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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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“But dis one do SMELL so like de nation, Huck.” “But this one does SMELL like a pile of garbage, Huck.”
“Well, they all do, Jim. We can’t help the way a king smells; history don’t tell no way.” “Well, they all do, Jim. We can’t change the way kings smell. History doesn’t talk about that anyway.”
“Now de duke, he’s a tolerble likely man in some ways.” “Now the duke, he’s not such a bad guy in some ways.”
“Yes, a duke’s different. But not very different. This one’s a middling hard lot for a duke. When he’s drunk there ain’t no near-sighted man could tell him from a king.” “Yeah, the duke is different. But not that different. This one’s kind of a rough duke. When he gets drunk, no one would be able to tell the difference between him and a king.”
“Well, anyways, I doan’ hanker for no mo’ un um, Huck. Dese is all I kin stan’.” “Well, anyways, I’m not eager to have any more of them, Huck. This is all I can stand.”
“It’s the way I feel, too, Jim. But we’ve got them on our hands, and we got to remember what they are, and make allowances. Sometimes I wish we could hear of a country that’s out of kings.” “I feel that way too, Jim, but we’ve got them on our hands. We’ve got to remember what they are and cut them some slack. Sometimes I wish we found out about a country that’s run out of kings.”
What was the use to tell Jim these warn’t real kings and dukes? It wouldn’t a done no good; and, besides, it was just as I said: you couldn’t tell them from the real kind. What was the use to tell Jim that these guys weren’t really a king and duke? It wouldn’t have done any good. Besides, it was just like I said—you couldn’t tell the difference between them and the real ones anyway.
I went to sleep, and Jim didn’t call me when it was my turn. He often done that. When I waked up just at daybreak he was sitting there with his head down betwixt his knees, moaning and mourning to himself. I didn’t take notice nor let on. I knowed what it was about. He was thinking about his wife and his children, away up yonder, and he was low and homesick; because he hadn’t ever been away from home before in his life; and I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their’n. It don’t seem natural, but I reckon it’s so. He was often moaning and mourning that way nights, when he judged I was asleep, and saying, “Po’ little ’Lizabeth! po’ little Johnny! it’s mighty hard; I spec’ I ain’t ever gwyne to see you no mo’, no mo’!” He was a mighty good nigger, Jim was. I went to sleep, and Jim didn’t call me when it was my turn to steer. He did that pretty often. When I woke up at daybreak, he was sitting there with his head down between his knees, moaning and crying to himself. I pretended not to notice. I knew what it was all about. He was thinking about his wife and his children back upriver, and he was feeling miserable and homesick. He’d never been away from home before in his life, and I believe he cared just as much about his family as white folks do for theirs. It doesn’t seem natural that he would, but I guess it’s so. He was often moaning and crying like that at night when he thought I was asleep. He’d say things like, “Poor little ‘Lizabeth! Poor little Johnny! It’s mighty hard. I expect I won’t ever get to see you anymore. Not any more!” He was a good n-----, Jim.
But this time I somehow got to talking to him about his wife and young ones; and by and by he says: This time, though, I started talking to him about his wife and young ones, and after a while he said:
“What makes me feel so bad dis time ’uz bekase I hear sumpn over yonder on de bank like a whack, er a slam, while ago, en it mine me er de time I treat my little ’Lizabeth so ornery. She warn’t on’y ’bout fo’ year ole, en she tuck de sk’yarlet fever, en had a powful rough spell; but she got well, en one day she was a-stannin’ aroun’, en I says to her, I says: “I feel so bad this time because I heard something on the bank that sounded like a whack or a slam a while ago, and it reminded me of the time I was mean to my little ’Lizabeth. She was only four years old, and she caught a bad case of

scarlet fever

deadly bacterial infection prevalent in the nineteenth century; survivers were sometimes left blind or deaf

scarlet fever
. But she got well, and one day she was standing around, and I said to her:
“’Shet de do’.’ “‘Shut the door.’”
“She never done it; jis’ stood dah, kiner smilin’ up at me. It make me mad; en I says agin, mighty loud, I says: “She didn’t do it. She just stood there, smiling at me. It made me mad, so I said again—pretty loudly this time:
“’Doan’ you hear me? Shet de do’!’ “‘Don’t you hear me? Shut the door!’”
“She jis stood de same way, kiner smilin’ up. I was a-bilin’! I says: “She just stood there the same way, sort of smiling. I was boiling angry! I said:
“’I lay I MAKE you mine!’ “‘I swear I’ll make you MIND me!’”
“En wid dat I fetch’ her a slap side de head dat sont her a-sprawlin’. Den I went into de yuther room, en ’uz gone ’bout ten minutes; en when I come back dah was dat do’ a-stannin’ open YIT, en dat chile stannin’ mos’ right in it, a-lookin’ down and mournin’, en de tears runnin’ down. My, but I WUZ mad! I was a-gwyne for de chile, but jis’ den—it was a do’ dat open innerds—jis’ den, ’long come de wind en slam it to, behine de chile, ker-BLAM!—en my lan’, de chile never move’! My breff mos’ hop outer me; en I feel so—so—I doan’ know HOW I feel. I crope out, all a-tremblin’, en crope aroun’ en open de do’ easy en slow, en poke my head in behine de chile, sof’ en still, en all uv a sudden I says POW! jis’ as loud as I could yell. SHE NEVER BUDGE! Oh, Huck, I bust out a-cryin’ en grab her up in my arms, en say, ’Oh, de po’ little thing! De Lord God Amighty fogive po’ ole Jim, kaze he never gwyne to fogive hisself as long’s he live!’ Oh, she was plumb deef en dumb, Huck, plumb deef en dumb—en I’d ben a-treat’n her so!” “And with that I grabbed her and slapped the side of her head and sent her sprawling. Then I went into the other room and was gone about ten minutes. When I came back, the door was still open. The child standing in the doorway, looking down, crying, with tears running down her face. Man, was I MAD! I went for the child, but just then along came the wind and slammed the door shut behind the child—ka-BLAM!—and, my Lord, the child never moved! My breath almost jumped out of me, and I felt so… so… I know how I felt. I crept out trembling, then crept around her and opened the door nice and slowly. I poked my head in behind the child, soft and quiet, until I suddenly yelled ‘POW!’ as loudly as I could. SHE NEVER BUDGED! Oh Huck, I burst out crying and grabbed her in my arms and said, ‘Oh, poor little thing! Let the Lord God Almighty forgive poor old Jim because he is never going to forgive himself as long as he lives!’ She was completely deaf, and she couldn’t speak either. And I’d been treating her so horribly!”

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