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Huck Finn by Mark Twain-Original Text Online-Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
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CHAPTER ELEVEN (continued)

Well, the woman fell to talking about how hard times was, and how poor they had to live, and how the rats was as free as if they owned the place, and so forth, and so on, and then I got easy again. She was right about the rats. You’d see one stick his nose out of a hole in the corner every little while. She said she had to have things handy to throw at them when she was alone, or they wouldn’t give her no peace. She showed me a bar of lead, twisted up into a knot, and said she was a good shot with it generly, but she’d wrenched her arm a day or two ago, and didn’t know whether she could throw true, now. But she watched for a chance, and directly she banged away at a rat, but she missed him wide, and said “Ouch!” it hurt her arm so. Then she told me to try for the next one. I wanted to be getting away before the old man got back, but of course I didn’t let on. I got the thing, and the first rat that showed his nose I let drive, and if he’d a stayed where he was he’d a been a tolerable sick rat. She said that was first-rate, and she reckoned I would hive the next one. She went and got the lump of lead and fetched it back and brought along a hank of yarn, which she wanted me to help her with. I held up my two hands and she put the hank over them and went on talking about her and her husband’s matters. But she broke off to say: “Keep your eye on the rats. You better have the lead in your lap, handy.”

So she dropped the lump into my lap, just at that moment, and I clapped my legs together on it and she went on talking. But only about a minute. Then she took off the hank and looked me straight in the face, but very pleasant, and says: “Come, nowwhat’s your real name?” “Wh-what, mum?” “What’s your real name? Is it Bill, or Tom, or Bob?- or what is it?” I reckon I shook like a leaf, and I didn’t know hardly what to do. But I says: “Please to don’t poke fun at a poor girl like me, mum. If I’m in the way, here, I’ll-” “No, you won’t. Set down and stay where you are. I ain’t going to hurt you, and I ain’t going to tell on you, nuther. You just tell me your secret, and trust me.

I’ll keep it; and what’s more, I’ll help you. So’ll my old man, if you want him to. You see, you’re a runaway ‘prentice-that’s all. It ain’t anything. There ain’t any harm in it. You’ve been treated bad, and you made up your mind to cut. Bless you, child, I wouldn’t tell on you. Tell me all about it, now-that’s a good boy.” So I said it wouldn’t be no use to try to play it any longer, and I would just make a clean breast and tell her everything, but she mustn’t go back on her promise. Then I told her my father and mother was dead, and the law had bound me out to a mean old farmer in the country thirty mile back from the river, and he treated me so bad I couldn’t stand it no longer; he went away to be gone a couple of days, and so I took my chance and stole some of his daughter’s old clothes, and cleared out, and I had been three nights coming the thirty miles; I traveled nights, and hid day-times and slept, and the bag of bread and meat I carried from home lasted me all the way and I had a plenty. I said I believed my uncle Abner Moore would take care of me, and so that was why I struck out for this town of Goshen.


“Goshen, child? This ain’t Goshen. This is St. Petersburg. Goshen’s ten mile further up the river. Who told you this was Goshen?” “Why, a man I met at day-break this morning, just as I was going to turn into the woods for my regular sleep. He told me when the roads forked I must take the right hand, and five mile would fetch me to Goshen.” “He was drunk I reckon. He told you just exactly wrong.” “Well, he did act like he was drunk, but it ain’t no matter now. I got to be moving along. I’ll fetch Goshen before day-light.” “Hold on a minute. I’ll put you up a snack to eat. You might want it.” So she put me up a snack, and says: “Say-when a cow’s laying down, which end of her gets up first? Answer up prompt, now-don’t stop to study over it. Which end gets up first?” “The hind end, mum.” “Well, then, a horse?” “The for’rard end, mum.”

“Which side of a tree does the most moss grow on?” “North side.” “If fifteen cows is browsing on a hillside, how many of them eats with their heads pointed the same direction?” “The whole fifteen, mum.” “Well, I reckon you have lived in the country. I thought maybe you was trying to hocus me again. What’s your real name now?” “George Peters, mum.” “Well, try to remember it, George. Don’t forget and tell me it’s Elexander before you go, and then get out by saying it’s George-Elexander when I catch you.

And don’t go about women in that old calico. You do a girl tolerable poor, but you might fool men, maybe. Bless you, child, when you set out to thread a needle, don’t hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it-that’s the way a woman most always does; but a man always does ‘tother way. And when you throw at a rat or anything, hitch yourself up a tip-toe, and fetch your hand up over your head as awkard as you can, and miss your rat about six or seven foot. Throw stiff-armed from the shoulder, like there was a pivot there for it to turn on-like a girl; not from the wrist and elbow, with your arm out to one side like a boy. And mind you, when a girl tries to catch anything in her lap, she throws her knees apart; she don’t clap them together, the way you did when you catched the lump of lead. Why, I spotted you for a boy when you was threading the needle; and I contrived the other things just to make certain. Now trot along to your uncle, Sarah Mary Williams George Elexander Peters, and if you get into trouble you send word to Mrs. Judith Lotus, which is me, and I’ll do what I can to get you out of it. Keep the river road, all the way, and next time you tramp, take shoes and socks with you. The river road’s a rocky one, and your feet ‘ll be in a condition when you get to Goshen, I reckon.” I went up the bank about fifty yards, and then I doubled on my tracks and slipped back to where my canoe was, a good piece below the house. I jumped in and was off in a hurry. I went up stream far enough to make the head of the island, and then started across. I took off the sun-bonnet, for I didn’t want no blinders on, then. When I was about the middle, I hear the clock begin to strike; so I stops and listens; the sound come faint over the water, but clear-eleven. When I struck the head of the island I never waited to blow, though I was most winded, but I shoved right into the timber where my old camp used to be, and started a good fire there on a high-and-dry spot. Then I jumped in the canoe and dug out for our place a mile and a half below, as hard as I could go. I landed, and slopped through the timber and up the ridge and into the cavern. There Jim laid, sound asleep on the ground. I roused him out and says: “Git up and hump yourself, Jim! There ain’t a minute to lose. They’re after us!”

Jim never asked no questions, he never said a word; but the way he worked for the next half an hour showed about how he was scared. By that time everything we had in the world was on our raft and she was ready to be shoved out from the willow cove where she was hid. We put out the camp fire at the cavern the first thing, and didn’t show a candle outside after that.

I took the canoe out from shore a little piece and took a look, but if there was a boat around I couldn’t see it, for stars and shadows ain’t good to see by. Then we got out the raft and slipped along down in the shade, past the foot of the island dead still, never saying a word.

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Huck Finn by Mark Twain-Original Text Online-Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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