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The Adventures of
Tom Sawyer

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CHAPTER XXXI


NOW to return to Tom and Becky’s share in the picnic. They tripped along the murky aisles with the rest of the company, visiting the familiar wonders of the cave—wonders dubbed with rather over-descriptive names, such as “The Drawing-Room,” “The Cathedral,” “Aladdin’s Palace,” and so on. Presently the hide-and-seek frolicking began, and Tom and Becky engaged in it with zeal until the exertion began to grow a trifle wearisome; then they wandered down a sinuous avenue holding their candles aloft and reading the tangled webwork of names, dates, postoffice addresses, and mottoes with which the rocky walls had been frescoed (in candle-smoke). Still drifting along and talking, they scarcely noticed that they were now in a part of the cave whose walls were not frescoed. They smoked their own names under an overhanging shelf and moved on. Presently they came to a place where a little stream of water, trickling over a ledge and carrying a limestone sediment with it, had, in the slow-dragging ages, formed a laced and ruffled Niagara in gleaming and imperishable stone. Tom squeezed his small body behind it in order to illuminate it for Becky’s gratification. He found that it curtained a sort of steep natural stairway which was enclosed between narrow walls, and at once the ambition to be a discoverer seized him.

Becky responded to his call, and they made a smoke-mark for future guidance, and started upon their quest. They wound this way and that, far down into the secret depths of the cave, made another mark, and branched off in search of novelties to tell the upper world about. In one place they found a spacious cavern, from whose ceiling depended a multitude of shining stalactites of the length and circumference of a man’s leg; they walked all about it, wondering and admiring, and presently left it by one of the numerous passages that opened into it. This shortly brought them to a bewitching spring, whose basin was incrusted with a frostwork of glittering crystals; it was in the midst of a cavern whose walls were supported by many fantastic pillars which had been formed by the joining of great stalactites and stalagmites together, the result of the ceaseless water-drip of centuries. Under the roof vast knots of bats had packed themselves together, thousands in a bunch; the lights disturbed the creatures and they came flocking down by hundreds, squeaking and darting furiously at the candles. Tom knew their ways and the danger of this sort of conduct. He seized Becky’s hand and hurried her into the first corridor that offered; and none too soon, for a bat struck Becky’s light out with its wing while she was passing out of the cavern. The bats chased the children a good distance; but the fugitives plunged into every new passage that offered, and at last got rid of the perilous things. Tom found a subterranean lake, shortly, which stretched its dim length away until its shape was lost in the shadows. He wanted to explore its borders, but concluded that it would be best to sit down and rest awhile, first. Now, for the first time, the deep stillness of the place laid a clammy hand upon the spirits of the children. Becky said:

“Why, I didn’t notice, but it seems ever so long since I heard any of the others.”

“Come to think, Becky, we are away down below them—and I don’t know how far away north, or south, or east, or whichever it is. We couldn’t hear them here.”

Becky grew apprehensive.

“I wonder how long we’ve been down here, Tom? We better start back.”

“Yes, I reckon we better. P’raps we better.”

“Can you find the way, Tom? It’s all a mixed-up crookedness to me.”

“I reckon I could find it—but then the bats. If they put our candles out it will be an awful fix. Let’s try some other way, so as not to go through there.”

“Well. But I hope we won’t get lost. It would be so awful!” and the girl shuddered at the thought of the dreadful possibilities.

They started through a corridor, and traversed it in silence a long way, glancing at each new opening, to see if there was anything familiar about the look of it; but they were all strange. Every time Tom made an examination, Becky would watch his face for an encouraging sign, and he would say cheerily:

“Oh, it’s all right. This ain’t the one, but we’ll come to it right away!”

But he felt less and less hopeful with each failure, and presently began to turn off into diverging avenues at sheer random, in desperate hope of finding the one that was wanted. He still said it was “all right,” but there was such a leaden dread at his heart that the words had lost their ring and sounded just as if he had said, “All is lost!” Becky clung to his side in an anguish of fear, and tried hard to keep back the tears, but they would come. At last she said:

“Oh, Tom, never mind the bats, let’s go back that way! We seem to get worse and worse off all the time.”

“Listen!” said he.

Profound silence; silence so deep that even their breathings were conspicuous in the hush. Tom shouted. The call went echoing down the empty aisles and died out in the distance in a faint sound that resembled a ripple of mocking laughter.

“Oh, don’t do it again, Tom, it is too horrid,” said Becky.

“It is horrid, but I better, Becky; they might hear us, you know,” and he shouted again.

The “might” was even a chillier horror than the ghostly laughter, it so confessed a perishing hope. The children stood still and listened; but there was no result. Tom turned upon the back track at once, and hurried his steps. It was but a little while before a certain indecision in his manner revealed another fearful fact to Becky—he could not find his way back!

“Oh, Tom, you didn’t make any marks!”

“Becky, I was such a fool! Such a fool! I never thought we might want to come back! No—I can’t find the way. It’s all mixed up.”

“Tom, Tom, we’re lost! we’re lost! We never can get out of this awful place! Oh, why did we ever leave the others!”

She sank to the ground and burst into such a frenzy of crying that Tom was appalled with the idea that she might die, or lose her reason. He sat down by her and put his arms around her; she buried her face in his bosom, she clung to him, she poured out her terrors, her unavailing regrets, and the far echoes turned them all to jeering laughter. Tom begged her to pluck up hope again, and she said she could not. He fell to blaming and abusing himself for getting her into this miserable situation; this had a better effect. She said she would try to hope again, she would get up and follow wherever he might lead if only he would not talk like that any more. For he was no more to blame than she, she said.

So they moved on again—aimlessly—simply at random—all they could do was to move, keep moving. For a little while, hope made a show of reviving—not with any reason to back it, but only because it is its nature to revive when the spring has not been taken out of it by age and familiarity with failure.

By-and-by Tom took Becky’s candle and blew it out. This economy meant so much! Words were not needed. Becky understood, and her hope died again. She knew that Tom had a whole candle and three or four pieces in his pockets—yet he must economize.

By-and-by, fatigue began to assert its claims; the children tried to pay attention, for it was dreadful to think of sitting down when time was grown to be so precious, moving, in some direction, in any direction, was at least progress and might bear fruit; but to sit down was to invite death and shorten its pursuit.

At last Becky’s frail limbs refused to carry her farther. She sat down. Tom rested with her, and they talked of home, and the friends there, and the comfortable beds and, above all, the light! Becky cried, and Tom tried to think of some way of comforting her, but all his encouragements were grown thread-bare with use, and sounded like sarcasms. Fatigue bore so heavily upon Becky that she drowsed off to sleep. Tom was grateful. He sat looking into her drawn face and saw it grow smooth and natural under the influence of pleasant dreams; and by-and-by a smile dawned and rested there. The peaceful face reflected somewhat of peace and healing into his own spirit, and his thoughts wandered away to bygone times and dreamy memories. While he was deep in his musings, Becky woke up with a breezy little laugh—but it was stricken dead upon her lips, and a groan followed it.

“Oh, how could I sleep! I wish I never, never had waked! No! No, I don’t, Tom! Don’t look so! I won’t say it again.”

“I’m glad you’ve slept, Becky; you’ll feel rested, now, and we’ll find the way out.”

“We can try, Tom; but I’ve seen such a beautiful country in my dream. I reckon we are going there.”

“Maybe not, maybe not. Cheer up, Becky, and let’s go on trying.”

They rose up and wandered along, hand in hand and hopeless. They tried to estimate how long they had been in the cave, but all they knew was that it seemed days and weeks, and yet it was plain that this could not be, for their candles were not gone yet. A long time after this—they could not tell how long—Tom said they must go softly and listen for dripping water—they must find a spring. They found one presently, and Tom said it was time to rest again. Both were cruelly tired, yet Becky said she thought she could go a little farther. She was surprised to hear Tom dissent. She could not understand it. They sat down, and Tom fastened his candle to the wall in front of them with some clay. Thought was soon busy; nothing was said for some time. Then Becky broke the silence:

“Tom, I am so hungry!”

Tom took something out of his pocket.

“Do you remember this?” said he.

Becky almost smiled.

“It’s our wedding-cake, Tom.”

“Yes—I wish it was as big as a barrel, for it’s all we’ve got.”

“I saved it from the picnic for us to dream on, Tom, the way grownup people do with wedding-cake—but it’ll be our—”

She dropped the sentence where it was. Tom divided the cake and Becky ate with good appetite, while Tom nibbled at his moiety. There was abundance of cold water to finish the feast with. By-and-by Becky suggested that they move on again. Tom was silent a moment. Then he said:

“Becky, can you bear it if I tell you something?”

Becky’s face paled, but she thought she could.

“Well, then, Becky, we must stay here, where there’s water to drink. That little piece is our last candle!”

Becky gave loose to tears and wailings. Tom did what he could to comfort her, but with little effect. At length Becky said:

“Tom!”

“Well, Becky?”

“They’ll miss us and hunt for us!”

“Yes, they will! Certainly they will!”

“Maybe they’re hunting for us now, Tom.”

“Why, I reckon maybe they are. I hope they are.”

“When would they miss us, Tom?”

“When they get back to the boat, I reckon.”

“Tom, it might be dark then—would they notice we hadn’t come?”

“I don’t know. But anyway, your mother would miss you as soon as they got home.”

A frightened look in Becky’s face brought Tom to his senses and he saw that he had made a blunder. Becky was not to have gone home that night! The children became silent and thoughtful. In a moment a new burst of grief from Becky showed Tom that the thing in his mind had struck hers also—that the Sabbath morning might be half spent before Mrs. Thatcher discovered that Becky was not at Mrs. Harper’s.

The children fastened their eyes upon their bit of candle and watched it melt slowly and pitilessly away; saw the half inch of wick stand alone at last; saw the feeble flame rise and fall, climb the thin column of smoke, linger at its top a moment, and then—the horror of utter darkness reigned!

How long afterward it was that Becky came to a slow consciousness that she was crying in Tom’s arms, neither could tell. All that they knew was, that after what seemed a mighty stretch of time, both awoke out of a dead stupor of sleep and resumed their miseries once more. Tom said it might be Sunday, now—maybe Monday. He tried to get Becky to talk, but her sorrows were too oppressive, all her hopes were gone. Tom said that they must have been missed long ago, and no doubt the search was going on. He would shout and maybe some one would come. He tried it; but in the darkness the distant echoes sounded so hideously that he tried it no more.

The hours wasted away, and hunger came to torment the captives again. A portion of Tom’s half of the cake was left; they divided and ate it. But they seemed hungrier than before. The poor morsel of food only whetted desire.

By-and-by Tom said:

“SH! Did you hear that?”

Both held their breath and listened. There was a sound like the faintest, far-off shout. Instantly Tom answered it, and leading Becky by the hand, started groping down the corridor in its direction. Presently he listened again; again the sound was heard, and apparently a little nearer.

“It’s them!” said Tom; “they’re coming! Come along, Becky—we’re all right now!”

The joy of the prisoners was almost overwhelming. Their speed was slow, however, because pitfalls were somewhat common, and had to be guarded against. They shortly came to one and had to stop. It might be three feet deep, it might be a hundred—there was no passing it at any rate. Tom got down on his breast and reached as far down as he could. No bottom. They must stay there and wait until the searchers came. They listened; evidently the distant shoutings were growing more distant! a moment or two more and they had gone altogether. The heart-sinking misery of it! Tom whooped until he was hoarse, but it was of no use. He talked hopefully to Becky; but an age of anxious waiting passed and no sounds came again.

The children groped their way back to the spring. The weary time dragged on; they slept again, and awoke famished and woe-stricken. Tom believed it must be Tuesday by this time.

Now an idea struck him. There were some side passages near at hand. It would be better to explore some of these than bear the weight of the heavy time in idleness. He took a kite-line from his pocket, tied it to a projection, and he and Becky started, Tom in the lead, unwinding the line as he groped along. At the end of twenty steps the corridor ended in a “jumping-off place.” Tom got down on his knees and felt below, and then as far around the corner as he could reach with his hands conveniently; he made an effort to stretch yet a little farther to the right, and at that moment, not twenty yards away, a human hand, holding a candle, appeared from behind a rock! Tom lifted up a glorious shout, and instantly that hand was followed by the body it belonged to—Injun Joe’s! Tom was paralyzed; he could not move. He was vastly gratified the next moment, to see the “Spaniard” take to his heels and get himself out of sight. Tom wondered that Joe had not recognized his voice and come over and killed him for testifying in court. But the echoes must have disguised the voice. Without doubt, that was it, he reasoned. Tom’s fright weakened every muscle in his body. He said to himself that if he had strength enough to get back to the spring he would stay there, and nothing should tempt him to run the risk of meeting Injun Joe again. He was careful to keep from Becky what it was he had seen. He told her he had only shouted “for luck.”

But hunger and wretchedness rise superior to fears in the long run. Another tedious wait at the spring and another long sleep brought changes. The children awoke tortured with a raging hunger. Tom believed that it must be Wednesday or Thursday or even Friday or Saturday, now, and that the search had been given over. He proposed to explore another passage. He felt willing to risk Injun Joe and all other terrors. But Becky was very weak. She had sunk into a dreary apathy and would not be roused. She said she would wait, now, where she was, and die—it would not be long. She told Tom to go with the kite-line and explore if he chose; but she implored him to come back every little while and speak to her; and she made him promise that when the awful time came, he would stay by her and hold her hand until all was over.

Tom kissed her, with a choking sensation in his throat, and made a show of being confident of finding the searchers or an escape from the cave; then he took the kite-line in his hand and went groping down one of the passages on his hands and knees, distressed with hunger and sick with bodings of coming doom.


CHAPTER XXXII


TUESDAY afternoon came, and waned to the twilight. The village of St. Petersburg still mourned. The lost children had not been found. Public prayers had been offered up for them, and many and many a private prayer that had the petitioner’s whole heart in it; but still no good news came from the cave. The majority of the searchers had given up the quest and gone back to their daily avocations, saying that it was plain the children could never be found. Mrs. Thatcher was very ill, and a great part of the time delirious. People said it was heartbreaking to hear her call her child, and raise her head and listen a whole minute at a time, then lay it wearily down again with a moan. Aunt Polly had drooped into a settled melancholy, and her gray hair had grown almost white. The village went to its rest on Tuesday night, sad and forlorn.

Away in the middle of the night a wild peal burst from the village bells, and in a moment the streets were swarming with frantic half-clad people, who shouted, “Turn out! turn out! they’re found! they’re found!” Tin pans and horns were added to the din, the population massed itself and moved toward the river, met the children coming in an open carriage drawn by shouting citizens, thronged around it, joined its homeward march, and swept magnificently up the main street roaring huzzah after huzzah!

The village was illuminated; nobody went to bed again; it was the greatest night the little town had ever seen. During the first half-hour a procession of villagers filed through Judge Thatcher’s house, seized the saved ones and kissed them, squeezed Mrs. Thatcher’s hand, tried to speak but couldn’t—and drifted out raining tears all over the place.

Aunt Polly’s happiness was complete, and Mrs. Thatcher’s nearly so. It would be complete, however, as soon as the messenger dispatched with the great news to the cave should get the word to her husband. Tom lay upon a sofa with an eager auditory about him and told the history of the wonderful adventure, putting in many striking additions to adorn it withal; and closed with a description of how he left Becky and went on an exploring expedition; how he followed two avenues as far as his kite-line would reach; how he followed a third to the fullest stretch of the kite-line, and was about to turn back when he glimpsed a far-off speck that looked like daylight; dropped the line and groped toward it, pushed his head and shoulders through a small hole, and saw the broad Mississippi rolling by!

And if it had only happened to be night he would not have seen that speck of daylight and would not have explored that passage any more! He told how he went back for Becky and broke the good news and she told him not to fret her with such stuff, for she was tired, and knew she was going to die, and wanted to. He described how he labored with her and convinced her; and how she almost died for joy when she had groped to where she actually saw the blue speck of daylight; how he pushed his way out at the hole and then helped her out; how they sat there and cried for gladness; how some men came along in a skiff and Tom hailed them and told them their situation and their famished condition; how the men didn’t believe the wild tale at first, “because,” said they, “you are five miles down the river below the valley the cave is in”—then took them aboard, rowed to a house, gave them supper, made them rest till two or three hours after dark and then brought them home.

Before day-dawn, Judge Thatcher and the handful of searchers with him were tracked out, in the cave, by the twine clews they had strung behind them, and informed of the great news.

Three days and nights of toil and hunger in the cave were not to be shaken off at once, as Tom and Becky soon discovered. They were bedridden all of Wednesday and Thursday, and seemed to grow more and more tired and worn, all the time. Tom got about, a little, on Thursday, was downtown Friday, and nearly as whole as ever Saturday; but Becky did not leave her room until Sunday, and then she looked as if she had passed through a wasting illness.

Tom learned of Huck’s sickness and went to see him on Friday, but could not be admitted to the bedroom; neither could he on Saturday or Sunday. He was admitted daily after that, but was warned to keep still about his adventure and introduce no exciting topic. The Widow Douglas stayed by to see that he obeyed. At home Tom learned of the Cardiff Hill event; also that the “ragged man’s” body had eventually been found in the river near the ferry-landing; he had been drowned while trying to escape, perhaps.

About a fortnight after Tom’s rescue from the cave, he started off to visit Huck, who had grown plenty strong enough, now, to hear exciting talk, and Tom had some that would interest him, he thought. Judge Thatcher’s house was on Tom’s way, and he stopped to see Becky. The Judge and some friends set Tom to talking, and some one asked him ironically if he wouldn’t like to go to the cave again. Tom said he thought he wouldn’t mind it. The Judge said:

“Well, there are others just like you, Tom, I’ve not the least doubt. But we have taken care of that. Nobody will get lost in that cave any more.”

“Why?”

“Because I had its big door sheathed with boiler iron two weeks ago, and triple-locked—and I’ve got the keys.”

Tom turned as white as a sheet.

“What’s the matter, boy! Here, run, somebody! Fetch a glass of water!”

The water was brought and thrown into Tom’s face.

“Ah, now you’re all right. What was the matter with you, Tom?”

“Oh, Judge, Injun Joe’s in the cave!”


CHAPTER XXXIII


WITHIN a few minutes the news had spread, and a dozen skiff-loads of men were on their way to McDougal’s cave, and the ferryboat, well filled with passengers, soon followed. Tom Sawyer was in the skiff that bore Judge Thatcher.

When the cave door was unlocked, a sorrowful sight presented itself in the dim twilight of the place. Injun Joe lay stretched upon the ground, dead, with his face close to the crack of the door, as if his longing eyes had been fixed, to the latest moment, upon the light and the cheer of the free world outside. Tom was touched, for he knew by his own experience how this wretch had suffered. His pity was moved, but nevertheless he felt an abounding sense of relief and security, now, which revealed to him in a degree which he had not fully appreciated before how vast a weight of dread had been lying upon him since the day he lifted his voice against this bloody-minded outcast.

Injun Joe’s bowie-knife lay close by, its blade broken in two. The great foundation-beam of the door had been chipped and hacked through, with tedious labor; useless labor, too, it was, for the native rock formed a sill outside it, and upon that stubborn material the knife had wrought no effect; the only damage done was to the knife itself. But if there had been no stony obstruction there the labor would have been useless still, for if the beam had been wholly cut away Injun Joe could not have squeezed his body under the door, and he knew it. So he had only hacked that place in order to be doing something—in order to pass the weary time—in order to employ his tortured faculties. Ordinarily one could find half a dozen bits of candle stuck around in the crevices of this vestibule, left there by tourists; but there were none now. The prisoner had searched them out and eaten them. He had also contrived to catch a few bats, and these, also, he had eaten, leaving only their claws. The poor unfortunate had starved to death. In one place, near at hand, a stalagmite had been slowly growing up from the ground for ages, builded by the water-drip from a stalactite overhead. The captive had broken off the stalagmite, and upon the stump had placed a stone, wherein he had scooped a shallow hollow to catch the precious drop that fell once in every three minutes with the dreary regularity of a clock-tick—a dessertspoonful once in four and twenty hours. That drop was falling when the Pyramids were new; when Troy fell; when the foundations of Rome were laid; when Christ was crucified; when the Conqueror created the British empire; when Columbus sailed; when the massacre at Lexington was “news.”

It is falling now; it will still be falling when all these things shall have sunk down the afternoon of history, and the twilight of tradition, and been swallowed up in the thick night of oblivion. Has everything a purpose and a mission? Did this drop fall patiently during five thousand years to be ready for this flitting human insect’s need? and has it another important object to accomplish ten thousand years to come? No matter. It is many and many a year since the hapless half-breed scooped out the stone to catch the priceless drops, but to this day the tourist stares longest at that pathetic stone and that slow-dropping water when he comes to see the wonders of McDougal’s cave. Injun Joe’s cup stands first in the list of the cavern’s marvels; even “Aladdin’s Palace” cannot rival it.

Injun Joe was buried near the mouth of the cave; and people flocked there in boats and wagons from the towns and from all the farms and hamlets for seven miles around; they brought their children, and all sorts of provisions, and confessed that they had had almost as satisfactory a time at the funeral as they could have had at the hanging.

This funeral stopped the further growth of one thing—the petition to the governor for Injun Joe’s pardon. The petition had been largely signed; many tearful and eloquent meetings had been held, and a committee of sappy women been appointed to go in deep mourning and wail around the governor, and implore him to be a merciful ass and trample his duty under foot. Injun Joe was believed to have killed five citizens of the village, but what of that? If he had been Satan himself there would have been plenty of weaklings ready to scribble their names to a pardon-petition, and drip a tear on it from their permanently impaired and leaky water-works.

The morning after the funeral Tom took Huck to a private place to have an important talk. Huck had learned all about Tom’s adventure from the Welshman and the Widow Douglas, by this time, but Tom said he reckoned there was one thing they had not told him; that thing was what he wanted to talk about now. Huck’s face saddened. He said:

“I know what it is. You got into No. 2 and never found anything but whiskey. Nobody told me it was you; but I just knowed it must ’a’ ben you, soon as I heard ’bout that whiskey business; and I knowed you hadn’t got the money becuz you’d ’a’ got at me some way or other and told me even if you was mum to everybody else. Tom, something’s always told me we’d never get holt of that swag.”

“Why, Huck, I never told on that tavern-keeper. You know his tavern was all right the Saturday I went to the picnic. Don’t you remember you was to watch there that night?”

“Oh yes! Why, it seems ’bout a year ago. It was that very night that I follered Injun Joe to the widder’s.”

“You followed him?”

“Yes—but you keep mum. I reckon Injun Joe’s left friends behind him, and I don’t want ’em souring on me and doing me mean tricks. If it hadn’t ben for me he’d be down in Texas now, all right.”

Then Huck told his entire adventure in confidence to Tom, who had only heard of the Welshman’s part of it before.

“Well,” said Huck, presently, coming back to the main question, “whoever nipped the whiskey in No. 2, nipped the money, too, I reckon—anyways it’s a goner for us, Tom.”

“Huck, that money wasn’t ever in No. 2!”

“What!” Huck searched his comrade’s face keenly. “Tom, have you got on the track of that money again?”

“Huck, it’s in the cave!”

Huck’s eyes blazed.

“Say it again, Tom.”

“The money’s in the cave!”

“Tom—honest injun, now—is it fun, or earnest?”

“Earnest, Huck—just as earnest as ever I was in my life. Will you go in there with me and help get it out?”

“I bet I will! I will if it’s where we can blaze our way to it and not get lost.”

“Huck, we can do that without the least little bit of trouble in the world.”

“Good as wheat! What makes you think the money’s—”

“Huck, you just wait till we get in there. If we don’t find it I’ll agree to give you my drum and every thing I’ve got in the world. I will, by jings.”

“All right—it’s a whiz. When do you say?”

“Right now, if you say it. Are you strong enough?”

“Is it far in the cave? I ben on my pins a little, three or four days, now, but I can’t walk more’n a mile, Tom—least I don’t think I could.”

“It’s about five mile into there the way anybody but me would go, Huck, but there’s a mighty short cut that they don’t anybody but me know about. Huck, I’ll take you right to it in a skiff. I’ll float the skiff down there, and I’ll pull it back again all by myself. You needn’t ever turn your hand over.”

“Less start right off, Tom.”

“All right. We want some bread and meat, and our pipes, and a little bag or two, and two or three kite-strings, and some of these new-fangled things they call lucifer matches. I tell you, many’s the time I wished I had some when I was in there before.”

A trifle after noon the boys borrowed a small skiff from a citizen who was absent, and got under way at once. When they were several miles below “Cave Hollow,” Tom said:

“Now you see this bluff here looks all alike all the way down from the cave hollow—no houses, no wood-yards, bushes all alike. But do you see that white place up yonder where there’s been a landslide? Well, that’s one of my marks. We’ll get ashore, now.”

They landed.

“Now, Huck, where we’re a-standing you could touch that hole I got out of with a fishing-pole. See if you can find it.”

Huck searched all the place about, and found nothing. Tom proudly marched into a thick clump of sumach bushes and said:

“Here you are! Look at it, Huck; it’s the snuggest hole in this country. You just keep mum about it. All along I’ve been wanting to be a robber, but I knew I’d got to have a thing like this, and where to run across it was the bother. We’ve got it now, and we’ll keep it quiet, only we’ll let Joe Harper and Ben Rogers in—because of course there’s got to be a Gang, or else there wouldn’t be any style about it. Tom Sawyer’s Gang—it sounds splendid, don’t it, Huck?”

“Well, it just does, Tom. And who’ll we rob?”

“Oh, most anybody. Waylay people—that’s mostly the way.”

“And kill them?”

“No, not always. Hive them in the cave till they raise a ransom.”

“What’s a ransom?”

“Money. You make them raise all they can, off’n their friends; and after you’ve kept them a year, if it ain’t raised then you kill them. That’s the general way. Only you don’t kill the women. You shut up the women, but you don’t kill them. They’re always beautiful and rich, and awfully scared. You take their watches and things, but you always take your hat off and talk polite. They ain’t anybody as polite as robbers—you’ll see that in any book. Well, the women get to loving you, and after they’ve been in the cave a week or two weeks they stop crying and after that you couldn’t get them to leave. If you drove them out they’d turn right around and come back. It’s so in all the books.”

“Why, it’s real bully, Tom. I believe it’s better’n to be a pirate.”

“Yes, it’s better in some ways, because it’s close to home and circuses and all that.”

By this time everything was ready and the boys entered the hole, Tom in the lead. They toiled their way to the farther end of the tunnel, then made their spliced kite-strings fast and moved on. A few steps brought them to the spring, and Tom felt a shudder quiver all through him. He showed Huck the fragment of candle-wick perched on a lump of clay against the wall, and described how he and Becky had watched the flame struggle and expire.

The boys began to quiet down to whispers, now, for the stillness and gloom of the place oppressed their spirits. They went on, and presently entered and followed Tom’s other corridor until they reached the “jumping-off place.” The candles revealed the fact that it was not really a precipice, but only a steep clay hill twenty or thirty feet high. Tom whispered:

“Now I’ll show you something, Huck.”

He held his candle aloft and said:

“Look as far around the corner as you can. Do you see that? There—on the big rock over yonder—done with candle-smoke.”

“Tom, it’s a cross!”

“Now where’s your Number Two? ‘under the cross,’ hey? Right yonder’s where I saw Injun Joe poke up his candle, Huck!”

Huck stared at the mystic sign awhile, and then said with a shaky voice:

“Tom, less git out of here!”

“What! and leave the treasure?”

“Yes—leave it. Injun Joe’s ghost is round about there, certain.”

“No it ain’t, Huck, no it ain’t. It would ha’nt the place where he died—away out at the mouth of the cave—five mile from here.”

“No, Tom, it wouldn’t. It would hang round the money. I know the ways of ghosts, and so do you.”

Tom began to fear that Huck was right. Mis-givings gathered in his mind. But presently an idea occurred to him—

“Lookyhere, Huck, what fools we’re making of ourselves! Injun Joe’s ghost ain’t a going to come around where there’s a cross!”

The point was well taken. It had its effect.

“Tom, I didn’t think of that. But that’s so. It’s luck for us, that cross is. I reckon we’ll climb down there and have a hunt for that box.”

Tom went first, cutting rude steps in the clay hill as he descended. Huck followed. Four avenues opened out of the small cavern which the great rock stood in. The boys examined three of them with no result. They found a small recess in the one nearest the base of the rock, with a pallet of blankets spread down in it; also an old suspender, some bacon rind, and the well-gnawed bones of two or three fowls. But there was no moneybox. The lads searched and researched this place, but in vain. Tom said:

“He said under the cross. Well, this comes nearest to being under the cross. It can’t be under the rock itself, because that sets solid on the ground.”

They searched everywhere once more, and then sat down discouraged. Huck could suggest nothing. By-and-by Tom said:

“Lookyhere, Huck, there’s footprints and some candle-grease on the clay about one side of this rock, but not on the other sides. Now, what’s that for? I bet you the money is under the rock. I’m going to dig in the clay.”

“That ain’t no bad notion, Tom!” said Huck with animation.

Tom’s “real Barlow” was out at once, and he had not dug four inches before he struck wood.

“Hey, Huck!—you hear that?”

Huck began to dig and scratch now. Some boards were soon uncovered and removed. They had concealed a natural chasm which led under the rock. Tom got into this and held his candle as far under the rock as he could, but said he could not see to the end of the rift. He proposed to explore. He stooped and passed under; the narrow way descended gradually. He followed its winding course, first to the right, then to the left, Huck at his heels. Tom turned a short curve, by-and-by, and exclaimed:

“My goodness, Huck, lookyhere!”

It was the treasure-box, sure enough, occupying a snug little cavern, along with an empty powder-keg, a couple of guns in leather cases, two or three pairs of old moccasins, a leather belt, and some other rubbish well soaked with the water-drip.

“Got it at last!” said Huck, ploughing among the tarnished coins with his hand. “My, but we’re rich, Tom!”

“Huck, I always reckoned we’d get it. It’s just too good to believe, but we have got it, sure! Say—let’s not fool around here. Let’s snake it out. Lemme see if I can lift the box.”

It weighed about fifty pounds. Tom could lift it, after an awkward fashion, but could not carry it conveniently.

“I thought so,” he said; “They carried it like it was heavy, that day at the ha’nted house. I noticed that. I reckon I was right to think of fetching the little bags along.”

The money was soon in the bags and the boys took it up to the cross rock.

“Now less fetch the guns and things,” said Huck.

“No, Huck—leave them there. They’re just the tricks to have when we go to robbing. We’ll keep them there all the time, and we’ll hold our orgies there, too. It’s an awful snug place for orgies.”

“What orgies?”

“I dono. But robbers always have orgies, and of course we’ve got to have them, too. Come along, Huck, we’ve been in here a long time. It’s getting late, I reckon. I’m hungry, too. We’ll eat and smoke when we get to the skiff.”

They presently emerged into the clump of sumach bushes, looked warily out, found the coast clear, and were soon lunching and smoking in the skiff. As the sun dipped toward the horizon they pushed out and got under way. Tom skimmed up the shore through the long twilight, chatting cheerily with Huck, and landed shortly after dark.

“Now, Huck,” said Tom, “we’ll hide the money in the loft of the widow’s woodshed, and I’ll come up in the morning and we’ll count it and divide, and then we’ll hunt up a place out in the woods for it where it will be safe. Just you lay quiet here and watch the stuff till I run and hook Benny Taylor’s little wagon; I won’t be gone a minute.”

He disappeared, and presently returned with the wagon, put the two small sacks into it, threw some old rags on top of them, and started off, dragging his cargo behind him. When the boys reached the Welshman’s house, they stopped to rest. Just as they were about to move on, the Welshman stepped out and said:

“Hallo, who’s that?”

“Huck and Tom Sawyer.”

“Good! Come along with me, boys, you are keeping everybody waiting. Here—hurry up, trot ahead—I’ll haul the wagon for you. Why, it’s not as light as it might be. Got bricks in it?—or old metal?”

“Old metal,” said Tom.

“I judged so; the boys in this town will take more trouble and fool away more time hunting up six bits’ worth of old iron to sell to the foundry than they would to make twice the money at regular work. But that’s human nature—hurry along, hurry along!”

The boys wanted to know what the hurry was about.

“Never mind; you’ll see, when we get to the Widow Douglas’.”

Huck said with some apprehension—for he was long used to being falsely accused:

“Mr. Jones, we haven’t been doing nothing.”

The Welshman laughed.

“Well, I don’t know, Huck, my boy. I don’t know about that. Ain’t you and the widow good friends?”

“Yes. Well, she’s ben good friends to me, anyway.”

“All right, then. What do you want to be afraid for?”

This question was not entirely answered in Huck’s slow mind before he found himself pushed, along with Tom, into Mrs. Douglas’ drawing-room. Mr. Jones left the wagon near the door and followed.

The place was grandly lighted, and everybody that was of any consequence in the village was there. The Thatchers were there, the Harpers, the Rogerses, Aunt Polly, Sid, Mary, the minister, the editor, and a great many more, and all dressed in their best. The widow received the boys as heartily as any one could well receive two such looking beings. They were covered with clay and candle-grease. Aunt Polly blushed crimson with humiliation, and frowned and shook her head at Tom. Nobody suffered half as much as the two boys did, however. Mr. Jones said:

“Tom wasn’t at home, yet, so I gave him up; but I stumbled on him and Huck right at my door, and so I just brought them along in a hurry.”

“And you did just right,” said the widow. “Come with me, boys.”

She took them to a bedchamber and said:

“Now wash and dress yourselves. Here are two new suits of clothes—shirts, socks, everything complete. They’re Huck’s—no, no thanks, Huck—Mr. Jones bought one and I the other. But they’ll fit both of you. Get into them. We’ll wait—come down when you are slicked up enough.”

Then she left.