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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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It most froze me to hear such talk. He wouldn’t ever dared to talk such talk in his life before. Just see what a difference it made in him the minute he judged he was about free. It was according to the old saying, “Give a nigger an inch and he’ll take an ell.” Thinks I, this is what comes of my not thinking. Here was this nigger, which I had as good as helped to run away, coming right out flat-footed and saying he would steal his children—children that belonged to a man I didn’t even know; a man that hadn’t ever done me no harm. It terrified me to hear such talk. He wouldn’t have dared to say things like that before. You could just see what a difference the idea of almost being free made in him. It’s like the old saying, “Give a n----- an inch and he’ll take a yard.” That’s what happens when you don’t think, I thought to myself. Here was this n-----, whom I’d helped to run away, saying flat out that he would steal his children—children that belonged to a man I didn’t even know, a man that hadn’t harmed me in any way.
I was sorry to hear Jim say that, it was such a lowering of him. My conscience got to stirring me up hotter than ever, until at last I says to it, “Let up on me—it ain’t too late yet—I’ll paddle ashore at the first light and tell.” I felt easy and happy and light as a feather right off. All my troubles was gone. I went to looking out sharp for a light, and sort of singing to myself. By and by one showed. Jim sings out: I was sorry to hear Jim talk like this. It made me lower my opinion of him. My conscience got to bothering me more than ever until I finally told it, “Enough already. Stop bothering me. It isn’t too late yet. I’ll paddle ashore at the first light and tell someone.” Right away, I felt much better. I felt as light as a feather, as if all my troubles were gone. I began singing to myself as I looked for any sign of light on the shore. Pretty soon, I spotted one. Jim sang out:
“We’s safe, Huck, we’s safe! Jump up and crack yo’ heels! Dat’s de good ole Cairo at las’, I jis knows it!” “We’re safe, Huck, we’re safe! Jump up and dance! There’s the good old city of Cairo at last, I just know it!”
I says: I said:
“I’ll take the canoe and go and see, Jim. It mightn’t be, you know.” “I’ll take the canoe and go and see, Jim. It might not be Cairo, you know.”
He jumped and got the canoe ready, and put his old coat in the bottom for me to set on, and give me the paddle; and as I shoved off, he says: He jumped up and got the canoe ready. He put his old coat in the bottom of it for me to sit on. He gave me the paddle, and as I shoved off, he said:
“Pooty soon I’ll be a-shout’n’ for joy, en I’ll say, it’s all on accounts o’ Huck; I’s a free man, en I couldn’t ever ben free ef it hadn’ ben for Huck; Huck done it. Jim won’t ever forgit you, Huck; you’s de bes’ fren’ Jim’s ever had; en you’s de ONLY fren’ ole Jim’s got now.” “Pretty soon, I’ll be shouting for joy, and I’ll say it’s all because of Huck. I’m a free man, and I couldn’t have been free if it hadn’t been for Huck—it was all Huck. Jim won’t ever forget you, Huck. You’re the best friend Jim’s ever had, and you’re the ONLY friend old Jim’s got now.”
I was paddling off, all in a sweat to tell on him; but when he says this, it seemed to kind of take the tuck all out of me. I went along slow then, and I warn’t right down certain whether I was glad I started or whether I warn’t. When I was fifty yards off, Jim says: I was paddling off, anxious to tell on him, but when he said this, it seemed to take the zip out of me. I went along slowly after that. I was no longer sure whether or not I was glad that I’d decided go ashore. When I was fifty yards away from the raft, Jim said:
“Dah you goes, de ole true Huck; de on’y white genlman dat ever kep’ his promise to ole Jim.” “There you go, that honest old Huck—the only white gentleman that ever kept his promise to old Jim.”
Well, I just felt sick. But I says, I GOT to do it—I can’t get OUT of it. Right then along comes a skiff with two men in it with guns, and they stopped and I stopped. One of them says: Well, I just felt sick. But I told myself that I HAD to do turn him in—there was no getting out of it. Right then a skiff came along with two men in it with guns. They stopped, and I stopped. One of them said:
“What’s that yonder?” “What’s that over there?”
“A piece of a raft,” I says. “A piece of a raft,” I said.
“Do you belong on it?” “Does it belong to you?”
“Yes, sir.” “Yes, sir.”
“Any men on it?” “Any men on it?”
“Only one, sir.” “Only one, sir.”
“Well, there’s five niggers run off to-night up yonder, above the head of the bend. Is your man white or black?” “Well, five n------ ran off tonight just up the river, above the head of the bend. Is your man white or black?”
I didn’t answer up prompt. I tried to, but the words wouldn’t come. I tried for a second or two to brace up and out with it, but I warn’t man enough—hadn’t the spunk of a rabbit. I see I was weakening; so I just give up trying, and up and says: I didn’t answer promptly. I tried, but the words wouldn’t come. I tried for a second or two to brace myself and just say it. But I wasn’t man enough—I didn’t have the courage of a rabbit. I saw I was losing my strength, so I just gave up trying, and said:
“He’s white.” “He’s white.”
“I reckon we’ll go and see for ourselves.” “I reckon we’ll go and see for ourselves.”
“I wish you would,” says I, “because it’s pap that’s there, and maybe you’d help me tow the raft ashore where the light is. He’s sick—and so is mam and Mary Ann.” “I wish you would,” I said, “because it’s my pap. Maybe you could help me tow the raft ashore to that light over there. He’s sick—and so is my mom and Mary Ann.”
“Oh, the devil! we’re in a hurry, boy. But I s’pose we’ve got to. Come, buckle to your paddle, and let’s get along.” “The devil with you! We’re in a hurry, boy. But I suppose we’ve got to. Come, start paddling, and let’s get moving.”
I buckled to my paddle and they laid to their oars. When we had made a stroke or two, I says: “I started paddling, and they began rowing with their oars. When we had made a couple of strokes, I said:
“Pap’ll be mighty much obleeged to you, I can tell you. Everybody goes away when I want them to help me tow the raft ashore, and I can’t do it by myself.” “Pap will be grateful to you, I promise. Everybody goes away when I ask them to help me get the raft ashore. I can’t do it by myself.”
“Well, that’s infernal mean. Odd, too. Say, boy, what’s the matter with your father?” “Well, that’s awfully mean. Strange, too. Say, boy, what’s the matter with your father?”
“It’s the—a—the—well, it ain’t anything much.” “It’s the… ah… the uh… well… it’s not much.”
They stopped pulling. It warn’t but a mighty little ways to the raft now. One says: They stopped rowing. They were just a short way from the raft by now. One said:

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