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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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I CREPT to their doors and listened; they was snoring. So I tiptoed along, and got down stairs all right. There warn’t a sound anywheres. I peeped through a crack of the dining-room door, and see the men that was watching the corpse all sound asleep on their chairs. The door was open into the parlor, where the corpse was laying, and there was a candle in both rooms. I passed along, and the parlor door was open; but I see there warn’t nobody in there but the remainders of Peter; so I shoved on by; but the front door was locked, and the key wasn’t there. Just then I heard somebody coming down the stairs, back behind me. I run in the parlor and took a swift look around, and the only place I see to hide the bag was in the coffin. The lid was shoved along about a foot, showing the dead man’s face down in there, with a wet cloth over it, and his shroud on. I tucked the money-bag in under the lid, just down beyond where his hands was crossed, which made me creep, they was so cold, and then I run back across the room and in behind the door. I crept to their doors and listened—they were snoring. So I tiptoed along and down the stairs safely. The house was so quiet—you couldn’t hear a sound. I peeped through a crack in the dining room door and saw that the men who were watching the corpse had all fallen asleep on their chairs. The door that led into the parlor, where the corpse was laying, was open. Each room had a candle. I continued on through the door and into the parlor. There wasn’t anyone there; only Peter’s remains. I kept going to the front door, but it was locked and there was no key. Just then I heard someone coming down the stairs behind me. I ran to the parlor, took a quick look around, and saw that the only place to hide the bag was in the coffin. The lid was shoved down part way so you could see the dead man’s face with a wet cloth over it and the shroud he was wearing. I tucked the bag of money in under the lid, just beyond where his hands were crossed. The hands creeped me out because they were so cold. Then I ran back across the room and hid behind the door.
The person coming was Mary Jane. She went to the coffin, very soft, and kneeled down and looked in; then she put up her handkerchief, and I see she begun to cry, though I couldn’t hear her, and her back was to me. I slid out, and as I passed the dining-room I thought I’d make sure them watchers hadn’t seen me; so I looked through the crack, and everything was all right. They hadn’t stirred. The person who’d come down the stairs was Mary Jane. She went to the coffin very quietly, kneeled down, and looked in. Then she put her handkerchief to her eyes, and I could see that she had started crying. I couldn’t hear her, though, because her back was to me. I slid out from my hiding spot. As I passed the dining room, I double checked to make sure the two men watching the body hadn’t seen me. I look through the crack, and everything looked okay—they hadn’t stirred at all.
I slipped up to bed, feeling ruther blue, on accounts of the thing playing out that way after I had took so much trouble and run so much resk about it. Says I, if it could stay where it is, all right; because when we get down the river a hundred mile or two I could write back to Mary Jane, and she could dig him up again and get it; but that ain’t the thing that’s going to happen; the thing that’s going to happen is, the money ’ll be found when they come to screw on the lid. Then the king ’ll get it again, and it ’ll be a long day before he gives anybody another chance to smouch it from him. Of course I WANTED to slide down and get it out of there, but I dasn’t try it. Every minute it was getting earlier now, and pretty soon some of them watchers would begin to stir, and I might get catched—catched with six thousand dollars in my hands that nobody hadn’t hired me to take care of. I don’t wish to be mixed up in no such business as that, I says to myself. I snuck upstairs and back to bed. I was feeling kind of down about the way things turned out after I’d gone to so much trouble and risk. It’s okay if the money bag stays were it is, I told myself, because I can write to Mary Jane after we get down the river one or two hundred miles. She can dig him up again and get the money. But that probably wasn’t going to happen. What would happen is the money will be found when they screw on the coffin lid. Then the king will get the money again, and it’ll be a long time before there will ever be another opportunity to steal it from him. Of course, I WANTED to slip back downstairs and get the money back out of the coffin, but I knew I shouldn’t try it. Morning was approaching with every minute and pretty soon some of those men downstairs would begin to wake. If I tried, I might get caught—caught with six thousand dollars in my hands that no one had put me in charge of. I don’t want to be mixed up in anything like that, I told myself.
When I got down stairs in the morning the parlor was shut up, and the watchers was gone. There warn’t nobody around but the family and the widow Bartley and our tribe. I watched their faces to see if anything had been happening, but I couldn’t tell. When I went downstairs in the morning, the parlor was shut up and the sentries were gone. There wasn’t anyone around except for the family, the widow Bartley, our group. I watched their faces to see if anything unsual was going on, but I couldn’t tell.
Towards the middle of the day the undertaker come with his man, and they set the coffin in the middle of the room on a couple of chairs, and then set all our chairs in rows, and borrowed more from the neighbors till the hall and the parlor and the dining-room was full. I see the coffin lid was the way it was before, but I dasn’t go to look in under it, with folks around. The undertaker came with his assistant around noon, and they put the coffin in the middle of the room on a couple of chairs. Then they put all the chairs in rows. They borrowed some more chairs from the neighbors until they had filled the hall, parlor, and dining room. I saw that the coffin lid was still partly closed, like it had been before, but I couldn’t risk looking under it with everyone around.
Then the people begun to flock in, and the beats and the girls took seats in the front row at the head of the coffin, and for a half an hour the people filed around slow, in single rank, and looked down at the dead man’s face a minute, and some dropped in a tear, and it was all very still and solemn, only the girls and the beats holding handkerchiefs to their eyes and keeping their heads bent, and sobbing a little. There warn’t no other sound but the scraping of the feet on the floor and blowing noses—because people always blows them more at a funeral than they do at other places except church. People began flocking in. The women and the girls took seats in the front row at the head of coffin. For the next half hour, people came in slowly, in single file, and looked down at the dead man’s face for a minute. The girls and women kept their heads bent with handkerchiefs held to their eyes as they cried. It was all very still and solemn. The only other sounds were for the scraping of feet on the floor and the blowing of noses. People always seem to blow their noses more at funerals than they do at other places, except church.
When the place was packed full the undertaker he slid around in his black gloves with his softy soothering ways, putting on the last touches, and getting people and things all ship-shape and comfortable, and making no more sound than a cat. He never spoke; he moved people around, he squeezed in late ones, he opened up passageways, and done it with nods, and signs with his hands. Then he took his place over against the wall. He was the softest, glidingest, stealthiest man I ever see; and there warn’t no more smile to him than there is to a ham. When the room was packed full, the undertaker in his black gloves moved silently around the room, soothing people, putting on the last touches, and getting people and things settled and comfortable. He never spoke, but used nods and hand signals to move people around, squeeze in late comers, and open up passageways. Then he took his place over against the wall. He was the softest, stealthiest man I’ve ever seen, and he didn’t even have a smile on his face.

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