The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Part 6.
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Produced by David Widger
THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
AT last the sleepy atmosphere was stirred--and vigorously: the murder
trial came on in the court. It became the absorbing topic of village
talk immediately. Tom could not get away from it. Every reference to
the murder sent a shudder to his heart, for his troubled conscience and
fears almost persuaded him that these remarks were put forth in his
hearing as "feelers"; he did not see how he could be suspected of
knowing anything about the murder, but still he could not be
comfortable in the midst of this gossip. It kept him in a cold shiver
all the time. He took Huck to a lonely place to have a talk with him.
It would be some relief to unseal his tongue for a little while; to
divide his burden of distress with another sufferer. Moreover, he
wanted to assure himself that Huck had remained discreet.
"Huck, have you ever told anybody about--that?"
"You know what."
"Oh--'course I haven't."
"Never a word?"
"Never a solitary word, so help me. What makes you ask?"
"Well, I was afeard."
"Why, Tom Sawyer, we wouldn't be alive two days if that got found out.
YOU know that."
Tom felt more comfortable. After a pause:
"Huck, they couldn't anybody get you to tell, could they?"
"Get me to tell? Why, if I wanted that half-breed devil to drownd me
they could get me to tell. They ain't no different way."
"Well, that's all right, then. I reckon we're safe as long as we keep
mum. But let's swear again, anyway. It's more surer."
So they swore again with dread solemnities.
"What is the talk around, Huck? I've heard a power of it."
"Talk? Well, it's just Muff Potter, Muff Potter, Muff Potter all the
time. It keeps me in a sweat, constant, so's I want to hide som'ers."
"That's just the same way they go on round me. I reckon he's a goner.
Don't you feel sorry for him, sometimes?"
"Most always--most always. He ain't no account; but then he hain't
ever done anything to hurt anybody. Just fishes a little, to get money
to get drunk on--and loafs around considerable; but lord, we all do
that--leastways most of us--preachers and such like. But he's kind of
good--he give me half a fish, once, when there warn't enough for two;
and lots of times he's kind of stood by me when I was out of luck."
"Well, he's mended kites for me, Huck, and knitted hooks on to my
line. I wish we could get him out of there."
"My! we couldn't get him out, Tom. And besides, 'twouldn't do any
good; they'd ketch him again."
"Yes--so they would. But I hate to hear 'em abuse him so like the
dickens when he never done--that."
"I do too, Tom. Lord, I hear 'em say he's the bloodiest looking
villain in this country, and they wonder he wasn't ever hung before."
"Yes, they talk like that, all the time. I've heard 'em say that if he
was to get free they'd lynch him."
"And they'd do it, too."
The boys had a long talk, but it brought them little comfort. As the
twilight drew on, they found themselves hanging about the neighborhood
of the little isolated jail, perhaps with an undefined hope that
something would happen that might clear away their difficulties. But
nothing happened; there seemed to be no angels or fairies interested in
this luckless captive.
The boys did as they had often done before--went to the cell grating
and gave Potter some tobacco and matches. He was on the ground floor
and there were no guards.
His gratitude for their gifts had always smote their consciences
before--it cut deeper than ever, this time. They felt cowardly and
treacherous to the last degree when Potter said:
"You've been mighty good to me, boys--better'n anybody else in this
town. And I don't forget it, I don't. Often I says to myself, says I,
'I used to mend all the boys' kites and things, and show 'em where the
good fishin' places was, and befriend 'em what I could, and now they've
all forgot old Muff when he's in trouble; but Tom don't, and Huck
don't--THEY don't forget him, says I, 'and I don't forget them.' Well,
boys, I done an awful thing--drunk and crazy at the time--that's the
only way I account for it--and now I got to swing for it, and it's
right. Right, and BEST, too, I reckon--hope so, anyway. Well, we won't
talk about that. I don't want to make YOU feel bad; you've befriended
me. But what I want to say, is, don't YOU ever get drunk--then you won't
ever get here. Stand a litter furder west--so--that's it; it's a prime
comfort to see faces that's friendly when a body's in such a muck of
trouble, and there don't none come here but yourn. Good friendly
faces--good friendly faces. Git up on one another's backs and let me
touch 'em. That's it. Shake hands--yourn'll come through the bars, but
mine's too big. Little hands, and weak--but they've helped Muff Potter
a power, and they'd help him more if they could."
Tom went home miserable, and his dreams that night were full of
horrors. The next day and the day after, he hung about the court-room,
drawn by an almost irresistible impulse to go in, but forcing himself
to stay out. Huck was having the same experience. They studiously
avoided each other. Each wandered away, from time to time, but the same
dismal fascination always brought them back presently. Tom kept his
ears open when idlers sauntered out of the court-room, but invariably
heard distressing news--the toils were closing more and more
relentlessly around poor Potter. At the end of the second day the
village talk was to the effect that Injun Joe's evidence stood firm and
unshaken, and that there was not the slightest question as to what the
jury's verdict would be.
Tom was out late, that night, and came to bed through the window. He
was in a tremendous state of excitement. It was hours before he got to
sleep. All the village flocked to the court-house the next morning, for
this was to be the great day. Both sexes were about equally represented
in the packed audience. After a long wait the jury filed in and took
their places; shortly afterward, Potter, pale and haggard, timid and
hopeless, was brought in, with chains upon him, and seated where all
the curious eyes could stare at him; no less conspicuous was Injun Joe,
stolid as ever. There was another pause, and then the judge arrived and
the sheriff proclaimed the opening of the court. The usual whisperings
among the lawyers and gathering together of papers followed. These
details and accompanying delays worked up an atmosphere of preparation
that was as impressive as it was fascinating.
Now a witness was called who testified that he found Muff Potter
washing in the brook, at an early hour of the morning that the murder
was discovered, and that he immediately sneaked away. After some
further questioning, counsel for the prosecution said:
"Take the witness."
The prisoner raised his eyes for a moment, but dropped them again when
his own counsel said:
"I have no questions to ask him."
The next witness proved the finding of the knife near the corpse.
Counsel for the prosecution said:
"Take the witness."
"I have no questions to ask him," Potter's lawyer replied.
A third witness swore he had often seen the knife in Potter's
"Take the witness."
Counsel for Potter declined to question him. The faces of the audience
began to betray annoyance. Did this attorney mean to throw away his
client's life without an effort?
Several witnesses deposed concerning Potter's guilty behavior when
brought to the scene of the murder. They were allowed to leave the
stand without being cross-questioned.
Every detail of the damaging circumstances that occurred in the
graveyard upon that morning which all present remembered so well was
brought out by credible witnesses, but none of them were cross-examined
by Potter's lawyer. The perplexity and dissatisfaction of the house
expressed itself in murmurs and provoked a reproof from the bench.
Counsel for the prosecution now said:
"By the oaths of citizens whose simple word is above suspicion, we
have fastened this awful crime, beyond all possibility of question,
upon the unhappy prisoner at the bar. We rest our case here."
A groan escaped from poor Potter, and he put his face in his hands and
rocked his body softly to and fro, while a painful silence reigned in
the court-room. Many men were moved, and many women's compassion
testified itself in tears. Counsel for the defence rose and said:
"Your honor, in our remarks at the opening of this trial, we
foreshadowed our purpose to prove that our client did this fearful deed
while under the influence of a blind and irresponsible delirium
produced by drink. We have changed our mind. We shall not offer that
plea." [Then to the clerk:] "Call Thomas Sawyer!"
A puzzled amazement awoke in every face in the house, not even
excepting Potter's. Every eye fastened itself with wondering interest
upon Tom as he rose and took his place upon the stand. The boy looked
wild enough, for he was badly scared. The oath was administered.
"Thomas Sawyer, where were you on the seventeenth of June, about the
hour of midnight?"
Tom glanced at Injun Joe's iron face and his tongue failed him. The
audience listened breathless, but the words refused to come. After a
few moments, however, the boy got a little of his strength back, and
managed to put enough of it into his voice to make part of the house
"In the graveyard!"
"A little bit louder, please. Don't be afraid. You were--"
"In the graveyard."
A contemptuous smile flitted across Injun Joe's face.
"Were you anywhere near Horse Williams' grave?"
"Speak up--just a trifle louder. How near were you?"
"Near as I am to you."
"Were you hidden, or not?"
"I was hid."
"Behind the elms that's on the edge of the grave."
Injun Joe gave a barely perceptible start.
"Any one with you?"
"Yes, sir. I went there with--"
"Wait--wait a moment. Never mind mentioning your companion's name. We
will produce him at the proper time. Did you carry anything there with
Tom hesitated and looked confused.
"Speak out, my boy--don't be diffident. The truth is always
respectable. What did you take there?"
"Only a--a--dead cat."
There was a ripple of mirth, which the court checked.
"We will produce the skeleton of that cat. Now, my boy, tell us
everything that occurred--tell it in your own way--don't skip anything,
and don't be afraid."
Tom began--hesitatingly at first, but as he warmed to his subject his
words flowed more and more easily; in a little while every sound ceased
but his own voice; every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips
and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of
time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale. The strain upon
pent emotion reached its climax when the boy said:
"--and as the doctor fetched the board around and Muff Potter fell,
Injun Joe jumped with the knife and--"
Crash! Quick as lightning the half-breed sprang for a window, tore his
way through all opposers, and was gone!
TOM was a glittering hero once more--the pet of the old, the envy of
the young. His name even went into immortal print, for the village
paper magnified him. There were some that believed he would be
President, yet, if he escaped hanging.
As usual, the fickle, unreasoning world took Muff Potter to its bosom
and fondled him as lavishly as it had abused him before. But that sort
of conduct is to the world's credit; therefore it is not well to find
fault with it.
Tom's days were days of splendor and exultation to him, but his nights
were seasons of horror. Injun Joe infested all his dreams, and always
with doom in his eye. Hardly any temptation could persuade the boy to
stir abroad after nightfall. Poor Huck was in the same state of
wretchedness and terror, for Tom had told the whole story to the lawyer
the night before the great day of the trial, and Huck was sore afraid
that his share in the business might leak out, yet, notwithstanding
Injun Joe's flight had saved him the suffering of testifying in court.
The poor fellow had got the attorney to promise secrecy, but what of
that? Since Tom's harassed conscience had managed to drive him to the
lawyer's house by night and wring a dread tale from lips that had been
sealed with the dismalest and most formidable of oaths, Huck's
confidence in the human race was well-nigh obliterated.
Daily Muff Potter's gratitude made Tom glad he had spoken; but nightly
he wished he had sealed up his tongue.
Half the time Tom was afraid Injun Joe would never be captured; the
other half he was afraid he would be. He felt sure he never could draw
a safe breath again until that man was dead and he had seen the corpse.
Rewards had been offered, the country had been scoured, but no Injun
Joe was found. One of those omniscient and awe-inspiring marvels, a
detective, came up from St. Louis, moused around, shook his head,
looked wise, and made that sort of astounding success which members of
that craft usually achieve. That is to say, he "found a clew." But you
can't hang a "clew" for murder, and so after that detective had got
through and gone home, Tom felt just as insecure as he was before.
The slow days drifted on, and each left behind it a slightly lightened
weight of apprehension.
THERE comes a time in every rightly-constructed boy's life when he has
a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure. This
desire suddenly came upon Tom one day. He sallied out to find Joe
Harper, but failed of success. Next he sought Ben Rogers; he had gone
fishing. Presently he stumbled upon Huck Finn the Red-Handed. Huck
would answer. Tom took him to a private place and opened the matter to
him confidentially. Huck was willing. Huck was always willing to take a
hand in any enterprise that offered entertainment and required no
capital, for he had a troublesome superabundance of that sort of time
which is not money. "Where'll we dig?" said Huck.
"Oh, most anywhere."
"Why, is it hid all around?"
"No, indeed it ain't. It's hid in mighty particular places, Huck
--sometimes on islands, sometimes in rotten chests under the end of a
limb of an old dead tree, just where the shadow falls at midnight; but
mostly under the floor in ha'nted houses."
"Who hides it?"
"Why, robbers, of course--who'd you reckon? Sunday-school
"I don't know. If 'twas mine I wouldn't hide it; I'd spend it and have
a good time."
"So would I. But robbers don't do that way. They always hide it and
leave it there."
"Don't they come after it any more?"
"No, they think they will, but they generally forget the marks, or
else they die. Anyway, it lays there a long time and gets rusty; and by
and by somebody finds an old yellow paper that tells how to find the
marks--a paper that's got to be ciphered over about a week because it's
mostly signs and hy'roglyphics."
"Hy'roglyphics--pictures and things, you know, that don't seem to mean
"Have you got one of them papers, Tom?"
"Well then, how you going to find the marks?"
"I don't want any marks. They always bury it under a ha'nted house or
on an island, or under a dead tree that's got one limb sticking out.
Well, we've tried Jackson's Island a little, and we can try it again
some time; and there's the old ha'nted house up the Still-House branch,
and there's lots of dead-limb trees--dead loads of 'em."
"Is it under all of them?"
"How you talk! No!"
"Then how you going to know which one to go for?"
"Go for all of 'em!"
"Why, Tom, it'll take all summer."
"Well, what of that? Suppose you find a brass pot with a hundred
dollars in it, all rusty and gray, or rotten chest full of di'monds.
Huck's eyes glowed.
"That's bully. Plenty bully enough for me. Just you gimme the hundred
dollars and I don't want no di'monds."
"All right. But I bet you I ain't going to throw off on di'monds. Some
of 'em's worth twenty dollars apiece--there ain't any, hardly, but's
worth six bits or a dollar."
"No! Is that so?"
"Cert'nly--anybody'll tell you so. Hain't you ever seen one, Huck?"
"Not as I remember."
"Oh, kings have slathers of them."
"Well, I don' know no kings, Tom."
"I reckon you don't. But if you was to go to Europe you'd see a raft
of 'em hopping around."
"Do they hop?"
"Hop?--your granny! No!"
"Well, what did you say they did, for?"
"Shucks, I only meant you'd SEE 'em--not hopping, of course--what do
they want to hop for?--but I mean you'd just see 'em--scattered around,
you know, in a kind of a general way. Like that old humpbacked Richard."
"Richard? What's his other name?"
"He didn't have any other name. Kings don't have any but a given name."
"But they don't."
"Well, if they like it, Tom, all right; but I don't want to be a king
and have only just a given name, like a nigger. But say--where you
going to dig first?"
"Well, I don't know. S'pose we tackle that old dead-limb tree on the
hill t'other side of Still-House branch?"
So they got a crippled pick and a shovel, and set out on their
three-mile tramp. They arrived hot and panting, and threw themselves
down in the shade of a neighboring elm to rest and have a smoke.
"I like this," said Tom.
"So do I."
"Say, Huck, if we find a treasure here, what you going to do with your
"Well, I'll have pie and a glass of soda every day, and I'll go to
every circus that comes along. I bet I'll have a gay time."
"Well, ain't you going to save any of it?"
"Save it? What for?"
"Why, so as to have something to live on, by and by."
"Oh, that ain't any use. Pap would come back to thish-yer town some
day and get his claws on it if I didn't hurry up, and I tell you he'd
clean it out pretty quick. What you going to do with yourn, Tom?"
"I'm going to buy a new drum, and a sure-'nough sword, and a red
necktie and a bull pup, and get married."
"Tom, you--why, you ain't in your right mind."
"Well, that's the foolishest thing you could do. Look at pap and my
mother. Fight! Why, they used to fight all the time. I remember, mighty
"That ain't anything. The girl I'm going to marry won't fight."
"Tom, I reckon they're all alike. They'll all comb a body. Now you
better think 'bout this awhile. I tell you you better. What's the name
of the gal?"
"It ain't a gal at all--it's a girl."
"It's all the same, I reckon; some says gal, some says girl--both's
right, like enough. Anyway, what's her name, Tom?"
"I'll tell you some time--not now."
"All right--that'll do. Only if you get married I'll be more lonesomer
"No you won't. You'll come and live with me. Now stir out of this and
we'll go to digging."
They worked and sweated for half an hour. No result. They toiled
another half-hour. Still no result. Huck said:
"Do they always bury it as deep as this?"
"Sometimes--not always. Not generally. I reckon we haven't got the
So they chose a new spot and began again. The labor dragged a little,
but still they made progress. They pegged away in silence for some
time. Finally Huck leaned on his shovel, swabbed the beaded drops from
his brow with his sleeve, and said:
"Where you going to dig next, after we get this one?"
"I reckon maybe we'll tackle the old tree that's over yonder on
Cardiff Hill back of the widow's."
"I reckon that'll be a good one. But won't the widow take it away from
us, Tom? It's on her land."
"SHE take it away! Maybe she'd like to try it once. Whoever finds one
of these hid treasures, it belongs to him. It don't make any difference
whose land it's on."
That was satisfactory. The work went on. By and by Huck said:
"Blame it, we must be in the wrong place again. What do you think?"
"It is mighty curious, Huck. I don't understand it. Sometimes witches
interfere. I reckon maybe that's what's the trouble now."
"Shucks! Witches ain't got no power in the daytime."
"Well, that's so. I didn't think of that. Oh, I know what the matter
is! What a blamed lot of fools we are! You got to find out where the
shadow of the limb falls at midnight, and that's where you dig!"
"Then consound it, we've fooled away all this work for nothing. Now
hang it all, we got to come back in the night. It's an awful long way.
Can you get out?"
"I bet I will. We've got to do it to-night, too, because if somebody
sees these holes they'll know in a minute what's here and they'll go
"Well, I'll come around and maow to-night."
"All right. Let's hide the tools in the bushes."
The boys were there that night, about the appointed time. They sat in
the shadow waiting. It was a lonely place, and an hour made solemn by
old traditions. Spirits whispered in the rustling leaves, ghosts lurked
in the murky nooks, the deep baying of a hound floated up out of the
distance, an owl answered with his sepulchral note. The boys were
subdued by these solemnities, and talked little. By and by they judged
that twelve had come; they marked where the shadow fell, and began to
dig. Their hopes commenced to rise. Their interest grew stronger, and
their industry kept pace with it. The hole deepened and still deepened,
but every time their hearts jumped to hear the pick strike upon
something, they only suffered a new disappointment. It was only a stone
or a chunk. At last Tom said:
"It ain't any use, Huck, we're wrong again."
"Well, but we CAN'T be wrong. We spotted the shadder to a dot."
"I know it, but then there's another thing."
"Why, we only guessed at the time. Like enough it was too late or too
Huck dropped his shovel.
"That's it," said he. "That's the very trouble. We got to give this
one up. We can't ever tell the right time, and besides this kind of
thing's too awful, here this time of night with witches and ghosts
a-fluttering around so. I feel as if something's behind me all the time;
and I'm afeard to turn around, becuz maybe there's others in front
a-waiting for a chance. I been creeping all over, ever since I got here."
"Well, I've been pretty much so, too, Huck. They most always put in a
dead man when they bury a treasure under a tree, to look out for it."
"Yes, they do. I've always heard that."
"Tom, I don't like to fool around much where there's dead people. A
body's bound to get into trouble with 'em, sure."
"I don't like to stir 'em up, either. S'pose this one here was to
stick his skull out and say something!"
"Don't Tom! It's awful."
"Well, it just is. Huck, I don't feel comfortable a bit."
"Say, Tom, let's give this place up, and try somewheres else."
"All right, I reckon we better."
"What'll it be?"
Tom considered awhile; and then said:
"The ha'nted house. That's it!"
"Blame it, I don't like ha'nted houses, Tom. Why, they're a dern sight
worse'n dead people. Dead people might talk, maybe, but they don't come
sliding around in a shroud, when you ain't noticing, and peep over your
shoulder all of a sudden and grit their teeth, the way a ghost does. I
couldn't stand such a thing as that, Tom--nobody could."
"Yes, but, Huck, ghosts don't travel around only at night. They won't
hender us from digging there in the daytime."
"Well, that's so. But you know mighty well people don't go about that
ha'nted house in the day nor the night."
"Well, that's mostly because they don't like to go where a man's been
murdered, anyway--but nothing's ever been seen around that house except
in the night--just some blue lights slipping by the windows--no regular
"Well, where you see one of them blue lights flickering around, Tom,
you can bet there's a ghost mighty close behind it. It stands to
reason. Becuz you know that they don't anybody but ghosts use 'em."
"Yes, that's so. But anyway they don't come around in the daytime, so
what's the use of our being afeard?"
"Well, all right. We'll tackle the ha'nted house if you say so--but I
reckon it's taking chances."
They had started down the hill by this time. There in the middle of
the moonlit valley below them stood the "ha'nted" house, utterly
isolated, its fences gone long ago, rank weeds smothering the very
doorsteps, the chimney crumbled to ruin, the window-sashes vacant, a
corner of the roof caved in. The boys gazed awhile, half expecting to
see a blue light flit past a window; then talking in a low tone, as
befitted the time and the circumstances, they struck far off to the
right, to give the haunted house a wide berth, and took their way
homeward through the woods that adorned the rearward side of Cardiff
ABOUT noon the next day the boys arrived at the dead tree; they had
come for their tools. Tom was impatient to go to the haunted house;
Huck was measurably so, also--but suddenly said:
"Lookyhere, Tom, do you know what day it is?"
Tom mentally ran over the days of the week, and then quickly lifted
his eyes with a startled look in them--
"My! I never once thought of it, Huck!"
"Well, I didn't neither, but all at once it popped onto me that it was
"Blame it, a body can't be too careful, Huck. We might 'a' got into an
awful scrape, tackling such a thing on a Friday."
"MIGHT! Better say we WOULD! There's some lucky days, maybe, but
"Any fool knows that. I don't reckon YOU was the first that found it
"Well, I never said I was, did I? And Friday ain't all, neither. I had
a rotten bad dream last night--dreampt about rats."
"No! Sure sign of trouble. Did they fight?"
"Well, that's good, Huck. When they don't fight it's only a sign that
there's trouble around, you know. All we got to do is to look mighty
sharp and keep out of it. We'll drop this thing for to-day, and play.
Do you know Robin Hood, Huck?"
"No. Who's Robin Hood?"
"Why, he was one of the greatest men that was ever in England--and the
best. He was a robber."
"Cracky, I wisht I was. Who did he rob?"
"Only sheriffs and bishops and rich people and kings, and such like.
But he never bothered the poor. He loved 'em. He always divided up with
'em perfectly square."
"Well, he must 'a' been a brick."
"I bet you he was, Huck. Oh, he was the noblest man that ever was.
They ain't any such men now, I can tell you. He could lick any man in
England, with one hand tied behind him; and he could take his yew bow
and plug a ten-cent piece every time, a mile and a half."
"What's a YEW bow?"
"I don't know. It's some kind of a bow, of course. And if he hit that
dime only on the edge he would set down and cry--and curse. But we'll
play Robin Hood--it's nobby fun. I'll learn you."
So they played Robin Hood all the afternoon, now and then casting a
yearning eye down upon the haunted house and passing a remark about the
morrow's prospects and possibilities there. As the sun began to sink
into the west they took their way homeward athwart the long shadows of
the trees and soon were buried from sight in the forests of Cardiff
On Saturday, shortly after noon, the boys were at the dead tree again.
They had a smoke and a chat in the shade, and then dug a little in
their last hole, not with great hope, but merely because Tom said there
were so many cases where people had given up a treasure after getting
down within six inches of it, and then somebody else had come along and
turned it up with a single thrust of a shovel. The thing failed this
time, however, so the boys shouldered their tools and went away feeling
that they had not trifled with fortune, but had fulfilled all the
requirements that belong to the business of treasure-hunting.
When they reached the haunted house there was something so weird and
grisly about the dead silence that reigned there under the baking sun,
and something so depressing about the loneliness and desolation of the
place, that they were afraid, for a moment, to venture in. Then they
crept to the door and took a trembling peep. They saw a weed-grown,
floorless room, unplastered, an ancient fireplace, vacant windows, a
ruinous staircase; and here, there, and everywhere hung ragged and
abandoned cobwebs. They presently entered, softly, with quickened
pulses, talking in whispers, ears alert to catch the slightest sound,
and muscles tense and ready for instant retreat.
In a little while familiarity modified their fears and they gave the
place a critical and interested examination, rather admiring their own
boldness, and wondering at it, too. Next they wanted to look up-stairs.
This was something like cutting off retreat, but they got to daring
each other, and of course there could be but one result--they threw
their tools into a corner and made the ascent. Up there were the same
signs of decay. In one corner they found a closet that promised
mystery, but the promise was a fraud--there was nothing in it. Their
courage was up now and well in hand. They were about to go down and
begin work when--
"Sh!" said Tom.
"What is it?" whispered Huck, blanching with fright.
"Sh! ... There! ... Hear it?"
"Yes! ... Oh, my! Let's run!"
"Keep still! Don't you budge! They're coming right toward the door."
The boys stretched themselves upon the floor with their eyes to
knot-holes in the planking, and lay waiting, in a misery of fear.
"They've stopped.... No--coming.... Here they are. Don't whisper
another word, Huck. My goodness, I wish I was out of this!"
Two men entered. Each boy said to himself: "There's the old deaf and
dumb Spaniard that's been about town once or twice lately--never saw
t'other man before."
"T'other" was a ragged, unkempt creature, with nothing very pleasant
in his face. The Spaniard was wrapped in a serape; he had bushy white
whiskers; long white hair flowed from under his sombrero, and he wore
green goggles. When they came in, "t'other" was talking in a low voice;
they sat down on the ground, facing the door, with their backs to the
wall, and the speaker continued his remarks. His manner became less
guarded and his words more distinct as he proceeded:
"No," said he, "I've thought it all over, and I don't like it. It's
"Dangerous!" grunted the "deaf and dumb" Spaniard--to the vast
surprise of the boys. "Milksop!"
This voice made the boys gasp and quake. It was Injun Joe's! There was
silence for some time. Then Joe said:
"What's any more dangerous than that job up yonder--but nothing's come
"That's different. Away up the river so, and not another house about.
'Twon't ever be known that we tried, anyway, long as we didn't succeed."
"Well, what's more dangerous than coming here in the daytime!--anybody
would suspicion us that saw us."
"I know that. But there warn't any other place as handy after that
fool of a job. I want to quit this shanty. I wanted to yesterday, only
it warn't any use trying to stir out of here, with those infernal boys
playing over there on the hill right in full view."
"Those infernal boys" quaked again under the inspiration of this
remark, and thought how lucky it was that they had remembered it was
Friday and concluded to wait a day. They wished in their hearts they
had waited a year.
The two men got out some food and made a luncheon. After a long and
thoughtful silence, Injun Joe said:
"Look here, lad--you go back up the river where you belong. Wait there
till you hear from me. I'll take the chances on dropping into this town
just once more, for a look. We'll do that 'dangerous' job after I've
spied around a little and think things look well for it. Then for
Texas! We'll leg it together!"
This was satisfactory. Both men presently fell to yawning, and Injun
"I'm dead for sleep! It's your turn to watch."
He curled down in the weeds and soon began to snore. His comrade
stirred him once or twice and he became quiet. Presently the watcher
began to nod; his head drooped lower and lower, both men began to snore
The boys drew a long, grateful breath. Tom whispered:
"Now's our chance--come!"
"I can't--I'd die if they was to wake."
Tom urged--Huck held back. At last Tom rose slowly and softly, and
started alone. But the first step he made wrung such a hideous creak
from the crazy floor that he sank down almost dead with fright. He
never made a second attempt. The boys lay there counting the dragging
moments till it seemed to them that time must be done and eternity
growing gray; and then they were grateful to note that at last the sun
Now one snore ceased. Injun Joe sat up, stared around--smiled grimly
upon his comrade, whose head was drooping upon his knees--stirred him
up with his foot and said:
"Here! YOU'RE a watchman, ain't you! All right, though--nothing's
"My! have I been asleep?"
"Oh, partly, partly. Nearly time for us to be moving, pard. What'll we
do with what little swag we've got left?"
"I don't know--leave it here as we've always done, I reckon. No use to
take it away till we start south. Six hundred and fifty in silver's
something to carry."
"Well--all right--it won't matter to come here once more."
"No--but I'd say come in the night as we used to do--it's better."
"Yes: but look here; it may be a good while before I get the right
chance at that job; accidents might happen; 'tain't in such a very good
place; we'll just regularly bury it--and bury it deep."
"Good idea," said the comrade, who walked across the room, knelt down,
raised one of the rearward hearth-stones and took out a bag that
jingled pleasantly. He subtracted from it twenty or thirty dollars for
himself and as much for Injun Joe, and passed the bag to the latter,
who was on his knees in the corner, now, digging with his bowie-knife.
The boys forgot all their fears, all their miseries in an instant.
With gloating eyes they watched every movement. Luck!--the splendor of
it was beyond all imagination! Six hundred dollars was money enough to
make half a dozen boys rich! Here was treasure-hunting under the
happiest auspices--there would not be any bothersome uncertainty as to
where to dig. They nudged each other every moment--eloquent nudges and
easily understood, for they simply meant--"Oh, but ain't you glad NOW
Joe's knife struck upon something.
"Hello!" said he.
"What is it?" said his comrade.
"Half-rotten plank--no, it's a box, I believe. Here--bear a hand and
we'll see what it's here for. Never mind, I've broke a hole."
He reached his hand in and drew it out--
"Man, it's money!"
The two men examined the handful of coins. They were gold. The boys
above were as excited as themselves, and as delighted.
Joe's comrade said:
"We'll make quick work of this. There's an old rusty pick over amongst
the weeds in the corner the other side of the fireplace--I saw it a
He ran and brought the boys' pick and shovel. Injun Joe took the pick,
looked it over critically, shook his head, muttered something to
himself, and then began to use it. The box was soon unearthed. It was
not very large; it was iron bound and had been very strong before the
slow years had injured it. The men contemplated the treasure awhile in
"Pard, there's thousands of dollars here," said Injun Joe.
"'Twas always said that Murrel's gang used to be around here one
summer," the stranger observed.
"I know it," said Injun Joe; "and this looks like it, I should say."
"Now you won't need to do that job."
The half-breed frowned. Said he:
"You don't know me. Least you don't know all about that thing. 'Tain't
robbery altogether--it's REVENGE!" and a wicked light flamed in his
eyes. "I'll need your help in it. When it's finished--then Texas. Go
home to your Nance and your kids, and stand by till you hear from me."
"Well--if you say so; what'll we do with this--bury it again?"
"Yes. [Ravishing delight overhead.] NO! by the great Sachem, no!
[Profound distress overhead.] I'd nearly forgot. That pick had fresh
earth on it! [The boys were sick with terror in a moment.] What
business has a pick and a shovel here? What business with fresh earth
on them? Who brought them here--and where are they gone? Have you heard
anybody?--seen anybody? What! bury it again and leave them to come and
see the ground disturbed? Not exactly--not exactly. We'll take it to my
"Why, of course! Might have thought of that before. You mean Number
"No--Number Two--under the cross. The other place is bad--too common."
"All right. It's nearly dark enough to start."
Injun Joe got up and went about from window to window cautiously
peeping out. Presently he said:
"Who could have brought those tools here? Do you reckon they can be
The boys' breath forsook them. Injun Joe put his hand on his knife,
halted a moment, undecided, and then turned toward the stairway. The
boys thought of the closet, but their strength was gone. The steps came
creaking up the stairs--the intolerable distress of the situation woke
the stricken resolution of the lads--they were about to spring for the
closet, when there was a crash of rotten timbers and Injun Joe landed
on the ground amid the debris of the ruined stairway. He gathered
himself up cursing, and his comrade said:
"Now what's the use of all that? If it's anybody, and they're up
there, let them STAY there--who cares? If they want to jump down, now,
and get into trouble, who objects? It will be dark in fifteen minutes
--and then let them follow us if they want to. I'm willing. In my
opinion, whoever hove those things in here caught a sight of us and
took us for ghosts or devils or something. I'll bet they're running
Joe grumbled awhile; then he agreed with his friend that what daylight
was left ought to be economized in getting things ready for leaving.
Shortly afterward they slipped out of the house in the deepening
twilight, and moved toward the river with their precious box.
Tom and Huck rose up, weak but vastly relieved, and stared after them
through the chinks between the logs of the house. Follow? Not they.
They were content to reach ground again without broken necks, and take
the townward track over the hill. They did not talk much. They were too
much absorbed in hating themselves--hating the ill luck that made them
take the spade and the pick there. But for that, Injun Joe never would
have suspected. He would have hidden the silver with the gold to wait
there till his "revenge" was satisfied, and then he would have had the
misfortune to find that money turn up missing. Bitter, bitter luck that
the tools were ever brought there!
They resolved to keep a lookout for that Spaniard when he should come
to town spying out for chances to do his revengeful job, and follow him
to "Number Two," wherever that might be. Then a ghastly thought
occurred to Tom.
"Revenge? What if he means US, Huck!"
"Oh, don't!" said Huck, nearly fainting.
They talked it all over, and as they entered town they agreed to
believe that he might possibly mean somebody else--at least that he
might at least mean nobody but Tom, since only Tom had testified.
Very, very small comfort it was to Tom to be alone in danger! Company
would be a palpable improvement, he thought.
THE adventure of the day mightily tormented Tom's dreams that night.
Four times he had his hands on that rich treasure and four times it
wasted to nothingness in his fingers as sleep forsook him and
wakefulness brought back the hard reality of his misfortune. As he lay
in the early morning recalling the incidents of his great adventure, he
noticed that they seemed curiously subdued and far away--somewhat as if
they had happened in another world, or in a time long gone by. Then it
occurred to him that the great adventure itself must be a dream! There
was one very strong argument in favor of this idea--namely, that the
quantity of coin he had seen was too vast to be real. He had never seen
as much as fifty dollars in one mass before, and he was like all boys
of his age and station in life, in that he imagined that all references
to "hundreds" and "thousands" were mere fanciful forms of speech, and
that no such sums really existed in the world. He never had supposed
for a moment that so large a sum as a hundred dollars was to be found
in actual money in any one's possession. If his notions of hidden
treasure had been analyzed, they would have been found to consist of a
handful of real dimes and a bushel of vague, splendid, ungraspable
But the incidents of his adventure grew sensibly sharper and clearer
under the attrition of thinking them over, and so he presently found
himself leaning to the impression that the thing might not have been a
dream, after all. This uncertainty must be swept away. He would snatch
a hurried breakfast and go and find Huck. Huck was sitting on the
gunwale of a flatboat, listlessly dangling his feet in the water and
looking very melancholy. Tom concluded to let Huck lead up to the
subject. If he did not do it, then the adventure would be proved to
have been only a dream.
Silence, for a minute.
"Tom, if we'd 'a' left the blame tools at the dead tree, we'd 'a' got
the money. Oh, ain't it awful!"
"'Tain't a dream, then, 'tain't a dream! Somehow I most wish it was.
Dog'd if I don't, Huck."
"What ain't a dream?"
"Oh, that thing yesterday. I been half thinking it was."
"Dream! If them stairs hadn't broke down you'd 'a' seen how much dream
it was! I've had dreams enough all night--with that patch-eyed Spanish
devil going for me all through 'em--rot him!"
"No, not rot him. FIND him! Track the money!"
"Tom, we'll never find him. A feller don't have only one chance for
such a pile--and that one's lost. I'd feel mighty shaky if I was to see
"Well, so'd I; but I'd like to see him, anyway--and track him out--to
his Number Two."
"Number Two--yes, that's it. I been thinking 'bout that. But I can't
make nothing out of it. What do you reckon it is?"
"I dono. It's too deep. Say, Huck--maybe it's the number of a house!"
"Goody! ... No, Tom, that ain't it. If it is, it ain't in this
one-horse town. They ain't no numbers here."
"Well, that's so. Lemme think a minute. Here--it's the number of a
room--in a tavern, you know!"
"Oh, that's the trick! They ain't only two taverns. We can find out
"You stay here, Huck, till I come."
Tom was off at once. He did not care to have Huck's company in public
places. He was gone half an hour. He found that in the best tavern, No.
2 had long been occupied by a young lawyer, and was still so occupied.
In the less ostentatious house, No. 2 was a mystery. The
tavern-keeper's young son said it was kept locked all the time, and he
never saw anybody go into it or come out of it except at night; he did
not know any particular reason for this state of things; had had some
little curiosity, but it was rather feeble; had made the most of the
mystery by entertaining himself with the idea that that room was
"ha'nted"; had noticed that there was a light in there the night before.
"That's what I've found out, Huck. I reckon that's the very No. 2
"I reckon it is, Tom. Now what you going to do?"
Tom thought a long time. Then he said:
"I'll tell you. The back door of that No. 2 is the door that comes out
into that little close alley between the tavern and the old rattle trap
of a brick store. Now you get hold of all the door-keys you can find,
and I'll nip all of auntie's, and the first dark night we'll go there
and try 'em. And mind you, keep a lookout for Injun Joe, because he
said he was going to drop into town and spy around once more for a
chance to get his revenge. If you see him, you just follow him; and if
he don't go to that No. 2, that ain't the place."
"Lordy, I don't want to foller him by myself!"
"Why, it'll be night, sure. He mightn't ever see you--and if he did,
maybe he'd never think anything."
"Well, if it's pretty dark I reckon I'll track him. I dono--I dono.
"You bet I'll follow him, if it's dark, Huck. Why, he might 'a' found
out he couldn't get his revenge, and be going right after that money."
"It's so, Tom, it's so. I'll foller him; I will, by jingoes!"
"Now you're TALKING! Don't you ever weaken, Huck, and I won't."
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