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Chapter VII
 
RGIT up! What you 'bout?"
I opened my eyes and looked around, trying to make out where I was. It
was after sun-up, and I had been sound asleep. Pap was standing over me
looking sourQand sick, too. He says:
"What you doin' with this gun?"
I judged he didn't know nothing about what he had been doing, so I says:
"Somebody tried to get in, so I was laying for him."
"Why didn't you roust me out?"
"Well, I tried to, but I couldn't; I couldn't budge you."
"Well, all right. Don't stand there palavering all day, but out with
you and see if there's a fish on the lines for breakfast. I'll be along in
a minute."
He unlocked the door, and I cleared out up the river-bank. I noticed
some pieces of limbs and such things floating down, and a sprinkling of
bark; so I knowed the river had begun to rise. I reckoned I would have
great times now if I was over at the town. The June rise used to be always
luck for me; because as soon as that rise begins here comes cordwood
floating down, and pieces of log rafts-sometimes a dozen logs together; so
all you have to do is to catch them and sell them to the wood-yards and
the sawmill.
I went along up the bank with one eye out for pap and t'other one out
for what the rise might fetch along. Well, all at once here comes a canoe;
just a beauty, too, about thirteen or fourteen foot long, riding high like
a duck. I shot head-first off of the bank like a frog, clothes and all on,
and struck out for the canoe. I just expected there'd be somebody laying
down in it, because people often done that to fool folks, and when a chap
had pulled a skiff out most to it they'd raise up and laugh at him. But it
warn't so this time. It was a drift-canoe sure enough, and I clumb in and
paddled her ashore. Thinks I, the old man will be glad when he sees
this-she's worth ten dollars. But when I got to shore pap wasn't in sight
yet, and as I was running her into a little creek like a gully, all hung
over with vines and willows, I struck another idea: I judged I'd hide her
good, and then, 'stead of taking to the woods when I run off, I'd go down
the river about fifty mile and camp in one place for good, and not have
such a rough time tramping on foot.
It was pretty close to the shanty, and I thought I heard the old man
coming all the time; but I got her hid; and then I out and looked around a
bunch of willows, and there was the old man down the path a piece just
drawing a bead on a bird with his gun. So he hadn't seen anything.
When he got along I was hard at it taking up a "trot" line. He abused
me a little for being so slow; but I told him I fell in the river, and
that was what made me so long. I knowed he would see I was wet, and then
he would be asking questions. We got five catfish off the lines and went
home.
While we laid off after breakfast to sleep up, both of us being about
wore out, I got to thinking that if I could fix up some way to keep pap
and the widow from trying to follow me, it would be a certainer thing than
trusting to luck to get far enough off before they missed me; you see, all
kinds of things might happen. Well, I didn't see no way for a while, but
by and by pap raised up a minute to drink another barrel of water, and he
says:
"Another time a man comes a-prowling round here you roust me out, you
hear? That man warn't here for no good. I'd a shot him. Next time you
roust me out, you hear?"
Then he dropped down and went to sleep again; but what he had been
saying give me the very idea I wanted. I says to myself, I can fix it now
so nobody won't think of following me.
About twelve o'clock we turned out and went along up the bank. The
river was coming up pretty fast, and lots of driftwood going by on the
rise. By and by along comes part of a log raft-nine logs fast together. We
went out with the skiff and towed it ashore. Then we had dinner. Anybody
but pap would a waited and seen the day through, so as to catch more
stuff; but that warn't pap's style. Nine logs was enough for one time; he
must shove right over to town and sell. So he locked me in and took the
skiff, and started off towing the raft about halfpast three. I judged he
wouldn't come back that night. I waited till I reckoned he had got a good
start; then I out with my saw, and went to work on that log again. Before
he was t'other side of the river I was out of the hole; him and his raft
was just a speck on the water away off yonder.
I took the sack of corn meal and took it to where the canoe was hid,
and shoved the vines and branches apart and put it in; then I done the
same with the side of bacon; then the whisky-jug. I took all the coffee
and sugar there was, and all the ammunition; I took the wadding; I took
the bucket and gourd; I took a dipper and a tin cup, and my old saw and
two blankets, and the skillet and the coffee-pot. I took fish-lines and
matches and other things-everything that was worth a cent. I cleaned out
the place. I wanted an axe, but there wasn't any, only the one out at the
woodpile, and I knowed why I was going to leave that. I fetched out the
gun, and now I was done.
I had wore the ground a good deal crawling out of the hole and dragging
out so many things. So I fixed that as good as I could from the outside by
scattering dust on the place, which covered up the smoothness and the
sawdust. Then I fixed the piece of log back into its place, and put two
rocks under it and one against it to hold it there, for it was bent up at
that place and didn't quite touch ground. If you stood four or five foot
away and didn't know it was sawed, you wouldn't never notice it; and
besides, this was the back of the cabin, and it warn't likely anybody
would go fooling around there.
It was all grass clear to the canoe, so I hadn't left a track. I
followed around to see. I stood on the bank and looked out over the river.
All safe. So I took the gun and went up a piece into the woods, and was
hunting around for some birds when I see a wild pig; hogs soon went wild
in them bottoms after they had got away from the prairie farms. I shot
this fellow and took him into camp.
I took the axe and smashed in the door. I beat it and hacked it
considerable a-doing it. I fetched the pig in, and took him back nearly to
the table and hacked into his throat with the axe, and laid him down on
the ground to bleed; I say ground because it was ground-hard packed, and
no boards. Well, next I took an old sack and put a lot of big rocks in
it-all I could drag-and I started it from the pig, and dragged it to the
door and through the woods down to the river and dumped it in, and down it
sunk, out of sight. You could easy see that something had been dragged
over the ground. I did wish Tom Sawyer was there; I knowed he would take
an interest in this kind of business, and throw in the fancy touches.
Nobody could spread himself like Tom Sawyer in such a thing as that.
Well, last I pulled out some of my hair, and blooded the axe good, and
stuck it on the back side, and slung the axe in the corner. Then I took up
the pig and held him to my breast with my jacket (so he couldn't drip)
till I got a good piece below the house and then dumped him into the
river. Now I thought of something else. So I went and got the bag of meal
and my old saw out of the canoe, and fetched them to the house. I took the
bag to where it used to stand, and ripped a hole in the bottom of it with
the saw, for there warn't no knives and forks on the place-pap done
everything with his clasp-knife about the cooking. Then I carried the sack
about a hundred yards across the grass and through the willows east of the
house, to a shallow lake that was five mile wide and full of rushes-and
ducks too, you might say, in the season. There was a slough or a creek
leading out of it on the other side that went miles away, I don't know
where, but it didn't go to the river. The meal sifted out and made a
little track all the way to the lake. I dropped pap's whetstone there too,
so as to look like it had been done by accident. Then I tied up the rip in
the meal sack with a string, so it wouldn't leak no more, and took it and
my saw to the canoe again.
It was about dark now; so I dropped the canoe down the river under some
willows that hung over the bank, and waited for the moon to rise. I made
fast to a willow; then I took a bite to eat, and by and by laid down in
the canoe to smoke a pipe and lay out a plan. I says to myself, they'll
follow the track of that sackful of rocks to the shore and then drag the
river for me. And they'll follow that meal track to the lake and go
browsing down the creek that leads out of it to find the robbers that
killed me and took the things. They won't ever hunt the river for anything
but my dead carcass. They'll soon get tired of that, and won't bother no
more about me. All right; I can stop anywhere I want to. Jackson's Island
is good enough for me; I know that island pretty well, and nobody ever
comes there. And then I can paddle over to town nights, and slink around
and pick up things I want. Jackson's Island's the place.
I was pretty tired, and the first thing I knowed I was asleep. When I
woke up I didn't know where I was for a minute. I set up and looked
around, a little scared. Then I remembered. The river looked miles and
miles across. The moon was so bright I could a counted the drift logs that
went a-slipping along, black and still, hundreds of yards out from shore.
Everything was dead quiet, and it looked late, and SMELT late. You know
what I mean-I don't know the words to put it in.
I took a good gap and a stretch, and was just going to unhitch and
start when I heard a sound away over the water. I listened. Pretty soon I
made it out. It was that dull kind of a regular sound that comes from oars
working in rowlocks when it's a still night. I peeped out through the
willow branches, and there it was-a skiff, away across the water. I
couldn't tell how many was in it. It kept a-coming, and when it was
abreast of me I see there warn't but one man in it. Think's I, maybe it's
pap, though I warn't expecting him. He dropped below me with the current,
and by and by he came a-swinging up shore in the easy water, and he went
by so close I could a reached out the gun and touched him. Well, it WAS
pap, sure enough-and sober, too, by the way he laid his oars.
I didn't lose no time. The next minute I was aspinning down stream soft
but quick in the shade of the bank. I made two mile and a half, and then
struck out a quarter of a mile or more towards the middle of the river,
because pretty soon I would be passing the ferry landing, and people might
see me and hail me. I got out amongst the driftwood, and then laid down in
the bottom of the canoe and let her float. I laid there, and had a good
rest and a smoke out of my pipe, looking away into the sky; not a cloud in
it. The sky looks ever so deep when you lay down on your back in the
moonshine; I never knowed it before. And how far a body can hear on the
water such nights! I heard people talking at the ferry landing. I heard
what they said, too-every word of it. One man said it was getting towards
the long days and the short nights now. T'other one said THIS warn't one
of the short ones, he reckoned-and then they laughed, and he said it over
again, and they laughed again; then they waked up another fellow and told
him, and laughed, but he didn't laugh; he ripped out something brisk, and
said let him alone. The first fellow said he 'lowed to tell it to his old
woman-she would think it was pretty good; but he said that warn't nothing
to some things he had said in his time. I heard one man say it was nearly
three o'clock, and he hoped daylight wouldn't wait more than about a week
longer. After that the talk got further and further away, and I couldn't
make out the words any more; but I could hear the mumble, and now and then
a laugh, too, but it seemed a long ways off.
I was away below the ferry now. I rose up, and there was Jackson's
Island, about two mile and a half down stream, heavy timbered and standing
up out of the middle of the river, big and dark and solid, like a
steamboat without any lights. There warn't any signs of the bar at the
head-it was all under water now.
It didn't take me long to get there. I shot past the head at a ripping
rate, the current was so swift, and then I got into the dead water and
landed on the side towards the Illinois shore. I run the canoe into a deep
dent in the bank that I knowed about; I had to part the willow branches to
get in; and when I made fast nobody could a seen the canoe from the
outside.
I went up and set down on a log at the head of the island, and looked
out on the big river and the black driftwood and away over to the town,
three mile away, where there was three or four lights twinkling. A
monstrous big lumber-raft was about a mile up stream, coming along down,
with a lantern in the middle of it. I watched it come creeping down, and
when it was most abreast of where I stood I heard a man say, "Stern oars,
there! heave her head to stabboard!" I heard that just as plain as if the
man was by my side.
There was a little gray in the sky now; so I stepped into the woods,
and laid down for a nap before breakfast.