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Chapter X. THE ARREST OF UNCLE SILAS
 
 THEM  awful  words froze us solid. We couldn't move hand or foot for as
much as half a minute. Then we kind of come to, and lifted the old man up
and got him into his chair, and Benny petted him and kissed him and tried
to comfort him, and poor old Aunt Sally she done the same; but, poor
things, they was so broke up and scared and knocked out of their right
minds that they didn't hardly know what they was about. With Tom it was
awful; it 'most petrified him to think maybe he had got his uncle into a
thousand times more trouble than ever, and maybe it wouldn't ever happened
if he hadn't been so ambitious to get celebrated, and let the corpse alone
the way the others done. But pretty soon he sort of come to himself again
and says:
"Uncle Silas, don't you say another word like that. It's dangerous, and
there ain't a shadder of truth in it."
Aunt Sally and Benny was thankful to hear him say that, and they said
the same; but the old man he wagged his head sorrowful and hopeless, and
the tears run down his face, and he says;
"No-I done it; poor Jubiter, I done it!"
It was dreadful to hear him say it. Then he went on and told about it,
and said it happened the day me and Tom come-along about sundown. He said
Jubiter pestered him and aggravated him till he was so mad he just sort of
lost his mind and grabbed up a stick and hit him over the head with all
his might, and Jubiter dropped in his tracks. Then he was scared and
sorry, and got down on his knees and lifted his head up, and begged him to
speak and say he wasn't dead; and before long he come to, and when he see
who it was holding his head, he jumped like he was 'most scared to death,
and cleared the fence and tore into the woods, and was gone. So he hoped
he wasn't hurt bad.
"But laws," he says, "it was only just fear that gave him that last
little spurt of strength, and of course it soon played out and he laid
down in the bush, and there wasn't anybody to help him, and he died."
Then the old man cried and grieved, and said he was a murderer and the
mark of Cain was on him, and he had disgraced his family and was going to
be found out and hung. But Tom said:
"No, you ain't going to be found out. You DIDN'T kill him. ONE lick
wouldn't kill him. Somebody else done it."
"Oh, yes," he says, "I done it-nobody else. Who else had anything
against him? Who else COULD have anything against him?"
He looked up kind of like he hoped some of us could mention somebody
that could have a grudge against that harmless no-account, but of course
it warn't no use-he HAD us; we couldn't say a word. He noticed that, and
he saddened down again, and I never see a face so miserable and so pitiful
to see. Tom had a sudden idea, and says:
"But hold on!-somebody BURIED him. Now who-"
He shut off sudden. I knowed the reason. It give me the cold shudders
when he said them words, because right away I remembered about us seeing
Uncle Silas prowling around with a long-handled shovel away in the night
that night. And I knowed Benny seen him, too, because she was talking
about it one day. The minute Tom shut off he changed the subject and went
to begging Uncle Silas to keep mum, and the rest of us done the same, and
said he MUST, and said it wasn't his business to tell on himself, and if
he kept mum nobody would ever know; but if it was found out and any harm
come to him it would break the family's hearts and kill them, and yet
never do anybody any good. So at last he promised. We was all of us more
comfortable, then, and went to work to cheer up the old man. We told him
all he'd got to do was to keep still, and it wouldn't be long till the
whole thing would blow over and be forgot. We all said there wouldn't
anybody ever suspect Uncle Silas, nor ever dream of such a thing, he being
so good and kind, and having such a good character; and Tom says, cordial
and hearty, he says:
"Why, just look at it a minute; just consider. Here is Uncle Silas, all
these years a preacher-at his own expense; all these years doing good with
all his might and every way he can think of-at his own expense, all the
time; always been loved by everybody, and respected; always been peaceable
and minding his own business, the very last man in this whole deestrict to
touch a person, and everybody knows it. Suspect HIM? Why, it ain't any
more possible than-"
"By authority of the State of Arkansaw, I arrest you for the murder of
Jubiter Dunlap!" shouts the sheriff at the door.
It was awful. Aunt Sally and Benny flung themselves at Uncle Silas,
screaming and crying, and hugged him and hung to him, and Aunt Sally said
go away, she wouldn't ever give him up, they shouldn't have him, and the
niggers they come crowding and crying to the door and-well, I couldn't
stand it; it was enough to break a person's heart; so I got out.
They took him up to the little one-horse jail in the village, and we
all went along to tell him good-bye; and Tom was feeling elegant, and says
to me, "We'll have a most noble good time and heaps of danger some dark
night getting him out of there, Huck, and it'll be talked about
everywheres and we will be celebrated;" but the old man busted that scheme
up the minute he whispered to him about it. He said no, it was his duty to
stand whatever the law done to him, and he would stick to the jail plumb
through to the end, even if there warn't no door to it. It disappointed
Tom and graveled him a good deal, but he had to put up with it.
But he felt responsible and bound to get his uncle Silas free; and he
told Aunt Sally, the last thing, not to worry, because he was going to
turn in and work night and day and beat this game and fetch Uncle Silas
out innocent; and she was very loving to him and thanked him and said she
knowed he would do his very best. And she told us to help Benny take care
of the house and the children, and then we had a good-bye cry all around
and went back to the farm, and left her there to live with the jailer's
wife a month till the trial in October.