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CHAPTER FORTY-TWO (continued)
“And Jim?” “The same,” I says, but couldn’t say it pretty brash. But he never noticed, but says: “Good! Splendid! Now we’re all right and safe! Did you tell Aunty?” I was going to say yes; but she chipped in and says: “About what, Sid?” “Why, about the way the whole thing was done.” “What whole thing?” “Why, the whole thing. There ain’t but one; how we set the runaway nigger free-me and Tom.” “Good land! Set the run-What is the child talking about! Dear, dear, out of his head again!” “No, I ain’t out of my HEAD; I know all what I’m talking about. We did set him free-me and Tom. We laid out to do it, and we done it. And we done it elegant, too.” He’d got a start, and she never checked him up, just set and stared and stared, and let him clip along, and I see it warn’t no use for me to put in. “Why, Aunty, it cost us a power of work-weeks of it-hours and hours, every night, whilst you was all asleep. And we had to steal candles, and the sheet, and the shirt, and your dress, and spoons, and tin plates, and case-knives, and the warming-pan, and the grindstone, and flour, and just no end of things, and you can’t think what work it was to make the saws, and pens, and inscriptions, and one thing or another, and you can’t think half the fun it was. And we had to make up the pictures of coffins and things, and nonnamous letters from the robbers, and get up and down the lightningrod, and dig the hole into the cabin, and make the rope-ladder and send it in cooked up in a pie, and send in spoons and things to work with, in your apron pocket-” “Mercy sakes!” --and load up the cabin with rats and snakes and so on, for company for Jim; and then you kept Tom here so long with the butter in his hat that you come near spiling the whole business, because the men come before we was out of the cabin, and we had to rush, and they heard us and let drive at us, and I got my share, and we dodged out of the path and let them go by, and when the dogs come they warn’t interested in us, but went for the most noise, and we got our canoe, and made our raft, and was all safe, and Jim was a free man, and we done it all by ourselves, and wasn’t it bully, Aunty!” “Well, I never heard the likes of it in all my born days! So it was you, you little rapscallions, that’s been making all this trouble, and turned everybody’s wits clean inside out and scared us all most to death. I’ve as good a notion as ever I had in my life, to take it out o’ you this very minute. To think, here I’ve been, night after night, a-you just get well once, you young scamp, and I lay I’ll tan the Old Harry out o’ both o’ ye!” But Tom, he was so proud and joyful, he just couldn’t hold in, and his tongue just went itshe a-chipping in, and spitting fire all along, and both of them going it at once, like a cat-convention; and she says: “Well, you get all the enjoyment you can out of it now, for mind I tell you if I catch you meddling with him again-” “Meddling with who?” Tom says, dropping his smile and looking surprised.
“With who? Why, the runaway nigger, of course. Who’d you reckon?” Tom looks at me very grave, and says: “Tom, didn’t you just tell me he was all right? Hasn’t he got away?” “Him?” says Aunt Sally; “the runaway nigger? ‘Deed he hasn’t. They’ve got him back, safe and sound, and he’s in that cabin again, on bread and water, and loaded down with chains, till he’s claimed or sold!” Tom rose square up in bed, with his eye hot, and his nostrils opening and shutting like gills, and sings out to me: “They hain’t no right to shut him up! Shove!- and don’t you lose a minute.
Turn him loose! he ain’t no slave; he’s as free as any cretur that walks this earth!” “What does the child mean?”
“I mean every word I say, Aunt Sally, and if somebody don’t go, I’ll go. I’ve knowed him all his life, and so has Tom, there. Old Miss Watson died two months ago, and she was ashamed she ever was going to sell him down the river, and said so; and she set him free in her will.” “Then what on earth did you want to set him free for, seeing he was already free?” “Well that is a question, I must say; and just like women! Why, I wanted the adventure of it; and I’d a waded neckdeep in blood to-goodness alive, Aunt Polly!” If she warn’t standing right there, just inside the door, looking as sweet and contented as an angel half-full of pie, I wish I may never!
Aunt Sally jumped for her, and most hugged the head off of her, and cried over her, and I found a good enough place for me under the bed, for it was getting pretty sultry for us, seemed to me. And I peeped out, and in a little while Tom’s Aunt Polly shook herself loose and stood there looking across at Tom over her spectacles-kind of grinding him into the earth, you know. And then she says: “Yes, you better turn y’r head away-I would if I was you, Tom.” “Oh, deary me!” says Aunt Sally; “is he changed so? Why, that ain’t Tom, it’s Sid; Tom’s-Tom’s-why, where is Tom? He was here a minute ago.”
“You mean where’s Huck Finn-that’s what you mean! I reckon I hain’t raised such a scamp as my Tom all these years, not to know him when I see him. That would be a pretty howdy-do. Come out from under that bed, Huck Finn.” So I done it. But not feeling brash.
Aunt Sally she was one of the mixed-upest looking persons I ever see; except one, and that was Uncle Silas, when he come in, and they told it all to him. It kind of made him drunk, as you may say, and he didn’t know nothing at all the rest of the day, and preached a prayer-meeting sermon that night that give him a rattling ruputation, because the oldest man in the world couldn’t a understood it.
So Tom’s Aunt Polly, she told all about who I was, and what; and I had to up and trill how I was in such a tight place when Mrs. Phelps took me for Tom Sawyershe chipped in and says, “Oh, go on and call me Aunt Sally, I’m used to it, now, and ‘taint no need to change”- that when Aunt Sally took me for Tom Sawyer, I had to stand it-there warn’t no other way, and I knowed he wouldn’t mind, because it would be nuts for him, being a mystery, and he’d make an adventure out of it and be perfectly satisfied. And so it turned out, and he let on to be Sid, and made things as soft as he could for me.
And his Aunt Polly she said Tom was right about old Miss Watson setting Jim free in her will; and so, sure enough, Tom Sawyer had gone and took all that trouble and bother to set a free nigger free! and I couldn’t ever understand, before, until that minute and that talk, how he could help a body set a nigger free, with his bringing-up.
Well, Aunt Polly she said that when Aunt Sally wrote to her that Tom and Sid had come, all right and safe, she says to herself: “Look at that, now! I might have expected it, letting him go off that way without anybody to watch him. So now I got to go and trapse all the way down the river, eleven hundred mile, and find out what that creetur’s up to, this time; as long as I couldn’t seem to get any answer out of you about it.” “Why, I never heard nothing from you,” says Aunt Sally.
“Well, I wonder! Why, I wrote to you twice, to ask you what you could mean by Sid being here.” “Well, I never got ‘em, Sis.” Aunt Polly, she turns around slow and severe, and says: “You, Tom!” “Well-what?” he says, kind of pettish.
“Don’t you what me, you impudent thing-hand out them letters.” “What letters?” “Them letters. I be bound, if I have to take aholt of you I’ll-” “They’re in the trunk. There, now. And they’re just the same as they was when I got them out of the office. I hain’t looked into them, I hain’t touched them. But I knowed they’d make trouble, and I thought if you warn’t in no hurry, I’d-”
“Well, you do need skinning, there ain’t no mistake about it. And I wrote another one to tell you I was coming; and I spose he-” “No, it come yesterday; I hain’t read it yet, but it’s all right, I’ve got that one.” I wanted to offer to bet two dollars she hadn’t, but I reckoned maybe it was just as safe to not to. So I never said nothing.