THAT night Tom and Huck were ready for their adventure.
They hung about the neighborhood of the tavern until
after nine, one watching the alley at a distance and the other
the tavern door. Nobody entered the alley or left it;
nobody resembling the Spaniard entered or left the tavern
door. The night promised to be a fair one; so Tom
went home with the understanding that if a considerable
degree of darkness came on, Huck was to come
and "maow," whereupon he would slip out and try
the keys. But the night remained clear, and Huck
closed his watch and retired to bed in an empty sugar
hogshead about twelve.
Tuesday the boys had the same ill luck. Also
Wednesday. But Thursday night promised better.
Tom slipped out in good season with his aunt's old
tin lantern, and a large towel to blindfold it with.
He hid the lantern in Huck's sugar hogshead and the
watch began. An hour before midnight the tavern
closed up and its lights (the only ones thereabouts)
were put out. No Spaniard had been seen. Nobody
had entered or left the alley. Everything was auspi-
cious. The blackness of darkness reigned, the perfect
stillness was interrupted only by occasional mutterings
of distant thunder.
Tom got his lantern, lit it in the hogshead, wrapped
it closely in the towel, and the two adventurers crept
in the gloom toward the tavern. Huck stood sentry
and Tom felt his way into the alley. Then there was
a season of waiting anxiety that weighed upon Huck's
spirits like a mountain. He began to wish he could
see a flash from the lantern -- it would frighten him, but
it would at least tell him that Tom was alive yet. It
seemed hours since Tom had disappeared. Surely
he must have fainted; maybe he was dead; maybe
his heart had burst under terror and excitement. In
his uneasiness Huck found himself drawing closer
and closer to the alley; fearing all sorts of dreadful
things, and momentarily expecting some catastrophe
to happen that would take away his breath. There
was not much to take away, for he seemed only able
to inhale it by thimblefuls, and his heart would soon
wear itself out, the way it was beating. Suddenly
there was a flash of light and Tom came tearing by him:
"Run!" said he; "run, for your life!"
He needn't have repeated it; once was enough;
Huck was making thirty or forty miles an hour before
the repetition was uttered. The boys never stopped
till they reached the shed of a deserted slaughter-
house at the lower end of the village. Just as they got
within its shelter the storm burst and the rain poured
down. As soon as Tom got his breath he said:
"Huck, it was awful! I tried two of the keys, just
as soft as I could; but they seemed to make such a
power of racket that I couldn't hardly get my breath
I was so scared. They wouldn't turn in the lock,
either. Well, without noticing what I was doing, I
took hold of the knob, and open comes the door! It
warn't locked! I hopped in, and shook off the towel,
and, GREAT CAESAR'S GHOST!"
"What! -- what'd you see, Tom?"
"Huck, I most stepped onto Injun Joe's hand!"
"Yes! He was lying there, sound asleep on the floor,
with his old patch on his eye and his arms spread out."
"Lordy, what did you do? Did he wake up?"
"No, never budged. Drunk, I reckon. I just
grabbed that towel and started!"
"I'd never 'a' thought of the towel, I bet!"
"Well, I would. My aunt would make me mighty
sick if I lost it."
"Say, Tom, did you see that box?"
"Huck, I didn't wait to look around. I didn't see
the box, I didn't see the cross. I didn't see anything
but a bottle and a tin cup on the floor by Injun Joe;
yes, I saw two barrels and lots more bottles in the
room. Don't you see, now, what's the matter with
that ha'nted room?"
"Why, it's ha'nted with whiskey! Maybe ALL the
Temperance Taverns have got a ha'nted room, hey, Huck?"
"Well, I reckon maybe that's so. Who'd 'a' thought
such a thing? But say, Tom, now's a mighty good
time to get that box, if Injun Joe's drunk."
"It is, that! You try it!"
"Well, no -- I reckon not."
"And I reckon not, Huck. Only one bottle along-
side of Injun Joe ain't enough. If there'd been three,
he'd be drunk enough and I'd do it."
There was a long pause for reflection, and then Tom said:
"Lookyhere, Huck, less not try that thing any
more till we know Injun Joe's not in there. It's too
scary. Now, if we watch every night, we'll be dead
sure to see him go out, some time or other, and then
we'll snatch that box quicker'n lightning."
"Well, I'm agreed. I'll watch the whole night long,
and I'll do it every night, too, if you'll do the other part
of the job."
"All right, I will. All you got to do is to trot up
Hooper Street a block and maow -- and if I'm asleep,
you throw some gravel at the window and that'll fetch me."
"Agreed, and good as wheat!"
"Now, Huck, the storm's over, and I'll go home.
It'll begin to be daylight in a couple of hours. You go
back and watch that long, will you?"
"I said I would, Tom, and I will. I'll ha'nt that
tavern every night for a year! I'll sleep all day and
I'll stand watch all night."
"That's all right. Now, where you going to sleep?"
"In Ben Rogers' hayloft. He lets me, and so does
his pap's nigger man, Uncle Jake. I tote water for
Uncle Jake whenever he wants me to, and any time I
ask him he gives me a little something to eat if he
can spare it. That's a mighty good nigger, Tom. He
likes me, becuz I don't ever act as if I was above him.
Sometime I've set right down and eat WITH him. But
you needn't tell that. A body's got to do things when
he's awful hungry he wouldn't want to do as a steady thing."
"Well, if I don't want you in the daytime, I'll let
you sleep. I won't come bothering around. Any
time you see something's up, in the night, just skip
right around and maow."
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Room | THE
ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER