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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Well, when Tom and me got to the edge of the hilltop we looked away down into the village and could see three or four lights twinkling, where there was sick folks, maybe; and the stars over us was sparkling ever so fine; and down by the village was the river, a whole mile broad, and awful still and grand. We went down the hill and found Jo Harper and Ben Rogers, and two or three more of the boys, hid in the old tanyard. So we unhitched a skiff and pulled down the river two mile and a half, to the big scar on the hillside, and went ashore. Well, when Tom and I got to the top of the hill, we looked down at the village and could see three or four lights twinkling, which might have been the homes of sick people who were up late. The starts above us were sparkling so prettily, and down by the village you could see the river, which was a whole mile wide, still and grand. We went down the hill to the old

tanyard

place where animal hides were tanned

tanyard
, where we found Jo Harper, Ben Rogers, and two or three other boys. We untied a

skiff

small boat

skiff
and floated down the river for two and a half miles before going ashore near the big scar on the hillside.
We went to a clump of bushes, and Tom made everybody swear to keep the secret, and then showed them a hole in the hill, right in the thickest part of the bushes. Then we lit the candles, and crawled in on our hands and knees. We went about two hundred yards, and then the cave opened up. Tom poked about amongst the passages, and pretty soon ducked under a wall where you wouldn’t a noticed that there was a hole. We went along a narrow place and got into a kind of room, all damp and sweaty and cold, and there we stopped. Tom says: We went over to a clump of bushes. Tom made everybody swear to secrecy, and then he showed us a hole in the hill, right in the thickest part of the bushes. We lit the candles and crawled into the hole on our hands and knees. After about two hundred yards, the cave opened up. Tom explored some of the passages, before finally ducking under a wall where you couldn’t even tell that there was a hole. We went along a narrow passageway until we came to a kind of damp, cold room. We stopped there, and Tom said:
“Now, we’ll start this band of robbers and call it Tom Sawyer’s Gang. Everybody that wants to join has got to take an oath, and write his name in blood.” “Now, let’s start a band of robbers. We’ll call it Tom Sawyer’s Gang. Everybody who wants to join has got to swear an oath and write his name in blood.”
Everybody was willing. So Tom got out a sheet of paper that he had wrote the oath on, and read it. It swore every boy to stick to the band, and never tell any of the secrets; and if anybody done anything to any boy in the band, whichever boy was ordered to kill that person and his family must do it, and he mustn’t eat and he mustn’t sleep till he had killed them and hacked a cross in their breasts, which was the sign of the band. And nobody that didn’t belong to the band could use that mark, and if he did he must be sued; and if he done it again he must be killed. And if anybody that belonged to the band told the secrets, he must have his throat cut, and then have his carcass burnt up and the ashes scattered all around, and his name blotted off of the list with blood and never mentioned again by the gang, but have a curse put on it and be forgot forever. Everybody agreed, so Tom got out a sheet of paper and read the oath he’d already written on it. The oath declared that every boy in the gang had to stick to the gang and never tell any of its secrets. If anyone else harmed a boy in the gang, then the gang would choose one of its members to kill that person and his family. The boy would not be allowed to eat or sleep until he’d killed them and hacked a cross on each of their chests—the cross being the sign of the gang. Only gang members could use that sign. Anyone else who did would be sued, and if they did it again, they’d be killed. If a member told the gang’s secrets, then his throat would be cut, his body burned, and his ashes scattered everywhere. His name would be smeared off the roster with blood and cursed so that it would be forgotten forever.
Everybody said it was a real beautiful oath, and asked Tom if he got it out of his own head. He said, some of it, but the rest was out of pirate-books and robber-books, and every gang that was high-toned had it. Everbody said that it was a wonderful oath and asked Tom if he’d made it up himself. He said he’d made up some of it on his own, but got the rest from books about pirates and robbers. He said that every proper, first class gang used it.
Some thought it would be good to kill the FAMILIES of boys that told the secrets. Tom said it was a good idea, so he took a pencil and wrote it in. Then Ben Rogers says: Some of the boys thought it would be a good idea to also kill the FAMILIES of the boys who told the gang’s secrets. Tom liked the idea, so he took a pencil and added it in. Then Ben Rogers said:
“Here’s Huck Finn, he hain’t got no family; what you going to do ’bout him?” “But what about Huck Finn? He ain’t got no family. What are you going to do about him?”
“Well, hain’t he got a father?” says Tom Sawyer. “Well, ain’t he got a father?” asked Tom Sawyer.
“Yes, he’s got a father, but you can’t never find him these days. He used to lay drunk with the hogs in the tanyard, but he hain’t been seen in these parts for a year or more.” “Yeah, he’s got a father, but nobody knows where to find him these days. He used to lay with the hogs in the tanyard when he was drunk, but no one has seen him around here for more than a year.”
They talked it over, and they was going to rule me out, because they said every boy must have a family or somebody to kill, or else it wouldn’t be fair and square for the others. Well, nobody could think of anything to do—everybody was stumped, and set still. I was most ready to cry; but all at once I thought of a way, and so I offered them Miss Watson—they could kill her. Everybody said: They talked it over and were going to kick me out of the gang. They said every boy had to have a family or someone to kill if he told the gang’s secrets. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be fair to the other boys. No one could think of what to do—we were all stumped and just sat there thinking. I was just about to cry, when I thought of a solution. I said they could kill Miss Watson if I told any secrets. Everbody said:
“Oh, she’ll do. That’s all right. Huck can come in.” “Oh, perfect. She’ll do. Now Huck’s in the gang.”
Then they all stuck a pin in their fingers to get blood to sign with, and I made my mark on the paper. Then everyone stuck a needle in his finger to draw blood to sign his name, and I made my

mark

symbol used by people who didn’t know how to write to indicate a signature

mark
on the paper.
“Now,” says Ben Rogers, “what’s the line of business of this Gang?” “Now,” said Ben Rogers, “What’s the main purpose of this gang?”
“Nothing only robbery and murder,” Tom said. “Nothing, except robbery and murder,” Tom said.
“But who are we going to rob?—houses, or cattle, or—” “But whom are we going to rob? Houses or cattle or….?”
“Stuff! stealing cattle and such things ain’t robbery; it’s burglary,” says Tom Sawyer. “We ain’t burglars. That ain’t no sort of style. We are highwaymen. We stop stages and carriages on the road, with masks on, and kill the people and take their watches and money.” “Stuff! Stealing cattle and things like that ain’t robbery—it’s burglary,” said Tom Sawyer. “We ain’t burglers. Where’s the adventure in that? We’re highwaymen. We wear masks and stop stagecoaches and carriages on the road, kill people, and take their watches and money.”

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