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So I started for town, in the wagon, and when I was half-way I see a wagon coming, and sure enough it was Tom Sawyer, and I stopped and waited till he come along. I says “Hold on!” and it stopped alongside, and his mouth opened up like a trunk, and staid so; and he swallowed two or three times like a person that’s got a dry throat, and then says: “I hain’t ever done you no harm. You know that. So then, what you want to come back and ha’nt me for?” I says: “I hain’t come back-I hain’t been gone.” When he heard my voice, it righted him up some, but he warn’t quite satisfied yet. He says: “Don’t you play nothing on me, because I wouldn’t on you. Honest injun, now, you ain’t a ghost?” “Honest injun, I ain’t,” I says.
“Well-I-I-well, that ought to settle it, of course; but I can’t somehow seem to understand it, no way. Looky here, warn’t you ever murdered at all?” “No. I warn’t ever murdered at all-I played it on them. You come in here and feel of me if you don’t believe me.”
So he done it; and it satisfied him; and he was that glad to see me again, he didn’t know what to do. And he wanted to know all about it right off; because it was a grand adventure, and mysterious, and so it hit him where he lived. But I said, leave it alone till by-and-by; and told his driver to wait, and we drove off a little piece, and I told him the kind of a fix I was in, and what did he reckon we better do? He said, let him alone a minute, and don’t disturb him. So he thought and thought, and pretty soon he says: “It’s all right, I’ve got it. Take my trunk in your wagon, and let on it’s your’n; and you turn back and fool along slow, so as to get to the house about the time you ought to; and I’ll go towards town a piece, and take a fresh start, and get there a quarter or a half an hour after you; and you needn’t let on to know me, at first.” I says: “All right; but wait a minute. There’s one more thing-a thing that nobody don’t know but me. And that is, there’s a nigger here that I’m a trying to steal out of slavery-and his name is Jim-old Miss Watson’s Jim.” He says: “What! Why Jim is-” He stopped and went to studying. I says: “I know what you’ll say. You’ll say it’s dirty low-down business; but what if it is?- I’m low down; and I’m agoing to steal him, and I want you to keep mum and not let on. Will you?” His eye lit up, and he says: “I’ll help you steal him!” Well, I let go all holts then, like I was shot. It was the most astonishing speech I ever heard-and I’m bound to say Tom Sawyer fell, considerable, in my estimation. Only I couldn’t believe it. Tom Sawyer a nigger stealer!
“Oh, shucks,” I says, “you’re joking.” “I ain’t joking, either.” “Well, then,” I says, “joking or no joking, if you hear anything said about a runaway nigger, don’t forget to remember that you don’t know nothing about him, and I don’t know nothing about him.” Then we took the trunk and put it in my wagon and he drove off his way, and I drove mine. But of course I forgot all about driving slow, on accounts of being glad and full of thinking; so I got home a heap too quick for that length of a trip.
The old gentleman was at the door, and he says: “Why, this is wonderful. Who ever would a thought it was in that mare to do it. I wish we’d a timed her. And she hain’t sweated a hair-not a hair. It’s wonderful. Why, I wouldn’t take a hundred dollars for that horse now; I wouldn’t, honest; and yet I’d a sold her for fifteen before, and thought ‘twas all she was worth.”
That’s all he said. He was the innocentest, best old soul I ever see. But it warn’t surprising; because he warn’t only just a farmer, he was a preacher, too, and had a little one-horse log church down back of the plantation, which he built it himself at his own expense, for a church and school-house, and never charged nothing for his preaching, and it was worth it, too. There was plenty other farmerpreachers like that, and done the same way, down South.
In about half an hour Tom’s wagon drove up to the front stile, and Aunt Sally she see it through the window because it was only about fifty yards, and says: “Why, there’s somebody come! I wonder who ‘tis? Why, I do believe it’s a stranger. Jimmy” (that’s one of the children), “run and tell Lize to put on another plate for dinner.” Everybody made a rush for the front door, because, of course, a stranger don’t come every year, and so he lays over the yaller fever, for interest, when he does come. Tom was over the stile and starting for the house; the wagon was spinning up the road for the village, and we was all bunched in the front door. Tom had his store clothes on, and an audience-and that was always nuts for Tom Sawyer. In them circumstances it warn’t no trouble to him to throw in an amount of style that was suitable. He warn’t a boy to meeky along up that yard like a sheep; no, he come ca’m and important, like the ram. When he got afront of us, he lifts his hat ever so gracious and dainty, like it was the lid of a box that had butterflies asleep in it and he didn’t want to disturb them, and says: “Mr. Archibald Nichols, I presume?”
“No, my boy,” says the old gentleman, “I’m sorry to say’t your driver has deceived you; Nichols’s place is down a matter of three mile more. Come in, come in.” Tom he took a look back over his shoulder, and says, “Too late-he’s out of sight.” “Yes, he’s gone, my son, and you must come in and eat your dinner with us; and then we’ll hitch up and take you down to Nichols’s.” “Oh, I can’t make you so much trouble; I couldn’t think of it. I’ll walk-I don’t mind the distance.” “But we won’t let you walk-it wouldn’t be Southern hospitality to do it.
Come right in.” “Oh, do,” says Aunt Sally; “it ain’t a bit of trouble to us, not a bit in the world. You must stay. It’s a long, dusty three mile, and we can’t let you walk.
And besides, I’ve already told ‘em to put on another plate, when I see you coming; so you mustn’t disappoint us. Come right in, and make yourself at home.” So Tom he thanked them very hearty and handsome, and let himself be persuaded, and come in; and when he was in, he said he was a stranger from Hicksville, Ohio, and his name was William Thompson-and he made another bow.
Well, he run on, and on, and on, making up stuff about Hicksville and everybody in it he could invent, and I was getting a little nervous, and wondering how this was going to help me out of my scrape; and at last, still talking along, he reached over and kissed Aunt Sally right on the mouth, and then settled back again in his chair, comfortable, and was going on talking; but she jumped up and wiped it off with the back of her hand, and says: “You owdacious puppy!” He looked kind of hurt, and says: “I’m surprised at you, m’am.” “You’re s’rp-Why, what do you reckon I am? I’ve a good notion to take andsay, what do you mean by kissing me?” He looked kind of humble, and says: “I didn’t mean nothing, m’am. I didn’t mean no harm. II-thought you’d like it.” “Why, you born fool!” She took up the spinning-stick, and it looked like it was all she could do to keep from giving him a crack with it. “What made you think I’d like it?” “Well, I don’t know. Only, they-they-told me you would.” “They told you I would. Whoever told you’s another lunatic. I never heard the beat of it. Who’s they?” “Why-everybody. They all said so, m’am.”
It was all she could do to hold in; and her eyes snapped, and her fingers worked like she wanted to scratch him; and she says: “Who’s ‘everybody?’ Out with their names-or ther’ll be an idiot short.” He got up and looked distressed, and fumbled his hat, and says: “I’m sorry, and I warn’t expecting it. They told me to. They all told me to.
They all said kiss her; and said she’ll like it. They all said it-every one of them.