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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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MAKING them pens was a distressid tough job, and so was the saw; and Jim allowed the inscription was going to be the toughest of all. That’s the one which the prisoner has to scrabble on the wall. But he had to have it; Tom said he’d GOT to; there warn’t no case of a state prisoner not scrabbling his inscription to leave behind, and his coat of arms. Making those pens and making that saw were tough jobs. Jim felt that making the actual inscription—where the prisoner scribbled onto the wall with the pen—was going to be the toughest job of all. But Tom said we had to do it—we just HAD to. He said there wasn’t a single case of a state prisoner not leaving some scribbled inscription along with his coat of arms.
“Look at Lady Jane Grey,” he says; “look at Gilford Dudley; look at old Northumberland! Why, Huck, s’pose it IS considerble trouble?—what you going to do?—how you going to get around it? Jim’s GOT to do his inscription and coat of arms. They all do.” “Look at

Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey, Guilford Dudley, old Northumberland were English nobles who were imprisoned and eventually put to death in the mid sixteenth century

Lady Jane Grey
,” he said. “Or look at Gilford Dudley—old Northumberland! Why, Huck, so what if this IS a lot of trouble? What can we do? How can we avoid it? Jim’s GOT to scribble an inscription and his coat of arms. They all do it.”
Jim says: Jim said:
“Why, Mars Tom, I hain’t got no coat o’ arm; I hain’t got nuffn but dish yer ole shirt, en you knows I got to keep de journal on dat.” “Bud, Master Tom, I don’t have a coat of arms. I don’t have anything but this old shirt, and you know I’ve got to keep the journal on that.”
“Oh, you don’t understand, Jim; a coat of arms is very different.” “Oh, you don’t understand, Jim. A coat of arms is different.”
“Well,” I says, “Jim’s right, anyway, when he says he ain’t got no coat of arms, because he hain’t.” “Well,” I said. “Jim’s right about one thing—he doesn’t have a coat of arms because he doesn’t have one.”
“I reckon I knowed that,” Tom says, “but you bet he’ll have one before he goes out of this—because he’s going out RIGHT, and there ain’t going to be no flaws in his record.” “I know, I know,” Tom said. “But you bet he’ll have one before he gets out of here. He’s going to break out properly. There won’t be any flaws in this escape.”
So whilst me and Jim filed away at the pens on a brickbat apiece, Jim a-making his’n out of the brass and I making mine out of the spoon, Tom set to work to think out the coat of arms. By and by he said he’d struck so many good ones he didn’t hardly know which to take, but there was one which he reckoned he’d decide on. He says: While Jim and I filed away at the metal to make the pens—Jim made one pen out of brass and I made one out of the spoon—Tom began thinking about what to do about the coat of arms. Pretty soon he said he had so many good ideas that he didn’t know which one to use, but he figured there was one that was the best. He said:
“On the scutcheon we’ll have a bend OR in the dexter base, a saltire MURREY in the fess, with a dog, couchant, for common charge, and under his foot a chain embattled, for slavery, with a chevron VERT in a chief engrailed, and three invected lines on a field AZURE, with the nombril points rampant on a dancette indented; crest, a runaway nigger, SABLE, with his bundle over his shoulder on a bar sinister; and a couple of gules for supporters, which is you and me; motto, MAGGIORE FRETTA, MINORE OTTO. Got it out of a book—means the more haste the less speed.” “We’ll put a bend in the scutcheon OR in a dexter base. We’ll put the saltire MURREY in the fess with a couchant dog, to signify commonness. We’ll put an embattled chain, to signify slavery, with a chevron VERT in a chief engrailed. We’ll put three invected lines on a field AZURE, with the nombril points rampant on an indented dancette. We’ll put a runaway n----- with a bundle over his shoulder on a sinister bar on the SABLE crest and a couple of gules for supporters—the supporters will be you and me, Huck. The motto will be MAGGIORE FRETTA MINORE OTTO. I got that out of a book—it means The more haste, the less speed.
“Geewhillikins,” I says, “but what does the rest of it mean?” “That’s great,” I said. “But what does all the rest that mean?”
“We ain’t got no time to bother over that,” he says; “we got to dig in like all git-out.” “We don’t have time to worry about all that,” he said. “We’ve got to dig in like there’s no tomorrow.”
“Well, anyway,” I says, “what’s SOME of it? What’s a fess?” “Well anyways,” I said, “Can you tell me what just SOME of it means? What’s a fess?”
“A fess—a fess is—YOU don’t need to know what a fess is. I’ll show him how to make it when he gets to it.” “A fess? A fess is… well, YOU don’t need to know what a fess is. I’ll show him how to make it when he gets to that part.”
“Shucks, Tom,” I says, “I think you might tell a person. What’s a bar sinister?” “Shoot, Tom,” I said. “You could at least tell me. What’s a bar sinister?”
“Oh, I don’t know. But he’s got to have it. All the nobility does.” “Oh, I don’t know. But he’s got to have it. All nobles do.”
That was just his way. If it didn’t suit him to explain a thing to you, he wouldn’t do it. You might pump at him a week, it wouldn’t make no difference. That’s how he did things—if he didn’t want to explain something to you, he wouldn’t. You could keep asking him for a week, but it wouldn’t make any difference.
He’d got all that coat of arms business fixed, so now he started in to finish up the rest of that part of the work, which was to plan out a mournful inscription—said Jim got to have one, like they all done. He made up a lot, and wrote them out on a paper, and read them off, so: After he got all that coat of arms stuff settled, he started to work on the final piece of the plan: The gloomy inscription for Jim to write. He said Jim had to have one, just like all the other prisoners had. He made up several options, wrote them all on a piece of paper, and then read them to us. He read:
1. Here a captive heart busted. 1. Here a captive heart busted.
2. Here a poor prisoner, forsook by the world and friends, fretted his sorrowful life. 2. Here a poor prisoner, forsaken by the world and friends, worried away his sad life.
3. Here a lonely heart broke, and a worn spirit went to its rest, after thirty-seven years of solitary captivity. 3. Here a lonely heart broke and a worn spirit died after thirty-seven years of solitary captivity.
4. Here, homeless and friendless, after thirty-seven years of bitter captivity, perished a noble stranger, natural son of Louis XIV. 4. Here, homeless and friendless, after thirty-seven years of bitter captivity, died a noble stranger, the natural son of Louis XIV.
Tom’s voice trembled whilst he was reading them, and he most broke down. When he got done he couldn’t no way make up his mind which one for Jim to scrabble on to the wall, they was all so good; but at last he allowed he would let him scrabble them all on. Jim said it would take him a year to scrabble such a lot of truck on to the logs with a nail, and he didn’t know how to make letters, besides; but Tom said he would block them out for him, and then he wouldn’t have nothing to do but just follow the lines. Then pretty soon he says: Tom’s voice trembled while he was reading, and he almost broke down and cried. When he finished, he couldn’t make up his mind as to which one Jim should scribble on the wall—they were all so good. At last, he decided that Jim should scribble all of them on the wall. Jim said it would take him a year to write all that stuff on the logs with a nail. Besides, he said, he didn’t know how to write the letters. Tom said he’d made stensils for him so that all he’d have to do is follow the lines. Pretty soon Tom said:

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