This is a Librivox recording All Librivox recordings are in the public domain For more information or to volunteer please visit Librivox.org This recording is by Mark Smith of Simpsonville, South Carolina The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain CHAPTER SIXTEEN WE slept most all day, and started out at night, a little ways behind a monstrous long raft that was as long going by as a procession She had four long sweeps at each end, so we judged she carried as many as thirty men, likely She had five big wigwams aboard, wide apart, and an open camp fire in the middle, and a tall flag-pole at each end There was a power of style about her It _amounted_ to something being a raftsman on such a craft as that We went drifting down into a big bend, and the night clouded up and got hot The river was very wide, and was walled with solid timber on both sides; you couldn’t see a break in it hardly ever, or a light We talked about Cairo, and wondered whether we would know it when we got to it I said likely we wouldn’t, because I had heard say there warn’t but about a dozen houses there, and if they didn’t happen to have them lit up, how was we going to know we was passing a town? Jim said if the two big rivers joined together there, that would show But I said maybe we might think we was passing the foot of an island and coming into the same old river again That disturbed Jim—and me too So the question was, what to do? I said, paddle ashore the first time a light showed, and tell them pap was behind, coming along with a trading-scow, and was a green hand at the business, and wanted to know how far it was to Cairo Jim thought it was a good idea, so we took a smoke on it and waited There warn’t nothing to do now but to look out sharp for the town, and not pass it without seeing it He said he’d be mighty sure to see it, because he’d be a free man the minute he seen it, but if he missed it he’d be in a slave country again and no more show for freedom Every little while he jumps up and says: “Dah she is?” But it warn’t It was Jack-o’-lanterns, or lightning bugs; so he set down again, and went to watching, same as before Jim said it made him all over trembly and feverish to be so close to freedom Well, I can tell you it made me all over trembly and feverish, too, to hear him, because I begun to get it through my head that he _was_ most free—and who was to blame for it? Why, _me_ I couldn’t get that out of my conscience, no how nor no way It got to troubling me so I couldn’t rest; I couldn’t stay still in one place It hadn’t ever come home to me before, what this thing was that I was doing But now it did; and it stayed with me, and scorched me more and more I tried to make out to myself that I warn’t to blame, because I didn’t run Jim off from his rightful owner; but it warn’t no use, conscience up and says, every time, “But you knowed he was running for his freedom, and you could a paddled ashore and told somebody.” That was so—I couldn’t get around that noway That was where it pinched Conscience says to me, “What had poor Miss Watson done to you that you could see her nigger go off right under your eyes and never say one single word? What did that poor old woman do to you that you could treat her so mean? Why, she tried to learn you your book, she tried to learn you your manners, she tried to be good to you every way she knowed how _That’s_ what she done.” I got to feeling so mean and so miserable I most wished I was dead I fidgeted up and down the raft, abusing myself to myself, and Jim was fidgeting up and down past me We neither of us could keep still Every time he danced around and says, “Dah’s Cairo!” it went through me like a shot, and I thought if it _was_ Cairo I reckoned I would die of miserableness Jim talked out loud all the time while I was talking to myself He was saying how the first thing he would do when he got to a free State he would go to saving up money and never spend a single cent, and when he got enough he would buy his wife, which was owned on a farm close to where Miss Watson lived; and then they would both work to buy the two children, and if their master wouldn’t

sell them, they’d get an Ab’litionist to go and steal them It most froze me to hear such talk He wouldn’t ever dared to talk such talk in his life before Just see what a difference it made in him the minute he judged he was about free It was according to the old saying, “Give a nigger an inch and he’ll take an ell.” Thinks I, this is what comes of my not thinking Here was this nigger, which I had as good as helped to run away, coming right out flat-footed and saying he would steal his children—children that belonged to a man I didn’t even know; a man that hadn’t ever done me no harm I was sorry to hear Jim say that, it was such a lowering of him My conscience got to stirring me up hotter than ever, until at last I says to it, “Let up on me—it ain’t too late yet—I’ll paddle ashore at the first light and tell.” I felt easy and happy and light as a feather right off All my troubles was gone I went to looking out sharp for a light, and sort of singing to myself By and by one showed Jim sings out: “We’s safe, Huck, we’s safe! Jump up and crack yo’ heels! Dat’s de good ole Cairo at las’, I jis knows it!” I says: “I’ll take the canoe and go and see, Jim It mightn’t be, you know.” He jumped and got the canoe ready, and put his old coat in the bottom for me to set on, and give me the paddle; and as I shoved off, he says: “Pooty soon I’ll be a-shout’n’ for joy, en I’ll say, it’s all on accounts o’ Huck; I’s a free man, en I couldn’t ever ben free ef it hadn’ ben for Huck; Huck done it Jim won’t ever forgit you, Huck; you’s de bes’ fren’ Jim’s ever had; en you’s de _only_ fren’ ole Jim’s got now.” I was paddling off, all in a sweat to tell on him; but when he says this, it seemed to kind of take the tuck all out of me I went along slow then, and I warn’t right down certain whether I was glad I started or whether I warn’t When I was fifty yards off, Jim says: “Dah you goes, de ole true Huck; de on’y white genlman dat ever kep’ his promise to ole Jim.” Well, I just felt sick But I says, I _got_ to do it—I can’t get _out_ of it Right then along comes a skiff with two men in it with guns, and they stopped and I stopped One of them says: “What’s that yonder?” “A piece of a raft,” I says “Do you belong on it?” “Yes, sir.” “Any men on it?” “Only one, sir.” “Well, there’s five niggers run off to-night up yonder, above the head of the bend Is your man white or black?” I didn’t answer up prompt I tried to, but the words wouldn’t come I tried for a second or two to brace up and out with it, but I warn’t man enough—hadn’t the spunk of a rabbit I see I was weakening; so I just give up trying, and up and says: “He’s white.” “I reckon we’ll go and see for ourselves.” “I wish you would,” says I, “because it’s pap that’s there, and maybe you’d help me tow the raft ashore where the light is He’s sick—and so is mam and Mary Ann.” “Oh, the devil! we’re in a hurry, boy But I s’pose we’ve got to Come, buckle to your paddle, and let’s get along.” I buckled to my paddle and they laid to their oars When we had made a stroke or two, I says: “Pap’ll be mighty much obleeged to you, I can tell you Everybody goes away when I want them to help me tow the raft ashore, and I can’t do it by myself.” “Well, that’s infernal mean Odd, too Say, boy, what’s the matter with your father?” “It’s the—a—the—well, it ain’t anything much.” They stopped pulling It warn’t but a mighty little ways to the raft now One says: “Boy, that’s a lie What _is_ the matter with your pap? Answer up square now, and it’ll be the better for you.” “I will, sir, I will, honest—but don’t leave us, please It’s the—the—Gentlemen, if you’ll only pull ahead, and let me heave you the headline, you won’t have to come a-near the raft—please do.” “Set her back, John, set her back!” says one They backed water “Keep away, boy—keep to looard Confound it, I just expect the wind has blowed it to us Your pap’s got the small-pox, and you know it precious well Why didn’t you come out and say so? Do you want to spread it all over?”

“Well,” says I, a-blubbering, “I’ve told everybody before, and they just went away and left us.” “Poor devil, there’s something in that We are right down sorry for you, but we—well, hang it, we don’t want the small-pox, you see Look here, I’ll tell you what to do Don’t you try to land by yourself, or you’ll smash everything to pieces You float along down about twenty miles, and you’ll come to a town on the left-hand side of the river It will be long after sun-up then, and when you ask for help you tell them your folks are all down with chills and fever Don’t be a fool again, and let people guess what is the matter Now we’re trying to do you a kindness; so you just put twenty miles between us, that’s a good boy It wouldn’t do any good to land yonder where the light is—it’s only a wood-yard Say, I reckon your father’s poor, and I’m bound to say he’s in pretty hard luck Here, I’ll put a twenty-dollar gold piece on this board, and you get it when it floats by I feel mighty mean to leave you; but my kingdom! it won’t do to fool with small-pox, don’t you see?” “Hold on, Parker,” says the other man, “here’s a twenty to put on the board for me Good-bye, boy; you do as Mr. Parker told you, and you’ll be all right.” “That’s so, my boy—good-bye, good-bye If you see any runaway niggers you get help and nab them, and you can make some money by it.” “Good-bye, sir,” says I; “I won’t let no runaway niggers get by me if I can help it.” They went off and I got aboard the raft, feeling bad and low, because I knowed very well I had done wrong, and I see it warn’t no use for me to try to learn to do right; a body that don’t get _started_ right when he’s little ain’t got no show—when the pinch comes there ain’t nothing to back him up and keep him to his work, and so he gets beat Then I thought a minute, and says to myself, hold on; s’pose you’d a done right and give Jim up, would you felt better than what you do now? No, says I, I’d feel bad—I’d feel just the same way I do now Well, then, says I, what’s the use you learning to do right when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same? I was stuck I couldn’t answer that So I reckoned I wouldn’t bother no more about it, but after this always do whichever come handiest at the time I went into the wigwam; Jim warn’t there I looked all around; he warn’t anywhere I says: “Jim!” “Here I is, Huck Is dey out o’ sight yit? Don’t talk loud.” He was in the river under the stern oar, with just his nose out I told him they were out of sight, so he come aboard He says: “I was a-listenin’ to all de talk, en I slips into de river en was gwyne to shove for sho’ if dey come aboard Den I was gwyne to swim to de raf’ agin when dey was gone But lawsy, how you did fool ’em, Huck! Dat _wuz_ de smartes’ dodge! I tell you, chile, I’spec it save’ ole Jim—ole Jim ain’t going to forgit you for dat, honey.” Then we talked about the money It was a pretty good raise—twenty dollars apiece Jim said we could take deck passage on a steamboat now, and the money would last us as far as we wanted to go in the free States He said twenty mile more warn’t far for the raft to go, but he wished we was already there Towards daybreak we tied up, and Jim was mighty particular about hiding the raft good Then he worked all day fixing things in bundles, and getting all ready to quit rafting That night about ten we hove in sight of the lights of a town away down in a left-hand bend I went off in the canoe to ask about it Pretty soon I found a man out in the river with a skiff, setting a trot-line I ranged up and says: “Mister, is that town Cairo?” “Cairo? no You must be a blame’ fool.” “What town is it, mister?” “If you want to know, go and find out If you stay here botherin’ around me for about a half a minute longer you’ll get something you won’t want.” I paddled to the raft Jim was awful disappointed, but I said never mind, Cairo would be the next place, I reckoned We passed another town before daylight, and I was going out again; but it was high ground, so I didn’t go No high ground about Cairo, Jim said I had forgot it We laid up for the day on a towhead tolerable close to the left-hand bank I begun to suspicion something

So did Jim I says: “Maybe we went by Cairo in the fog that night.” He says: “Doan’ le’s talk about it, Huck Po’ niggers can’t have no luck I awluz ‘spected dat rattlesnake-skin warn’t done wid its work.” “I wish I’d never seen that snake-skin, Jim—I do wish I’d never laid eyes on it.” “It ain’t yo’ fault, Huck; you didn’ know Don’t you blame yo’self ’bout it.” When it was daylight, here was the clear Ohio water inshore, sure enough, and outside was the old regular Muddy! So it was all up with Cairo We talked it all over It wouldn’t do to take to the shore; we couldn’t take the raft up the stream, of course There warn’t no way but to wait for dark, and start back in the canoe and take the chances So we slept all day amongst the cottonwood thicket, so as to be fresh for the work, and when we went back to the raft about dark the canoe was gone! We didn’t say a word for a good while There warn’t anything to say We both knowed well enough it was some more work of the rattlesnake-skin; so what was the use to talk about it? It would only look like we was finding fault, and that would be bound to fetch more bad luck—and keep on fetching it, too, till we knowed enough to keep still By and by we talked about what we better do, and found there warn’t no way but just to go along down with the raft till we got a chance to buy a canoe to go back in We warn’t going to borrow it when there warn’t anybody around, the way pap would do, for that might set people after us So we shoved out after dark on the raft Anybody that don’t believe yet that it’s foolishness to handle a snake-skin, after all that that snake-skin done for us, will believe it now if they read on and see what more it done for us The place to buy canoes is off of rafts laying up at shore But we didn’t see no rafts laying up; so we went along during three hours and more Well, the night got gray and ruther thick, which is the next meanest thing to fog You can’t tell the shape of the river, and you can’t see no distance It got to be very late and still, and then along comes a steamboat up the river We lit the lantern, and judged she would see it Up-stream boats didn’t generly come close to us; they go out and follow the bars and hunt for easy water under the reefs; but nights like this they bull right up the channel against the whole river We could hear her pounding along, but we didn’t see her good till she was close She aimed right for us Often they do that and try to see how close they can come without touching; sometimes the wheel bites off a sweep, and then the pilot sticks his head out and laughs, and thinks he’s mighty smart Well, here she comes, and we said she was going to try and shave us; but she didn’t seem to be sheering off a bit She was a big one, and she was coming in a hurry, too, looking like a black cloud with rows of glow-worms around it; but all of a sudden she bulged out, big and scary, with a long row of wide-open furnace doors shining like red-hot teeth, and her monstrous bows and guards hanging right over us There was a yell at us, and a jingling of bells to stop the engines, a powwow of cussing, and whistling of steam—and as Jim went overboard on one side and I on the other, she come smashing straight through the raft I dived—and I aimed to find the bottom, too, for a thirty-foot wheel had got to go over me, and I wanted it to have plenty of room I could always stay under water a minute; this time I reckon I stayed under a minute and a half Then I bounced for the top in a hurry, for I was nearly busting I popped out to my armpits and blowed the water out of my nose, and puffed a bit Of course there was a booming current; and of course that boat started her engines again ten seconds after she stopped them, for they never cared much for raftsmen; so now she was churning along up the river, out of sight in the thick weather, though I could hear her I sung out for Jim about a dozen times, but I didn’t get any answer; so I grabbed a plank that touched me while I was “treading water,” and struck out for shore, shoving it ahead of me But I made out to see that the drift of the current was towards the left-hand shore, which meant that I was in a crossing; so I changed off and went that way It was one of these long, slanting, two-mile crossings; so I was a good long time in getting over

I made a safe landing, and clumb up the bank I couldn’t see but a little ways, but I went poking along over rough ground for a quarter of a mile or more, and then I run across a big old-fashioned double log-house before I noticed it I was going to rush by and get away, but a lot of dogs jumped out and went to howling and barking at me, and I knowed better than to move another peg End of Chapter

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