At last they got out the coffin and begun to unscrew the lid, and then
such another crowding and shouldering and shoving as there was, to scrouge
in and get a sight, you never see; and in the dark, that way, it was awful.
Hines he hurt my wrist dreadful pulling and tugging so, and I reckon he
clean forgot I was in the world, he was so excited and panting.
At last they pulled out the coffin and began to unscrew the lid. There was
more crowding and shoulder rubbing and shoving to take a look than you’ve
ever seen. And because it was all happening in the dark, it was just awful.
Hines pulled and tugged so hard that he hurt my wrist pretty badly—I suppose
he forgot that I even existed. He was panting with excitement.
All of a sudden the lightning let go a perfect sluice of white glare, and
somebody sings out:
All of a sudden the lightning flashed a perfect bolt of white light.
Someone cried out:
“By the living jingo, here’s the bag of gold on his breast!”
“By devil, here’s the bag of gold on his breast!”
Hines let out a whoop, like everybody else, and dropped my wrist and give
a big surge to bust his way in and get a look, and the way I lit out and
shinned for the road in the dark there ain’t nobody can tell.
Hines let out a whoop along with everyone else. He let go of my wrist and
shoved his way forward to get a look. That’s when I took off. You’ve never
seen anyone run faster than I did as I headed for the road.
I had the road all to myself, and I fairly flew—leastways, I had it all to
myself except the solid dark, and the now-and-then glares, and the buzzing
of the rain, and the thrashing of the wind, and the splitting of the
thunder; and sure as you are born I did clip it along!
I was alone on the road—well, except for the darkness, the flashes of
lightening, the pelting rain, the thrashing wind, and the ear-splitting
thunder. I flew along that road, and as sure as you were born, I ran
When I struck the town I see there warn’t nobody out in the storm, so I
never hunted for no back streets, but humped it straight through the main
one; and when I begun to get towards our house I aimed my eye and set it. No
light there; the house all dark—which made me feel sorry and disappointed, I
didn’t know why. But at last, just as I was sailing by, FLASH comes the
light in Mary Jane’s window! and my heart swelled up sudden, like to bust;
and the same second the house and all was behind me in the dark, and wasn’t
ever going to be before me no more in this world. She WAS the best girl I
ever see, and had the most sand.
When I reached the town, I saw that there wasn’t anyone out in the storm,
so I didn’t bother going down the back streets. Instead, I ran straight down
the main street. As I got closer to our house, I ran even harder straight
for it. The house was completely dark; there was no light at all. I don’t
know why, but this made me feel sad and disappointed. But just when I was
running by, FLASH came a light in Mary Jane’s window! My heart swelled so
much that it could have burst. In another second the house and everything
else was behind me and in the dark. Never again would I be back, not in this
lifetime anyway. She WAS the best girl I ever met, and the most courageous
The minute I was far enough above the town to see I could make the
towhead, I begun to look sharp for a boat to borrow, and the first time the
lightning showed me one that wasn’t chained I snatched it and shoved. It was
a canoe, and warn’t fastened with nothing but a rope. The towhead was a
rattling big distance off, away out there in the middle of the river, but I
didn’t lose no time; and when I struck the raft at last I was so fagged I
would a just laid down to blow and gasp if I could afforded it. But I
didn’t. As I sprung aboard I sung out:
As soon as I was far enough above the town that I could reach the towhead,
I began to look carefully for a boat I could borrow. The first time the
lightning lit up a boat that wasn’t chained, I took it and shoved off into
the river. It was a canoe that had been fastened to the shore with a rope.
The towhead was pretty far off in the distance, way out in the middle of the
river, but I didn’t waste any time. When I finally reached the raft, I was
so exhausted I could have just lied down and heaved and gasped for breath,
if I had the time. But I didn’t. As I got aboard I cried out:
“Out with you, Jim, and set her loose! Glory be to goodness, we’re shut of
“Come out here, Jim, and set the raft loose! Good gracious, we’re rid of
Jim lit out, and was a-coming for me with both arms spread, he was so full
of joy; but when I glimpsed him in the lightning my heart shot up in my
mouth and I went overboard backwards; for I forgot he was old King Lear and
a drownded A-rab all in one, and it most scared the livers and lights out of
me. But Jim fished me out, and was going to hug me and bless me, and so on,
he was so glad I was back and we was shut of the king and the duke, but I
Jim came out and was so happy that he came over me with both arms spread.
But when I saw him in a flash of lightning, my heart jumped up into my
throat, and I fell over backwards and off the raft—I’d forgotten that he’d
been made to look like a cross between old King Lear and a drowned A-rab. It
scared the living daylights out of me. Jim fished me out of the water. He
was going to hug me and bless me and so on because he was so glad I was back
and that we were rid of the king and the duke, but I said:
“Not now; have it for breakfast, have it for breakfast! Cut loose and let
“Not now—save it for breakfast, save it for breakfast! Cut the raft loose,
and let it float down the river!”
So in two seconds away we went a-sliding down the river, and it DID seem
so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river, and nobody
to bother us. I had to skip around a bit, and jump up and crack my heels a
few times—I couldn’t help it; but about the third crack I noticed a sound
that I knowed mighty well, and held my breath and listened and waited; and
sure enough, when the next flash busted out over the water, here they
come!—and just a-laying to their oars and making their skiff hum! It was the
king and the duke.
In two second, we were away and gliding down the river. It DID feel so
good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river with no one to
bother us. I had to pace around a bit and jump and crack my joints a few
times—I couldn’t help it. But after the third time I did this, I noticed a
sound that I knew all too well. I held my breath and listened and waited,
and sure enough—when the next flash of lightning lit up the water, there
they were, paddling their skiff furiously and flying over the water! It was
the king and duke.
So I wilted right down on to the planks then, and give up; and it was all
I could do to keep from crying.
I collapsed onto the planks of the raft and gave up. It was all I could do
to keep from crying.