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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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“No, it wouldn’t do—there ain’t necessity enough for it.” “No, it wouldn’t do—we don’t need to do it.”
“For what?” I says. “Don’t need to do what?”
“Why, to saw Jim’s leg off,” he says. “Why, saw Jim’s leg off, of course,” he said.
“Good land!” I says; “why, there ain’t NO necessity for it. And what would you want to saw his leg off for, anyway?” “Good Lord!” I said. “OF COURSE we don’t need to do that. Why would you ever want to saw his leg off anyway?”
“Well, some of the best authorities has done it. They couldn’t get the chain off, so they just cut their hand off and shoved. And a leg would be better still. But we got to let that go. There ain’t necessity enough in this case; and, besides, Jim’s a nigger, and wouldn’t understand the reasons for it, and how it’s the custom in Europe; so we’ll let it go. But there’s one thing—he can have a rope ladder; we can tear up our sheets and make him a rope ladder easy enough. And we can send it to him in a pie; it’s mostly done that way. And I’ve et worse pies.” “Well, some of the best authorities have done it. If they can’t get the chain off, they’ll cut their hand off and pull it through the shackle. A leg would be even better. But we’ve got to let that go. There isn’t enough of a need in this case. Besides, Jim’s a n-----; he wouldn’t understand why we’d cut his leg off, since it’s a European tradition. We’ll just let it go. But there is one thing—he can have a rope ladder. We can tear up our sheets and make him a rope ladder pretty easily. And we can deliver it to him in a pie since that’s how it’s usually done. Besides, I’ve eaten worse pies.”
“Why, Tom Sawyer, how you talk,” I says; “Jim ain’t got no use for a rope ladder.” “Just listen to yourself, Tom Sawyer,” I said. “Jim doesn’t need a rope ladder!”
“He HAS got use for it. How YOU talk, you better say; you don’t know nothing about it. He’s GOT to have a rope ladder; they all do.” “He DOES need one. Listen to YOURSELF, you should say—you don’t know anything about this. He’s GOT to have a rope ladder. They all do.”
“What in the nation can he DO with it?” “What in the world would he DO with it?”
“DO with it? He can hide it in his bed, can’t he? That’s what they all do; and HE’S got to, too. Huck, you don’t ever seem to want to do anything that’s regular; you want to be starting something fresh all the time. S’pose he DON’T do nothing with it? ain’t it there in his bed, for a clew, after he’s gone? and don’t you reckon they’ll want clews? Of course they will. And you wouldn’t leave them any? That would be a PRETTY howdy-do, WOULDN’T it! I never heard of such a thing.” “What would he DO with it? He can hide it in his bed, can’t he? That’s what they all do. And that’s what HE’S got to do it, too. Huck, you never want to do anything the way it’s supposed to be done. You want to find new ways of doing things all the time. Suppose he doesn’t do ANYTHING with it? Won’t it still be there in his bed—left as a clue—after he’s gone? And don’t you think they’ll want some clues? Of course they will. And you wouldn’t leave them any? That wouldn’t be too nice, WOULDN’T it! I never heard of such thing, Huck.”
“Well,” I says, “if it’s in the regulations, and he’s got to have it, all right, let him have it; because I don’t wish to go back on no regulations; but there’s one thing, Tom Sawyer—if we go to tearing up our sheets to make Jim a rope ladder, we’re going to get into trouble with Aunt Sally, just as sure as you’re born. Now, the way I look at it, a hickry-bark ladder don’t cost nothing, and don’t waste nothing, and is just as good to load up a pie with, and hide in a straw tick, as any rag ladder you can start; and as for Jim, he ain’t had no experience, and so he don’t care what kind of a—” “Well,” I said. “If the rule book says the rope ladder, then he’s got to have it. That’s the way it’ll be, because I don’t want to go breaking any rules. But there’s one thing, Tom Sawyer—if we tear up our sheets to make a rope ladder for Jim, I’m certain we’ll going to get in trouble with Aunt Sally. Now, the way I see it, a ladder made out of the bark of hickory trees won’t cost anything and won’t ruin anything. And it’s just as good to put in a pie and hide in a straw mattress as any ladder made of sheets. As for Jim, he’s inexperienced in all this, so he doesn’t care what kind of….”
“Oh, shucks, Huck Finn, if I was as ignorant as you I’d keep still—that’s what I’D do. Who ever heard of a state prisoner escaping by a hickry-bark ladder? Why, it’s perfectly ridiculous.” “Oh heck, Huck, Finn. If I were as ignorant as you, I’d keep quiet, that’s what I’D do. Who ever heard of a state prisoner escaping by way of a hickory-bark ladder? Why, it’s perfectly ridiculous.”
“Well, all right, Tom, fix it your own way; but if you’ll take my advice, you’ll let me borrow a sheet off of the clothesline.” “Well all right, Tom, have it your way. But if you’ll take my advice, you’ll let me take a sheet off the clothesline.”
He said that would do. And that gave him another idea, and he says: He said that would be fine. And that gave him another idea, too, and he said:
“Borrow a shirt, too.” “Take a shirt, too.”
“What do we want of a shirt, Tom?” “What do we need a shirt for, Tom?”
“Want it for Jim to keep a journal on.” “We’ll need it for Jim to keep a journal on.”
“Journal your granny—JIM can’t write.” “Journal my butt—Jim can’t write!”
“S’pose he CAN’T write—he can make marks on the shirt, can’t he, if we make him a pen out of an old pewter spoon or a piece of an old iron barrel-hoop?” “Okay, so he CAN’T write. But he can at least make marks on the shirt if we make him a pen out of an old pewter spoon or a piece of iron from an old barrel hoop, can’t he?”
“Why, Tom, we can pull a feather out of a goose and make him a better one; and quicker, too.” “Tom, we could just pull a feather out of a goose and make him a quill to write with. That’d even be faster, too.”
“PRISONERS don’t have geese running around the donjon-keep to pull pens out of, you muggins. They ALWAYS make their pens out of the hardest, toughest, troublesomest piece of old brass candlestick or something like that they can get their hands on; and it takes them weeks and weeks and months and months to file it out, too, because they’ve got to do it by rubbing it on the wall. THEY wouldn’t use a goose-quill if they had it. It ain’t regular.” “There are no geese running around in castle dungeons for PRISONERS to pull the quills out of, you idiot. They ALWAYS make their pens out of the hardest, toughest, most difficult piece of old brass candlestick or whatever they can get their hands on. And it takes them weeks and weeks and months and months to file it down, too, because they’ve got to do it by rubbing it on the wall. THEY wouldn’t use a goose-quill even if they had it. That’s just not the way it’s done.”
“Well, then, what’ll we make him the ink out of?” “Well, then, what’ll we make the ink out of?”
“Many makes it out of iron-rust and tears; but that’s the common sort and women; the best authorities uses their own blood. Jim can do that; and when he wants to send any little common ordinary mysterious message to let the world know where he’s captivated, he can write it on the bottom of a tin plate with a fork and throw it out of the window. The Iron Mask always done that, and it’s a blame’ good way, too.” “Many prisoners make ink out of iron rust or their own tears, but that’s mostly for common folk and women. The best authorities use their own blood. Jim can do that, and when he wants to send any little common mysterious message to let the world know where’s he being held captive, he can write it on the bottom of a tin plate with a fork and then throw it out the window. The

Man in the Iron Mask

The pseudonym for a mysterious prisoner in the nineteenth century novel by Alexander Dumas.

Man in the Iron Mask
always did that, and it’s a darn good way of doing it, too.”

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