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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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WELL, when they was all gone the king he asks Mary Jane how they was off for spare rooms, and she said she had one spare room, which would do for Uncle William, and she’d give her own room to Uncle Harvey, which was a little bigger, and she would turn into the room with her sisters and sleep on a cot; and up garret was a little cubby, with a pallet in it. The king said the cubby would do for his valley—meaning me. When the crowd had gone, the king asked Mary Jane if they had any spare bedrooms in the house. She said she had one spare room, where Uncle William could sleep. She would give up her own room, which was a little bigger, to Uncle Harvey, and she would sleep on a cot in a room with her sisters. There was a little nook up in the attic with a pallet in it, which the king said would be perfect for his valet—meaning me.
So Mary Jane took us up, and she showed them their rooms, which was plain but nice. She said she’d have her frocks and a lot of other traps took out of her room if they was in Uncle Harvey’s way, but he said they warn’t. The frocks was hung along the wall, and before them was a curtain made out of calico that hung down to the floor. There was an old hair trunk in one corner, and a guitar-box in another, and all sorts of little knickknacks and jimcracks around, like girls brisken up a room with. The king said it was all the more homely and more pleasanter for these fixings, and so don’t disturb them. The duke’s room was pretty small, but plenty good enough, and so was my cubby. So Mary Jane took us upstairs and showed the king and duke their rooms, which were plain but nice. She said she’d have her frocks and accessories taken out of her room if they were in Uncle Harvey’s way, but he said they weren’t. The frocks were hanging along the wall behind a curtain made of calico that hung down to the floor. There was an old

hair trunk

trunk that, when standing on its end, opens into a miniature vanity.

hair trunk
in one corner and a guitar case in another. All sorts of little knickknacks and odds and ends that girls used to freshen up with were lying around. The king said these details make it more homey and comfortable, and he asked that they not be removed. The duke’s room was pretty small, but good enough, and so was my little nook up in the attic.
That night they had a big supper, and all them men and women was there, and I stood behind the king and the duke’s chairs and waited on them, and the niggers waited on the rest. Mary Jane she set at the head of the table, with Susan alongside of her, and said how bad the biscuits was, and how mean the preserves was, and how ornery and tough the fried chickens was—and all that kind of rot, the way women always do for to force out compliments; and the people all knowed everything was tiptop, and said so—said “How DO you get biscuits to brown so nice?” and “Where, for the land’s sake, DID you get these amaz’n pickles?” and all that kind of humbug talky-talk, just the way people always does at a supper, you know. That night they had a big super, and all of those men and women were there. I stood behind the king and the duke’s chairs and waited on them. The n------ waited on the rest. Mary Jane sat at the head of the table. Susan sat next to her. She kept saying how bad the biscuits were, how course the preserves were, how poor and tough the fried chickens were, and all the other garbage that women always say when looking for compliments. Everyone knew that everything on the table was first rate, and they said so. They said, “How DO you get biscuits to brown so nicely?” and “Where, for land’s sake, DID you get these amazing pickles?” and all that kind of flattery, just the way people always do at supper, you know.
And when it was all done me and the hare-lip had supper in the kitchen off of the leavings, whilst the others was helping the niggers clean up the things. The hare-lip she got to pumping me about England, and blest if I didn’t think the ice was getting mighty thin sometimes. She says: When the meal was done, me and Joanna, the harelipped girl, had ate leftovers in the kitchen while the others helped the n------ clean up. The harelipped girl started asking me about England, and I’ll admit it felt like I was walking on some pretty thin ice sometimes. She said:
“Did you ever see the king?” “Did you ever see the king?”
“Who? William Fourth? Well, I bet I have—he goes to our church.” I knowed he was dead years ago, but I never let on. So when I says he goes to our church, she says: “Who? William IV? Sure I have—he goes to our church.” I knew that he’d died years ago, but I never let on that I knew. So when I said that he goes to our church, she said:
“What—regular?” “Really? Regularly?”
“Yes—regular. His pew’s right over opposite ourn—on t’other side the pulpit.” “Yes, regularly. His pew is right across from ours—on the other side of the pulpit.”
“I thought he lived in London?” “I thought he lived in London.”
“Well, he does. Where WOULD he live?” “Well, he does. Where else WOULD he live?”
“But I thought YOU lived in Sheffield?” “But I thought YOU lived in Sheffield.”
I see I was up a stump. I had to let on to get choked with a chicken bone, so as to get time to think how to get down again. Then I says: I saw that I was trapped. I had to pretend I was choking on a chicken bone to stall for time so I could think of a way out. Then I said:
“I mean he goes to our church regular when he’s in Sheffield. That’s only in the summer time, when he comes there to take the sea baths.” “I mean, he goes to our church regularly when he’s in Sheffield. That’s only in the summer time, when he goes there to take sea baths.”
“Why, how you talk—Sheffield ain’t on the sea.” “What are you talking about? Sheffield isn’t on the sea.”
“Well, who said it was?” “Well, who said it was?”
“Why, you did.” “You did!”
“I DIDN’T nuther.” “I DIDN’T either.”
“You did!” “You did!”
“I didn’t.” “I didn’t.”
“You did.” “You did.”
“I never said nothing of the kind.” “I never said anything like that.”
“Well, what DID you say, then?” “Well, what DID you say, then?”
“Said he come to take the sea BATHS—that’s what I said.” “I said he comes to take sea BATHS—that’s what I said.”
“Well, then, how’s he going to take the sea baths if it ain’t on the sea?” “Well, then how is he supposed to take a sea bath if it isn’t on the sea?”
“Looky here,” I says; “did you ever see any Congress-water?” “Look here,” I said. “Have you ever seen

Congress water

saltwater from the Congress spring in New York

Congress water
?”
“Yes.” “Yes.”
“Well, did you have to go to Congress to get it?” “Well, did you have to Congress to get it?”
“Why, no.” “Well, no.”
“Well, neither does William Fourth have to go to the sea to get a sea bath.” “Well, neither does William IV have to go to the sea to get a sea bath.”
“How does he get it, then?” “How does he get it then?”
“Gets it the way people down here gets Congress-water—in barrels. There in the palace at Sheffield they’ve got furnaces, and he wants his water hot. They can’t bile that amount of water away off there at the sea. They haven’t got no conveniences for it.” “He gets it the same way people down here get Congress water—in barrels. There are furnaces in his palace in Sheffield, and he likes his baths hot. They can’t boil that much water that far away from the sea—they don’t have the technological capability to do that.”
“Oh, I see, now. You might a said that in the first place and saved time.” “Oh, I get it. You could have said that in the first place and saved time.”

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