what I mean-I don’t know the words to put it in.
I took a good gap and a stretch, and was just going to unhitch and start, when I heard a sound away over the water. Pretty soon I made it out. It was that dull kind of a regular sound that comes from oars working in rowlocks when it’s a still night. I peeped out through the willow branches, and there it was-a skiff, away across the water. I couldn’t tell how many was in it. It kept a-coming, and when it was abreast of me I see there warn’t but one man in it. Thinks I, maybe it’s pap, though I warn’t expecting him. He dropped below me, with the current, and by-and-by he come a-swinging up shore in the easy water, and he went by so close I could a reached out the gun and touched him. Well, it was pap, sure enough-and sober, too, by the way he laid to his oars.
I didn’t lose no time. The next minute I was a-spinning down stream soft but quick in the shade of the bank. I made two mile and a half, and then struck out a quarter of a mile or more towards the middle of the river, because soon I would be passing the ferry landing and people might see me and hail me. I got out amongst the drift-wood and then laid down in the bottom of the canoe and let her float. I laid there and had a good rest and a smoke out of my pipe, looking away into the sky, not a cloud in it. The sky looks ever so deep when you lay down on your back in the moonshine; I never knowed it before. And how far a body can hear on the water such nights! I heard people talking at the ferry landing. I heard what they said, too, every word of it. One man said it was getting towards the long days and the short nights, now. ‘Tother one said this warn’t one of the short ones, he reckoned-and then they laughed, and he said it over again and they laughed again; then they waked up another fellow and told him, and laughed, but he didn’t laugh; he ripped out something brisk and said let him alone. The first fellow said he ‘lowed to tell it to his old woman-she would think it was pretty good; but he said that warn’t nothing to some things he had said in his tune. I heard one man say it was nearly three o’clock, and he hoped daylight wouldn’t wait more than about a week longer. After that, the talk got further and further away, and I couldn’t make out the words any more, but I could hear the mumble; and now and then a laugh, too, but it seemed a long ways off.
I was away below the ferry now. I rose up and there was Jackson’s Island, about two mile and a half down stream, heavy-timbered and standing up out of the middle of the river, big and dark and solid, like a steamboat without any lights. There warn’t any signs of the bar at the head-it was all under water, now.
It didn’t take me long to get there. I shot past the head at a ripping rate, the current was so swift, and then I got into dead water and landed on the side towards the Illinois shore. I run the canoe into a deep dent in the bank that I knowed about; I had to part the willow branches to get in; and when I made fast nobody could a seen the canoe from the outside.
I went up and set down on a log at the head of the island and looked out on the big river and the black driftwood, and away over to the town, three mile away, where there was three or four lights twinkling. A monstrous big lumber raft was about a mile up stream, coming along down, with a lantern in the middle of it. I watched it come creeping down, and when it was most abreast of where I stood I heard a man say, “Stern oars, there! heave her head to stabboard!” I heard that just as plain as if the man was by my side. There was a little gray in the sky, now; so I stepped into the woods and laid down for a nap before breakfast.