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Chapter 15 Fooling Poor Old Jim

  • 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?"
  • "What 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.