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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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“G-e-o-r-g-e J-a-x-o-n—there now,” he says. “G-e-o-r-g-e J-a-x-o-n. There now,” he said.
“Well,” says I, “you done it, but I didn’t think you could. It ain’t no slouch of a name to spell—right off without studying.” “Well,” I said. “You did it, even though I thought you couldn’t. It’s not an easy name to spell either, especially right off the top of your head, without studying.”
I set it down, private, because somebody might want ME to spell it next, and so I wanted to be handy with it and rattle it off like I was used to it. I wrote it down in private in case anyone ever wanted ME to spell it for them. I wanted it handy so that I could rattle it off smoothly, as if I was used to spelling it.
It was a mighty nice family, and a mighty nice house, too. I hadn’t seen no house out in the country before that was so nice and had so much style. It didn’t have an iron latch on the front door, nor a wooden one with a buckskin string, but a brass knob to turn, the same as houses in town. There warn’t no bed in the parlor, nor a sign of a bed; but heaps of parlors in towns has beds in them. There was a big fireplace that was bricked on the bottom, and the bricks was kept clean and red by pouring water on them and scrubbing them with another brick; sometimes they wash them over with red water-paint that they call Spanish-brown, same as they do in town. They had big brass dog-irons that could hold up a saw-log. There was a clock on the middle of the mantelpiece, with a picture of a town painted on the bottom half of the glass front, and a round place in the middle of it for the sun, and you could see the pendulum swinging behind it. It was beautiful to hear that clock tick; and sometimes when one of these peddlers had been along and scoured her up and got her in good shape, she would start in and strike a hundred and fifty before she got tuckered out. They wouldn’t took any money for her. They were a really nice family and they lived in a really nice house. I had never seen a country house that was so nice and had so much style. It didn’t have an iron latch on the front door. It didn’t even have a wooden one with a buckskin string. It had a real brass knob that turned, just like the houses in town. There wasn’t a bed in the parlor. There wasn’t even a sign that a bed had once been there, even though plenty of houses in town had a bed in the parlor. There was a big fireplace with a brick base. They kept the bricks clean and red by pouring water on them and scrubbing them with another brick. Sometimes they washed them all over with red paint mixed with water—what they call Spanish brown—which is exactly how they do it in town. They had big brass

dog iron

metal wrack used for holding firewood in a fireplace

dog iron
s that could hold a

sawlog

the widest part of the tree trunk

sawlog
. There was a clock on the middle of the mantel; the bottom half of the glass front had a painted picture of a town on it. The clock also had a round place in the middle for the sun, and you could see the pendulum swinging behind. It was beautiful to hear that clock tick. Sometimes, when one of those traveling fix-it men came along to clean and fix it, the clock would chime a hundred and fifty times before stopping. They wouldn’t have sold that clock for anything.
Well, there was a big outlandish parrot on each side of the clock, made out of something like chalk, and painted up gaudy. By one of the parrots was a cat made of crockery, and a crockery dog by the other; and when you pressed down on them they squeaked, but didn’t open their mouths nor look different nor interested. They squeaked through underneath. There was a couple of big wild-turkey-wing fans spread out behind those things. On the table in the middle of the room was a kind of a lovely crockery basket that had apples and oranges and peaches and grapes piled up in it, which was much redder and yellower and prettier than real ones is, but they warn’t real because you could see where pieces had got chipped off and showed the white chalk, or whatever it was, underneath. On each side of the clock, there was a big gaudy parrot made out of some chalk-like substance. There was a little clay cat next to one parrot and a little clay dog next to the other. A squeaking noise came out from under them whenever you pressed down on them, but they didn’t open their mouths or look interested or anything. Behind them sat a couple of big fans spread out that looked like the wings of wild turkeys. On the table in the middle of the room was a lovely clay basket that had apples and oranges and peaches and grapes piled up in it. They were much more red and yellow and prettier than real fruits, but you could tell they were fake because you could see where pieces of clay had chipped off, showing the white chalk or whatever underneath.
This table had a cover made out of beautiful oilcloth, with a red and blue spread-eagle painted on it, and a painted border all around. It come all the way from Philadelphia, they said. There was some books, too, piled up perfectly exact, on each corner of the table. One was a big family Bible full of pictures. One was Pilgrim’s Progress, about a man that left his family, it didn’t say why. I read considerable in it now and then. The statements was interesting, but tough. Another was Friendship’s Offering, full of beautiful stuff and poetry; but I didn’t read the poetry. Another was Henry Clay’s Speeches, and another was Dr. Gunn’s Family Medicine, which told you all about what to do if a body was sick or dead. There was a hymn book, and a lot of other books. And there was nice split-bottom chairs, and perfectly sound, too—not bagged down in the middle and busted, like an old basket. The table had a beautiful tablecloth made of

oilcloth

cloth treated in oil to make it waterproof

oilcloth
. It had a red and blue spread-eagle painted on it, and a painted border all the way around. They said it had come all the way from Philadelphia. There were also some books piled up neatly on each corner of the table. One was a big family Bible filled with pictures. Another was

Pilgrim’s Progress

17th century epic allegory about a man who leaves his family and home in search of salvation.

Pilgrim’s Progress
, a book about a man who left his family, though it didn’t say why. I read it every now and then, and got through quite a bit of it. The sentences were interesting, but difficult to get through. Another was Friendship’s Offering, which was full of poetry and other pretty writing, though I didn’t read the poetry. They also had a book of Henry Clay’s Speeches, and another of Dr. Gunn’s Family Medicine, which told you all about what to do if someone was sick or dead. There was a hymnal, and several other books. They also had nice split-bottom chairs. They were well made, and didn’t sag in the middle like a busted old basket.
They had pictures hung on the walls—mainly Washingtons and Lafayettes, and battles, and Highland Marys, and one called “Signing the Declaration.” There was some that they called crayons, which one of the daughters which was dead made her own self when she was only fifteen years old. They was different from any pictures I ever see before—blacker, mostly, than is common. One was a woman in a slim black dress, belted small under the armpits, with bulges like a cabbage in the middle of the sleeves, and a large black scoop-shovel bonnet with a black veil, and white slim ankles crossed about with black tape, and very wee black slippers, like a chisel, and she was leaning pensive on a tombstone on her right elbow, under a weeping willow, and her other hand hanging down her side holding a white handkerchief and a reticule, and underneath the picture it said “Shall I Never See Thee More Alas.” Another one was a young lady with her hair all combed up straight to the top of her head, and knotted there in front of a comb like a chair-back, and she was crying into a handkerchief and had a dead bird laying on its back in her other hand with its heels up, and underneath the picture it said “I Shall Never Hear Thy Sweet Chirrup More Alas.” There was one where a young lady was at a window looking up at the moon, and tears running down her cheeks; and she had an open letter in one hand with black sealing wax showing on one edge of it, and she was mashing a locket with a chain to it against her mouth, and underneath the picture it said “And Art Thou Gone Yes Thou Art Gone Alas.” These was all nice pictures, I reckon, but I didn’t somehow seem to take to them, because if ever I was down a little they always give me the fan-tods. Everybody was sorry she died, because she had laid out a lot more of these pictures to do, and a body could see by what she had done what they had lost. But I reckoned that with her disposition she was having a better time in the graveyard. She was at work on what they said was her greatest picture when she took sick, and every day and every night it was her prayer to be allowed to live till she got it done, but she never got the chance. It was a picture of a young woman in a long white gown, standing on the rail of a bridge all ready to jump off, with her hair all down her back, and looking up to the moon, with the tears running down her face, and she had two arms folded across her breast, and two arms stretched out in front, and two more reaching up towards the moon—and the idea was to see which pair would look best, and then scratch out all the other arms; but, as I was saying, she died before she got her mind made up, and now they kept this picture over the head of the bed in her room, and every time her birthday come they hung flowers on it. Other times it was hid with a little curtain. The young woman in the picture had a kind of a nice sweet face, but there was so many arms it made her look too spidery, seemed to me. They had pictures on the walls. Most of them were of

Washington

George Washington

Washington
and

Lafayette

the Marquis de Lafayette, a French nobleman who fought with the colonies in the Revolutionary War

Lafayette
, battles, and

Highland Mary

Well-known lover of English poet Robert Burns

Highland Mary
. One was a picture called “Signing the Declaration.” There were some portraits that they called

crayon

charcoal drawing or sketch

crayon
s, which were drawn by one of their daughters who had died had made of herself. She had drawn them when she was only fifteen years old. These pictures were different from any I’d ever seen; they were darker than usual. One was of a woman in a slim black dress that was belted tightly under the armpits and had bulges that looked like cabbages in the middle of the sleeves. She wore a large black scoop-shovel bonnet with a black veil, and she had tiny black slippers, which looked like chisels, with black tape crisscrossing her slim white ankles. She was standing under a weeping willow, leaning pensively with her right elbow on a tombstone. Her other hand hung down by her side and held a white handkerchief and a purse. Underneath the picture it said, “Shall I Never See The More Alas.”. Another picture showed a young lady with her hair combed straight and tied in a knot at the top of her head in front of a comb, making it look like the back of a chair. She was crying into a handkerchief and holding in one hand a dead bird lying on its back with its heels up. Underneath that picture it said, “I Shall Never Hear Thy Sweet Chirrup More Alas.” There was another one of a young lady with tears running down her cheeks looking out of a window at the moon. She had an open letter in one hand with a black wax seal visible on one edge. She was pressing a locket and chain against her mouth, and underneath the picture it said, “And Art Though Gone Yes Thou Art Gone Alas.” They were all nice pictures, I suppose. But I didn’t really like them very much. They would give me the chills whenever I was feeling a little down. Everyone was sad that she had died, because she had planning to draw a lot more of these pictures. You could see by the ones she had drawn what a great loss it had been. But I suppose, given her disposition, she was having a much better time in the graveyard. She had said that she was working on her greatest picture when she fell sick, and that she prayed every day and night that she could live long enough to finish. But she never didn’t. She was working on a picture of a young woman in a long white gown standing on the rail of a bridge. Her hair was falling down her back and she was looking up at the moon with tears running down her face. She was getting ready to jump off. She had two arms folded across her chest, two arms stretched out in front, and two more reaching up toward the moon. The young woman in the picture had a nice, sweet face, but she had so many arms that she looked like a spider. The daughter was going to see which pair would look best and then scratch out all the others. But, as I said, she died before she had the chance to make up her mind. They kept this picture over the head of the bed in her room, and they hung flowers on it every time her birthday came around. At other times, it was partially hidden behind a little curtain.

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