Tom Sawyer Abroad
by Mark Twain
TOM SEEKS NEW ADVENTURES
DO you reckon Tom Sawyer was satisfied after all
them adventures? I mean the adventures we had
down the river, and the time we set the darky Jim free
and Tom got shot in the leg. No, he wasn't. It only
just p'isoned him for more. That was all the effect it
had. You see, when we three came back up the river
in glory, as you may say, from that long travel, and
the village received us with a torchlight procession and
speeches, and everybody hurrah'd and shouted, it
made us heroes, and that was what Tom Sawyer had
always been hankering to be.
For a while he WAS satisfied. Everybody made
much of him, and he tilted up his nose and stepped
around the town as though he owned it. Some called
him Tom Sawyer the Traveler, and that just swelled
him up fit to bust. You see he laid over me and Jim
considerable, because we only went down the river on
a raft and came back by the steamboat, but Tom went
by the steamboat both ways. The boys envied me and
Jim a good deal, but land! they just knuckled to the
dirt before TOM.
Well, I don't know; maybe he might have been
satisfied if it hadn't been for old Nat Parsons, which
was postmaster, and powerful long and slim, and kind
o' good-hearted and silly, and bald-headed, on account
of his age, and about the talkiest old cretur I ever see.
For as much as thirty years he'd been the only man in
the village that had a reputation -- I mean a reputation
for being a traveler, and of course he was mortal proud
of it, and it was reckoned that in the course of that
thirty years he had told about that journey over a
million times and enjoyed it every time. And now
comes along a boy not quite fifteen, and sets everybody
admiring and gawking over HIS travels, and it just give
the poor old man the high strikes. It made him sick
to listen to Tom, and to hear the people say "My
land!" "Did you ever!" "My goodness sakes
alive!" and all such things; but he couldn't pull away
from it, any more than a fly that's got its hind leg fast
in the molasses. And always when Tom come to a
rest, the poor old cretur would chip in on HIS same old
travels and work them for all they were worth; but
they were pretty faded, and didn't go for much, and it
was pitiful to see. And then Tom would take another
innings, and then the old man again -- and so on, and
so on, for an hour and more, each trying to beat out
You see, Parsons' travels happened like this: When
he first got to be postmaster and was green in the busi-
ness, there come a letter for somebody he didn't know,
and there wasn't any such person in the village. Well,
he didn't know what to do, nor how to act, and there
the letter stayed and stayed, week in and week out, till
the bare sight of it gave him a conniption. The postage
wasn't paid on it, and that was another thing to worry
about. There wasn't any way to collect that ten cents,
and he reckon'd the gov'ment would hold him respon-
sible for it and maybe turn him out besides, when they
found he hadn't collected it. Well, at last he couldn't
stand it any longer. He couldn't sleep nights, he
couldn't eat, he was thinned down to a shadder, yet
he da'sn't ask anybody's advice, for the very person
he asked for advice might go back on him and let the
gov'ment know about the letter. He had the letter
buried under the floor, but that did no good; if he
happened to see a person standing over the place it'd
give him the cold shivers, and loaded him up with
suspicions, and he would sit up that night till the town
was still and dark, and then he would sneak there and
get it out and bury it in another place. Of course,
people got to avoiding him and shaking their heads
and whispering, because, the way he was looking and
acting, they judged he had killed somebody or done
something terrible, they didn't know what, and if he
had been a stranger they would've lynched him.
Well, as I was saying, it got so he couldn't stand it
any longer; so he made up his mind to pull out for
Washington, and just go to the President of the United
States and make a clean breast of the whole thing, not
keeping back an atom, and then fetch the letter out and
lay it before the whole gov'ment, and say, "Now,
there she is -- do with me what you're a mind to;
though as heaven is my judge I am an innocent man
and not deserving of the full penalties of the law and
leaving behind me a family that must starve and yet
hadn't had a thing to do with it, which is the whole
truth and I can swear to it."
So he did it. He had a little wee bit of steamboat-
ing, and some stage-coaching, but all the rest of the
way was horseback, and it took him three weeks to get
to Washington. He saw lots of land and lots of vil-
lages and four cities. He was gone 'most eight weeks,
and there never was such a proud man in the village as
he when he got back. His travels made him the greatest
man in all that region, and the most talked about; and
people come from as much as thirty miles back in the
country, and from over in the Illinois bottoms, too,
just to look at him -- and there they'd stand and gawk,
and he'd gabble. You never see anything like it.
Well, there wasn't any way now to settle which was
the greatest traveler; some said it was Nat, some said
it was Tom. Everybody allowed that Nat had seen
the most longitude, but they had to give in that what-
ever Tom was short in longitude he had made up in
latitude and climate. It was about a stand-off; so both
of them had to whoop up their dangerous adventures,
and try to get ahead THAT way. That bullet-wound in
Tom's leg was a tough thing for Nat Parsons to buck
against, but he bucked the best he could; and at a
disadvantage, too, for Tom didn't set still as he'd orter
done, to be fair, but always got up and sauntered
around and worked his limp while Nat was painting up
the adventure that HE had in Washington; for Tom
never let go that limp when his leg got well, but prac-
ticed it nights at home, and kept it good as new right
Nat's adventure was like this; I don't know how
true it is; maybe he got it out of a paper, or some-
where, but I will say this for him, that he DID know
how to tell it. He could make anybody's flesh crawl,
and he'd turn pale and hold his breath when he told
it, and sometimes women and girls got so faint they
couldn't stick it out. Well, it was this way, as near as
I can remember:
He come a-loping into Washington, and put up his
horse and shoved out to the President's house with his
letter, and they told him the President was up to the
Capitol, and just going to start for Philadelphia -- not
a minute to lose if he wanted to catch him. Nat 'most
dropped, it made him so sick. His horse was put up,
and he didn't know what to do. But just then along
comes a darky driving an old ramshackly hack, and he
see his chance. He rushes out and shouts: "A half a
dollar if you git me to the Capitol in half an hour, and
a quarter extra if you do it in twenty minutes!"
"Done!" says the darky.
Nat he jumped in and slammed the door, and away
they went a-ripping and a-tearing over the roughest
road a body ever see, and the racket of it was some-
thing awful. Nat passed his arms through the loops
and hung on for life and death, but pretty soon the
hack hit a rock and flew up in the air, and the bottom
fell out, and when it come down Nat's feet was on the
ground, and he see he was in the most desperate danger
if he couldn't keep up with the hack. He was horrible
scared, but he laid into his work for all he was worth,
and hung tight to the arm-loops and made his legs
fairly fly. He yelled and shouted to the driver to
stop, and so did the crowds along the street, for they
could see his legs spinning along under the coach, and
his head and shoulders bobbing inside through the
windows, and he was in awful danger; but the more
they all shouted the more the nigger whooped and
yelled and lashed the horses and shouted, "Don't you
fret, I'se gwine to git you dah in time, boss; I's gwine
to do it, sho'!" for you see he thought they were all
hurrying him up, and, of course, he couldn't hear any-
thing for the racket he was making. And so they went
ripping along, and everybody just petrified to see it;
and when they got to the Capitol at last it was the
quickest trip that ever was made, and everybody said
so. The horses laid down, and Nat dropped, all tuck-
ered out, and he was all dust and rags and barefooted;
but he was in time and just in time, and caught the
President and give him the letter, and everything was
all right, and the President give him a free pardon on
the spot, and Nat give the nigger two extra quarters
instead of one, because he could see that if he hadn't
had the hack he wouldn't'a' got there in time, nor
anywhere near it.
It WAS a powerful good adventure, and Tom Sawyer
had to work his bullet-wound mighty lively to hold his
own against it.
Well, by and by Tom's glory got to paling down
gradu'ly, on account of other things turning up for the
people to talk about -- first a horse-race, and on top of
that a house afire, and on top of that the circus, and
on top of that the eclipse; and that started a revival,
same as it always does, and by that time there wasn't
any more talk about Tom, so to speak, and you never
see a person so sick and disgusted.
Pretty soon he got to worrying and fretting right
along day in and day out, and when I asked him what
WAS he in such a state about, he said it 'most broke his
heart to think how time was slipping away, and him
getting older and older, and no wars breaking out and
no way of making a name for himself that he could
see. Now that is the way boys is always thinking, but
he was the first one I ever heard come out and say it.
So then he set to work to get up a plan to make him
celebrated; and pretty soon he struck it, and offered to
take me and Jim in. Tom Sawyer was always free and
generous that way. There's a-plenty of boys that's
mighty good and friendly when YOU'VE got a good
thing, but when a good thing happens to come their
way they don't say a word to you, and try to hog it
all. That warn't ever Tom Sawyer's way, I can say
that for him. There's plenty of boys that will come
hankering and groveling around you when you've got
an apple and beg the core off of you; but when they've
got one, and you beg for the core and remind them
how you give them a core one time, they say thank
you 'most to death, but there ain't a-going to be no
core. But I notice they always git come up with; all
you got to do is to wait.
Well, we went out in the woods on the hill, and Tom
told us what it was. It was a crusade.
"What's a crusade?" I says.
He looked scornful, the way he's always done when
he was ashamed of a person, and says:
"Huck Finn, do you mean to tell me you don't
know what a crusade is?"
"No," says I, "I don't. And I don't care to,
nuther. I've lived till now and done without it, and
had my health, too. But as soon as you tell me, I'll
know, and that's soon enough. I don't see any use in
finding out things and clogging up my head with them
when I mayn't ever have any occasion to use 'em.
There was Lance Williams, he learned how to talk
Choctaw here till one come and dug his grave for him.
Now, then, what's a crusade? But I can tell you one
thing before you begin; if it's a patent-right, there's
no money in it. Bill Thompson he --"
"Patent-right!" says he. "I never see such an
idiot. Why, a crusade is a kind of war."
I thought he must be losing his mind. But no, he
was in real earnest, and went right on, perfectly
"A crusade is a war to recover the Holy Land from
"Which Holy Land?"
"Why, the Holy Land -- there ain't but one."
"What do we want of it?"
"Why, can't you understand? It's in the hands of
the paynim, and it's our duty to take it away from
"How did we come to let them git hold of it?"
"We didn't come to let them git hold of it. They
always had it."
"Why, Tom, then it must belong to them, don't it?"
"Why of course it does. Who said it didn't?"
I studied over it, but couldn't seem to git at the
right of it, no way. I says:
"It's too many for me, Tom Sawyer. If I had a
farm and it was mine, and another person wanted it,
would it be right for him to --"
"Oh, shucks! you don't know enough to come in
when it rains, Huck Finn. It ain't a farm, it's entirely
different. You see, it's like this. They own the land,
just the mere land, and that's all they DO own; but it
was our folks, our Jews and Christians, that made it
holy, and so they haven't any business to be there
defiling it. It's a shame, and we ought not to stand it
a minute. We ought to march against them and take
it away from them."
"Why, it does seem to me it's the most mixed-up
thing I ever see! Now, if I had a farm and another
"Don't I tell you it hasn't got anything to do with
farming? Farming is business, just common low-down
business: that's all it is, it's all you can say for it; but
this is higher, this is religious, and totally different."
"Religious to go and take the land away from
people that owns it?"
"Certainly; it's always been considered so."
Jim he shook his head, and says:
"Mars Tom, I reckon dey's a mistake about it
somers -- dey mos' sholy is. I's religious myself, en
I knows plenty religious people, but I hain't run across
none dat acts like dat."
It made Tom hot, and he says:
"Well, it's enough to make a body sick, such
mullet-headed ignorance! If either of you'd read any-
thing about history, you'd know that Richard Cur de
Loon, and the Pope, and Godfrey de Bulleyn, and lots
more of the most noble-hearted and pious people in
the world, hacked and hammered at the paynims for
more than two hundred years trying to take their land
away from them, and swum neck-deep in blood the
whole time -- and yet here's a couple of sap-headed
country yahoos out in the backwoods of Missouri set-
ting themselves up to know more about the rights and
wrongs of it than they did! Talk about cheek!"
Well, of course, that put a more different light on it,
and me and Jim felt pretty cheap and ignorant, and
wished we hadn't been quite so chipper. I couldn't
say nothing, and Jim he couldn't for a while; then he
"Well, den, I reckon it's all right; beca'se ef dey
didn't know, dey ain't no use for po' ignorant folks
like us to be trying to know; en so, ef it's our duty,
we got to go en tackle it en do de bes' we can. Same
time, I feel as sorry for dem paynims as Mars Tom.
De hard part gwine to be to kill folks dat a body hain't
been 'quainted wid and dat hain't done him no harm.
Dat's it, you see. Ef we wuz to go 'mongst 'em, jist
we three, en say we's hungry, en ast 'em for a bite to
eat, why, maybe dey's jist like yuther people. Don't
you reckon dey is? Why, DEY'D give it, I know dey
would, en den --"
"Well, Mars Tom, my idea is like dis. It ain't no
use, we CAN'T kill dem po' strangers dat ain't doin' us
no harm, till we've had practice -- I knows it perfectly
well, Mars Tom -- 'deed I knows it perfectly well. But
ef we takes a' axe or two, jist you en me en Huck, en
slips acrost de river to-night arter de moon's gone
down, en kills dat sick fam'ly dat's over on the Sny,
en burns dey house down, en --"
"Oh, you make me tired!" says Tom. "I don't
want to argue any more with people like you and Huck
Finn, that's always wandering from the subject, and
ain't got any more sense than to try to reason out a
thing that's pure theology by the laws that protect real
Now that's just where Tom Sawyer warn't fair. Jim
didn't mean no harm, and I didn't mean no harm.
We knowed well enough that he was right and we was
wrong, and all we was after was to get at the HOW of
it, and that was all; and the only reason he couldn't
explain it so we could understand it was because we
was ignorant -- yes, and pretty dull, too, I ain't deny-
ing that; but, land! that ain't no crime, I should think.
But he wouldn't hear no more about it -- just said if
we had tackled the thing in the proper spirit, he would
'a' raised a couple of thousand knights and put them
in steel armor from head to heel, and made me a lieu-
tenant and Jim a sutler, and took the command himself
and brushed the whole paynim outfit into the sea like
flies and come back across the world in a glory like
sunset. But he said we didn't know enough to take
the chance when we had it, and he wouldn't ever offer
it again. And he didn't. When he once got set, you
couldn't budge him.
But I didn't care much. I am peaceable, and don't
get up rows with people that ain't doing nothing to
me. I allowed if the paynim was satisfied I was, and
we would let it stand at that.
Now Tom he got all that notion out of Walter Scott's
book, which he was always reading. And it WAS a
wild notion, because in my opinion he never could've
raised the men, and if he did, as like as not he would've
got licked. I took the book and read all about it, and
as near as I could make it out, most of the folks that
shook farming to go crusading had a mighty rocky
time of it.
THE BALLOON ASCENSION
WELL, Tom got up one thing after another, but
they all had tender spots about 'em somewheres,
and he had to shove 'em aside. So at last he was
about in despair. Then the St. Louis papers begun to
talk a good deal about the balloon that was going to
sail to Europe, and Tom sort of thought he wanted
to go down and see what it looked like, but couldn't
make up his mind. But the papers went on talking,
and so he allowed that maybe if he didn't go he
mightn't ever have another chance to see a balloon;
and next, he found out that Nat Parsons was going
down to see it, and that decided him, of course. He
wasn't going to have Nat Parsons coming back brag-
ging about seeing the balloon, and him having to listen
to it and keep quiet. So he wanted me and Jim to go
too, and we went.
It was a noble big balloon, and had wings and fans
and all sorts of things, and wasn't like any balloon you
see in pictures. It was away out toward the edge of
town, in a vacant lot, corner of Twelfth street; and
there was a big crowd around it, making fun of it, and
making fun of the man, -- a lean pale feller with that
soft kind of moonlight in his eyes, you know, -- and
they kept saying it wouldn't go. It made him hot to
hear them, and he would turn on them and shake his
fist and say they was animals and blind, but some day
they would find they had stood face to face with one
of the men that lifts up nations and makes civilizations,
and was too dull to know it; and right here on this
spot their own children and grandchildren would build
a monument to him that would outlast a thousand
years, but his name would outlast the monument.
And then the crowd would burst out in a laugh again,
and yell at him, and ask him what was his name before
he was married, and what he would take to not do it,
and what was his sister's cat's grandmother's name,
and all the things that a crowd says when they've got
hold of a feller that they see they can plague. Well,
some things they said WAS funny, -- yes, and mighty
witty too, I ain't denying that, -- but all the same it
warn't fair nor brave, all them people pitching on one,
and they so glib and sharp, and him without any gift
of talk to answer back with. But, good land! what
did he want to sass back for? You see, it couldn't do
him no good, and it was just nuts for them. They
HAD him, you know. But that was his way. I reckon
he couldn't help it; he was made so, I judge. He
was a good enough sort of cretur, and hadn't no harm
in him, and was just a genius, as the papers said, which
wasn't his fault. We can't all be sound: we've got to
be the way we're made. As near as I can make out,
geniuses think they know it all, and so they won't take
people's advice, but always go their own way, which
makes everybody forsake them and despise them, and
that is perfectly natural. If they was humbler, and
listened and tried to learn, it would be better for them.
The part the professor was in was like a boat, and
was big and roomy, and had water-tight lockers around
the inside to keep all sorts of things in, and a body
could sit on them, and make beds on them, too. We
went aboard, and there was twenty people there, snoop-
ing around and examining, and old Nat Parsons was
there, too. The professor kept fussing around getting
ready, and the people went ashore, drifting out one at
a time, and old Nat he was the last. Of course it
wouldn't do to let him go out behind US. We mustn't
budge till he was gone, so we could be last ourselves.
But he was gone now, so it was time for us to follow.
I heard a big shout, and turned around -- the city was
dropping from under us like a shot! It made me sick
all through, I was so scared. Jim turned gray and
couldn't say a word, and Tom didn't say nothing, but
looked excited. The city went on dropping down,
and down, and down; but we didn't seem to be doing
nothing but just hang in the air and stand still. The
houses got smaller and smaller, and the city pulled
itself together, closer and closer, and the men and
wagons got to looking like ants and bugs crawling
around, and the streets like threads and cracks; and
then it all kind of melted together, and there wasn't
any city any more it was only a big scar on the earth,
and it seemed to me a body could see up the river and
down the river about a thousand miles, though of
course it wasn't so much. By and by the earth was a
ball -- just a round ball, of a dull color, with shiny
stripes wriggling and winding around over it, which
was rivers. The Widder Douglas always told me the
earth was round like a ball, but I never took any stock
in a lot of them superstitions o' hers, and of course I
paid no attention to that one, because I could see my-
self that the world was the shape of a plate, and flat.
I used to go up on the hill, and take a look around
and prove it for myself, because I reckon the best way
to get a sure thing on a fact is to go and examine for
yourself, and not take anybody's say-so. But I had to
give in now that the widder was right. That is, she
was right as to the rest of the world, but she warn't
right about the part our village is in; that part is the
shape of a plate, and flat, I take my oath!
The professor had been quiet all this time, as if he
was asleep; but he broke loose now, and he was mighty
bitter. He says something like this:
"Idiots! They said it wouldn't go; and they
wanted to examine it, and spy around and get the
secret of it out of me. But I beat them. Nobody
knows the secret but me. Nobody knows what makes
it move but me; and it's a new power -- a new power,
and a thousand times the strongest in the earth!
Steam's foolishness to it! They said I couldn't go to
Europe. To Europe! Why, there's power aboard to
last five years, and feed for three months. They are
fools! What do they know about it? Yes, and they
said my air-ship was flimsy. Why, she's good for
fifty years! I can sail the skies all my life if I want
to, and steer where I please, though they laughed at
that, and said I couldn't. Couldn't steer! Come
here, boy; we'll see. You press these buttons as I
He made Tom steer the ship all about and every
which way, and learnt him the whole thing in nearly
no time; and Tom said it was perfectly easy. He
made him fetch the ship down 'most to the earth, and
had him spin her along so close to the Illinois prairies
that a body could talk to the farmers, and hear every-
thing they said perfectly plain; and he flung out
printed bills to them that told about the balloon, and
said it was going to Europe. Tom got so he could
steer straight for a tree till he got nearly to it, and then
dart up and skin right along over the top of it. Yes,
and he showed Tom how to land her; and he done it
first-rate, too, and set her down in the prairies as soft
as wool. But the minute we started to skip out the
professor says, "No, you don't!" and shot her up in
the air again. It was awful. I begun to beg, and so
did Jim; but it only give his temper a rise, and he
begun to rage around and look wild out of his eyes,
and I was scared of him.
Well, then he got on to his troubles again, and
mourned and grumbled about the way he was treated,
and couldn't seem to git over it, and especially people's
saying his ship was flimsy. He scoffed at that, and at
their saying she warn't simple and would be always
getting out of order. Get out of order! That graveled
him; he said that she couldn't any more get out of
order than the solar sister.
He got worse and worse, and I never see a person
take on so. It give me the cold shivers to see him,
and so it did Jim. By and by he got to yelling and
screaming, and then he swore the world shouldn't ever
have his secret at all now, it had treated him so mean.
He said he would sail his balloon around the globe just
to show what he could do, and then he would sink it in
the sea, and sink us all along with it, too. Well, it was
the awfulest fix to be in, and here was night coming
He give us something to eat, and made us go to the
other end of the boat, and he laid down on a locker,
where he could boss all the works, and put his old
pepper-box revolver under his head, and said if any-
body come fooling around there trying to land her, he
would kill him.
We set scrunched up together, and thought consider-
able, but didn't say much -- only just a word once in a
while when a body had to say something or bust, we
was so scared and worried. The night dragged along
slow and lonesome. We was pretty low down, and the
moonshine made everything soft and pretty, and the
farmhouses looked snug and homeful, and we could
hear the farm sounds, and wished we could be down
there; but, laws! we just slipped along over them like
a ghost, and never left a track.
Away in the night, when all the sounds was late
sounds, and the air had a late feel, and a late smell,
too -- about a two-o'clock feel, as near as I could make
out -- Tom said the professor was so quiet this time
he must be asleep, and we'd better --
"Better what?" I says in a whisper, and feeling sick
all over, because I knowed what he was thinking about.
"Better slip back there and tie him, and land the
ship," he says.
I says: "No, sir! Don' you budge, Tom Sawyer."
And Jim -- well, Jim was kind o' gasping, he was so
scared. He says:
"Oh, Mars Tom, DON'T! Ef you teches him, we's
gone -- we's gone sho'! I ain't gwine anear him, not
for nothin' in dis worl'. Mars Tom, he's plumb crazy."
Tom whispers and says -- "That's WHY we've got to
do something. If he wasn't crazy I wouldn't give
shucks to be anywhere but here; you couldn't hire me
to get out -- now that I've got used to this balloon and
over the scare of being cut loose from the solid ground
-- if he was in his right mind. But it's no good politics,
sailing around like this with a person that's out of his
head, and says he's going round the world and then
drown us all. We've GOT to do something, I tell you,
and do it before he wakes up, too, or we mayn't ever
get another chance. Come!"
But it made us turn cold and creepy just to think of
it, and we said we wouldn't budge. So Tom was for
slipping back there by himself to see if he couldn't get
at the steering-gear and land the ship. We begged and
begged him not to, but it warn't no use; so he got
down on his hands and knees, and begun to crawl an
inch at a time, we a-holding our breath and watching.
After he got to the middle of the boat he crept slower
than ever, and it did seem like years to me. But at
last we see him get to the professor's head, and sort
of raise up soft and look a good spell in his face and
listen. Then we see him begin to inch along again
toward the professor's feet where the steering-buttons
was. Well, he got there all safe, and was reaching
slow and steady toward the buttons, but he knocked
down something that made a noise, and we see him
slump down flat an' soft in the bottom, and lay still.
The professor stirred, and says, "What's that?" But
everybody kept dead still and quiet, and he begun to
mutter and mumble and nestle, like a person that's
going to wake up, and I thought I was going to die, I
was so worried and scared.
Then a cloud slid over the moon, and I 'most cried,
I was so glad. She buried herself deeper and deeper
into the cloud, and it got so dark we couldn't see Tom.
Then it began to sprinkle rain, and we could hear the
professor fussing at his ropes and things and abusing
the weather. We was afraid every minute he would
touch Tom, and then we would be goners, and no
help; but Tom was already on his way back, and when
we felt his hands on our knees my breath stopped
sudden, and my heart fell down 'mongst my other works,
because I couldn't tell in the dark but it might be the
professor! which I thought it WAS.
Dear! I was so glad to have him back that I was
just as near happy as a person could be that was up in
the air that way with a deranged man. You can't land
a balloon in the dark, and so I hoped it would keep on
raining, for I didn't want Tom to go meddling any
more and make us so awful uncomfortable. Well, I
got my wish. It drizzled and drizzled along the rest
of the night, which wasn't long, though it did seem so;
and at daybreak it cleared, and the world looked
mighty soft and gray and pretty, and the forests and
fields so good to see again, and the horses and cattle
standing sober and thinking. Next, the sun come a-
blazing up gay and splendid, and then we began to feel
rusty and stretchy, and first we knowed we was all
WE went to sleep about four o'clock, and woke up
about eight. The professor was setting back
there at his end, looking glum. He pitched us some
breakfast, but he told us not to come abaft the midship
compass. That was about the middle of the boat.
Well, when you are sharp-set, and you eat and satisfy
yourself, everything looks pretty different from what it
done before. It makes a body feel pretty near com-
fortable, even when he is up in a balloon with a genius.
We got to talking together.
There was one thing that kept bothering me, and by
and by I says:
"Tom, didn't we start east?"
"How fast have we been going?"
"Well, you heard what the professor said when he
was raging round. Sometimes, he said, we was making
fifty miles an hour, sometimes ninety, sometimes a
hundred; said that with a gale to help he could make
three hundred any time, and said if he wanted the gale,
and wanted it blowing the right direction, he only had
to go up higher or down lower to find it."
"Well, then, it's just as I reckoned. The professor
"Because if we was going so fast we ought to be
past Illinois, oughtn't we?"
"Well, we ain't."
"What's the reason we ain't?"
"I know by the color. We're right over Illinois
yet. And you can see for yourself that Indiana ain't
"I wonder what's the matter with you, Huck. You
know by the COLOR?"
"Yes, of course I do."
"What's the color got to do with it?"
"It's got everything to do with it. Illinois is green,
Indiana is pink. You show me any pink down here,
if you can. No, sir; it's green."
"Indiana PINK? Why, what a lie!"
"It ain't no lie; I've seen it on the map, and it's
You never see a person so aggravated and disgusted.
"Well, if I was such a numbskull as you, Huck
Finn, I would jump over. Seen it on the map! Huck
Finn, did you reckon the States was the same color
out-of-doors as they are on the map?"
"Tom Sawyer, what's a map for? Ain't it to learn
"Well, then, how's it going to do that if it tells lies?
That's what I want to know."
"Shucks, you muggins! It don't tell lies."
"It don't, don't it?"
"No, it don't."
"All right, then; if it don't, there ain't no two
States the same color. You git around THAT if you
can, Tom Sawyer."
He see I had him, and Jim see it too; and I tell
you, I felt pretty good, for Tom Sawyer was always a
hard person to git ahead of. Jim slapped his leg and
"I tell YOU! dat's smart, dat's right down smart.
Ain't no use, Mars Tom; he got you DIS time, sho'!"
He slapped his leg again, and says, "My LAN', but it
was smart one!"
I never felt so good in my life; and yet I didn't
know I was saying anything much till it was out. I
was just mooning along, perfectly careless, and not
expecting anything was going to happen, and never
THINKING of such a thing at all, when, all of a sudden,
out it came. Why, it was just as much a surprise to
me as it was to any of them. It was just the same way
it is when a person is munching along on a hunk of
corn-pone, and not thinking about anything, and all of
a sudden bites into a di'mond. Now all that HE knows
first off is that it's some kind of gravel he's bit into;
but he don't find out it's a di'mond till he gits it out
and brushes off the sand and crumbs and one thing or
another, and has a look at it, and then he's surprised
and glad -- yes, and proud too; though when you
come to look the thing straight in the eye, he ain't
entitled to as much credit as he would 'a' been if he'd
been HUNTING di'monds. You can see the difference
easy if you think it over. You see, an accident, that
way, ain't fairly as big a thing as a thing that's done
a-purpose. Anybody could find that di'mond in that
corn-pone; but mind you, it's got to be somebody
that's got THAT KIND OF A CORN-PONE. That's where that
feller's credit comes in, you see; and that's where
mine comes in. I don't claim no great things -- I
don't reckon I could 'a' done it again -- but I done it
that time; that's all I claim. And I hadn't no more
idea I could do such a thing, and warn't any more
thinking about it or trying to, than you be this minute.
Why, I was just as ca'm, a body couldn't be any
ca'mer, and yet, all of a sudden, out it come. I've
often thought of that time, and I can remember just
the way everything looked, same as if it was only last
week. I can see it all: beautiful rolling country with
woods and fields and lakes for hundreds and hundreds
of miles all around, and towns and villages scattered
everywheres under us, here and there and yonder; and
the professor mooning over a chart on his little table,
and Tom's cap flopping in the rigging where it was
hung up to dry. And one thing in particular was a
bird right alongside, not ten foot off, going our way
and trying to keep up, but losing ground all the time;
and a railroad train doing the same thing down there,
sliding among the trees and farms, and pouring out a
long cloud of black smoke and now and then a little
puff of white; and when the white was gone so long
you had almost forgot it, you would hear a little faint
toot, and that was the whistle. And we left the bird
and the train both behind, 'WAY behind, and done it
But Tom he was huffy, and said me and Jim was a
couple of ignorant blatherskites, and then he says:
"Suppose there's a brown calf and a big brown dog,
and an artist is making a picture of them. What is the
MAIN thing that that artist has got to do? He has got
to paint them so you can tell them apart the minute
you look at them, hain't he? Of course. Well, then,
do you want him to go and paint BOTH of them brown?
Certainly you don't. He paints one of them blue,
and then you can't make no mistake. It's just the
same with the maps. That's why they make every
State a different color; it ain't to deceive you, it's to
keep you from deceiving yourself."
But I couldn't see no argument about that, and
neither could Jim. Jim shook his head, and says:
"Why, Mars Tom, if you knowed what chuckle-
heads dem painters is, you'd wait a long time before
you'd fetch one er DEM in to back up a fac'. I's
gwine to tell you, den you kin see for you'self. I see
one of 'em a-paintin' away, one day, down in ole
Hank Wilson's back lot, en I went down to see, en he
was paintin' dat old brindle cow wid de near horn
gone -- you knows de one I means. En I ast him
what he's paintin' her for, en he say when he git her
painted, de picture's wuth a hundred dollars. Mars
Tom, he could a got de cow fer fifteen, en I tole him
so. Well, sah, if you'll b'lieve me, he jes' shuck his
head, dat painter did, en went on a-dobbin'. Bless
you, Mars Tom, DEY don't know nothin'."
Tom lost his temper. I notice a person 'most always
does that's got laid out in an argument. He told us to
shut up, and maybe we'd feel better. Then he see a
town clock away off down yonder, and he took up the
glass and looked at it, and then looked at his silver
turnip, and then at the clock, and then at the turnip
again, and says:
"That's funny! That clock's near about an hour
So he put up his turnip. Then he see another clock,
and took a look, and it was an hour fast too. That
"That's a mighty curious thing," he says. "I
don't understand it."
Then he took the glass and hunted up another clock,
and sure enough it was an hour fast too. Then his
eyes began to spread and his breath to come out kinder
gaspy like, and he says:
"Ger-reat Scott, it's the LONGITUDE!"
I says, considerably scared:
"Well, what's been and gone and happened now?"
"Why, the thing that's happened is that this old
bladder has slid over Illinois and Indiana and Ohio like
nothing, and this is the east end of Pennsylvania or
New York, or somewheres around there."
"Tom Sawyer, you don't mean it!"
"Yes, I do, and it's dead sure. We've covered
about fifteen degrees of longitude since we left St.
Louis yesterday afternoon, and them clocks are right.
We've come close on to eight hundred miles."
I didn't believe it, but it made the cold streaks
trickle down my back just the same. In my experi-
ence I knowed it wouldn't take much short of two
weeks to do it down the Mississippi on a raft.
Jim was working his mind and studying. Pretty
soon he says:
"Mars Tom, did you say dem clocks uz right?"
"Yes, they're right."
"Ain't yo' watch right, too?"
"She's right for St. Louis, but she's an hour wrong
"Mars Tom, is you tryin' to let on dat de time ain't
de SAME everywheres?"
"No, it ain't the same everywheres, by a long
Jim looked distressed, and says:
"It grieves me to hear you talk like dat, Mars Tom;
I's right down ashamed to hear you talk like dat, arter
de way you's been raised. Yassir, it'd break yo' Aunt
Polly's heart to hear you."
Tom was astonished. He looked Jim over wonder-
ing, and didn't say nothing, and Jim went on:
"Mars Tom, who put de people out yonder in St.
Louis? De Lord done it. Who put de people here
whar we is? De Lord done it. Ain' dey bofe his
children? 'Cose dey is. WELL, den! is he gwine to
SCRIMINATE 'twixt 'em?"
"Scriminate! I never heard such ignorance. There
ain't no discriminating about it. When he makes you
and some more of his children black, and makes the
rest of us white, what do you call that?"
Jim see the p'int. He was stuck. He couldn't
answer. Tom says:
"He does discriminate, you see, when he wants to;
but this case HERE ain't no discrimination of his, it's
man's. The Lord made the day, and he made the
night; but he didn't invent the hours, and he didn't
distribute them around. Man did that."
"Mars Tom, is dat so? Man done it?"
"Who tole him he could?"
"Nobody. He never asked."
Jim studied a minute, and says:
"Well, dat do beat me. I wouldn't 'a' tuck no
sich resk. But some people ain't scared o' nothin'.
Dey bangs right ahead; DEY don't care what happens.
So den dey's allays an hour's diff'unce everywhah,
"An hour? No! It's four minutes difference for
every degree of longitude, you know. Fifteen of 'em's
an hour, thirty of 'em's two hours, and so on. When
it's one clock Tuesday morning in England, it's eight
o'clock the night before in New York."
Jim moved a little way along the locker, and you
could see he was insulted. He kept shaking his head
and muttering, and so I slid along to him and patted
him on the leg, and petted him up, and got him over
the worst of his feelings, and then he says:
"Mars Tom talkin' sich talk as dat! Choosday in
one place en Monday in t'other, bofe in the same day!
Huck, dis ain't no place to joke -- up here whah we is.
Two days in one day! How you gwine to get two
days inter one day? Can't git two hours inter one
hour, kin you? Can't git two niggers inter one nigger
skin, kin you? Can't git two gallons of whisky inter a
one-gallon jug, kin you? No, sir, 'twould strain de
jug. Yes, en even den you couldn't, I don't believe.
Why, looky here, Huck, s'posen de Choosday was
New Year's -- now den! is you gwine to tell me it's
dis year in one place en las' year in t'other, bofe in de
identical same minute? It's de beatenest rubbage! I
can't stan' it -- I can't stan' to hear tell 'bout it."
Then he begun to shiver and turn gray, and Tom
"NOW what's the matter? What's the trouble?"
Jim could hardly speak, but he says:
"Mars Tom, you ain't jokin', en it's SO?"
"No, I'm not, and it is so."
Jim shivered again, and says:
"Den dat Monday could be de las' day, en dey
wouldn't be no las' day in England, en de dead
wouldn't be called. We mustn't go over dah, Mars
Tom. Please git him to turn back; I wants to be
All of a sudden we see something, and all jumped
up, and forgot everything and begun to gaze. Tom
"Ain't that the --" He catched his breath, then
says: "It IS, sure as you live! It's the ocean!"
That made me and Jim catch our breath, too. Then
we all stood petrified but happy, for none of us had
ever seen an ocean, or ever expected to. Tom kept
"Atlantic Ocean -- Atlantic. Land, don't it sound
great! And that's IT -- and WE are looking at it -- we!
Why, it's just too splendid to believe!"
Then we see a big bank of black smoke; and when
we got nearer, it was a city -- and a monster she was,
too, with a thick fringe of ships around one edge; and
we wondered if it was New York, and begun to jaw
and dispute about it, and, first we knowed, it slid from
under us and went flying behind, and here we was, out
over the very ocean itself, and going like a cyclone.
Then we woke up, I tell you!
We made a break aft and raised a wail, and begun to
beg the professor to turn back and land us, but
he jerked out his pistol and motioned us back,
and we went, but nobody will ever know how bad we
The land was gone, all but a little streak, like a
snake, away off on the edge of the water, and down
under us was just ocean, ocean, ocean -- millions of
miles of it, heaving and pitching and squirming, and
white sprays blowing from the wave-tops, and only a
few ships in sight, wallowing around and laying over,
first on one side and then on t'other, and sticking their
bows under and then their sterns; and before long
there warn't no ships at all, and we had the sky and
the whole ocean all to ourselves, and the roomiest place
I ever see and the lonesomest.
AND it got lonesomer and lonesomer. There was
the big sky up there, empty and awful deep; and
the ocean down there without a thing on it but just the
waves. All around us was a ring, where the sky and
the water come together; yes, a monstrous big ring it
was, and we right in the dead center of it -- plumb in
the center. We was racing along like a prairie fire, but
it never made any difference, we couldn't seem to git
past that center no way. I couldn't see that we ever
gained an inch on that ring. It made a body feel
creepy, it was so curious and unaccountable.
Well, everything was so awful still that we got to
talking in a very low voice, and kept on getting creepier
and lonesomer and less and less talky, till at last the
talk ran dry altogether, and we just set there and
"thunk," as Jim calls it, and never said a word the
The professor never stirred till the sun was overhead,
then he stood up and put a kind of triangle to his eye,
and Tom said it was a sextant and he was taking the
sun to see whereabouts the balloon was. Then he
ciphered a little and looked in a book, and then he
begun to carry on again. He said lots of wild things,
and, among others, he said he would keep up this
hundred-mile gait till the middle of to-morrow after-
noon, and then he'd land in London.
We said we would be humbly thankful.
He was turning away, but he whirled around when
we said that, and give us a long look of his blackest
kind -- one of the maliciousest and suspiciousest looks
I ever see. Then he says:
"You want to leave me. Don't try to deny it."
We didn't know what to say, so we held in and
didn't say nothing at all.
He went aft and set down, but he couldn't seem to
git that thing out of his mind. Every now and then he
would rip out something about it, and try to make us
answer him, but we dasn't.
It got lonesomer and lonesomer right along, and it
did seem to me I couldn't stand it. It was still worse
when night begun to come on. By and by Tom
pinched me and whispers:
I took a glance aft, and see the professor taking a
whet out of a bottle. I didn't like the looks of that.
By and by he took another drink, and pretty soon he
begun to sing. It was dark now, and getting black
and stormy. He went on singing, wilder and wilder,
and the thunder begun to mutter, and the wind to
wheeze and moan among the ropes, and altogether it
was awful. It got so black we couldn't see him any
more, and wished we couldn't hear him, but we could.
Then he got still; but he warn't still ten minutes till
we got suspicious, and wished he would start up his
noise again, so we could tell where he was. By and by
there was a flash of lightning, and we see him start to
get up, but he staggered and fell down. We heard
him scream out in the dark:
"They don't want to go to England. All right, I'll
change the course. They want to leave me. I know
they do. Well, they shall -- and NOW!"
I 'most died when he said that. Then he was still
again -- still so long I couldn't bear it, and it did seem
to me the lightning wouldn't EVER come again. But at
last there was a blessed flash, and there he was, on his
hands and knees crawling, and not four feet from us.
My, but his eyes was terrible! He made a lunge for
Tom, and says, "Overboard YOU go!" but it was
already pitch-dark again, and I couldn't see whether
he got him or not, and Tom didn't make a sound.
There was another long, horrible wait; then there
was a flash, and I see Tom's head sink down outside
the boat and disappear. He was on the rope-ladder
that dangled down in the air from the gunnel. The
professor let off a shout and jumped for him, and
straight off it was pitch-dark again, and Jim groaned
out, "Po' Mars Tom, he's a goner!" and made a
jump for the professor, but the professor warn't there.
Then we heard a couple of terrible screams, and then
another not so loud, and then another that was 'way
below, and you could only JUST hear it; and I heard
Jim say, "Po' Mars Tom!"
Then it was awful still, and I reckon a person could
'a' counted four thousand before the next flash come.
When it come I see Jim on his knees, with his arms
on the locker and his face buried in them, and he was
crying. Before I could look over the edge it was all
dark again, and I was glad, because I didn't want to
see. But when the next flash come, I was watching,
and down there I see somebody a-swinging in the wind
on the ladder, and it was Tom!
"Come up!" I shouts; "come up, Tom!"
His voice was so weak, and the wind roared so, I
couldn't make out what he said, but I thought he asked
was the professor up there. I shouts:
"No, he's down in the ocean! Come up! Can
we help you?"
Of course, all this in the dark.
"Huck, who is you hollerin' at?"
"I'm hollerin' at Tom."
"Oh, Huck, how kin you act so, when you know
po' Mars Tom --" Then he let off an awful scream,
and flung his head and his arms back and let off another
one, because there was a white glare just then, and he
had raised up his face just in time to see Tom's, as
white as snow, rise above the gunnel and look him right
in the eye. He thought it was Tom's ghost, you
Tom clumb aboard, and when Jim found it WAS him,
and not his ghost, he hugged him, and called him all
sorts of loving names, and carried on like he was gone
crazy, he was so glad. Says I:
"What did you wait for, Tom? Why didn't you
come up at first?"
"I dasn't, Huck. I knowed somebody plunged
down past me, but I didn't know who it was in the
dark. It could 'a' been you, it could 'a' been Jim."
That was the way with Tom Sawyer -- always sound.
He warn't coming up till he knowed where the pro-
The storm let go about this time with all its might;
and it was dreadful the way the thunder boomed and
tore, and the lightning glared out, and the wind sung
and screamed in the rigging, and the rain come down.
One second you couldn't see your hand before you,
and the next you could count the threads in your coat-
sleeve, and see a whole wide desert of waves pitching
and tossing through a kind of veil of rain. A storm
like that is the loveliest thing there is, but it ain't at its
best when you are up in the sky and lost, and it's wet
and lonesome, and there's just been a death in the
We set there huddled up in the bow, and talked low
about the poor professor; and everybody was sorry
for him, and sorry the world had made fun of him and
treated him so harsh, when he was doing the best he
could, and hadn't a friend nor nobody to encourage
him and keep him from brooding his mind away and
going deranged. There was plenty of clothes and
blankets and everything at the other end, but we
thought we'd ruther take the rain than go meddling
WE tried to make some plans, but we couldn't come
to no agreement. Me and Jim was for turning
around and going back home, but Tom allowed that
by the time daylight come, so we could see our way,
we would be so far toward England that we might as
well go there, and come back in a ship, and have the
glory of saying we done it.
About midnight the storm quit and the moon come
out and lit up the ocean, and we begun to feel com-
fortable and drowsy; so we stretched out on the
lockers and went to sleep, and never woke up again
till sun-up. The sea was sparkling like di'monds, and
it was nice weather, and pretty soon our things was all
We went aft to find some breakfast, and the first
thing we noticed was that there was a dim light burning
in a compass back there under a hood. Then Tom was
disturbed. He says:
"You know what that means, easy enough. It
means that somebody has got to stay on watch and
steer this thing the same as he would a ship, or she'll
wander around and go wherever the wind wants her
"Well," I says, "what's she been doing since --
er -- since we had the accident?"
"Wandering," he says, kinder troubled --" wander-
ing, without any doubt. She's in a wind now that's
blowing her south of east. We don't know how long
that's been going on, either."
So then he p'inted her east, and said he would hold
her there till we rousted out the breakfast. The pro-
fessor had laid in everything a body could want; he
couldn't 'a' been better fixed. There wasn't no milk
for the coffee, but there was water, and everything
else you could want, and a charcoal stove and the
fixings for it, and pipes and cigars and matches; and
wine and liquor, which warn't in our line; and books,
and maps, and charts, and an accordion; and furs,
and blankets, and no end of rubbish, like brass beads
and brass jewelry, which Tom said was a sure sign that
he had an idea of visiting among savages. There was
money, too. Yes, the professor was well enough fixed.
After breakfast Tom learned me and Jim how to
steer, and divided us all up into four-hour watches,
turn and turn about; and when his watch was out I
took his place, and he got out the professor's papers
and pens and wrote a letter home to his aunt Polly, tell-
ing her everything that had happened to us, and dated
it "IN THE WELKIN, APPROACHING ENGLAND," and folded
it together and stuck it fast with a red wafer, and
directed it, and wrote above the direction, in big
writing, "FROM TOM SAWYER, THE ERRONORT," and said
it would stump old Nat Parsons, the postmaster, when
it come along in the mail. I says:
"Tom Sawyer, this ain't no welkin, it's a balloon."
"Well, now, who SAID it was a welkin, smarty?"
"You've wrote it on the letter, anyway."
"What of it? That don't mean that the balloon's
"Oh, I thought it did. Well, then, what is a
I see in a minute he was stuck. He raked and
scraped around in his mind, but he couldn't find noth-
ing, so he had to say:
"I don't know, and nobody don't know. It's just
a word, and it's a mighty good word, too. There
ain't many that lays over it. I don't believe there's
ANY that does."
"Shucks!" I says. "But what does it MEAN? --
that's the p'int. "
"I don't know what it means, I tell you. It's a
word that people uses for -- for -- well, it's orna-
mental. They don't put ruffles on a shirt to keep a
person warm, do they?"
"Course they don't."
"But they put them ON, don't they?"
"All right, then; that letter I wrote is a shirt, and
the welkin's the ruffle on it."
I judged that that would gravel Jim, and it did.
"Now, Mars Tom, it ain't no use to talk like dat;
en, moreover, it's sinful. You knows a letter ain't no
shirt, en dey ain't no ruffles on it, nuther. Dey ain't
no place to put 'em on; you can't put em on, and
dey wouldn't stay ef you did."
"Oh DO shut up, and wait till something's started
that you know something about."
"Why, Mars Tom, sholy you can't mean to say I
don't know about shirts, when, goodness knows, I's
toted home de washin' ever sence --"
"I tell you, this hasn't got anything to do with
shirts. I only --"
"Why, Mars Tom, you said yo'self dat a letter --"
"Do you want to drive me crazy? Keep still. I
only used it as a metaphor."
That word kinder bricked us up for a minute. Then
Jim says -- rather timid, because he see Tom was get-
ting pretty tetchy:
"Mars Tom, what is a metaphor?"
"A metaphor's a -- well, it's a -- a -- a metaphor's
an illustration." He see THAT didn't git home, so he
tried again. "When I say birds of a feather flocks
together, it's a metaphorical way of saying --"
"But dey DON'T, Mars Tom. No, sir, 'deed dey
don't. Dey ain't no feathers dat's more alike den a
bluebird en a jaybird, but ef you waits till you catches
dem birds together, you'll --"
"Oh, give us a rest! You can't get the simplest
little thing through your thick skull. Now don't bother
me any more."
Jim was satisfied to stop. He was dreadful pleased
with himself for catching Tom out. The minute Tom
begun to talk about birds I judged he was a goner,
because Jim knowed more about birds than both of us
put together. You see, he had killed hundreds and
hundreds of them, and that's the way to find out
about birds. That's the way people does that writes
books about birds, and loves them so that they'll
go hungry and tired and take any amount of trouble to
find a new bird and kill it. Their name is ornitholo-
gers, and I could have been an ornithologer myself,
because I always loved birds and creatures; and I
started out to learn how to be one, and I see a bird
setting on a limb of a high tree, singing with its head
tilted back and its mouth open, and before I thought I
fired, and his song stopped and he fell straight down
from the limb, all limp like a rag, and I run and picked
him up and he was dead, and his body was warm in my
hand, and his head rolled about this way and that, like
his neck was broke, and there was a little white skin
over his eyes, and one little drop of blood on the side
of his head; and, laws! I couldn't see nothing more
for the tears; and I hain't never murdered no creature
since that warn't doing me no harm, and I ain't going
But I was aggravated about that welkin. I wanted
to know. I got the subject up again, and then Tom
explained, the best he could. He said when a person
made a big speech the newspapers said the shouts of
the people made the welkin ring. He said they always
said that, but none of them ever told what it was, so
he allowed it just meant outdoors and up high. Well,
that seemed sensible enough, so I was satisfied, and
said so. That pleased Tom and put him in a good
humor again, and he says:
"Well, it's all right, then; and we'll let bygones
be bygones. I don't know for certain what a welkin
is, but when we land in London we'll make it ring,
anyway, and don't you forget it."
He said an erronort was a person who sailed around
in balloons; and said it was a mighty sight finer to be
Tom Sawyer the Erronort than to be Tom Sawyer the
Traveler, and we would be heard of all round the
world, if we pulled through all right, and so he wouldn't
give shucks to be a traveler now.
Toward the middle of the afternoon we got every-
thing ready to land, and we felt pretty good, too, and
proud; and we kept watching with the glasses, like
Columbus discovering America. But we couldn't see
nothing but ocean. The afternoon wasted out and the
sun shut down, and still there warn't no land any-
wheres. We wondered what was the matter, but
reckoned it would come out all right, so we went on
steering east, but went up on a higher level so we
wouldn't hit any steeples or mountains in the dark.
It was my watch till midnight, and then it was Jim's;
but Tom stayed up, because he said ship captains done
that when they was making the land, and didn't stand
no regular watch.
Well, when daylight come, Jim give a shout, and we
jumped up and looked over, and there was the land
sure enough -- land all around, as far as you could see,
and perfectly level and yaller. We didn't know how
long we'd been over it. There warn't no trees, nor
hills, nor rocks, nor towns, and Tom and Jim had took
it for the sea. They took it for the sea in a dead
ca'm; but we was so high up, anyway, that if it had
been the sea and rough, it would 'a' looked smooth, all
the same, in the night, that way.
We was all in a powerful excitement now, and
grabbed the glasses and hunted everywheres for Lon-
don, but couldn't find hair nor hide of it, nor any
other settlement -- nor any sign of a lake or a river,
either. Tom was clean beat. He said it warn't his
notion of England; he thought England looked like
America, and always had that idea. So he said we
better have breakfast, and then drop down and inquire
the quickest way to London. We cut the breakfast
pretty short, we was so impatient. As we slanted
along down, the weather began to moderate, and
pretty soon we shed our furs. But it kept ON moder-
ating, and in a precious little while it was 'most too
moderate. We was close down now, and just blistering!
We settled down to within thirty foot of the land --
that is, it was land if sand is land; for this wasn't any-
thing but pure sand. Tom and me clumb down the
ladder and took a run to stretch our legs, and it felt
amazing good -- that is, the stretching did, but the
sand scorched our feet like hot embers. Next, we see
somebody coming, and started to meet him; but we
heard Jim shout, and looked around and he was fairly
dancing, and making signs, and yelling. We couldn't
make out what he said, but we was scared anyway, and
begun to heel it back to the balloon. When we got
close enough, we understood the words, and they
made me sick:
"Run! Run fo' yo' life! Hit's a lion; I kin see
him thoo de glass! Run, boys; do please heel it de
bes' you kin. He's bu'sted outen de menagerie, en
dey ain't nobody to stop him!"
It made Tom fly, but it took the stiffening all out of
my legs. I could only just gasp along the way you do
in a dream when there's a ghost gaining on you.
Tom got to the ladder and shinned up it a piece and
waited for me; and as soon as I got a foothold on it
he shouted to Jim to soar away. But Jim had clean
lost his head, and said he had forgot how. So Tom
shinned along up and told me to follow; but the lion
was arriving, fetching a most ghastly roar with every
lope, and my legs shook so I dasn't try to take one of
them out of the rounds for fear the other one would
give way under me.
But Tom was aboard by this time, and he started the
balloon up a little, and stopped it again as soon as the
end of the ladder was ten or twelve feet above ground.
And there was the lion, a-ripping around under me,
and roaring and springing up in the air at the ladder,
and only missing it about a quarter of an inch, it
seemed to me. It was delicious to be out of his reach,
perfectly delicious, and made me feel good and thank-
ful all up one side; but I was hanging there helpless
and couldn't climb, and that made me feel perfectly
wretched and miserable all down the other. It is most
seldom that a person feels so mixed like that; and it is
not to be recommended, either.
Tom asked me what he'd better do, but I didn't
know. He asked me if I could hold on whilst he sailed
away to a safe place and left the lion behind. I said I
could if he didn't go no higher than he was now; but
if he went higher I would lose my head and fall, sure.
So he said, "Take a good grip," and he started.
"Don't go so fast," I shouted. "It makes my
He had started like a lightning express. He slowed
down, and we glided over the sand slower, but still in
a kind of sickening way; for it IS uncomfortable to see
things sliding and gliding under you like that, and not
But pretty soon there was plenty of sound, for the
lion was catching up. His noise fetched others. You
could see them coming on the lope from every direc-
tion, and pretty soon there was a couple of dozen of
them under me, jumping up at the ladder and snarling
and snapping at each other; and so we went skimming
along over the sand, and these fellers doing what they
could to help us to not forgit the occasion; and then
some other beasts come, without an invite, and they
started a regular riot down there.
We see this plan was a mistake. We couldn't ever
git away from them at this gait, and I couldn't hold on
forever. So Tom took a think, and struck another
idea. That was, to kill a lion with the pepper-box
revolver, and then sail away while the others stopped
to fight over the carcass. So he stopped the balloon
still, and done it, and then we sailed off while the fuss
was going on, and come down a quarter of a mile off,
and they helped me aboard; but by the time we was
out of reach again, that gang was on hand once more.
And when they see we was really gone and they
couldn't get us, they sat down on their hams and
looked up at us so kind of disappointed that it was as
much as a person could do not to see THEIR side of the
IT'S A CARAVAN
I WAS so weak that the only thing I wanted was a
chance to lay down, so I made straight for my
locker-bunk, and stretched myself out there. But a
body couldn't get back his strength in no such oven as
that, so Tom give the command to soar, and Jim
started her aloft.
We had to go up a mile before we struck comfort-
able weather where it was breezy and pleasant and just
right, and pretty soon I was all straight again. Tom
had been setting quiet and thinking; but now he jumps
up and says:
"I bet you a thousand to one I know where we are.
We're in the Great Sahara, as sure as guns!"
He was so excited he couldn't hold still; but I
wasn't. I says:
"Well, then, where's the Great Sahara? In Eng-
land or in Scotland?"
"'Tain't in either; it's in Africa."
Jim's eyes bugged out, and he begun to stare down
with no end of interest, because that was where his
originals come from; but I didn't more than half be-
lieve it. I couldn't, you know; it seemed too awful
far away for us to have traveled.
But Tom was full of his discovery, as he called it,
and said the lions and the sand meant the Great Desert,
sure. He said he could 'a' found out, before we
sighted land, that we was crowding the land some-
wheres, if he had thought of one thing; and when we
asked him what, he said:
"These clocks. They're chronometers. You al-
ways read about them in sea voyages. One of them
is keeping Grinnage time, and the other is keeping St.
Louis time, like my watch. When we left St. Louis it
was four in the afternoon by my watch and this clock,
and it was ten at night by this Grinnage clock. Well,
at this time of the year the sun sets at about seven
o'clock. Now I noticed the time yesterday evening
when the sun went down, and it was half-past five
o'clock by the Grinnage clock, and half past 11 A.M.
by my watch and the other clock. You see, the sun
rose and set by my watch in St. Louis, and the Grin-
nage clock was six hours fast; but we've come so far
east that it comes within less than half an hour of set-
ting by the Grinnage clock now, and I'm away out --
more than four hours and a half out. You see, that
meant that we was closing up on the longitude of
Ireland, and would strike it before long if we was
p'inted right -- which we wasn't. No, sir, we've been
a-wandering -- wandering 'way down south of east, and
it's my opinion we are in Africa. Look at this map.
You see how the shoulder of Africa sticks out to the
west. Think how fast we've traveled; if we had gone
straight east we would be long past England by this
time. You watch for noon, all of you, and we'll stand
up, and when we can't cast a shadow we'll find that
this Grinnage clock is coming mighty close to marking
twelve. Yes, sir, I think we're in Africa; and it's just
Jim was gazing down with the glass. He shook his
head and says:
"Mars Tom, I reckon dey's a mistake som'er's.
hain't seen no niggers yit."
"That's nothing; they don't live in the desert.
What is that, 'way off yonder? Gimme a glass."
He took a long look, and said it was like a black
string stretched across the sand, but he couldn't guess
what it was.
"Well," I says, "I reckon maybe you've got a
chance now to find out whereabouts this balloon is,
because as like as not that is one of these lines here,
that's on the map, that you call meridians of longi-
tude, and we can drop down and look at its number,
"Oh, shucks, Huck Finn, I never see such a lunk-
head as you. Did you s'pose there's meridians of
longitude on the EARTH?"
"Tom Sawyer, they're set down on the map, and
you know it perfectly well, and here they are, and you
can see for yourself."
"Of course they're on the map, but that's nothing;
there ain't any on the GROUND."
"Tom, do you know that to be so?"
"Certainly I do."
"Well, then, that map's a liar again. I never see
such a liar as that map."
He fired up at that, and I was ready for him, and
Jim was warming his opinion, too, and next minute
we'd 'a' broke loose on another argument, if Tom
hadn't dropped the glass and begun to clap his hands
like a maniac and sing out:
"Camels! -- Camels!"
So I grabbed a glass and Jim, too, and took a look,
but I was disappointed, and says:
"Camels your granny; they're spiders."
"Spiders in a desert, you shad? Spiders walking
in a procession? You don't ever reflect, Huck Finn,
and I reckon you really haven't got anything to
reflect WITH. Don't you know we're as much as a
mile up in the air, and that that string of crawlers is
two or three miles away? Spiders, good land! Spiders
as big as a cow? Perhaps you'd like to go down
and milk one of 'em. But they're camels, just the
same. It's a caravan, that's what it is, and it's a mile
"Well, then, let's go down and look at it. I
don't believe in it, and ain't going to till I see it and
"All right," he says, and give the command:
As we come slanting down into the hot weather, we
could see that it was camels, sure enough, plodding
along, an everlasting string of them, with bales strapped
to them, and several hundred men in long white robes,
and a thing like a shawl bound over their heads and
hanging down with tassels and fringes; and some of
the men had long guns and some hadn't, and some
was riding and some was walking. And the weatherJ--
well, it was just roasting. And how slow they did
creep along! We swooped down now, all of a
sudden, and stopped about a hundred yards over their
The men all set up a yell, and some of them fell flat
on their stomachs, some begun to fire their guns at us,
and the rest broke and scampered every which way,
and so did the camels.
We see that we was making trouble, so we went up
again about a mile, to the cool weather, and watched
them from there. It took them an hour to get together
and form the procession again; then they started along,
but we could see by the glasses that they wasn't pay-
ing much attention to anything but us. We poked
along, looking down at them with the glasses, and by
and by we see a big sand mound, and something like
people the other side of it, and there was something
like a man laying on top of the mound that raised his
head up every now and then, and seemed to be watch-
ing the caravan or us, we didn't know which. As the
caravan got nearer, he sneaked down on the other side
and rushed to the other men and horses -- for that is
what they was -- and we see them mount in a hurry;
and next, here they come, like a house afire, some with
lances and some with long guns, and all of them yell-
ing the best they could.
They come a-tearing down on to the caravan, and the
next minute both sides crashed together and was all
mixed up, and there was such another popping of guns
as you never heard, and the air got so full of smoke
you could only catch glimpses of them struggling
together. There must 'a' been six hundred men in
that battle, and it was terrible to see. Then they
broke up into gangs and groups, fighting tooth and
nail, and scurrying and scampering around, and laying
into each other like everything; and whenever the
smoke cleared a little you could see dead and wounded
people and camels scattered far and wide and all about,
and camels racing off in every direction.
At last the robbers see they couldn't win, so their
chief sounded a signal, and all that was left of them
broke away and went scampering across the plain.
The last man to go snatched up a child and carried it
off in front of him on his horse, and a woman run
screaming and begging after him, and followed him
away off across the plain till she was separated a long
ways from her people; but it warn't no use, and she
had to give it up, and we see her sink down on the
sand and cover her face with her hands. Then Tom
took the hellum, and started for that yahoo, and we
come a-whizzing down and made a swoop, and knocked
him out of the saddle, child and all; and he was jarred
considerable, but the child wasn't hurt, but laid there
working its hands and legs in the air like a tumble-bug
that's on its back and can't turn over. The man went
staggering off to overtake his horse, and didn't know
what had hit him, for we was three or four hundred
yards up in the air by this time.
We judged the woman would go and get the child
now; but she didn't. We could see her, through the
glass, still setting there, with her head bowed down on
her knees; so of course she hadn't seen the perform-
ance, and thought her child was clean gone with the
man. She was nearly a half a mile from her people,
so we thought we might go down to the child, which
was about a quarter of a mile beyond her, and snake
it to her before the caravan people could git to us to
do us any harm; and besides, we reckoned they had
enough business on their hands for one while, anyway,
with the wounded. We thought we'd chance it, and
we did. We swooped down and stopped, and Jim
shinned down the ladder and fetched up the kid, which
was a nice fat little thing, and in a noble good humor,
too, considering it was just out of a battle and been
tumbled off of a horse; and then we started for the
mother, and stopped back of her and tolerable near
by, and Jim slipped down and crept up easy, and when
he was close back of her the child goo-goo'd, the way
a child does, and she heard it, and whirled and fetched
a shriek of joy, and made a jump for the kid and
snatched it and hugged it, and dropped it and hugged
Jim, and then snatched off a gold chain and hung it
around Jim's neck, and hugged him again, and jerked
up the child again, a-sobbing and glorifying all the
time; and Jim he shoved for the ladder and up it, and
in a minute we was back up in the sky and the woman
was staring up, with the back of her head between her
shoulders and the child with its arms locked around
her neck. And there she stood, as long as we was in
sight a-sailing away in the sky.
TOM RESPECTS THE FLEA
"NOON!" says Tom, and so it was. His shadder
was just a blot around his feet. We looked,
and the Grinnage clock was so close to twelve the
difference didn't amount to nothing. So Tom said
London was right north of us or right south of us, one
or t'other, and he reckoned by the weather and the
sand and the camels it was north; and a good many
miles north, too; as many as from New York to the
city of Mexico, he guessed.
Jim said he reckoned a balloon was a good deal the
fastest thing in the world, unless it might be some
kinds of birds -- a wild pigeon, maybe, or a railroad.
But Tom said he had read about railroads in England
going nearly a hundred miles an hour for a little ways,
and there never was a bird in the world that could do
that -- except one, and that was a flea.
"A flea? Why, Mars Tom, in de fust place he
ain't a bird, strickly speakin' --"
"He ain't a bird, eh? Well, then, what is he?"
"I don't rightly know, Mars Tom, but I speck he's
only jist a' animal. No, I reckon dat won't do, nuther,
he ain't big enough for a' animal. He mus' be a bug.
Yassir, dat's what he is, he's a bug."
"I bet he ain't, but let it go. What's your second
"Well, in de second place, birds is creturs dat goes
a long ways, but a flea don't."
"He don't, don't he? Come, now, what IS a long
distance, if you know?"
"Why, it's miles, and lots of 'em -- anybody knows
"Can't a man walk miles?"
"Yassir, he kin."
"As many as a railroad?"
"Yassir, if you give him time."
"Can't a flea?"
"Well -- I s'pose so -- ef you gives him heaps of
"Now you begin to see, don't you, that DISTANCE
ain't the thing to judge by, at all; it's the time it takes
to go the distance IN that COUNTS, ain't it?"
"Well, hit do look sorter so, but I wouldn't 'a'
b'lieved it, Mars Tom."
"It's a matter of PROPORTION, that's what it is; and
when you come to gauge a thing's speed by its size,
where's your bird and your man and your railroad,
alongside of a flea? The fastest man can't run more
than about ten miles in an hour -- not much over ten
thousand times his own length. But all the books says
any common ordinary third-class flea can jump a hun-
dred and fifty times his own length; yes, and he can
make five jumps a second too -- seven hundred and
fifty times his own length, in one little second -- for he
don't fool away any time stopping and starting -- he
does them both at the same time; you'll see, if you
try to put your finger on him. Now that's a common,
ordinary, third-class flea's gait; but you take an Eye-
talian FIRST-class, that's been the pet of the nobility all
his life, and hasn't ever knowed what want or sickness
or exposure was, and he can jump more than three
hundred times his own length, and keep it up all day,
five such jumps every second, which is fifteen hundred
times his own length. Well, suppose a man could go
fifteen hundred times his own length in a second -- say,
a mile and a half. It's ninety miles a minute; it's
considerable more than five thousand miles an hour.
Where's your man NOW? -- yes, and your bird, and
your railroad, and your balloon? Laws, they don't
amount to shucks 'longside of a flea. A flea is just
a comet b'iled down small."
Jim was a good deal astonished, and so was I. Jim
"Is dem figgers jist edjackly true, en no jokin' en
no lies, Mars Tom?"
"Yes, they are; they're perfectly true."
"Well, den, honey, a body's got to respec' a flea.
I ain't had no respec' for um befo', sca'sely, but dey
ain't no gittin' roun' it, dey do deserve it, dat's
"Well, I bet they do. They've got ever so much
more sense, and brains, and brightness, in proportion
to their size, than any other cretur in the world. A
person can learn them 'most anything; and they learn
it quicker than any other cretur, too. They've been
learnt to haul little carriages in harness, and go this
way and that way and t'other way according to their
orders; yes, and to march and drill like soldiers, doing
it as exact, according to orders, as soldiers does it.
They've been learnt to do all sorts of hard and
troublesome things. S'pose you could cultivate a flea
up to the size of a man, and keep his natural
smartness a-growing and a-growing right along up,
bigger and bigger, and keener and keener, in the same
proportion -- where'd the human race be, do you
reckon? That flea would be President of the United
States, and you couldn't any more prevent it than you
can prevent lightning."
"My lan', Mars Tom, I never knowed dey was so
much TO de beas'. No, sir, I never had no idea of it,
and dat's de fac'."
"There's more to him, by a long sight, than there
is to any other cretur, man or beast, in proportion to
size. He's the interestingest of them all. People have
so much to say about an ant's strength, and an ele-
phant's, and a locomotive's. Shucks, they don't begin
with a flea. He can lift two or three hundred times his
own weight. And none of them can come anywhere
near it. And, moreover, he has got notions of his
own, and is very particular, and you can't fool him;
his instinct, or his judgment, or whatever it is, is per-
fectly sound and clear, and don't ever make a mistake.
People think all humans are alike to a flea. It ain't
so. There's folks that he won't go near, hungry or
not hungry, and I'm one of them. I've never had one
of them on me in my life."
"It's so; I ain't joking."
"Well, sah, I hain't ever heard de likes o' dat befo'."
Jim couldn't believe it, and I couldn't; so we had to
drop down to the sand and git a supply and see. Tom
was right. They went for me and Jim by the thou-
sand, but not a one of them lit on Tom. There warn't
no explaining it, but there it was and there warn't no
getting around it. He said it had always been just so,
and he'd just as soon be where there was a million of
them as not; they'd never touch him nor bother
We went up to the cold weather to freeze 'em out,
and stayed a little spell, and then come back to the
comfortable weather and went lazying along twenty or
twenty-five miles an hour, the way we'd been doing for
the last few hours. The reason was, that the longer
we was in that solemn, peaceful desert, the more the
hurry and fuss got kind of soothed down in us, and
the more happier and contented and satisfied we got to
feeling, and the more we got to liking the desert, and
then loving it. So we had cramped the speed down,
as I was saying, and was having a most noble good
lazy time, sometimes watching through the glasses,
sometimes stretched out on the lockers reading, some-
times taking a nap.
It didn't seem like we was the same lot that was in
such a state to find land and git ashore, but it was.
But we had got over that -- clean over it. We was
used to the balloon now and not afraid any more, and
didn't want to be anywheres else. Why, it seemed
just like home; it 'most seemed as if I had been born
and raised in it, and Jim and Tom said the same. And
always I had had hateful people around me, a-nagging
at me, and pestering of me, and scolding, and finding
fault, and fussing and bothering, and sticking to me,
and keeping after me, and making me do this, and
making me do that and t'other, and always selecting
out the things I didn't want to do, and then giving me
Sam Hill because I shirked and done something else,
and just aggravating the life out of a body all the time;
but up here in the sky it was so still and sunshiny and
lovely, and plenty to eat, and plenty of sleep, and
strange things to see, and no nagging and no pester-
ing, and no good people, and just holiday all the time.
Land, I warn't in no hurry to git out and buck at
civilization again. Now, one of the worst things about
civilization is, that anybody that gits a letter with
trouble in it comes and tells you all about it and makes
you feel bad, and the newspapers fetches you the
troubles of everybody all over the world, and keeps
you downhearted and dismal 'most all the time, and
it's such a heavy load for a person. I hate them
newspapers; and I hate letters; and if I had my way
I wouldn't allow nobody to load his troubles on to
other folks he ain't acquainted with, on t'other side of
the world, that way. Well, up in a balloon there ain't
any of that, and it's the darlingest place there is.
We had supper, and that night was one of the
prettiest nights I ever see. The moon made it just
like daylight, only a heap softer; and once we see a
lion standing all alone by himself, just all alone on the
earth, it seemed like, and his shadder laid on the sand
by him like a puddle of ink. That's the kind of moon-
light to have.
Mainly we laid on our backs and talked; we didn't
want to go to sleep. Tom said we was right in the
midst of the Arabian Nights now. He said it was right
along here that one of the cutest things in that book
happened; so we looked down and watched while he
told about it, because there ain't anything that is so
interesting to look at as a place that a book has talked
about. It was a tale about a camel-driver that had lost
his camel, and he come along in the desert and met a
man, and says:
"Have you run across a stray camel to-day?"
And the man says:
"Was he blind in his left eye?"
"Had he lost an upper front tooth?"
"Was his off hind leg lame?"
"Was he loaded with millet-seed on one side and
honey on the other?"
"Yes, but you needn't go into no more details --
that's the one, and I'm in a hurry. Where did you
"I hain't seen him at all," the man says.
"Hain't seen him at all? How can you describe
him so close, then?"
"Because when a person knows how to use his eyes,
everything has got a meaning to it; but most people's
eyes ain't any good to them. I knowed a camel had
been along, because I seen his track. I knowed he
was lame in his off hind leg because he had favored
that foot and trod light on it, and his track showed it.
I knowed he was blind on his left side because he only
nibbled the grass on the right side of the trail. I
knowed he had lost an upper front tooth because where
he bit into the sod his teeth-print showed it. The
millet-seed sifted out on one side -- the ants told me
that; the honey leaked out on the other -- the flies
told me that. I know all about your camel, but I
hain't seen him."
"Go on, Mars Tom, hit's a mighty good tale, and
"That's all," Tom says.
"ALL?" says Jim, astonished. "What 'come o'
"I don't know."
"Mars Tom, don't de tale say?"
Jim puzzled a minute, then he says:
"Well! Ef dat ain't de beatenes' tale ever I struck.
Jist gits to de place whah de intrust is gittin' red-hot,
en down she breaks. Why, Mars Tom, dey ain't no
SENSE in a tale dat acts like dat. Hain't you got no
IDEA whether de man got de camel back er not?"
"No, I haven't."
I see myself there warn't no sense in the tale, to
chop square off that way before it come to anything,
but I warn't going to say so, because I could see Tom
was souring up pretty fast over the way it flatted out
and the way Jim had popped on to the weak place in
it, and I don't think it's fair for everybody to pile on
to a feller when he's down. But Tom he whirls on
me and says:
"What do YOU think of the tale?"
Of course, then, I had to come out and make a clean
breast and say it did seem to me, too, same as it did
to Jim, that as long as the tale stopped square in the
middle and never got to no place, it really warn't
worth the trouble of telling.
Tom's chin dropped on his breast, and 'stead of
being mad, as I reckoned he'd be, to hear me scoff at
his tale that way, he seemed to be only sad; and he
"Some people can see, and some can't -- just as
that man said. Let alone a camel, if a cyclone had
gone by, YOU duffers wouldn't 'a' noticed the
I don't know what he meant by that, and he didn't
say; it was just one of his irrulevances, I reckon -- he
was full of them, sometimes, when he was in a close
place and couldn't see no other way out -- but I didn't
mind. We'd spotted the soft place in that tale sharp
enough, he couldn't git away from that little fact. It
graveled him like the nation, too, I reckon, much as
he tried not to let on.
THE DISAPPEARING LAKE
WE had an early breakfast in the morning, and set
looking down on the desert, and the weather
was ever so bammy and lovely, although we warn't
high up. You have to come down lower and lower
after sundown in the desert, because it cools off so
fast; and so, by the time it is getting toward dawn,
you are skimming along only a little ways above the
We was watching the shadder of the balloon slide
along the ground, and now and then gazing off across
the desert to see if anything was stirring, and then
down on the shadder again, when all of a sudden
almost right under us we see a lot of men and camels
laying scattered about, perfectly quiet, like they was
We shut off the power, and backed up and stood
over them, and then we see that they was all dead. It
give us the cold shivers. And it made us hush down,
too, and talk low, like people at a funeral. We
dropped down slow and stopped, and me and Tom
clumb down and went among them. There was men,
and women, and children. They was dried by the sun
and dark and shriveled and leathery, like the pictures
of mummies you see in books. And yet they looked
just as human, you wouldn't 'a' believed it; just like
they was asleep.
Some of the people and animals was partly covered
with sand, but most of them not, for the sand was
thin there, and the bed was gravel and hard. Most
of the clothes had rotted away; and when you took
hold of a rag, it tore with a touch, like spider-
web. Tom reckoned they had been laying there for
Some of the men had rusty guns by them, some had
swords on and had shawl belts with long, silver-
mounted pistols stuck in them. All the camels had
their loads on yet, but the packs had busted or rotted
and spilt the freight out on the ground. We didn't
reckon the swords was any good to the dead people
any more, so we took one apiece, and some pistols.
We took a small box, too, because it was so handsome
and inlaid so fine; and then we wanted to bury the
people; but there warn't no way to do it that we could
think of, and nothing to do it with but sand, and that
would blow away again, of course.
Then we mounted high and sailed away, and pretty
soon that black spot on the sand was out of sight, and
we wouldn't ever see them poor people again in this
world. We wondered, and reasoned, and tried to
guess how they come to be there, and how it all hap-
pened to them, but we couldn't make it out. First we
thought maybe they got lost, and wandered around and
about till their food and water give out and they
starved to death; but Tom said no wild animals nor
vultures hadn't meddled with them, and so that guess
wouldn't do. So at last we give it up, and judged we
wouldn't think about it no more, because it made us
Then we opened the box, and it had gems and jewels
in it, quite a pile, and some little veils of the kind the
dead women had on, with fringes made out of curious
gold money that we warn't acquainted with. We
wondered if we better go and try to find them again
and give it back; but Tom thought it over and said
no, it was a country that was full of robbers, and they
would come and steal it; and then the sin would be on
us for putting the temptation in their way. So we
went on; but I wished we had took all they had, so
there wouldn't 'a' been no temptation at all left.
We had had two hours of that blazing weather down
there, and was dreadful thirsty when we got aboard
again. We went straight for the water, but it was
spoiled and bitter, besides being pretty near hot enough
to scald your mouth. We couldn't drink it. It was
Mississippi river water, the best in the world, and we
stirred up the mud in it to see if that would help, but
no, the mud wasn't any better than the water.
Well, we hadn't been so very, very thirsty before,
while we was interested in the lost people, but we was
now, and as soon as we found we couldn't have a
drink, we was more than thirty-five times as thirsty as
we was a quarter of a minute before. Why, in a little
while we wanted to hold our mouths open and pant
like a dog.
Tom said to keep a sharp lookout, all around, every-
wheres, because we'd got to find an oasis or there
warn't no telling what would happen. So we done it.
We kept the glasses gliding around all the time, till our
arms got so tired we couldn't hold them any more.
Two hours -- three hours -- just gazing and gazing,
and nothing but sand, sand, SAND, and you could see
the quivering heat-shimmer playing over it. Dear,
dear, a body don't know what real misery is till he is
thirsty all the way through and is certain he ain't ever
going to come to any water any more. At last I
couldn't stand it to look around on them baking plains;
I laid down on the locker, and give it up.
But by and by Tom raised a whoop, and there she
was! A lake, wide and shiny, with pa'm-trees leaning
over it asleep, and their shadders in the water just as
soft and delicate as ever you see. I never see anything
look so good. It was a long ways off, but that
warn't anything to us; we just slapped on a hundred-
mile gait, and calculated to be there in seven minutes;
but she stayed the same old distance away, all the
time; we couldn't seem to gain on her; yes, sir, just as
far, and shiny, and like a dream; but we couldn't get
no nearer; and at last, all of a sudden, she was gone!
Tom's eyes took a spread, and he says:
"Boys, it was a MYridge!" Said it like he was
glad. I didn't see nothing to be glad about. I says:
"Maybe. I don't care nothing about its name, the
thing I want to know is, what's become of it?"
Jim was trembling all over, and so scared he couldn't
speak, but he wanted to ask that question himself if he
could 'a' done it. Tom says:
"What's BECOME of it? Why, you see yourself it's
"Yes, I know; but where's it gone TO?"
He looked me over and says:
"Well, now, Huck Finn, where WOULD it go to!
Don't you know what a myridge is?"
"No, I don't. What is it?"
"It ain't anything but imagination. There ain't
anything TO it. "
It warmed me up a little to hear him talk like that,
and I says:
"What's the use you talking that kind of stuff, Tom
Sawyer? Didn't I see the lake?"
"Yes -- you think you did."
"I don't think nothing about it, I DID see it."
"I tell you you DIDN'T see it either -- because it
warn't there to see."
It astonished Jim to hear him talk so, and he broke
in and says, kind of pleading and distressed:
"Mars Tom, PLEASE don't say sich things in sich an
awful time as dis. You ain't only reskin' yo' own
self, but you's reskin' us -- same way like Anna Nias
en Siffra. De lake WUZ dah -- I seen it jis' as plain
as I sees you en Huck dis minute."
"Why, he seen it himself! He was the very one
that seen it first. NOW, then!"
"Yes, Mars Tom, hit's so -- you can't deny it. We
all seen it, en dat PROVE it was dah."
"Proves it! How does it prove it?"
"Same way it does in de courts en everywheres,
Mars Tom. One pusson might be drunk, or dreamy
or suthin', en he could be mistaken; en two might,
maybe; but I tell you, sah, when three sees a thing,
drunk er sober, it's SO. Dey ain't no gittin' aroun'
dat, en you knows it, Mars Tom."
"I don't know nothing of the kind. There used to
be forty thousand million people that seen the sun
move from one side of the sky to the other every day.
Did that prove that the sun DONE it?"
"Course it did. En besides, dey warn't no 'casion
to prove it. A body 'at's got any sense ain't gwine to
doubt it. Dah she is now -- a sailin' thoo de sky,
like she allays done."
Tom turned on me, then, and says:
"What do YOU say -- is the sun standing still?"
"Tom Sawyer, what's the use to ask such a jackass
question? Anybody that ain't blind can see it don't
"Well," he says, "I'm lost in the sky with no
company but a passel of low-down animals that don't
know no more than the head boss of a university did
three or four hundred years ago."
It warn't fair play, and I let him know it. I
"Throwin' mud ain't arguin', Tom Sawyer."
"Oh, my goodness, oh, my goodness gracious,
dah's de lake agi'n!" yelled Jim, just then. "NOW,
Mars Tom, what you gwine to say?"
Yes, sir, there was the lake again, away yonder
across the desert, perfectly plain, trees and all, just
the same as it was before. I says:
"I reckon you're satisfied now, Tom Sawyer."
But he says, perfectly ca'm:
"Yes, satisfied there ain't no lake there."
"DON'T talk so, Mars Tom -- it sk'yers me to hear
you. It's so hot, en you's so thirsty, dat you ain't in
yo' right mine, Mars Tom. Oh, but don't she look
good! 'clah I doan' know how I's gwine to wait tell
we gits dah, I's SO thirsty."
"Well, you'll have to wait; and it won't do you no
good, either, because there ain't no lake there, I tell
"Jim, don't you take your eye off of it, and I
"'Deed I won't; en bless you, honey, I couldn't ef
I wanted to."
We went a-tearing along toward it, piling the miles
behind us like nothing, but never gaining an inch on it
-- and all of a sudden it was gone again! Jim stag-
gered, and 'most fell down. When he got his breath
he says, gasping like a fish:
"Mars Tom, hit's a GHOS', dat's what it is, en I
hopes to goodness we ain't gwine to see it no mo'.
Dey's BEEN a lake, en suthin's happened, en de lake's
dead, en we's seen its ghos'; we's seen it twiste, en
dat's proof. De desert's ha'nted, it's ha'nted, sho;
oh, Mars Tom, le''s git outen it; I'd ruther die den
have de night ketch us in it ag'in en de ghos' er dat
lake come a-mournin' aroun' us en we asleep en doan'
know de danger we's in."
"Ghost, you gander! It ain't anything but air and
heat and thirstiness pasted together by a person's
imagination. If I -- gimme the glass!"
He grabbed it and begun to gaze off to the right.
"It's a flock of birds," he says. "It's getting
toward sundown, and they're making a bee-line across
our track for somewheres. They mean business --
maybe they're going for food or water, or both. Let
her go to starboard! -- Port your hellum! Hard down!
There -- ease up -- steady, as you go."
We shut down some of the power, so as not to out-
speed them, and took out after them. We went skim-
ming along a quarter of a mile behind them, and when
we had followed them an hour and a half and was get-
ting pretty discouraged, and was thirsty clean to
unendurableness, Tom says:
"Take the glass, one of you, and see what that is,
away ahead of the birds."
Jim got the first glimpse, and slumped down on the
locker sick. He was most crying, and says:
"She's dah ag'in, Mars Tom, she's dah ag'in, en I
knows I's gwine to die, 'case when a body sees a ghos'
de third time, dat's what it means. I wisht I'd never
come in dis balloon, dat I does."
He wouldn't look no more, and what he said made
me afraid, too, because I knowed it was true, for that
has always been the way with ghosts; so then I
wouldn't look any more, either. Both of us begged
Tom to turn off and go some other way, but he
wouldn't, and said we was ignorant superstitious
blatherskites. Yes, and he'll git come up with, one
of these days, I says to myself, insulting ghosts that
way. They'll stand it for a while, maybe, but they
won't stand it always, for anybody that knows about
ghosts knows how easy they are hurt, and how revenge-
ful they are.
So we was all quiet and still, Jim and me being
scared, and Tom busy. By and by Tom fetched the
balloon to a standstill, and says:
"NOW get up and look, you sapheads."
We done it, and there was the sure-enough water
right under us! -- clear, and blue, and cool, and deep,
and wavy with the breeze, the loveliest sight that ever
was. And all about it was grassy banks, and flowers,
and shady groves of big trees, looped together with
vines, and all looking so peaceful and comfortable --
enough to make a body cry, it was so beautiful.
Jim DID cry, and rip and dance and carry on, he was
so thankful and out of his mind for joy. It was my
watch, so I had to stay by the works, but Tom and
Jim clumb down and drunk a barrel apiece, and
fetched me up a lot, and I've tasted a many a good
thing in my life, but nothing that ever begun with that
Then we went down and had a swim, and then Tom
came up and spelled me, and me and Jim had a swim,
and then Jim spelled Tom, and me and Tom had a
foot-race and a boxing-mill, and I don't reckon I ever
had such a good time in my life. It warn't so very
hot, because it was close on to evening, and we hadn't
any clothes on, anyway. Clothes is well enough in
school, and in towns, and at balls, too, but there ain't
no sense in them when there ain't no civilization nor
other kinds of bothers and fussiness around.
"Lions a-comin'! -- lions! Quick, Mars Tom!
Jump for yo' life, Huck!"
Oh, and didn't we! We never stopped for clothes,
but waltzed up the ladder just so. Jim lost his head
straight off -- he always done it whenever he got ex-
cited and scared; and so now, 'stead of just easing the
ladder up from the ground a little, so the animals
couldn't reach it, he turned on a raft of power, and we
went whizzing up and was dangling in the sky before
he got his wits together and seen what a foolish thing
he was doing. Then he stopped her, but he had clean
forgot what to do next; so there we was, so high that
the lions looked like pups, and we was drifting off on
But Tom he shinned up and went for the works and
begun to slant her down, and back toward the lake,
where the animals was gathering like a camp-meeting,
and I judged he had lost HIS head, too; for he knowed
I was too scared to climb, and did he want to dump
me among the tigers and things?
But no, his head was level, he knowed what he was
about. He swooped down to within thirty or forty
feet of the lake, and stopped right over the center, and
"Leggo, and drop!"
I done it, and shot down, feet first, and seemed to
go about a mile toward the bottom; and when I come
up, he says:
"Now lay on your back and float till you're rested
and got your pluck back, then I'll dip the ladder in
the water and you can climb aboard."
I done it. Now that was ever so smart in Tom, be-
cause if he had started off somewheres else to drop
down on the sand, the menagerie would 'a' come
along, too, and might 'a' kept us hunting a safe place
till I got tuckered out and fell.
And all this time the lions and tigers was sorting out
the clothes, and trying to divide them up so there
would be some for all, but there was a misunderstand-
ing about it somewheres, on account of some of them
trying to hog more than their share; so there was
another insurrection, and you never see anything like
it in the world. There must 'a' been fifty of them, all
mixed up together, snorting and roaring and snapping
and biting and tearing, legs and tails in the air, and
you couldn't tell which was which, and the sand and
fur a-flying. And when they got done, some was
dead. and some was limping off crippled, and the rest
was setting around on the battlefield, some of them
licking their sore places and the others looking up at
us and seemed to be kind of inviting us to come down
and have some fun, but which we didn't want any.
As for the clothes, they warn't any, any more.
Every last rag of them was inside of the animals; and
not agreeing with them very well, I don't reckon, for
there was considerable many brass buttons on them,
and there was knives in the pockets, too, and smoking
tobacco, and nails and chalk and marbles and fish-
hooks and things. But I wasn't caring. All that was
bothering me was, that all we had now was the pro-
fessor's clothes, a big enough assortment, but not suit-
able to go into company with, if we came across any,
because the britches was as long as tunnels, and the
coats and things according. Still, there was everything
a tailor needed, and Jim was a kind of jack legged
tailor, and he allowed he could soon trim a suit or two
down for us that would answer.
TOM DISCOURSES ON THE DESERT
STILL, we thought we would drop down there a
minute, but on another errand. Most of the pro-
fessor's cargo of food was put up in cans, in the new
way that somebody had just invented; the rest was
fresh. When you fetch Missouri beefsteak to the
Great Sahara, you want to be particular and stay up
in the coolish weather. So we reckoned we would
drop down into the lion market and see how we could
make out there.
We hauled in the ladder and dropped down till we
was just above the reach of the animals, then we let
down a rope with a slip-knot in it and hauled up a
dead lion, a small tender one, then yanked up a cub
tiger. We had to keep the congregation off with the
revolver, or they would 'a' took a hand in the proceed-
ings and helped.
We carved off a supply from both, and saved the
skins, and hove the rest overboard. Then we baited
some of the professor's hooks with the fresh meat and
went a-fishing. We stood over the lake just a con-
venient distance above the water, and catched a lot of
the nicest fish you ever see. It was a most amazing
good supper we had; lion steak, tiger steak, fried fish,
and hot corn-pone. I don't want nothing better than
We had some fruit to finish off with. We got it out
of the top of a monstrous tall tree. It was a very slim
tree that hadn't a branch on it from the bottom plumb
to the top, and there it bursted out like a feather-
duster. It was a pa'm-tree, of course; anybody knows
a pa'm-tree the minute he see it, by the pictures. We
went for cocoanuts in this one, but there warn't none.
There was only big loose bunches of things like over-
sized grapes, and Tom allowed they was dates, because
he said they answered the description in the Arabian
Nights and the other books. Of course they mightn't
be, and they might be poison; so we had to wait a
spell, and watch and see if the birds et them. They
done it; so we done it, too, and they was most amaz-
By this time monstrous big birds begun to come and
settle on the dead animals. They was plucky creturs;
they would tackle one end of a lion that was being
gnawed at the other end by another lion. If the lion
drove the bird away, it didn't do no good; he was
back again the minute the lion was busy.
The big birds come out of every part of the sky --
you could make them out with the glass while they was
still so far away you couldn't see them with your naked
eye. Tom said the birds didn't find out the meat was
there by the smell; they had to find it out by seeing
it. Oh, but ain't that an eye for you! Tom said at
the distance of five mile a patch of dead lions couldn't
look any bigger than a person's finger-nail, and he
couldn't imagine how the birds could notice such a
little thing so far off.
It was strange and unnatural to see lion eat lion,
and we thought maybe they warn't kin. But Jim said
that didn't make no difference. He said a hog was
fond of her own children, and so was a spider, and he
reckoned maybe a lion was pretty near as unprincipled
though maybe not quite. He thought likely a lion
wouldn't eat his own father, if he knowed which was
him, but reckoned he would eat his brother-in-law if
he was uncommon hungry, and eat his mother-in-law
any time. But RECKONING don't settle nothing. You
can reckon till the cows come home, but that don't
fetch you to no decision. So we give it up and let it
Generly it was very still in the Desert nights, but this
time there was music. A lot of other animals come to
dinner; sneaking yelpers that Tom allowed was jackals,
and roached-backed ones that he said was hyenas; and
all the whole biling of them kept up a racket all the
time. They made a picture in the moonlight that was
more different than any picture I ever see. We had a
line out and made fast to the top of a tree, and didn't
stand no watch, but all turned in and slept; but I was
up two or three times to look down at the animals and
hear the music. It was like having a front seat at a
menagerie for nothing, which I hadn't ever had before,
and so it seemed foolish to sleep and not make the
most of it; I mightn't ever have such a chance
We went a-fishing again in the early dawn, and then
lazied around all day in the deep shade on an island,
taking turn about to watch and see that none of the
animals come a-snooping around there after erronorts
for dinner. We was going to leave the next day, but
couldn't, it was too lovely.
The day after, when we rose up toward the sky and
sailed off eastward, we looked back and watched that
place till it warn't nothing but just a speck in the
Desert, and I tell you it was like saying good-bye to a
friend that you ain't ever going to see any more.
Jim was thinking to himself, and at last he says:
"Mars Tom, we's mos' to de end er de Desert now,
"Well, hit stan' to reason we is. You knows how
long we's been a-skimmin' over it. Mus' be mos' out
o' san'. Hit's a wonder to me dat it's hilt out as long
as it has."
"Shucks, there's plenty sand, you needn't worry."
"Oh, I ain't a-worryin', Mars Tom, only wonderin',
dat's all. De Lord's got plenty san', I ain't doubtin'
dat; but nemmine, He ain't gwyne to WAS'E it jist on
dat account; en I allows dat dis Desert's plenty big
enough now, jist de way she is, en you can't spread
her out no mo' 'dout was'in' san'."
"Oh, go 'long! we ain't much more than fairly
STARTED across this Desert yet. The United States is a
pretty big country, ain't it? Ain't it, Huck?"
"Yes," I says, "there ain't no bigger one, I don't
"Well," he says, "this Desert is about the shape
of the United States, and if you was to lay it down on
top of the United States, it would cover the land of
the free out of sight like a blanket. There'd be a little
corner sticking out, up at Maine and away up north-
west, and Florida sticking out like a turtle's tail, and
that's all. We've took California away from the
Mexicans two or three years ago, so that part of the
Pacific coast is ours now, and if you laid the Great
Sahara down with her edge on the Pacific, she would
cover the United States and stick out past New York
six hundred miles into the Atlantic ocean."
"Good land! have you got the documents for that,
"Yes, and they're right here, and I've been study-
ing them. You can look for yourself. From New
York to the Pacific is 2,600 miles. From one end of
the Great Desert to the other is 3,200. The United
States contains 3,600,000 square miles, the Desert
contains 4,162,000. With the Desert's bulk you could
cover up every last inch of the United States, and in
under where the edges projected out, you could tuck
England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Denmark, and all
Germany. Yes, sir, you could hide the home of the
brave and all of them countries clean out of sight under
the Great Sahara, and you would still have 2,000
square miles of sand left."
"Well," I says, "it clean beats me. Why, Tom,
it shows that the Lord took as much pains makin' this
Desert as makin' the United States and all them other
Jim says: "Huck, dat don' stan' to reason. I
reckon dis Desert wa'n't made at all. Now you take
en look at it like dis -- you look at it, and see ef I's
right. What's a desert good for? 'Taint good for
nuthin'. Dey ain't no way to make it pay. Hain't
dat so, Huck?"
"Yes, I reckon."
"Hain't it so, Mars Tom?"
"I guess so. Go on."
"Ef a thing ain't no good, it's made in vain, ain't it?"
"NOW, den! Do de Lord make anything in vain?
You answer me dat."
"Well -- no, He don't."
"Den how come He make a desert?"
"Well, go on. How DID He come to make it?"
"Mars Tom, I b'lieve it uz jes like when you's buildin'
a house; dey's allays a lot o' truck en rubbish lef' over.
What does you do wid it? Doan' you take en k'yart
it off en dump it into a ole vacant back lot? 'Course.
Now, den, it's my opinion hit was jes like dat -- dat
de Great Sahara warn't made at all, she jes HAPPEN'."
I said it was a real good argument, and I believed it
was the best one Jim ever made. Tom he said the same,
but said the trouble about arguments is, they ain't
nothing but THEORIES, after all, and theories don't prove
nothing, they only give you a place to rest on, a spell,
when you are tuckered out butting around and around
trying to find out something there ain't no way TO find
out. And he says:
"There's another trouble about theories: there's
always a hole in them somewheres, sure, if you look
close enough. It's just so with this one of Jim's.
Look what billions and billions of stars there is. How
does it come that there was just exactly enough star-
stuff, and none left over? How does it come there
ain't no sand-pile up there?"
But Jim was fixed for him and says:
"What's de Milky Way? -- dat's what I want to
know. What's de Milky Way? Answer me dat!"
In my opinion it was just a sockdologer. It's only
an opinion, it's only MY opinion and others may think
different; but I said it then and I stand to it now -- it
was a sockdologer. And moreover, besides, it landed
Tom Sawyer. He couldn't say a word. He had that
stunned look of a person that's been shot in the back
with a kag of nails. All he said was, as for people
like me and Jim, he'd just as soon have intellectual
intercourse with a catfish. But anybody can say that
-- and I notice they always do, when somebody has
fetched them a lifter. Tom Sawyer was tired of that
end of the subject.
So we got back to talking about the size of the
Desert again, and the more we compared it with this
and that and t'other thing, the more nobler and bigger
and grander it got to look right along. And so, hunt-
ing among the figgers, Tom found, by and by, that it
was just the same size as the Empire of China. Then
he showed us the spread the Empire of China made on
the map, and the room she took up in the world.
Well, it was wonderful to think of, and I says:
"Why, I've heard talk about this Desert plenty of
times, but I never knowed before how important she
Then Tom says:
"Important! Sahara important! That's just the
way with some people. If a thing's big, it's important.
That's all the sense they've got. All they can see is
SIZE. Why, look at England. It's the most important
country in the world; and yet you could put it in
China's vest-pocket; and not only that, but you'd
have the dickens's own time to find it again the next
time you wanted it. And look at Russia. It spreads
all around and everywhere, and yet ain't no more im-
portant in this world than Rhode Island is, and hasn't
got half as much in it that's worth saving."
Away off now we see a little hill, a-standing up just
on the edge of the world. Tom broke off his talk, and
reached for a glass very much excited, and took a look,
"That's it -- it's the one I've been looking for,
sure. If I'm right, it's the one the dervish took the
man into and showed him all the treasures."
So we begun to gaze, and he begun to tell about it
out of the Arabian Nights.
TOM said it happened like this.
A dervish was stumping it along through the
Desert, on foot, one blazing hot day, and he had come
a thousand miles and was pretty poor, and hungry,
and ornery and tired, and along about where we are
now he run across a camel-driver with a hundred
camels, and asked him for some a'ms. But the camel-
driver he asked to be excused. The dervish said:
"Don't you own these camels?"
"Yes, they're mine."
"Are you in debt?"
"Who -- me? No."
"Well, a man that owns a hundred camels and ain't
in debt is rich -- and not only rich, but very rich.
Ain't it so?"
The camel-driver owned up that it was so. Then
the dervish says:
"God has made you rich, and He has made me
poor. He has His reasons, and they are wise, blessed
be His name. But He has willed that His rich shall
help His poor, and you have turned away from me,
your brother, in my need, and He will remember this,
and you will lose by it."
That made the camel-driver feel shaky, but all the
same he was born hoggish after money and didn't like
to let go a cent; so he begun to whine and explain,
and said times was hard, and although he had took a
full freight down to Balsora and got a fat rate for it,
he couldn't git no return freight, and so he warn't
making no great things out of his trip. So the dervish
starts along again, and says:
"All right, if you want to take the risk; but I
reckon you've made a mistake this time, and missed a
Of course the camel-driver wanted to know what
kind of a chance he had missed, because maybe there
was money in it; so he run after the dervish, and
begged him so hard and earnest to take pity on him
that at last the dervish gave in, and says:
"Do you see that hill yonder? Well, in that hill is
all the treasures of the earth, and I was looking around
for a man with a particular good kind heart and a
noble, generous disposition, because if I could find just
that man, I've got a kind of a salve I could put on
his eyes and he could see the treasures and get them
So then the camel-driver was in a sweat; and he
cried, and begged, and took on, and went down on his
knees, and said he was just that kind of a man, and
said he could fetch a thousand people that would say
he wasn't ever described so exact before.
"Well, then," says the dervish, "all right. If we
load the hundred camels, can I have half of them?"
The driver was so glad he couldn't hardly hold in,
"Now you're shouting."
So they shook hands on the bargain, and the dervish
got out his box and rubbed the salve on the driver's
right eye, and the hill opened and he went in, and
there, sure enough, was piles and piles of gold and
jewels sparkling like all the stars in heaven had fell down.
So him and the dervish laid into it, and they loaded
every camel till he couldn't carry no more; then they
said good-bye, and each of them started off with his
fifty. But pretty soon the camel-driver come a-running
and overtook the dervish and says:
"You ain't in society, you know, and you don't
really need all you've got. Won't you be good, and
let me have ten of your camels?"
"Well," the dervish says, "I don't know but what
you say is reasonable enough."
So he done it, and they separated and the dervish
started off again with his forty. But pretty soon here
comes the camel-driver bawling after him again, and
whines and slobbers around and begs another ten off of
him, saying thirty camel loads of treasures was enough
to see a dervish through, because they live very simple,
you know, and don't keep house, but board around
and give their note.
But that warn't the end yet. That ornery hound
kept coming and coming till he had begged back all
the camels and had the whole hundred. Then he was
satisfied, and ever so grateful, and said he wouldn't
ever forgit the dervish as long as he lived, and nobody
hadn't been so good to him before, and liberal. So
they shook hands good-bye, and separated and started
But do you know, it warn't ten minutes till the
camel-driver was unsatisfied again -- he was the low-
downest reptyle in seven counties -- and he come a-
running again. And this time the thing he wanted was
to get the dervish to rub some of the salve on his other
"Why?" said the dervish.
"Oh, you know," says the driver.
"Well, you can't fool me," says the driver.
"You're trying to keep back something from me,
you know it mighty well. You know, I reckon, that
if I had the salve on the other eye I could see a lot
more things that's valuable. Come -- please put it on."
The dervish says:
"I wasn't keeping anything back from you. I
don't mind telling you what would happen if I put it
on. You'd never see again. You'd be stone-blind the
rest of your days."
But do you know that beat wouldn't believe him.
No, he begged and begged, and whined and cried, till
at last the dervish opened his box and told him to put
it on, if he wanted to. So the man done it, and sure
enough he was as blind as a bat in a minute.
Then the dervish laughed at him and mocked at him
and made fun of him; and says:
"Good-bye -- a man that's blind hain't got no use
And he cleared out with the hundred camels, and
left that man to wander around poor and miserable and
friendless the rest of his days in the Desert.
Jim said he'd bet it was a lesson to him.
"Yes," Tom says, "and like a considerable many
lessons a body gets. They ain't no account, because
the thing don't ever happen the same way again -- and
can't. The time Hen Scovil fell down the chimbly
and crippled his back for life, everybody said it would
be a lesson to him. What kind of a lesson? How
was he going to use it? He couldn't climb chimblies
no more, and he hadn't no more backs to break."
"All de same, Mars Tom, dey IS sich a thing as
learnin' by expe'ence. De Good Book say de burnt
chile shun de fire."
"Well, I ain't denying that a thing's a lesson if it's
a thing that can happen twice just the same way.
There's lots of such things, and THEY educate a person,
that's what Uncle Abner always said; but there's forty
MILLION lots of the other kind -- the kind that don't
happen the same way twice -- and they ain't no real
use, they ain't no more instructive than the small-pox.
When you've got it, it ain't no good to find out you
ought to been vaccinated, and it ain't no good to git
vaccinated afterward, because the small-pox don't
come but once. But, on the other hand, Uncle Abner
said that the person that had took a bull by the tail
once had learnt sixty or seventy times as much as a
person that hadn't, and said a person that started in to
carry a cat home by the tail was gitting knowledge that
was always going to be useful to him, and warn't ever
going to grow dim or doubtful. But I can tell you,
Jim, Uncle Abner was down on them people that's all
the time trying to dig a lesson out of everything that
happens, no matter whether --"
But Jim was asleep. Tom looked kind of ashamed,
because you know a person always feels bad when he
is talking uncommon fine and thinks the other person
is admiring, and that other person goes to sleep that
way. Of course he oughtn't to go to sleep, because
it's shabby; but the finer a person talks the certainer
it is to make you sleep, and so when you come to look
at it it ain't nobody's fault in particular; both of
them's to blame.
Jim begun to snore -- soft and blubbery at first,
then a long rasp, then a stronger one, then a half a
dozen horrible ones like the last water sucking down
the plug-hole of a bath-tub, then the same with more
power to it, and some big coughs and snorts flung in,
the way a cow does that is choking to death; and
when the person has got to that point he is at his level
best, and can wake up a man that is in the next block
with a dipperful of loddanum in him, but can't wake
himself up although all that awful noise of his'n ain't
but three inches from his own ears. And that is the
curiosest thing in the world, seems to me. But you
rake a match to light the candle, and that little bit of a
noise will fetch him. I wish I knowed what was the
reason of that, but there don't seem to be no way to
find out. Now there was Jim alarming the whole
Desert, and yanking the animals out, for miles and
miles around, to see what in the nation was going on
up there; there warn't nobody nor nothing that was as
close to the noise as HE was, and yet he was the only
cretur that wasn't disturbed by it. We yelled at him
and whooped at him, it never done no good; but the
first time there come a little wee noise that wasn't of a
usual kind it woke him up. No, sir, I've thought it
all over, and so has Tom, and there ain't no way to
find out why a snorer can't hear himself snore.
Jim said he hadn't been asleep; he just shut his eyes
so he could listen better.
Tom said nobody warn't accusing him.
That made him look like he wished he hadn't said
anything. And he wanted to git away from the sub-
ject, I reckon, because he begun to abuse the camel-
driver, just the way a person does when he has got
catched in something and wants to take it out of some-
body else. He let into the camel-driver the hardest he
knowed how, and I had to agree with him; and he
praised up the dervish the highest he could, and I had
to agree with him there, too. But Tom says:
"I ain't so sure. You call that dervish so dreadful
liberal and good and unselfish, but I don't quite see it.
He didn't hunt up another poor dervish, did he? No,
he didn't. If he was so unselfish, why didn't he go in
there himself and take a pocketful of jewels and go
along and be satisfied? No, sir, the person he was
hunting for was a man with a hundred camels. He
wanted to get away with all the treasure he could."
"Why, Mars Tom, he was willin' to divide, fair and
square; he only struck for fifty camels."
"Because he knowed how he was going to get all of
them by and by."
"Mars Tom, he TOLE de man de truck would make
"Yes, because he knowed the man's character. It
was just the kind of a man he was hunting for -- a
man that never believes in anybody's word or any-
body's honorableness, because he ain't got none of his
own. I reckon there's lots of people like that dervish.
They swindle, right and left, but they always make the
other person SEEM to swindle himself. They keep inside
of the letter of the law all the time, and there ain't no
way to git hold of them. THEY don't put the salve on
-- oh, no, that would be sin; but they know how to
fool YOU into putting it on, then it's you that blinds
yourself. I reckon the dervish and the camel-driver
was just a pair -- a fine, smart, brainy rascal, and a
dull, coarse, ignorant one, but both of them rascals,
just the same."
"Mars Tom, does you reckon dey's any o' dat kind
o' salve in de worl' now?"
"Yes, Uncle Abner says there is. He says they've
got it in New York, and they put it on country people's
eyes and show them all the railroads in the world, and
they go in and git them, and then when they rub the
salve on the other eye the other man bids them good-
bye and goes off with their railroads. Here's the
treasure-hill now. Lower away!"
We landed, but it warn't as interesting as I thought
it was going to be, because we couldn't find the place
where they went in to git the treasure. Still, it was
plenty interesting enough, just to see the mere hill
itself where such a wonderful thing happened. Jim
said he wou'dn't 'a' missed it for three dollars, and I
felt the same way.
And to me and Jim, as wonderful a thing as any was
the way Tom could come into a strange big country
like this and go straight and find a little hump like that
and tell it in a minute from a million other humps that
was almost just like it, and nothing to help him but
only his own learning and his own natural smartness.
We talked and talked it over together, but couldn't
make out how he done it. He had the best head on
him I ever see; and all he lacked was age, to make a
name for himself equal to Captain Kidd or George
Washington. I bet you it would 'a' crowded either of
THEM to find that hill, with all their gifts, but it warn't
nothing to Tom Sawyer; he went across Sahara and
put his finger on it as easy as you could pick a nigger
out of a bunch of angels.
We found a pond of salt water close by and scraped
up a raft of salt around the edges, and loaded up the
lion's skin and the tiger's so as they would keep till Jim
could tan them.
WE went a-fooling along for a day or two, and then
just as the full moon was touching the ground
on the other side of the desert, we see a string of little
black figgers moving across its big silver face. You
could see them as plain as if they was painted on the
moon with ink. It was another caravan. We cooled
down our speed and tagged along after it, just to have
company, though it warn't going our way. It was a
rattler, that caravan, and a most bully sight to look at
next morning when the sun come a-streaming across
the desert and flung the long shadders of the camels
on the gold sand like a thousand grand-daddy-long-
legses marching in procession. We never went very
near it, because we knowed better now than to act like
that and scare people's camels and break up their cara-
vans. It was the gayest outfit you ever see, for rich
clothes and nobby style. Some of the chiefs rode on
dromedaries, the first we ever see, and very tall, and
they go plunging along like they was on stilts, and
they rock the man that is on them pretty violent and
churn up his dinner considerable, I bet you, but they
make noble good time, and a camel ain't nowheres with
them for speed.
The caravan camped, during the middle part of the
day, and then started again about the middle of the
afternoon. Before long the sun begun to look very
curious. First it kind of turned to brass, and then to
copper, and after that it begun to look like a blood-
red ball, and the air got hot and close, and pretty soon
all the sky in the west darkened up and looked thick
and foggy, but fiery and dreadful -- like it looks
through a piece of red glass, you know. We looked
down and see a big confusion going on in the caravan,
and a rushing every which way like they was scared;
and then they all flopped down flat in the sand and
laid there perfectly still.
Pretty soon we see something coming that stood up
like an amazing wide wall, and reached from the Desert
up into the sky and hid the sun, and it was coming
like the nation, too. Then a little faint breeze struck
us, and then it come harder, and grains of sand begun
to sift against our faces and sting like fire, and Tom
"It's a sand-storm -- turn your backs to it!"
We done it; and in another minute it was blowing a
gale, and the sand beat against us by the shovelful, and
the air was so thick with it we couldn't see a thing. In
five minutes the boat was level full, and we was setting
on the lockers buried up to the chin in sand, and only
our heads out and could hardly breathe.
Then the storm thinned, and we see that monstrous
wall go a-sailing off across the desert, awful to look at,
I tell you. We dug ourselves out and looked down,
and where the caravan was before there wasn't any-
thing but just the sand ocean now, and all still and
quiet. All them people and camels was smothered and
dead and buried -- buried under ten foot of sand, we
reckoned, and Tom allowed it might be years before
the wind uncovered them, and all that time their friends
wouldn't ever know what become of that caravan.
"NOW we know what it was that happened to the
people we got the swords and pistols from."
Yes, sir, that was just it. It was as plain as day
now. They got buried in a sand-storm, and the wild
animals couldn't get at them, and the wind never un-
covered them again until they was dried to leather and
warn't fit to eat. It seemed to me we had felt as sorry
for them poor people as a person could for anybody,
and as mournful, too, but we was mistaken; this last
caravan's death went harder with us, a good deal
harder. You see, the others was total strangers, and
we never got to feeling acquainted with them at all,
except, maybe, a little with the man that was watching
the girl, but it was different with this last caravan. We
was huvvering around them a whole night and 'most a
whole day, and had got to feeling real friendly with
them, and acquainted. I have found out that there
ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people
or hate them than to travel with them. Just so with
these. We kind of liked them from the start, and
traveling with them put on the finisher. The longer
we traveled with them, and the more we got used to
their ways, the better and better we liked them, and
the gladder and gladder we was that we run across
them. We had come to know some of them so well
that we called them by name when we was talking
about them, and soon got so familiar and sociable that
we even dropped the Miss and Mister and just used
their plain names without any handle, and it did not
seem unpolite, but just the right thing. Of course, it
wasn't their own names, but names we give them.
There was Mr. Elexander Robinson and Miss Adaline
Robinson, and Colonel Jacob McDougal and Miss
Harryet McDougal, and Judge Jeremiah Butler and
young Bushrod Butler, and these was big chiefs mostly
that wore splendid great turbans and simmeters, and
dressed like the Grand Mogul, and their families. But
as soon as we come to know them good, and like them
very much, it warn't Mister, nor Judge, nor nothing,
any more, but only Elleck, and Addy, and Jake, and
Hattie, and Jerry, and Buck, and so on.
And you know the more you join in with people in
their joys and their sorrows, the more nearer and
dearer they come to be to you. Now we warn't cold
and indifferent, the way most travelers is, we was right
down friendly and sociable, and took a chance in every-
thing that was going, and the caravan could depend on
us to be on hand every time, it didn't make no differ-
ence what it was.
When they camped, we camped right over them, ten
or twelve hundred feet up in the air. When they et a
meal, we et ourn, and it made it ever so much home-
liker to have their company. When they had a wed-
ding that night, and Buck and Addy got married, we
got ourselves up in the very starchiest of the professor's
duds for the blow-out, and when they danced we jined
in and shook a foot up there.
But it is sorrow and trouble that brings you the
nearest, and it was a funeral that done it with us. It
was next morning, just in the still dawn. We didn't
know the diseased, and he warn't in our set, but that
never made no difference; he belonged to the caravan,
and that was enough, and there warn't no more sincerer
tears shed over him than the ones we dripped on him
from up there eleven hundred foot on high.
Yes, parting with this caravan was much more
bitterer than it was to part with them others, which was
comparative strangers, and been dead so long, anyway.
We had knowed these in their lives, and was fond of
them, too, and now to have death snatch them from
right before our faces while we was looking, and leave
us so lonesome and friendless in the middle of that big
desert, it did hurt so, and we wished we mightn't ever
make any more friends on that voyage if we was
going to lose them again like that.
We couldn't keep from talking about them, and
they was all the time coming up in our memory, and
looking just the way they looked when we was all alive
and happy together. We could see the line marching,
and the shiny spearheads a-winking in the sun; we
could see the dromedaries lumbering along; we could
see the wedding and the funeral; and more oftener
than anything else we could see them praying, because
they don't allow nothing to prevent that; whenever
the call come, several times a day, they would stop
right there, and stand up and face to the east, and lift
back their heads, and spread out their arms and begin,
and four or five times they would go down on their
knees, and then fall forward and touch their forehead
to the ground.
Well, it warn't good to go on talking about them,
lovely as they was in their life, and dear to us in their
life and death both, because it didn't do no good, and
made us too down-hearted. Jim allowed he was going
to live as good a life as he could, so he could see them
again in a better world; and Tom kept still and didn't
tell him they was only Mohammedans; it warn't no
use to disappoint him, he was feeling bad enough just
as it was.
When we woke up next morning we was feeling a
little cheerfuller, and had had a most powerful good
sleep, because sand is the comfortablest bed there is,
and I don't see why people that can afford it don't
have it more. And it's terrible good ballast, too; I
never see the balloon so steady before.
Tom allowed we had twenty tons of it, and wondered
what we better do with it; it was good sand, and it
didn't seem good sense to throw it away. Jim says:
"Mars Tom, can't we tote it back home en sell it?
How long'll it take?"
"Depends on the way we go."
"Well, sah, she's wuth a quarter of a dollar a load
at home, en I reckon we's got as much as twenty
loads, hain't we? How much would dat be?"
"By jings, Mars Tom, le's shove for home right on
de spot! Hit's more'n a dollar en a half apiece, hain't
"Well, ef dat ain't makin' money de easiest ever I
struck! She jes' rained in -- never cos' us a lick o'
work. Le's mosey right along, Mars Tom."
But Tom was thinking and ciphering away so busy
and excited he never heard him. Pretty soon he says:
"Five dollars -- sho! Look here, this sand's worth
-- worth -- why, it's worth no end of money."
"How is dat, Mars Tom? Go on, honey, go on!"
"Well, the minute people knows it's genuwyne sand
from the genuwyne Desert of Sahara, they'll just be in
a perfect state of mind to git hold of some of it to
keep on the what-not in a vial with a label on it for a
curiosity. All we got to do is to put it up in vials and
float around all over the United States and peddle them
out at ten cents apiece. We've got all of ten thousand
dollars' worth of sand in this boat."
Me and Jim went all to pieces with joy, and begun
to shout whoopjamboreehoo, and Tom says:
"And we can keep on coming back and fetching
sand, and coming back and fetching more sand, and
just keep it a-going till we've carted this whole Desert
over there and sold it out; and there ain't ever going
to be any opposition, either, because we'll take out a
"My goodness," I says, "we'll be as rich as Creo-
sote, won't we, Tom?"
"Yes -- Creesus, you mean. Why, that dervish was
hunting in that little hill for the treasures of the earth,
and didn't know he was walking over the real ones for
a thousand miles. He was blinder than he made the
"Mars Tom, how much is we gwyne to be worth?"
"Well, I don't know yet. It's got to be ciphered,
and it ain't the easiest job to do, either, because it's
over four million square miles of sand at ten cents a
Jim was awful excited, but this faded it out consider-
able, and he shook his head and says:
"Mars Tom, we can't 'ford all dem vials -- a king
couldn't. We better not try to take de whole Desert,
Mars Tom, de vials gwyne to bust us, sho'."
Tom's excitement died out, too, now, and I reck-
oned it was on account of the vials, but it wasn't. He
set there thinking, and got bluer and bluer, and at last
"Boys, it won't work; we got to give it up."
"On account of the duties."
I couldn't make nothing out of that, neither could
Jim. I says:
"What IS our duty, Tom? Because if we can't git
around it, why can't we just DO it? People often has
But he says:
"Oh, it ain't that kind of duty. The kind I mean
is a tax. Whenever you strike a frontier -- that's the
border of a country, you know -- you find a custom-
house there, and the gov'ment officers comes and rum-
mages among your things and charges a big tax, which
they call a duty because it's their duty to bust you if
they can, and if you don't pay the duty they'll hog
your sand. They call it confiscating, but that don't
deceive nobody, it's just hogging, and that's all it is.
Now if we try to carry this sand home the way we're
pointed now, we got to climb fences till we git tired --
just frontier after frontier -- Egypt, Arabia, Hindostan,
and so on, and they'll all whack on a duty, and so you
see, easy enough, we CAN'T go THAT road."
"Why, Tom," I says, "we can sail right over their
old frontiers; how are THEY going to stop us?"
He looked sorrowful at me, and says, very grave:
"Huck Finn, do you think that would be honest?"
I hate them kind of interruptions. I never said
nothing, and he went on:
"Well, we're shut off the other way, too. If we go
back the way we've come, there's the New York
custom-house, and that is worse than all of them others
put together, on account of the kind of cargo we've
"Well, they can't raise Sahara sand in America, of
course, and when they can't raise a thing there, the
duty is fourteen hundred thousand per cent. on it if
you try to fetch it in from where they do raise it."
"There ain't no sense in that, Tom Sawyer."
"Who said there WAS? What do you talk to me
like that for, Huck Finn? You wait till I say a thing's
got sense in it before you go to accusing me of say-
"All right, consider me crying about it, and sorry.
"Mars Tom, do dey jam dat duty onto everything
we can't raise in America, en don't make no 'stinction
"Yes, that's what they do."
"Mars Tom, ain't de blessin' o' de Lord de mos'
valuable thing dey is?"
"Yes, it is."
"Don't de preacher stan' up in de pulpit en call it
down on de people?"
"Whah do it come from?"
"Yassir! you's jes' right, 'deed you is, honey -- it
come from heaven, en dat's a foreign country. NOW,
den! do dey put a tax on dat blessin'?"
"No, they don't."
"Course dey don't; en so it stan' to reason dat
you's mistaken, Mars Tom. Dey wouldn't put de tax
on po' truck like san', dat everybody ain't 'bleeged to
have, en leave it off'n de bes' thing dey is, which
nobody can't git along widout."
Tom Sawyer was stumped; he see Jim had got him
where he couldn't budge. He tried to wiggle out by
saying they had FORGOT to put on that tax, but they'd
be sure to remember about it, next session of Con-
gress, and then they'd put it on, but that was a poor
lame come-off, and he knowed it. He said there
warn't nothing foreign that warn't taxed but just that
one, and so they couldn't be consistent without taxing
it, and to be consistent was the first law of politics.
So he stuck to it that they'd left it out unintentional
and would be certain to do their best to fix it before
they got caught and laughed at.
But I didn't feel no more interest in such things, as
long as we couldn't git our sand through, and it made
me low-spirited, and Jim the same. Tom he tried to
cheer us up by saying he would think up another
speculation for us that would be just as good as this
one and better, but it didn't do no good, we didn't
believe there was any as big as this. It was mighty
hard; such a little while ago we was so rich, and could
'a' bought a country and started a kingdom and been
celebrated and happy, and now we was so poor and
ornery again, and had our sand left on our hands.
The sand was looking so lovely before, just like gold
and di'monds, and the feel of it was so soft and so
silky and nice, but now I couldn't bear the sight of it,
it made me sick to look at it, and I knowed I wouldn't
ever feel comfortable again till we got shut of it, and I
didn't have it there no more to remind us of what we
had been and what we had got degraded down to.
The others was feeling the same way about it that I
was. I knowed it, because they cheered up so, the
minute I says le's throw this truck overboard.
Well, it was going to be work, you know, and pretty
solid work, too; so Tom he divided it up according to
fairness and strength. He said me and him would
clear out a fifth apiece of the sand, and Jim three-
fifths. Jim he didn't quite like that arrangement. He
"Course I's de stronges', en I's willin' to do a share
accordin', but by jings you's kinder pilin' it onto ole
Jim, Mars Tom, hain't you?"
"Well, I didn't think so, Jim, but you try your hand
at fixing it, and let's see."
So Jim reckoned it wouldn't be no more than fair if
me and Tom done a TENTH apiece. Tom he turned his
back to git room and be private, and then he smole a
smile that spread around and covered the whole Sahara
to the westward, back to the Atlantic edge of it where
we come from. Then he turned around again and
said it was a good enough arrangement, and we was
satisfied if Jim was. Jim said he was.
So then Tom measured off our two-tenths in the
bow and left the rest for Jim, and it surprised Jim a
good deal to see how much difference there was and
what a raging lot of sand his share come to, and said
he was powerful glad now that he had spoke up in time
and got the first arrangement altered, for he said that
even the way it was now, there was more sand than
enjoyment in his end of the contract, he believed.
Then we laid into it. It was mighty hot work, and
tough; so hot we had to move up into cooler weather
or we couldn't 'a' stood it. Me and Tom took turn
about, and one worked while t'other rested, but there
warn't nobody to spell poor old Jim, and he made all
that part of Africa damp, he sweated so. We couldn't
work good, we was so full of laugh, and Jim he kept
fretting and wanting to know what tickled us so, and
we had to keep making up things to account for it, and
they was pretty poor inventions, but they done well
enough, Jim didn't see through them. At last when
we got done we was 'most dead, but not with work
but with laughing. By and by Jim was 'most dead,
too, but: it was with work; then we took turns and
spelled him, and he was as thankfull as he could be,
and would set on the gunnel and swab the sweat, and
heave and pant, and say how good we was to a poor
old nigger, and he wouldn't ever forgit us. He was
always the gratefulest nigger I ever see, for any little
thing you done for him. He was only nigger outside;
inside he was as white as you be.
JIM STANDING SIEGE
THE next few meals was pretty sandy, but that
don't make no difference when you are hungry;
and when you ain't it ain't no satisfaction to eat, any-
way, and so a little grit in the meat ain't no particular
drawback, as far as I can see.
Then we struck the east end of the Desert at last,
sailing on a northeast course. Away off on the edge
of the sand, in a soft pinky light, we see three little
sharp roofs like tents, and Tom says:
"It's the pyramids of Egypt."
It made my heart fairly jump. You see, I had seen
a many and a many a picture of them, and heard tell
about them a hundred times, and yet to come on them
all of a sudden, that way, and find they was REAL, 'stead
of imaginations, 'most knocked the breath out of me
with surprise. It's a curious thing, that the more you
hear about a grand and big and bully thing or person,
the more it kind of dreamies out, as you may say, and
gets to be a big dim wavery figger made out of moon-
shine and nothing solid to it. It's just so with George
Washington, and the same with them pyramids.
And moreover, besides, the thing they always said
about them seemed to me to be stretchers. There was
a feller come to the Sunday-school once, and had a
picture of them, and made a speech, and said the big-
gest pyramid covered thirteen acres, and was most five
hundred foot high, just a steep mountain, all built out
of hunks of stone as big as a bureau, and laid up
in perfectly regular layers, like stair-steps. Thirteen
acres, you see, for just one building; it's a farm. If
it hadn't been in Sunday-school, I would 'a' judged it
was a lie; and outside I was certain of it. And he
said there was a hole in the pyramid, and you could go
in there with candles, and go ever so far up a long
slanting tunnel, and come to a large room in the
stomach of that stone mountain, and there you would
find a big stone chest with a king in it, four thousand
years old. I said to myself, then, if that ain't a lie I
will eat that king if they will fetch him, for even
Methusalem warn't that old, and nobody claims it.
As we come a little nearer we see the yaller sand
come to an end in a long straight edge like a blanket,
and on to it was joined, edge to edge, a wide country
of bright green, with a snaky stripe crooking through
it, and Tom said it was the Nile. It made my heart
jump again, for the Nile was another thing that wasn't
real to me. Now I can tell you one thing which is
dead certain: if you will fool along over three thou-
sand miles of yaller sand, all glimmering with heat so
that it makes your eyes water to look at it, and you've
been a considerable part of a week doing it, the green
country will look so like home and heaven to you that
it will make your eyes water AGAIN.
It was just so with me, and the same with Jim.
And when Jim got so he could believe it WAS the
land of Egypt he was looking at, he wouldn't enter it
standing up, but got down on his knees and took off
his hat, because he said it wasn't fitten' for a humble
poor nigger to come any other way where such men
had been as Moses and Joseph and Pharaoh and the
other prophets. He was a Presbyterian, and had a
most deep respect for Moses which was a Presbyterian,
too, he said. He was all stirred up, and says:
"Hit's de lan' of Egypt, de lan' of Egypt, en I's
'lowed to look at it wid my own eyes! En dah's de
river dat was turn' to blood, en I's looking at de very
same groun' whah de plagues was, en de lice, en de
frogs, en de locus', en de hail, en whah dey marked
de door-pos', en de angel o' de Lord come by in de
darkness o' de night en slew de fust-born in all de lan'
o' Egypt. Ole Jim ain't worthy to see dis day!"
And then he just broke down and cried, he was so
thankful. So between him and Tom there was talk
enough, Jim being excited because the land was so full
of history -- Joseph and his brethren, Moses in the
bulrushers, Jacob coming down into Egypt to buy
corn, the silver cup in the sack, and all them interesting
things; and Tom just as excited too, because the land
was so full of history that was in HIS line, about
Noureddin, and Bedreddin, and such like monstrous
giants, that made Jim's wool rise, and a raft of other
Arabian Nights folks, which the half of them never
done the things they let on they done, I don't believe.
Then we struck a disappointment, for one of them
early morning fogs started up, and it warn't no use to
sail over the top of it, because we would go by Egypt,
sure, so we judged it was best to set her by compass
straight for the place where the pyramids was gitting
blurred and blotted out, and then drop low and skin
along pretty close to the ground and keep a sharp
lookout. Tom took the hellum, I stood by to let go
the anchor, and Jim he straddled the bow to dig
through the fog with his eyes and watch out for danger
ahead. We went along a steady gait, but not very
fast, and the fog got solider and solider, so solid that
Jim looked dim and ragged and smoky through it. It
was awful still, and we talked low and was anxious.
Now and then Jim would say:
"Highst her a p'int, Mars Tom, highst her!" and
up she would skip, a foot or two, and we would slide
right over a flat-roofed mud cabin, with people that
had been asleep on it just beginning to turn out and
gap and stretch; and once when a feller was clear up
on his hind legs so he could gap and stretch better, we
took him a blip in the back and knocked him off. By
and by, after about an hour, and everything dead still
and we a-straining our ears for sounds and holding our
breath, the fog thinned a little, very sudden, and Jim
sung out in an awful scare:
"Oh, for de lan's sake, set her back, Mars Tom,
here's de biggest giant outen de 'Rabian Nights a-
comin' for us!" and he went over backwards in the
Tom slammed on the back-action, and as we slowed
to a standstill a man's face as big as our house at home
looked in over the gunnel, same as a house looks out
of its windows, and I laid down and died. I must 'a'
been clear dead and gone for as much as a minute or
more; then I come to, and Tom had hitched a boat-
hook on to the lower lip of the giant and was holding
the balloon steady with it whilst he canted his head
back and got a good long look up at that awful face.
Jim was on his knees with his hands clasped, gazing
up at the thing in a begging way, and working his lips,
but not getting anything out. I took only just a
glimpse, and was fading out again, but Tom says:
"He ain't alive, you fools; it's the Sphinx!"
I never see Tom look so little and like a fly;
but that was because the giant's head was so big and
awful. Awful, yes, so it was, but not dreadful any
more, because you could see it was a noble face,
and kind of sad, and not thinking about you, but about
other things and larger. It was stone, reddish stone,
and its nose and ears battered, and that give it an
abused look, and you felt sorrier for it for that.
We stood off a piece, and sailed around it and over
it, and it was just grand. It was a man's head, or
maybe a woman's, on a tiger's body a hundred and
twenty-five foot long, and there was a dear little temple
between its front paws. All but the head used to be
under the sand, for hundreds of years, maybe thou-
sands, but they had just lately dug the sand away and
found that little temple. It took a power of sand to
bury that cretur; most as much as it would to bury a
steamboat, I reckon.
We landed Jim on top of the head, with an American
flag to protect him, it being a foreign land; then we
sailed off to this and that and t'other distance, to git
what Tom called effects and perspectives and propor-
tions, and Jim he done the best he could, striking all
the different kinds of attitudes and positions he could
study up, but standing on his head and working his
legs the way a frog does was the best. The further we
got away, the littler Jim got, and the grander the
Sphinx got, till at last it was only a clothespin on a
dome, as you might say. That's the way perspective
brings out the correct proportions, Tom said; he said
Julus Cesar's niggers didn't know how big he was,
they was too close to him.
Then we sailed off further and further, till we
couldn't see Jim at all any more, and then that great
figger was at its noblest, a-gazing out over the Nile
Valley so still and solemn and lonesome, and all the
little shabby huts and things that was scattered about it
clean disappeared and gone, and nothing around it now
but a soft wide spread of yaller velvet, which was the
That was the right place to stop, and we done it.
We set there a-looking and a-thinking for a half an
hour, nobody a-saying anything, for it made us feel
quiet and kind of solemn to remember it had been
looking over that valley just that same way, and think-
ing its awful thoughts all to itself for thousands of
years. and nobody can't find out what they are to this
At last I took up the glass and see some little black
things a-capering around on that velvet carpet, and
some more a-climbing up the cretur's back, and then I
see two or three wee puffs of white smoke, and told
Tom to look. He done it, and says:
"They're bugs. No -- hold on; they -- why, I be-
lieve they're men. Yes, it's men -- men and horses
both. They're hauling a long ladder up onto the
Sphinx's back -- now ain't that odd? And now they're
trying to lean it up a -- there's some more puffs of
smoke -- it's guns! Huck, they're after Jim."
We clapped on the power, and went for them a-
biling. We was there in no time, and come a-whizzing
down amongst them, and they broke and scattered every
which way, and some that was climbing the ladder after
Jim let go all holts and fell. We soared up and found
him laying on top of the head panting and most
tuckered out, partly from howling for help and partly
from scare. He had been standing a siege a long time
-- a week, HE said, but it warn't so, it only just seemed
so to him because they was crowding him so. They
had shot at him, and rained the bullets all around him,
but he warn't hit, and when they found he wouldn't
stand up and the bullets couldn't git at him when he
was laying down, they went for the ladder, and then
he knowed it was all up with him if we didn't come
pretty quick. Tom was very indignant, and asked him
why he didn't show the flag and command them to GIT,
in the name of the United States. Jim said he done
it, but they never paid no attention. Tom said he
would have this thing looked into at Washington, and
"You'll see that they'll have to apologize for insult-
ing the flag, and pay an indemnity, too, on top of it
even if they git off THAT easy."
"What's an indemnity, Mars Tom?"
"It's cash, that's what it is."
"Who gits it, Mars Tom?"
"Why, WE do."
"En who gits de apology?"
"The United States. Or, we can take whichever
we please. We can take the apology, if we want to,
and let the gov'ment take the money."
"How much money will it be, Mars Tom?"
"Well, in an aggravated case like this one, it will
be at least three dollars apiece, and I don't know but
"Well, den, we'll take de money, Mars Tom, blame
de 'pology. Hain't dat yo' notion, too? En hain't it
We talked it over a little and allowed that that was as
good a way as any, so we agreed to take the money.
It was a new business to me, and I asked Tom if
countries always apologized when they had done wrong,
and he says:
"Yes; the little ones does."
We was sailing around examining the pyramids, you
know, and now we soared up and roosted on the flat top
of the biggest one, and found it was just like what the
man said in the Sunday-school. It was like four pairs
of stairs that starts broad at the bottom and slants up
and comes together in a point at the top, only these
stair-steps couldn't be clumb the way you climb other
stairs; no, for each step was as high as your chin, and
you have to be boosted up from behind. The two
other pyramids warn't far away, and the people moving
about on the sand between looked like bugs crawling,
we was so high above them.
Tom he couldn't hold himself he was so worked up
with gladness and astonishment to be in such a cele-
brated place, and he just dripped history from every
pore, seemed to me. He said he couldn't scarcely
believe he was standing on the very identical spot the
prince flew from on the Bronze Horse. It was in the
Arabian Night times, he said. Somebody give the
prince a bronze horse with a peg in its shoulder, and
he could git on him and fly through the air like a bird,
and go all over the world, and steer it by turning the
peg, and fly high or low and land wherever he wanted
When he got done telling it there was one of them
uncomfortable silences that comes, you know, when a
person has been telling a whopper and you feel sorry
for him and wish you could think of some way to
change the subject and let him down easy, but git stuck
and don't see no way, and before you can pull your
mind together and DO something, that silence has got in
and spread itself and done the business. I was embar-
rassed, Jim he was embarrassed, and neither of us
couldn't say a word. Well, Tom he glowered at me a
minute, and says:
"Come, out with it. What do you think?"
"Tom Sawyer, YOU don't believe that, yourself."
"What's the reason I don't? What's to hender
"There's one thing to hender you: it couldn't
happen, that's all."
"What's the reason it couldn't happen?"
"You tell me the reason it COULD happen."
"This balloon is a good enough reason it could
happen, I should reckon."
"WHY is it?"
"WHY is it? I never saw such an idiot. Ain't this
balloon and the bronze horse the same thing under
"No, they're not. One is a balloon and the other's
a horse. It's very different. Next you'll be saying a
house and a cow is the same thing."
"By Jackson, Huck's got him ag'in! Dey ain't no
wigglin' outer dat!"
"Shut your head, Jim; you don't know what you're
talking about. And Huck don't. Look here, Huck,
I'll make it plain to you, so you can understand. You
see, it ain't the mere FORM that's got anything to do
with their being similar or unsimilar, it's the PRINCI-
PLE involved; and the principle is the same in both.
Don't you see, now?"
I turned it over in my mind, and says:
"Tom, it ain't no use. Principles is all very well,
but they don't git around that one big fact, that the
thing that a balloon can do ain't no sort of proof of
what a horse can do."
"Shucks, Huck, you don't get the idea at all. Now
look here a minute -- it's perfectly plain. Don't we
fly through the air?"
"Very well. Don't we fly high or fly low, just as
"Don't we steer whichever way we want to?"
"And don't we land when and where we please?"
"How do we move the balloon and steer it?"
"By touching the buttons."
"NOW I reckon the thing is clear to you at last. In
the other case the moving and steering was done by
turning a peg. We touch a button, the prince turned
a peg. There ain't an atom of difference, you see. I
knowed I could git it through your head if I stuck to it
He felt so happy he begun to whistle. But me and
Jim was silent, so he broke off surprised, and says:
"Looky here, Huck Finn, don't you see it YET?"
"Tom Sawyer, I want to ask you some questions."
"Go ahead," he says, and I see Jim chirk up to
"As I understand it, the whole thing is in the buttons
and the peg -- the rest ain't of no consequence. A
button is one shape, a peg is another shape, but that
ain't any matter?"
"No, that ain't any matter, as long as they've both
got the same power."
"All right, then. What is the power that's in a
candle and in a match?"
"It's the fire."
"It's the same in both, then?"
"Yes, just the same in both."
"All right. Suppose I set fire to a carpenter shop
with a match, what will happen to that carpenter
"She'll burn up."
"And suppose I set fire to this pyramid with a
candle -- will she burn up?"
"Of course she won't."
"All right. Now the fire's the same, both times.
WHY does the shop burn, and the pyramid don't?"
"Because the pyramid CAN'T burn."
"Aha! and A HORSE CAN'T FLY!"
"My lan', ef Huck ain't got him ag'in! Huck's
landed him high en dry dis time, I tell you! Hit's
de smartes' trap I ever see a body walk inter -- en
ef I --"
But Jim was so full of laugh he got to strangling and
couldn't go on, and Tom was that mad to see how neat
I had floored him, and turned his own argument ag'in
him and knocked him all to rags and flinders with it,
that all he could manage to say was that whenever he
heard me and Jim try to argue it made him ashamed
of the human race. I never said nothing; I was feel-
ing pretty well satisfied. When I have got the best of
a person that way, it ain't my way to go around crow-
ing about it the way some people does, for I consider
that if I was in his place I wouldn't wish him to crow
over me. It's better to be generous, that's what I
GOING FOR TOM'S PIPE:
BY AND BY we left Jim to float around up there in
the neighborhood of the pyramids, and we clumb
down to the hole where you go into the tunnel, and
went in with some Arabs and candles, and away in
there in the middle of the pyramid we found a room and
a big stone box in it where they used to keep that king,
just as the man in the Sunday-school said; but he was
gone, now; somebody had got him. But I didn't take
no interest in the place, because there could be ghosts
there, of course; not fresh ones, but I don't like no
So then we come out and got some little donkeys and
rode a piece, and then went in a boat another piece,
and then more donkeys, and got to Cairo; and all the way
the road was as smooth and beautiful a road as ever I
see, and had tall date-pa'ms on both sides, and naked
children everywhere, and the men was as red as copper,
and fine and strong and handsome. And the city was
a curiosity. Such narrow streets -- why, they were
just lanes, and crowded with people with turbans, and
women with veils, and everybody rigged out in blazing
bright clothes and all sorts of colors, and you wondered
how the camels and the people got by each other in
such narrow little cracks, but they done it -- a perfect
jam, you see, and everybody noisy. The stores warn't
big enough to turn around in, but you didn't have to
go in; the storekeeper sat tailor fashion on his counter,
smoking his snaky long pipe, and had his things where
he could reach them to sell, and he was just as good as
in the street, for the camel-loads brushed him as they
Now and then a grand person flew by in a carriage
with fancy dressed men running and yelling in front of
it and whacking anybody with a long rod that didn't
get out of the way. And by and by along comes the
Sultan riding horseback at the head of a procession,
and fairly took your breath away his clothes was so
splendid; and everybody fell flat and laid on his
stomach while he went by. I forgot, but a feller
helped me to remember. He was one that had a rod
and run in front.
There was churches, but they don't know enough to
keep Sunday; they keep Friday and break the Sab-
bath. You have to take off your shoes when you go
in. There was crowds of men and boys in the church,
setting in groups on the stone floor and making no end
of noise -- getting their lessons by heart, Tom said, out
of the Koran, which they think is a Bible, and people
that knows better knows enough to not let on. I never
see such a big church in my life before, and most awful
high, it was; it made you dizzy to look up; our
village church at home ain't a circumstance to it; if
you was to put it in there, people would think it was a
What I wanted to see was a dervish, because I was
interested in dervishes on accounts of the one that
played the trick on the camel-driver. So we found a
lot in a kind of a church, and they called themselves
Whirling Dervishes; and they did whirl, too. I never
see anything like it. They had tall sugar-loaf hats on,
and linen petticoats; and they spun and spun and
spun, round and round like tops, and the petticoats
stood out on a slant, and it was the prettiest thing I
ever see, and made me drunk to look at it. They was
all Moslems, Tom said, and when I asked him what a
Moslem was, he said it was a person that wasn't a
Presbyterian. So there is plenty of them in Missouri,
though I didn't know it before.
We didn't see half there was to see in Cairo, because
Tom was in such a sweat to hunt out places that was
celebrated in history. We had a most tiresome time to
find the granary where Joseph stored up the grain
before the famine, and when we found it it warn't
worth much to look at, being such an old tumble-down
wreck; but Tom was satisfied, and made more fuss over
it than I would make if I stuck a nail in my foot.
How he ever found that place was too many for me.
We passed as much as forty just like it before we come
to it, and any of them would 'a' done for me, but none
but just the right one would suit him; I never see any-
body so particular as Tom Sawyer. The minute he
struck the right one he reconnized it as easy as I would
reconnize my other shirt if I had one, but how he done
it he couldn't any more tell than he could fly; he said
Then we hunted a long time for the house where the
boy lived that learned the cadi how to try the case of
the old olives and the new ones, and said it was out of
the Arabian Nights, and he would tell me and Jim
about it when he got time. Well, we hunted and
hunted till I was ready to drop, and I wanted Tom to
give it up and come next day and git somebody that
knowed the town and could talk Missourian and could
go straight to the place; but no, he wanted to find it
himself, and nothing else would answer. So on we
went. Then at last the remarkablest thing happened I
ever see. The house was gone -- gone hundreds of
years ago -- every last rag of it gone but just one mud
brick. Now a person wouldn't ever believe that a
backwoods Missouri boy that hadn't ever been in that
town before could go and hunt that place over and find
that brick, but Tom Sawyer done it. I know he done
it, because I see him do it. I was right by his very
side at the time, and see him see the brick and see him
reconnize it. Well, I says to myself, how DOES he do
it? Is it knowledge, or is it instink?
Now there's the facts, just as they happened: let
everybody explain it their own way. I've ciphered
over it a good deal, and it's my opinion that some of it
is knowledge but the main bulk of it is instink. The
reason is this: Tom put the brick in his pocket to give
to a museum with his name on it and the facts when he
went home, and I slipped it out and put another brick
considerable like it in its place, and he didn't know the
difference -- but there was a difference, you see. I
think that settles it -- it's mostly instink, not knowledge.
Instink tells him where the exact PLACE is for the brick to
be in, and so he reconnizes it by the place it's in, not
by the look of the brick. If it was knowledge, not
instink, he would know the brick again by the look of
it the next time he seen it -- which he didn't. So it
shows that for all the brag you hear about knowledge
being such a wonderful thing, instink is worth forty of
it for real unerringness. Jim says the same.
When we got back Jim dropped down and took us
in, and there was a young man there with a red skull-
cap and tassel on and a beautiful silk jacket and baggy
trousers with a shawl around his waist and pistols in it
that could talk English and wanted to hire to us as
guide and take us to Mecca and Medina and Central
Africa and everywheres for a half a dollar a day and his
keep, and we hired him and left, and piled on the
power, and by the time we was through dinner we was
over the place where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea
when Pharaoh tried to overtake them and was caught
by the waters. We stopped, then, and had a good
look at the place, and it done Jim good to see it. He
said he could see it all, now, just the way it happened;
he could see the Israelites walking along between the
walls of water, and the Egyptians coming, from away
off yonder, hurrying all they could, and see them start
in as the Israelites went out, and then when they was
all in, see the walls tumble together and drown the last
man of them. Then we piled on the power again and
rushed away and huvvered over Mount Sinai, and saw
the place where Moses broke the tables of stone, and
where the children of Israel camped in the plain and
worshiped the golden calf, and it was all just as
interesting as could be, and the guide knowed every
place as well as I knowed the village at home.
But we had an accident, now, and it fetched all the
plans to a standstill. Tom's old ornery corn-cob pipe
had got so old and swelled and warped that she couldn't
hold together any longer, notwithstanding the strings
and bandages, but caved in and went to pieces. Tom
he didn't know WHAT to do. The professor's pipe
wouldn't answer; it warn't anything but a mershum,
and a person that's got used to a cob pipe knows it
lays a long ways over all the other pipes in this world,
and you can't git him to smoke any other. He
wouldn't take mine, I couldn't persuade him. So
there he was.
He thought it over, and said we must scour around
and see if we could roust out one in Egypt or Arabia or
around in some of these countries, but the guide said no,
it warn't no use, they didn't have them. So Tom was
pretty glum for a little while, then he chirked up and said
he'd got the idea and knowed what to do. He says:
"I've got another corn-cob pipe, and it's a prime
one, too, and nearly new. It's laying on the rafter
that's right over the kitchen stove at home in the
village. Jim, you and the guide will go and get it,
and me and Huck will camp here on Mount Sinai till
you come back."
"But, Mars Tom, we couldn't ever find de village.
I could find de pipe, 'case I knows de kitchen, but my
lan', we can't ever find de village, nur Sent Louis, nur
none o' dem places. We don't know de way, Mars
That was a fact, and it stumped Tom for a minute.
Then he said:
"Looky here, it can be done, sure; and I'll tell you
how. You set your compass and sail west as straight
as a dart, till you find the United States. It ain't any
trouble, because it's the first land you'll strike the other
side of the Atlantic. If it's daytime when you strike it,
bulge right on, straight west from the upper part of the
Florida coast, and in an hour and three quarters you'll
hit the mouth of the Mississippi -- at the speed that
I'm going to send you. You'll be so high up in the
air that the earth will be curved considerable -- sorter
like a washbowl turned upside down -- and you'll see a
raft of rivers crawling around every which way, long
before you get there, and you can pick out the Miss-
issippi without any trouble. Then you can follow the
river north nearly, an hour and three quarters, till you
see the Ohio come in; then you want to look sharp,
because you're getting near. Away up to your left
you'll see another thread coming in -- that's the
Missouri and is a little above St. Louis. You'll come
down low then, so as you can examine the villages as
you spin along. You'll pass about twenty-five in the
next fifteen minutes, and you'll recognize ours when
you see it -- and if you don't, you can yell down and
"Ef it's dat easy, Mars Tom, I reckon we kin do
it -- yassir, I knows we kin."
The guide was sure of it, too, and thought that he
could learn to stand his watch in a little while.
"Jim can learn you the whole thing in a half an
hour," Tom said. "This balloon's as easy to manage
as a canoe."
Tom got out the chart and marked out the course
and measured it, and says:
"To go back west is the shortest way, you see.
It's only about seven thousand miles. If you went
east, and so on around, it's over twice as far." Then
he says to the guide, "I want you both to watch the
tell-tale all through the watches, and whenever it don't
mark three hundred miles an hour, you go higher or
drop lower till you find a storm-current that's going
your way. There's a hundred miles an hour in this
old thing without any wind to help. There's two-
hundred-mile gales to be found, any time you want to
hunt for them."
"We'll hunt for them, sir."
"See that you do. Sometimes you may have to
go up a couple of miles, and it'll be p'ison cold, but
most of the time you'll find your storm a good deal
lower. If you can only strike a cyclone -- that's the
ticket for you! You'll see by the professor's books
that they travel west in these latitudes; and they travel
Then he ciphered on the time, and says --
"Seven thousand miles, three hundred miles an
hour -- you can make the trip in a day -- twenty-four
hours. This is Thursday; you'll be back here Sat-
urday afternoon. Come, now, hustle out some blankets
and food and books and things for me and Huck, and
you can start right along. There ain't no occasion to
fool around -- I want a smoke, and the quicker you
fetch that pipe the better."
All hands jumped for the things, and in eight min-
utes our things was out and the balloon was ready for
America. So we shook hands good-bye, and Tom
gave his last orders:
"It's 1O minutes to 2 P.M. now, Mount Sinai time.
In 24 hours you'll be home, and it'll be 6 to-mor-
row morning, village time. When you strike the
village, land a little back of the top of the hill, in the
woods, out of sight; then you rush down, Jim, and
shove these letters in the post-office, and if you see
anybody stirring, pull your slouch down over your face
so they won't know you. Then you go and slip in the
back way to the kitchen and git the pipe, and lay this
piece of paper on the kitchen table, and put something
on it to hold it, and then slide out and git away, and
don't let Aunt Polly catch a sight of you, nor nobody
else. Then you jump for the balloon and shove for
Mount Sinai three hundred miles an hour. You won't
have lost more than an hour. You'll start back at 7 or
8 A.M., village time, and be here in 24 hours, arriving
at 2 or 3 P.M., Mount Sinai time."
Tom he read the piece of paper to us. He had
wrote on it:
"THURSDAY AFTERNOON. Tom Sawyer the Erro-
nort sends his love to Aunt Polly from Mount Sinai
where the Ark was, and so does Huck Finn, and she
will get it to-morrow morning half-past six." *
[* This misplacing of the Ark is probably Huck's
error, not Tom's. -- M.T.]
"That'll make her eyes bulge out and the tears
come," he says. Then he says:
"Stand by! One -- two -- three -- away you go!"
And away she DID go! Why, she seemed to whiz
out of sight in a second.
Then we found a most comfortable cave that looked
out over the whole big plain, and there we camped to
wait for the pipe.
The balloon come hack all right, and brung the pipe;
but Aunt Polly had catched Jim when he was getting
it, and anybody can guess what happened: she sent
for Tom. So Jim he says:
"Mars Tom, she's out on de porch wid her eye sot on
de sky a-layin' for you, en she say she ain't gwyne to
budge from dah tell she gits hold of you. Dey's gwyne
to be trouble, Mars Tom, 'deed dey is."
So then we shoved for home, and not feeling very