"Well, I never heard the likes of it in all my born days! So it was YOU, you little rapscallions, that's been making all this trouble, and turned everybody's wits clean inside out and scared us all most to death. I've as good a notion as ever I had in my life to take it out o' you this very minute. To think, here I've been, night after night, a — YOU just get well once, you young scamp, and I lay I'll tan the Old Harry out o' both o' ye!"
But Tom, he WAS so proud and joyful, he just COULDN'T hold in, and his tongue just WENT it — she a-chipping in, and spitting fire all along, and both of them going it at once, like a cat convention; and she says:
"WELL, you get all the enjoyment you can out of it NOW, for mind I tell you if I catch you meddling with him again — "
"Meddling with WHO?" Tom says, dropping his smile and looking surprised.
"With WHO? Why, the runaway nigger, of course. Who'd you reckon?"
Tom looks at me very grave, and says:
"Tom, didn't you just tell me he was all right? Hasn't he got away?"
"HIM?" says Aunt Sally; "the runaway nigger? 'Deed he hasn't. They've got him back, safe and sound, and he's in that cabin again, on bread and water, and loaded down with chains, till he's claimed or sold!"
Tom rose square up in bed, with his eye hot, and his nostrils opening and shutting like gills, and sings out to me:
"They hain't no RIGHT to shut him up! SHOVE! — and don't you lose a minute. Turn him loose! he ain't no slave; he's as free as any cretur that walks this earth!"
"What DOES the child mean?"
"I mean every word I SAY, Aunt Sally, and if somebody don't go, I'LL go. I've knowed him all his life, and so has Tom, there. Old Miss Watson died two months ago, and she was ashamed she ever was going to sell him down the river, and SAID so; and she set him free in her will."
"Then what on earth did YOU want to set him free for, seeing he was already free?"
"Well, that IS a question, I must say; and just like women! Why, I wanted the ADVENTURE of it; and I'd a waded neck-deep in blood to — goodness alive, AUNT POLLY!"
If she warn't standing right there, just inside the door, looking as sweet and contented as an angel half full of pie, I wish I may never!
Aunt Sally jumped for her, and most hugged the head off of her, and cried over her, and I found a good enough place for me under the bed, for it was getting pretty sultry for us, seemed to me. And I peeped out, and in a little while Tom's Aunt Polly shook herself loose and stood there looking across at Tom over her spectacles — kind of grinding him into the earth, you know. And then she says:
"Yes, you BETTER turn y'r head away — I would if I was you, Tom."
"Oh, deary me!" says Aunt Sally; "IS he changed so? Why, that ain't TOM, it's Sid; Tom's — Tom's — why, where is Tom? He was here a minute ago."
"You mean where's Huck FINN — that's what you mean! I reckon I hain't raised such a scamp as my Tom all these years not to know him when I SEE him. That WOULD be a pretty howdy-do. Come out from under that bed, Huck Finn."
So I done it. But not feeling brash.
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