Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Part 5
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Produced by David Widger
By Mark Twain
IT was after sun-up now, but we went right on and didn't tie up. The
king and the duke turned out by and by looking pretty rusty; but after
they'd jumped overboard and took a swim it chippered them up a good deal.
After breakfast the king he took a seat on the corner of the raft, and
pulled off his boots and rolled up his britches, and let his legs dangle
in the water, so as to be comfortable, and lit his pipe, and went to
getting his Romeo and Juliet by heart. When he had got it pretty good
him and the duke begun to practice it together. The duke had to learn
him over and over again how to say every speech; and he made him sigh,
and put his hand on his heart, and after a while he said he done it
pretty well; "only," he says, "you mustn't bellow out ROMEO! that way,
like a bull--you must say it soft and sick and languishy, so--R-o-o-meo!
that is the idea; for Juliet's a dear sweet mere child of a girl, you
know, and she doesn't bray like a jackass."
Well, next they got out a couple of long swords that the duke made out of
oak laths, and begun to practice the sword fight--the duke called himself
Richard III.; and the way they laid on and pranced around the raft was
grand to see. But by and by the king tripped and fell overboard, and
after that they took a rest, and had a talk about all kinds of adventures
they'd had in other times along the river.
After dinner the duke says:
"Well, Capet, we'll want to make this a first-class show, you know, so I
guess we'll add a little more to it. We want a little something to
answer encores with, anyway."
"What's onkores, Bilgewater?"
The duke told him, and then says:
"I'll answer by doing the Highland fling or the sailor's hornpipe; and
you--well, let me see--oh, I've got it--you can do Hamlet's soliloquy."
"Hamlet's soliloquy, you know; the most celebrated thing in Shakespeare.
Ah, it's sublime, sublime! Always fetches the house. I haven't got it
in the book--I've only got one volume--but I reckon I can piece it out
from memory. I'll just walk up and down a minute, and see if I can call
it back from recollection's vaults."
So he went to marching up and down, thinking, and frowning horrible every
now and then; then he would hoist up his eyebrows; next he would squeeze
his hand on his forehead and stagger back and kind of moan; next he would
sigh, and next he'd let on to drop a tear. It was beautiful to see him.
By and by he got it. He told us to give attention. Then he strikes a
most noble attitude, with one leg shoved forwards, and his arms stretched
away up, and his head tilted back, looking up at the sky; and then he
begins to rip and rave and grit his teeth; and after that, all through
his speech, he howled, and spread around, and swelled up his chest, and
just knocked the spots out of any acting ever I see before. This is the
speech--I learned it, easy enough, while he was learning it to the king:
To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin That makes calamity of so
long life; For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do come to
Dunsinane, But that the fear of something after death Murders the
innocent sleep, Great nature's second course, And makes us rather sling
the arrows of outrageous fortune Than fly to others that we know not of.
There's the respect must give us pause: Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I
would thou couldst; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The
oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, The law's delay, and the
quietus which his pangs might take, In the dead waste and middle of the
night, when churchyards yawn In customary suits of solemn black, But that
the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns, Breathes
forth contagion on the world, And thus the native hue of resolution, like
the poor cat i' the adage, Is sicklied o'er with care, And all the clouds
that lowered o'er our housetops, With this regard their currents turn
awry, And lose the name of action. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be
wished. But soft you, the fair Ophelia: Ope not thy ponderous and marble
jaws, But get thee to a nunnery--go!
Well, the old man he liked that speech, and he mighty soon got it so he
could do it first-rate. It seemed like he was just born for it; and when
he had his hand in and was excited, it was perfectly lovely the way he
would rip and tear and rair up behind when he was getting it off.
The first chance we got the duke he had some showbills printed; and after
that, for two or three days as we floated along, the raft was a most
uncommon lively place, for there warn't nothing but sword fighting and
rehearsing--as the duke called it--going on all the time. One morning,
when we was pretty well down the State of Arkansaw, we come in sight of a
little one-horse town in a big bend; so we tied up about three-quarters
of a mile above it, in the mouth of a crick which was shut in like a
tunnel by the cypress trees, and all of us but Jim took the canoe and
went down there to see if there was any chance in that place for our
We struck it mighty lucky; there was going to be a circus there that
afternoon, and the country people was already beginning to come in, in
all kinds of old shackly wagons, and on horses. The circus would leave
before night, so our show would have a pretty good chance. The duke he
hired the courthouse, and we went around and stuck up our bills. They
read like this:
Shaksperean Revival ! ! !
For One Night Only!
The world renowned tragedians, David Garrick the Younger, of Drury Lane
Theatre London, and Edmund Kean the elder, of the Royal Haymarket
Theatre, Whitechapel, Pudding Lane, Piccadilly, London, and the Royal
Continental Theatres, in their sublime Shaksperean Spectacle entitled
TheBalcony Scene in Romeo and Juliet ! ! !
Assisted by the whole strength of the company!
New costumes, new scenes, new appointments!
Also: The thrilling, masterly, and blood-curdling
Broad-sword conflict In Richard III. ! ! !
Richard III.............Mr. Garrick
Also: (by special request) Hamlet's Immortal Soliloquy ! !
By The Illustrious Kean! Done by him 300 consecutive nights in Paris!
For One Night Only, On account of imperative European engagements!
Admission 25 cents; children and servants, 10 cents.
Then we went loafing around town. The stores and houses was most all
old, shackly, dried up frame concerns that hadn't ever been painted; they
was set up three or four foot above ground on stilts, so as to be out of
reach of the water when the river was over-flowed. The houses had little
gardens around them, but they didn't seem to raise hardly anything in
them but jimpson-weeds, and sunflowers, and ash piles, and old curled-up
boots and shoes, and pieces of bottles, and rags, and played-out tinware.
The fences was made of different kinds of boards, nailed on at different
times; and they leaned every which way, and had gates that didn't generly
have but one hinge--a leather one. Some of the fences had been
white-washed some time or another, but the duke said it was in Clumbus'
time, like enough. There was generly hogs in the garden, and people
driving them out.
All the stores was along one street. They had white domestic awnings in
front, and the country people hitched their horses to the awning-posts.
There was empty drygoods boxes under the awnings, and loafers roosting on
them all day long, whittling them with their Barlow knives; and chawing
tobacco, and gaping and yawning and stretching--a mighty ornery lot.
They generly had on yellow straw hats most as wide as an umbrella, but
didn't wear no coats nor waistcoats, they called one another Bill, and
Buck, and Hank, and Joe, and Andy, and talked lazy and drawly, and used
considerable many cuss words. There was as many as one loafer leaning up
against every awning-post, and he most always had his hands in his
britches-pockets, except when he fetched them out to lend a chaw of
tobacco or scratch. What a body was hearing amongst them all the time
"Gimme a chaw 'v tobacker, Hank."
"Cain't; I hain't got but one chaw left. Ask Bill."
Maybe Bill he gives him a chaw; maybe he lies and says he ain't got none.
Some of them kinds of loafers never has a cent in the world, nor a chaw
of tobacco of their own. They get all their chawing by borrowing; they
say to a fellow, "I wisht you'd len' me a chaw, Jack, I jist this minute
give Ben Thompson the last chaw I had"--which is a lie pretty much
everytime; it don't fool nobody but a stranger; but Jack ain't no
stranger, so he says:
"YOU give him a chaw, did you? So did your sister's cat's grandmother.
You pay me back the chaws you've awready borry'd off'n me, Lafe Buckner,
then I'll loan you one or two ton of it, and won't charge you no back
"Well, I DID pay you back some of it wunst."
"Yes, you did--'bout six chaws. You borry'd store tobacker and paid back
Store tobacco is flat black plug, but these fellows mostly chaws the
natural leaf twisted. When they borrow a chaw they don't generly cut it
off with a knife, but set the plug in between their teeth, and gnaw with
their teeth and tug at the plug with their hands till they get it in two;
then sometimes the one that owns the tobacco looks mournful at it when
it's handed back, and says, sarcastic:
"Here, gimme the CHAW, and you take the PLUG."
All the streets and lanes was just mud; they warn't nothing else BUT mud
--mud as black as tar and nigh about a foot deep in some places, and two
or three inches deep in ALL the places. The hogs loafed and grunted
around everywheres. You'd see a muddy sow and a litter of pigs come
lazying along the street and whollop herself right down in the way, where
folks had to walk around her, and she'd stretch out and shut her eyes and
wave her ears whilst the pigs was milking her, and look as happy as if
she was on salary. And pretty soon you'd hear a loafer sing out, "Hi! SO
boy! sick him, Tige!" and away the sow would go, squealing most horrible,
with a dog or two swinging to each ear, and three or four dozen more
a-coming; and then you would see all the loafers get up and watch the thing
out of sight, and laugh at the fun and look grateful for the noise. Then
they'd settle back again till there was a dog fight. There couldn't
anything wake them up all over, and make them happy all over, like a dog
fight--unless it might be putting turpentine on a stray dog and setting
fire to him, or tying a tin pan to his tail and see him run himself to
On the river front some of the houses was sticking out over the bank, and
they was bowed and bent, and about ready to tumble in, The people had
moved out of them. The bank was caved away under one corner of some
others, and that corner was hanging over. People lived in them yet, but
it was dangersome, because sometimes a strip of land as wide as a house
caves in at a time. Sometimes a belt of land a quarter of a mile deep
will start in and cave along and cave along till it all caves into the
river in one summer. Such a town as that has to be always moving back,
and back, and back, because the river's always gnawing at it.
The nearer it got to noon that day the thicker and thicker was the wagons
and horses in the streets, and more coming all the time. Families
fetched their dinners with them from the country, and eat them in the
wagons. There was considerable whisky drinking going on, and I seen
three fights. By and by somebody sings out:
"Here comes old Boggs!--in from the country for his little old monthly
drunk; here he comes, boys!"
All the loafers looked glad; I reckoned they was used to having fun out
of Boggs. One of them says:
"Wonder who he's a-gwyne to chaw up this time. If he'd a-chawed up all
the men he's ben a-gwyne to chaw up in the last twenty year he'd have
considerable ruputation now."
Another one says, "I wisht old Boggs 'd threaten me, 'cuz then I'd know I
warn't gwyne to die for a thousan' year."
Boggs comes a-tearing along on his horse, whooping and yelling like an
Injun, and singing out:
"Cler the track, thar. I'm on the waw-path, and the price uv coffins is
a-gwyne to raise."
He was drunk, and weaving about in his saddle; he was over fifty year
old, and had a very red face. Everybody yelled at him and laughed at him
and sassed him, and he sassed back, and said he'd attend to them and lay
them out in their regular turns, but he couldn't wait now because he'd
come to town to kill old Colonel Sherburn, and his motto was, "Meat
first, and spoon vittles to top off on."
He see me, and rode up and says:
"Whar'd you come f'm, boy? You prepared to die?"
Then he rode on. I was scared, but a man says:
"He don't mean nothing; he's always a-carryin' on like that when he's
drunk. He's the best naturedest old fool in Arkansaw--never hurt nobody,
drunk nor sober."
Boggs rode up before the biggest store in town, and bent his head down so
he could see under the curtain of the awning and yells:
"Come out here, Sherburn! Come out and meet the man you've swindled.
You're the houn' I'm after, and I'm a-gwyne to have you, too!"
And so he went on, calling Sherburn everything he could lay his tongue
to, and the whole street packed with people listening and laughing and
going on. By and by a proud-looking man about fifty-five--and he was a
heap the best dressed man in that town, too--steps out of the store, and
the crowd drops back on each side to let him come. He says to Boggs,
mighty ca'm and slow--he says:
"I'm tired of this, but I'll endure it till one o'clock. Till one
o'clock, mind--no longer. If you open your mouth against me only once
after that time you can't travel so far but I will find you."
Then he turns and goes in. The crowd looked mighty sober; nobody
stirred, and there warn't no more laughing. Boggs rode off blackguarding
Sherburn as loud as he could yell, all down the street; and pretty soon
back he comes and stops before the store, still keeping it up. Some men
crowded around him and tried to get him to shut up, but he wouldn't; they
told him it would be one o'clock in about fifteen minutes, and so he MUST
go home--he must go right away. But it didn't do no good. He cussed
away with all his might, and throwed his hat down in the mud and rode
over it, and pretty soon away he went a-raging down the street again,
with his gray hair a-flying. Everybody that could get a chance at him
tried their best to coax him off of his horse so they could lock him up
and get him sober; but it warn't no use--up the street he would tear
again, and give Sherburn another cussing. By and by somebody says:
"Go for his daughter!--quick, go for his daughter; sometimes he'll listen
to her. If anybody can persuade him, she can."
So somebody started on a run. I walked down street a ways and stopped.
In about five or ten minutes here comes Boggs again, but not on his
horse. He was a-reeling across the street towards me, bare-headed, with
a friend on both sides of him a-holt of his arms and hurrying him along.
He was quiet, and looked uneasy; and he warn't hanging back any, but was
doing some of the hurrying himself. Somebody sings out:
I looked over there to see who said it, and it was that Colonel Sherburn.
He was standing perfectly still in the street, and had a pistol raised in
his right hand--not aiming it, but holding it out with the barrel tilted
up towards the sky. The same second I see a young girl coming on the
run, and two men with her. Boggs and the men turned round to see who
called him, and when they see the pistol the men jumped to one side, and
the pistol-barrel come down slow and steady to a level--both barrels
cocked. Boggs throws up both of his hands and says, "O Lord, don't
shoot!" Bang! goes the first shot, and he staggers back, clawing at the
air--bang! goes the second one, and he tumbles backwards on to the
ground, heavy and solid, with his arms spread out. That young girl
screamed out and comes rushing, and down she throws herself on her
father, crying, and saying, "Oh, he's killed him, he's killed him!" The
crowd closed up around them, and shouldered and jammed one another, with
their necks stretched, trying to see, and people on the inside trying to
shove them back and shouting, "Back, back! give him air, give him air!"
Colonel Sherburn he tossed his pistol on to the ground, and turned around
on his heels and walked off.
They took Boggs to a little drug store, the crowd pressing around just
the same, and the whole town following, and I rushed and got a good place
at the window, where I was close to him and could see in. They laid him
on the floor and put one large Bible under his head, and opened another
one and spread it on his breast; but they tore open his shirt first, and
I seen where one of the bullets went in. He made about a dozen long
gasps, his breast lifting the Bible up when he drawed in his breath, and
letting it down again when he breathed it out--and after that he laid
still; he was dead. Then they pulled his daughter away from him,
screaming and crying, and took her off. She was about sixteen, and very
sweet and gentle looking, but awful pale and scared.
Well, pretty soon the whole town was there, squirming and scrouging and
pushing and shoving to get at the window and have a look, but people that
had the places wouldn't give them up, and folks behind them was saying
all the time, "Say, now, you've looked enough, you fellows; 'tain't right
and 'tain't fair for you to stay thar all the time, and never give nobody
a chance; other folks has their rights as well as you."
There was considerable jawing back, so I slid out, thinking maybe there
was going to be trouble. The streets was full, and everybody was
excited. Everybody that seen the shooting was telling how it happened,
and there was a big crowd packed around each one of these fellows,
stretching their necks and listening. One long, lanky man, with long
hair and a big white fur stovepipe hat on the back of his head, and a
crooked-handled cane, marked out the places on the ground where Boggs
stood and where Sherburn stood, and the people following him around from
one place to t'other and watching everything he done, and bobbing their
heads to show they understood, and stooping a little and resting their
hands on their thighs to watch him mark the places on the ground with his
cane; and then he stood up straight and stiff where Sherburn had stood,
frowning and having his hat-brim down over his eyes, and sung out,
"Boggs!" and then fetched his cane down slow to a level, and says "Bang!"
staggered backwards, says "Bang!" again, and fell down flat on his back.
The people that had seen the thing said he done it perfect; said it was
just exactly the way it all happened. Then as much as a dozen people got
out their bottles and treated him.
Well, by and by somebody said Sherburn ought to be lynched. In about a
minute everybody was saying it; so away they went, mad and yelling, and
snatching down every clothes-line they come to to do the hanging with.
THEY swarmed up towards Sherburn's house, a-whooping and raging like
Injuns, and everything had to clear the way or get run over and tromped
to mush, and it was awful to see. Children was heeling it ahead of the
mob, screaming and trying to get out of the way; and every window along
the road was full of women's heads, and there was nigger boys in every
tree, and bucks and wenches looking over every fence; and as soon as the
mob would get nearly to them they would break and skaddle back out of
reach. Lots of the women and girls was crying and taking on, scared most
They swarmed up in front of Sherburn's palings as thick as they could jam
together, and you couldn't hear yourself think for the noise. It was a
little twenty-foot yard. Some sung out "Tear down the fence! tear down
the fence!" Then there was a racket of ripping and tearing and smashing,
and down she goes, and the front wall of the crowd begins to roll in like
Just then Sherburn steps out on to the roof of his little front porch,
with a double-barrel gun in his hand, and takes his stand, perfectly ca'm
and deliberate, not saying a word. The racket stopped, and the wave
Sherburn never said a word--just stood there, looking down. The
stillness was awful creepy and uncomfortable. Sherburn run his eye slow
along the crowd; and wherever it struck the people tried a little to
out-gaze him, but they couldn't; they dropped their eyes and looked sneaky.
Then pretty soon Sherburn sort of laughed; not the pleasant kind, but the
kind that makes you feel like when you are eating bread that's got sand
Then he says, slow and scornful:
"The idea of YOU lynching anybody! It's amusing. The idea of you
thinking you had pluck enough to lynch a MAN! Because you're brave
enough to tar and feather poor friendless cast-out women that come along
here, did that make you think you had grit enough to lay your hands on a
MAN? Why, a MAN'S safe in the hands of ten thousand of your kind--as
long as it's daytime and you're not behind him.
"Do I know you? I know you clear through was born and raised in the
South, and I've lived in the North; so I know the average all around.
The average man's a coward. In the North he lets anybody walk over him
that wants to, and goes home and prays for a humble spirit to bear it.
In the South one man all by himself, has stopped a stage full of men in
the daytime, and robbed the lot. Your newspapers call you a brave people
so much that you think you are braver than any other people--whereas
you're just AS brave, and no braver. Why don't your juries hang
murderers? Because they're afraid the man's friends will shoot them in
the back, in the dark--and it's just what they WOULD do.
"So they always acquit; and then a MAN goes in the night, with a hundred
masked cowards at his back and lynches the rascal. Your mistake is, that
you didn't bring a man with you; that's one mistake, and the other is
that you didn't come in the dark and fetch your masks. You brought PART
of a man--Buck Harkness, there--and if you hadn't had him to start you,
you'd a taken it out in blowing.
"You didn't want to come. The average man don't like trouble and danger.
YOU don't like trouble and danger. But if only HALF a man--like Buck
Harkness, there--shouts 'Lynch him! lynch him!' you're afraid to back
down--afraid you'll be found out to be what you are--COWARDS--and so
you raise a yell, and hang yourselves on to that half-a-man's coat-tail,
and come raging up here, swearing what big things you're going to do.
The pitifulest thing out is a mob; that's what an army is--a mob; they
don't fight with courage that's born in them, but with courage that's
borrowed from their mass, and from their officers. But a mob without any
MAN at the head of it is BENEATH pitifulness. Now the thing for YOU to
do is to droop your tails and go home and crawl in a hole. If any real
lynching's going to be done it will be done in the dark, Southern
fashion; and when they come they'll bring their masks, and fetch a MAN
along. Now LEAVE--and take your half-a-man with you"--tossing his gun up
across his left arm and cocking it when he says this.
The crowd washed back sudden, and then broke all apart, and went tearing
off every which way, and Buck Harkness he heeled it after them, looking
tolerable cheap. I could a stayed if I wanted to, but I didn't want to.
I went to the circus and loafed around the back side till the watchman
went by, and then dived in under the tent. I had my twenty-dollar gold
piece and some other money, but I reckoned I better save it, because
there ain't no telling how soon you are going to need it, away from home
and amongst strangers that way. You can't be too careful. I ain't
opposed to spending money on circuses when there ain't no other way, but
there ain't no use in WASTING it on them.
It was a real bully circus. It was the splendidest sight that ever was
when they all come riding in, two and two, a gentleman and lady, side by
side, the men just in their drawers and undershirts, and no shoes nor
stirrups, and resting their hands on their thighs easy and comfortable
--there must a been twenty of them--and every lady with a lovely
complexion, and perfectly beautiful, and looking just like a gang of real
sure-enough queens, and dressed in clothes that cost millions of dollars,
and just littered with diamonds. It was a powerful fine sight; I never
see anything so lovely. And then one by one they got up and stood, and
went a-weaving around the ring so gentle and wavy and graceful, the men
looking ever so tall and airy and straight, with their heads bobbing and
skimming along, away up there under the tent-roof, and every lady's
rose-leafy dress flapping soft and silky around her hips, and she looking
like the most loveliest parasol.
And then faster and faster they went, all of them dancing, first one foot
out in the air and then the other, the horses leaning more and more, and
the ringmaster going round and round the center-pole, cracking his whip
and shouting "Hi!--hi!" and the clown cracking jokes behind him; and by
and by all hands dropped the reins, and every lady put her knuckles on
her hips and every gentleman folded his arms, and then how the horses did
lean over and hump themselves! And so one after the other they all
skipped off into the ring, and made the sweetest bow I ever see, and then
scampered out, and everybody clapped their hands and went just about
Well, all through the circus they done the most astonishing things; and
all the time that clown carried on so it most killed the people. The
ringmaster couldn't ever say a word to him but he was back at him quick
as a wink with the funniest things a body ever said; and how he ever
COULD think of so many of them, and so sudden and so pat, was what I
couldn't noway understand. Why, I couldn't a thought of them in a year.
And by and by a drunk man tried to get into the ring--said he wanted to
ride; said he could ride as well as anybody that ever was. They argued
and tried to keep him out, but he wouldn't listen, and the whole show
come to a standstill. Then the people begun to holler at him and make
fun of him, and that made him mad, and he begun to rip and tear; so that
stirred up the people, and a lot of men begun to pile down off of the
benches and swarm towards the ring, saying, "Knock him down! throw him
out!" and one or two women begun to scream. So, then, the ringmaster he
made a little speech, and said he hoped there wouldn't be no disturbance,
and if the man would promise he wouldn't make no more trouble he would
let him ride if he thought he could stay on the horse. So everybody
laughed and said all right, and the man got on. The minute he was on, the
horse begun to rip and tear and jump and cavort around, with two circus
men hanging on to his bridle trying to hold him, and the drunk man
hanging on to his neck, and his heels flying in the air every jump, and
the whole crowd of people standing up shouting and laughing till tears
rolled down. And at last, sure enough, all the circus men could do, the
horse broke loose, and away he went like the very nation, round and round
the ring, with that sot laying down on him and hanging to his neck, with
first one leg hanging most to the ground on one side, and then t'other
one on t'other side, and the people just crazy. It warn't funny to me,
though; I was all of a tremble to see his danger. But pretty soon he
struggled up astraddle and grabbed the bridle, a-reeling this way and
that; and the next minute he sprung up and dropped the bridle and stood!
and the horse a-going like a house afire too. He just stood up there,
a-sailing around as easy and comfortable as if he warn't ever drunk in his
life--and then he begun to pull off his clothes and sling them. He shed
them so thick they kind of clogged up the air, and altogether he shed
seventeen suits. And, then, there he was, slim and handsome, and dressed
the gaudiest and prettiest you ever saw, and he lit into that horse with
his whip and made him fairly hum--and finally skipped off, and made his
bow and danced off to the dressing-room, and everybody just a-howling
with pleasure and astonishment.
Then the ringmaster he see how he had been fooled, and he WAS the sickest
ringmaster you ever see, I reckon. Why, it was one of his own men! He
had got up that joke all out of his own head, and never let on to nobody.
Well, I felt sheepish enough to be took in so, but I wouldn't a been in
that ringmaster's place, not for a thousand dollars. I don't know; there
may be bullier circuses than what that one was, but I never struck them
yet. Anyways, it was plenty good enough for ME; and wherever I run across
it, it can have all of MY custom every time.
Well, that night we had OUR show; but there warn't only about twelve
people there--just enough to pay expenses. And they laughed all the
time, and that made the duke mad; and everybody left, anyway, before the
show was over, but one boy which was asleep. So the duke said these
Arkansaw lunkheads couldn't come up to Shakespeare; what they wanted was
low comedy--and maybe something ruther worse than low comedy, he
reckoned. He said he could size their style. So next morning he got
some big sheets of wrapping paper and some black paint, and drawed off
some handbills, and stuck them up all over the village. The bills said:
AT THE COURT HOUSE! FOR 3 NIGHTS ONLY!
The World-Renowned Tragedians
DAVID GARRICK THE YOUNGER!
AND EDMUND KEAN THE ELDER!
Of the London and
In their Thrilling Tragedy of
THE KING'S CAMELEOPARD,
OR THE ROYAL NONESUCH ! ! !
Admission 50 cents.
Then at the bottom was the biggest line of all, which said:
LADIES AND CHILDREN NOT ADMITTED.
"There," says he, "if that line don't fetch them, I don't know Arkansaw!"
WELL, all day him and the king was hard at it, rigging up a stage and a
curtain and a row of candles for footlights; and that night the house was
jam full of men in no time. When the place couldn't hold no more, the
duke he quit tending door and went around the back way and come on to the
stage and stood up before the curtain and made a little speech, and
praised up this tragedy, and said it was the most thrillingest one that
ever was; and so he went on a-bragging about the tragedy, and about
Edmund Kean the Elder, which was to play the main principal part in it;
and at last when he'd got everybody's expectations up high enough, he
rolled up the curtain, and the next minute the king come a-prancing out
on all fours, naked; and he was painted all over, ring-streaked-and-
striped, all sorts of colors, as splendid as a rainbow. And--but never
mind the rest of his outfit; it was just wild, but it was awful funny.
The people most killed themselves laughing; and when the king got done
capering and capered off behind the scenes, they roared and clapped and
stormed and haw-hawed till he come back and done it over again, and after
that they made him do it another time. Well, it would make a cow laugh to
see the shines that old idiot cut.
Then the duke he lets the curtain down, and bows to the people, and says
the great tragedy will be performed only two nights more, on accounts of
pressing London engagements, where the seats is all sold already for it
in Drury Lane; and then he makes them another bow, and says if he has
succeeded in pleasing them and instructing them, he will be deeply
obleeged if they will mention it to their friends and get them to come
and see it.
Twenty people sings out:
"What, is it over? Is that ALL?"
The duke says yes. Then there was a fine time. Everybody sings out,
"Sold!" and rose up mad, and was a-going for that stage and them
tragedians. But a big, fine looking man jumps up on a bench and shouts:
"Hold on! Just a word, gentlemen." They stopped to listen. "We are
sold--mighty badly sold. But we don't want to be the laughing stock of
this whole town, I reckon, and never hear the last of this thing as long
as we live. NO. What we want is to go out of here quiet, and talk this
show up, and sell the REST of the town! Then we'll all be in the same
boat. Ain't that sensible?" ("You bet it is!--the jedge is right!"
everybody sings out.) "All right, then--not a word about any sell. Go
along home, and advise everybody to come and see the tragedy."
Next day you couldn't hear nothing around that town but how splendid that
show was. House was jammed again that night, and we sold this crowd the
same way. When me and the king and the duke got home to the raft we all
had a supper; and by and by, about midnight, they made Jim and me back
her out and float her down the middle of the river, and fetch her in and
hide her about two mile below town.
The third night the house was crammed again--and they warn't new-comers
this time, but people that was at the show the other two nights. I stood
by the duke at the door, and I see that every man that went in had his
pockets bulging, or something muffled up under his coat--and I see it
warn't no perfumery, neither, not by a long sight. I smelt sickly eggs
by the barrel, and rotten cabbages, and such things; and if I know the
signs of a dead cat being around, and I bet I do, there was sixty-four of
them went in. I shoved in there for a minute, but it was too various for
me; I couldn't stand it. Well, when the place couldn't hold no more
people the duke he give a fellow a quarter and told him to tend door for
him a minute, and then he started around for the stage door, I after him;
but the minute we turned the corner and was in the dark he says:
"Walk fast now till you get away from the houses, and then shin for the
raft like the dickens was after you!"
I done it, and he done the same. We struck the raft at the same time,
and in less than two seconds we was gliding down stream, all dark and
still, and edging towards the middle of the river, nobody saying a word.
I reckoned the poor king was in for a gaudy time of it with the audience,
but nothing of the sort; pretty soon he crawls out from under the wigwam,
"Well, how'd the old thing pan out this time, duke?" He hadn't been
up-town at all.
We never showed a light till we was about ten mile below the village.
Then we lit up and had a supper, and the king and the duke fairly laughed
their bones loose over the way they'd served them people. The duke says:
"Greenhorns, flatheads! I knew the first house would keep mum and let
the rest of the town get roped in; and I knew they'd lay for us the third
night, and consider it was THEIR turn now. Well, it IS their turn, and
I'd give something to know how much they'd take for it. I WOULD just
like to know how they're putting in their opportunity. They can turn it
into a picnic if they want to--they brought plenty provisions."
Them rapscallions took in four hundred and sixty-five dollars in that
three nights. I never see money hauled in by the wagon-load like that
before. By and by, when they was asleep and snoring, Jim says:
"Don't it s'prise you de way dem kings carries on, Huck?"
"No," I says, "it don't."
"Why don't it, Huck?"
"Well, it don't, because it's in the breed. I reckon they're all alike,"
"But, Huck, dese kings o' ourn is reglar rapscallions; dat's jist what
dey is; dey's reglar rapscallions."
"Well, that's what I'm a-saying; all kings is mostly rapscallions, as fur
as I can make out."
"Is dat so?"
"You read about them once--you'll see. Look at Henry the Eight; this 'n
's a Sunday-school Superintendent to HIM. And look at Charles Second,
and Louis Fourteen, and Louis Fifteen, and James Second, and Edward
Second, and Richard Third, and forty more; besides all them Saxon
heptarchies that used to rip around so in old times and raise Cain. My,
you ought to seen old Henry the Eight when he was in bloom. He WAS a
blossom. He used to marry a new wife every day, and chop off her head
next morning. And he would do it just as indifferent as if he was
ordering up eggs. 'Fetch up Nell Gwynn,' he says. They fetch her up.
Next morning, 'Chop off her head!' And they chop it off. 'Fetch up Jane
Shore,' he says; and up she comes, Next morning, 'Chop off her head'--and
they chop it off. 'Ring up Fair Rosamun.' Fair Rosamun answers the
bell. Next morning, 'Chop off her head.' And he made every one of them
tell him a tale every night; and he kept that up till he had hogged a
thousand and one tales that way, and then he put them all in a book, and
called it Domesday Book--which was a good name and stated the case. You
don't know kings, Jim, but I know them; and this old rip of ourn is one
of the cleanest I've struck in history. Well, Henry he takes a notion he
wants to get up some trouble with this country. How does he go at it
--give notice?--give the country a show? No. All of a sudden he heaves
all the tea in Boston Harbor overboard, and whacks out a declaration of
independence, and dares them to come on. That was HIS style--he never
give anybody a chance. He had suspicions of his father, the Duke of
Wellington. Well, what did he do? Ask him to show up? No--drownded
him in a butt of mamsey, like a cat. S'pose people left money laying
around where he was--what did he do? He collared it. S'pose he
contracted to do a thing, and you paid him, and didn't set down there and
see that he done it--what did he do? He always done the other thing.
S'pose he opened his mouth--what then? If he didn't shut it up powerful
quick he'd lose a lie every time. That's the kind of a bug Henry was;
and if we'd a had him along 'stead of our kings he'd a fooled that town a
heap worse than ourn done. I don't say that ourn is lambs, because they
ain't, when you come right down to the cold facts; but they ain't nothing
to THAT old ram, anyway. All I say is, kings is kings, and you got to
make allowances. Take them all around, they're a mighty ornery lot.
It's the way they're raised."
"But dis one do SMELL so like de nation, Huck."
"Well, they all do, Jim. We can't help the way a king smells; history
don't tell no way."
"Now de duke, he's a tolerble likely man in some ways."
"Yes, a duke's different. But not very different. This one's a middling
hard lot for a duke. When he's drunk there ain't no near-sighted man
could tell him from a king."
"Well, anyways, I doan' hanker for no mo' un um, Huck. Dese is all I kin
"It's the way I feel, too, Jim. But we've got them on our hands, and we
got to remember what they are, and make allowances. Sometimes I wish we
could hear of a country that's out of kings."
What was the use to tell Jim these warn't real kings and dukes? It
wouldn't a done no good; and, besides, it was just as I said: you
couldn't tell them from the real kind.
I went to sleep, and Jim didn't call me when it was my turn. He often
done that. When I waked up just at daybreak he was sitting there with
his head down betwixt his knees, moaning and mourning to himself. I
didn't take notice nor let on. I knowed what it was about. He was
thinking about his wife and his children, away up yonder, and he was low
and homesick; because he hadn't ever been away from home before in his
life; and I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white
folks does for their'n. It don't seem natural, but I reckon it's so. He
was often moaning and mourning that way nights, when he judged I was
asleep, and saying, "Po' little 'Lizabeth! po' little Johnny! it's mighty
hard; I spec' I ain't ever gwyne to see you no mo', no mo'!" He was a
mighty good nigger, Jim was.
But this time I somehow got to talking to him about his wife and young
ones; and by and by he says:
"What makes me feel so bad dis time 'uz bekase I hear sumpn over yonder
on de bank like a whack, er a slam, while ago, en it mine me er de time I
treat my little 'Lizabeth so ornery. She warn't on'y 'bout fo' year ole,
en she tuck de sk'yarlet fever, en had a powful rough spell; but she got
well, en one day she was a-stannin' aroun', en I says to her, I says:
"'Shet de do'.'
"She never done it; jis' stood dah, kiner smilin' up at me. It make me
mad; en I says agin, mighty loud, I says:
"'Doan' you hear me? Shet de do'!'
"She jis stood de same way, kiner smilin' up. I was a-bilin'! I says:
"'I lay I MAKE you mine!'
"En wid dat I fetch' her a slap side de head dat sont her a-sprawlin'.
Den I went into de yuther room, en 'uz gone 'bout ten minutes; en when I
come back dah was dat do' a-stannin' open YIT, en dat chile stannin' mos'
right in it, a-lookin' down and mournin', en de tears runnin' down. My,
but I WUZ mad! I was a-gwyne for de chile, but jis' den--it was a do'
dat open innerds--jis' den, 'long come de wind en slam it to, behine de
chile, ker-BLAM!--en my lan', de chile never move'! My breff mos' hop
outer me; en I feel so--so--I doan' know HOW I feel. I crope out, all
a-tremblin', en crope aroun' en open de do' easy en slow, en poke my head
in behine de chile, sof' en still, en all uv a sudden I says POW! jis' as
loud as I could yell. SHE NEVER BUDGE! Oh, Huck, I bust out a-cryin' en
grab her up in my arms, en say, 'Oh, de po' little thing! De Lord God
Amighty fogive po' ole Jim, kaze he never gwyne to fogive hisself as
long's he live!' Oh, she was plumb deef en dumb, Huck, plumb deef en
dumb--en I'd ben a-treat'n her so!"
NEXT day, towards night, we laid up under a little willow towhead out in
the middle, where there was a village on each side of the river, and the
duke and the king begun to lay out a plan for working them towns. Jim he
spoke to the duke, and said he hoped it wouldn't take but a few hours,
because it got mighty heavy and tiresome to him when he had to lay all
day in the wigwam tied with the rope. You see, when we left him all
alone we had to tie him, because if anybody happened on to him all by
himself and not tied it wouldn't look much like he was a runaway nigger,
you know. So the duke said it WAS kind of hard to have to lay roped all
day, and he'd cipher out some way to get around it.
He was uncommon bright, the duke was, and he soon struck it. He dressed
Jim up in King Lear's outfit--it was a long curtain-calico gown, and a
white horse-hair wig and whiskers; and then he took his theater paint and
painted Jim's face and hands and ears and neck all over a dead, dull,
solid blue, like a man that's been drownded nine days. Blamed if he
warn't the horriblest looking outrage I ever see. Then the duke took and
wrote out a sign on a shingle so:
Sick Arab--but harmless when not out of his head.
And he nailed that shingle to a lath, and stood the lath up four or five
foot in front of the wigwam. Jim was satisfied. He said it was a sight
better than lying tied a couple of years every day, and trembling all
over every time there was a sound. The duke told him to make himself
free and easy, and if anybody ever come meddling around, he must hop out
of the wigwam, and carry on a little, and fetch a howl or two like a wild
beast, and he reckoned they would light out and leave him alone. Which
was sound enough judgment; but you take the average man, and he wouldn't
wait for him to howl. Why, he didn't only look like he was dead, he
looked considerable more than that.
These rapscallions wanted to try the Nonesuch again, because there was so
much money in it, but they judged it wouldn't be safe, because maybe the
news might a worked along down by this time. They couldn't hit no
project that suited exactly; so at last the duke said he reckoned he'd
lay off and work his brains an hour or two and see if he couldn't put up
something on the Arkansaw village; and the king he allowed he would drop
over to t'other village without any plan, but just trust in Providence to
lead him the profitable way--meaning the devil, I reckon. We had all
bought store clothes where we stopped last; and now the king put his'n
on, and he told me to put mine on. I done it, of course. The king's
duds was all black, and he did look real swell and starchy. I never
knowed how clothes could change a body before. Why, before, he looked
like the orneriest old rip that ever was; but now, when he'd take off his
new white beaver and make a bow and do a smile, he looked that grand and
good and pious that you'd say he had walked right out of the ark, and
maybe was old Leviticus himself. Jim cleaned up the canoe, and I got my
paddle ready. There was a big steamboat laying at the shore away up
under the point, about three mile above the town--been there a couple
of hours, taking on freight. Says the king:
"Seein' how I'm dressed, I reckon maybe I better arrive down from St.
Louis or Cincinnati, or some other big place. Go for the steamboat,
Huckleberry; we'll come down to the village on her."
I didn't have to be ordered twice to go and take a steamboat ride. I
fetched the shore a half a mile above the village, and then went scooting
along the bluff bank in the easy water. Pretty soon we come to a nice
innocent-looking young country jake setting on a log swabbing the sweat
off of his face, for it was powerful warm weather; and he had a couple of
big carpet-bags by him.
"Run her nose in shore," says the king. I done it. "Wher' you bound
for, young man?"
"For the steamboat; going to Orleans."
"Git aboard," says the king. "Hold on a minute, my servant 'll he'p you
with them bags. Jump out and he'p the gentleman, Adolphus"--meaning me,
I done so, and then we all three started on again. The young chap was
mighty thankful; said it was tough work toting his baggage such weather.
He asked the king where he was going, and the king told him he'd come
down the river and landed at the other village this morning, and now he
was going up a few mile to see an old friend on a farm up there. The
young fellow says:
"When I first see you I says to myself, 'It's Mr. Wilks, sure, and he
come mighty near getting here in time.' But then I says again, 'No, I
reckon it ain't him, or else he wouldn't be paddling up the river.' You
AIN'T him, are you?"
"No, my name's Blodgett--Elexander Blodgett--REVEREND Elexander Blodgett,
I s'pose I must say, as I'm one o' the Lord's poor servants. But still
I'm jist as able to be sorry for Mr. Wilks for not arriving in time, all
the same, if he's missed anything by it--which I hope he hasn't."
"Well, he don't miss any property by it, because he'll get that all
right; but he's missed seeing his brother Peter die--which he mayn't
mind, nobody can tell as to that--but his brother would a give anything
in this world to see HIM before he died; never talked about nothing else
all these three weeks; hadn't seen him since they was boys together--and
hadn't ever seen his brother William at all--that's the deef and dumb
one--William ain't more than thirty or thirty-five. Peter and George
were the only ones that come out here; George was the married brother;
him and his wife both died last year. Harvey and William's the only ones
that's left now; and, as I was saying, they haven't got here in time."
"Did anybody send 'em word?"
"Oh, yes; a month or two ago, when Peter was first took; because Peter
said then that he sorter felt like he warn't going to get well this time.
You see, he was pretty old, and George's g'yirls was too young to be much
company for him, except Mary Jane, the red-headed one; and so he was
kinder lonesome after George and his wife died, and didn't seem to care
much to live. He most desperately wanted to see Harvey--and William,
too, for that matter--because he was one of them kind that can't bear to
make a will. He left a letter behind for Harvey, and said he'd told in
it where his money was hid, and how he wanted the rest of the property
divided up so George's g'yirls would be all right--for George didn't
leave nothing. And that letter was all they could get him to put a pen
"Why do you reckon Harvey don't come? Wher' does he live?"
"Oh, he lives in England--Sheffield--preaches there--hasn't ever been in
this country. He hasn't had any too much time--and besides he mightn't a
got the letter at all, you know."
"Too bad, too bad he couldn't a lived to see his brothers, poor soul.
You going to Orleans, you say?"
"Yes, but that ain't only a part of it. I'm going in a ship, next
Wednesday, for Ryo Janeero, where my uncle lives."
"It's a pretty long journey. But it'll be lovely; wisht I was a-going.
Is Mary Jane the oldest? How old is the others?"
"Mary Jane's nineteen, Susan's fifteen, and Joanna's about fourteen
--that's the one that gives herself to good works and has a hare-lip."
"Poor things! to be left alone in the cold world so."
"Well, they could be worse off. Old Peter had friends, and they ain't
going to let them come to no harm. There's Hobson, the Babtis' preacher;
and Deacon Lot Hovey, and Ben Rucker, and Abner Shackleford, and Levi
Bell, the lawyer; and Dr. Robinson, and their wives, and the widow
Bartley, and--well, there's a lot of them; but these are the ones that
Peter was thickest with, and used to write about sometimes, when he wrote
home; so Harvey 'll know where to look for friends when he gets here."
Well, the old man went on asking questions till he just fairly emptied
that young fellow. Blamed if he didn't inquire about everybody and
everything in that blessed town, and all about the Wilkses; and about
Peter's business--which was a tanner; and about George's--which was a
carpenter; and about Harvey's--which was a dissentering minister; and so
on, and so on. Then he says:
"What did you want to walk all the way up to the steamboat for?"
"Because she's a big Orleans boat, and I was afeard she mightn't stop
there. When they're deep they won't stop for a hail. A Cincinnati boat
will, but this is a St. Louis one."
"Was Peter Wilks well off?"
"Oh, yes, pretty well off. He had houses and land, and it's reckoned he
left three or four thousand in cash hid up som'ers."
"When did you say he died?"
"I didn't say, but it was last night."
"Funeral to-morrow, likely?"
"Yes, 'bout the middle of the day."
"Well, it's all terrible sad; but we've all got to go, one time or
another. So what we want to do is to be prepared; then we're all right."
"Yes, sir, it's the best way. Ma used to always say that."
When we struck the boat she was about done loading, and pretty soon she
got off. The king never said nothing about going aboard, so I lost my
ride, after all. When the boat was gone the king made me paddle up
another mile to a lonesome place, and then he got ashore and says:
"Now hustle back, right off, and fetch the duke up here, and the new
carpet-bags. And if he's gone over to t'other side, go over there and
git him. And tell him to git himself up regardless. Shove along, now."
I see what HE was up to; but I never said nothing, of course. When I got
back with the duke we hid the canoe, and then they set down on a log, and
the king told him everything, just like the young fellow had said it
--every last word of it. And all the time he was a-doing it he tried to
talk like an Englishman; and he done it pretty well, too, for a slouch.
I can't imitate him, and so I ain't a-going to try to; but he really done
it pretty good. Then he says:
"How are you on the deef and dumb, Bilgewater?"
The duke said, leave him alone for that; said he had played a deef and
dumb person on the histronic boards. So then they waited for a
About the middle of the afternoon a couple of little boats come along,
but they didn't come from high enough up the river; but at last there was
a big one, and they hailed her. She sent out her yawl, and we went
aboard, and she was from Cincinnati; and when they found we only wanted
to go four or five mile they was booming mad, and gave us a cussing, and
said they wouldn't land us. But the king was ca'm. He says:
"If gentlemen kin afford to pay a dollar a mile apiece to be took on and
put off in a yawl, a steamboat kin afford to carry 'em, can't it?"
So they softened down and said it was all right; and when we got to the
village they yawled us ashore. About two dozen men flocked down when
they see the yawl a-coming, and when the king says:
"Kin any of you gentlemen tell me wher' Mr. Peter Wilks lives?" they give
a glance at one another, and nodded their heads, as much as to say, "What
d' I tell you?" Then one of them says, kind of soft and gentle:
"I'm sorry sir, but the best we can do is to tell you where he DID live
Sudden as winking the ornery old cretur went an to smash, and fell up
against the man, and put his chin on his shoulder, and cried down his
back, and says:
"Alas, alas, our poor brother--gone, and we never got to see him; oh,
it's too, too hard!"
Then he turns around, blubbering, and makes a lot of idiotic signs to the
duke on his hands, and blamed if he didn't drop a carpet-bag and bust out
a-crying. If they warn't the beatenest lot, them two frauds, that ever I
Well, the men gathered around and sympathized with them, and said all
sorts of kind things to them, and carried their carpet-bags up the hill
for them, and let them lean on them and cry, and told the king all about
his brother's last moments, and the king he told it all over again on his
hands to the duke, and both of them took on about that dead tanner like
they'd lost the twelve disciples. Well, if ever I struck anything like
it, I'm a nigger. It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race.
THE news was all over town in two minutes, and you could see the people
tearing down on the run from every which way, some of them putting on
their coats as they come. Pretty soon we was in the middle of a crowd,
and the noise of the tramping was like a soldier march. The windows and
dooryards was full; and every minute somebody would say, over a fence:
"Is it THEM?"
And somebody trotting along with the gang would answer back and say:
"You bet it is."
When we got to the house the street in front of it was packed, and the
three girls was standing in the door. Mary Jane WAS red-headed, but that
don't make no difference, she was most awful beautiful, and her face and
her eyes was all lit up like glory, she was so glad her uncles was come.
The king he spread his arms, and Mary Jane she jumped for them, and the
hare-lip jumped for the duke, and there they HAD it! Everybody most,
leastways women, cried for joy to see them meet again at last and have
such good times.
Then the king he hunched the duke private--I see him do it--and then he
looked around and see the coffin, over in the corner on two chairs; so
then him and the duke, with a hand across each other's shoulder, and
t'other hand to their eyes, walked slow and solemn over there, everybody
dropping back to give them room, and all the talk and noise stopping,
people saying "Sh!" and all the men taking their hats off and drooping
their heads, so you could a heard a pin fall. And when they got there
they bent over and looked in the coffin, and took one sight, and then
they bust out a-crying so you could a heard them to Orleans, most; and
then they put their arms around each other's necks, and hung their chins
over each other's shoulders; and then for three minutes, or maybe four, I
never see two men leak the way they done. And, mind you, everybody was
doing the same; and the place was that damp I never see anything like it.
Then one of them got on one side of the coffin, and t'other on t'other
side, and they kneeled down and rested their foreheads on the coffin, and
let on to pray all to themselves. Well, when it come to that it worked
the crowd like you never see anything like it, and everybody broke down
and went to sobbing right out loud--the poor girls, too; and every woman,
nearly, went up to the girls, without saying a word, and kissed them,
solemn, on the forehead, and then put their hand on their head, and
looked up towards the sky, with the tears running down, and then busted
out and went off sobbing and swabbing, and give the next woman a show. I
never see anything so disgusting.
Well, by and by the king he gets up and comes forward a little, and works
himself up and slobbers out a speech, all full of tears and flapdoodle
about its being a sore trial for him and his poor brother to lose the
diseased, and to miss seeing diseased alive after the long journey of
four thousand mile, but it's a trial that's sweetened and sanctified to
us by this dear sympathy and these holy tears, and so he thanks them out
of his heart and out of his brother's heart, because out of their mouths
they can't, words being too weak and cold, and all that kind of rot and
slush, till it was just sickening; and then he blubbers out a pious
goody-goody Amen, and turns himself loose and goes to crying fit to bust.
And the minute the words were out of his mouth somebody over in the crowd
struck up the doxolojer, and everybody joined in with all their might,
and it just warmed you up and made you feel as good as church letting
out. Music is a good thing; and after all that soul-butter and hogwash I
never see it freshen up things so, and sound so honest and bully.
Then the king begins to work his jaw again, and says how him and his
nieces would be glad if a few of the main principal friends of the family
would take supper here with them this evening, and help set up with the
ashes of the diseased; and says if his poor brother laying yonder could
speak he knows who he would name, for they was names that was very dear
to him, and mentioned often in his letters; and so he will name the same,
to wit, as follows, vizz.:--Rev. Mr. Hobson, and Deacon Lot Hovey, and
Mr. Ben Rucker, and Abner Shackleford, and Levi Bell, and Dr. Robinson,
and their wives, and the widow Bartley.
Rev. Hobson and Dr. Robinson was down to the end of the town a-hunting
together--that is, I mean the doctor was shipping a sick man to t'other
world, and the preacher was pinting him right. Lawyer Bell was away up
to Louisville on business. But the rest was on hand, and so they all
come and shook hands with the king and thanked him and talked to him; and
then they shook hands with the duke and didn't say nothing, but just kept
a-smiling and bobbing their heads like a passel of sapheads whilst he
made all sorts of signs with his hands and said "Goo-goo--goo-goo-goo"
all the time, like a baby that can't talk.
So the king he blattered along, and managed to inquire about pretty much
everybody and dog in town, by his name, and mentioned all sorts of little
things that happened one time or another in the town, or to George's
family, or to Peter. And he always let on that Peter wrote him the
things; but that was a lie: he got every blessed one of them out of that
young flathead that we canoed up to the steamboat.
Then Mary Jane she fetched the letter her father left behind, and the
king he read it out loud and cried over it. It give the dwelling-house
and three thousand dollars, gold, to the girls; and it give the tanyard
(which was doing a good business), along with some other houses and land
(worth about seven thousand), and three thousand dollars in gold to
Harvey and William, and told where the six thousand cash was hid down
cellar. So these two frauds said they'd go and fetch it up, and have
everything square and above-board; and told me to come with a candle. We
shut the cellar door behind us, and when they found the bag they spilt it
out on the floor, and it was a lovely sight, all them yaller-boys. My,
the way the king's eyes did shine! He slaps the duke on the shoulder and
"Oh, THIS ain't bully nor noth'n! Oh, no, I reckon not! Why, Billy, it
beats the Nonesuch, DON'T it?"
The duke allowed it did. They pawed the yaller-boys, and sifted them
through their fingers and let them jingle down on the floor; and the king
"It ain't no use talkin'; bein' brothers to a rich dead man and
representatives of furrin heirs that's got left is the line for you and
me, Bilge. Thish yer comes of trust'n to Providence. It's the best way,
in the long run. I've tried 'em all, and ther' ain't no better way."
Most everybody would a been satisfied with the pile, and took it on
trust; but no, they must count it. So they counts it, and it comes out
four hundred and fifteen dollars short. Says the king:
"Dern him, I wonder what he done with that four hundred and fifteen
They worried over that awhile, and ransacked all around for it. Then the
"Well, he was a pretty sick man, and likely he made a mistake--I reckon
that's the way of it. The best way's to let it go, and keep still about
it. We can spare it."
"Oh, shucks, yes, we can SPARE it. I don't k'yer noth'n 'bout that--it's
the COUNT I'm thinkin' about. We want to be awful square and open and
above-board here, you know. We want to lug this h-yer money up stairs
and count it before everybody--then ther' ain't noth'n suspicious. But
when the dead man says ther's six thous'n dollars, you know, we don't
"Hold on," says the duke. "Le's make up the deffisit," and he begun to
haul out yaller-boys out of his pocket.
"It's a most amaz'n' good idea, duke--you HAVE got a rattlin' clever head
on you," says the king. "Blest if the old Nonesuch ain't a heppin' us
out agin," and HE begun to haul out yaller-jackets and stack them up.
It most busted them, but they made up the six thousand clean and clear.
"Say," says the duke, "I got another idea. Le's go up stairs and count
this money, and then take and GIVE IT TO THE GIRLS."
"Good land, duke, lemme hug you! It's the most dazzling idea 'at ever a
man struck. You have cert'nly got the most astonishin' head I ever see.
Oh, this is the boss dodge, ther' ain't no mistake 'bout it. Let 'em
fetch along their suspicions now if they want to--this 'll lay 'em out."
When we got up-stairs everybody gethered around the table, and the king
he counted it and stacked it up, three hundred dollars in a pile--twenty
elegant little piles. Everybody looked hungry at it, and licked their
chops. Then they raked it into the bag again, and I see the king begin
to swell himself up for another speech. He says:
"Friends all, my poor brother that lays yonder has done generous by them
that's left behind in the vale of sorrers. He has done generous by these
yer poor little lambs that he loved and sheltered, and that's left
fatherless and motherless. Yes, and we that knowed him knows that he
would a done MORE generous by 'em if he hadn't ben afeard o' woundin' his
dear William and me. Now, WOULDN'T he? Ther' ain't no question 'bout it
in MY mind. Well, then, what kind o' brothers would it be that 'd stand
in his way at sech a time? And what kind o' uncles would it be that 'd
rob--yes, ROB--sech poor sweet lambs as these 'at he loved so at sech a
time? If I know William--and I THINK I do--he--well, I'll jest ask him."
He turns around and begins to make a lot of signs to the duke with his
hands, and the duke he looks at him stupid and leather-headed a while;
then all of a sudden he seems to catch his meaning, and jumps for the
king, goo-gooing with all his might for joy, and hugs him about fifteen
times before he lets up. Then the king says, "I knowed it; I reckon THAT
'll convince anybody the way HE feels about it. Here, Mary Jane, Susan,
Joanner, take the money--take it ALL. It's the gift of him that lays
yonder, cold but joyful."
Mary Jane she went for him, Susan and the hare-lip went for the duke, and
then such another hugging and kissing I never see yet. And everybody
crowded up with the tears in their eyes, and most shook the hands off of
them frauds, saying all the time:
"You DEAR good souls!--how LOVELY!--how COULD you!"
Well, then, pretty soon all hands got to talking about the diseased
again, and how good he was, and what a loss he was, and all that; and
before long a big iron-jawed man worked himself in there from outside,
and stood a-listening and looking, and not saying anything; and nobody
saying anything to him either, because the king was talking and they was
all busy listening. The king was saying--in the middle of something he'd
started in on--
"--they bein' partickler friends o' the diseased. That's why they're
invited here this evenin'; but tomorrow we want ALL to come--everybody;
for he respected everybody, he liked everybody, and so it's fitten that
his funeral orgies sh'd be public."
And so he went a-mooning on and on, liking to hear himself talk, and
every little while he fetched in his funeral orgies again, till the duke
he couldn't stand it no more; so he writes on a little scrap of paper,
"OBSEQUIES, you old fool," and folds it up, and goes to goo-gooing and
reaching it over people's heads to him. The king he reads it and puts it
in his pocket, and says:
"Poor William, afflicted as he is, his HEART'S aluz right. Asks me to
invite everybody to come to the funeral--wants me to make 'em all
welcome. But he needn't a worried--it was jest what I was at."
Then he weaves along again, perfectly ca'm, and goes to dropping in his
funeral orgies again every now and then, just like he done before. And
when he done it the third time he says:
"I say orgies, not because it's the common term, because it ain't
--obsequies bein' the common term--but because orgies is the right term.
Obsequies ain't used in England no more now--it's gone out. We say
orgies now in England. Orgies is better, because it means the thing
you're after more exact. It's a word that's made up out'n the Greek
ORGO, outside, open, abroad; and the Hebrew JEESUM, to plant, cover up;
hence inTER. So, you see, funeral orgies is an open er public funeral."
He was the WORST I ever struck. Well, the iron-jawed man he laughed
right in his face. Everybody was shocked. Everybody says, "Why,
DOCTOR!" and Abner Shackleford says:
"Why, Robinson, hain't you heard the news? This is Harvey Wilks."
The king he smiled eager, and shoved out his flapper, and says:
"Is it my poor brother's dear good friend and physician? I--"
"Keep your hands off of me!" says the doctor. "YOU talk like an
Englishman, DON'T you? It's the worst imitation I ever heard. YOU Peter
Wilks's brother! You're a fraud, that's what you are!"
Well, how they all took on! They crowded around the doctor and tried to
quiet him down, and tried to explain to him and tell him how Harvey 'd
showed in forty ways that he WAS Harvey, and knowed everybody by name,
and the names of the very dogs, and begged and BEGGED him not to hurt
Harvey's feelings and the poor girl's feelings, and all that. But it
warn't no use; he stormed right along, and said any man that pretended to
be an Englishman and couldn't imitate the lingo no better than what he
did was a fraud and a liar. The poor girls was hanging to the king and
crying; and all of a sudden the doctor ups and turns on THEM. He says:
"I was your father's friend, and I'm your friend; and I warn you as a
friend, and an honest one that wants to protect you and keep you out of
harm and trouble, to turn your backs on that scoundrel and have nothing
to do with him, the ignorant tramp, with his idiotic Greek and Hebrew, as
he calls it. He is the thinnest kind of an impostor--has come here with
a lot of empty names and facts which he picked up somewheres, and you
take them for PROOFS, and are helped to fool yourselves by these foolish
friends here, who ought to know better. Mary Jane Wilks, you know me for
your friend, and for your unselfish friend, too. Now listen to me; turn
this pitiful rascal out--I BEG you to do it. Will you?"
Mary Jane straightened herself up, and my, but she was handsome! She
"HERE is my answer." She hove up the bag of money and put it in the
king's hands, and says, "Take this six thousand dollars, and invest for
me and my sisters any way you want to, and don't give us no receipt for
Then she put her arm around the king on one side, and Susan and the
hare-lip done the same on the other. Everybody clapped their hands and
stomped on the floor like a perfect storm, whilst the king held up his
head and smiled proud. The doctor says:
"All right; I wash MY hands of the matter. But I warn you all that a
time 's coming when you're going to feel sick whenever you think of this
day." And away he went.
"All right, doctor," says the king, kinder mocking him; "we'll try and
get 'em to send for you;" which made them all laugh, and they said it was
a prime good hit.
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