360 THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN.
" Mercy sakes !"
------"and load up the cabin with rats and snakes and so on, for company for
Jim ; and then you kept Tom here so long with the butter in his hat that you come near spiling the whole business, because the men come before we was out of the cabin, and we had to rush, and they heard us and let drive at us, and I got my share, and we dodged out of the path and let them go by, and when the dogs come they warn't interested in us, but went for the most noise, and we got our canoe, and made for the raft, and was all safe, and Jim was a free man, and we done it all by ourselves, and wasn't it bully, Aunty !"
" Well, I never heard the likes of it in all my born days ! So it was you, you little rapscallions, that's been making all this trouble, and turned everybody's wits clean inside out and scared us all most to death. I've as good a notion as ever I had in my life, to take it out o' you this very minute. To think, here I've been, night after night, a—you just get well once, you young scamp, and I lay I'll tan the Old Harry out o' both o' ye !"
But Tom, he was so proud and joyful, he just couldn't hold in, and his tongue just went it—she a-chipping in, and spitting fire all along, and both of them going it at once, like a cat-convention ; and she says :
" Well, you get all the enjoyment you can out of it now, for mind I tell you if I catch you meddling with him again------"
" Meddling with who f " Tom says, dropping his smile and looking surprised.
" With who? Why, the runaway nigger, of course. Who'd you reckon ?"
Tom looks at me very grave, and says :
" Tom, didn't you just tell me he was all right ? Hasn't he got away ? "
" Him f " says Aunt Sally ; " the runaway nigger ? 'Deed he hasn't. They've got him back, safe and sound, and he's in that cabin again, on bread and water, and loaded down with chains, till he's claimed or sold !"
Tom rose square up in bed, with his eye hot, and his nostrils opening and shutting like gills, and sings out to me :
" They hain't no right to shut him up ! Shove !—and don't you lose a minute. Turn him loose ! he ain't no slave; he's as free as any cretur that walks this earth!"
" What does the child mean ? "