Chapter 21

Mark Twain2016年05月19日'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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IT was after sun-up now, but we went right on and
didn’t tie up. The king and the duke turned out
by and by looking pretty rusty; but after they’d
jumped overboard and took a swim it chippered them
up a good deal. After breakfast the king he took a
seat on the corner of the raft, and pulled off his boots
and rolled up his britches, and let his legs dangle in
the water, so as to be comfortable, and lit his pipe, and
went to getting his Romeo and Juliet by heart. When
he had got it pretty good him and the duke begun to
practice it together. The duke had to learn him over
and over again how to say every speech; and he made
him sigh, and put his hand on his heart, and after a
while he said he done it pretty well; “only,” he says,
“you mustn’t bellow out ROMEO! that way, like a
bull — you must say it soft and sick and languishy,
so — R-o-o-meo! that is the idea; for Juliet’s a dear
sweet mere child of a girl, you know, and she doesn’t
bray like a jackass.”

Well, next they got out a couple of long swords that
the duke made out of oak laths, and begun to practice
the sword fight — the duke called himself Richard
III.; and the way they laid on and pranced around
the raft was grand to see. But by and by the king
tripped and fell overboard, and after that they took a
rest, and had a talk about all kinds of adventures
they’d had in other times along the river.

After dinner the duke says:

“Well, Capet, we’ll want to make this a first-class
show, you know, so I guess we’ll add a little more to
it. We want a little something to answer encores
with, anyway.”

“What’s onkores, Bilgewater?”

The duke told him, and then says:

“I’ll answer by doing the Highland fling or the
sailor’s hornpipe; and you — well, let me see — oh,
I’ve got it — you can do Hamlet’s soliloquy.”

“Hamlet’s which?”

“Hamlet’s soliloquy, you know; the most celebrated
thing in Shakespeare. Ah, it’s sublime, sublime! Always fetches the house. I haven’t got it in the book
— I’ve only got one volume — but I reckon I can
piece it out from memory. I’ll just walk up and down
a minute, and see if I can call it back from recollection’s vaults.”

So he went to marching up and down, thinking, and
frowning horrible every now and then; then he would
hoist up his eyebrows; next he would squeeze his hand
on his forehead and stagger back and kind of moan;
next he would sigh, and next he’d let on to drop a
tear. It was beautiful to see him. By and by he got
it. He told us to give attention. Then he strikes a
most noble attitude, with one leg shoved forwards, and
his arms stretched away up, and his head tilted back,
looking up at the sky; and then he begins to rip and
rave and grit his teeth; and after that, all through his
speech, he howled, and spread around, and swelled up
his chest, and just knocked the spots out of any acting
ever I see before. This is the speech — I learned it,
easy enough, while he was learning it to the king:

To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do
come to Dunsinane,
But that the fear of something after death
Murders the innocent sleep,
Great nature’s second course,
And makes us rather sling the arrows of outrageous fortune
Than fly to others that we know not of.
There’s the respect must give us pause:
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The law’s delay, and the quietus which his
pangs might take,
In the dead waste and middle of the night,
when churchyards yawn
In customary suits of solemn black,
But that the undiscovered country from whose
bourne no traveler returns,
Breathes forth contagion on the world,
And thus the native hue of resolution, like
the poor cat i’ the adage,
Is sicklied o’er with care,
And all the clouds that lowered o’er our housetops,
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
But soft you, the fair Ophelia:
Ope not thy ponderous and marble jaws,
But get thee to a nunnery — go!

Well, the old man he liked that speech, and he
mighty soon got it so he could do it first-rate. It
seemed like he was just born for it; and when he had
his hand in and was excited, it was perfectly lovely
the way he would rip and tear and rair up behind
when he was getting it off.

The first chance we got the duke he had some showbills printed; and after that, for two or three days as
we floated along, the raft was a most uncommon lively
place, for there warn’t nothing but sword fighting and
rehearsing — as the duke called it — going on all the
time. One morning, when we was pretty well down
the State of Arkansaw, we come in sight of a little
one-horse town in a big bend; so we tied up about
three-quarters of a mile above it, in the mouth of a
crick which was shut in like a tunnel by the cypress
trees, and all of us but Jim took the canoe and went
down there to see if there was any chance in that place
for our show.

We struck it mighty lucky; there was going to be a
circus there that afternoon, and the country people was
already beginning to come in, in all kinds of old
shackly wagons, and on horses. The circus would
leave before night, so our show would have a pretty
good chance. The duke he hired the courthouse, and
we went around and stuck up our bills. They read
like this:

               Shaksperean Revival ! ! !
                 Wonderful Attraction!
                  For One Night Only!
             The world renowned tragedians,
  David Garrick the Younger, of Drury Lane Theatre London,
   Edmund Kean the elder, of the Royal Haymarket Theatre,
   Whitechapel, Pudding Lane, Piccadilly, London, and the
        Royal Continental Theatres, in their sublime
            Shaksperean Spectacle entitled
                  The Balcony Scene
                Romeo and Juliet ! ! !
          Romeo...................Mr. Garrick
          Juliet..................Mr. Kean
      Assisted by the whole strength of the company!
        New costumes, new scenes, new appointments!
        The thrilling, masterly, and blood-curdling
                 Broad-sword conflict
                 In Richard III. ! ! !
          Richard III.............Mr. Garrick
          Richmond................Mr. Kean
                 (by special request)
            Hamlet's Immortal Soliloquy ! !
               By The Illustrious Kean!
      Done by him 300 consecutive nights in Paris!
                  For One Night Only,
     On account of imperative European engagements!
  Admission 25 cents; children and servants, 10 cents.

Then we went loafing around town. The stores and
houses was most all old, shackly, dried up frame concerns that hadn’t ever been painted; they was set up
three or four foot above ground on stilts, so as to be
out of reach of the water when the river was overflowed. The houses had little gardens around them,
but they didn’t seem to raise hardly anything in them
but jimpson-weeds, and sunflowers, and ash piles, and
old curled-up boots and shoes, and pieces of bottles,
and rags, and played-out tinware. The fences was
made of different kinds of boards, nailed on at different times; and they leaned every which way, and
had gates that didn’t generly have but one hinge — a
leather one. Some of the fences had been whitewashed some time or another, but the duke said it was
in Clumbus’ time, like enough. There was generly
hogs in the garden, and people driving them out.

All the stores was along one street. They had
white domestic awnings in front, and the country people hitched their horses to the awning-posts. There
was empty drygoods boxes under the awnings, and
loafers roosting on them all day long, whittling them
with their Barlow knives; and chawing tobacco, and
gaping and yawning and stretching — a mighty ornery
lot. They generly had on yellow straw hats most as
wide as an umbrella, but didn’t wear no coats nor
waistcoats, they called one another Bill, and Buck,
and Hank, and Joe, and Andy, and talked lazy and
drawly, and used considerable many cuss words.
There was as many as one loafer leaning up against
every awning-post, and he most always had his hands
in his britches-pockets, except when he fetched them
out to lend a chaw of tobacco or scratch. What a
body was hearing amongst them all the time was:

“Gimme a chaw ‘v tobacker, Hank ”

“Cain’t; I hain’t got but one chaw left. Ask Bill.”

Maybe Bill he gives him a chaw; maybe he lies and
says he ain’t got none. Some of them kinds of
loafers never has a cent in the world, nor a chaw of
tobacco of their own. They get all their chawing by
borrowing; they say to a fellow, “I wisht you’d len’
me a chaw, Jack, I jist this minute give Ben Thompson
the last chaw I had” — which is a lie pretty much
everytime; it don’t fool nobody but a stranger; but
Jack ain’t no stranger, so he says:

“YOU give him a chaw, did you? So did your
sister’s cat’s grandmother. You pay me back the
chaws you’ve awready borry’d off’n me, Lafe Buckner,
then I’ll loan you one or two ton of it, and won’t
charge you no back intrust, nuther.”

“Well, I DID pay you back some of it wunst.”

“Yes, you did — ’bout six chaws. You borry’d
store tobacker and paid back nigger-head.”

Store tobacco is flat black plug, but these fellows
mostly chaws the natural leaf twisted. When they
borrow a chaw they don’t generly cut it off with a
knife, but set the plug in between their teeth, and gnaw
with their teeth and tug at the plug with their hands
till they get it in two; then sometimes the one that
owns the tobacco looks mournful at it when it’s
handed back, and says, sarcastic:

“Here, gimme the CHAW, and you take the PLUG.”

All the streets and lanes was just mud; they warn’t
nothing else BUT mud — mud as black as tar and nigh
about a foot deep in some places, and two or three
inches deep in ALL the places. The hogs loafed and
grunted around everywheres. You’d see a muddy
sow and a litter of pigs come lazying along the street
and whollop herself right down in the way, where folks
had to walk around her, and she’d stretch out and shut
her eyes and wave her ears whilst the pigs was milking
her, and look as happy as if she was on salary. And
pretty soon you’d hear a loafer sing out, “Hi! SO
boy! sick him, Tige!” and away the sow would go,
squealing most horrible, with a dog or two swinging to
each ear, and three or four dozen more a-coming; and
then you would see all the loafers get up and watch
the thing out of sight, and laugh at the fun and look
grateful for the noise. Then they’d settle back again
till there was a dog fight. There couldn’t anything
wake them up all over, and make them happy all over,
like a dog fight — unless it might be putting turpentine
on a stray dog and setting fire to him, or tying a tin
pan to his tail and see him run himself to death.

On the river front some of the houses was sticking
out over the bank, and they was bowed and bent, and
about ready to tumble in, The people had moved out
of them. The bank was caved away under one corner
of some others, and that corner was hanging over.
People lived in them yet, but it was dangersome, because sometimes a strip of land as wide as a house
caves in at a time. Sometimes a belt of land a quarter
of a mile deep will start in and cave along and cave
along till it all caves into the river in one summer.
Such a town as that has to be always moving back,
and back, and back, because the river’s always gnawing
at it.

The nearer it got to noon that day the thicker and
thicker was the wagons and horses in the streets, and
more coming all the time. Families fetched their
dinners with them from the country, and eat them in
the wagons. There was considerable whisky drinking
going on, and I seen three fights. By and by somebody sings out:

“Here comes old Boggs! — in from the country for
his little old monthly drunk; here he comes, boys!”

All the loafers looked glad; I reckoned they was
used to having fun out of Boggs. One of them says:

“Wonder who he’s a-gwyne to chaw up this time.
If he’d a-chawed up all the men he’s ben a-gwyne to
chaw up in the last twenty year he’d have considerable
ruputation now.”

Another one says, “I wisht old Boggs ‘d threaten
me, ‘cuz then I’d know I warn’t gwyne to die for a
thousan’ year.”

Boggs comes a-tearing along on his horse, whooping
and yelling like an Injun, and singing out:

“Cler the track, thar. I’m on the waw-path, and
the price uv coffins is a-gwyne to raise.”

He was drunk, and weaving about in his saddle; he
was over fifty year old, and had a very red face.
Everybody yelled at him and laughed at him and sassed
him, and he sassed back, and said he’d attend to them
and lay them out in their regular turns, but he couldn’t
wait now because he’d come to town to kill old
Colonel Sherburn, and his motto was, “Meat first,
and spoon vittles to top off on.”

He see me, and rode up and says:

“Whar’d you come f’m, boy? You prepared to

Then he rode on. I was scared, but a man says:

“He don’t mean nothing; he’s always a-carryin’
on like that when he’s drunk. He’s the best naturedest old fool in Arkansaw — never hurt nobody, drunk
nor sober.”

Boggs rode up before the biggest store in town, and
bent his head down so he could see under the curtain
of the awning and yells:

“Come out here, Sherburn! Come out and meet
the man you’ve swindled. You’re the houn’ I’m after,
and I’m a-gwyne to have you, too!”

And so he went on, calling Sherburn everything he
could lay his tongue to, and the whole street packed
with people listening and laughing and going on. By
and by a proud-looking man about fifty-five — and he
was a heap the best dressed man in that town, too —
steps out of the store, and the crowd drops back on
each side to let him come. He says to Boggs, mighty
ca’m and slow — he says:

“I’m tired of this, but I’ll endure it till one o’clock.
Till one o’clock, mind — no longer. If you open your
mouth against me only once after that time you can’t
travel so far but I will find you.”

Then he turns and goes in. The crowd looked
mighty sober; nobody stirred, and there warn’t no
more laughing. Boggs rode off blackguarding Sherburn as loud as he could yell, all down the street; and
pretty soon back he comes and stops before the store,
still keeping it up. Some men crowded around him
and tried to get him to shut up, but he wouldn’t; they
told him it would be one o’clock in about fifteen minutes, and so he MUST go home — he must go right
away. But it didn’t do no good. He cussed away
with all his might, and throwed his hat down in the
mud and rode over it, and pretty soon away he went
a-raging down the street again, with his gray hair aflying. Everybody that could get a chance at him
tried their best to coax him off of his horse so they
could lock him up and get him sober; but it warn’t no
use — up the street he would tear again, and give
Sherburn another cussing. By and by somebody says:

“Go for his daughter! — quick, go for his daughter;
sometimes he’ll listen to her. If anybody can persuade
him, she can.”

So somebody started on a run. I walked down
street a ways and stopped. In about five or ten minutes here comes Boggs again, but not on his horse.
He was a-reeling across the street towards me, bareheaded, with a friend on both sides of him a-holt of
his arms and hurrying him along. He was quiet, and
looked uneasy; and he warn’t hanging back any, but
was doing some of the hurrying himself. Somebody
sings out:


I looked over there to see who said it, and it was
that Colonel Sherburn. He was standing perfectly
still in the street, and had a pistol raised in his right
hand — not aiming it, but holding it out with the barrel
tilted up towards the sky. The same second I see a
young girl coming on the run, and two men with her.
Boggs and the men turned round to see who called
him, and when they see the pistol the men jumped
to one side, and the pistol-barrel come down slow
and steady to a level — both barrels cocked. Boggs
throws up both of his hands and says, “O Lord, don’t
shoot!” Bang! goes the first shot, and he staggers
back, clawing at the air — bang! goes the second one,
and he tumbles backwards on to the ground, heavy
and solid, with his arms spread out. That young girl
screamed out and comes rushing, and down she throws
herself on her father, crying, and saying, “Oh, he’s
killed him, he’s killed him!” The crowd closed up
around them, and shouldered and jammed one another,
with their necks stretched, trying to see, and people
on the inside trying to shove them back and shouting,
“Back, back! give him air, give him air!”

Colonel Sherburn he tossed his pistol on to the
ground, and turned around on his heels and walked off.

They took Boggs to a little drug store, the crowd
pressing around just the same, and the whole town
following, and I rushed and got a good place at the
window, where I was close to him and could see in.
They laid him on the floor and put one large Bible
under his head, and opened another one and spread it
on his breast; but they tore open his shirt first, and I
seen where one of the bullets went in. He made
about a dozen long gasps, his breast lifting the Bible
up when he drawed in his breath, and letting it down
again when he breathed it out — and after that he laid
still; he was dead. Then they pulled his daughter
away from him, screaming and crying, and took her
off. She was about sixteen, and very sweet and gentle
looking, but awful pale and scared.

Well, pretty soon the whole town was there, squirming and scrouging and pushing and shoving to get at
the window and have a look, but people that had the
places wouldn’t give them up, and folks behind them
was saying all the time, “Say, now, you’ve looked
enough, you fellows; ’tain’t right and ’tain’t fair for
you to stay thar all the time, and never give nobody a
chance; other folks has their rights as well as you.”

There was considerable jawing back, so I slid out,
thinking maybe there was going to be trouble. The
streets was full, and everybody was excited. Everybody that seen the shooting was telling how it happened, and there was a big crowd packed around each
one of these fellows, stretching their necks and listening. One long, lanky man, with long hair and a big
white fur stovepipe hat on the back of his head, and a
crooked-handled cane, marked out the places on the
ground where Boggs stood and where Sherburn stood,
and the people following him around from one place
to t’other and watching everything he done, and bobbing their heads to show they understood, and stooping a little and resting their hands on their thighs to
watch him mark the places on the ground with his
cane; and then he stood up straight and stiff where
Sherburn had stood, frowning and having his hat-brim
down over his eyes, and sung out, “Boggs!” and then
fetched his cane down slow to a level, and says
“Bang!” staggered backwards, says “Bang!” again,
and fell down flat on his back. The people that had
seen the thing said he done it perfect; said it was just
exactly the way it all happened. Then as much as a
dozen people got out their bottles and treated him.

Well, by and by somebody said Sherburn ought to
be lynched. In about a minute everybody was saying
it; so away they went, mad and yelling, and snatching
down every clothes-line they come to to do the hanging with.


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