AS the earliest suspicion of dawn appeared
on Sunday morning, Huck came groping
up the hill and rapped gently at the old
Welshman's door. The inmates were
asleep, but it was a sleep that was set on
a hair-trigger, on account of the exciting
episode of the night. A call came from a window:
Huck's scared voice answered in a low tone:
"Please let me in! It's only Huck Finn!"
"It's a name that can open this door night or day,
lad! -- and welcome!"
These were strange words to the vagabond boy's
ears, and the pleasantest he had ever heard. He
could not recollect that the closing word had ever been
applied in his case before. The door was quickly
unlocked, and he entered. Huck was given a seat
and the old man and his brace of tall sons speedily
"Now, my boy, I hope you're good and hungry,
because breakfast will be ready as soon as the sun's
up, and we'll have a piping hot one, too -- make yourself easy about that! I and the boys hoped you'd
turn up and stop here last night."
"I was awful scared," said Huck, "and I run. I
took out when the pistols went off, and I didn't stop
for three mile. I've come now becuz I wanted to know
about it, you know; and I come before daylight becuz
I didn't want to run across them devils, even if they
"Well, poor chap, you do look as if you'd had a
hard night of it -- but there's a bed here for you when
you've had your breakfast. No, they ain't dead, lad
-- we are sorry enough for that. You see we knew
right where to put our hands on them, by your description; so we crept along on tiptoe till we got
within fifteen feet of them -- dark as a cellar that sumach
path was -- and just then I found I was going to sneeze.
It was the meanest kind of luck! I tried to keep it
back, but no use -- 'twas bound to come, and it did
come! I was in the lead with my pistol raised, and
when the sneeze started those scoundrels a-rustling to
get out of the path, I sung out, 'Fire boys!' and blazed
away at the place where the rustling was. So did the
boys. But they were off in a jiffy, those villains, and
we after them, down through the woods. I judge we
never touched them. They fired a shot apiece as they
started, but their bullets whizzed by and didn't do us
any harm. As soon as we lost the sound of their feet
we quit chasing, and went down and stirred up the
constables. They got a posse together, and went off
to guard the river bank, and as soon as it is light the
sheriff and a gang are going to beat up the woods. My
boys will be with them presently. I wish we had
some sort of description of those rascals -- 'twould help
a good deal. But you couldn't see what they were
like, in the dark, lad, I suppose?"
"Oh yes; I saw them down-town and follered
"Splendid! Describe them -- describe them, my
"One's the old deaf and dumb Spaniard that's ben
around here once or twice, and t'other's a mean-looking,
"That's enough, lad, we know the men! Happened on them in the woods back of the widow's one
day, and they slunk away. Off with you, boys, and
tell the sheriff -- get your breakfast to-morrow morning!"
The Welshman's sons departed at once. As they
were leaving the room Huck sprang up and exclaimed:
"Oh, please don't tell ANYbody it was me that
blowed on them! Oh, please!"
"All right if you say it, Huck, but you ought to
have the credit of what you did."
"Oh no, no! Please don't tell!"
When the young men were gone, the old Welshman
"They won't tell -- and I won't. But why don't
you want it known?"
Huck would not explain, further than to say that
he already knew too much about one of those men
and would not have the man know that he knew anything against him for the whole world -- he would be
killed for knowing it, sure.
The old man promised secrecy once more, and
"How did you come to follow these fellows, lad?
Were they looking suspicious?"
Huck was silent while he framed a duly cautious
reply. Then he said:
"Well, you see, I'm a kind of a hard lot, -- least
everybody says so, and I don't see nothing agin it -- and sometimes I can't sleep much, on account of thinking about it and sort of trying to strike out a new
way of doing. That was the way of it last night. I
couldn't sleep, and so I come along up-street 'bout
midnight, a-turning it all over, and when I got to that
old shackly brick store by the Temperance Tavern,
I backed up agin the wall to have another think. Well,
just then along comes these two chaps slipping along
close by me, with something under their arm, and I
reckoned they'd stole it. One was a-smoking, and
t'other one wanted a light; so they stopped right before
me and the cigars lit up their faces and I see that the
big one was the deaf and dumb Spaniard, by his white
whiskers and the patch on his eye, and t'other one
was a rusty, ragged-looking devil."
"Could you see the rags by the light of the cigars?"
This staggered Huck for a moment. Then he
"Well, I don't know -- but somehow it seems as if
"Then they went on, and you --"
"Follered 'em -- yes. That was it. I wanted to see
what was up -- they sneaked along so. I dogged 'em
to the widder's stile, and stood in the dark and heard
the ragged one beg for the widder, and the Spaniard
swear he'd spile her looks just as I told you and your
"What! The DEAF AND DUMB man said all that!"
Huck had made another terrible mistake! He was
trying his best to keep the old man from getting the
faintest hint of who the Spaniard might be, and yet
his tongue seemed determined to get him into trouble
in spite of all he could do. He made several efforts
to creep out of his scrape, but the old man's eye was
upon him and he made blunder after blunder. Presently the Welshman said:
"My boy, don't be afraid of me. I wouldn't hurt
a hair of your head for all the world. No -- I'd protect you -- I'd protect you. This Spaniard is not deaf
and dumb; you've let that slip without intending it;
you can't cover that up now. You know something
about that Spaniard that you want to keep dark.
Now trust me -- tell me what it is, and trust me -- I
won't betray you."
Huck looked into the old man's honest eyes a moment,
then bent over and whispered in his ear:
"'Tain't a Spaniard -- it's Injun Joe!"
The Welshman almost jumped out of his chair. In
a moment he said:
"It's all plain enough, now. When you talked
about notching ears and slitting noses I judged that
that was your own embellishment, because white
men don't take that sort of revenge. But an Injun!
That's a different matter altogether."
During breakfast the talk went on, and in the course
of it the old man said that the last thing which he and
his sons had done, before going to bed, was to get a
lantern and examine the stile and its vicinity for marks
of blood. They found none, but captured a bulky
bundle of --
If the words had been lightning they could not
have leaped with a more stunning suddenness from
Huck's blanched lips. His eyes were staring wide,
now, and his breath suspended -- waiting for the answer.
The Welshman started -- stared in return -- three seconds
-- five seconds -- ten -- then replied:
"Of burglar's tools. Why, what's the MATTER with
Huck sank back, panting gently, but deeply, unutterably grateful. The Welshman eyed him gravely,
curiously -- and presently said:
"Yes, burglar's tools. That appears to relieve
you a good deal. But what did give you that turn?
What were YOU expecting we'd found?"
Huck was in a close place -- the inquiring eye was
upon him -- he would have given anything for material
for a plausible answer -- nothing suggested itself -- the
inquiring eye was boring deeper and deeper -- a senseless reply offered -- there was no time to weigh it, so
at a venture he uttered it -- feebly:
"Sunday-school books, maybe."
Poor Huck was too distressed to smile, but the old
man laughed loud and joyously, shook up the details
of his anatomy from head to foot, and ended by saying
that such a laugh was money in a-man's pocket, because it cut down the doctor's bill like everything.
Then he added:
"Poor old chap, you're white and jaded -- you ain't
well a bit -- no wonder you're a little flighty and off
your balance. But you'll come out of it. Rest and
sleep will fetch you out all right, I hope."
Huck was irritated to think he had been such a
goose and betrayed such a suspicious excitement, for
he had dropped the idea that the parcel brought from
the tavern was the treasure, as soon as he had heard
the talk at the widow's stile. He had only thought
it was not the treasure, however -- he had not known
that it wasn't -- and so the suggestion of a captured
bundle was too much for his self-possession. But on
the whole he felt glad the little episode had happened,
for now he knew beyond all question that that bundle
was not THE bundle, and so his mind was at rest and
exceedingly comfortable. In fact, everything seemed
to be drifting just in the right direction, now; the
treasure must be still in No. 2, the men would be
captured and jailed that day, and he and Tom could
seize the gold that night without any trouble or any
fear of interruption.
Just as breakfast was completed there was a knock
at the door. Huck jumped for a hiding-place, for
he had no mind to be connected even remotely with
the late event. The Welshman admitted several
ladies and gentlemen, among them the Widow Douglas,
and noticed that groups of citizens were climbing up
the hill -- to stare at the stile. So the news had spread.
The Welshman had to tell the story of the night
to the visitors. The widow's gratitude for her preservation was outspoken.
"Don't say a word about it, madam. There's
another that you're more beholden to than you are
to me and my boys, maybe, but he don't allow me
to tell his name. We wouldn't have been there but
Of course this excited a curiosity so vast that it
almost belittled the main matter -- but the Welshman
allowed it to eat into the vitals of his visitors, and
through them be transmitted to the whole town, for
he refused to part with his secret. When all else had
been learned, the widow said:
"I went to sleep reading in bed and slept straight
through all that noise. Why didn't you come and
"We judged it warn't worth while. Those fellows
warn't likely to come again -- they hadn't any tools
left to work with, and what was the use of waking
you up and scaring you to death? My three negro
men stood guard at your house all the rest of the night.
They've just come back."
More visitors came, and the story had to be told
and retold for a couple of hours more.
There was no Sabbath-school during day-school
vacation, but everybody was early at church. The
stirring event was well canvassed. News came that
not a sign of the two villains had been yet discovered.
When the sermon was finished, Judge Thatcher's
wife dropped alongside of Mrs. Harper as she moved
down the aisle with the crowd and said:
"Is my Becky going to sleep all day? I just expected she would be tired to death."
"Yes," with a startled look -- "didn't she stay with
you last night?"
Mrs. Thatcher turned pale, and sank into a pew,
just as Aunt Polly, talking briskly with a friend, passed
by. Aunt Polly said:
"Good-morning, Mrs. Thatcher. Good-morning,
Mrs. Harper. I've got a boy that's turned up missing.
I reckon my Tom stayed at your house last night -- one of you. And now he's afraid to come to church.
I've got to settle with him."
Mrs. Thatcher shook her head feebly and turned
paler than ever.
"He didn't stay with us," said Mrs. Harper, beginning to look uneasy. A marked anxiety came into
Aunt Polly's face.
"Joe Harper, have you seen my Tom this morning?"
"When did you see him last?"
Joe tried to remember, but was not sure he could
say. The people had stopped moving out of church.
Whispers passed along, and a boding uneasiness took
possession of every countenance. Children were anxiously questioned, and young teachers. They all said
they had not noticed whether Tom and Becky were on
board the ferryboat on the homeward trip; it was dark;
no one thought of inquiring if any one was missing.
One young man finally blurted out his fear that they
were still in the cave! Mrs. Thatcher swooned away.
Aunt Polly fell to crying and wringing her hands.
The alarm swept from lip to lip, from group to
group, from street to street, and within five minutes
the bells were wildly clanging and the whole town was
up! The Cardiff Hill episode sank into instant insignificance, the burglars were forgotten, horses were
saddled, skiffs were manned, the ferryboat ordered out,
and before the horror was half an hour old, two hundred
men were pouring down highroad and river toward the
All the long afternoon the village seemed empty
and dead. Many women visited Aunt Polly and Mrs.
Thatcher and tried to comfort them. They cried
with them, too, and that was still better than words.
All the tedious night the town waited for news; but
when the morning dawned at last, all the word that
came was, "Send more candles -- and send food." Mrs.
Thatcher was almost crazed; and Aunt Polly, also.
Judge Thatcher sent messages of hope and encouragement from the cave, but they conveyed no real cheer.
The old Welshman came home toward daylight,
spattered with candle-grease, smeared with clay, and
almost worn out. He found Huck still in the bed
that had been provided for him, and delirious with
fever. The physicians were all at the cave, so the
Widow Douglas came and took charge of the patient.
She said she would do her best by him, because, whether
he was good, bad, or indifferent, he was the Lord's,
and nothing that was the Lord's was a thing to be
neglected. The Welshman said Huck had good spots
in him, and the widow said:
"You can depend on it. That's the Lord's mark.
He don't leave it off. He never does. Puts it somewhere on every creature that comes from his hands."
Early in the forenoon parties of jaded men began
to straggle into the village, but the strongest of the
citizens continued searching. All the news that could
be gained was that remotenesses of the cavern were
being ransacked that had never been visited before;
that every corner and crevice was going to be thoroughly
searched; that wherever one wandered through the
maze of passages, lights were to be seen flitting hither
and thither in the distance, and shoutings and pistol-shots sent their hollow reverberations to the ear down
the sombre aisles. In one place, far from the section
usually traversed by tourists, the names "BECKY &
TOM" had been found traced upon the rocky wall
with candle-smoke, and near at hand a grease-soiled
bit of ribbon. Mrs. Thatcher recognized the ribbon
and cried over it. She said it was the last relic she
should ever have of her child; and that no other
memorial of her could ever be so precious, because
this one parted latest from the living body before the
awful death came. Some said that now and then, in
the cave, a far-away speck of light would glimmer, and
then a glorious shout would burst forth and a score of
men go trooping down the echoing aisle -- and then a
sickening disappointment always followed; the children
were not there; it was only a searcher's light.
Three dreadful days and nights dragged their tedious
hours along, and the village sank into a hopeless
stupor. No one had heart for anything. The accidental discovery, just made, that the proprietor of the
Temperance Tavern kept liquor on his premises,
scarcely fluttered the public pulse, tremendous as the
fact was. In a lucid interval, Huck feebly led up to
the subject of taverns, and finally asked -- dimly
dreading the worst -- if anything had been discovered
at the Temperance Tavern since he had been ill.
"Yes," said the widow.
Huck started up in bed, wild-eyed:
"What? What was it?"
"Liquor! -- and the place has been shut up. Lie
down, child -- what a turn you did give me!"
"Only tell me just one thing -- only just one -- please!
Was it Tom Sawyer that found it?"
The widow burst into tears. "Hush, hush, child,
hush! I've told you before, you must NOT talk. You
are very, very sick!"
Then nothing but liquor had been found; there
would have been a great powwow if it had been the
gold. So the treasure was gone forever -- gone forever!
But what could she be crying about? Curious that
she should cry.
These thoughts worked their dim way through Huck's
mind, and under the weariness they gave him he fell
asleep. The widow said to herself:
"There -- he's asleep, poor wreck. Tom Sawyer
find it! Pity but somebody could find Tom Sawyer!
Ah, there ain't many left, now, that's got hope enough,
or strength enough, either, to go on searching."