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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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THE news was all over town in two minutes, and you could see the people tearing down on the run from every which way, some of them putting on their coats as they come. Pretty soon we was in the middle of a crowd, and the noise of the tramping was like a soldier march. The windows and dooryards was full; and every minute somebody would say, over a fence: The news was all over town in two minutes. You could see the people running down from every direction, some of them still putting on their coats as they came. You could hear the stamping of feet, which sounded like soldiers marching. Pretty soon, we were surrounded by a crowd. The windows and doors of the houses nearby were filled with people leaning out, and every minute someone would lean over a fence, and say:
“Is it THEM?” “Is it THEM?”
And somebody trotting along with the gang would answer back and say: And then someone running along with a bunch of other people would answer back:
“You bet it is.” “You bet it is!”
When we got to the house the street in front of it was packed, and the three girls was standing in the door. Mary Jane WAS red-headed, but that don’t make no difference, she was most awful beautiful, and her face and her eyes was all lit up like glory, she was so glad her uncles was come. The king he spread his arms, and Mary Jane she jumped for them, and the hare-lip jumped for the duke, and there they HAD it! Everybody most, leastways women, cried for joy to see them meet again at last and have such good times. When we got to the house the street in front of it was packed. The three girls were standing in the door. Mary Jane WAS a redhead, but that didn’t make any difference—she was very beautiful, and her face and eyes were all lit up like heaven. She was so glad her uncles had come. The king spread his arms, and Mary Jane jumped in them. The hare-lipped girl jumped for the duke, and they hugged too. Everyone—well, the women anyway—cried for joy to see them finally meet and on such a good occasion.
Then the king he hunched the duke private—I see him do it—and then he looked around and see the coffin, over in the corner on two chairs; so then him and the duke, with a hand across each other’s shoulder, and t’other hand to their eyes, walked slow and solemn over there, everybody dropping back to give them room, and all the talk and noise stopping, people saying “Sh!” and all the men taking their hats off and drooping their heads, so you could a heard a pin fall. And when they got there they bent over and looked in the coffin, and took one sight, and then they bust out a-crying so you could a heard them to Orleans, most; and then they put their arms around each other’s necks, and hung their chins over each other’s shoulders; and then for three minutes, or maybe four, I never see two men leak the way they done. And, mind you, everybody was doing the same; and the place was that damp I never see anything like it. Then one of them got on one side of the coffin, and t’other on t’other side, and they kneeled down and rested their foreheads on the coffin, and let on to pray all to themselves. Well, when it come to that it worked the crowd like you never see anything like it, and everybody broke down and went to sobbing right out loud—the poor girls, too; and every woman, nearly, went up to the girls, without saying a word, and kissed them, solemn, on the forehead, and then put their hand on their head, and looked up towards the sky, with the tears running down, and then busted out and went off sobbing and swabbing, and give the next woman a show. I never see anything so disgusting. The king took the duke aside—I saw him do it—and he looked around and saw the coffin over in the corner on two chairs. So he and the duke, with a hand across each other’s shoulders and another over their eyes, walked slowly and solemnly over to the coffin. Everyone stepped back to give them room, and all the talk and noise stopped as people said, “Sh!” All the men took off their hats and drooped their heads, and it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. When they got there they bent over and looked in the coffin. They took one look, and then they burst into tears. They made such a fuss that you could have heard them down in New Orleans, I bet. Then they put their arms around each other’s necks and hung their chins over each other’s shoulders. They staid this way for three, maybe four, minutes, and I never saw two men cry like they did. And everyone else was doing the same, mind you. The place was so wet with tears—I’ve never seen anything like it. Then they each got on a different side of the coffin, kneeled down, rested their foreheads on the coffin, and pretended to pray to themselves. This little trick had an affect on the crowd unlike anything else, and everyone broke down sobbing out loud, even the poor girls. And nearly every woman went up to the girls and kissed them solemnly on the forehead without saying a word. Then she’d put her hand on their heads and look up toward the sky with tears running down her cheek before bursting into more tears and letting the next woman take a turn. I never saw anything so disgusting.
Well, by and by the king he gets up and comes forward a little, and works himself up and slobbers out a speech, all full of tears and flapdoodle about its being a sore trial for him and his poor brother to lose the diseased, and to miss seeing diseased alive after the long journey of four thousand mile, but it’s a trial that’s sweetened and sanctified to us by this dear sympathy and these holy tears, and so he thanks them out of his heart and out of his brother’s heart, because out of their mouths they can’t, words being too weak and cold, and all that kind of rot and slush, till it was just sickening; and then he blubbers out a pious goody-goody Amen, and turns himself loose and goes to crying fit to bust. Well, pretty soon the king got up and stepped forward a little. He got himself all worked up and slobbered out a speech that was filled with tears and nonsense about how this was such a hard ordeal for him and his poor brother to lose the deceased and to have missed seeing him alive after such a long journey of four thousand miles. But, he said, it was a trial that was sweetened and sanctified by the sympathy of the townsfolk and the tears they shed. So, he thanked them from the bottom of his heart and his brother’s heart because he couldn’t find the right words. He went on with all that rot and garbage, and it was just sickening. And then he blubbered out a pious goody-goody Amen, and then really let loose with a crying fit.
And the minute the words were out of his mouth somebody over in the crowd struck up the doxolojer, and everybody joined in with all their might, and it just warmed you up and made you feel as good as church letting out. Music is a good thing; and after all that soul-butter and hogwash I never see it freshen up things so, and sound so honest and bully. The minute the words were out of his mouth someone in the crowd started singing a

doxology

joyous hymn

doxology
, and everyone joined in with all their might. It just warmed you up and made you feel just as good as if church were letting out. Music is a good thing. And it’s never sounded so pure and fresh than after all that soul buttering and hogwash.
Then the king begins to work his jaw again, and says how him and his nieces would be glad if a few of the main principal friends of the family would take supper here with them this evening, and help set up with the ashes of the diseased; and says if his poor brother laying yonder could speak he knows who he would name, for they was names that was very dear to him, and mentioned often in his letters; and so he will name the same, to wit, as follows, vizz.:—Rev. Mr. Hobson, and Deacon Lot Hovey, and Mr. Ben Rucker, and Abner Shackleford, and Levi Bell, and Dr. Robinson, and their wives, and the widow Bartley. Then the king began to start talking again. He said how he and his nieces would be glad if a few of the deceased’s family and most important friends would have supper here with them this evening and help set everything up with the ashes of the deceased. He said that if his poor dead brother lying over there could speak he’d know who he’d name because they would be the names of those who were very dear to him and whom he mentioned often in his letters. And so the king said he’d name those same people: Rev. Mr. Hobson, Deacon Lot Hovey, Mr. Ben Rucker, Abner Shackleford, Levi Bell, Dr. Robinson, and all their wives, and the widow Bartley.

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