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

Bob’s been carved up some with a bowie, and Tom’s been hurt once or twice.” “Has anybody been killed this year, Buck?” “Yes, we got one and they got one. ‘Bout three months ago, my cousin Bud, fourteen years old, was riding through the woods, on t’other side of the river, and didn’t have no weapon with him, which was blame’ foolishness, and in a lonesome place he hears a horse a-coming behind him, and sees old Baldy Shepherdson a-linkin’ after him with his gun in his hand and his white hair a-flying in the wind; and ‘stead of jumping off and taking to the brush, Bud ‘lowed he could outrun him; so they had it, nip and tuck, for five mile and more, the old man againing all the time; so at last Bud seen it warn’t any use, so he stopped and faced around so as to have the bullet holes in front, you know, and the old man he rode up and shot him down. But he didn’t git much chance to enjoy his luck, for inside of a week our folks laid him out.”

“I reckon that old man was a coward, Buck.” “I reckon he warn’t a coward. Not by a blame’ sight. There ain’t a coward amongst them Shepherdsons-not a one. And there ain’t no cowards amongst the Grangerfords, either. Why, that old man kep’ up his end in a fight one day, for a half an hour, against three Grangerfords, and come out winner. They was all ahorseback; he lit off of his horse and got behind a little wood-pile, and kep’ his horse before him to stop the bullets; but the Grangerfords staid on their horses and capered around the old man, and peppered away at him, and he peppered away at them. Him and his horse both went home pretty leaky and crippled, but the Grangerfords had to be fetched home-and one of ‘em was dead, and another died the next day. No, sir, if a body’s out hunting for cowards, he don’t want to fool away any time against Shepherdsons, becuz they don’t breed any of that kind.” Next Sunday we all went to church, about three mile, everybody a-horseback.

The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The Shepherdsons done the same. It was pretty ornery preaching-all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith, and good works, and free grace, and preforeordestination, and I don’t know what all, that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet.

About an hour after dinner everybody was dozing around, some in their chairs and some in their rooms, and it got to be pretty dull. Buck and a dog was stretched out on the grass in the sun, sound asleep. I went up to our room, and judged I would take a nap myself. I found that sweet Miss Sophia standing in her door, which was next to ours, and she took me in her room and shut the door very soft, and asked me if I liked her, and I said I did; and she asked me if I would do something for her and not tell anybody, and I said I would. Then she said she’d forgot her Testament, and left it in the seat at church, between two other books and would I slip out quiet and go there and fetch it to her, and not say nothing to nobody. I said I would. So I slid out and slipped off up the road, and there warn’t anybody at the church, except maybe a hog or two, for there warn’t any lock on the door, and hogs likes a puncheon floor in summer-time because it’s cool. If you notice, most folks don’t go to church only when they’ve got to; but a hog is different.


Says I to myself something’s up-it ain’t natural for a girl to be in such a sweat about a Testament; so I give it a shake, and out drops a little piece of paper with “Half-past two” wrote on it with a pencil. I ransacked it, but couldn’t find anything else. I couldn’t make anything out of that, so I put the paper in the book again, and when I got home and up stairs, there was Miss Sophia in her door waiting for me. She pulled me in and shut the door; then she looked in the Testament till she found the paper, and as soon as she read it she looked glad; and before a body could think, she grabbed me and give me a squeeze, and said I was the best boy in the world, and not to tell anybody. She was mighty red in the face, for a minute, and her eyes lighted up and it made her powerful pretty. I was a good deal astonished, but when I got my breath I asked what the paper was about, and she asked me if I had read it, and I said no, and she asked me if I could read writing and I told her “no, only coarse-hand,” and then she said the paper warn’t anything but a book-mark to keep her place, and I might go and play now.

I went off down to the river, studying over this thing, and pretty soon I noticed that my nigger was following along behind. When we was out of sight of the house, he looked back and around a second, and then comes a-running, and says: “Mars Jawge, if you’ll come down into de swamp, I’ll show you a whole stack o’ water-moccasins.” Thinks I, that’s mighty curious; he said that yesterday. He oughter know a body don’t love water moccasins enough to go around hunting for them. What is he up to anyway? So I says“All right, trot ahead.” I followed a half a mile, then he struck out over the swamp and waded ankle deep as much as another half mile. We come to a little flat piece of land which was dry and very thick with trees and bushes and vines, and he says“You shove right in dah, jist a few steps, Mars Jawge, dah’s whah dey is. I’s seed ‘m befo’, I don’t k’yer to see ‘em no mo’.”

Then he slopped right along and went away, and pretty soon the trees hid him. I poked into the place aways, and come to a little open patch as big as a bedroom, all hung around with vines, and found a man laying there asleep-and by jings it was my old Jim! I waked him up, and I reckoned it was going to be a grand surprise to him to see me again, but it warn’t. He nearly cried, he was so glad, but he warn’t surprised. Said he swum along behind me, that night, and heard me yell every time, but dasn’t answer, because he didn’t want nobody to pick him up, and take him into slavery again. Says he“I got hurt a little, en couldn’t swim fas’, so I wuz a considable ways behine you, towards de las’; when you landed I reckoned I could ketch up wid you on de lan’ ‘dout havin’ to shout at you, but when I see dat house I begin to go slow. I off too fur to hear what dey say to you-I wuz ‘fraid o’ de dogs-but when it ‘uz all quiet agin, I knowed you’s in de house, so I struck out for de woods to wait for day. Early in de mawnin’ some er de niggers come along, gwyne to de fields, en dey tuck me en showed me dis place, whah de dogs can’t track me on accounts o’ de water, en dey brings me truck to eat every night, en tells me how you’s a gitt’n along.” “Why didn’t you tell my Jack to fetch me here sooner, Jim?” “Well,’twarn’t no use to ‘sturb you, Huck, tell we could do sumfn-but we’s all right, now. I ben a-buyin’ pots en pans en vittles, as I get a chanst, en a patchin’ up de raf’, nights, when-”

“What raft, Jim?” “Our ole raf’.” “You mean to say our old raft warn’t smashed all to flinders?” “No, she warn’t. She was tore up a good deal-one en’ of her was-but dey warn’t no great harm done, on’y our traps was mos’ all los’. Ef we hadn’ dive’ so deep en swum so fur under water, en de night hadn’ ben so dark, en we warn’t so sk’yerd, en ben sich punkin-heads, as de sayin’ is, we’d a seed de raf’. But it’s jis’ as well we didn’t, ‘kase now she’s all fixed up agin mos’ as good as new, en we’s got a new lot o’ stuff, too, in de place o’ what ‘uz los’.” “Why, how did you get hold of the raft again, Jim-did you catch her?” “How I gwyne to ketch her, en I out in de woods? No, some er de niggers foun’ her ketched on a snag, along heah in de ben’, en dey hid her in a crick, ‘mongst de willows, en dey wuz so much jawin’ ‘bout which un ‘um she b’long to de mos’, dat I come to heah ‘bout it pooty soon, so I ups en settles de trouble by tellin’ ‘um she don’t b’long to none uv um, but to you en me; en I ast’m if dey gwyne to grab a young white genlman’s propaty, en git a hid’n for it? Den I gin ‘m ten cents apiece, en dey ‘uz mighty well satisfied, en wisht some mo’ raf’s ‘ud come along en make ‘m rich agin. Dey’s mighty good to me, dese niggers is, en whatever I wants ‘m to do fur me, I doan’ have to ast ‘m twice, honey. Dat Jack’s a good nigger, en pooty smart.”

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