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(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

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ABOUT noon the next day the boys arrived at the dead tree;

they had come for their tools. Tom was impatient to go

to the haunted house; Huck was measurably so, also --

but suddenly said:

"Lookyhere, Tom, do you know what day it is?"

Tom mentally ran over the days of the week, and

then quickly lifted his eyes with a startled look in them --

"My! I never once thought of it, Huck!"

"Well, I didn't neither, but all at once it popped

onto me that it was Friday."

"Blame it, a body can't be too careful, Huck. We

might 'a' got into an awful scrape, tackling such a thing

on a Friday."

"MIGHT! Better say we WOULD! There's some lucky

days, maybe, but Friday ain't."

"Any fool knows that. I don't reckon YOU was the

first that found it out, Huck."

"Well, I never said I was, did I? And Friday ain't

all, neither. I had a rotten bad dream last night --

dreampt about rats."

"No! Sure sign of trouble. Did they fight?"


"Well, that's good, Huck. When they don't fight

it's only a sign that there's trouble around, you know.

All we got to do is to look mighty sharp and keep out of

it. We'll drop this thing for to-day, and play. Do

you know Robin Hood, Huck?"

"No. Who's Robin Hood?"

"Why, he was one of the greatest men that was

ever in England -- and the best. He was a robber."

"Cracky, I wisht I was. Who did he rob?"

"Only sheriffs and bishops and rich people and kings,

and such like. But he never bothered the poor. He

loved 'em. He always divided up with 'em perfectly square."

"Well, he must 'a' been a brick."

"I bet you he was, Huck. Oh, he was the noblest

man that ever was. They ain't any such men now, I

can tell you. He could lick any man in England, with

one hand tied behind him; and he could take his yew bow

and plug a ten-cent piece every time, a mile and a half."

"What's a YEW bow?"

"I don't know. It's some kind of a bow, of course.

And if he hit that dime only on the edge he would set

down and cry -- and curse. But we'll play Robin Hood

-- it's nobby fun. I'll learn you."

"I'm agreed."

So they played Robin Hood all the afternoon, now

and then casting a yearning eye down upon the haunted

house and passing a remark about the morrow's pros-

pects and possibilities there. As the sun began to sink

into the west they took their way homeward athwart the

long shadows of the trees and soon were buried from

sight in the forests of Cardiff Hill.

On Saturday, shortly after noon, the boys were

at the dead tree again. They had a smoke and a

chat in the shade, and then dug a little in their last

hole, not with great hope, but merely because Tom

said there were so many cases where people had given

up a treasure after getting down within six inches of it,

and then somebody else had come along and turned

it up with a single thrust of a shovel. The thing failed

this time, however, so the boys shouldered their tools

and went away feeling that they had not trifled with

fortune, but had fulfilled all the requirements that be-

long to the business of treasure-hunting.

When they reached the haunted house there was

something so weird and grisly about the dead silence

that reigned there under the baking sun, and some-

thing so depressing about the loneliness and desola-

tion of the place, that they were afraid, for a mo-

ment, to venture in. Then they crept to the door and

took a trembling peep. They saw a weed-grown,

floorless room, unplastered, an ancient fireplace, va-

cant windows, a ruinous staircase; and here, there,

and everywhere hung ragged and abandoned cobwebs.

They presently entered, softly, with quickened pulses,

talking in whispers, ears alert to catch the slightest

sound, and muscles tense and ready for instant retreat.

In a little while familiarity modified their fears and

they gave the place a critical and interested exam-

ination, rather admiring their own boldness, and won-

dering at it, too. Next they wanted to look up-stairs.

This was something like cutting off retreat, but they got

to daring each other, and of course there could be but

one result -- they threw their tools into a corner and made

the ascent. Up there were the same signs of decay.

In one corner they found a closet that promised mystery,

but the promise was a fraud -- there was nothing in it.

Their courage was up now and well in hand. They

were about to go down and begin work when --

"Sh!" said Tom.

"What is it?" whispered Huck, blanching with fright.

"Sh! ... There! ... Hear it?"

"Yes! ... Oh, my! Let's run!"

"Keep still! Don't you budge! They're coming

right toward the door."

The boys stretched themselves upon the floor with

their eyes to knot-holes in the planking, and lay wait-

ing, in a misery of fear.

"They've stopped.... No -- coming.... Here they

are. Don't whisper another word, Huck. My good-

ness, I wish I was out of this!"

Two men entered. Each boy said to himself:

"There's the old deaf and dumb Spaniard that's been

about town once or twice lately -- never saw t'other

man before."

"T'other" was a ragged, unkempt creature, with

nothing very pleasant in his face. The Spaniard was

wrapped in a serape; he had bushy white whiskers; long

white hair flowed from under his sombrero, and he

wore green goggles. When they came in, "t'other" was

talking in a low voice; they sat down on the ground,

facing the door, with their backs to the wall, and the

speaker continued his remarks. His manner became

less guarded and his words more distinct as he proceeded:

"No," said he, "I've thought it all over, and I don't

like it. It's dangerous."

"Dangerous!" grunted the "deaf and dumb" Span-

iard -- to the vast surprise of the boys. "Milksop!"

This voice made the boys gasp and quake. It was Injun Joe's!

There was silence for some time. Then Joe said:

"What's any more dangerous than that job up yonder --

but nothing's come of it."

"That's different. Away up the river so, and not

another house about. 'Twon't ever be known that we

tried, anyway, long as we didn't succeed."

"Well, what's more dangerous than coming here in

the daytime! -- anybody would suspicion us that saw us."

"I know that. But there warn't any other place as

handy after that fool of a job. I want to quit this

shanty. I wanted to yesterday, only it warn't any use

trying to stir out of here, with those infernal boys play-

ing over there on the hill right in full view."

"Those infernal boys" quaked again under the in-

spiration of this remark, and thought how lucky it was

that they had remembered it was Friday and concluded

to wait a day. They wished in their hearts they had

waited a year.

The two men got out some food and made a luncheon.

After a long and thoughtful silence, Injun Joe said:

"Look here, lad -- you go back up the river where

you belong. Wait there till you hear from me. I'll

take the chances on dropping into this town just once

more, for a look. We'll do that 'dangerous' job after

I've spied around a little and think things look well for

it. Then for Texas! We'll leg it together!"

This was satisfactory. Both men presently fell to

yawning, and Injun Joe said:

"I'm dead for sleep! It's your turn to watch."

He curled down in the weeds and soon began to

snore. His comrade stirred him once or twice and he

became quiet. Presently the watcher began to nod;

his head drooped lower and lower, both men began to

snore now.

The boys drew a long, grateful breath. Tom whispered:

"Now's our chance -- come!"

Huck said:

"I can't -- I'd die if they was to wake."

Tom urged -- Huck held back. At last Tom rose

slowly and softly, and started alone. But the first

step he made wrung such a hideous creak from the

crazy floor that he sank down almost dead with fright.

He never made a second attempt. The boys lay there

counting the dragging moments till it seemed to them

that time must be done and eternity growing gray; and

then they were grateful to note that at last the sun was


Now one snore ceased. Injun Joe sat up, stared

around -- smiled grimly upon his comrade, whose head

was drooping upon his knees -- stirred him up with his

foot and said:

"Here! YOU'RE a watchman, ain't you! All right,

though -- nothing's happened."

"My! have I been asleep?"

"Oh, partly, partly. Nearly time for us to be moving, pard.

What'll we do with what little swag we've got left?"

"I don't know -- leave it here as we've always done,

I reckon. No use to take it away till we start south.

Six hundred and fifty in silver's something to carry."

"Well -- all right -- it won't matter to come here once more."

"No -- but I'd say come in the night as we used to do

-- it's better."

"Yes: but look here; it may be a good while before

I get the right chance at that job; accidents might hap-

pen; 'tain't in such a very good place; we'll just regularly

bury it -- and bury it deep."

"Good idea," said the comrade, who walked across

the room, knelt down, raised one of the rearward hearth-

stones and took out a bag that jingled pleasantly. He

subtracted from it twenty or thirty dollars for himself

and as much for Injun Joe, and passed the bag to the

latter, who was on his knees in the corner, now, digging

with his bowie-knife.

The boys forgot all their fears, all their miseries

in an instant. With gloating eyes they watched every

movement. Luck! -- the splendor of it was beyond all

imagination! Six hundred dollars was money enough

to make half a dozen boys rich! Here was treasure-

hunting under the happiest auspices -- there would not

be any bothersome uncertainty as to where to dig.

They nudged each other every moment -- eloquent

nudges and easily understood, for they simply meant --

"Oh, but ain't you glad NOW we're here!"

Joe's knife struck upon something.

"Hello!" said he.

"What is it?" said his comrade.

"Half-rotten plank -- no, it's a box, I believe. Here --

bear a hand and we'll see what it's here for. Never

mind, I've broke a hole."

He reached his hand in and drew it out --

"Man, it's money!"

The two men examined the handful of coins. They

were gold. The boys above were as excited as them-

selves, and as delighted.

Joe's comrade said:

"We'll make quick work of this. There's an old

rusty pick over amongst the weeds in the corner the

other side of the fireplace -- I saw it a minute ago."

He ran and brought the boys' pick and shovel. Injun

Joe took the pick, looked it over critically, shook his

head, muttered something to himself, and then began

to use it. The box was soon unearthed. It was not

very large; it was iron bound and had been very strong

before the slow years had injured it. The men con-

templated the treasure awhile in blissful silence.

"Pard, there's thousands of dollars here," said Injun Joe.

"'Twas always said that Murrel's gang used to be

around here one summer," the stranger observed.

"I know it," said Injun Joe; "and this looks like it,

I should say."

"Now you won't need to do that job."

The half-breed frowned. Said he:

"You don't know me. Least you don't know all

about that thing. 'Tain't robbery altogether -- it's

REVENGE!" and a wicked light flamed in his eyes. "I'll

need your help in it. When it's finished -- then Texas.

Go home to your Nance and your kids, and stand by

till you hear from me."

"Well -- if you say so; what'll we do with this -- bury it again?"

"Yes. [Ravishing delight overhead.] NO! by the

great Sachem, no! [Profound distress overhead.] I'd

nearly forgot. That pick had fresh earth on it! [The

boys were sick with terror in a moment.] What busi-

ness has a pick and a shovel here? What business with

fresh earth on them? Who brought them here -- and

where are they gone? Have you heard anybody? --

seen anybody? What! bury it again and leave them to

come and see the ground disturbed? Not exactly -- not

exactly. We'll take it to my den."

"Why, of course! Might have thought of that before.

You mean Number One?"

"No -- Number Two -- under the cross. The other

place is bad -- too common."

"All right. It's nearly dark enough to start."

Injun Joe got up and went about from window to

window cautiously peeping out. Presently he said:

"Who could have brought those tools here? Do

you reckon they can be up-stairs?"

The boys' breath forsook them. Injun Joe put his

hand on his knife, halted a moment, undecided, and

then turned toward the stairway. The boys thought

of the closet, but their strength was gone. The steps

came creaking up the stairs -- the intolerable distress

of the situation woke the stricken resolution of the lads

-- they were about to spring for the closet, when there

was a crash of rotten timbers and Injun Joe landed on

the ground amid the debris of the ruined stairway. He

gathered himself up cursing, and his comrade said:

"Now what's the use of all that? If it's anybody,

and they're up there, let them STAY there -- who cares?

If they want to jump down, now, and get into trouble,

who objects? It will be dark in fifteen minutes -- and

then let them follow us if they want to. I'm willing.

In my opinion, whoever hove those things in here caught

a sight of us and took us for ghosts or devils or some-

thing. I'll bet they're running yet."

Joe grumbled awhile; then he agreed with his friend

that what daylight was left ought to be economized in

getting things ready for leaving. Shortly afterward

they slipped out of the house in the deepening twilight,

and moved toward the river with their precious box.

Tom and Huck rose up, weak but vastly relieved,

and stared after them through the chinks between the

logs of the house. Follow? Not they. They were

content to reach ground again without broken necks,

and take the townward track over the hill. They did

not talk much. They were too much absorbed in hating

themselves -- hating the ill luck that made them take

the spade and the pick there. But for that, Injun Joe

never would have suspected. He would have hidden

the silver with the gold to wait there till his "revenge"

was satisfied, and then he would have had the mis-

fortune to find that money turn up missing. Bitter,

bitter luck that the tools were ever brought there!

They resolved to keep a lookout for that Spaniard

when he should come to town spying out for chances

to do his revengeful job, and follow him to "Number

Two," wherever that might be. Then a ghastly thought

occurred to Tom.

"Revenge? What if he means US, Huck!"

"Oh, don't!" said Huck, nearly fainting.

They talked it all over, and as they entered town they

agreed to believe that he might possibly mean somebody

else -- at least that he might at least mean nobody but

Tom, since only Tom had testified.

Very, very small comfort it was to Tom to be alone

in danger! Company would be a palpable improve-

ment, he thought.



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