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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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“No,” says the old man, “I reckon there ain’t going to be any; and you couldn’t go if there was; because the runaway nigger told Burton and me all about that scandalous show, and Burton said he would tell the people; so I reckon they’ve drove the owdacious loafers out of town before this time.” “No,” said the old man. “I don’t think there’s going to be a show. Besides, you couldn’t go if there was. The runaway n----- told Burton and me all about that scandalous show, and Burton said he was going to tell everyone. So I suppose they’ve driven the audacious bums out of town by now.”
So there it was!—but I couldn’t help it. Tom and me was to sleep in the same room and bed; so, being tired, we bid good-night and went up to bed right after supper, and clumb out of the window and down the lightning-rod, and shoved for the town; for I didn’t believe anybody was going to give the king and the duke a hint, and so if I didn’t hurry up and give them one they’d get into trouble sure. So that was it! It couldn’t be helped. Tom and I were supposed to share a bed in the same room, so we said that we were tired. We told everyone goodnight and went up to bed right after supper. We climbed out of the window and down the lightning rod and headed for town. I didn’t think anyone was going to tip off the king and the duke, so I hurried to warn them before they got into trouble.
On the road Tom he told me all about how it was reckoned I was murdered, and how pap disappeared pretty soon, and didn’t come back no more, and what a stir there was when Jim run away; and I told Tom all about our Royal Nonesuch rapscallions, and as much of the raft voyage as I had time to; and as we struck into the town and up through the—here comes a raging rush of people with torches, and an awful whooping and yelling, and banging tin pans and blowing horns; and we jumped to one side to let them go by; and as they went by I see they had the king and the duke astraddle of a rail—that is, I knowed it WAS the king and the duke, though they was all over tar and feathers, and didn’t look like nothing in the world that was human—just looked like a couple of monstrous big soldier-plumes. Well, it made me sick to see it; and I was sorry for them poor pitiful rascals, it seemed like I couldn’t ever feel any hardness against them any more in the world. It was a dreadful thing to see. Human beings CAN be awful cruel to one another. As we were headed to town, Tom told me all about how everyone thought I’d been murdered and how pap had disappeared soon after and hadn’t come back since. He told me that everyone had made quite a fuss when Jim had run away. I told Tom all about the Royal Nonesuch scoundrels and as much about our voyage on the raft as we had time for. Just as we got to town, we saw a whole mob of angry people carrying torches, yelling warwhoops, blowing horns, and banging pans. We jumped to one side of the road to let them pass, and as they went by I saw they had the king and the duke with their feet tied to a rail. I KNEW it was them even though they were all covered in tar and feathers and didn’t even look human—they looked like a couple of enormous

soldier plumes

feathers that soldiers wear in their caps

soldier plumes
. It made me sick to see it, and I felt sorry for those poor pitiful rascals. After seeing them like that, I just didn’t think I could feel angry with them any more. It was just a dreadful thing to see. Human beings CAN be awfully cruel to one another.
We see we was too late—couldn’t do no good. We asked some stragglers about it, and they said everybody went to the show looking very innocent; and laid low and kept dark till the poor old king was in the middle of his cavortings on the stage; then somebody give a signal, and the house rose up and went for them. We saw that we were too late to do anything. We asked some of the stragglers what was going on, and they said that everyone had gone to the show pretending that nothing was going on. They acted calm and didn’t say anything until the poor old king was in the middle of his routine where he cavorts around on the stage. Then someone gave a signal, and everyone got up and grabbed them.
So we poked along back home, and I warn’t feeling so brash as I was before, but kind of ornery, and humble, and to blame, somehow—though I hadn’t done nothing. But that’s always the way; it don’t make no difference whether you do right or wrong, a person’s conscience ain’t got no sense, and just goes for him anyway. If I had a yaller dog that didn’t know no more than a person’s conscience does I would pison him. It takes up more room than all the rest of a person’s insides, and yet ain’t no good, nohow. Tom Sawyer he says the same. As we headed back home, I wasn’t feeling as cocky as I had been earlier. Instead, I felt low and humble and somehow guilty, even though I hadn’t done anything. But that’s always the way it is—it doesn’t make any difference whether you do right or wrong. Your conscience doesn’t have any common sense. It’ll nag you anyway. If I had a yellow dog that had the same conscience as a person, then I’d poison him. Your conscience takes up more room than anything else inside you, but it still doesn’t do any good. Tom Sawyer says the same thing.

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