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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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I HAD shut the door to. Then I turned around and there he was. I used to be scared of him all the time, he tanned me so much. I reckoned I was scared now, too; but in a minute I see I was mistaken—that is, after the first jolt, as you may say, when my breath sort of hitched, he being so unexpected; but right away after I see I warn’t scared of him worth bothring about. I had already shut the door when I turned around and there he was. I used to be scared of him all the time because he beat me so much. And I was scared now. But after a minute, when the first jolt of fear and shock at seeing him had passed and I had caught my breath, I realized there wasn’t anything to be scared about.
He was most fifty, and he looked it. His hair was long and tangled and greasy, and hung down, and you could see his eyes shining through like he was behind vines. It was all black, no gray; so was his long, mixed-up whiskers. There warn’t no color in his face, where his face showed; it was white; not like another man’s white, but a white to make a body sick, a white to make a body’s flesh crawl—a tree-toad white, a fish-belly white. As for his clothes—just rags, that was all. He had one ankle resting on t’other knee; the boot on that foot was busted, and two of his toes stuck through, and he worked them now and then. His hat was laying on the floor—an old black slouch with the top caved in, like a lid. He was nearly fifty years old, and he looked it. His hair, which hung low, was long and tangled and greasy, and you could see his eyes shining through it like he was peering through vines. The hair was completely black without any gray, as was his long knotted beard. His face, where it showed through all the hair, was white—not like other men’s skin, but a sickening pasty color like the color of a white tree toad or the underside of a fish. It was enough to make your skin crawl. As for his clothes, they were just rags. He had one leg up with the ankle resting on his knee. The boot he wore on that foot was broken and you could see two toes poking through, which he wiggled a little bit. His hat—a droopy black hat with the top caved in—was lying on the floor.
I stood a-looking at him; he set there a-looking at me, with his chair tilted back a little. I set the candle down. I noticed the window was up; so he had clumb in by the shed. He kept a-looking me all over. By and by he says: I stood there looking at him, and he sat there looking at me as he tilted back in the chair. As I put my candle down, I noticed that the window was open, which meant he probably got in by climbing up the shed. He kept looking me up and down until he eventually said:
“Starchy clothes—very. You think you’re a good deal of a big-bug, DON’T you?” “Your clothes are all starched. You think you’re pretty high and might, DON’T you?”
“Maybe I am, maybe I ain’t,” I says. “Maybe I am, maybe I ain’t,” I said.
“Don’t you give me none o’ your lip,” says he. “You’ve put on considerable many frills since I been away. I’ll take you down a peg before I get done with you. You’re educated, too, they say—can read and write. You think you’re better’n your father, now, don’t you, because he can’t? I’LL take it out of you. Who told you you might meddle with such hifalut’n foolishness, hey?—who told you you could?” “Don’t you give me any lip,” he said. “You’ve been putting on airs since I’ve been away. I’ll bring you down a notch before I get done with you. They say you’re educated now too, that you can read and write. You think you’re better than your father now, don’t you, because he can’t read and write? I’ll teach you a lesson. Who told you that you could dabble in such ridiculous nonsense? Who told you, huh?”
“The widow. She told me.” “The widow. She told me.”
“The widow, hey?—and who told the widow she could put in her shovel about a thing that ain’t none of her business?” “The widow, huh? And who told the widow she could stick her nose in other people’s business?”
“Nobody never told her.” “Nobody ever told her.”
“Well, I’ll learn her how to meddle. And looky here—you drop that school, you hear? I’ll learn people to bring up a boy to put on airs over his own father and let on to be better’n what HE is. You lemme catch you fooling around that school again, you hear? Your mother couldn’t read, and she couldn’t write, nuther, before she died. None of the family couldn’t before THEY died. I can’t; and here you’re a-swelling yourself up like this. I ain’t the man to stand it—you hear? Say, lemme hear you read.” “Well, I’ll teach her to interfere. And you listen to me—you stop going to school now, you hear? I’ll teach them to raise a boy to put on airs over his own father and pretend to be better than what he is. If I catch you around that school again, you’ll get it. Your mother couldn’t read or write when she died. And none of the rest of your family could before they died. I can’t. Yet here you are puffing yourself up. I won’t stand for it, you hear? Now, let me hear you read something.”
I took up a book and begun something about General Washington and the wars. When I’d read about a half a minute, he fetched the book a whack with his hand and knocked it across the house. He says: I picked up a book and began to read something about General George Washington and the Revolutionary War. When I’d read for about thirty seconds, he hit the book with his hand and knocked it across the room. He said:
“It’s so. You can do it. I had my doubts when you told me. Now looky here; you stop that putting on frills. I won’t have it. I’ll lay for you, my smarty; and if I catch you about that school I’ll tan you good. First you know you’ll get religion, too. I never see such a son.” “So it’s true. You can read. I didn’t believe you when you told me. Now you listen here—you stop putting on airs. I won’t have it. I’ll be watching you, smartypants. And if I catch you around that school again I’ll beat you good. Next you know you’ll be going to church too. I never saw such a good-for-nothing son.”
He took up a little blue and yaller picture of some cows and a boy, and says: He picked up a little blue and yellow picture of a boy and some cows and said:
“What’s this?” “What’s this?”
“It’s something they give me for learning my lessons good.” “It’s just something the teachers gave me for learning my lessons well.”
He tore it up, and says: He tore it up and said:
“I’ll give you something better—I’ll give you a cowhide.” “I’ll give you something better—I’ll give you a beating.”
He set there a-mumbling and a-growling a minute, and then he says: He sat there mumbling and growling for a minute before saying:
“AIN’T you a sweet-scented dandy, though? A bed; and bedclothes; and a look’n’-glass; and a piece of carpet on the floor—and your own father got to sleep with the hogs in the tanyard. I never see such a son. I bet I’ll take some o’ these frills out o’ you before I’m done with you. Why, there ain’t no end to your airs—they say you’re rich. Hey?—how’s that?” “Ain’t you a sweet smelling little sissy. You’ve got a bed. And sheets. And a mirror and a rug on the floor. You’ve got all that while your father sleeps with the pigs in the tanyard. I never saw such a son. I bet I can beat some of this fanciness out of you before I’m done. And that’s not all. They say you’re rich. How’d that happen?”

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