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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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WELL, I got a good going-over in the morning from old Miss Watson on account of my clothes; but the widow she didn’t scold, but only cleaned off the grease and clay, and looked so sorry that I thought I would behave awhile if I could. Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet and prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it. But it warn’t so. I tried it. Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks. It warn’t any good to me without hooks. I tried for the hooks three or four times, but somehow I couldn’t make it work. By and by, one day, I asked Miss Watson to try for me, but she said I was a fool. She never told me why, and I couldn’t make it out no way. Well, old Miss Watson gave me a talking-to in the morning when she saw my dirty clothes, but the widow only scrubbed off the grime without saying a word. She looked so sad and disappointed that I decided to try my best to behave for awhile. Then Miss Watson took me into the closet to pray for me, but it didn’t make a difference. She told me to pray every day, and that I’d get whatever I prayed for if I did. But that wasn’t true. I tried it. Once I got line for my fishing pole, but not any fish hooks. What good is a line without hooks? I tried praying for hooks three or four times, but I couldn’t make it work. One day I asked Miss Watson to try and pray for hooks for me, but she said I was a fool. She never told me why, and I never really understood what she meant.
I set down one time back in the woods, and had a long think about it. I says to myself, if a body can get anything they pray for, why don’t Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork? Why can’t the widow get back her silver snuffbox that was stole? Why can’t Miss Watson fat up? No, says I to my self, there ain’t nothing in it. I went and told the widow about it, and she said the thing a body could get by praying for it was “spiritual gifts.” This was too many for me, but she told me what she meant—I must help other people, and do everything I could for other people, and look out for them all the time, and never think about myself. This was including Miss Watson, as I took it. I went out in the woods and turned it over in my mind a long time, but I couldn’t see no advantage about it—except for the other people; so at last I reckoned I wouldn’t worry about it any more, but just let it go. Sometimes the widow would take me one side and talk about Providence in a way to make a body’s mouth water; but maybe next day Miss Watson would take hold and knock it all down again. I judged I could see that there was two Providences, and a poor chap would stand considerable show with the widow’s Providence, but if Miss Watson’s got him there warn’t no help for him any more. I thought it all out, and reckoned I would belong to the widow’s if he wanted me, though I couldn’t make out how he was a-going to be any better off then than what he was before, seeing I was so ignorant, and so kind of low-down and ornery. I sat down in the woods one time and thought for a long time about it. If you can get whatever you pray for, then I asked myself why Deacon Winn never prayed for the money he lost on pork? Or why can’t the widow get back the silver snuff box that was stolen from her? Or why can’t Miss Watson gain any weight? No, I said to myself, it just wasn’t true. I went and told this to the widow, and she said you can only get “spiritual gifts” from praying. This was just too much for me, so she clarified that I have to do as much as I could to help other people and not think about myself. I guess that included Miss Watson. I went out in the woods and thought about it for a long time, but I couldn’t see what good would come of it, except to the other people. So I finally decided I would just forget the whole thing and not worry about it any more. Sometimes the widow would pull me aside and talk about God in a way that would make me want to know more, but then Miss Watson would talk about the same thing and make me want to forget it all. I finally decided that there were two Gods, and that a guy couldn’t get enough of one if the widow was talking, but was in trouble if Miss Watson started talking about the other. I thought about it and reckoned I would belong to the widow’s God if he wanted me, though I can’t imagine why he’d want me, since I’m so ignorant and rough.
Pap he hadn’t been seen for more than a year, and that was comfortable for me; I didn’t want to see him no more. He used to always whale me when he was sober and could get his hands on me; though I used to take to the woods most of the time when he was around. Well, about this time he was found in the river drownded, about twelve mile above town, so people said. They judged it was him, anyway; said this drownded man was just his size, and was ragged, and had uncommon long hair, which was all like pap; but they couldn’t make nothing out of the face, because it had been in the water so long it warn’t much like a face at all. They said he was floating on his back in the water. They took him and buried him on the bank. But I warn’t comfortable long, because I happened to think of something. I knowed mighty well that a drownded man don’t float on his back, but on his face. So I knowed, then, that this warn’t pap, but a woman dressed up in a man’s clothes. So I was uncomfortable again. I judged the old man would turn up again by and by, though I wished he wouldn’t. No one had seen my Pap for more than a year. That was fine by me, since I didn’t want to see him anymore. He used to always beat me when he was sober and could catch me, though I usually just ran to the woods whenever he was around. Well, about this time he was found floating on his back along the river about twelve miles upstream from town, dead from having drowned. At least, people said it was him, since the drowned man was about the same size as my father, wore ragged clothing, and had unusually long hair like my pap. But because the body had been in the water so long, his face was unrecognizable, so they couldn’t idenify him. They pulled him from the water and buried him along the riverbank. But something bothered me about it. I finally realized that it was the fact that dead men float face-down, not face-up. So I knew then that the body wasn’t pap, but a woman dressed up in man’s clothes. This put me on edge again, since I knew my old man would turn up sooner or later, even though I wished he wouldn’t.
We played robber now and then about a month, and then I resigned. All the boys did. We hadn’t robbed nobody, hadn’t killed any people, but only just pretended. We used to hop out of the woods and go charging down on hog-drivers and women in carts taking garden stuff to market, but we never hived any of them. Tom Sawyer called the hogs “ingots,” and he called the turnips and stuff “julery,” and we would go to the cave and powwow over what we had done, and how many people we had killed and marked. But I couldn’t see no profit in it. One time Tom sent a boy to run about town with a blazing stick, which he called a slogan (which was the sign for the Gang to get together), and then he said he had got secret news by his spies that next day a whole parcel of Spanish merchants and rich A-rabs was going to camp in Cave Hollow with two hundred elephants, and six hundred camels, and over a thousand “sumter” mules, all loaded down with di’monds, and they didn’t have only a guard of four hundred soldiers, and so we would lay in ambuscade, as he called it, and kill the lot and scoop the things. He said we must slick up our swords and guns, and get ready. He never could go after even a turnip-cart but he must have the swords and guns all scoured up for it, though they was only lath and broomsticks, and you might scour at them till you rotted, and then they warn’t worth a mouthful of ashes more than what they was before. I didn’t believe we could lick such a crowd of Spaniards and A-rabs, but I wanted to see the camels and elephants, so I was on hand next day, Saturday, in the ambuscade; and when we got the word we rushed out of the woods and down the hill. But there warn’t no Spaniards and A-rabs, and there warn’t no camels nor no elephants. It warn’t anything but a Sunday-school picnic, and only a primer-class at that. We busted it up, and chased the children up the hollow; but we never got anything but some doughnuts and jam, though Ben Rogers got a rag doll, and Jo Harper got a hymn-book and a tract; and then the teacher charged in, and made us drop everything and cut. I didn’t see no di’monds, and I told Tom Sawyer so. He said there was loads of them there, anyway; and he said there was A-rabs there, too, and elephants and things. I said, why couldn’t we see them, then? He said if I warn’t so ignorant, but had read a book called Don Quixote, I would know without asking. He said it was all done by enchantment. He said there was hundreds of soldiers there, and elephants and treasure, and so on, but we had enemies which he called magicians; and they had turned the whole thing into an infant Sunday-school, just out of spite. I said, all right; then the thing for us to do was to go for the magicians. Tom Sawyer said I was a numskull. We played robber every now and then for about a month, but then I quit. In fact, all the boys quit because we hadn’t robbed or killed anybody. We only pretended. We would jump out of the woods and charge at men herding hogs and women taking vegetables to the market, but we never hurt any of them. Tom Sawyer called the pigs “

ingots

gold bars

ingots
,” and he called the turnips “julery,” and we would go back to the cave and talk about what we’d done and how many people we’d killed and marked. But I didn’t see what good any of it did. One time Tom sent a boy to run around town with a stick he’d lit on fire as a sign for the Gang to gather. When we got together, he told us that he’d gotten secret news from his spies that a whole band of Spanish merchants and wealthy Arabs were coming to town the next day. They were going to camp in Cave Hollow with two hundred elephants, six hundred camels, and more than a thousand mules, all loaded down with diamonds, and guarded by four hundred solider. We were going to lay in ambuscade—as he called it—and kill them all and then take the loot. He said we had to prepare by sharpening our swords and loading our guns. He’d never been able to raid a turnip cart before, yet here he was saying we needed to get our swords and guns ready, even though our swords and guns were only wooden

lath

strip of wood used as a building material

lath
s and broomsticks. You could stare at them all you wanted, but in the end that’s all they’d be—laths and broomsticks. I didn’t think we could kill such a large band of Spaniards and Arabs, but I wanted to see the camels and elephants, so I joined in the ambuscade the next day, which was a Saturday. When we got word, we rushed out of the woods and down the hill. But there weren’t any Spaniards and Arabs, and there weren’t any camels or elephants. There was only a picnic of Sunday school kids, and little kids at that. We broke it up and chased the kids to the hollow, but we didn’t get anything from them except some donuts and jam. Ben Rogers got a rag doll and Jo Harper got a hymnal and a Bible, but we had to drop everything and run when the teacher came running over. I didn’t see any diamonds, and I made sure Tom Sawyer knew it. But he said there were tons of them, as well as Arabs and elephants and stuff. I asked why I couldn’t see them, and he said I wouldn’t have to ask if I weren’t so ignorant and had read a book called Don Quixote. He said it was all done by magic. He said there were hundreds of soldiers and elephants and treasure and so on. He said we’d be able to see it all if our enemies, who were magicians, hadn’t transformed the whole thing into a Sunday school picnic, just so they could laugh at us. So I said, okay, then we should go after the magicians. Tom Sawyer said I was a numskull.

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