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

They was fetching a very nice looking old gentleman along, and a nice looking younger one, with his right arm in a sling. And my souls, how the people yelled, and laughed, and kept it up. But I didn’t see no joke about it, and I judged it would strain the duke and the king some to see any. I reckoned they’d turn pale. But no, nary a pale did they turn. The duke he never let on he suspicioned what was up, but just went a goo-gooing around, happy and satisfied, like a jug that’s googling out buttermilk; and as for the king, he just gazed and gazed down sorrowful on them newcomers like it give him the stomach-ache in his very heart to think there could be such frauds and rascals in the world. Oh, he done it admirable. Lots of the principal people gethered around the king, to let him see they was on his side. That old gentleman that had just come looked all puzzled to death. Pretty soon he begun to speak, and I see, straight off, he pronounced like an Englishman, not the king’s way, though the king’s was pretty good, for an imitation. I can’t give the old gent’s words, nor I can’t imitate him; but he turned around to the crowd, and says, about like this: “This is a surprise to me which I wasn’t looking for; and I’ll acknowledge, candid and frank, I ain’t very well fixed to meet it and answer it; for my brother and me has had misfortunes, he’s broke his arm, and our baggage got put off at a town above here, last night in the night by a mistake. I am Peter Wilks’s brother Harvey, and this is his brother William, which can’t hear nor speak-and can’t even make signs to amount to much, now’t he’s only got one hand to work them with. We are who we say we are; and in a day or two, when I get the baggage, I can prove it. But, up till then, I won’t say nothing more, but go to the hotel and wait.” So him and the new dummy started off; and the king he laughs, and blethers out: “Broke his arm-very likely ain’t it?- and very convenient, too, for a fraud that’s got to make signs, and hain’t learnt how. Lost their baggage! That’s mighty good!- and mighty ingenious-under the circumstances!” So he laughed again; and so did everybody else, except three or four, or maybe half a dozen. One of these was that doctor; another one was a sharp looking gentleman, with a carpet-bag of the oldfashioned kind made out of carpetstuff, that had just come off of the steamboat and was talking to him in a low voice, and glancing towards the king now and then and nodding their heads-it was Levi Bell, the lawyer that was gone up to Louisville; and another one was a big rough husky that come along and listened to all the old gentleman said, and was listening to the king now. And when the king got done, this husky up and says: “Say, looky here; if you are Harvey Wilks, when’d you come to this town?” “The day before the funeral, friend,” says the king.

“But what time o’ day?” “In the evenin’- ‘bout an hour er two before sundown.” “How’d you come?” “I come down on the Susan Powell, from Cincinnati.” “Well, then, how’d you come to be up at the Pint in the mornin’- in a canoe?” “I warn’t up at the Pint “It’s a lie.” Several of them jumped for him and begged him not to talk that way to an old man and a preacher.


“Preacher be hanged, he’s a fraud and a liar. He was up at the Pint that mornin’. I live up there, don’t I? Well, I was up there, and he was up there. I see him there. He come in a canoe, along with Tim Collins and a boy.” The doctor he up and says: “Would you know the boy again if you was to see him, Hines?” “I reckon I would, but I don’t know. Why, yonder he is, now. I know him perfectly easy.” It was me he pointed at. The doctor says: “Neighbors, I don’t know whether the new couple is frauds or not; but if these two ain’t frauds, I am an idiot, that’s all. I think it’s our duty to see that they don’t get away from here till we’ve looked into this thing. Come along, Hines; come along, the rest of you. We’ll take these fellows to the tavern and affront them with t’other couple, and I reckon we’ll find out something before we get through.” It was nuts for the crowd, though maybe not for the king’s friends; so we all started. It was about sundown. The doctor he led me along by the hand, and was plenty kind enough, but he never let go my hand.

We all got in a big room in the hotel, and lit up some candles, and fetched in the new couple. First, the doctor says: “I don’t wish to be too hard on these two men, but I think they’re frauds, and they may have complices that we don’t know nothing about. If they have, won’t the complices get away with that bag of gold Peter Wilks left? It ain’t unlikely. If these men ain’t frauds, they won’t object to sending for that money and letting us keep it till they prove they’re all right-ain’t that so?” Everybody agreed to that. So I judged they had our gang in a pretty tight place, right at the outstart. But the king he only looked sorrowful, and says: “Gentlemen, I wish the money was there, for I ain’t got no disposition to throw anything in the way of a fair, open, out-and-out investigation o’ this misable business; but alas, the money ain’t there; you k’n send and see, if you want to.” “Where is it, then?” “Well, when my niece give it to me to keep for her, I took and hid it inside o’ the straw tick o’ my bed, not wishin’ to bank it for the few days we’d be here, and considerin’ the bed a safe place, we not bein’ used to niggers, and suppos’n’ em honest, like servants in England. The niggers stole it the very next mornin’ after I had went down stairs; and when I sold ‘em, I hadn’t missed the money yit, so they got clean away with it. My servant here k’n tell you ‘bout it, gentlemen.” The doctor and several said “Shucks!” and I see nobody didn’t altogether believe him. One man asked me if I see the niggers steal it. I said no, but I see them sneaking out of the room and hustling away, and I never thought nothing, only I reckoned they was afraid they had waked up my master and was trying to get away before he made trouble with them. That was all they asked me. Then the doctor whirls on me and says: “Are you English too?” I says yes; and him and some others laughed, and said, “Stuff!” Well, then they sailed in on the general investigation, and there we had it, up and down, hour in, hour out, and nobody never said a word about supper, nor ever seemed to think about it-and so they kept it up, and kept it up; and it was the worst mixed-up thing you ever see. They made the king tell his yarn, and they made the old gentleman tell his’n; and anybody but a lot of prejudiced chuckleheads would a seen that the old gentleman was spinning truth and t’other one lies. And by-and-by they had me up to tell what I knowed. The king he give me a left-handed look out of the corner of his eye, and so I knowed enough to talk on the right side. I begun to tell about Sheffield, and how we lived there, and all about the English Wilkses, and so on; but I didn’t get pretty fur till the doctor begun to laugh; and Levi Bell, the lawyer, says: “Set down, my boy, I wouldn’t strain myself, if I was you. I reckon you ain’t used to lying, it don’t seem to come handy; what you want is practice. You do it pretty awkward.” I didn’t care nothing for the compliment, but I was glad to be let off, anyway.

The doctor he started to say something, and turns and says: “If you’d been in town at first, Levi Bell-” The king broke in and reached out his hand, and says: “Why, is this my poor dead brother’s old friend that he’s wrote so often about?” The lawyer and him shook hands, and the lawyer smiled and looked pleased, and they talked right along a while, and then got to one side and talked low; and at last the lawyer speaks up and says: “That’ll fix it. I’ll take the order and send it, along with your brother’s, and then they’ll know it’s all right.” So they got some paper and a pen, and the king he set down and twisted his head to one side, and chawed his tongue, and scrawled off something; and then they give the pen to the duke-and then for the first time, the duke looked sick.

But he took the pen and wrote. So then the lawyer turns to the new old gentleman and says: “You and your brother please write a line or two and sign your names.” The old gentleman wrote, but nobody couldn’t read it. The lawyer looked powerful astonished, and says: “Well, it beats me”- and snaked a lot of old letters out of his pocket, and examined them, and then examined the old man’s writing, and then them again; and then says: “These old letters is from Harvey Wilks; and here’s these two’s handwritings, and anybody can see they didn’t write them” (the king and the duke looked sold and foolish, I tell you, to see how the lawyer had took them in), “and here’s this old gentleman’s handwriting, and anybody can tell, easy enough, he didn’t write them-fact is, the scratches he makes ain’t properly writing, at all.

Now here’s some letters from-” The new old gentleman says: “If you please, let me explain. Nobody can read my hand but my brother there-so he copies for me. It’s his hand you’ve got there, not mine.” “Well!” says the lawyer, “this is a state of things. I’ve got some of William’s letters too; so if you’ll get him to write a line or so we can com-” “He can’t write with his left hand,” says the old gentleman. “If he could use his right hand, you would see that he wrote his own letters and mine too. Look at both, please-they’re by the same hand.”

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