from
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by
Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

Mark Twain

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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

(1885)

Edited by Sculley Bradley, Richmond Croom Beatty, E. Hudson Long, and Thomas Cooley
Copyright © 1977, 1962, 1961, by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
“The Raftsmen’s Passage” in Chapter XVI originally published in Life on the Mississippi and omitted from the novel

NOTICE
Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR
Per G. G., CHIEF OF ORDNANCE.

Chapter I When you got to the table you couldn’t go right to eating, but you had to wait for the widow to tuck down her head and grumble a little over the victuals, though there warn’t really anything the matter with them.
Then she told me all about the bad place, and I said I wished I was there. She got mad, then, but I didn’t mean no harm. All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn’t particular. She said it was wicked to say what I said; said she wouldn’t say it for the whole world; she was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well, I couldn’t see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn’t try for it.

Topic:

Heaven and Hell

Chapter II

“But how can we do it if we don’t know what it is?”

“Why blame it all, we’ve got to do it. Don’t I tell you it’s in the books? Do you want to go doing different from what’s in the books, and get things all muddled up?”

Chapter IV I had been to school most all the time, and could spell, and read, and write just a little, and could say the multiplication table up to six times seven is thirty-five, and I don’t reckon I could ever get any further than that if I was to live forever. I don’t take no stock in mathematics, anyway.

Topic:

Scholarship

Chapter VI Every time he got money he got drunk; and every time he got drunk he raised Cain around town; and every time he raised Cain he got jailed. He was just suited—this kind of thing was right in his line.

After supper pap took the jug, and said he had enough whisky there for two drunks and one delirium tremens. That was always his word.

Topic:

Drink

Chapter VIII [...] if I trod on a stick and broke it, it made me feel like a person had cut one of my breaths in two and I only got half, and the short half, too.
Jim said bees wouldn’t sting idiots; but I didn’t believe that, because I had tried them lots of times myself, and they wouldn’t sting me.
Chapter XII [...] sometimes I lifted a chicken that warn’t roosting comfortable, and took him along. Pap always said, take a chicken when you get a chance, because if you don’t want him yourself you can easy find somebody that does, and a good deed ain’t ever forgot. I never see Pap when he didn’t want the chicken himself, but that is what he used to say, anyway.

Topics:

Rationalizing

Chickens

Chapter XIV

“De ’spute warn’t ’bout a half a chile, de ’spute was ’bout a whole chile; en de man dat think he kin settle a ’spute ’bout a whole chile wid a half a chile, doan’ know enough to come in out’n de rain. Doan’ talk to me ’bout Sollermun, Huck, I knows him by de back.”

“But I tell you you don’t get the point.”

“Blame de pint! I reck’n I knows what I knows. En mine you, de real pint is down furder—it’s down deeper. It lays in de way Sollermun was raised. You take a man dat’s got on’y one er two chillen; is dat man gwyne to be waseful o’ chillen? No, he ain’t; he can’t ’ford it.”

Chapter XVI “The Raftsmen’s Passage”

“Whoo-oop! I’m the old original iron-jawed, brass-mounted, copper-bellied corpse-maker from the wilds of Arkansaw! Look at me! I’m the man they call Sudden Death and General Desolation! Sired by a hurricane, dam’d by an earthquake, half-brother to the cholera, nearly related to the smallpox on my mother’s side! Look at me! I take nineteen alligators and a bar’l of whisky for breakfast when I’m in robust health, and a bushel of rattlesnakes and a dead body when I’m ailing. I split the everlasting rocks with my glance, and I squench the thunder when I speak! Whoo-oop! Stand back and give me room according to my strength! Blood’s my natural drink, and the wails of the dying is music to my ear. Cast your eye on me, gentlemen! and lay low and hold your breath, for I’m ’bout to turn myself loose!”

The man they called Ed said the muddy Mississippi water was wholesomer to drink than the clear water of the Ohio; he said if you let a pint of this yaller Mississippi water settle, you would have about a half to three-quarters of an inch of mud in the bottom, according to the stage of the river, and then it warn’t no better than Ohio water—what you wanted to do was to keep it stirred up—and when the river was low, keep mud on hand to put in and thicken the water up the way it ought to be.

Topic:

Mississippi water

“Oh, come, now, Eddy,” says Jimmy, “show up; you must ’a’ kept part of that bar’l to prove the thing by. Show us the bung-hole—do—and we’ll all believe you.”

“Say, boys,” says Bill, “less divide it up. Thar’s thirteen of us. I can swaller a thirteenth of the yarn, if you can worry down the rest.”

They went off, and I got aboard the raft, feeling bad and low, because I knowed very well I had done wrong, and I see it warn’t no use for me to try to learn to do right; a body that don’t get started right when he’s little, ain’t got no show—when the pinch comes there ain’t nothing to back him up and keep him to his work, and so he gets beat. Then I thought a minute, and says to myself, hold on,—s’pose you’d a done right and give Jim up; would you felt better than what you do now? No, says I, I’d feel bad—I’d feel just the same way I do now. Well, then, says I, what’s the use you learning to do right, when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same? I was stuck. I couldn’t answer that. So I reckoned I wouldn’t bother no more about it, but after this always do whichever come handiest at the time.

Topic:

Conscience

Chapter XVII It was beautiful to hear that clock tick; and sometimes when one of these peddlers had been along and scoured her up and got her in good shape, she would start in and strike a hundred and fifty before she got tuckered out.

Topic:

Clocks

Chapter XVIII [...] there warn’t anybody at the church, except maybe a hog or two, for there warn’t any lock on the door, and hogs likes a puncheon floor in summer-time because it’s cool. If you notice, most folks don’t go to church only when they’ve got to; but a hog is different.

Topic:

Pigs

Chapter XIX If I never learnt nothing else out of pap, I learnt that the best way to get along with his kind of people is to let them have their own way.
Chapter XXI

“Hamlet’s soliloquy, you know; the most celebrated thing in Shakespeare. Ah, it’s sublime, sublime! Always fetches the house. I haven’t got it in the book—I’ve only got one volume—but I reckon I can piece it out from memory. [...]

[...] This is the speech—I learned it, easy enough, while he was learning it to the king:

To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin

That makes calamity of so long life;

For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane,

But that the fear of something after death

Murders the innocent sleep,

Great nature’s second course,

And makes us rather sling the arrows of outrageous fortune

Than fly to others that we know not of.

There’s the respect must give us pause:

Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst;

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,

The law’s delay, and the quietus which his pangs might take,

In the dead waste and middle of the night, when churchyards yawn

In customary suits of solemn black,

But that the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns,

Breathes forth contagion on the world,

And thus the native hue of resolution, like the poor cat i’ the adage,

Is sicklied o’er with care,

And all the clouds that lowered o’er our housetops,

With this regard their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action.

’Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. But soft you, the fair Ophelia:

Ope not they ponderous and marble jaws,

But get thee to a nunnery—go!

Chapter XXVI “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? and ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”

Topic:

The Majority

Chapter XXVIII I says to myself, I reckon a body that ups and tells the truth when he is in a tight place, is taking considerable many resks, though I ain’t had no experience, and can’t say for certain; but it looks so to me, anyway; and yet here’s a case where I’m blest if it don’t look to me like the truth is better, and actuly safer, than a lie. I must lay it by in my mind, and think it over some time or other, it’s so kind of strange and unregular. I never see nothing like it.

Topic:

Truth

Pray for me! I reckoned if she knowed me she’d take a job that was more nearer her size. But I bet she done it, just the same—she was just that kind.

Topic:

Prayer

Chapter XXXI

First they done a lecture on temperance; but they didn’t make enough for them both to get drunk on.

I was a trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

“All right, then, I’ll go to hell”—and tore it up.

It was awful thoughts, and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head; and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn’t. And for a starter, I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.

Topic:

Slavery

Chapter XXXII And I explained all about how we blowed out a cylinder-head at the mouth of White River and it took us three days to fix it. Which was all right, and worked first rate; because they didn’t know but what it would take three days to fix it. If I’d a called it a bolt-head it would a done just as well.
Chapter XXXIII

I know what you’ll say. You’ll say it’s dirty low-down business; but what if it is?—I’m low down; and I’m agoing to steal him, and I want you to keep mum and not let on. Will you?”

His eye lit up, and he says:

“I’ll help you steal him!”

Well, I let go all holts then, like I was shot. It was the most astonishing speech I ever heard—and I’m bound to say Tom Sawyer fell, considerable, in my estimation.

But that’s always the way; it don’t make no difference whether you do right or wrong, a person’s conscience ain’t got no sense, and just goes for him anyway. If I had a yaller dog that didn’t know no more than a person’s conscience does, I would pison him. It takes up more room than all the rest of a person’s insides, and yet ain’t no good, nohow.

Topic:

Conscience

Chapter XXXV “Anyhow, there’s one thing—there’s more honor in getting him out through a lot of difficulties and dangers, where there warn’t one of them furnished to you by the people who it was their duty to furnish them, and you had to contrive them all out of your own head.”
Chapter XLII

If she warn’t standing right there, just inside the door, looking as sweet and contented as an angel half-full of pie, I wish I may never!

Topic:

Pie

text checked (see note) Feb 2005

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