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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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We could hear her pounding along, but we didn’t see her good till she was close. She aimed right for us. Often they do that and try to see how close they can come without touching; sometimes the wheel bites off a sweep, and then the pilot sticks his head out and laughs, and thinks he’s mighty smart. Well, here she comes, and we said she was going to try and shave us; but she didn’t seem to be sheering off a bit. She was a big one, and she was coming in a hurry, too, looking like a black cloud with rows of glow-worms around it; but all of a sudden she bulged out, big and scary, with a long row of wide-open furnace doors shining like red-hot teeth, and her monstrous bows and guards hanging right over us. There was a yell at us, and a jingling of bells to stop the engines, a powwow of cussing, and whistling of steam—and as Jim went overboard on one side and I on the other, she come smashing straight through the raft. We could hear the steamboat pounding along, but we didn’t have a good look at it until it was close. It was headed right for us. They often do try to see how close they can get without touching you. Sometimes the paddlewheel will bite off one of the oars. At that point, the pilot sticks his head out and laughs, thinking he’s pretty clever. Well, it was coming toward us, and we thought it was going to try and shave right by us—but it didn’t seem to be turning at all. It was a big steamboat and it seemed to be in a hurry, too. The boat looked like a black cloud with glowing streams around it. All of a sudden, it bulged out, big and scary, with a long row of furnace doors, were wide open and shining like red-hot teeth. It’s monstrous bows and guards hung right over us. There was a shout, a jingling of bells to stop the engines, multiple swears, and the whistling of steam. As Jim jumped over one side and I over the other, the steamboat smashed straight through the middle of the raft.
I dived—and I aimed to find the bottom, too, for a thirty-foot wheel had got to go over me, and I wanted it to have plenty of room. I could always stay under water a minute; this time I reckon I stayed under a minute and a half. Then I bounced for the top in a hurry, for I was nearly busting. I popped out to my armpits and blowed the water out of my nose, and puffed a bit. Of course there was a booming current; and of course that boat started her engines again ten seconds after she stopped them, for they never cared much for raftsmen; so now she was churning along up the river, out of sight in the thick weather, though I could hear her. I dove in and headed straight for the bottom. I knew the thirty-foot paddlewheel was going to pass right over me and I wanted plenty of room. I could normally stay under the water for about a minute, but this time I’ll bet I stayed under for about a minute and a half. Then I headed back up toward the surface in a hurry, because I was about to burst. I shot out of the water up to my armpits, blew water out of my nose, and puffed a bit. Of course, the current was extremely strong and the steamboat started up its engines again after having paused for only ten seconds or so—those crewmen never care much for raftsmens. That boat was churning along up the river and out of sight in the thick blackness of night, though I could still hear it.
I sung out for Jim about a dozen times, but I didn’t get any answer; so I grabbed a plank that touched me while I was “treading water,” and struck out for shore, shoving it ahead of me. But I made out to see that the drift of the current was towards the left-hand shore, which meant that I was in a crossing; so I changed off and went that way. I called out for Jim a dozen times without getting an answer. So, I grabbed a plank that was floating into me while I was treading water, and headed for the shore, shoving the plank ahead of me as I went. I could see that the current was flowing toward the left bank, which meant that I was in a spot where two currents ran into each other. So I changed direction and headed with the current.
It was one of these long, slanting, two-mile crossings; so I was a good long time in getting over. I made a safe landing, and clumb up the bank. I couldn’t see but a little ways, but I went poking along over rough ground for a quarter of a mile or more, and then I run across a big old-fashioned double log-house before I noticed it. I was going to rush by and get away, but a lot of dogs jumped out and went to howling and barking at me, and I knowed better than to move another peg. I was in one of those long, slanting two-mile long crossings, so it took a while for me to get over to the shore. I landed safely and climbed up the bank. I could only see a little ways in front of me, but I went poking along over rough ground for a quarter of a mile or more. Then, almost before I knew it, I came across a big old-fashioned double log house. I was going to run past it without anyone noticing, but a bunch of dogs jumped out and started howling and barking at me. I knew better than to move another inch.

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