[Footnote: Strange as the incidents of this story are,
they are not inventions, but facts -- even to the
public confession of the accused.
I take them from an
old-time Swedish criminal trial, change the actors,
and transfer the scenes to America. I have added some
details, but only a couple of them are important
ones. -- M. T.]
WELL, it was the next spring after me and Tom
Sawyer set our old nigger Jim free, the time he
was chained up for a runaway slave down there on
Tom's uncle Silas's farm in Arkansaw. The frost was
working out of the ground, and out of the air, too, and
it was getting closer and closer onto barefoot time every
day; and next it would be marble time, and next
mumbletypeg, and next tops and hoops, and next
kites, and then right away it would be summer and go-
ing in a-swimming. It just makes a boy homesick to
look ahead like that and see how far off summer is.
Yes, and it sets him to sighing and saddening around,
and there's something the matter with him, he don't
know what. But anyway, he gets out by himself and
mopes and thinks; and mostly he hunts for a lone-
some place high up on the hill in the edge of the woods,
and sets there and looks away off on the big Mississippi
down there a-reaching miles and miles around the points
where the timber looks smoky and dim it's so far off and
still, and everything's so solemn it seems like everybody
you've loved is dead and gone, and you 'most wish you
was dead and gone too, and done with it all.
Don't you know what that is? It's spring fever.
That is what the name of it is. And when you've got
it, you want -- oh, you don't quite know what it is you
DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you
want it so! It seems to you that mainly what you want
is to get away; get away from the same old tedious
things you're so used to seeing and so tired of, and set
something new. That is the idea; you want to go and
be a wanderer; you want to go wandering far away to
strange countries where everything is mysterious and
wonderful and romantic. And if you can't do that,
you'll put up with considerable less; you'll go any-
where you CAN go, just so as to get away, and be thank-
ful of the chance, too.
Well, me and Tom Sawyer had the spring fever, and
had it bad, too; but it warn't any use to think about
Tom trying to get away, because, as he said, his Aunt
Polly wouldn't let him quit school and go traipsing off
somers wasting time; so we was pretty blue. We was
setting on the front steps one day about sundown talk-
ing this way, when out comes his aunt Polly with a
letter in her hand and says:
"Tom, I reckon you've got to pack up and go down
to Arkansaw -- your aunt Sally wants you."
I 'most jumped out of my skin for joy. I reckoned
Tom would fly at his aunt and hug her head off; but if
you believe me he set there like a rock, and never said
a word. It made me fit to cry to see him act so foolish,
with such a noble chance as this opening up. Why,
we might lose it if he didn't speak up and show he was
thankful and grateful. But he set there and studied
and studied till I was that distressed I didn't know
what to do; then he says, very ca'm, and I could a
shot him for it:
"Well," he says, "I'm right down sorry, Aunt
Polly, but I reckon I got to be excused -- for the
His aunt Polly was knocked so stupid and so mad at
the cold impudence of it that she couldn't say a word
for as much as a half a minute, and this gave me a
chance to nudge Tom and whisper:
"Ain't you got any sense? Sp'iling such a noble
chance as this and throwing it away?"
But he warn't disturbed. He mumbled back:
"Huck Finn, do you want me to let her SEE how bad
I want to go? Why, she'd begin to doubt, right
away, and imagine a lot of sicknesses and dangers and
objections, and first you know she'd take it all back.
You lemme alone; I reckon I know how to work her."
Now I never would 'a' thought of that. But he was
right. Tom Sawyer was always right -- the levelest
head I ever see, and always AT himself and ready for
anything you might spring on him. By this time his
aunt Polly was all straight again, and she let fly. She
"You'll be excused! YOU will! Well, I never
heard the like of it in all my days! The idea of you
talking like that to ME! Now take yourself off and
pack your traps; and if I hear another word out of
you about what you'll be excused from and what you
won't, I lay I'LL excuse you -- with a hickory!"
She hit his head a thump with her thimble as we
dodged by, and he let on to be whimpering as we
struck for the stairs. Up in his room he hugged me,
he was so out of his head for gladness because he was
going traveling. And he says:
"Before we get away she'll wish she hadn't let me
go, but she won't know any way to get around it now.
After what she's said, her pride won't let her take it
Tom was packed in ten minutes, all except what his
aunt and Mary would finish up for him; then we waited
ten more for her to get cooled down and sweet and
gentle again; for Tom said it took her ten minutes to
unruffle in times when half of her feathers was up, but
twenty when they was all up, and this was one of the
times when they was all up. Then we went down,
being in a sweat to know what the letter said.
She was setting there in a brown study, with it laying
in her lap. We set down, and she says:
"They're in considerable trouble down there, and
they think you and Huck'll be a kind of diversion for
them -- 'comfort,' they say. Much of that they'll get
out of you and Huck Finn, I reckon. There's a neigh-
bor named Brace Dunlap that's been wanting to marry
their Benny for three months, and at last they told him
point blank and once for all, he COULDN'T; so he has soured
on them, and they're worried about it. I reckon he's
somebody they think they better be on the good side
of, for they've tried to please him by hiring his no-
account brother to help on the farm when they can't
hardly afford it, and don't want him around anyhow.
Who are the Dunlaps?"
"They live about a mile from Uncle Silas's place,
Aunt Polly -- all the farmers live about a mile apart
down there -- and Brace Dunlap is a long sight richer
than any of the others, and owns a whole grist of nig-
gers. He's a widower, thirty-six years old, without
any children, and is proud of his money and overbear-
ing, and everybody is a little afraid of him. I judge he
thought he could have any girl he wanted, just for the
asking, and it must have set him back a good deal when
he found he couldn't get Benny. Why, Benny's only
half as old as he is, and just as sweet and lovely asQ
well, you've seen her. Poor old Uncle Silas -- why,
it's pitiful, him trying to curry favor that way -- so hard
pushed and poor, and yet hiring that useless Jubiter
Dunlap to please his ornery brother."
"What a name -- Jubiter! Where'd he get it?"
"It's only just a nickname. I reckon they've forgot
his real name long before this. He's twenty-seven,
now, and has had it ever since the first time he ever
went in swimming. The school teacher seen a round
brown mole the size of a dime on his left leg above his
knee, and four little bits of moles around it, when he
was naked, and he said it minded him of Jubiter and
his moons; and the children thought it was funny, and
so they got to calling him Jubiter, and he's Jubiter yet.
He's tall, and lazy, and sly, and sneaky, and ruther
cowardly, too, but kind of good-natured, and wears
long brown hair and no beard, and hasn't got a cent,
and Brace boards him for nothing, and gives him his old
clothes to wear, and despises him. Jubiter is a twin."
"What's t'other twin like?"
"Just exactly like Jubiter -- so they say; used to
was, anyway, but he hain't been seen for seven years.
He got to robbing when he was nineteen or twenty,
and they jailed him; but he broke jail and got away --
up North here, somers. They used to hear about him
robbing and burglaring now and then, but that was
years ago. He's dead, now. At least that's what
they say. They don't hear about him any more."
"What was his name?"
There wasn't anything more said for a considerable
while; the old lady was thinking. At last she says:
"The thing that is mostly worrying your aunt Sally
is the tempers that that man Jubiter gets your uncle
Tom was astonished, and so was I. Tom says:
"Tempers? Uncle Silas? Land, you must be jok-
ing! I didn't know he HAD any temper."
"Works him up into perfect rages, your aunt Sally
says; says he acts as if he would really hit the man,
"Aunt Polly, it beats anything I ever heard of.
Why, he's just as gentle as mush."
"Well, she's worried, anyway. Says your uncle
Silas is like a changed man, on account of all this
quarreling. And the neighbors talk about it, and lay
all the blame on your uncle, of course, because he's a
preacher and hain't got any business to quarrel. Your
aunt Sally says he hates to go into the pulpit he's so
ashamed; and the people have begun to cool toward
him, and he ain't as popular now as he used to was."
"Well, ain't it strange? Why, Aunt Polly, he was
always so good and kind and moony and absent-minded
and chuckle-headed and lovable -- why, he was just an
angel! What CAN be the matter of him, do you