The reader may rest satisfied that Tom's and Huck's windfall made a might_tir in the poor little village of St. Petersburg. So vast a sum, all i_ctual cash, seemed next to incredible. It was talked about, gloated over,
glorified, until the reason of many of the citizens tottered under the strai_f the unhealthy excitement. Every "haunted" house in St. Petersburg and th_eighboring villages was dissected, plank by plank, and its foundations dug u_nd ransacked for hidden treasure — and not by boys, but men — pretty grave,
unromantic men, too, some of them. Wherever Tom and Huck appeared they wer_ourted, admired, stared at. The boys were not able to remember that thei_emarks had possessed weight before; but now their sayings were treasured an_epeated; everything they did seemed somehow to be regarded as remarkable;
they had evidently lost the power of doing and saying commonplace things;
moreover, their past history was raked up and discovered to bear marks o_onspicuous originality. The village paper published biographical sketches o_he boys. The Widow Douglas put Huck's money out at six per cent., and Judg_hatcher did the same with Tom's at Aunt Polly's request. Each lad had a_ncome, now, that was simply prodigious — a dollar for every week-day in th_ear and half of the Sundays. It was just what the minister got — no, it wa_hat he was promised — he generally couldn't collect it. A dollar and _uarter a week would board, lodge, and school a boy in those old simple days —
and clothe him and wash him, too, for that matter.
Judge Thatcher had conceived a great opinion of Tom. He said that n_ommonplace boy would ever have got his daughter out of the cave. When Beck_old her father, in strict confidence, how Tom had taken her whipping a_chool, the Judge was visibly moved; and when she pleaded grace for the might_ie which Tom had told in order to shift that whipping from her shoulders t_is own, the Judge said with a fine outburst that it was a noble, a generous,
a magnanimous lie — a lie that was worthy to hold up its head and march dow_hrough history breast to breast with George Washington's lauded Truth abou_he hatchet! Becky thought her father had never looked so tall and so super_s when he walked the floor and stamped his foot and said that. She wen_traight off and told Tom about it.
Judge Thatcher hoped to see Tom a great lawyer or a great soldier some day. H_aid he meant to look to it that Tom should be admitted to the Nationa_ilitary Academy and afterward trained in the best law school in the country,
in order that he might be ready for either career or both.
Huck Finn's wealth and the fact that he was now under the Widow Douglas'
protection introduced him into society — no, dragged him into it, hurled hi_nto it — and his sufferings were almost more than he could bear. The widow'_ervants kept him clean and neat, combed and brushed, and they bedded hi_ightly in unsympathetic sheets that had not one little spot or stain which h_ould press to his heart and know for a friend. He had to eat with a knife an_ork; he had to use napkin, cup, and plate; he had to learn his book, he ha_o go to church; he had to talk so properly that speech was become insipid i_is mouth; whithersoever he turned, the bars and shackles of civilization shu_im in and bound him hand and foot.
He bravely bore his miseries three weeks, and then one day turned up missing.
For forty-eight hours the widow hunted for him everywhere in great distress.
The public were profoundly concerned; they searched high and low, they dragge_he river for his body. Early the third morning Tom Sawyer wisely went pokin_mong some old empty hogsheads down behind the abandoned slaughter-house, an_n one of them he found the refugee. Huck had slept there; he had jus_reakfasted upon some stolen odds and ends of food, and was lying off, now, i_omfort, with his pipe. He was unkempt, uncombed, and clad in the same ol_uin of rags that had made him picturesque in the days when he was free an_appy. Tom routed him out, told him the trouble he had been causing, and urge_im to go home. Huck's face lost its tranquil content, and took a melanchol_ast. He said:
"Don't talk about it, Tom. I've tried it, and it don't work; it don't work,
Tom. It ain't for me; I ain't used to it. The widder's good to me, an_riendly; but I can't stand them ways. She makes me get up just at the sam_ime every morning; she makes me wash, they comb me all to thunder; she won'_et me sleep in the woodshed; I got to wear them blamed clothes that jus_mothers me, Tom; they don't seem to any air git through 'em, somehow; an_hey're so rotten nice that I can't set down, nor lay down, nor roll aroun_nywher's; I hain't slid on a cellar-door for — well, it 'pears to be years; _ot to go to church and sweat and sweat — I hate them ornery sermons! I can'_etch a fly in there, I can't chaw. I got to wear shoes all Sunday. The widde_ats by a bell; she goes to bed by a bell; she gits up by a bell —
everything's so awful reg'lar a body can't stand it."
"Well, everybody does that way, Huck."
"Tom, it don't make no difference. I ain't everybody, and I can't stand it.
It's awful to be tied up so. And grub comes too easy — I don't take n_nterest in vittles, that way. I got to ask to go a-fishing; I got to ask t_o in a-swimming — dern'd if I hain't got to ask to do everything. Well, I'_ot to talk so nice it wasn't no comfort — I'd got to go up in the attic an_ip out awhile, every day, to git a taste in my mouth, or I'd a died, Tom. Th_idder wouldn't let me smoke; she wouldn't let me yell, she wouldn't let m_ape, nor stretch, nor scratch, before folks —" [Then with a spasm of specia_rritation and injury] — "And dad fetch it, she prayed all the time! I neve_ee such a woman! I had to shove, Tom — I just had to. And besides, tha_chool's going to open, and I'd a had to go to it — well, I wouldn't stan_hat, Tom. Looky-here, Tom, being rich ain't what it's cracked up to be. It'_ust worry and worry, and sweat and sweat, and a-wishing you was dead all th_ime. Now these clothes suits me, and this bar'l suits me, and I ain't eve_oing to shake 'em any more. Tom, I wouldn't ever got into all this trouble i_t hadn't 'a' ben for that money; now you just take my sheer of it along wit_our'n, and gimme a ten-center sometimes — not many times, becuz I don't giv_ dern for a thing 'thout it's tollable hard to git — and you go and beg of_or me with the widder."
"Oh, Huck, you know I can't do that. 'Tain't fair; and besides if you'll tr_his thing just a while longer you'll come to like it."
"Like it! Yes — the way I'd like a hot stove if I was to set on it lon_nough. No, Tom, I won't be rich, and I won't live in them cussed smother_ouses. I like the woods, and the river, and hogsheads, and I'll stick to 'em,
too. Blame it all! just as we'd got guns, and a cave, and all just fixed t_ob, here this dern foolishness has got to come up and spile it all!"
Tom saw his opportunity —
"Lookyhere, Huck, being rich ain't going to keep me back from turning robber."
"No! Oh, good-licks; are you in real dead-wood earnest, Tom?"
"Just as dead earnest as I'm sitting here. But Huck, we can't let you into th_ang if you ain't respectable, you know."
Huck's joy was quenched.
"Can't let me in, Tom? Didn't you let me go for a pirate?"
"Yes, but that's different. A robber is more high-toned than what a pirate is
— as a general thing. In most countries they're awful high up in the nobility
— dukes and such."
"Now, Tom, hain't you always ben friendly to me? You wouldn't shet me out,
would you, Tom? You wouldn't do that, now, would you, Tom?"
"Huck, I wouldn't want to, and I don't want to — but what would people say?
Why, they'd say, 'Mph! Tom Sawyer's Gang! pretty low characters in it!' They'_ean you, Huck. You wouldn't like that, and I wouldn't."
Huck was silent for some time, engaged in a mental struggle. Finally he said:
"Well, I'll go back to the widder for a month and tackle it and see if I ca_ome to stand it, if you'll let me b'long to the gang, Tom."
"All right, Huck, it's a whiz! Come along, old chap, and I'll ask the widow t_et up on you a little, Huck."
"Will you, Tom — now will you? That's good. If she'll let up on some of th_oughest things, I'll smoke private and cuss private, and crowd through o_ust. When you going to start the gang and turn robbers?"
"Oh, right off. We'll get the boys together and have the initiation to-night,
"Have the which?"
"Have the initiation."
"It's to swear to stand by one another, and never tell the gang's secrets,
even if you're chopped all to flinders, and kill anybody and all his famil_hat hurts one of the gang."
"That's gay — that's mighty gay, Tom, I tell you."
"Well, I bet it is. And all that swearing's got to be done at midnight, in th_onesomest, awfulest place you can find — a ha'nted house is the best, bu_hey're all ripped up now."
"Well, midnight's good, anyway, Tom."
"Yes, so it is. And you've got to swear on a coffin, and sign it with blood."
"Now, that's something like! Why, it's a million times bullier than pirating.
I'll stick to the widder till I rot, Tom; and if I git to be a reg'lar rippe_f a robber, and everybody talking 'bout it, I reckon she'll be proud sh_naked me in out of the wet."