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CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX (continued)
I says to myself, this is another one that I’m letting him rob her of her money. And when she got through, they all jest laid theirselves out to make me feel at home and know I was amongst friends. I felt so ornery and low down and mean, that I says to myself, My mind’s made up; I’ll hive that money for them or bust. So then I lit out-for bed, I said, meaning some time or another. When I got by myself, I went to thinking the thing over. I says to myself, shall I go to that doctor, private, and blow on these frauds? No-that won’t do. He might tell who told him; then the king and the duke would make it warm for me. Shall I go, private, and tell Mary Jane? No-I dasn’t do it. Her face would give them a hint, sure; they’ve got the money, and they’d slide right out and get away with it. If she was to fetch in help, I’d get mixed up in the business, before it was done with, I judge. No, there ain’t no good way but one. I got to steal that money, somehow; and I got to steal it some way that they won’t suspicion that I done it. They’ve got a good thing, here; and they ain’t agoing to leave till they’ve played this family and this town for all they’re worth, so I’ll find a chance time enough. I’ll steal it, and hide it; and by-and-by, when I’m away down the river, I’ll write a letter and tell Mary Jane where it’s hid. But I better hive it to-night, if I can, because the doctor maybe hasn’t let up as much as he lets on he has; he might scare them out of here, yet.
So, thinks I, I’ll go and search them rooms. Up stairs the hall was dark, but I found the duke’s room, and started to paw around it with my hands; but I recollected it wouldn’t be much like the king to let anybody else take care of that money but his own self; so then I went to his room and begun to paw around there. But I see I couldn’t do nothing without a candle, and I dasn’t light one, of course. So I judged I’d got to do the other thing-lay for them and eavesdrop.
About that time, I hears their footsteps coming and was going to skip under the bed; I reached for it, but it wasn’t where I thought it would be; but I touched the curtain that hid Mary Jane’s frocks, so I jumped in behind that and snuggled in amongst the gowns, and stood there perfectly still.
They come in and shut the door; and the first thing the duke done was to get down and look under the bed. Then I was glad I hadn’t found the bed when I wanted it. And yet, you know, it’s kind of natural to hide under the bed when you are up to anything private. They sets down, then, and the king says: “Well, what is it? and cut it middlin’ short, because it’s better for us to be down there a whoopin’-up the mournin’, than up here givin’ ‘em a chance to talk us over.” “Well, this is it, Capet. I ain’t easy; I ain’t comfortable. That doctor lays on my mind. I wanted to know your plans. I’ve got a notion, and I think it’s a sound one.”
“What is it, duke?” “That we better glide out of this, before three in the morning, and clip it down the river with what we’ve got. Specially, seeing we got it so easy-given back to us, flung at our heads, as you may say, when of course we allowed to have to steal it back. I’m for knocking off and lighting out.” That made me feel pretty bad. About an hour or two ago, it would a been a little different, but now it made me feel bad and disappointed. The king rips out and says: “What! And not sell out the rest o’ the property? March off like a passel o’ fools and leave eight or nine thous’n’ dollars’ worth o’ property layin’ around jest sufferin’ to be scooped in?- and all good salable stuff, too.” The duke he grumbled; said the bag of gold was enough, and he didn’t want to go no deeper-didn’t want to rob a lot of orphans of everything they had. “Why, how you talk!” says the king. “We shan’t rob ‘em of nothing at all but jest this money. The people that buys the property is the suff’rers; because as soon’s it’s found out ‘at we didn’t own it-which won’t be long after we’ve slidthe sale won’t be valid, and it’ll all go back to the estate. These-yer orphans’ll git their house back agin, and that’s enough for them; they’re young and spry, and k’n easy earn a livin’. They ain’t agoing to suffer. Why, jest think-there’s thous’n’s and thous’n’s that ain’t nigh so well off. Bless you, they ain’t got noth’n to complain of.”
Well, the king he talked him blind; so at last he give in, and said all right, but said he believed it was blame foolishness to stay, and that doctor hanging over them. But the king says: “Cuss the doctor! What do we k’yer for him? Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? and ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?” So they got ready to go down stairs again. The duke says: “I don’t think we put that money in a good place.” That cheered me up. I’d begun to think I warn’t going to get a hint of no kind to help me. The king says: “Because Mary Jane’ll be in mourning from this out; and first you know the nigger that does up the rooms will get an order to box these duds up and put ‘em away; and do you reckon a nigger can run across money and not borrow some of it?” “Your head’s level, agin, duke,” says the king; and he come a fumbling under the curtain two or three foot from where I was. I stuck tight to the wall, and kept mighty still, though quivery; and I wondered what them fellows would say to me if they catched me; and I tried to think what I’d better do if they did catch me.
But the king he got the bag before I could think more than about a half a thought, and he never suspicioned I was around. They took and shoved the bag through a rip in the straw tick that was under the feather bed, and crammed it in a foot or two amongst the straw and said it was all right, now, because a nigger only makes up the feather bed, and don’t turn over the straw tick only about twice a year, and so it warn’t in no danger of getting stole, now.
But I knowed better. I had it out of there before they was half-way down stairs. I groped along up to my cubby, and hid it there till I could get a chance to do better. I judged I better hide it outside of the house somewheres, because if they missed it they would give the house a good ransacking. I knowed that very well. Then I turned in, with my clothes all on; but I couldn’t a gone to sleep, if I’d a wanted to, I was in such a sweat to get through with the business. By-andby I heard the king and the duke come up; so I rolled off my pallet and laid with my chin at the top of my ladder and waited to see if anything was going to happen. But nothing did.
So I held on till all the late sounds had quit and the early ones hadn’t begun, yet; and then I slipped down the ladder.