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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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“Boy, that’s a lie. What IS the matter with your pap? Answer up square now, and it’ll be the better for you.” “Boy, that’s a lie. What IS the matter with your pap? Do the right thing and answer me honestly now.”
“I will, sir, I will, honest—but don’t leave us, please. It’s the—the—Gentlemen, if you’ll only pull ahead, and let me heave you the headline, you won’t have to come a-near the raft—please do.” “I will, sir, honest I will—but don’t leave us, please. It’s the… the… Gentlemen, if you’ll just pull ahead a bit to the raft and let me toss you a rope, you won’t have to come near the raft. Please just do it.”
“Set her back, John, set her back!” says one. They backed water. “Keep away, boy—keep to looard. Confound it, I just expect the wind has blowed it to us. Your pap’s got the small-pox, and you know it precious well. Why didn’t you come out and say so? Do you want to spread it all over?” “Back, John, row back!” one of them said. They started rowing backward. “Keep away, boy, keep to port. Darn it, the wind is blowing that raft right toward us. Your pap’s got

smallpox

contagious and deadly disease that was wiped out in the 20th century

smallpox
, and you know it! Why didn’t you just say so? Do you want to spread it to everyone?
“Well,” says I, a-blubbering, “I’ve told everybody before, and they just went away and left us.” “Well,” I said, pretending to cry, “Everyone else I’ve told just went away and left us.”
“Poor devil, there’s something in that. We are right down sorry for you, but we—well, hang it, we don’t want the small-pox, you see. Look here, I’ll tell you what to do. Don’t you try to land by yourself, or you’ll smash everything to pieces. You float along down about twenty miles, and you’ll come to a town on the left-hand side of the river. It will be long after sun-up then, and when you ask for help you tell them your folks are all down with chills and fever. Don’t be a fool again, and let people guess what is the matter. Now we’re trying to do you a kindness; so you just put twenty miles between us, that’s a good boy. It wouldn’t do any good to land yonder where the light is—it’s only a wood-yard. Say, I reckon your father’s poor, and I’m bound to say he’s in pretty hard luck. Here, I’ll put a twenty-dollar gold piece on this board, and you get it when it floats by. I feel mighty mean to leave you; but my kingdom! it won’t do to fool with small-pox, don’t you see?” “Well, you’ve got a point. Poor soul. We feel pretty sorry for you, but we… well, darn it, we don’t want to get smallpox, you see. Look here, I tell you what we’ll do. Don’t try to land the raft on the shore by yourself; you’ll just smash it to pieces. Just float along down the river about twenty miles, and you’ll come to a town. Ask for help, and tell them your folks have got the chills and a fever. Don’t be foolish again and let people guess what’s wrong with your family. Now, we’re trying to help you, so just be a good boy and take our advice. Put twenty miles between yourselves and us. It wouldn’t do any good to land the raft over where that light is. It’s only a lumber yard. I’ll bet your father’s poor, and I’m sure your family is having a tough time. Here, I’m putting a twenty dollar gold piece on this board. Grab it when it floats by. I feel pretty bad leaving you, but my God, we just can’t mess around with smallpox, you see?
“Hold on, Parker,” says the other man, “here’s a twenty to put on the board for me. Good-bye, boy; you do as Mr. Parker told you, and you’ll be all right.” “Hang on, Parker,” said the other man. “Here’s a twenty dollar gold piece to add to yours on the board. Goodbye, kid. You do as Mr. Parker instructed, and you’ll be alright.”
“That’s so, my boy—good-bye, good-bye. If you see any runaway niggers you get help and nab them, and you can make some money by it.” “That’s true, my boy. So long, goodbye. If you see any runaway n------, you can make some money by getting help and catching them.”
“Good-bye, sir,” says I; “I won’t let no runaway niggers get by me if I can help it.” “Goodbye, sir,” I said. “I won’t let any runaway n------ get by me if I can help it!”
They went off and I got aboard the raft, feeling bad and low, because I knowed very well I had done wrong, and I see it warn’t no use for me to try to learn to do right; a body that don’t get STARTED right when he’s little ain’t got no show—when the pinch comes there ain’t nothing to back him up and keep him to his work, and so he gets beat. Then I thought a minute, and says to myself, hold on; s’pose you’d a done right and give Jim up, would you felt better than what you do now? No, says I, I’d feel bad—I’d feel just the same way I do now. Well, then, says I, what’s the use you learning to do right when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same? I was stuck. I couldn’t answer that. So I reckoned I wouldn’t bother no more about it, but after this always do whichever come handiest at the time. They went off, and I got back on board the raft, feeling awful because I knew for certain that what I’d just done was wrong. I saw that it was no use for me to try and do the right thing. A person who doesn’t get on the right foot when he’s a kid is never going to change. Whenever he gets in a pinch and has no one to keep him honest and focused, he loses. Then I thought a minute and said to myself, now, hold on; suppose you had done what was right and given Jim up? Would you feel better than you do now? No, I said, I’d feel bad—I’d feel just about as bad as I do right now. Well then, I said to myself, what’s the use in trying to learn to do the right thing? It’s so troubling to do right, and no harm comes from doing wrong. And the results are just the same anyway. I was stuck. I couldn’t answer my own question. So I decideed not to worry about it anymore. From then on, I’d just whatever seemed easiest at the time.
I went into the wigwam; Jim warn’t there. I looked all around; he warn’t anywhere. I says: I went into the wigwam, but Jim wasn’t there. I looked all around, but he wasn’t anywhere. I said:
“Jim!” “Jim!”
“Here I is, Huck. Is dey out o’ sight yit? Don’t talk loud.” “Here I am, Huck. Are they out of sight yet? Don’t talk too loudly.”
He was in the river under the stern oar, with just his nose out. I told him they were out of sight, so he come aboard. He says: He was in the river under the oar at the stern, with just his nose sticking out. I told him they were out of sight, so he came on board. He said:
“I was a-listenin’ to all de talk, en I slips into de river en was gwyne to shove for sho’ if dey come aboard. Den I was gwyne to swim to de raf’ agin when dey was gone. But lawsy, how you did fool ’em, Huck! Dat WUZ de smartes’ dodge! I tell you, chile, I’spec it save’ ole Jim—ole Jim ain’t going to forgit you for dat, honey.” “I was listening to you three talking, so I slipped into the river. I was going to start swimming toward the shore if they came on board. Then I was going to swim to the raft again when they had gone. But, man, you sure fooled them, Huck! That WAS the smartest decision! I tell you, child, I expect your rouse saved old Jim. Old Jim is never going to forget you for that, kid.”

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