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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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“Keep your eye on the rats. You better have the lead in your lap, handy.” “Keep your eye on the rats. You better have the lead bar ready in your lap.”
So she dropped the lump into my lap just at that moment, and I clapped my legs together on it and she went on talking. But only about a minute. Then she took off the hank and looked me straight in the face, and very pleasant, and says: Then she dropped the lead bar in my lap. I clapped my legs together to catch it as she kept on talking. She talked for only about a minute more. Then she took the yarn off my hands, looked me straight in the face, and very kindly said:
“Come, now, what’s your real name?” “Come on now, what’s your real name?”
“Wh—what, mum?” “Wh—what, ma’am?”
“What’s your real name? Is it Bill, or Tom, or Bob?—or what is it?” “What’s your real name? Is it Bill or Tom or Bob? What is it?”
I reckon I shook like a leaf, and I didn’t know hardly what to do. But I says: I likely started shaking like a leaf. I could’t figure out what to do. But I said:
“Please to don’t poke fun at a poor girl like me, mum. If I’m in the way here, I’ll—” “Please don’t poke fun at a poor girl like me, ma’am. If I’m causing trouble, I’ll….”
“No, you won’t. Set down and stay where you are. I ain’t going to hurt you, and I ain’t going to tell on you, nuther. You just tell me your secret, and trust me. I’ll keep it; and, what’s more, I’ll help you. So’ll my old man if you want him to. You see, you’re a runaway ’prentice, that’s all. It ain’t anything. There ain’t no harm in it. You’ve been treated bad, and you made up your mind to cut. Bless you, child, I wouldn’t tell on you. Tell me all about it now, that’s a good boy.” “No, you won’t. Sit down and stay where you are. I’m not going to hurt you, and I’m not going to tell on you. Just trust me with your secret. I’ll keep it. I’ll even help you. So will my husband, if you want. I think you’re a runaway apprentice, that’s all. That isn’t a big deal. There ain’t no harm in it. You’ve been treated poory, so you decided to run away. Bless you, child. I wouldn’t tell on you. Be a good boy, now, and tell me all about it.”
So I said it wouldn’t be no use to try to play it any longer, and I would just make a clean breast and tell her everything, but she musn’t go back on her promise. Then I told her my father and mother was dead, and the law had bound me out to a mean old farmer in the country thirty mile back from the river, and he treated me so bad I couldn’t stand it no longer; he went away to be gone a couple of days, and so I took my chance and stole some of his daughter’s old clothes and cleared out, and I had been three nights coming the thirty miles. I traveled nights, and hid daytimes and slept, and the bag of bread and meat I carried from home lasted me all the way, and I had a-plenty. I said I believed my uncle Abner Moore would take care of me, and so that was why I struck out for this town of Goshen. So I said it wouldn’t be any use to try and fool her any longer, and that I’d get everything off my chest if she promised to never tell anyone. I told her that my father and mother were both dead. The law had sent me to work for a mean old farmer who lived out in the country thirty miles from the river. He treated me so badly that I couldn’t stand it any longer. I took my chance when he went away for a couple of days. I stole some of his daughter’s old clothes and ran away. It took me three nights to travel the thirty miles. I traveled at night, hiding and sleeping during the day. A bag of bread and meat that carried from the farmer’s house had lasted all this way, so I’d had plenty to eat. I said I thought my uncle Abner Moore would take care of me. That was why I was headed for the town of Goshen.
“Goshen, child? This ain’t Goshen. This is St. Petersburg. Goshen’s ten mile further up the river. Who told you this was Goshen?” “Goshen, child? This ain’t Goshen. This is St. Petersburg. Goshen’s ten miles further up the river. Who told you this was Goshen?”
“Why, a man I met at daybreak this morning, just as I was going to turn into the woods for my regular sleep. He told me when the roads forked I must take the right hand, and five mile would fetch me to Goshen.” “Why, a man I met at dawn this morning, just as I was heading into the woods to sleep. He told me that when I came to a fork in the road I had to veer right and it would be only five miles to Goshen.”
“He was drunk, I reckon. He told you just exactly wrong.” “He was drunk, I’ll bet. He told you the exact opposite of what you should have done.”
“Well, he did act like he was drunk, but it ain’t no matter now. I got to be moving along. I’ll fetch Goshen before daylight.” “Well, he did act drunk. But it doesn’t matter now. I’d better get moving so I can reach Goshen before daylight.”
“Hold on a minute. I’ll put you up a snack to eat. You might want it.” “Hold on a minute. I’ll pack you a snack to eat. You might want it later.”
So she put me up a snack, and says: She packed a snak for me, then said:
“Say, when a cow’s laying down, which end of her gets up first? Answer up prompt now—don’t stop to study over it. Which end gets up first?” “Hey, if a cow is lying down, which end of its body does it lift first when it gets up? Answer quickly now—don’t think. Which end gets up first?”
“The hind end, mum.” “The rear end, ma’am.”
“Well, then, a horse?” “What about a horse?”
“The for’rard end, mum.” “The front end, ma’am.”
“Which side of a tree does the moss grow on?” “Which side of a tree does moss grow on?”
“North side.” “The north side.”
“If fifteen cows is browsing on a hillside, how many of them eats with their heads pointed the same direction?” “If fifteen cows are grazing on a hillside, how many of them eat with their heads pointed in the same direction?”
“The whole fifteen, mum.” “All fifteen, ma’am.”
“Well, I reckon you HAVE lived in the country. I thought maybe you was trying to hocus me again. What’s your real name, now?” “Well, I guess you HAVE lived in the country. I thought maybe you were lying again. What’s your real name, now?”
“George Peters, mum.” “George Peters, ma’am.”
“Well, try to remember it, George. Don’t forget and tell me it’s Elexander before you go, and then get out by saying it’s George Elexander when I catch you. And don’t go about women in that old calico. You do a girl tolerable poor, but you might fool men, maybe. Bless you, child, when you set out to thread a needle don’t hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that’s the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t’other way. And when you throw at a rat or anything, hitch yourself up a tiptoe and fetch your hand up over your head as awkward as you can, and miss your rat about six or seven foot. Throw stiff-armed from the shoulder, like there was a pivot there for it to turn on, like a girl; not from the wrist and elbow, with your arm out to one side, like a boy. And, mind you, when a girl tries to catch anything in her lap she throws her knees apart; she don’t clap them together, the way you did when you catched the lump of lead. Why, I spotted you for a boy when you was threading the needle; and I contrived the other things just to make certain. Now trot along to your uncle, Sarah Mary Williams George Elexander Peters, and if you get into trouble you send word to Mrs. Judith Loftus, which is me, and I’ll do what I can to get you out of it. Keep the river road all the way, and next time you tramp take shoes and socks with you. The river road’s a rocky one, and your feet’ll be in a condition when you get to Goshen, I reckon.” Well, try to remember your name, George. Don’t slip and tell me it’s Alexander before you leave, then explain that it’s George Alexander when I catch you in your lie. And don’t go around women wearing that old calico. You might fool a man, but you make a pretty awful girl. Poor child, when you start to thread a needle, don’t hold the thread still and bring the needle up to it. Instead, hold the needle still and poke the thread throught it—that’s the way women usually do it, but men do it the other way. And when you throw something at a rat or anything else, stand up on your tiptoes and bring your hand up over your head as awkwardly as you can. And miss the rat by about six or seven feet. Throw stiff-armed from the shoulder, like there was a pivot for you to turn on. That’s how a girl would throw. Don’t throw from the wrist and elbow, with your arm out to one side, like a boy does. And, listen, when a girl tries to catch anything in her lap, she spreads her knees apart. Don’t clasp them together the way you did when you caught the bar of lead. Why, I could tell you were a boy when you were threading the needle. I came up with the other stuff to trick you, just to make sure. Now, go along to your uncle, Sarah Mary Williams George Alexander Peters. If you get into any trouble, send word to Mrs. Judith Loftus—that’s me—and I’ll do what I can to help. Stay on the road that runs by the river. And next time you hike thirty miles, be sure to take shoes and socks with you. The river road’s pretty rocky, and your feet will be all torn up when you get to Goshen, I bet.”

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