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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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IT would be most an hour yet till breakfast, so we left and struck down into the woods; because Tom said we got to have SOME light to see how to dig by, and a lantern makes too much, and might get us into trouble; what we must have was a lot of them rotten chunks that’s called

fox-fire

a type of fungus that grows on wood

fox-fire
, and just makes a soft kind of a glow when you lay them in a dark place. We fetched an armful and hid it in the weeds, and set down to rest, and Tom says, kind of dissatisfied:
Breakfast was almost an hour away, so we left the house and headed down to the woods. Tom said we had to have SOME light in order to see where we were digging. He said a lantern made too much light and might get us caught. We needed a lot of rotten chunks of something called foxfire, which make a kind of soft glow when you put them in a dark place. We brought an armful back of it and hid it in the woods. Then we sat down to rest. Tom said in a dissatisfied kind of way:
“Blame it, this whole thing is just as easy and awkward as it can be. And so it makes it so rotten difficult to get up a difficult plan. There ain’t no watchman to be drugged—now there OUGHT to be a watchman. There ain’t even a dog to give a sleeping-mixture to. And there’s Jim chained by one leg, with a ten-foot chain, to the leg of his bed: why, all you got to do is to lift up the bedstead and slip off the chain. And Uncle Silas he trusts everybody; sends the key to the punkin-headed nigger, and don’t send nobody to watch the nigger. Jim could a got out of that window-hole before this, only there wouldn’t be no use trying to travel with a ten-foot chain on his leg. Why, drat it, Huck, it’s the stupidest arrangement I ever see. You got to invent ALL the difficulties. Well, we can’t help it; we got to do the best we can with the materials we’ve got. Anyhow, there’s one thing—there’s more honor in getting him out through a lot of difficulties and dangers, where there warn’t one of them furnished to you by the people who it was their duty to furnish them, and you had to contrive them all out of your own head. Now look at just that one thing of the lantern. When you come down to the cold facts, we simply got to LET ON that a lantern’s resky. Why, we could work with a torchlight procession if we wanted to, I believe. Now, whilst I think of it, we got to hunt up something to make a saw out of the first chance we get.” “Darn it, this whole situation is just too easy. It’s really hard to come up with a difficult plan. There’s no watchman to drug—and it would be nice if there WERE a watchman. There isn’t even a dog that we have to give sleeping medicine to. And Jim’s only chained to the leg of his bed with a single ten-foot long chain—I mean, all you have to do to set him free is lift up the end of the bed and slip the chain out from under it! Uncle Silas trusts everyone too much and just sends the key to that pumpkin-headed n----- of his without anyone to watch him. Jim could’ve gotten himself out of that little window hole long before now except that there’d be no use for him to travel with a ten-foot long chain wrapped around his leg. Darn it, Huck, it’s the dumbest arrangement I’ve ever seen. You’ve got to INVENT all the roadblocks yourself! Well, we just have to do the best we can with the materials we have. There’s more honor in surmounting lots of difficulties to break him out, even if you have to make up those troubles yourself because they weren’t made by people whose job it was to make them! I mean, just look at our situation with the lantern: When you get down to it, we simply HAVE to pretend that the lantern’s too risky. Why, I’m sure that we could work with an entire parade of people holding torches if we wanted to and still not get caught. And, while I’m thinking about it, we’re going to need to make a saw of something the first chance we get.
“What do we want of a saw?” “What do we need a saw for?”
“What do we WANT of a saw? Hain’t we got to saw the leg of Jim’s bed off, so as to get the chain loose?” “What do we need a SAW for? Aren’t we going to have to saw the leg off Jim’s bed so we can get the chain loose?”
“Why, you just said a body could lift up the bedstead and slip the chain off.” “But you just said that anyone could just lift up the end of the bed and slip the chain off.”
“Well, if that ain’t just like you, Huck Finn. You CAN get up the infant-schooliest ways of going at a thing. Why, hain’t you ever read any books at all?—Baron Trenck, nor Casanova, nor Benvenuto Chelleeny, nor Henri IV., nor none of them heroes? Who ever heard of getting a prisoner loose in such an old-maidy way as that? No; the way all the best authorities does is to saw the bed-leg in two, and leave it just so, and swallow the sawdust, so it can’t be found, and put some dirt and grease around the sawed place so the very keenest seneskal can’t see no sign of it’s being sawed, and thinks the bed-leg is perfectly sound. Then, the night you’re ready, fetch the leg a kick, down she goes; slip off your chain, and there you are. Nothing to do but hitch your rope ladder to the battlements, shin down it, break your leg in the moat—because a rope ladder is nineteen foot too short, you know—and there’s your horses and your trusty vassles, and they scoop you up and fling you across a saddle, and away you go to your native Langudoc, or Navarre, or wherever it is. It’s gaudy, Huck. I wish there was a moat to this cabin. If we get time, the night of the escape, we’ll dig one.” “That’s just like you, Huck Finn. You always come up with the most childish ways of doing things. Why, haven’t you read any books at all? Books about Baron Trenck or Casanova or Benvenuto Chelleeny or Henry IV or any of those heroes? Whoever heard of breaking a prisoner loose in such a granny-like way? No—all the top authorities on the matter say to saw the bed leg in two, and then make it look like it hadn’t been sawed at all. And you’ve got to swallow the sawdust so that it can’t be found and put some dirt and grease around the sawed place so that even the very best

seneskal

Tom means seneschal, an officer of the peace akin to a sheriff in medieval France

seneskal
can’t find any evidence that it’s been sawed and thinks the bed leg is perfectly normal. And then on the night you’re ready, just give the bed leg a kick, and down it falls. Slip off the chain, and there you go. Then the only thing left to do is tie your rope ladder to the battlements, shimmy down, and break your leg in the moat when you let go of the ladder—which is nineteen feet too short, you know. Your horses will be there with your trusty vassles, who will scoop you up, fling you over the saddle, and take you back to your homeland in Langudoc or Navarre or wherever you’re from. It’s brilliant, Huck. I wish there was a moat around this cabin. If we have time on the night of the escape, we’ll dig one.
I says: I said:
“What do we want of a moat when we’re going to snake him out from under the cabin?” “Why do we want there to be a moat if we’re trying to sneak out from under the cabin?”
But he never heard me. He had forgot me and everything else. He had his chin in his hand, thinking. Pretty soon he sighs and shakes his head; then sighs again, and says: But he didn’t hear me. He had forgotten about me and everything else. He sat thinking with his chin in his hand. Pretty soon he sighed and shook his head. Then he sighed again and said:

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