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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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NEXT day, towards night, we laid up under a little willow towhead out in the middle, where there was a village on each side of the river, and the duke and the king begun to lay out a plan for working them towns. Jim he spoke to the duke, and said he hoped it wouldn’t take but a few hours, because it got mighty heavy and tiresome to him when he had to lay all day in the wigwam tied with the rope. You see, when we left him all alone we had to tie him, because if anybody happened on to him all by himself and not tied it wouldn’t look much like he was a runaway nigger, you know. So the duke said it WAS kind of hard to have to lay roped all day, and he’d cipher out some way to get around it. The next day, around nightfall, we hid under a little willow towhead out in the middle of the river where there was a village on each bank. The duke and the king began to lay out a plan for conning the people in those towns. Jim told the duke that he hoped it would only take a few hours. Jim got pretty bored whenever he had to lay around in the wigwam all day tied with the rope. We had to tie him up whenever we left him by himself, you see, so that he looked liked a captured runaway n----- if anyone found him. The duke agreed that it was KIND of hard to have to stay tied up all day, and he said he’d figure out a way around it.
He was uncommon bright, the duke was, and he soon struck it. He dressed Jim up in King Lear’s outfit—it was a long curtain-calico gown, and a white horse-hair wig and whiskers; and then he took his theater paint and painted Jim’s face and hands and ears and neck all over a dead, dull, solid blue, like a man that’s been drownded nine days. Blamed if he warn’t the horriblest looking outrage I ever see. Then the duke took and wrote out a sign on a shingle so: The duke was unusually smart, and he soon came up with a plan. He dressed Jim up in King Lear’s outfit—which was just a calico gown made out of a long curtain with a white wig made of horse hair and whiskers. Then he took his theater paint and painted Jim’s face, hands, ears, and neck in a dull, solid blue. He looked like a drowned man that has been dead for nine days. He was one of the most gruesome things I’ve ever seen. Then the duke made a sign on a shingle that said:
Sick Arab—but harmless when not out of his head. Sick Arab—but harmless when not going crazy.
And he nailed that shingle to a lath, and stood the lath up four or five foot in front of the wigwam. Jim was satisfied. He said it was a sight better than lying tied a couple of years every day, and trembling all over every time there was a sound. The duke told him to make himself free and easy, and if anybody ever come meddling around, he must hop out of the wigwam, and carry on a little, and fetch a howl or two like a wild beast, and he reckoned they would light out and leave him alone. Which was sound enough judgment; but you take the average man, and he wouldn’t wait for him to howl. Why, he didn’t only look like he was dead, he looked considerable more than that. Then he nailed the shingle to to a lath and stood the lath up four or five feet in front of the wigwam. Jim was satisfied. He said this was a lot better than having to lie tied up for what seemed like a couple of years every day, trembling all over whenever he heard a sound. The duke told him to make himself comfortable. If anyone came snooping around, then he could just hop out of the wigam, make a scene, and howl once or twice like a wild beast. They’d run off and leave him alone. This seemed like a solid idea, though most men probably wouldn’t wait for Jim to howl before he ran off. He’d take off at the mere sight of Jim, who looked considerably worse than a dead guy.
These rapscallions wanted to try the Nonesuch again, because there was so much money in it, but they judged it wouldn’t be safe, because maybe the news might a worked along down by this time. They couldn’t hit no project that suited exactly; so at last the duke said he reckoned he’d lay off and work his brains an hour or two and see if he couldn’t put up something on the Arkansaw village; and the king he allowed he would drop over to t’other village without any plan, but just trust in Providence to lead him the profitable way—meaning the devil, I reckon. We had all bought store clothes where we stopped last; and now the king put his’n on, and he told me to put mine on. I done it, of course. The king’s duds was all black, and he did look real swell and starchy. I never knowed how clothes could change a body before. Why, before, he looked like the orneriest old rip that ever was; but now, when he’d take off his new white beaver and make a bow and do a smile, he looked that grand and good and pious that you’d say he had walked right out of the ark, and maybe was old Leviticus himself. Jim cleaned up the canoe, and I got my paddle ready. There was a big steamboat laying at the shore away up under the point, about three mile above the town—been there a couple of hours, taking on freight. Says the king: Those rascals wanted to try the Nonesuch scam again, since it didn’t cost a lot of money up front. They figured it wouldn’t be safe, though, because news of the scam might have traveled this way down the river by this time. They couldn’t come up with another suitable scam, however. Finally, they quit discussing, and the duke said he reckoned he’d think on it for an hour or two to see if he couldn’t come up with something to fool the people in the village on the Arkansas side of the river. The king said he’d pop over to the village on the other side of the river; he had no specific plan in mind but trusted that Providence would lead him to something profitable—and by Providence, I think he meant the devil. We had all purchased nice store-bought clothes in the last place we’d stopped at. The king put his clothes on and told me to do the same, which I did. The king’s clothes were all black, and he looked stiff, but nice. I never realized how much clothes could transform a person. Before, the king looked like the meanest old coot you’d ever seen, but after he took off his white beaver hat and bowed and smiled, he looked so grand and pious that you’d think he was Noah or old

Leviticus

Third book of the Old Testament; Huck is confusing Leviticus the book with an actual person—probably Noah—from the Old Testament

Leviticus
. Jim cleaned up the canoe, and I got my paddle ready. There was a big steamboat near the shore under the point about three miles above the town. It had been there for about three hours as the men loaded freight on it. So the king said:
“Seein’ how I’m dressed, I reckon maybe I better arrive down from St. Louis or Cincinnati, or some other big place. Go for the steamboat, Huckleberry; we’ll come down to the village on her.” “Since I’m dressed so nicely, I suppose I should tell people that I came from St. Louis or Cincinnati or some other big city. Head for the steamboat, Huckleberry—we’ll ride on it down to the village.”
I didn’t have to be ordered twice to go and take a steamboat ride. I fetched the shore a half a mile above the village, and then went scooting along the bluff bank in the easy water. Pretty soon we come to a nice innocent-looking young country jake setting on a log swabbing the sweat off of his face, for it was powerful warm weather; and he had a couple of big carpet-bags by him. I didn’t have to be told twice to take a steamboat ride. I brought the canoe to shore about a half mile north of the village and then went paddling along in the calm waters along the bank under the bluff. We soon came to a nice, innocent-looking country fellow sitting on a log and wiping the sweat off his face. It was a very warm day. He had a couple of big

carpetbags

large traveling bags made from the same material used to make carpets

carpetbags
next to him.

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