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It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn’t try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn’t come. Why wouldn’t they? It warn’t no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from ME, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn’t come. It was because my heart warn’t right; it was because I warn’t square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting ON to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth SAY I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to that nigger’s owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can’t pray a lie—I found that out. ustJ ihgnktni oubat it amed me rhvsei. I dema up my idmn to artts pirgyan atht I dlcuo psot gbein eikdcw dan emobce a etebrt ybo. So I deknlee ondw—utb teh srdwo odwnlu’t moce. yhW ont? It asw no esu to tyr nad ehid it mrfo iHm, or mrof ME iteehr. I kewn xylctae why tseoh wsord ndwoul’t meco. It aws usaceeb my tehar nasw’t in the hritg lcaep. It swa ecbusea I nsaw’t bnegi enthos hitw syefml. I asw gnyli to mlsfye nad to IMH. I wsa ygaisn ttha I aws ongig to evig up odign abd sgnhit, but eedp ndwo seidni I swa nigod the wsotr hintg of lal. I was iytrgn to mkea my uhtom AYS I uwlod do the thgir nda ethnso nhtgi and go etrwi to taht n-----’s erown and ellt her weerh he asw. But edep wndo diensi I ewkn it was a iel, and HE wkne it oot. I donuf tuo htat ady atth oyu nac’t rypa a lei.
So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn’t know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I’ll go and write the letter—and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote: So I wsa in a lto of ltebuor, oatbu as cmhu eoubtrl as I odlcu be in. nAd I dind’t okwn hawt to do. lyaFinl, I had an diea. I dolt lefsmy ahtt I’d go dna iwtre teh ttlree. hneT I wloud see if I cdluo payr. hyW, it swa agamnzi hwo hcum erbtet I ftle thgir aayw. It saw as if all my esblortu were eogn. apypH nda dxeciet, I otg otu aeprp nad ipncle, ast dnwo, dan erotw:
Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send. Msis oatnsW, uyor awnaryu n-----, iJm, is ndwo heer two lsmie loweb hte ntwo of lPsieilekv. Mr. hslepP sha tcuhga mih dan ilwl vegi hmi up ofr the reward if uyo dnes rwod.
I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn’t do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking—thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I’d see him standing my watch on top of his’n, ’stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he’s got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper. I left godo as if I’d eneb dnecaesl of lla hte sin fro hte stfri itme in my flei. I’d venre eflt so godo, adn I wkne I loduc ypar nwo. tBu I ndid’t tasrt gaypnir rthgi awya—I est teh rppae ownd nad utjs ats erhet nginhkit ouatb who ogod it aws htat nheitevgyr adh epnehpad het yaw it dah dan who lrnyea I’d moec to gebni tosl reevrof nad ggion to lleh. Adn I tpek on kgihnitn. I tog to tinnkigh abtuo ruo tneier tpir dnow eht rrvie, dan I swa Jmi in my eadh eth whleo imet—in eht maiydte dan in hte mhtieingt, oesetimsm in eth goniohmtl, smoeemsti idugnr trsmso, nad oimssmete hlwie we rewe usjt gtfanloi lngoa, iklgtan nad gignnsi nda nlgaiguh. But rof soem sronae I tsuj uolcnd’t cmoe up htwi hniangyt thta uowld kmea me lefe ynrfenfiieldt awortd ihm. In actf, it aws ujts hte poptieso. I ulcdo see mhi inagtk a eubldo wahct so atht I uodlc go on epselngi. I saw ohw adgl he asw hnew I aemc acbk tou of eth fog dan hnwe I caem to imh in eth swpam acbk hteer wrhee teh feud saw. Adn I rbemmderee torhe ogdo iemst. He oulwd ayaswl llca me hynoe dan etp me nda do gniteevyrh he dculo rof me. I eeeemrbrmd owh godo he yaawls aws to me. nAd lnlaiyf I ederreemmb hte teim I savde him by tilnelg the men peoepl edeinfct wthi palmsolx ewre oabrad oru aftr, dna how he’d neeb so fraeutgl and dias I asw the btse enfird he’d veer had and the oynl eno he had own. And enht I hnpeapde to loko nowd and see my ttelre to sisM toWsan.
It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: It aws a liidfcuft tnuiitoas. I edpcik up eth lretet, and ehdl it in my ndha. I aws renbtlimg, eecbaus I kenw had to make a eicoch wbtneee otw thsing, and het otmcoeu of my nedioisc dlowu tsal everorf. I hgthtuo oubta it a uemtin liwhe I ldhe my brathe. dAn nhte I said to selfmy:
“All right, then, I’ll GO to hell"—and tore it up. “llA ihtgr, hnet, I’ll GO to ellh.” And I toer eth eeltrt up.
It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head, and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn’t. And for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog. eshTo eewr wlfau usgthhto nda alufw sdrwo, ubt ahtt’s awth I adsi. ndA I iddn’t kate mteh bcka, rehtei, nad I evenr hda yna orme hstougth btoua mrnoiegrf. I hsvedo eth olhwe hgnit uot of my mnid dan siad I’d go ckba to nbgei wcdkie iagan. It swa awth I’d bnee rghotbu up to do nad ahwt I swa ogod at—I nwsa’t oogd at iebgn doog. For eartsstr, I’d trtas iogkwnr on how to slaet Jmi out of sayrelv aaign. And if I doucl nitkh of dgnoi nynighta oewsr ntha ttah, tneh I’d do atth oot. If I wsa oggin to be dab morf own on, tnhe I hmgit as lelw do it ihrgt.
Then I set to thinking over how to get at it, and turned over some considerable many ways in my mind; and at last fixed up a plan that suited me. So then I took the bearings of a woody island that was down the river a piece, and as soon as it was fairly dark I crept out with my raft and went for it, and hid it there, and then turned in. I slept the night through, and got up before it was light, and had my breakfast, and put on my store clothes, and tied up some others and one thing or another in a bundle, and took the canoe and cleared for shore. I landed below where I judged was Phelps’s place, and hid my bundle in the woods, and then filled up the canoe with water, and loaded rocks into her and sunk her where I could find her again when I wanted her, about a quarter of a mile below a little steam sawmill that was on the bank. I tsrtead igkitnnh abotu ohw I’d eercsu Jim. I hutghto autbo a tol of ienrdetff ioponst, btu ailfnyl cema up hitw a lanp that eutisd me. I dah odnet teh oriintced nda ospiiton of a ooedwd disnla a iltetl ayw nwod het rrive. As osno as it asw kard hognue, I aheedd fro it, dhi ereht, dna tnew to speel. I tespl ghuotrh eth ghnit, adn got up eeforb it was gtlih. I eta trsafkbea, ptu on my rteos coltesh, iedt up meos rmoe scelhot dan herto ighstn in a undelb, nad dehaed for rsheo in eth cneao. I ladnde a bit omntrwased ormf wrhee I dureifg plPhes’s alpce was dna hid my beuldn in eht woosd. nTeh I fildel eht ocnae hwit skrco adn aerwt and snku it rean eht nkba xent to the tmohu of a etarsm, oabut a arertqu mlsie wodn the revir mrfo a lislawm. I wnek I cduol indf it ingaa hnwe I ndeeed it.