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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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“I reckon that old man was a coward, Buck.” “It sounds to me like that old man was a coward, Buck.”
“I reckon he WARN’T a coward. Not by a blame’ sight. There ain’t a coward amongst them Shepherdsons—not a one. And there ain’t no cowards amongst the Grangerfords either. Why, that old man kep’ up his end in a fight one day for half an hour against three Grangerfords, and come out winner. They was all a-horseback; he lit off of his horse and got behind a little woodpile, and kep’ his horse before him to stop the bullets; but the Grangerfords stayed on their horses and capered around the old man, and peppered away at him, and he peppered away at them. Him and his horse both went home pretty leaky and crippled, but the Grangerfords had to be FETCHED home—and one of ’em was dead, and another died the next day. No, sir; if a body’s out hunting for cowards he don’t want to fool away any time amongst them Shepherdsons, becuz they don’t breed any of that KIND.” “I would say he WASN’T a coward. Not by a long shot. There isn’t a coward among those Shepherdsons—not one. And there aren’t any cowards among the Grangerfords either. Why, that old man fought for half an hour again three Grangerfords—and he came out the winner. They were all on horseback. He jumped off his horse and ducked behind a little pile of wood, keeping his horse in front of him to block the bullets. But the Grangerfords stayed on their horses, circling the old man and shooting at him, and the old man kept shooting back. He and his horse were both shot up when they got back home, but the Grangerfords had to be BROUGHT home—one of them was dead and another died the next day. No, sir—if you’re looking for cowards, don’t waste your time looking among the Shepherdsons. You won’t find them.”
Next Sunday we all went to church, about three mile, everybody a-horseback. The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The Shepherdsons done the same. It was pretty ornery preaching—all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith and good works and free grace and preforeordestination, and I don’t know what all, that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet. On the next Sunday, we all went to church about three miles away. Everyone rode on horseback. The men brought their guns with them, as did Buck. They kept the guns between their knees or leaned against the wall to keep them accessible. The Shepherdsons did the same. The sermon was terrible—all about brotherly love and other nonsense—but everyone said it was a good sermon and talked about it the whole way home. They had a lot to say about faith, good deeds, grace,

preforeordestination

Huck is referring to predestination, the Calvinist belief that God has already determined who will and will not go to heaven

preforeordestination
, and I don’t know what all else. It seemed to me to be one of the worst Sundays I’d ever had.
About an hour after dinner everybody was dozing around, some in their chairs and some in their rooms, and it got to be pretty dull. Buck and a dog was stretched out on the grass in the sun sound asleep. I went up to our room, and judged I would take a nap myself. I found that sweet Miss Sophia standing in her door, which was next to ours, and she took me in her room and shut the door very soft, and asked me if I liked her, and I said I did; and she asked me if I would do something for her and not tell anybody, and I said I would. Then she said she’d forgot her Testament, and left it in the seat at church between two other books, and would I slip out quiet and go there and fetch it to her, and not say nothing to nobody. I said I would. So I slid out and slipped off up the road, and there warn’t anybody at the church, except maybe a hog or two, for there warn’t any lock on the door, and hogs likes a puncheon floor in summer-time because it’s cool. If you notice, most folks don’t go to church only when they’ve got to; but a hog is different. Everyone started dozing off about an hour after dinner, some in their chairs and some in their rooms. Things were getting pretty dull. Buck and his dog were stretched out asleep on the grass in the sun. I went up to our room, planning to take a nap myself. I found sweet Miss Sophia standing in the doorway of her room, which was next to ours. She took me into her room and shut the door. She asked me if I liked her, and I said I did. Then she asked me if I would do something for her and not tell anyone. I said I would. She said she’d accidentally left her Bible at the church. It was in her seat, between two other books. She asked if I could sneak out and bring it back to her without saying anything to anyone. I said I would, and I snuck out and headed down the road. There wasn’t anyone in the church, except maybe a hog or two. The door had no lock, and pigs like to lie on the cool hardwood floors in the summer. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that most folks don’t go to church unless they have to. Pigs are different, though.
Says I to myself, something’s up; it ain’t natural for a girl to be in such a sweat about a Testament. So I give it a shake, and out drops a little piece of paper with “HALF-PAST TWO” wrote on it with a pencil. I ransacked it, but couldn’t find anything else. I couldn’t make anything out of that, so I put the paper in the book again, and when I got home and upstairs there was Miss Sophia in her door waiting for me. She pulled me in and shut the door; then she looked in the Testament till she found the paper, and as soon as she read it she looked glad; and before a body could think she grabbed me and give me a squeeze, and said I was the best boy in the world, and not to tell anybody. She was mighty red in the face for a minute, and her eyes lighted up, and it made her powerful pretty. I was a good deal astonished, but when I got my breath I asked her what the paper was about, and she asked me if I had read it, and I said no, and she asked me if I could read writing, and I told her “no, only coarse-hand,” and then she said the paper warn’t anything but a book-mark to keep her place, and I might go and play now. Something’s up, I said to myself. It’s not normal for a girl to be so worried about a Bible. So I picked up the book, shook it a bit, and a piece of paper fell out. It said “HALF PAST TWO O’CLOCK” in pencil. I looked through the rest of the book, but couldn’t find anything else. I didn’t understand what the message meant, so I put the paper back inside, and headed back home. When I got there, Miss Sophia was waiting for me up in her room. She pulled me inside and shut the door. Then she looked in the Bible until she found the paper. She looked glad as she read it. Before I knew it, she had grabbed me and squeezed me tightly and said I was the best boy in the world. She also reminded me not to tell anyone. Her face was red for a minute. When I got my breath back, I asked her what the paper was all about. She asked me if I had read it, and I said no. And then she asked me if I could read at all, and I said, “Not really—only

coarse hand

print, as opposed to cursive

coarse hand
.” Then she said the paper was only a bookmark to help keep her place. Then she said that I could go and play now.

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