November, 1993 [Etext #91] Originally a May release of Wiretap
Part 1 out of 3
TOM SAWYER ABROAD
TOM SEEKS NEW ADVENTURES
DO you reckon Tom Sawyer was satisfied after all
them adventures? I mean the adventures we had
down the river, and the time we set the darky Jim free
and Tom got shot in the leg. No, he wasn't. It only
just p'isoned him for more. That was all the effect it
had. You see, when we three came back up the river
in glory, as you may say, from that long travel, and
the village received us with a torchlight procession and
speeches, and everybody hurrah'd and shouted, it
made us heroes, and that was what Tom Sawyer had
always been hankering to be.
For a while he WAS satisfied. Everybody made
much of him, and he tilted up his nose and stepped
around the town as though he owned it. Some called
him Tom Sawyer the Traveler, and that just swelled
him up fit to bust. You see he laid over me and Jim
considerable, because we only went down the river on
a raft and came back by the steamboat, but Tom went
by the steamboat both ways. The boys envied me and
Jim a good deal, but land! they just knuckled to the
dirt before TOM.
Well, I don't know; maybe he might have been
satisfied if it hadn't been for old Nat Parsons, which
was postmaster, and powerful long and slim, and kind
o' good-hearted and silly, and bald-headed, on account
of his age, and about the talkiest old cretur I ever see.
For as much as thirty years he'd been the only man in
the village that had a reputation -- I mean a reputation
for being a traveler, and of course he was mortal proud
of it, and it was reckoned that in the course of that
thirty years he had told about that journey over a
million times and enjoyed it every time. And now
comes along a boy not quite fifteen, and sets everybody
admiring and gawking over HIS travels, and it just give
the poor old man the high strikes. It made him sick
to listen to Tom, and to hear the people say "My
land!" "Did you ever!" "My goodness sakes
alive!" and all such things; but he couldn't pull away
from it, any more than a fly that's got its hind leg fast
in the molasses. And always when Tom come to a
rest, the poor old cretur would chip in on HIS same old
travels and work them for all they were worth; but
they were pretty faded, and didn't go for much, and it
was pitiful to see. And then Tom would take another
innings, and then the old man again -- and so on, and
so on, for an hour and more, each trying to beat out
You see, Parsons' travels happened like this: When
he first got to be postmaster and was green in the busi-
ness, there come a letter for somebody he didn't know,
and there wasn't any such person in the village. Well,
he didn't know what to do, nor how to act, and there
the letter stayed and stayed, week in and week out, till
the bare sight of it gave him a conniption. The postage
wasn't paid on it, and that was another thing to worry
about. There wasn't any way to collect that ten cents,
and he reckon'd the gov'ment would hold him respon-
sible for it and maybe turn him out besides, when they
found he hadn't collected it. Well, at last he couldn't
stand it any longer. He couldn't sleep nights, he
couldn't eat, he was thinned down to a shadder, yet
he da'sn't ask anybody's advice, for the very person
he asked for advice might go back on him and let the
gov'ment know about the letter. He had the letter
buried under the floor, but that did no good; if he
happened to see a person standing over the place it'd
give him the cold shivers, and loaded him up with
suspicions, and he would sit up that night till the town
was still and dark, and then he would sneak there and
get it out and bury it in another place. Of course,
people got to avoiding him and shaking their heads
and whispering, because, the way he was looking and
acting, they judged he had killed somebody or done
something terrible, they didn't know what, and if he
had been a stranger they would've lynched him.
Well, as I was saying, it got so he couldn't stand it
any longer; so he made up his mind to pull out for
Washington, and just go to the President of the United
States and make a clean breast of the whole thing, not
keeping back an atom, and then fetch the letter out and
lay it before the whole gov'ment, and say, "Now,
there she is -- do with me what you're a mind to;
though as heaven is my judge I am an innocent man
and not deserving of the full penalties of the law and
leaving behind me a family that must starve and yet
hadn't had a thing to do with it, which is the whole
truth and I can swear to it."
So he did it. He had a little wee bit of steamboat-
ing, and some stage-coaching, but all the rest of the
way was horseback, and it took him three weeks to get
to Washington. He saw lots of land and lots of vil-
lages and four cities. He was gone 'most eight weeks,
and there never was such a proud man in the village as
he when he got back. His travels made him the greatest
man in all that region, and the most talked about; and
people come from as much as thirty miles back in the
country, and from over in the Illinois bottoms, too,
just to look at him -- and there they'd stand and gawk,
and he'd gabble. You never see anything like it.
Well, there wasn't any way now to settle which was
the greatest traveler; some said it was Nat, some said
it was Tom. Everybody allowed that Nat had seen
the most longitude, but they had to give in that what-
ever Tom was short in longitude he had made up in
latitude and climate. It was about a stand-off; so both
of them had to whoop up their dangerous adventures,
and try to get ahead THAT way. That bullet-wound in
Tom's leg was a tough thing for Nat Parsons to buck
against, but he bucked the best he could; and at a
disadvantage, too, for Tom didn't set still as he'd orter
done, to be fair, but always got up and sauntered
around and worked his limp while Nat was painting up
the adventure that HE had in Washington; for Tom
never let go that limp when his leg got well, but prac-
ticed it nights at home, and kept it good as new right
Nat's adventure was like this; I don't know how
true it is; maybe he got it out of a paper, or some-
where, but I will say this for him, that he DID know
how to tell it. He could make anybody's flesh crawl,
and he'd turn pale and hold his breath when he told
it, and sometimes women and girls got so faint they
couldn't stick it out. Well, it was this way, as near as
I can remember:
He come a-loping into Washington, and put up his
horse and shoved out to the President's house with his
letter, and they told him the President was up to the
Capitol, and just going to start for Philadelphia -- not
a minute to lose if he wanted to catch him. Nat 'most
dropped, it made him so sick. His horse was put up,
and he didn't know what to do. But just then along
comes a darky driving an old ramshackly hack, and he
see his chance. He rushes out and shouts: "A half a
dollar if you git me to the Capitol in half an hour, and
a quarter extra if you do it in twenty minutes!"
"Done!" says the darky.
Nat he jumped in and slammed the door, and away
they went a-ripping and a-tearing over the roughest
road a body ever see, and the racket of it was some-
thing awful. Nat passed his arms through the loops
and hung on for life and death, but pretty soon the
hack hit a rock and flew up in the air, and the bottom
fell out, and when it come down Nat's feet was on the
ground, and he see he was in the most desperate danger
if he couldn't keep up with the hack. He was horrible
scared, but he laid into his work for all he was worth,
and hung tight to the arm-loops and made his legs
fairly fly. He yelled and shouted to the driver to
stop, and so did the crowds along the street, for they
could see his legs spinning along under the coach, and
his head and shoulders bobbing inside through the
windows, and he was in awful danger; but the more
they all shouted the more the nigger whooped and
yelled and lashed the horses and shouted, "Don't you
fret, I'se gwine to git you dah in time, boss; I's gwine
to do it, sho'!" for you see he thought they were all
hurrying him up, and, of course, he couldn't hear any-
thing for the racket he was making. And so they went
ripping along, and everybody just petrified to see it;
and when they got to the Capitol at last it was the
quickest trip that ever was made, and everybody said
so. The horses laid down, and Nat dropped, all tuck-
ered out, and he was all dust and rags and barefooted;
but he was in time and just in time, and caught the
President and give him the letter, and everything was
all right, and the President give him a free pardon on
the spot, and Nat give the nigger two extra quarters
instead of one, because he could see that if he hadn't
had the hack he wouldn't'a' got there in time, nor
anywhere near it.
It WAS a powerful good adventure, and Tom Sawyer
had to work his bullet-wound mighty lively to hold his
own against it.
Well, by and by Tom's glory got to paling down
gradu'ly, on account of other things turning up for the
people to talk about -- first a horse-race, and on top of
that a house afire, and on top of that the circus, and
on top of that the eclipse; and that started a revival,
same as it always does, and by that time there wasn't
any more talk about Tom, so to speak, and you never
see a person so sick and disgusted.
Pretty soon he got to worrying and fretting right
along day in and day out, and when I asked him what
WAS he in such a state about, he said it 'most broke his
heart to think how time was slipping away, and him
getting older and older, and no wars breaking out and
no way of making a name for himself that he could
see. Now that is the way boys is always thinking, but
he was the first one I ever heard come out and say it.
So then he set to work to get up a plan to make him
celebrated; and pretty soon he struck it, and offered to
take me and Jim in. Tom Sawyer was always free and
generous that way. There's a-plenty of boys that's
mighty good and friendly when YOU'VE got a good
thing, but when a good thing happens to come their
way they don't say a word to you, and try to hog it
all. That warn't ever Tom Sawyer's way, I can say
that for him. There's plenty of boys that will come
hankering and groveling around you when you've got
an apple and beg the core off of you; but when they've
got one, and you beg for the core and remind them
how you give them a core one time, they say thank
you 'most to death, but there ain't a-going to be no
core. But I notice they always git come up with; all
you got to do is to wait.
Well, we went out in the woods on the hill, and Tom
told us what it was. It was a crusade.
"What's a crusade?" I says.
He looked scornful, the way he's always done when
he was ashamed of a person, and says:
"Huck Finn, do you mean to tell me you don't
know what a crusade is?"
"No," says I, "I don't. And I don't care to,
nuther. I've lived till now and done without it, and
had my health, too. But as soon as you tell me, I'll
know, and that's soon enough. I don't see any use in
finding out things and clogging up my head with them
when I mayn't ever have any occasion to use 'em.
There was Lance Williams, he learned how to talk
Choctaw here till one come and dug his grave for him.
Now, then, what's a crusade? But I can tell you one
thing before you begin; if it's a patent-right, there's
no money in it. Bill Thompson he --"
"Patent-right!" says he. "I never see such an
idiot. Why, a crusade is a kind of war."
I thought he must be losing his mind. But no, he
was in real earnest, and went right on, perfectly
"A crusade is a war to recover the Holy Land from
"Which Holy Land?"
"Why, the Holy Land -- there ain't but one."
"What do we want of it?"
"Why, can't you understand? It's in the hands of
the paynim, and it's our duty to take it away from
"How did we come to let them git hold of it?"
"We didn't come to let them git hold of it. They
always had it."
"Why, Tom, then it must belong to them, don't it?"
"Why of course it does. Who said it didn't?"
I studied over it, but couldn't seem to git at the
right of it, no way. I says:
"It's too many for me, Tom Sawyer. If I had a
farm and it was mine, and another person wanted it,
would it be right for him to --"
"Oh, shucks! you don't know enough to come in
when it rains, Huck Finn. It ain't a farm, it's entirely
different. You see, it's like this. They own the land,
just the mere land, and that's all they DO own; but it
was our folks, our Jews and Christians, that made it
holy, and so they haven't any business to be there
defiling it. It's a shame, and we ought not to stand it
a minute. We ought to march against them and take
it away from them."
"Why, it does seem to me it's the most mixed-up
thing I ever see! Now, if I had a farm and another
"Don't I tell you it hasn't got anything to do with
farming? Farming is business, just common low-down
business: that's all it is, it's all you can say for it; but
this is higher, this is religious, and totally different."
"Religious to go and take the land away from
people that owns it?"
"Certainly; it's always been considered so."
Jim he shook his head, and says:
"Mars Tom, I reckon dey's a mistake about it
somers -- dey mos' sholy is. I's religious myself, en
I knows plenty religious people, but I hain't run across
none dat acts like dat."
It made Tom hot, and he says:
"Well, it's enough to make a body sick, such
mullet-headed ignorance! If either of you'd read any-
thing about history, you'd know that Richard Cur de
Loon, and the Pope, and Godfrey de Bulleyn, and lots
more of the most noble-hearted and pious people in
the world, hacked and hammered at the paynims for
more than two hundred years trying to take their land
away from them, and swum neck-deep in blood the
whole time -- and yet here's a couple of sap-headed
country yahoos out in the backwoods of Missouri set-
ting themselves up to know more about the rights and
wrongs of it than they did! Talk about cheek!"
Well, of course, that put a more different light on it,
and me and Jim felt pretty cheap and ignorant, and
wished we hadn't been quite so chipper. I couldn't
say nothing, and Jim he couldn't for a while; then he
"Well, den, I reckon it's all right; beca'se ef dey
didn't know, dey ain't no use for po' ignorant folks
like us to be trying to know; en so, ef it's our duty,
we got to go en tackle it en do de bes' we can. Same
time, I feel as sorry for dem paynims as Mars Tom.
De hard part gwine to be to kill folks dat a body hain't
been 'quainted wid and dat hain't done him no harm.
Dat's it, you see. Ef we wuz to go 'mongst 'em, jist
we three, en say we's hungry, en ast 'em for a bite to
eat, why, maybe dey's jist like yuther people. Don't
you reckon dey is? Why, DEY'D give it, I know dey
would, en den --"
"Well, Mars Tom, my idea is like dis. It ain't no
use, we CAN'T kill dem po' strangers dat ain't doin' us
no harm, till we've had practice -- I knows it perfectly
well, Mars Tom -- 'deed I knows it perfectly well. But
ef we takes a' axe or two, jist you en me en Huck, en
slips acrost de river to-night arter de moon's gone
down, en kills dat sick fam'ly dat's over on the Sny,
en burns dey house down, en --"
"Oh, you make me tired!" says Tom. "I don't
want to argue any more with people like you and Huck
Finn, that's always wandering from the subject, and
ain't got any more sense than to try to reason out a
thing that's pure theology by the laws that protect real
Now that's just where Tom Sawyer warn't fair. Jim
didn't mean no harm, and I didn't mean no harm.
We knowed well enough that he was right and we was
wrong, and all we was after was to get at the HOW of
it, and that was all; and the only reason he couldn't
explain it so we could understand it was because we
was ignorant -- yes, and pretty dull, too, I ain't deny-
ing that; but, land! that ain't no crime, I should think.
But he wouldn't hear no more about it -- just said if
we had tackled the thing in the proper spirit, he would
'a' raised a couple of thousand knights and put them
in steel armor from head to heel, and made me a lieu-
tenant and Jim a sutler, and took the command himself
and brushed the whole paynim outfit into the sea like
flies and come back across the world in a glory like
sunset. But he said we didn't know enough to take
the chance when we had it, and he wouldn't ever offer
it again. And he didn't. When he once got set, you
couldn't budge him.
But I didn't care much. I am peaceable, and don't
get up rows with people that ain't doing nothing to
me. I allowed if the paynim was satisfied I was, and
we would let it stand at that.
Now Tom he got all that notion out of Walter Scott's
book, which he was always reading. And it WAS a
wild notion, because in my opinion he never could've
raised the men, and if he did, as like as not he would've
got licked. I took the book and read all about it, and
as near as I could make it out, most of the folks that
shook farming to go crusading had a mighty rocky
time of it.
THE BALLOON ASCENSION
WELL, Tom got up one thing after another, but
they all had tender spots about 'em somewheres,
and he had to shove 'em aside. So at last he was
about in despair. Then the St. Louis papers begun to
talk a good deal about the balloon that was going to
sail to Europe, and Tom sort of thought he wanted
to go down and see what it looked like, but couldn't
make up his mind. But the papers went on talking,
and so he allowed that maybe if he didn't go he
mightn't ever have another chance to see a balloon;
and next, he found out that Nat Parsons was going
down to see it, and that decided him, of course. He
wasn't going to have Nat Parsons coming back brag-
ging about seeing the balloon, and him having to listen
to it and keep quiet. So he wanted me and Jim to go
too, and we went.
It was a noble big balloon, and had wings and fans
and all sorts of things, and wasn't like any balloon you
see in pictures. It was away out toward the edge of
town, in a vacant lot, corner of Twelfth street; and
there was a big crowd around it, making fun of it, and
making fun of the man, -- a lean pale feller with that
soft kind of moonlight in his eyes, you know, -- and
they kept saying it wouldn't go. It made him hot to
hear them, and he would turn on them and shake his
fist and say they was animals and blind, but some day
they would find they had stood face to face with one
of the men that lifts up nations and makes civilizations,
and was too dull to know it; and right here on this
spot their own children and grandchildren would build
a monument to him that would outlast a thousand
years, but his name would outlast the monument.
And then the crowd would burst out in a laugh again,
and yell at him, and ask him what was his name before
he was married, and what he would take to not do it,
and what was his sister's cat's grandmother's name,
and all the things that a crowd says when they've got
hold of a feller that they see they can plague. Well,
some things they said WAS funny, -- yes, and mighty
witty too, I ain't denying that, -- but all the same it
warn't fair nor brave, all them people pitching on one,
and they so glib and sharp, and him without any gift
of talk to answer back with. But, good land! what
did he want to sass back for? You see, it couldn't do
him no good, and it was just nuts for them. They
HAD him, you know. But that was his way. I reckon
he couldn't help it; he was made so, I judge. He
was a good enough sort of cretur, and hadn't no harm
in him, and was just a genius, as the papers said, which
wasn't his fault. We can't all be sound: we've got to
be the way we're made. As near as I can make out,
geniuses think they know it all, and so they won't take
people's advice, but always go their own way, which
makes everybody forsake them and despise them, and
that is perfectly natural. If they was humbler, and
listened and tried to learn, it would be better for them.
The part the professor was in was like a boat, and
was big and roomy, and had water-tight lockers around
the inside to keep all sorts of things in, and a body
could sit on them, and make beds on them, too. We
went aboard, and there was twenty people there, snoop-
ing around and examining, and old Nat Parsons was
there, too. The professor kept fussing around getting
ready, and the people went ashore, drifting out one at
a time, and old Nat he was the last. Of course it
wouldn't do to let him go out behind US. We mustn't
budge till he was gone, so we could be last ourselves.
But he was gone now, so it was time for us to follow.
I heard a big shout, and turned around -- the city was
dropping from under us like a shot! It made me sick
all through, I was so scared. Jim turned gray and
couldn't say a word, and Tom didn't say nothing, but
looked excited. The city went on dropping down,
and down, and down; but we didn't seem to be doing
nothing but just hang in the air and stand still. The
houses got smaller and smaller, and the city pulled
itself together, closer and closer, and the men and
wagons got to looking like ants and bugs crawling
around, and the streets like threads and cracks; and
then it all kind of melted together, and there wasn't
any city any more it was only a big scar on the earth,
and it seemed to me a body could see up the river and
down the river about a thousand miles, though of
course it wasn't so much. By and by the earth was a
ball -- just a round ball, of a dull color, with shiny
stripes wriggling and winding around over it, which
was rivers. The Widder Douglas always told me the
earth was round like a ball, but I never took any stock
in a lot of them superstitions o' hers, and of course I
paid no attention to that one, because I could see my-
self that the world was the shape of a plate, and flat.
I used to go up on the hill, and take a look around
and prove it for myself, because I reckon the best way
to get a sure thing on a fact is to go and examine for
yourself, and not take anybody's say-so. But I had to
give in now that the widder was right. That is, she
was right as to the rest of the world, but she warn't
right about the part our village is in; that part is the
shape of a plate, and flat, I take my oath!
The professor had been quiet all this time, as if he
was asleep; but he broke loose now, and he was mighty
bitter. He says something like this:
"Idiots! They said it wouldn't go; and they
wanted to examine it, and spy around and get the
secret of it out of me. But I beat them. Nobody
knows the secret but me. Nobody knows what makes
it move but me; and it's a new power -- a new power,
and a thousand times the strongest in the earth!
Steam's foolishness to it! They said I couldn't go to
Europe. To Europe! Why, there's power aboard to
last five years, and feed for three months. They are
fools! What do they know about it? Yes, and they
said my air-ship was flimsy. Why, she's good for
fifty years! I can sail the skies all my life if I want
to, and steer where I please, though they laughed at
that, and said I couldn't. Couldn't steer! Come
here, boy; we'll see. You press these buttons as I
He made Tom steer the ship all about and every
which way, and learnt him the whole thing in nearly
no time; and Tom said it was perfectly easy. He
made him fetch the ship down 'most to the earth, and
had him spin her along so close to the Illinois prairies
that a body could talk to the farmers, and hear every-
thing they said perfectly plain; and he flung out
printed bills to them that told about the balloon, and
said it was going to Europe. Tom got so he could
steer straight for a tree till he got nearly to it, and then
dart up and skin right along over the top of it. Yes,
and he showed Tom how to land her; and he done it
first-rate, too, and set her down in the prairies as soft
as wool. But the minute we started to skip out the
professor says, "No, you don't!" and shot her up in
the air again. It was awful. I begun to beg, and so
did Jim; but it only give his temper a rise, and he
begun to rage around and look wild out of his eyes,
and I was scared of him.
Well, then he got on to his troubles again, and
mourned and grumbled about the way he was treated,
and couldn't seem to git over it, and especially people's
saying his ship was flimsy. He scoffed at that, and at
their saying she warn't simple and would be always
getting out of order. Get out of order! That graveled
him; he said that she couldn't any more get out of
order than the solar sister.
He got worse and worse, and I never see a person
take on so. It give me the cold shivers to see him,
and so it did Jim. By and by he got to yelling and
screaming, and then he swore the world shouldn't ever
have his secret at all now, it had treated him so mean.
He said he would sail his balloon around the globe just
to show what he could do, and then he would sink it in
the sea, and sink us all along with it, too. Well, it was
the awfulest fix to be in, and here was night coming
He give us something to eat, and made us go to the
other end of the boat, and he laid down on a locker,
where he could boss all the works, and put his old
pepper-box revolver under his head, and said if any-
body come fooling around there trying to land her, he
would kill him.
We set scrunched up together, and thought consider-
able, but didn't say much -- only just a word once in a
while when a body had to say something or bust, we
was so scared and worried. The night dragged along
slow and lonesome. We was pretty low down, and the
moonshine made everything soft and pretty, and the
farmhouses looked snug and homeful, and we could
hear the farm sounds, and wished we could be down
there; but, laws! we just slipped along over them like
a ghost, and never left a track.
Away in the night, when all the sounds was late
sounds, and the air had a late feel, and a late smell,
too -- about a two-o'clock feel, as near as I could make
out -- Tom said the professor was so quiet this time
he must be asleep, and we'd better --
"Better what?" I says in a whisper, and feeling sick
all over, because I knowed what he was thinking about.
"Better slip back there and tie him, and land the
ship," he says.
I says: "No, sir! Don' you budge, Tom Sawyer."
And Jim -- well, Jim was kind o' gasping, he was so
scared. He says:
"Oh, Mars Tom, DON'T! Ef you teches him, we's
gone -- we's gone sho'! I ain't gwine anear him, not
for nothin' in dis worl'. Mars Tom, he's plumb crazy."
Tom whispers and says -- "That's WHY we've got to
do something. If he wasn't crazy I wouldn't give
shucks to be anywhere but here; you couldn't hire me
to get out -- now that I've got used to this balloon and
over the scare of being cut loose from the solid ground
-- if he was in his right mind. But it's no good politics,
sailing around like this with a person that's out of his
head, and says he's going round the world and then
drown us all. We've GOT to do something, I tell you,
and do it before he wakes up, too, or we mayn't ever
get another chance. Come!"
But it made us turn cold and creepy just to think of
it, and we said we wouldn't budge. So Tom was for
slipping back there by himself to see if he couldn't get
at the steering-gear and land the ship. We begged and
begged him not to, but it warn't no use; so he got
down on his hands and knees, and begun to crawl an
inch at a time, we a-holding our breath and watching.
After he got to the middle of the boat he crept slower
than ever, and it did seem like years to me. But at
last we see him get to the professor's head, and sort
of raise up soft and look a good spell in his face and
listen. Then we see him begin to inch along again
toward the professor's feet where the steering-buttons
was. Well, he got there all safe, and was reaching
slow and steady toward the buttons, but he knocked
down something that made a noise, and we see him
slump down flat an' soft in the bottom, and lay still.
The professor stirred, and says, "What's that?" But
everybody kept dead still and quiet, and he begun to
mutter and mumble and nestle, like a person that's
going to wake up, and I thought I was going to die, I
was so worried and scared.
Then a cloud slid over the moon, and I 'most cried,
I was so glad. She buried herself deeper and deeper
into the cloud, and it got so dark we couldn't see Tom.
Then it began to sprinkle rain, and we could hear the
professor fussing at his ropes and things and abusing
the weather. We was afraid every minute he would
touch Tom, and then we would be goners, and no
help; but Tom was already on his way back, and when
we felt his hands on our knees my breath stopped
sudden, and my heart fell down 'mongst my other works,
because I couldn't tell in the dark but it might be the
professor! which I thought it WAS.
Dear! I was so glad to have him back that I was
just as near happy as a person could be that was up in
the air that way with a deranged man. You can't land
a balloon in the dark, and so I hoped it would keep on
raining, for I didn't want Tom to go meddling any
more and make us so awful uncomfortable. Well, I
got my wish. It drizzled and drizzled along the rest
of the night, which wasn't long, though it did seem so;
and at daybreak it cleared, and the world looked
mighty soft and gray and pretty, and the forests and
fields so good to see again, and the horses and cattle
standing sober and thinking. Next, the sun come a-
blazing up gay and splendid, and then we began to feel
rusty and stretchy, and first we knowed we was all
WE went to sleep about four o'clock, and woke up
about eight. The professor was setting back
there at his end, looking glum. He pitched us some
breakfast, but he told us not to come abaft the midship
compass. That was about the middle of the boat.
Well, when you are sharp-set, and you eat and satisfy
yourself, everything looks pretty different from what it
done before. It makes a body feel pretty near com-
fortable, even when he is up in a balloon with a genius.
We got to talking together.
There was one thing that kept bothering me, and by
and by I says:
"Tom, didn't we start east?"
"How fast have we been going?"
"Well, you heard what the professor said when he
was raging round. Sometimes, he said, we was making
fifty miles an hour, sometimes ninety, sometimes a
hundred; said that with a gale to help he could make
three hundred any time, and said if he wanted the gale,
and wanted it blowing the right direction, he only had
to go up higher or down lower to find it."
"Well, then, it's just as I reckoned. The professor
"Because if we was going so fast we ought to be
past Illinois, oughtn't we?"
"Well, we ain't."
"What's the reason we ain't?"
"I know by the color. We're right over Illinois
yet. And you can see for yourself that Indiana ain't
"I wonder what's the matter with you, Huck. You
know by the COLOR?"
"Yes, of course I do."
"What's the color got to do with it?"
"It's got everything to do with it. Illinois is green,
Indiana is pink. You show me any pink down here,
if you can. No, sir; it's green."
"Indiana PINK? Why, what a lie!"
"It ain't no lie; I've seen it on the map, and it's
You never see a person so aggravated and disgusted.
"Well, if I was such a numbskull as you, Huck
Finn, I would jump over. Seen it on the map! Huck
Finn, did you reckon the States was the same color
out-of-doors as they are on the map?"
"Tom Sawyer, what's a map for? Ain't it to learn
"Well, then, how's it going to do that if it tells lies?
That's what I want to know."
"Shucks, you muggins! It don't tell lies."
"It don't, don't it?"
"No, it don't."
"All right, then; if it don't, there ain't no two
States the same color. You git around THAT if you
can, Tom Sawyer."
He see I had him, and Jim see it too; and I tell
you, I felt pretty good, for Tom Sawyer was always a
hard person to git ahead of. Jim slapped his leg and
"I tell YOU! dat's smart, dat's right down smart.
Ain't no use, Mars Tom; he got you DIS time, sho'!"
He slapped his leg again, and says, "My LAN', but it
was smart one!"
I never felt so good in my life; and yet I didn't
know I was saying anything much till it was out. I
was just mooning along, perfectly careless, and not
expecting anything was going to happen, and never
THINKING of such a thing at all, when, all of a sudden,
out it came. Why, it was just as much a surprise to
me as it was to any of them. It was just the same way
it is when a person is munching along on a hunk of
corn-pone, and not thinking about anything, and all of
a sudden bites into a di'mond. Now all that HE knows
first off is that it's some kind of gravel he's bit into;
but he don't find out it's a di'mond till he gits it out
and brushes off the sand and crumbs and one thing or
another, and has a look at it, and then he's surprised
and glad -- yes, and proud too; though when you
come to look the thing straight in the eye, he ain't
entitled to as much credit as he would 'a' been if he'd
been HUNTING di'monds. You can see the difference
easy if you think it over. You see, an accident, that
way, ain't fairly as big a thing as a thing that's done
a-purpose. Anybody could find that di'mond in that
corn-pone; but mind you, it's got to be somebody
that's got THAT KIND OF A CORN-PONE. That's where that
feller's credit comes in, you see; and that's where
mine comes in. I don't claim no great things -- I
don't reckon I could 'a' done it again -- but I done it
that time; that's all I claim. And I hadn't no more
idea I could do such a thing, and warn't any more
thinking about it or trying to, than you be this minute.
Why, I was just as ca'm, a body couldn't be any
ca'mer, and yet, all of a sudden, out it come. I've
often thought of that time, and I can remember just
the way everything looked, same as if it was only last
week. I can see it all: beautiful rolling country with
woods and fields and lakes for hundreds and hundreds
of miles all around, and towns and villages scattered
everywheres under us, here and there and yonder; and
the professor mooning over a chart on his little table,
and Tom's cap flopping in the rigging where it was
hung up to dry. And one thing in particular was a
bird right alongside, not ten foot off, going our way
and trying to keep up, but losing ground all the time;
and a railroad train doing the same thing down there,
sliding among the trees and farms, and pouring out a
long cloud of black smoke and now and then a little
puff of white; and when the white was gone so long
you had almost forgot it, you would hear a little faint
toot, and that was the whistle. And we left the bird
and the train both behind, 'WAY behind, and done it
But Tom he was huffy, and said me and Jim was a
couple of ignorant blatherskites, and then he says:
"Suppose there's a brown calf and a big brown dog,
and an artist is making a picture of them. What is the
MAIN thing that that artist has got to do? He has got
to paint them so you can tell them apart the minute
you look at them, hain't he? Of course. Well, then,
do you want him to go and paint BOTH of them brown?
Certainly you don't. He paints one of them blue,
and then you can't make no mistake. It's just the
same with the maps. That's why they make every
State a different color; it ain't to deceive you, it's to
keep you from deceiving yourself."
But I couldn't see no argument about that, and
neither could Jim. Jim shook his head, and says:
"Why, Mars Tom, if you knowed what chuckle-
heads dem painters is, you'd wait a long time before
you'd fetch one er DEM in to back up a fac'. I's
gwine to tell you, den you kin see for you'self. I see
one of 'em a-paintin' away, one day, down in ole
Hank Wilson's back lot, en I went down to see, en he
was paintin' dat old brindle cow wid de near horn
gone -- you knows de one I means. En I ast him
what he's paintin' her for, en he say when he git her
painted, de picture's wuth a hundred dollars. Mars
Tom, he could a got de cow fer fifteen, en I tole him
so. Well, sah, if you'll b'lieve me, he jes' shuck his
head, dat painter did, en went on a-dobbin'. Bless
you, Mars Tom, DEY don't know nothin'."
Tom lost his temper. I notice a person 'most always
does that's got laid out in an argument. He told us to
shut up, and maybe we'd feel better. Then he see a
town clock away off down yonder, and he took up the
glass and looked at it, and then looked at his silver
turnip, and then at the clock, and then at the turnip
again, and says:
"That's funny! That clock's near about an hour
So he put up his turnip. Then he see another clock,
and took a look, and it was an hour fast too. That
"That's a mighty curious thing," he says. "I
don't understand it."
Then he took the glass and hunted up another clock,
and sure enough it was an hour fast too. Then his
eyes began to spread and his breath to come out kinder
gaspy like, and he says:
"Ger-reat Scott, it's the LONGITUDE!"
I says, considerably scared:
"Well, what's been and gone and happened now?"
"Why, the thing that's happened is that this old
bladder has slid over Illinois and Indiana and Ohio like
nothing, and this is the east end of Pennsylvania or
New York, or somewheres around there."
"Tom Sawyer, you don't mean it!"
"Yes, I do, and it's dead sure. We've covered
about fifteen degrees of longitude since we left St.
Louis yesterday afternoon, and them clocks are right.
We've come close on to eight hundred miles."
I didn't believe it, but it made the cold streaks
trickle down my back just the same. In my experi-
ence I knowed it wouldn't take much short of two
weeks to do it down the Mississippi on a raft.
Jim was working his mind and studying. Pretty
soon he says:
"Mars Tom, did you say dem clocks uz right?"
"Yes, they're right."
"Ain't yo' watch right, too?"
"She's right for St. Louis, but she's an hour wrong
"Mars Tom, is you tryin' to let on dat de time ain't
de SAME everywheres?"
"No, it ain't the same everywheres, by a long
Jim looked distressed, and says:
"It grieves me to hear you talk like dat, Mars Tom;
I's right down ashamed to hear you talk like dat, arter
de way you's been raised. Yassir, it'd break yo' Aunt
Polly's heart to hear you."
Tom was astonished. He looked Jim over wonder-
ing, and didn't say nothing, and Jim went on:
"Mars Tom, who put de people out yonder in St.
Louis? De Lord done it. Who put de people here
whar we is? De Lord done it. Ain' dey bofe his
children? 'Cose dey is. WELL, den! is he gwine to
SCRIMINATE 'twixt 'em?"
"Scriminate! I never heard such ignorance. There
ain't no discriminating about it. When he makes you
and some more of his children black, and makes the
rest of us white, what do you call that?"
Jim see the p'int. He was stuck. He couldn't
answer. Tom says:
"He does discriminate, you see, when he wants to;
but this case HERE ain't no discrimination of his, it's
man's. The Lord made the day, and he made the
night; but he didn't invent the hours, and he didn't
distribute them around. Man did that."
"Mars Tom, is dat so? Man done it?"
"Who tole him he could?"
"Nobody. He never asked."
Jim studied a minute, and says:
"Well, dat do beat me. I wouldn't 'a' tuck no
sich resk. But some people ain't scared o' nothin'.
Dey bangs right ahead; DEY don't care what happens.
So den dey's allays an hour's diff'unce everywhah,
"An hour? No! It's four minutes difference for
every degree of longitude, you know. Fifteen of 'em's
an hour, thirty of 'em's two hours, and so on. When
it's one clock Tuesday morning in England, it's eight
o'clock the night before in New York."
Jim moved a little way along the locker, and you
could see he was insulted. He kept shaking his head
and muttering, and so I slid along to him and patted
him on the leg, and petted him up, and got him over
the worst of his feelings, and then he says:
"Mars Tom talkin' sich talk as dat! Choosday in
one place en Monday in t'other, bofe in the same day!
Huck, dis ain't no place to joke -- up here whah we is.
Two days in one day! How you gwine to get two
days inter one day? Can't git two hours inter one
hour, kin you? Can't git two niggers inter one nigger
skin, kin you? Can't git two gallons of whisky inter a
one-gallon jug, kin you? No, sir, 'twould strain de
jug. Yes, en even den you couldn't, I don't believe.
Why, looky here, Huck, s'posen de Choosday was
New Year's -- now den! is you gwine to tell me it's
dis year in one place en las' year in t'other, bofe in de
identical same minute? It's de beatenest rubbage! I
can't stan' it -- I can't stan' to hear tell 'bout it."
Then he begun to shiver and turn gray, and Tom
"NOW what's the matter? What's the trouble?"
Jim could hardly speak, but he says:
"Mars Tom, you ain't jokin', en it's SO?"
"No, I'm not, and it is so."
Jim shivered again, and says:
"Den dat Monday could be de las' day, en dey
wouldn't be no las' day in England, en de dead
wouldn't be called. We mustn't go over dah, Mars
Tom. Please git him to turn back; I wants to be
All of a sudden we see something, and all jumped
up, and forgot everything and begun to gaze. Tom
"Ain't that the --" He catched his breath, then
says: "It IS, sure as you live! It's the ocean!"
That made me and Jim catch our breath, too. Then
we all stood petrified but happy, for none of us had
ever seen an ocean, or ever expected to. Tom kept
"Atlantic Ocean -- Atlantic. Land, don't it sound
great! And that's IT -- and WE are looking at it -- we!
Why, it's just too splendid to believe!"
Then we see a big bank of black smoke; and when
we got nearer, it was a city -- and a monster she was,
too, with a thick fringe of ships around one edge; and
we wondered if it was New York, and begun to jaw
and dispute about it, and, first we knowed, it slid from
under us and went flying behind, and here we was, out
over the very ocean itself, and going like a cyclone.
Then we woke up, I tell you!
We made a break aft and raised a wail, and begun to
beg the professor to turn back and land us, but
he jerked out his pistol and motioned us back,
and we went, but nobody will ever know how bad we
The land was gone, all but a little streak, like a
snake, away off on the edge of the water, and down
under us was just ocean, ocean, ocean -- millions of
miles of it, heaving and pitching and squirming, and
white sprays blowing from the wave-tops, and only a
few ships in sight, wallowing around and laying over,
first on one side and then on t'other, and sticking their
bows under and then their sterns; and before long
there warn't no ships at all, and we had the sky and
the whole ocean all to ourselves, and the roomiest place
I ever see and the lonesomest.
AND it got lonesomer and lonesomer. There was
the big sky up there, empty and awful deep; and
the ocean down there without a thing on it but just the
waves. All around us was a ring, where the sky and
the water come together; yes, a monstrous big ring it
was, and we right in the dead center of it -- plumb in
the center. We was racing along like a prairie fire, but
it never made any difference, we couldn't seem to git
past that center no way. I couldn't see that we ever
gained an inch on that ring. It made a body feel
creepy, it was so curious and unaccountable.
Well, everything was so awful still that we got to
talking in a very low voice, and kept on getting creepier
and lonesomer and less and less talky, till at last the
talk ran dry altogether, and we just set there and
"thunk," as Jim calls it, and never said a word the
The professor never stirred till the sun was overhead,
then he stood up and put a kind of triangle to his eye,
and Tom said it was a sextant and he was taking the
sun to see whereabouts the balloon was. Then he
ciphered a little and looked in a book, and then he
begun to carry on again. He said lots of wild things,
and, among others, he said he would keep up this
hundred-mile gait till the middle of to-morrow after-
noon, and then he'd land in London.
We said we would be humbly thankful.
He was turning away, but he whirled around when
we said that, and give us a long look of his blackest
kind -- one of the maliciousest and suspiciousest looks
I ever see. Then he says:
"You want to leave me. Don't try to deny it."
We didn't know what to say, so we held in and
didn't say nothing at all.
He went aft and set down, but he couldn't seem to
git that thing out of his mind. Every now and then he
would rip out something about it, and try to make us
answer him, but we dasn't.
It got lonesomer and lonesomer right along, and it
did seem to me I couldn't stand it. It was still worse
when night begun to come on. By and by Tom
pinched me and whispers:
I took a glance aft, and see the professor taking a
whet out of a bottle. I didn't like the looks of that.
By and by he took another drink, and pretty soon he
begun to sing. It was dark now, and getting black
and stormy. He went on singing, wilder and wilder,
and the thunder begun to mutter, and the wind to
wheeze and moan among the ropes, and altogether it
was awful. It got so black we couldn't see him any
more, and wished we couldn't hear him, but we could.
Then he got still; but he warn't still ten minutes till
we got suspicious, and wished he would start up his
noise again, so we could tell where he was. By and by
there was a flash of lightning, and we see him start to
get up, but he staggered and fell down. We heard
him scream out in the dark:
"They don't want to go to England. All right, I'll
change the course. They want to leave me. I know
they do. Well, they shall -- and NOW!"
I 'most died when he said that. Then he was still
again -- still so long I couldn't bear it, and it did seem
to me the lightning wouldn't EVER come again. But at
last there was a blessed flash, and there he was, on his
hands and knees crawling, and not four feet from us.
My, but his eyes was terrible! He made a lunge for
Tom, and says, "Overboard YOU go!" but it was
already pitch-dark again, and I couldn't see whether
he got him or not, and Tom didn't make a sound.
There was another long, horrible wait; then there
was a flash, and I see Tom's head sink down outside
the boat and disappear. He was on the rope-ladder
that dangled down in the air from the gunnel. The
professor let off a shout and jumped for him, and
straight off it was pitch-dark again, and Jim groaned
out, "Po' Mars Tom, he's a goner!" and made a
jump for the professor, but the professor warn't there.
Then we heard a couple of terrible screams, and then
another not so loud, and then another that was 'way
below, and you could only JUST hear it; and I heard
Jim say, "Po' Mars Tom!"
Then it was awful still, and I reckon a person could
'a' counted four thousand before the next flash come.
When it come I see Jim on his knees, with his arms
on the locker and his face buried in them, and he was
crying. Before I could look over the edge it was all
dark again, and I was glad, because I didn't want to
see. But when the next flash come, I was watching,
and down there I see somebody a-swinging in the wind
on the ladder, and it was Tom!
"Come up!" I shouts; "come up, Tom!"
His voice was so weak, and the wind roared so, I
couldn't make out what he said, but I thought he asked
was the professor up there. I shouts:
"No, he's down in the ocean! Come up! Can
we help you?"
Of course, all this in the dark.
"Huck, who is you hollerin' at?"
"I'm hollerin' at Tom."
"Oh, Huck, how kin you act so, when you know
po' Mars Tom --" Then he let off an awful scream,
and flung his head and his arms back and let off another
one, because there was a white glare just then, and he
had raised up his face just in time to see Tom's, as
white as snow, rise above the gunnel and look him right
in the eye. He thought it was Tom's ghost, you
Tom clumb aboard, and when Jim found it WAS him,
and not his ghost, he hugged him, and called him all
sorts of loving names, and carried on like he was gone
crazy, he was so glad. Says I:
"What did you wait for, Tom? Why didn't you
come up at first?"
"I dasn't, Huck. I knowed somebody plunged
down past me, but I didn't know who it was in the
dark. It could 'a' been you, it could 'a' been Jim."
That was the way with Tom Sawyer -- always sound.
He warn't coming up till he knowed where the pro-
The storm let go about this time with all its might;
and it was dreadful the way the thunder boomed and
tore, and the lightning glared out, and the wind sung
and screamed in the rigging, and the rain come down.
One second you couldn't see your hand before you,
and the next you could count the threads in your coat-
sleeve, and see a whole wide desert of waves pitching
and tossing through a kind of veil of rain. A storm
like that is the loveliest thing there is, but it ain't at its
best when you are up in the sky and lost, and it's wet
and lonesome, and there's just been a death in the
We set there huddled up in the bow, and talked low
about the poor professor; and everybody was sorry
for him, and sorry the world had made fun of him and
treated him so harsh, when he was doing the best he
could, and hadn't a friend nor nobody to encourage
him and keep him from brooding his mind away and
going deranged. There was plenty of clothes and
blankets and everything at the other end, but we
thought we'd ruther take the rain than go meddling
WE tried to make some plans, but we couldn't come
to no agreement. Me and Jim was for turning
around and going back home, but Tom allowed that
by the time daylight come, so we could see our way,
we would be so far toward England that we might as
well go there, and come back in a ship, and have the
glory of saying we done it.
About midnight the storm quit and the moon come
out and lit up the ocean, and we begun to feel com-
fortable and drowsy; so we stretched out on the
lockers and went to sleep, and never woke up again
till sun-up. The sea was sparkling like di'monds, and
it was nice weather, and pretty soon our things was all
We went aft to find some breakfast, and the first
thing we noticed was that there was a dim light burning
in a compass back there under a hood. Then Tom was
disturbed. He says:
"You know what that means, easy enough. It
means that somebody has got to stay on watch and
steer this thing the same as he would a ship, or she'll
wander around and go wherever the wind wants her
"Well," I says, "what's she been doing since --
er -- since we had the accident?"
"Wandering," he says, kinder troubled --" wander-
ing, without any doubt. She's in a wind now that's
blowing her south of east. We don't know how long
that's been going on, either."
So then he p'inted her east, and said he would hold
her there till we rousted out the breakfast. The pro-
fessor had laid in everything a body could want; he
couldn't 'a' been better fixed. There wasn't no milk
for the coffee, but there was water, and everything
else you could want, and a charcoal stove and the
fixings for it, and pipes and cigars and matches; and
wine and liquor, which warn't in our line; and books,
and maps, and charts, and an accordion; and furs,
and blankets, and no end of rubbish, like brass beads
and brass jewelry, which Tom said was a sure sign that
he had an idea of visiting among savages. There was
money, too. Yes, the professor was well enough fixed.
After breakfast Tom learned me and Jim how to
steer, and divided us all up into four-hour watches,
turn and turn about; and when his watch was out I
took his place, and he got out the professor's papers
and pens and wrote a letter home to his aunt Polly, tell-
ing her everything that had happened to us, and dated
it "IN THE WELKIN, APPROACHING ENGLAND," and folded
it together and stuck it fast with a red wafer, and
directed it, and wrote above the direction, in big
writing, "FROM TOM SAWYER, THE ERRONORT," and said
it would stump old Nat Parsons, the postmaster, when
it come along in the mail. I says:
"Tom Sawyer, this ain't no welkin, it's a balloon."
"Well, now, who SAID it was a welkin, smarty?"
"You've wrote it on the letter, anyway."
"What of it? That don't mean that the balloon's
"Oh, I thought it did. Well, then, what is a
I see in a minute he was stuck. He raked and
scraped around in his mind, but he couldn't find noth-
ing, so he had to say:
"I don't know, and nobody don't know. It's just
a word, and it's a mighty good word, too. There
ain't many that lays over it. I don't believe there's
ANY that does."
"Shucks!" I says. "But what does it MEAN? --
that's the p'int. "
"I don't know what it means, I tell you. It's a
word that people uses for -- for -- well, it's orna-
mental. They don't put ruffles on a shirt to keep a
person warm, do they?"
"Course they don't."
"But they put them ON, don't they?"
"All right, then; that letter I wrote is a shirt, and
the welkin's the ruffle on it."
I judged that that would gravel Jim, and it did.
"Now, Mars Tom, it ain't no use to talk like dat;
en, moreover, it's sinful. You knows a letter ain't no
shirt, en dey ain't no ruffles on it, nuther. Dey ain't
no place to put 'em on; you can't put em on, and
dey wouldn't stay ef you did."
"Oh DO shut up, and wait till something's started
that you know something about."
"Why, Mars Tom, sholy you can't mean to say I
don't know about shirts, when, goodness knows, I's
toted home de washin' ever sence --"
"I tell you, this hasn't got anything to do with
shirts. I only --"
"Why, Mars Tom, you said yo'self dat a letter --"
"Do you want to drive me crazy? Keep still. I
only used it as a metaphor."
That word kinder bricked us up for a minute. Then
Jim says -- rather timid, because he see Tom was get-
ting pretty tetchy:
"Mars Tom, what is a metaphor?"
"A metaphor's a -- well, it's a -- a -- a metaphor's
an illustration." He see THAT didn't git home, so he
tried again. "When I say birds of a feather flocks
together, it's a metaphorical way of saying --"
"But dey DON'T, Mars Tom. No, sir, 'deed dey
don't. Dey ain't no feathers dat's more alike den a
bluebird en a jaybird, but ef you waits till you catches
dem birds together, you'll --"
"Oh, give us a rest! You can't get the simplest
little thing through your thick skull. Now don't bother
me any more."
Jim was satisfied to stop. He was dreadful pleased
with himself for catching Tom out. The minute Tom
begun to talk about birds I judged he was a goner,
because Jim knowed more about birds than both of us
put together. You see, he had killed hundreds and
hundreds of them, and that's the way to find out
about birds. That's the way people does that writes
books about birds, and loves them so that they'll
go hungry and tired and take any amount of trouble to
find a new bird and kill it. Their name is ornitholo-
gers, and I could have been an ornithologer myself,
because I always loved birds and creatures; and I
started out to learn how to be one, and I see a bird
setting on a limb of a high tree, singing with its head
tilted back and its mouth open, and before I thought I
fired, and his song stopped and he fell straight down
from the limb, all limp like a rag, and I run and picked
him up and he was dead, and his body was warm in my
hand, and his head rolled about this way and that, like
his neck was broke, and there was a little white skin
over his eyes, and one little drop of blood on the side
of his head; and, laws! I couldn't see nothing more
for the tears; and I hain't never murdered no creature
since that warn't doing me no harm, and I ain't going
But I was aggravated about that welkin. I wanted
to know. I got the subject up again, and then Tom
explained, the best he could. He said when a person
made a big speech the newspapers said the shouts of
the people made the welkin ring. He said they always
said that, but none of them ever told what it was, so
he allowed it just meant outdoors and up high. Well,
that seemed sensible enough, so I was satisfied, and
said so. That pleased Tom and put him in a good
humor again, and he says:
"Well, it's all right, then; and we'll let bygones
be bygones. I don't know for certain what a welkin
is, but when we land in London we'll make it ring,
anyway, and don't you forget it."
He said an erronort was a person who sailed around
in balloons; and said it was a mighty sight finer to be
Tom Sawyer the Erronort than to be Tom Sawyer the
Traveler, and we would be heard of all round the
world, if we pulled through all right, and so he wouldn't
give shucks to be a traveler now.
Toward the middle of the afternoon we got every-
thing ready to land, and we felt pretty good, too, and
proud; and we kept watching with the glasses, like
Columbus discovering America. But we couldn't see
nothing but ocean. The afternoon wasted out and the
sun shut down, and still there warn't no land any-
wheres. We wondered what was the matter, but
reckoned it would come out all right, so we went on
steering east, but went up on a higher level so we
wouldn't hit any steeples or mountains in the dark.
It was my watch till midnight, and then it was Jim's;
but Tom stayed up, because he said ship captains done
that when they was making the land, and didn't stand
no regular watch.
Well, when daylight come, Jim give a shout, and we
jumped up and looked over, and there was the land
sure enough -- land all around, as far as you could see,
and perfectly level and yaller. We didn't know how
long we'd been over it. There warn't no trees, nor
hills, nor rocks, nor towns, and Tom and Jim had took
it for the sea. They took it for the sea in a dead
ca'm; but we was so high up, anyway, that if it had
been the sea and rough, it would 'a' looked smooth, all
the same, in the night, that way.
We was all in a powerful excitement now, and
grabbed the glasses and hunted everywheres for Lon-
don, but couldn't find hair nor hide of it, nor any
other settlement -- nor any sign of a lake or a river,
either. Tom was clean beat. He said it warn't his
notion of England; he thought England looked like
America, and always had that idea. So he said we
better have breakfast, and then drop down and inquire
the quickest way to London. We cut the breakfast
pretty short, we was so impatient. As we slanted
along down, the weather began to moderate, and
pretty soon we shed our furs. But it kept ON moder-
ating, and in a precious little while it was 'most too
moderate. We was close down now, and just blistering!
We settled down to within thirty foot of the land --
that is, it was land if sand is land; for this wasn't any-
thing but pure sand. Tom and me clumb down the
ladder and took a run to stretch our legs, and it felt
amazing good -- that is, the stretching did, but the
sand scorched our feet like hot embers. Next, we see
somebody coming, and started to meet him; but we
heard Jim shout, and looked around and he was fairly
dancing, and making signs, and yelling. We couldn't
make out what he said, but we was scared anyway, and
begun to heel it back to the balloon. When we got
close enough, we understood the words, and they
made me sick:
"Run! Run fo' yo' life! Hit's a lion; I kin see
him thoo de glass! Run, boys; do please heel it de
bes' you kin. He's bu'sted outen de menagerie, en
dey ain't nobody to stop him!"
It made Tom fly, but it took the stiffening all out of
my legs. I could only just gasp along the way you do
in a dream when there's a ghost gaining on you.
Tom got to the ladder and shinned up it a piece and
waited for me; and as soon as I got a foothold on it
he shouted to Jim to soar away. But Jim had clean
lost his head, and said he had forgot how. So Tom
shinned along up and told me to follow; but the lion
was arriving, fetching a most ghastly roar with every
lope, and my legs shook so I dasn't try to take one of
them out of the rounds for fear the other one would
give way under me.
But Tom was aboard by this time, and he started the
balloon up a little, and stopped it again as soon as the
end of the ladder was ten or twelve feet above ground.
And there was the lion, a-ripping around under me,
and roaring and springing up in the air at the ladder,
and only missing it about a quarter of an inch, it
seemed to me. It was delicious to be out of his reach,
perfectly delicious, and made me feel good and thank-
ful all up one side; but I was hanging there helpless
and couldn't climb, and that made me feel perfectly
wretched and miserable all down the other. It is most
seldom that a person feels so mixed like that; and it is
not to be recommended, either.
Tom asked me what he'd better do, but I didn't
know. He asked me if I could hold on whilst he sailed
away to a safe place and left the lion behind. I said I
could if he didn't go no higher than he was now; but
if he went higher I would lose my head and fall, sure.
So he said, "Take a good grip," and he started.
"Don't go so fast," I shouted. "It makes my
He had started like a lightning express. He slowed
down, and we glided over the sand slower, but still in
a kind of sickening way; for it IS uncomfortable to see
things sliding and gliding under you like that, and not
But pretty soon there was plenty of sound, for the
lion was catching up. His noise fetched others. You
could see them coming on the lope from every direc-
tion, and pretty soon there was a couple of dozen of
them under me, jumping up at the ladder and snarling
and snapping at each other; and so we went skimming
along over the sand, and these fellers doing what they
could to help us to not forgit the occasion; and then
some other beasts come, without an invite, and they
started a regular riot down there.
We see this plan was a mistake. We couldn't ever
git away from them at this gait, and I couldn't hold on
forever. So Tom took a think, and struck another
idea. That was, to kill a lion with the pepper-box
revolver, and then sail away while the others stopped
to fight over the carcass. So he stopped the balloon
still, and done it, and then we sailed off while the fuss
was going on, and come down a quarter of a mile off,
and they helped me aboard; but by the time we was
out of reach again, that gang was on hand once more.
And when they see we was really gone and they
couldn't get us, they sat down on their hams and
looked up at us so kind of disappointed that it was as
much as a person could do not to see THEIR side of the
IT'S A CARAVAN
I WAS so weak that the only thing I wanted was a
chance to lay down, so I made straight for my
locker-bunk, and stretched myself out there. But a
body couldn't get back his strength in no such oven as
that, so Tom give the command to soar, and Jim
started her aloft.
We had to go up a mile before we struck comfort-
able weather where it was breezy and pleasant and just
right, and pretty soon I was all straight again. Tom
had been setting quiet and thinking; but now he jumps
up and says:
"I bet you a thousand to one I know where we are.
We're in the Great Sahara, as sure as guns!"
He was so excited he couldn't hold still; but I
wasn't. I says:
"Well, then, where's the Great Sahara? In Eng-
land or in Scotland?"
"'Tain't in either; it's in Africa."
Jim's eyes bugged out, and he begun to stare down
with no end of interest, because that was where his
originals come from; but I didn't more than half be-
lieve it. I couldn't, you know; it seemed too awful
far away for us to have traveled.
But Tom was full of his discovery, as he called it,
and said the lions and the sand meant the Great Desert,
sure. He said he could 'a' found out, before we
sighted land, that we was crowding the land some-
wheres, if he had thought of one thing; and when we
asked him what, he said:
"These clocks. They're chronometers. You al-
ways read about them in sea voyages. One of them
is keeping Grinnage time, and the other is keeping St.
Louis time, like my watch. When we left St. Louis it
was four in the afternoon by my watch and this clock,
and it was ten at night by this Grinnage clock. Well,
at this time of the year the sun sets at about seven
o'clock. Now I noticed the time yesterday evening
when the sun went down, and it was half-past five
o'clock by the Grinnage clock, and half past 11 A.M.
by my watch and the other clock. You see, the sun
rose and set by my watch in St. Louis, and the Grin-
nage clock was six hours fast; but we've come so far
east that it comes within less than half an hour of set-
ting by the Grinnage clock now, and I'm away out --
more than four hours and a half out. You see, that
meant that we was closing up on the longitude of
Ireland, and would strike it before long if we was
p'inted right -- which we wasn't. No, sir, we've been
a-wandering -- wandering 'way down south of east, and
it's my opinion we are in Africa. Look at this map.
You see how the shoulder of Africa sticks out to the
west. Think how fast we've traveled; if we had gone
straight east we would be long past England by this
time. You watch for noon, all of you, and we'll stand
up, and when we can't cast a shadow we'll find that
this Grinnage clock is coming mighty close to marking
twelve. Yes, sir, I think we're in Africa; and it's just
Jim was gazing down with the glass. He shook his
head and says:
"Mars Tom, I reckon dey's a mistake som'er's.
hain't seen no niggers yit."
"That's nothing; they don't live in the desert.
What is that, 'way off yonder? Gimme a glass."
He took a long look, and said it was like a black
string stretched across the sand, but he couldn't guess
what it was.
"Well," I says, "I reckon maybe you've got a
chance now to find out whereabouts this balloon is,
because as like as not that is one of these lines here,
that's on the map, that you call meridians of longi-
tude, and we can drop down and look at its number,
"Oh, shucks, Huck Finn, I never see such a lunk-
head as you. Did you s'pose there's meridians of
longitude on the EARTH?"
"Tom Sawyer, they're set down on the map, and
you know it perfectly well, and here they are, and you
can see for yourself."
"Of course they're on the map, but that's nothing;
there ain't any on the GROUND."
"Tom, do you know that to be so?"
"Certainly I do."
"Well, then, that map's a liar again. I never see
such a liar as that map."
He fired up at that, and I was ready for him, and
Jim was warming his opinion, too, and next minute
we'd 'a' broke loose on another argument, if Tom
hadn't dropped the glass and begun to clap his hands
like a maniac and sing out:
"Camels! -- Camels!"
So I grabbed a glass and Jim, too, and took a look,
but I was disappointed, and says:
"Camels your granny; they're spiders."
"Spiders in a desert, you shad? Spiders walking
in a procession? You don't ever reflect, Huck Finn,
and I reckon you really haven't got anything to
reflect WITH. Don't you know we're as much as a
mile up in the air, and that that string of crawlers is
two or three miles away? Spiders, good land! Spiders
as big as a cow? Perhaps you'd like to go down
and milk one of 'em. But they're camels, just the
same. It's a caravan, that's what it is, and it's a mile
"Well, then, let's go down and look at it. I
don't believe in it, and ain't going to till I see it and
"All right," he says, and give the command:
As we come slanting down into the hot weather, we
could see that it was camels, sure enough, plodding
along, an everlasting string of them, with bales strapped
to them, and several hundred men in long white robes,
and a thing like a shawl bound over their heads and
hanging down with tassels and fringes; and some of
the men had long guns and some hadn't, and some
was riding and some was walking. And the weatherJ--
well, it was just roasting. And how slow they did
creep along! We swooped down now, all of a
sudden, and stopped about a hundred yards over their
The men all set up a yell, and some of them fell flat
on their stomachs, some begun to fire their guns at us,
and the rest broke and scampered every which way,
and so did the camels.
We see that we was making trouble, so we went up
again about a mile, to the cool weather, and watched
them from there. It took them an hour to get together
and form the procession again; then they started along,
but we could see by the glasses that they wasn't pay-
ing much attention to anything but us. We poked
along, looking down at them with the glasses, and by
and by we see a big sand mound, and something like
people the other side of it, and there was something
like a man laying on top of the mound that raised his
head up every now and then, and seemed to be watch-
ing the caravan or us, we didn't know which. As the
caravan got nearer, he sneaked down on the other side
and rushed to the other men and horses -- for that is
what they was -- and we see them mount in a hurry;
and next, here they come, like a house afire, some with
lances and some with long guns, and all of them yell-
ing the best they could.
They come a-tearing down on to the caravan, and the
next minute both sides crashed together and was all
mixed up, and there was such another popping of guns
as you never heard, and the air got so full of smoke
you could only catch glimpses of them struggling
together. There must 'a' been six hundred men in
that battle, and it was terrible to see. Then they
broke up into gangs and groups, fighting tooth and
nail, and scurrying and scampering around, and laying
into each other like everything; and whenever the
smoke cleared a little you could see dead and wounded
people and camels scattered far and wide and all about,
and camels racing off in every direction.
At last the robbers see they couldn't win, so their
chief sounded a signal, and all that was left of them
broke away and went scampering across the plain.
The last man to go snatched up a child and carried it
off in front of him on his horse, and a woman run
screaming and begging after him, and followed him
away off across the plain till she was separated a long
ways from her people; but it warn't no use, and she
had to give it up, and we see her sink down on the
sand and cover her face with her hands. Then Tom
took the hellum, and started for that yahoo, and we
come a-whizzing down and made a swoop, and knocked
him out of the saddle, child and all; and he was jarred
considerable, but the child wasn't hurt, but laid there
working its hands and legs in the air like a tumble-bug
that's on its back and can't turn over. The man went
staggering off to overtake his horse, and didn't know
what had hit him, for we was three or four hundred
yards up in the air by this time.
We judged the woman would go and get the child
now; but she didn't. We could see her, through the
glass, still setting there, with her head bowed down on
her knees; so of course she hadn't seen the perform-
ance, and thought her child was clean gone with the
man. She was nearly a half a mile from her people,
so we thought we might go down to the child, which
was about a quarter of a mile beyond her, and snake
it to her before the caravan people could git to us to
do us any harm; and besides, we reckoned they had
enough business on their hands for one while, anyway,
with the wounded. We thought we'd chance it, and
we did. We swooped down and stopped, and Jim
shinned down the ladder and fetched up the kid, which
was a nice fat little thing, and in a noble good humor,
too, considering it was just out of a battle and been
tumbled off of a horse; and then we started for the
mother, and stopped back of her and tolerable near
by, and Jim slipped down and crept up easy, and when
he was close back of her the child goo-goo'd, the way
a child does, and she heard it, and whirled and fetched
a shriek of joy, and made a jump for the kid and
snatched it and hugged it, and dropped it and hugged
Jim, and then snatched off a gold chain and hung it
around Jim's neck, and hugged him again, and jerked
up the child again, a-sobbing and glorifying all the
time; and Jim he shoved for the ladder and up it, and
in a minute we was back up in the sky and the woman
was staring up, with the back of her head between her
shoulders and the child with its arms locked around
her neck. And there she stood, as long as we was in
sight a-sailing away in the sky.
TOM RESPECTS THE FLEA
"NOON!" says Tom, and so it was. His shadder
was just a blot around his feet. We looked,
and the Grinnage clock was so close to twelve the
difference didn't amount to nothing. So Tom said
London was right north of us or right south of us, one
or t'other, and he reckoned by the weather and the
sand and the camels it was north; and a good many
miles north, too; as many as from New York to the
city of Mexico, he guessed.
Jim said he reckoned a balloon was a good deal the
fastest thing in the world, unless it might be some
kinds of birds -- a wild pigeon, maybe, or a railroad.
But Tom said he had read about railroads in England
going nearly a hundred miles an hour for a little ways,
and there never was a bird in the world that could do
that -- except one, and that was a flea.
"A flea? Why, Mars Tom, in de fust place he
ain't a bird, strickly speakin' --"
"He ain't a bird, eh? Well, then, what is he?"
"I don't rightly know, Mars Tom, but I speck he's
only jist a' animal. No, I reckon dat won't do, nuther,
he ain't big enough for a' animal. He mus' be a bug.
Yassir, dat's what he is, he's a bug."
"I bet he ain't, but let it go. What's your second
"Well, in de second place, birds is creturs dat goes
a long ways, but a flea don't."
"He don't, don't he? Come, now, what IS a long
distance, if you know?"
"Why, it's miles, and lots of 'em -- anybody knows
"Can't a man walk miles?"
"Yassir, he kin."
"As many as a railroad?"
"Yassir, if you give him time."
"Can't a flea?"
"Well -- I s'pose so -- ef you gives him heaps of
"Now you begin to see, don't you, that DISTANCE
ain't the thing to judge by, at all; it's the time it takes
to go the distance IN that COUNTS, ain't it?"
"Well, hit do look sorter so, but I wouldn't 'a'
b'lieved it, Mars Tom."
"It's a matter of PROPORTION, that's what it is; and
when you come to gauge a thing's speed by its size,
where's your bird and your man and your railroad,
alongside of a flea? The fastest man can't run more
than about ten miles in an hour -- not much over ten
thousand times his own length. But all the books says
any common ordinary third-class flea can jump a hun-
dred and fifty times his own length; yes, and he can
make five jumps a second too -- seven hundred and
fifty times his own length, in one little second -- for he
don't fool away any time stopping and starting -- he
does them both at the same time; you'll see, if you
try to put your finger on him. Now that's a common,
ordinary, third-class flea's gait; but you take an Eye-
talian FIRST-class, that's been the pet of the nobility all
his life, and hasn't ever knowed what want or sickness
or exposure was, and he can jump more than three
hundred times his own length, and keep it up all day,
five such jumps every second, which is fifteen hundred
times his own length. Well, suppose a man could go
fifteen hundred times his own length in a second -- say,
a mile and a half. It's ninety miles a minute; it's
considerable more than five thousand miles an hour.
Where's your man NOW? -- yes, and your bird, and
your railroad, and your balloon? Laws, they don't
amount to shucks 'longside of a flea. A flea is just
a comet b'iled down small."
Jim was a good deal astonished, and so was I. Jim
"Is dem figgers jist edjackly true, en no jokin' en
no lies, Mars Tom?"
"Yes, they are; they're perfectly true."
"Well, den, honey, a body's got to respec' a flea.
I ain't had no respec' for um befo', sca'sely, but dey
ain't no gittin' roun' it, dey do deserve it, dat's
"Well, I bet they do. They've got ever so much
more sense, and brains, and brightness, in proportion
to their size, than any other cretur in the world. A
person can learn them 'most anything; and they learn
it quicker than any other cretur, too. They've been
learnt to haul little carriages in harness, and go this
way and that way and t'other way according to their
orders; yes, and to march and drill like soldiers, doing
it as exact, according to orders, as soldiers does it.
They've been learnt to do all sorts of hard and
troublesome things. S'pose you could cultivate a flea
up to the size of a man, and keep his natural
smartness a-growing and a-growing right along up,
bigger and bigger, and keener and keener, in the same
proportion -- where'd the human race be, do you
reckon? That flea would be President of the United
States, and you couldn't any more prevent it than you
can prevent lightning."
"My lan', Mars Tom, I never knowed dey was so
much TO de beas'. No, sir, I never had no idea of it,
and dat's de fac'."
"There's more to him, by a long sight, than there
is to any other cretur, man or beast, in proportion to
size. He's the interestingest of them all. People have
so much to say about an ant's strength, and an ele-
phant's, and a locomotive's. Shucks, they don't begin
with a flea. He can lift two or three hundred times his
own weight. And none of them can come anywhere
near it. And, moreover, he has got notions of his
own, and is very particular, and you can't fool him;
his instinct, or his judgment, or whatever it is, is per-
fectly sound and clear, and don't ever make a mistake.
People think all humans are alike to a flea. It ain't
so. There's folks that he won't go near, hungry or
not hungry, and I'm one of them. I've never had one
of them on me in my life."
"It's so; I ain't joking."
"Well, sah, I hain't ever heard de likes o' dat befo'."
Jim couldn't believe it, and I couldn't; so we had to
drop down to the sand and git a supply and see. Tom
was right. They went for me and Jim by the thou-
sand, but not a one of them lit on Tom. There warn't
no explaining it, but there it was and there warn't no
getting around it. He said it had always been just so,
and he'd just as soon be where there was a million of
them as not; they'd never touch him nor bother
We went up to the cold weather to freeze 'em out,
and stayed a little spell, and then come back to the
comfortable weather and went lazying along twenty or
twenty-five miles an hour, the way we'd been doing for
the last few hours. The reason was, that the longer
we was in that solemn, peaceful desert, the more the
hurry and fuss got kind of soothed down in us, and
the more happier and contented and satisfied we got to
feeling, and the more we got to liking the desert, and
then loving it. So we had cramped the speed down,
as I was saying, and was having a most noble good
lazy time, sometimes watching through the glasses,
sometimes stretched out on the lockers reading, some-
times taking a nap.
It didn't seem like we was the same lot that was in
such a state to find land and git ashore, but it was.
But we had got over that -- clean over it. We was
used to the balloon now and not afraid any more, and
didn't want to be anywheres else. Why, it seemed
just like home; it 'most seemed as if I had been born
and raised in it, and Jim and Tom said the same. And
always I had had hateful people around me, a-nagging
at me, and pestering of me, and scolding, and finding
fault, and fussing and bothering, and sticking to me,
and keeping after me, and making me do this, and
making me do that and t'other, and always selecting
out the things I didn't want to do, and then giving me
Sam Hill because I shirked and done something else,
and just aggravating the life out of a body all the time;
but up here in the sky it was so still and sunshiny and
lovely, and plenty to eat, and plenty of sleep, and
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