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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Well, the old man went on asking questions till he just fairly emptied that young fellow. Blamed if he didn’t inquire about everybody and everything in that blessed town, and all about the Wilkses; and about Peter’s business—which was a tanner; and about George’s—which was a carpenter; and about Harvey’s—which was a dissentering minister; and so on, and so on. Then he says: Well, the old king went on asking questions until he pretty much drained that young fellow dry. He must have asked about everybody and everything in that little down, as well as everything about the Wilkses. He also asked about Peter’s business (he was a tanner) and about George’s (a carpenter) as well as about Harvey’s, who was a

dissenting minister

Protestant minister belonging to a denomination that had broken away from the Church of England

dissenting minister
. And on and on. Then he said:
“What did you want to walk all the way up to the steamboat for?” “Why did you want to walk all the way up to the steamboat?”
“Because she’s a big Orleans boat, and I was afeard she mightn’t stop there. When they’re deep they won’t stop for a hail. A Cincinnati boat will, but this is a St. Louis one.” “Because she’s a big New Orleans boat, and I was afraid she might not stop in my small village. When they’re fully loaded, they won’t stop for anything. Boats from Cincinnati will, but this boat came from St. Louis.”
“Was Peter Wilks well off?” “Was Peter Wilks well off?”
“Oh, yes, pretty well off. He had houses and land, and it’s reckoned he left three or four thousand in cash hid up som’ers.” “Oh yes, pretty well off. He had houses and land, and people think he hid three or four thousand dollars in cash somewhere.”
“When did you say he died?” “When did you say he died?”
“I didn’t say, but it was last night.” “I didn’t say. But it was last night.”
“Funeral to-morrow, likely?” “Is it likely that the funeral will be held tomorrow?”
“Yes, ’bout the middle of the day.” “Yes, around the middle of the day.”
“Well, it’s all terrible sad; but we’ve all got to go, one time or another. So what we want to do is to be prepared; then we’re all right.” “Well, it’s terribly sad. But we’ve all got to die sometime. So what we should all do is to be prepared. Then we’ll be all right.”
“Yes, sir, it’s the best way. Ma used to always say that.” “Yes sir, that’s the best way. My mother used to always say that.”
When we struck the boat she was about done loading, and pretty soon she got off. The king never said nothing about going aboard, so I lost my ride, after all. When the boat was gone the king made me paddle up another mile to a lonesome place, and then he got ashore and says: The steamboat was just about finished being loaded when we reach it. The king never said anything about going aboard, so I lost my steamboat ride after all. When the boat was gone, the king made me paddle to a secluded spot another mile or so up river. Then we went ashore and he said:
“Now hustle back, right off, and fetch the duke up here, and the new carpet-bags. And if he’s gone over to t’other side, go over there and git him. And tell him to git himself up regardless. Shove along, now.” “Now hustle back right away and bring the duke here with the new carpetbags. If he’s gone over to the other side of the river, go and get him. Tell him to get himself over here no matter what he’s doing. Go along now.”
I see what HE was up to; but I never said nothing, of course. When I got back with the duke we hid the canoe, and then they set down on a log, and the king told him everything, just like the young fellow had said it—every last word of it. And all the time he was a-doing it he tried to talk like an Englishman; and he done it pretty well, too, for a slouch. I can’t imitate him, and so I ain’t a-going to try to; but he really done it pretty good. Then he says: I could see what HE was up to, but I didn’t say anything, of course. When I got back with the duke, we hid the canoe. Then the two of them sat on a log, and the king told him everything, just as the young fellow had said—every last word of it. The entire time he was describing things to the duke, he tried to use a British accent—and he did a decent job for being such a bum. I can’t imitate him, so I’m not going to try, but he really did a decent job. Then he said:
“How are you on the deef and dumb, Bilgewater?” “How are you at playing deaf and mute, Bilgewater?”
The duke said, leave him alone for that; said he had played a deef and dumb person on the histronic boards. So then they waited for a steamboat. The duke told the king to just leave it to him. He said he’d played a deaf and mute person before. Then they waited for a steamboat.
About the middle of the afternoon a couple of little boats come along, but they didn’t come from high enough up the river; but at last there was a big one, and they hailed her. She sent out her yawl, and we went aboard, and she was from Cincinnati; and when they found we only wanted to go four or five mile they was booming mad, and gave us a cussing, and said they wouldn’t land us. But the king was ca’m. He says: A couple of little boats came along around the middle of the afternoon, but they didn’t come from far enough up the river. At last, a big one came along, and they called out to it. She sent out her

yawl

a small sailboat with two masts

yawl
, and we went aboard. The boat was from Cincinnati, and when the crew found out we only wanted to go four or five miles, they were really angry. They cussed us out and said they wouldn’t take us where we wanted. But the king was calm, and said:
“If gentlemen kin afford to pay a dollar a mile apiece to be took on and put off in a yawl, a steamboat kin afford to carry ’em, can’t it?” “If we gentlemen can afford to pay a dollar a mile on board the yawl, then a steamboat can afford to carry us, can’t it?”
So they softened down and said it was all right; and when we got to the village they yawled us ashore. About two dozen men flocked down when they see the yawl a-coming, and when the king says: They quieted down and said it was okay. When we got to the village, the yawl took us ashore. About two-dozen men in the town flocked down to the river when they saw the yawl coming. The king said:
“Kin any of you gentlemen tell me wher’ Mr. Peter Wilks lives?” they give a glance at one another, and nodded their heads, as much as to say, “What d’ I tell you?” Then one of them says, kind of soft and gentle: “Can any of you gentlement tell me where Mr. Peter Wilks lives?” All the men glanced at one another and nodded their heads as if to say, “What did I tell you?” Then one of them said, softly and gently:
“I’m sorry sir, but the best we can do is to tell you where he DID live yesterday evening.” “I’m sorry, sir, but the best we can do is tell you where he DID live until yesterday evening.”
Sudden as winking the ornery old cretur went an to smash, and fell up against the man, and put his chin on his shoulder, and cried down his back, and says: As fast as you could blink, the mean old king stumbled forward, crashed into the man, put his chin on his shoulder, and started crying tears down his back. He said:
“Alas, alas, our poor brother—gone, and we never got to see him; oh, it’s too, too hard!” “Oh no! Oh no! Our poor brother is… gone! And we never got to see him! Oh, it’s too much! We’re too late!”
Then he turns around, blubbering, and makes a lot of idiotic signs to the duke on his hands, and blamed if he didn’t drop a carpet-bag and bust out a-crying. If they warn’t the beatenest lot, them two frauds, that ever I struck. Then, still blubbering, he turned around and made a lot of crazy signs with his hands to the duke. And that duke played right along by dropping the carpetbag and busting out crying. They were the cleverest bunch of phonies I’d ever seen.

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