Table of Contents | MonkeyNotes | Barron's Booknotes
I crept to their doors and listened; they was snoring, so I tip-toed along, and got down stairs all right. There warnít a sound anywheres. I peeped through a crack of the diningroom door, and see the men that was watching the corpse all sound asleep on their chairs. The door was open into the parlor, where the corpse was laying, and there was a candle in both rooms. I passed along, and the parlor door was open; but I see there warnít nobody in there but the remainders of Peter; so I shoved on by; but the front door was locked, and the key wasnít there.
Just then I heard somebody coming down the stairs, back behind me. I run in the parlor, and took a swift look around, and the only place I see to hide the bag was in the coffin. The lid was shoved along about a foot, showing the dead manís face down in there, with a wet cloth over it, and his shroud on. I tucked the moneybag in under the lid, just down beyond where his hands was crossed, which made me creep, they was so cold, and then I run back across the room and in behind the door.
The person coming was Mary Jane. She went to the coffin, very soft, and kneeled down and looked in; then she put up her handkerchief and I see she begun to cry, though I couldnít hear her, and her back was to me. I slid out, and as I passed the dining room I thought Iíd make sure them watchers hadnít seen me; so I looked through the crack and everything was all right. They hadnít stirred.
I slipped up to bed, feeling rather blue, on accounts of the thing playing out that way after I had took so much trouble and run so much resk about it. Says I, if it could stay where it is, all right; because when we get down the river a hundred mile or two, I could write back to Mary Jane, and she could dig him up again and get it; but that ainít the thing thatís going to happen; the thing thatís going to happen is, the moneyíll be found when they come to screw on the lid. Then the kingíll get it again, and itíll be a long day before he gives anybody another chance to smouch it from him. Of course I wanted to slide down and get it out of there, but I dasnít try it. Every minute it was getting earlier, now, and pretty soon some of them watchers would begin to stir, and I might get catched-catched with six thousand dollars in my hands that nobody hadnít hired me to take care of. I donít wish to be mixed up in no such business as that, I says to myself. When I got down stairs in the morning, the parlor was shut up, and the watchers was gone. There warnít nobody around but the family and the widow Bartley and our tribe. I watched their faces to see if anything had been happening, but I couldnít tell. Towards the middle of the day the undertaker come with his man, and they set the coffin in the middle of the room on a couple of chairs, and then set all our chairs in rows, and borrowed more from the neighbors till the hall and the parlor and the dining-room was full. I see the coffin lid was the way it was before, but I dasnít go to look in under it, with folks around.
Then the people begun to flock in, and the beats and the girls took seats in the front row at the head of the coffin, and for a half an hour the people filed around slow, in single rank, and looked down at the dead manís face a minute, and some dropped in a tear, and it was all very still and solemn, only the girls and the beats holding handkerchiefs to their eyes and keeping their heads bent, and sobbing a little. There warnít no other sound but the scraping of the feet on the floor, and blowing noses-because people always blow them more at a funeral than they do at other places except church.
When the place was packed full, the undertaker he slid around in his black gloves with his softy soothering ways, putting on the last touches, and getting people and things all ship-shape and comfortable, and making no more sound than a cat. He never spoke; he moved people around, he squeezed in late ones, he opened up passage-ways, and done it all with nods, and signs with his hands.
Then he took his place over against the wall. He was the softest, glidingest, stealthiest man I ever see; and there warnít no more smile to him than there is to a ham.
They had borrowed a melodeum-a sick one; and when everything was ready, a young woman set down and worked it, and it was pretty skreeky and colicky, and everybody joined in and sung, and Peter was the only one that had a good thing, according to my notion. Then the Reverend Hobson opened up, slow and solemn, and begun to talk; and straight off the most outrageous row busted out in the cellar a body ever heard; it was only one dog, but he made a most powerful racket, and he kept it up, right along; the parson he had to stand there, over the coffin, and wait-you couldnít hear yourself think. It was right down awkward, and nobody didnít seem to know what to do. But pretty soon they see that longlegged undertaker make a sign to the preacher as much as to say, ďDonít you worry-just depend on me.Ē Then he stooped down and begun to glide along the wall, just his shoulders showing over the peopleís heads. So he glided along, and the pow-wow and racket getting more and more outrageous all the time; and at last, when he had gone around two sides of the room, he disappears down cellar.
Then, in about two seconds we heard a whack, and the dog he finished up with a most amazing howl or two, and then everything was dead still, and the parson begun his solemn talk where he left off. In a minute or two here comes this undertakerís back and shoulders gliding along the wall again; and so he glided, and glided, around three sides of the room, and then rose up, and shaded his mouth with his hands, and stretched his neck out towards the preacher, over the peopleís heads, and says, in a kind of a coarse whisper, ďHe had a rat!Ē Then he drooped down and glided along the wall again to his place. You could see it was a great satisfaction to the people, because naturally they wanted to know. A little thing like that donít cost nothing, and itís just the little things that makes a man to be looked up to and liked. There warnít no more popular man in town than what that undertaker was.
Well, the funeral sermon was very good, but pison long and tiresome; and then the king he shoved in and got off some of his usual rubbage, and at last the job was through, and the undertaker begun to sneak up on the coffin with his screw-driver. I was in a sweat then, and watched him pretty keen. But he never meddled at all; just slid the lid along, as soft as mush, and screwed it down tight and fast. So there I was! I didnít know whether the money was in there, or not.
So, says I, spose somebody has hogged that bag on the sly?- now how do I know whether to write to Mary Jane or not? Spose she dug him up and didnít find nothing-what would she think of me? Blame it, I says, I might get hunted up and jailed; Iíd better lay low and keep dark, and not write at all; the thingís awful mixed, now; trying to better it, Iíve worsened it a hundred times, and I wish to goodness Iíd just let it alone, dad fetch the whole business!
They buried him, and we come back home, and I went to watching faces again-I couldnít help it, and I couldnít rest easy. But nothing come of it; the faces didnít tell me nothing.