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CHAPTER EIGHT (continued)
“I tuck out en shin down de hill en ‘spec to steal a skit ‘long de sho’ som’ers ‘bove de town, but dey wuz people a-stirrin’ yit, so I hid in de ole tumble-down cooper shop on de bank to wait for everybody to go ‘way. Well, I wuz dah all night. Dey wuz somebody roun’ all de time. ‘Long ‘bout six in de mawnin’, skifts begin to go by, en ‘bout eight er nine every skit dat went ‘long wuz talkin’ ‘bout how yo’ pap come over to de town en say you’s killed. Dese las’ skifts wuz full o’ ladies en genlmen agoin’ over for to see de place. Sometimes dey’d pull up at de sho’ en take a res’ b’fo’ dey started acrost, so by de talk I got to know all ‘bout de killin’. I ‘uz powerful sorry you’s killed, Huck, but I ain’t no mo, now.
“I laid dah under de shavins all day. I ‘uz hungry, but I warn’t afeared; bekase I knowed ole missus en de widder wuz goin’ to start to de camp meetn’ right arter breakfas’ en be gone all day, en dey knows I goes off wid de cattle ‘bout daylight, so dey wouldn’ ‘spec to see me roun’ de place, en so dey wouldn’ miss me tell arter dark in de evenin’. De yuther servants wouldn’ miss me, kase dey’d shin out en take holiday, soon as de ole folks ‘uz out’n de way.
“Well, when it come dark I tuck out up de river road, en went ‘bout two mile er more to whah dey warn’t no houses. I’d made up my mine ‘bout what I’s agwyne to do. You see ef I kep’ on tryin’ to git away afoot, de dogs ‘ud track me; ef I stole a skift to cross over, dey’d miss dat skift, you see, en dey’d know ‘bout whah I’d lan’ on de yuther side en whah to pick up my track. So I says, a raff is what I’s arter; it doan’ make no track.
“I see a light a-comin’roun’de p’int, bymeby, so I wade’ in en shove’ a log ahead o’ me, en swum more’n half-way acrost de river, en got in ‘mongst de driftwood, en kep’ my head down low, en kinder swum agin de current tell de raff come along. Den I swum to de stern uv it, en tuck aholt. It clouded up en ‘uz pooty dark for a little while. So I clumb up en laid down on de planks. De men ‘uz all ‘way yonder in de middle, whah de lantern wuz. De river wuz arisin’ en dey wuz a good current; so I reck’n’d ‘at by fo’ in de mawnin’ I’d be twenty-five mile down de river, en den I’d slip in, jis’ b’fo’ daylight, en swim asho’ en take to de woods on de Illinoi side.
“But I didn’have no luck. When we ‘uz mos’ down to de head er de islan’, a man begin to come aft wid de lantern. I see it warn’t no use fer to wait, so I slid overboard, en struck out fer de islan’. Well, I had a notion I could lan’ mos’ anywheres, but I couldn’t-bank too bluff. I ‘uz mos’ to de foot er de islan’ b’fo’ I foun’ a good place. I went into de woods en jedged I wouldn’ fool wid raffs no mo’, long as dey move de lantern roun’ so. I had my pipe en a plug er dog-leg, en some matches in my cap, en dey warn’t wet, so I ‘uz all right.” “And so you ain’t had no meat nor bread to eat all this time? Why didn’t you get mudturkles?” “How you gwyne to git’m? You can’t slip up on um en grab um; en how’s a body gwyne to hit um wid a rock? How could a body do it in de night? en I warn’t gwyne to show mysef on de bank in de daytime.” “Well, that’s so. You’ve had to keep in the woods all the time, of course. Did you hear ‘em shooting the cannon?” “Oh, yes. I knowed dey was arter you. I see um go by heah; watched um thoo de bushes.” Some young birds come along, flying a yard or two at a time and lighting.
Jim said it was a sign it was going to rain. He said it was a sign when young chickens flew that way, and so he reckoned it was the same way when young birds done it. I was going to catch some of them, but Jim wouldn’t let me. He said it was death. He said his father laid mighty sick once, and some of them catched a bird, and his old granny said his father would die, and he did.
And Jim said you musn’t count the things you are going to cook for dinner, because that would bring bad luck. The same if you shook the table-cloth after sundown. And he said if a man owned a bee-hive, and that man died, the bees must be told about it before sun-up next morning, or else the bees would all weaken down and quit work and die. Jim said bees wouldn’t sting idiots; but I didn’t believe that, because I had tried them lots of times myself, and they wouldn’t sting me.
I had heard about some of these things before, but not all of them. Jim knowed all kinds of signs. He said he knowed most everything. I said it looked to me like all the signs was about bad luck, and so I asked him if there warn’t any goodluck signs. He says: “Mighty few-an’ dey ain’ no use to a body. What you want to know when good luck’s a-comin’ for? want to keep it off?” And he said: “Ef you’s got hairy arms en a hairy breas’, it’s a sign dat you’s agwyne to be rich. Well, dey’s some use in a sign like dat, ‘kase it’s so fur ahead. You see, maybe you’s got to be po’ a long time fust, en so you might git discourage’ en kill yo’sef ‘f you didn’know by de sign dat you gwyne be rich bymeby.” “Have you got hairy arms and a hairy breast, Jim?” “What’s de use to ax dat question? don’ see I has?” “Well, are you rich?” “No, but I ben rich wunst, and gwyne to be rich agin. Wunst I had foteen dollars, but I tuck to specalat’n’, en got busted out.” “What did you speculate in, Jim?” “Well, fust I tackled stock.” “What kind of stock?” “Why, live stock. Cattle, you know. I put ten dollars in a cow. But I ain’t gwyne to resk no mo’ money in stock. De cow up ‘n’ died on my han’s.” “So you lost the ten dollars.” “No, I didn’lose it all. I on’y los’ ‘bout nine of it. I sole de hide en taller for a dollar en ten cents.” “You had five dollars and ten cents left. Did you speculate any more?” “Yes. You know dat one-laigged nigger dat b’longs to old Misto Bradish? well, he sot up a bank, en say anybody dat put in a dollar would git fo’ dollars mo’ at de en’ er de year. Well, all de niggers went in, but dey didn’have much. I wuz de on’y one dat had much. So I stuck out for mo’ dan fo’ dollars, en I said ‘f I didn’ git it I’d start a bank mysef. Well o’ course dat nigger want’ keep me out er de business, bekase he say dey warn’t business ‘nough for two banks, so he say I could put in my five dollars en he pay me thirty-five at de en’ er de year.
“So I done it. Den I reck’n’d I’d inves’ de thirty-five dollars right off en keep things amovin’. Dey wuz a nigger name’ Bob, dat had ketched a wood-flat, en his marster didn’know it; en I bought it off’n him en told him to take de thirtyfive dollars when de en’ er de year come; but somebody stole de wood-flat dat night, en nex’ day de onelaigged nigger say de bank’s busted. So dey didn’ none uv us git no money.” “What did you do with the ten cents, Jim?” “Well, I ‘uz gwyne to spen’ it, but I had a dream, en de dream tole me to give it to a nigger name’ Balum-Balum’s Ass dey call him for short, he’s one er dem chuckle-heads, you know. But he’s lucky, dey say, en I see I warn’t lucky. De dream say let Balum inves’ de ten cents en he’d make a raise for me. Well, Balum he tuck de money, en when he wuz in church he hear de preacher say dat whoever give to de po’ len’ to de Lord, en boun’ to git his money back a hund’d times. So Balum he tuck en give de ten cents to de po’, en laid low to see what wuz gwyne to come of it.” “Well, what did come of it, Jim?” “Nuffn’ never come of it. I couldn’ manage to k’leck dat money no way; en Balum he couldn’. I ain’gwyne to len’ no mo’ money ‘dout I see de security.
Boun’ to get yo’ money back a hund’d times, de preacher says! Ef I could git de ten cents back, I’d call it squah, en be glad er de chanst.” “Well, it’s all right, anyway, Jim, long as you’re going to be rich again some time or other.” “Yes-en I’s rich now, come to look at it. I owns mysef, en I’s wuth eight hundred dollars. I wisht I had de money, I wouldn’ want no mo’.”