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“But hang it, Jim, you’ve clean missed the point—blame it, you’ve missed it a thousand mile.” “But, man, Jim. You missed the whole point—missed it by a thousand miles.”
“Who? Me? Go ’long. Doan’ talk to me ’bout yo’ pints. I reck’n I knows sense when I sees it; en dey ain’ no sense in sich doin’s as dat. De ’spute warn’t ’bout a half a chile, de ’spute was ’bout a whole chile; en de man dat think he kin settle a ’spute ’bout a whole chile wid a half a chile doan’ know enough to come in out’n de rain. Doan’ talk to me ’bout Sollermun, Huck, I knows him by de back.” “Who? Me? Get outta here. Don’t talk to me about your points. I imagine I know common sense when I see it, and there isn’t any sense in that. The women’s dispute wasn’t about half a child, it was about a whole child. And any man who thinks he can settle a dispute about a whole child by giving a woman half a child wouldn’t be smart enough to know to come inside when it rains. Don’t talk to man any more about Solomon, Huck. I know enough already.”
“But I tell you you don’t get the point.” “But I’m telling you you’re not getting the point.”
“Blame de point! I reck’n I knows what I knows. En mine you, de REAL pint is down furder—it’s down deeper. It lays in de way Sollermun was raised. You take a man dat’s got on’y one or two chillen; is dat man gwyne to be waseful o’ chillen? No, he ain’t; he can’t ’ford it. HE know how to value ’em. But you take a man dat’s got ’bout five million chillen runnin’ roun’ de house, en it’s diffunt. HE as soon chop a chile in two as a cat. Dey’s plenty mo’. A chile er two, mo’ er less, warn’t no consekens to Sollermun, dad fatch him!” “Damn the point! I know what I know. Besides, the real point is even deeper than that. It all goes back to the way Solomon was raised. For example, take a man who’s got only one or two children. Is that man going to be wasteful with kids? No, he isn’t—he can’t afford to be. He knows the value of a child. But it’s different with a man who’s got about five million children running around the house. HE would just as soon chop a child in two as he would a cat, since he has plenty of other kids. A child or two aren’t that important to Solomon, darn it.”
I never see such a nigger. If he got a notion in his head once, there warn’t no getting it out again. He was the most down on Solomon of any nigger I ever see. So I went to talking about other kings, and let Solomon slide. I told about Louis Sixteenth that got his head cut off in France long time ago; and about his little boy the dolphin, that would a been a king, but they took and shut him up in jail, and some say he died there. I never saw such a n-----. Once he got an idea in his head, there was no use trying to get it out. He disliked Solomon more than any other n----- I ever knew. So I dropped the topic of Solomon and started talking about other kings. I told him about Louis XVI, who got his head chopped off in France a long time ago. And I talked about his son, the


Huck means dauphin, a royal title in France

, who would have been king if he hadn’t been shut up in jail. Some say he died there.
“Po’ little chap.” “Poor little kid.”
“But some says he got out and got away, and come to America.” “But others say he escaped and came to America.”
“Dat’s good! But he’ll be pooty lonesome—dey ain’ no kings here, is dey, Huck?” “Well that’s good! But he’ll be pretty lonesome here. There aren’t any kings here, are there, Huck?”
“No.” “No.”
“Den he cain’t git no situation. What he gwyne to do?” “Then he can’t go back to the way of life he’s used to. What’s he going to do?”
“Well, I don’t know. Some of them gets on the police, and some of them learns people how to talk French.” “Well, I don’t know. Some of them become policemen and others teach people how to speak French.”
“Why, Huck, doan’ de French people talk de same way we does?” “What do you mean, Huck? Don’t the French people talk the same way we do?”
“NO, Jim; you couldn’t understand a word they said—not a single word.” “NO, Jim. You can’t understand a word the French say. Not a single word.”
“Well, now, I be ding-busted! How do dat come?” “Well I’ll be damned! How did that come to be?”
“I don’t know; but it’s so. I got some of their jabber out of a book. S’pose a man was to come to you and say Polly-voo-franzy—what would you think?” “I don’t know, but it’s true. I learned some of their nonsense out of a book. Suppose a man came up to you and said, Polly voo franzy. What would you think about that?”
“I wouldn’ think nuff’n; I’d take en bust him over de head—dat is, if he warn’t white. I wouldn’t ’low no nigger to call me dat.” “I wouldn’t think at all. I’d hit him over the head—if he’s not a white man, that is. I wouldn’t allow a n----- to call me a name like that.”
“Shucks, it ain’t calling you anything. It’s only saying, do you know how to talk French?” “Shucks, Jim. He wouldn’t be calling you a name. He’d only be saying, ‘Do you speak French?’”
“Well, den, why couldn’t he SAY it?” “Well then why wouldn’t he just SAY that?”
“Why, he IS a-saying it. That’s a Frenchman’s WAY of saying it.” “But he IS saying that. That’s the way a Frenchman says it.”
“Well, it’s a blame ridicklous way, en I doan’ want to hear no mo’ ’bout it. Dey ain’ no sense in it.” “Well, he’s got a pretty ridiculous way of talking then. And I don’t want to hear any more about it. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Looky here, Jim; does a cat talk like we do?” “Look, Jim. Does a cat talk like we do?”
“No, a cat don’t.” “No, a cat doesn’t.”
“Well, does a cow?” “Well, does a cow talk like we do?”
“No, a cow don’t, nuther.” “No, a cow doesn’t either.”
“Does a cat talk like a cow, or a cow talk like a cat?” “Does a cat talk like a cow? Does a cow talk like a cat?”
“No, dey don’t.” “No, they don’t.”
“It’s natural and right for ’em to talk different from each other, ain’t it?” “Isn’t it natural and proper that they talk differently than each other?”
“Course.” “Of course.”
“And ain’t it natural and right for a cat and a cow to talk different from US?” “And isn’t it natural and proper that a cat and cow talk differently from humans?”
“Why, mos’ sholy it is.” “Why, of course it is.”
“Well, then, why ain’t it natural and right for a FRENCHMAN to talk different from us? You answer me that.” “Well then, why isn’t it natural and proper for a Frenchman to talk differently than us? Answer me that.”
“Is a cat a man, Huck?” “Is a cat a man, Huck?”
“No.” “No.”
“Well, den, dey ain’t no sense in a cat talkin’ like a man. Is a cow a man?—er is a cow a cat?” “Well then, it wouldn’t make any sense for a cat to talk like a man. Is a cow a man? I mean, is a cow a cat?”
“No, she ain’t either of them.” “No, a cow is neither a man nor a cat.”
“Well, den, she ain’t got no business to talk like either one er the yuther of ’em. Is a Frenchman a man?” “Well then, a cow’s got no business talking like either one of them. Is a Frenchman a man?”
“Yes.” “Yes.”
“WELL, den! Dad blame it, why doan’ he TALK like a man? You answer me DAT!” “Well, there you go! Darn it, then why doesn’t a Frenchman TALK like a man? Answer me THAT!”
I see it warn’t no use wasting words—you can’t learn a nigger to argue. So I quit. I saw it was no use wasting words—you can’t teach a n----- how to argue. So I quit.