Chapter 26

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

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WELL, when they was all gone the king he asks
Mary Jane how they was off for spare rooms,
and she said she had one spare room, which would do
for Uncle William, and she’d give her own room to
Uncle Harvey, which was a little bigger, and she would
turn into the room with her sisters and sleep on a cot;
and up garret was a little cubby, with a pallet in it.
The king said the cubby would do for his valley —
meaning me.

So Mary Jane took us up, and she showed them
their rooms, which was plain but nice. She said she’d
have her frocks and a lot of other traps took out of
her room if they was in Uncle Harvey’s way, but he
said they warn’t. The frocks was hung along the wall,
and before them was a curtain made out of calico that
hung down to the floor. There was an old hair trunk
in one corner, and a guitar-box in another, and all
sorts of little knickknacks and jimcracks around, like
girls brisken up a room with. The king said it was all
the more homely and more pleasanter for these fixings,
and so don’t disturb them. The duke’s room was
pretty small, but plenty good enough, and so was my

That night they had a big supper, and all them men
and women was there, and I stood behind the king and
the duke’s chairs and waited on them, and the niggers
waited on the rest. Mary Jane she set at the head of
the table, with Susan alongside of her, and said how
bad the biscuits was, and how mean the preserves was,
and how ornery and tough the fried chickens was —
and all that kind of rot, the way women always do for
to force out compliments; and the people all knowed
everything was tiptop, and said so — said “How DO
you get biscuits to brown so nice?” and “Where, for
the land’s sake, DID you get these amaz’n pickles?”
and all that kind of humbug talky-talk, just the way
people always does at a supper, you know.

And when it was all done me and the hare-lip had
supper in the kitchen off of the leavings, whilst the others
was helping the niggers clean up the things. The
hare-lip she got to pumping me about England, and
blest if I didn’t think the ice was getting mighty thin
sometimes. She says:

“Did you ever see the king?”

“Who? William Fourth? Well, I bet I have — he
goes to our church.” I knowed he was dead years
ago, but I never let on. So when I says he goes to
our church, she says:

“What — regular?”

“Yes — regular. His pew’s right over opposite
ourn — on t’other side the pulpit.”

“I thought he lived in London?”

“Well, he does. Where WOULD he live?”

“But I thought YOU lived in Sheffield?”

I see I was up a stump. I had to let on to get
choked with a chicken bone, so as to get time to think
how to get down again. Then I says:

“I mean he goes to our church regular when he’s in
Sheffield. That’s only in the summer time, when he
comes there to take the sea baths.”

“Why, how you talk — Sheffield ain’t on the sea.”

“Well, who said it was?”

“Why, you did.”

“I DIDN’T nuther.”

“You did!”

“I didn’t.”

“You did.”

“I never said nothing of the kind.”

“Well, what DID you say, then?”

“Said he come to take the sea BATHS — that’s what I

“Well, then, how’s he going to take the sea baths if
it ain’t on the sea?”

“Looky here,” I says; “did you ever see any


“Well, did you have to go to Congress to get

“Why, no.”

“Well, neither does William Fourth have to go to
the sea to get a sea bath.”

“How does he get it, then?”

“Gets it the way people down here gets Congresswater — in barrels. There in the palace at Sheffield
they’ve got furnaces, and he wants his water hot.
They can’t bile that amount of water away off there at
the sea. They haven’t got no conveniences for it.”

“Oh, I see, now. You might a said that in the first
place and saved time.”

When she said that I see I was out of the woods
again, and so I was comfortable and glad. Next, she

“Do you go to church, too?”

“Yes — regular.”

“Where do you set?”

“Why, in our pew.”

“WHOSE pew?”

“Why, OURN — your Uncle Harvey’s.”

“His’n? What does HE want with a pew?”

“Wants it to set in. What did you RECKON he wanted
with it?”

“Why, I thought he’d be in the pulpit.”

Rot him, I forgot he was a preacher. I see I was
up a stump again, so I played another chicken bone
and got another think. Then I says:

“Blame it, do you suppose there ain’t but one
preacher to a church?”

“Why, what do they want with more?”

“What! — to preach before a king? I never did
see such a girl as you. They don’t have no less than

“Seventeen! My land! Why, I wouldn’t set out
such a string as that, not if I NEVER got to glory. It
must take ’em a week.”

“Shucks, they don’t ALL of ’em preach the same
day — only ONE of ’em.”

“Well, then, what does the rest of ’em do?”

“Oh, nothing much. Loll around, pass the plate
— and one thing or another. But mainly they don’t
do nothing.”

“Well, then, what are they FOR?”

“Why, they’re for STYLE. Don’t you know nothing?”

“Well, I don’t WANT to know no such foolishness as
that. How is servants treated in England? Do they
treat ’em better ‘n we treat our niggers?”

“NO! A servant ain’t nobody there. They treat
them worse than dogs.”

“Don’t they give ’em holidays, the way we do,
Christmas and New Year’s week, and Fourth of July?”

“Oh, just listen! A body could tell YOU hain’t ever
been to England by that. Why, Hare-l — why, Joanna,
they never see a holiday from year’s end to year’s
end; never go to the circus, nor theater, nor nigger
shows, nor nowheres.”

“Nor church?”

“Nor church.”

“But YOU always went to church.”

Well, I was gone up again. I forgot I was the old
man’s servant. But next minute I whirled in on a
kind of an explanation how a valley was different from
a common servant and HAD to go to church whether
he wanted to or not, and set with the family, on account of its being the law. But I didn’t do it pretty
good, and when I got done I see she warn’t satisfied.
She says:

“Honest injun, now, hain’t you been telling me a
lot of lies?”

“Honest injun,” says I.

“None of it at all?”

“None of it at all. Not a lie in it,” says I.

“Lay your hand on this book and say it.”

I see it warn’t nothing but a dictionary, so I laid my
hand on it and said it. So then she looked a little
better satisfied, and says:

“Well, then, I’ll believe some of it; but I hope to
gracious if I’ll believe the rest.”

“What is it you won’t believe, Joe?” says Mary
Jane, stepping in with Susan behind her. “It ain’t
right nor kind for you to talk so to him, and him a
stranger and so far from his people. How would you
like to be treated so?”

“That’s always your way, Maim — always sailing in
to help somebody before they’re hurt. I hain’t done
nothing to him. He’s told some stretchers, I reckon,
and I said I wouldn’t swallow it all; and that’s every
bit and grain I DID say. I reckon he can stand a little
thing like that, can’t he?”

“I don’t care whether ’twas little or whether ’twas
big; he’s here in our house and a stranger, and it
wasn’t good of you to say it. If you was in his place
it would make you feel ashamed; and so you oughtn’t
to say a thing to another person that will make THEM
feel ashamed.”

“Why, Maim, he said –”

“It don’t make no difference what he SAID — that
ain’t the thing. The thing is for you to treat him
KIND, and not be saying things to make him remember
he ain’t in his own country and amongst his own

I says to myself, THIS is a girl that I’m letting that
old reptle rob her of her money!

Then Susan SHE waltzed in; and if you’ll believe
me, she did give Hare-lip hark from the tomb!

Says I to myself, and this is ANOTHER one that I’m
letting him rob her of her money!

Then Mary Jane she took another inning, and went
in sweet and lovely again — which was her way; but
when she got done there warn’t hardly anything left o’
poor Hare-lip. So she hollered.

“All right, then,” says the other girls; “you just
ask his pardon.”

She done it, too; and she done it beautiful. She
done it so beautiful it was good to hear; and I wished
I could tell her a thousand lies, so she could do it

I says to myself, this is ANOTHER one that I’m letting
him rob her of her money. And when she got through
they all jest laid theirselves out to make me feel at
home and know I was amongst friends. I felt so
ornery and low down and mean that I says to myself,
my mind’s made up; I’ll hive that money for them or

So then I lit out — for bed, I said, meaning some
time or another. When I got by myself I went to
thinking the thing over. I says to myself, shall I go
to that doctor, private, and blow on these frauds?
No — that won’t do. He might tell who told him;
then the king and the duke would make it warm for
me. Shall I go, private, and tell Mary Jane? No —
I dasn’t do it. Her face would give them a hint,
sure; they’ve got the money, and they’d slide right
out and get away with it. If she was to fetch in help
I’d get mixed up in the business before it was done
with, I judge. No; there ain’t no good way but one.
I got to steal that money, somehow; and I got to
steal it some way that they won’t suspicion that I done
it. They’ve got a good thing here, and they ain’t
a-going to leave till they’ve played this family and this
town for all they’re worth, so I’ll find a chance time
enough. I’ll steal it and hide it; and by and by,
when I’m away down the river, I’ll write a letter and
tell Mary Jane where it’s hid. But I better hive it tonight if I can, because the doctor maybe hasn’t let up
as much as he lets on he has; he might scare them
out of here yet.

So, thinks I, I’ll go and search them rooms. Upstairs the hall was dark, but I found the duke’s room,
and started to paw around it with my hands; but I
recollected it wouldn’t be much like the king to let
anybody else take care of that money but his own self;
so then I went to his room and begun to paw around
there. But I see I couldn’t do nothing without a
candle, and I dasn’t light one, of course. So I judged
I’d got to do the other thing — lay for them and
eavesdrop. About that time I hears their footsteps
coming, and was going to skip under the bed; I
reached for it, but it wasn’t where I thought it would
be; but I touched the curtain that hid Mary Jane’s
frocks, so I jumped in behind that and snuggled in
amongst the gowns, and stood there perfectly still.

They come in and shut the door; and the first thing
the duke done was to get down and look under the
bed. Then I was glad I hadn’t found the bed when I
wanted it. And yet, you know, it’s kind of natural to
hide under the bed when you are up to anything
private. They sets down then, and the king says:

“Well, what is it? And cut it middlin’ short, because it’s better for us to be down there a-whoopin’
up the mournin’ than up here givin’ ’em a chance to
talk us over.”

“Well, this is it, Capet. I ain’t easy; I ain’t comfortable. That doctor lays on my mind. I wanted to
know your plans. I’ve got a notion, and I think it’s a
sound one.”

“What is it, duke?”

“That we better glide out of this before three in the
morning, and clip it down the river with what we’ve
got. Specially, seeing we got it so easy — GIVEN back
to us, flung at our heads, as you may say, when of
course we allowed to have to steal it back. I’m for
knocking off and lighting out.”

That made me feel pretty bad. About an hour or
two ago it would a been a little different, but now it
made me feel bad and disappointed, The king rips out
and says:

“What! And not sell out the rest o’ the property?
March off like a passel of fools and leave eight or nine
thous’n’ dollars’ worth o’ property layin’ around jest
sufferin’ to be scooped in? — and all good, salable
stuff, too.”

The duke he grumbled; said the bag of gold was
enough, and he didn’t want to go no deeper — didn’t
want to rob a lot of orphans of EVERYTHING they had.

“Why, how you talk!” says the king. “We
sha’n’t rob ’em of nothing at all but jest this money.
The people that BUYS the property is the suff’rers;
because as soon ‘s it’s found out ‘at we didn’t own
it — which won’t be long after we’ve slid — the sale
won’t be valid, and it ‘ll all go back to the estate.
These yer orphans ‘ll git their house back agin, and
that’s enough for THEM; they’re young and spry, and
k’n easy earn a livin’. THEY ain’t a-goin to suffer.
Why, jest think — there’s thous’n’s and thous’n’s that
ain’t nigh so well off. Bless you, THEY ain’t got noth’n’
to complain of.”

Well, the king he talked him blind; so at last he
give in, and said all right, but said he believed it was
blamed foolishness to stay, and that doctor hanging
over them. But the king says:

“Cuss the doctor! What do we k’yer for HIM?
Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And
ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”

So they got ready to go down stairs again. The
duke says:

“I don’t think we put that money in a good place.”

That cheered me up. I’d begun to think I warn’t
going to get a hint of no kind to help me. The king


“Because Mary Jane ‘ll be in mourning from this
out; and first you know the nigger that does up the
rooms will get an order to box these duds up and put
’em away; and do you reckon a nigger can run across
money and not borrow some of it?”

“Your head’s level agin, duke,” says the king; and
he comes a-fumbling under the curtain two or three
foot from where I was. I stuck tight to the wall and
kept mighty still, though quivery; and I wondered
what them fellows would say to me if they catched
me; and I tried to think what I’d better do if they did
catch me. But the king he got the bag before I could
think more than about a half a thought, and he never
suspicioned I was around. They took and shoved the
bag through a rip in the straw tick that was under the
feather-bed, and crammed it in a foot or two amongst
the straw and said it was all right now, because a
nigger only makes up the feather-bed, and don’t turn
over the straw tick only about twice a year, and so it
warn’t in no danger of getting stole now.

But I knowed better. I had it out of there before
they was half-way down stairs. I groped along up to
my cubby, and hid it there till I could get a chance
to do better. I judged I better hide it outside of the
house somewheres, because if they missed it they would
give the house a good ransacking: I knowed that very
well. Then I turned in, with my clothes all on; but I
couldn’t a gone to sleep if I’d a wanted to, I was in
such a sweat to get through with the business. By
and by I heard the king and the duke come up; so I
rolled off my pallet and laid with my chin at the top of
my ladder, and waited to see if anything was going to
happen. But nothing did.

So I held on till all the late sounds had quit and the
early ones hadn’t begun yet; and then I slipped down
the ladder.


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