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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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“Yes, he is. He ain’t ever told me you was here; told me to come, and he’d show me a lot of water-moccasins. If anything happens HE ain’t mixed up in it. He can say he never seen us together, and it ’ll be the truth.” “Yes, he is. He didn’t even tell me that you were here—he told me to follow him so that he could show me some water moccasins. That way, if anything bad happens, he won’t be in trouble. He can honestly say he’s never seen us together.”
I don’t want to talk much about the next day. I reckon I’ll cut it pretty short. I waked up about dawn, and was a-going to turn over and go to sleep again when I noticed how still it was—didn’t seem to be anybody stirring. That warn’t usual. Next I noticed that Buck was up and gone. Well, I gets up, a-wondering, and goes down stairs—nobody around; everything as still as a mouse. Just the same outside. Thinks I, what does it mean? Down by the wood-pile I comes across my Jack, and says: I don’t want to talk much about the day that followed, so I guess I’ll just sum it up quickly. I woke up at dawn and was going to roll over and go back to sleep when I noticed how quiet everything was—there didn’t seem to be anyone else stirring in the house. That wasn’t normal. Then I noticed that Buck was gone. I got up, wondering what was going on. I went downstairs, but there wasn’t anyone around. Everything was as still as a mouse. It was just the same outside. What’s going on, I wondered. I ran across my Jack down by the woodpile. I said:
“What’s it all about?” “What’s going on?”
Says he: He said:
“Don’t you know, Mars Jawge?” “Don’t you know, Master George?”
“No,” says I, “I don’t.” “No,” I said. “I don’t.”
“Well, den, Miss Sophia’s run off! ’deed she has. She run off in de night some time—nobody don’t know jis’ when; run off to get married to dat young Harney Shepherdson, you know—leastways, so dey ’spec. De fambly foun’ it out ’bout half an hour ago—maybe a little mo’—en’ I TELL you dey warn’t no time los’. Sich another hurryin’ up guns en hosses YOU never see! De women folks has gone for to stir up de relations, en ole Mars Saul en de boys tuck dey guns en rode up de river road for to try to ketch dat young man en kill him ’fo’ he kin git acrost de river wid Miss Sophia. I reck’n dey’s gwyne to be mighty rough times.” “Well, Miss Sophia has run away! Yes sir, she has! She ran off sometime in the middle of the night. No one knows where she went. They think she just ran off to get married to that young Harney Shepherdson. The family found out about it about half an hour ago or so. I TELL you they didn’t waste any time taking action. You’ve never seen such a flurry of guns and horses! The women went gather the rest of the relatives, and old Master Saul and the boys took the guns and went up the river road to catch that young man and kill him before he can get across the river with Miss Sophia. I’d bet it’s about to get rough.”
“Buck went off ’thout waking me up.” “Buck left without waking me up?”
“Well, I reck’n he DID! Dey warn’t gwyne to mix you up in it. Mars Buck he loaded up his gun en ’lowed he’s gwyne to fetch home a Shepherdson or bust. Well, dey’ll be plenty un ’m dah, I reck’n, en you bet you he’ll fetch one ef he gits a chanst.” “Well, sure he did! They weren’t going to mix you up in this business. Master Buck loaded his gun and said he was going to kill a Shepherdson or die trying. Well, there will be plenty of them, I imagine, an you can bet he’ll kill one if he gets the chance.”
I took up the river road as hard as I could put. By and by I begin to hear guns a good ways off. When I came in sight of the log store and the woodpile where the steamboats lands I worked along under the trees and brush till I got to a good place, and then I clumb up into the forks of a cottonwood that was out of reach, and watched. There was a wood-rank four foot high a little ways in front of the tree, and first I was going to hide behind that; but maybe it was luckier I didn’t. I ran up the river road as fast as I could. Pretty soon I began to hear guns firing way off in the woods. When I came within sight of the log store and the woodpile where the steamboats land, I began to follow along the treeline and brush until I found a good spot. I was about to hide behind a four-foot high pile of boards that was a little in front of a cottonwood tree, but I decided to climb a tree instead. I climbed up into the forked branches to watch, and it was a lucky thing that I did.
There was four or five men cavorting around on their horses in the open place before the log store, cussing and yelling, and trying to get at a couple of young chaps that was behind the wood-rank alongside of the steamboat landing; but they couldn’t come it. Every time one of them showed himself on the river side of the woodpile he got shot at. The two boys was squatting back to back behind the pile, so they could watch both ways. There were four or five men galloping around on their horses in open space in front of the log store. They were swearing and yelling and trying to get at a couple of young guys who were hiding behind another woodpile near the steamboat landing. They couldn’t make it to the landing, though, because they were getting shot at every time they showed themselves on the river side of the woodpile. The two guys were squatting back to back behind the pile, so they could see in both directions.
By and by the men stopped cavorting around and yelling. They started riding towards the store; then up gets one of the boys, draws a steady bead over the wood-rank, and drops one of them out of his saddle. All the men jumped off of their horses and grabbed the hurt one and started to carry him to the store; and that minute the two boys started on the run. They got half way to the tree I was in before the men noticed. Then the men see them, and jumped on their horses and took out after them. They gained on the boys, but it didn’t do no good, the boys had too good a start; they got to the woodpile that was in front of my tree, and slipped in behind it, and so they had the bulge on the men again. One of the boys was Buck, and the other was a slim young chap about nineteen years old. Pretty soon the men stopped galloping around and yelling. They started riding toward the store. One of the guys behind the woodpile got up, drew a steady bead with his gun over the woodpile, and shot. One of the men on horseback fell out of his saddle. The men jumped off their horses, grabbed the injured man, and started to carry him to the store. That’s when the two guys behind the woodpile started to run. They got halfway to the tree where I was hiding before the other men noticed them. The men jumped on their horses and charged after them. They gained quickly, but it didn’t do any good because the guys had such a good head start. The two men reached the woodpile right in front of my tree and slipped behind it. This gave them the upper hand again. One of the boys was Buck, and the other was a skinny kid about nineteent years old.
The men ripped around awhile, and then rode away. As soon as they was out of sight I sung out to Buck and told him. He didn’t know what to make of my voice coming out of the tree at first. He was awful surprised. He told me to watch out sharp and let him know when the men come in sight again; said they was up to some devilment or other—wouldn’t be gone long. I wished I was out of that tree, but I dasn’t come down. Buck begun to cry and rip, and ’lowed that him and his cousin Joe (that was the other young chap) would make up for this day yet. He said his father and his two brothers was killed, and two or three of the enemy. Said the Shepherdsons laid for them in ambush. Buck said his father and brothers ought to waited for their relations—the Shepherdsons was too strong for them. I asked him what was become of young Harney and Miss Sophia. He said they’d got across the river and was safe. I was glad of that; but the way Buck did take on because he didn’t manage to kill Harney that day he shot at him—I hain’t ever heard anything like it. The men galloped around some more, then rode away. As soon as they were out of sight I called down to Buck. He couldn’t see me, so he was awfully surprised—he didn’t know what to make of my voice coming out of the tree. Then he told me to keep a lookout and let him know when the men came back in sight. He said they were playing some trick and would be back soon. I wished I weren’t in that tree, but I couldn’t risk coming down. Buck began to cry and curse. He said that he and his cousin Joe—that was the other kid—would pay them back for what happened today. He said that his father and his two brothers had been killed as well as two or three Shepherdsons. He said the Shepherdsons had ambushed them. He said that he and his father and brothers should have waited for their relatives to come since the Shepherdsons were too strong for them. I asked what had happened to young Harney and Miss Sophia. He said they’d safely gotten across the river. I was glad to hear that, but Buck carried on about not having been able to kill Harney that day in the woods. I’d never heard anything like it.

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