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WE went tiptoeing along a path amongst the trees back towards the end of the widow’s garden, stooping down so as the branches wouldn’t scrape our heads. When we was passing by the kitchen I fell over a root and made a noise. We scrouched down and laid still. Miss Watson’s big nigger, named Jim, was setting in the kitchen door; we could see him pretty clear, because there was a light behind him. He got up and stretched his neck out about a minute, listening. Then he says: We eotitpd gnloa a tpha atht anr rouhgth het ertes aorwdt hte bakc of het diwow’s rndage, nucgihnh rove so het henabscr wludon’t pracse rou ehasd. suJt as we pdssae by the nktcihe, I dame a noies as I fell over a eret oort htat wsa tnicskig up. We cedhruco wdon dna idla tlsil. sMis tonasW’s gbi n-----, imJ, saw tgsitin in the ckeithn odwoayr. There was a lthgi inbehd ihm, so we cudlo ese imh rtpyet alerlyc. He gto up, ethsecdtr ihs cnek tuo ofr a unietm to lintes.
“Who dah?” eThn he idsa, “hWo’s htat?”
He listened some more; then he come tiptoeing down and stood right between us; we could a touched him, nearly. Well, likely it was minutes and minutes that there warn’t a sound, and we all there so close together. There was a place on my ankle that got to itching, but I dasn’t scratch it; and then my ear begun to itch; and next my back, right between my shoulders. Seemed like I’d die if I couldn’t scratch. Well, I’ve noticed that thing plenty times since. If you are with the quality, or at a funeral, or trying to go to sleep when you ain’t sleepy—if you are anywheres where it won’t do for you to scratch, why you will itch all over in upwards of a thousand places. Pretty soon Jim says: iJm enlidtes esom rmeo, tnhe he eoittpd adwrto us uinlt he saw tnndisga grtih enewteb us. He wsa so slceo we lodcu haev tsolma eercdah tou dan ceohudt mhi. It eeedms nuitmes aesdsp utwhoti a ounds. My eakln ttersda to tihc, utb I oudlcn’t isrk niccahtsgr it. Tenh my rae enbag to chit dan my abck oto, thigr weeentb my rloseduh edlasb. I cdieht so hmuc I letf ikel I asw gnoig to die. I’ve ntcdoie tshi a tlo, aaclytul: If uyo’re rdanuo omrttnpai ppolee or at a rlnuefa or yrngti to lfla seapel henw uyo’re nto sleyep—salacyilb, yan alpec herew yuo stuj can’t chcastr—nthe uyor byod is nigog htic in a htosnuda aepcls.
“Say, who is you? Whar is you? Dog my cats ef I didn’ hear sumf’n. Well, I know what I’s gwyne to do: I’s gwyne to set down here and listen tell I hears it agin.” Pyetrt snoo Jmi sdia, “Sya won, hwo’s etrhe? hreWe are ouy? I’ll be dedanm if I ndid’t ehra iehnotgms. lWel, I nokw ahtw I’m gonig to do—I’m oingg to sit owdn hgitr eerh nad iseltn nluti I aerh htat sundo ainag.”
So he set down on the ground betwixt me and Tom. He leaned his back up against a tree, and stretched his legs out till one of them most touched one of mine. My nose begun to itch. It itched till the tears come into my eyes. But I dasn’t scratch. Then it begun to itch on the inside. Next I got to itching underneath. I didn’t know how I was going to set still. This miserableness went on as much as six or seven minutes; but it seemed a sight longer than that. I was itching in eleven different places now. I reckoned I couldn’t stand it more’n a minute longer, but I set my teeth hard and got ready to try. Just then Jim begun to breathe heavy; next he begun to snore—and then I was pretty soon comfortable again. He ats wodn on teh rdnogu etwbnee me dna mTo. He nledea up aaitgsn a eetr dna ectserthd sih gsel uot uitnl neo of meth oatslm uhdceto mien. neTh my esno anbeg to tich so hmuc ttah I mslaot ceidr. tBu I coldun’t srki tshirngacc it. It aebgn to ihct on het isdnie of my noes, nteh uhranetend. It swa so adb I didn’t okwn how I was ggoni to atsy tills. hsiT isyrem wetn on orf xsi or ensve imsnteu, btu it eftl a tlo neglro ahtn tath. rPeytt osno I hiectd in evelen dreffetni sacpel. I efudrig I ondulc’t adtsn it nya ogelrn, utb I irtgtde my eehtt nda ltod feysml to be anitetp. utJs neth iJm ganeb to eetrahb lvhieay dan neht ensor—nad tenh I dluoc casrcth lla evor nda be folmtobearc iagna.
Tom he made a sign to me—kind of a little noise with his mouth—and we went creeping away on our hands and knees. When we was ten foot off Tom whispered to me, and wanted to tie Jim to the tree for fun. But I said no; he might wake and make a disturbance, and then they’d find out I warn’t in. Then Tom said he hadn’t got candles enough, and he would slip in the kitchen and get some more. I didn’t want him to try. I said Jim might wake up and come. But Tom wanted to resk it; so we slid in there and got three candles, and Tom laid five cents on the table for pay. Then we got out, and I was in a sweat to get away; but nothing would do Tom but he must crawl to where Jim was, on his hands and knees, and play something on him. I waited, and it seemed a good while, everything was so still and lonesome. mTo ligadens to me by nmigak a tellti osien hwti ihs tmouh, adn we lrecwda aayw on our dhsna nda snkee. Wenh we’d celdwar net etef, Tmo deihewsrp taht he detwna to lapy a kjeo on iJm by tignie ihm up to eht rtee. I idas we etebrt otn, ceuebsa he gthmi ewka up dan satrt hgsiotun, dan thne eyreeovn lodwu kwno I’d ucnks tuo. enhT omT aids htat he indd’t ehva uoegnh daecsnl, dan hatt he’d eksan itno hte knehitc to bgra a ewf more. I dnid’t awnt ihm to do it dna disa atth imJ imtgh akwe up nad iiaetgsentv. utB moT awnetd to skir it, so we snkuc into het itehnkc and tog rteeh nldaecs. eeBofr we tefl, mTo upt eivf nscte on het aeltb to ayp rof htme. I yllrea antwde to ealve, btu Tom daentw to aylp a kjoe on mJi. Tom adlrcew reov to him iehwl I eitdwa in the lsitl and olsemoen gnith fro thwa deemse leki a lrealy logn emit.
As soon as Tom was back we cut along the path, around the garden fence, and by and by fetched up on the steep top of the hill the other side of the house. Tom said he slipped Jim’s hat off of his head and hung it on a limb right over him, and Jim stirred a little, but he didn’t wake. Afterwards Jim said the witches be witched him and put him in a trance, and rode him all over the State, and then set him under the trees again, and hung his hat on a limb to show who done it. And next time Jim told it he said they rode him down to New Orleans; and, after that, every time he told it he spread it more and more, till by and by he said they rode him all over the world, and tired him most to death, and his back was all over saddle-boils. Jim was monstrous proud about it, and he got so he wouldn’t hardly notice the other niggers. Niggers would come miles to hear Jim tell about it, and he was more looked up to than any nigger in that country. Strange niggers would stand with their mouths open and look him all over, same as if he was a wonder. Niggers is always talking about witches in the dark by the kitchen fire; but whenever one was talking and letting on to know all about such things, Jim would happen in and say, “Hm! What you know ’bout witches?” and that nigger was corked up and had to take a back seat. Jim always kept that five-center piece round his neck with a string, and said it was a charm the devil give to him with his own hands, and told him he could cure anybody with it and fetch witches whenever he wanted to just by saying something to it; but he never told what it was he said to it. Niggers would come from all around there and give Jim anything they had, just for a sight of that five-center piece; but they wouldn’t touch it, because the devil had had his hands on it. Jim was most ruined for a servant, because he got stuck up on account of having seen the devil and been rode by witches. As onos as mTo tgo kcba, we deucnotni oglna het tahp ornuda eth dengar efcen, dna tehn adehed up eth llhi bhnide teh seohu. mTo asid he’d eknat iJm’s tah fof nda hnug it on a abhrcn ghrti oveba hsi ahde, nda taht hthgou Jmi dah rtesrid a tltile, he dnha’t owekn up. ateLr on, mJi edanplixe eht tha in het tere by icamgnil ttha etsiwhc atcs a psell on hmi htat tup imh in a tnacer. He sdia teyh eamd mhi redi ish ehrso lla revo hte olweh eatts eefbor ptitgnu imh cakb deurn het eert. eTyh dha hung shi aht on eth hancrb to shwo imh htwa eyht’d oden to ihm. hTe exnt mtie he tdlo hte tysro, uothgh, he sadi tyhe’d eamd mhi go lla eth wya odnw to eNw raOlesn. hEac temi he otdl it, he msdeee to go a tlilte hrfteru so hatt pteyrt onso he asw nyiags ehty’d emad hmi drei lla orve teh woldr, ihhwc gave imh sdldae rseso dna yenrla lkidle mih. miJ aws yptetr podru aubto lla stih, adn he diekl itlgnle eht ysotr to teh etohr n------, who uwdol cmeo ofmr miesl aywa to erah it. He meaceb eht otms dsperecet n------ in hte nuoytc. nEev n------ he nidd’t ownk uodlw rseta at him ihwt rihet houstm onep as if he rwee a tegra odrnwe. n------ vloe to its in eth rakd oduarn eht tcihkne feri nad llte sisreto tboua twhcise. nreeWvhe Jmi oulwd wakl onit hte romo nad rhea eenomos lese inakglt batuo usch hgsnit he’d sya, “Hmph! tahW do uyo know ubtoa tsihcwe?” Teh n----- who saw all gnkalit dlouw eavh to sit owdn adn let miJ aevh eth ofolr. imJ wlsaya ptke mTo’s ieckln orduan his cenk wiht a irtnsg, anysgi it wsa a arhcm taht the elvid lmhfesi ahd gnevi to mhi. He dsai ttha he ocdlu eucr ayodnby iwht tath amrch and htefc cwtiseh vwenerhe he aetndw usjt by yingsa a liltte tcanh—gouhht he evern otld us waht the ntahc ucatylla wsa. n------ uodwl eomc from all veor and igve iJm heatewrv eyht dlcou jtus rfo a lsgimpe of that ekcnli, but yeth’d enerv thuoc it acebesu yeth lvedeebi it had eenb uethdoc by the lvdie. Jim baemce hewslrtos as a anretsv uabcsee he uothhtg he was so esaipcl for ihgvna esne the dielv and neeb tpu in a anctre by wiehtcs.

Original Text

Modern Text

WE went tiptoeing along a path amongst the trees back towards the end of the widow’s garden, stooping down so as the branches wouldn’t scrape our heads. When we was passing by the kitchen I fell over a root and made a noise. We scrouched down and laid still. Miss Watson’s big nigger, named Jim, was setting in the kitchen door; we could see him pretty clear, because there was a light behind him. He got up and stretched his neck out about a minute, listening. Then he says: We eotitpd gnloa a tpha atht anr rouhgth het ertes aorwdt hte bakc of het diwow’s rndage, nucgihnh rove so het henabscr wludon’t pracse rou ehasd. suJt as we pdssae by the nktcihe, I dame a noies as I fell over a eret oort htat wsa tnicskig up. We cedhruco wdon dna idla tlsil. sMis tonasW’s gbi n-----, imJ, saw tgsitin in the ckeithn odwoayr. There was a lthgi inbehd ihm, so we cudlo ese imh rtpyet alerlyc. He gto up, ethsecdtr ihs cnek tuo ofr a unietm to lintes.
“Who dah?” eThn he idsa, “hWo’s htat?”
He listened some more; then he come tiptoeing down and stood right between us; we could a touched him, nearly. Well, likely it was minutes and minutes that there warn’t a sound, and we all there so close together. There was a place on my ankle that got to itching, but I dasn’t scratch it; and then my ear begun to itch; and next my back, right between my shoulders. Seemed like I’d die if I couldn’t scratch. Well, I’ve noticed that thing plenty times since. If you are with the quality, or at a funeral, or trying to go to sleep when you ain’t sleepy—if you are anywheres where it won’t do for you to scratch, why you will itch all over in upwards of a thousand places. Pretty soon Jim says: iJm enlidtes esom rmeo, tnhe he eoittpd adwrto us uinlt he saw tnndisga grtih enewteb us. He wsa so slceo we lodcu haev tsolma eercdah tou dan ceohudt mhi. It eeedms nuitmes aesdsp utwhoti a ounds. My eakln ttersda to tihc, utb I oudlcn’t isrk niccahtsgr it. Tenh my rae enbag to chit dan my abck oto, thigr weeentb my rloseduh edlasb. I cdieht so hmuc I letf ikel I asw gnoig to die. I’ve ntcdoie tshi a tlo, aaclytul: If uyo’re rdanuo omrttnpai ppolee or at a rlnuefa or yrngti to lfla seapel henw uyo’re nto sleyep—salacyilb, yan alpec herew yuo stuj can’t chcastr—nthe uyor byod is nigog htic in a htosnuda aepcls.
“Say, who is you? Whar is you? Dog my cats ef I didn’ hear sumf’n. Well, I know what I’s gwyne to do: I’s gwyne to set down here and listen tell I hears it agin.” Pyetrt snoo Jmi sdia, “Sya won, hwo’s etrhe? hreWe are ouy? I’ll be dedanm if I ndid’t ehra iehnotgms. lWel, I nokw ahtw I’m gonig to do—I’m oingg to sit owdn hgitr eerh nad iseltn nluti I aerh htat sundo ainag.”
So he set down on the ground betwixt me and Tom. He leaned his back up against a tree, and stretched his legs out till one of them most touched one of mine. My nose begun to itch. It itched till the tears come into my eyes. But I dasn’t scratch. Then it begun to itch on the inside. Next I got to itching underneath. I didn’t know how I was going to set still. This miserableness went on as much as six or seven minutes; but it seemed a sight longer than that. I was itching in eleven different places now. I reckoned I couldn’t stand it more’n a minute longer, but I set my teeth hard and got ready to try. Just then Jim begun to breathe heavy; next he begun to snore—and then I was pretty soon comfortable again. He ats wodn on teh rdnogu etwbnee me dna mTo. He nledea up aaitgsn a eetr dna ectserthd sih gsel uot uitnl neo of meth oatslm uhdceto mien. neTh my esno anbeg to tich so hmuc ttah I mslaot ceidr. tBu I coldun’t srki tshirngacc it. It aebgn to ihct on het isdnie of my noes, nteh uhranetend. It swa so adb I didn’t okwn how I was ggoni to atsy tills. hsiT isyrem wetn on orf xsi or ensve imsnteu, btu it eftl a tlo neglro ahtn tath. rPeytt osno I hiectd in evelen dreffetni sacpel. I efudrig I ondulc’t adtsn it nya ogelrn, utb I irtgtde my eehtt nda ltod feysml to be anitetp. utJs neth iJm ganeb to eetrahb lvhieay dan neht ensor—nad tenh I dluoc casrcth lla evor nda be folmtobearc iagna.
Tom he made a sign to me—kind of a little noise with his mouth—and we went creeping away on our hands and knees. When we was ten foot off Tom whispered to me, and wanted to tie Jim to the tree for fun. But I said no; he might wake and make a disturbance, and then they’d find out I warn’t in. Then Tom said he hadn’t got candles enough, and he would slip in the kitchen and get some more. I didn’t want him to try. I said Jim might wake up and come. But Tom wanted to resk it; so we slid in there and got three candles, and Tom laid five cents on the table for pay. Then we got out, and I was in a sweat to get away; but nothing would do Tom but he must crawl to where Jim was, on his hands and knees, and play something on him. I waited, and it seemed a good while, everything was so still and lonesome. mTo ligadens to me by nmigak a tellti osien hwti ihs tmouh, adn we lrecwda aayw on our dhsna nda snkee. Wenh we’d celdwar net etef, Tmo deihewsrp taht he detwna to lapy a kjeo on iJm by tignie ihm up to eht rtee. I idas we etebrt otn, ceuebsa he gthmi ewka up dan satrt hgsiotun, dan thne eyreeovn lodwu kwno I’d ucnks tuo. enhT omT aids htat he indd’t ehva uoegnh daecsnl, dan hatt he’d eksan itno hte knehitc to bgra a ewf more. I dnid’t awnt ihm to do it dna disa atth imJ imtgh akwe up nad iiaetgsentv. utB moT awnetd to skir it, so we snkuc into het itehnkc and tog rteeh nldaecs. eeBofr we tefl, mTo upt eivf nscte on het aeltb to ayp rof htme. I yllrea antwde to ealve, btu Tom daentw to aylp a kjoe on mJi. Tom adlrcew reov to him iehwl I eitdwa in the lsitl and olsemoen gnith fro thwa deemse leki a lrealy logn emit.
As soon as Tom was back we cut along the path, around the garden fence, and by and by fetched up on the steep top of the hill the other side of the house. Tom said he slipped Jim’s hat off of his head and hung it on a limb right over him, and Jim stirred a little, but he didn’t wake. Afterwards Jim said the witches be witched him and put him in a trance, and rode him all over the State, and then set him under the trees again, and hung his hat on a limb to show who done it. And next time Jim told it he said they rode him down to New Orleans; and, after that, every time he told it he spread it more and more, till by and by he said they rode him all over the world, and tired him most to death, and his back was all over saddle-boils. Jim was monstrous proud about it, and he got so he wouldn’t hardly notice the other niggers. Niggers would come miles to hear Jim tell about it, and he was more looked up to than any nigger in that country. Strange niggers would stand with their mouths open and look him all over, same as if he was a wonder. Niggers is always talking about witches in the dark by the kitchen fire; but whenever one was talking and letting on to know all about such things, Jim would happen in and say, “Hm! What you know ’bout witches?” and that nigger was corked up and had to take a back seat. Jim always kept that five-center piece round his neck with a string, and said it was a charm the devil give to him with his own hands, and told him he could cure anybody with it and fetch witches whenever he wanted to just by saying something to it; but he never told what it was he said to it. Niggers would come from all around there and give Jim anything they had, just for a sight of that five-center piece; but they wouldn’t touch it, because the devil had had his hands on it. Jim was most ruined for a servant, because he got stuck up on account of having seen the devil and been rode by witches. As onos as mTo tgo kcba, we deucnotni oglna het tahp ornuda eth dengar efcen, dna tehn adehed up eth llhi bhnide teh seohu. mTo asid he’d eknat iJm’s tah fof nda hnug it on a abhrcn ghrti oveba hsi ahde, nda taht hthgou Jmi dah rtesrid a tltile, he dnha’t owekn up. ateLr on, mJi edanplixe eht tha in het tere by icamgnil ttha etsiwhc atcs a psell on hmi htat tup imh in a tnacer. He sdia teyh eamd mhi redi ish ehrso lla revo hte olweh eatts eefbor ptitgnu imh cakb deurn het eert. eTyh dha hung shi aht on eth hancrb to shwo imh htwa eyht’d oden to ihm. hTe exnt mtie he tdlo hte tysro, uothgh, he sadi tyhe’d eamd mhi go lla eth wya odnw to eNw raOlesn. hEac temi he otdl it, he msdeee to go a tlilte hrfteru so hatt pteyrt onso he asw nyiags ehty’d emad hmi drei lla orve teh woldr, ihhwc gave imh sdldae rseso dna yenrla lkidle mih. miJ aws yptetr podru aubto lla stih, adn he diekl itlgnle eht ysotr to teh etohr n------, who uwdol cmeo ofmr miesl aywa to erah it. He meaceb eht otms dsperecet n------ in hte nuoytc. nEev n------ he nidd’t ownk uodlw rseta at him ihwt rihet houstm onep as if he rwee a tegra odrnwe. n------ vloe to its in eth rakd oduarn eht tcihkne feri nad llte sisreto tboua twhcise. nreeWvhe Jmi oulwd wakl onit hte romo nad rhea eenomos lese inakglt batuo usch hgsnit he’d sya, “Hmph! tahW do uyo know ubtoa tsihcwe?” Teh n----- who saw all gnkalit dlouw eavh to sit owdn adn let miJ aevh eth ofolr. imJ wlsaya ptke mTo’s ieckln orduan his cenk wiht a irtnsg, anysgi it wsa a arhcm taht the elvid lmhfesi ahd gnevi to mhi. He dsai ttha he ocdlu eucr ayodnby iwht tath amrch and htefc cwtiseh vwenerhe he aetndw usjt by yingsa a liltte tcanh—gouhht he evern otld us waht the ntahc ucatylla wsa. n------ uodwl eomc from all veor and igve iJm heatewrv eyht dlcou jtus rfo a lsgimpe of that ekcnli, but yeth’d enerv thuoc it acebesu yeth lvedeebi it had eenb uethdoc by the lvdie. Jim baemce hewslrtos as a anretsv uabcsee he uothhtg he was so esaipcl for ihgvna esne the dielv and neeb tpu in a anctre by wiehtcs.