WE judged that three nights more would fetch us to Cairo, at the bottom o_llinois, where the Ohio River comes in, and that was what we was after. W_ould sell the raft and get on a steamboat and go way up the Ohio amongst th_ree States, and then be out of trouble.
Well, the second night a fog begun to come on, and we made for a towhead t_ie to, for it wouldn't do to try to run in a fog; but when I paddled ahead i_he canoe, with the line to make fast, there warn't anything but littl_aplings to tie to. I passed the line around one of them right on the edge o_he cut bank, but there was a stiff current, and the raft come booming down s_ively she tore it out by the roots and away she went. I see the fog closin_own, and it made me so sick and scared I couldn't budge for most a half _inute it seemed to me—and then there warn't no raft in sight; you couldn'_ee twenty yards. I jumped into the canoe and run back to the stern, an_rabbed the paddle and set her back a stroke. But she didn't come. I was i_uch a hurry I hadn't untied her. I got up and tried to untie her, but I wa_o excited my hands shook so I couldn't hardly do anything with them.
As soon as I got started I took out after the raft, hot and heavy, right dow_he towhead. That was all right as far as it went, but the towhead warn'_ixty yards long, and the minute I flew by the foot of it I shot out into th_olid white fog, and hadn't no more idea which way I was going than a dea_an.
Thinks I, it won't do to paddle; first I know I'll run into the bank or _owhead or something; I got to set still and float, and yet it's might_idgety business to have to hold your hands still at such a time. I whoope_nd listened. Away down there somewheres I hears a small whoop, and up come_y spirits. I went tearing after it, listening sharp to hear it again. Th_ext time it come I see I warn't heading for it, but heading away to the righ_f it. And the next time I was heading away to the left of it—and not gainin_n it much either, for I was flying around, this way and that and t'other, bu_t was going straight ahead all the time.
I did wish the fool would think to beat a tin pan, and beat it all the time, but he never did, and it was the still places between the whoops that wa_aking the trouble for me. Well, I fought along, and directly I hears th_hoop BEHIND me. I was tangled good now. That was somebody else's whoop, o_lse I was turned around.
I throwed the paddle down. I heard the whoop again; it was behind me yet, bu_n a different place; it kept coming, and kept changing its place, and I kep_nswering, till by and by it was in front of me again, and I knowed th_urrent had swung the canoe's head down-stream, and I was all right if tha_as Jim and not some other raftsman hollering. I couldn't tell nothing abou_oices in a fog, for nothing don't look natural nor sound natural in a fog.
The whooping went on, and in about a minute I come a-booming down on a cu_ank with smoky ghosts of big trees on it, and the current throwed me off t_he left and shot by, amongst a lot of snags that fairly roared, the currren_as tearing by them so swift.
In another second or two it was solid white and still again. I set perfectl_till then, listening to my heart thump, and I reckon I didn't draw a breat_hile it thumped a hundred.
I just give up then. I knowed what the matter was. That cut bank was a_sland, and Jim had gone down t'other side of it. It warn't no towhead tha_ou could float by in ten minutes. It had the big timber of a regular island; it might be five or six miles long and more than half a mile wide.
I kept quiet, with my ears cocked, about fifteen minutes, I reckon. I wa_loating along, of course, four or five miles an hour; but you don't eve_hink of that. No, you FEEL like you are laying dead still on the water; an_f a little glimpse of a snag slips by you don't think to yourself how fas_OU'RE going, but you catch your breath and think, my! how that snag's tearin_long. If you think it ain't dismal and lonesome out in a fog that way b_ourself in the night, you try it once—you'll see.
Next, for about a half an hour, I whoops now and then; at last I hears th_nswer a long ways off, and tries to follow it, but I couldn't do it, an_irectly I judged I'd got into a nest of towheads, for I had little di_limpses of them on both sides of me—sometimes just a narrow channel between, and some that I couldn't see I knowed was there because I'd hear the wash o_he current against the old dead brush and trash that hung over the banks.
Well, I warn't long loosing the whoops down amongst the towheads; and I onl_ried to chase them a little while, anyway, because it was worse than chasin_ Jack-o'-lantern. You never knowed a sound dodge around so, and swap place_o quick and so much.
I had to claw away from the bank pretty lively four or five times, to kee_rom knocking the islands out of the river; and so I judged the raft must b_utting into the bank every now and then, or else it would get further ahea_nd clear out of hearing—it was floating a little faster than what I was.
Well, I seemed to be in the open river again by and by, but I couldn't hear n_ign of a whoop nowheres. I reckoned Jim had fetched up on a snag, maybe, an_t was all up with him. I was good and tired, so I laid down in the canoe an_aid I wouldn't bother no more. I didn't want to go to sleep, of course; but _as so sleepy I couldn't help it; so I thought I would take jest one littl_at-nap.
But I reckon it was more than a cat-nap, for when I waked up the stars wa_hining bright, the fog was all gone, and I was spinning down a big bend ster_irst. First I didn't know where I was; I thought I was dreaming; and whe_hings began to come back to me they seemed to come up dim out of last week.
It was a monstrous big river here, with the tallest and the thickest kind o_imber on both banks; just a solid wall, as well as I could see by the stars.
I looked away down-stream, and seen a black speck on the water. I took afte_t; but when I got to it it warn't nothing but a couple of sawlogs made fas_ogether. Then I see another speck, and chased that; then another, and thi_ime I was right. It was the raft.
When I got to it Jim was setting there with his head down between his knees, asleep, with his right arm hanging over the steering-oar. The other oar wa_mashed off, and the raft was littered up with leaves and branches and dirt.
So she'd had a rough time.
I made fast and laid down under Jim's nose on the raft, and began to gap, an_tretch my fists out against Jim, and says:
"Hello, Jim, have I been asleep? Why didn't you stir me up?"
"Goodness gracious, is dat you, Huck? En you ain' dead—you ain' drownded—you'_ack agin? It's too good for true, honey, it's too good for true. Lemme loo_t you chile, lemme feel o' you. No, you ain' dead! you's back agin, 'live e_oun', jis de same ole Huck—de same ole Huck, thanks to goodness!"
"What's the matter with you, Jim? You been a-drinking?"
"Drinkin'? Has I ben a-drinkin'? Has I had a chance to be a-drinkin'?"
"Well, then, what makes you talk so wild?"
"How does I talk wild?"
"HOW? Why, hain't you been talking about my coming back, and all that stuff, as if I'd been gone away?"
"Huck—Huck Finn, you look me in de eye; look me in de eye. HAIN'T you ben gon_way?"
"Gone away? Why, what in the nation do you mean? I hain't been gone anywheres.
Where would I go to?"
"Well, looky here, boss, dey's sumf'n wrong, dey is. Is I ME, or who IS I? I_ heah, or whah IS I? Now dat's what I wants to know."
"Well, I think you're here, plain enough, but I think you're a tangle- heade_ld fool, Jim."
"I is, is I? Well, you answer me dis: Didn't you tote out de line in de cano_er to make fas' to de tow-head?"
"No, I didn't. What tow-head? I hain't see no tow-head."
"You hain't seen no towhead? Looky here, didn't de line pull loose en de raf'
go a-hummin' down de river, en leave you en de canoe behine in de fog?"
"Why, de fog!—de fog dat's been aroun' all night. En didn't you whoop, e_idn't I whoop, tell we got mix' up in de islands en one un us got los' e_'other one was jis' as good as los', 'kase he didn' know whah he wuz? E_idn't I bust up agin a lot er dem islands en have a turrible time en mos' gi_rownded? Now ain' dat so, boss—ain't it so? You answer me dat."
"Well, this is too many for me, Jim. I hain't seen no fog, nor no islands, no_o troubles, nor nothing. I been setting here talking with you all night til_ou went to sleep about ten minutes ago, and I reckon I done the same. Yo_ouldn't a got drunk in that time, so of course you've been dreaming."
"Dad fetch it, how is I gwyne to dream all dat in ten minutes?"
"Well, hang it all, you did dream it, because there didn't any of it happen."
"But, Huck, it's all jis' as plain to me as—"
"It don't make no difference how plain it is; there ain't nothing in it. _now, because I've been here all the time."
Jim didn't say nothing for about five minutes, but set there studying over it.
Then he says:
"Well, den, I reck'n I did dream it, Huck; but dog my cats ef it ain't d_owerfullest dream I ever see. En I hain't ever had no dream b'fo' dat's tire_e like dis one."
"Oh, well, that's all right, because a dream does tire a body like everythin_ometimes. But this one was a staving dream; tell me all about it, Jim."
So Jim went to work and told me the whole thing right through, just as i_appened, only he painted it up considerable. Then he said he must start i_nd "'terpret" it, because it was sent for a warning. He said the firs_owhead stood for a man that would try to do us some good, but the current wa_nother man that would get us away from him. The whoops was warnings tha_ould come to us every now and then, and if we didn't try hard to make out t_nderstand them they'd just take us into bad luck, 'stead of keeping us out o_t. The lot of towheads was troubles we was going to get into with quarrelsom_eople and all kinds of mean folks, but if we minded our business and didn'_alk back and aggravate them, we would pull through and get out of the fog an_nto the big clear river, which was the free States, and wouldn't have no mor_rouble.
It had clouded up pretty dark just after I got on to the raft, but it wa_learing up again now.
"Oh, well, that's all interpreted well enough as far as it goes, Jim," I says;
"but what does THESE things stand for?"
It was the leaves and rubbish on the raft and the smashed oar. You could se_hem first-rate now.
Jim looked at the trash, and then looked at me, and back at the trash again.
He had got the dream fixed so strong in his head that he couldn't seem t_hake it loose and get the facts back into its place again right away. Bu_hen he did get the thing straightened around he looked at me steady withou_ver smiling, and says:
"What do dey stan' for? I'se gwyne to tell you. When I got all wore out wi_ork, en wid de callin' for you, en went to sleep, my heart wuz mos' brok_ekase you wuz los', en I didn' k'yer no' mo' what become er me en de raf'. E_hen I wake up en fine you back agin, all safe en soun', de tears come, en _ould a got down on my knees en kiss yo' foot, I's so thankful. En all you wu_hinkin' 'bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truc_ah is TRASH; en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er de_ren's en makes 'em ashamed."
Then he got up slow and walked to the wigwam, and went in there without sayin_nything but that. But that was enough. It made me feel so mean I could almos_issed HIS foot to get him to take it back.
It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble mysel_o a nigger; but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it afterwards, neither. I didn't do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn't done that one i_'d a knowed it would make him feel that way.