Mark Twain – Huckleberry Finn, Chapters 37-40

Ch. 37 – The Last Shirt — Mooning Around — Sailing Orders — The Witch Pie

  • Tom & Huck went to the rubbish pile & went through it. They took a tin wash pan & went down into the cellar & put flour into the pan. They took shingle nails for Jim to write with. They stuck one in Sally’s apron & another in Silas’s hat. The pewter spoon went into Silas’s pocket coat.
    • When Sally came around, she was fuming. She’d been looking all over for Silas’s shirt. Tom choked on his breakfast when he heard that. Silas had no clue because he only knew about the one he had on him. She was tired of making him new shirts. She also brought up a pewter spoon gone as well as the candles.
    • A slave woman came in & told them a sheet was gone. Silas thought it was the rats that had been taking them. He was going to go around to plug up the rat holes to keep them out. Another slave came in to tell them a candlestick was missing. Silas put on his hat & the shingle nail fell out. He picked it up & put it on the mantle.
      • Tom said it was no use to send Jim things through Silas & Sally. They decided they’d plug up the holes without Silas’s knowledge. Silas came out looking for the holes but found them all plugged up.
      • Tom wondered what they’d do for a spoon. He asked Sally why there were only 9. She counted them – 9. When she wasn’t looking, he slipped one back in. She counted 10, then he took one out. She started shaking & threw them across the room.
        • Huck & Tom were doing all this to confuse Sally & Silas so they wouldn’t worry about missing anything around the house.
      • They also put back the sheet on the clothesline so Sally wouldn’t know how many she had. Then they took another from somewhere else.
    • The witch pie took a while. They had 3 pans of flour. They mostly just burned it & smoked their eyes out. They tore up the sheet to make a rope but it was too big to put in the pies. So they cut up what they could fit into the pie. Once the pie was filled with tools they gave it to Nat to give to Jim. He hid the plates & rope in his mattress & threw the rest out the window.

Ch. 38 – The Coat of Arms — A Skilled Superintendent — Unpleasant Glory — A Tearful Subject

  • They decided to make pens for Jim to draw on the walls because that’s what prisoners did. They began to file brickbats for pens while Tom dreamed up a coat of arms for Jim.
    • He came up with a bizarre drawing with every type of insignia & a figure of a runaway slave, as well as a motto: “Maggiore fretta, minore atto”: the more haste, the less speed. He also wrote out a list of possible inscriptions to put up.
    • Tom realized that prisoners didn’t live in log cabins but stone dungeons. They had to get a rock for Jim to write his story on. So Tom thought a grindstone from the mill would help file the brick down into pens as well as provide a stone surface to write on.
    • They rolled a grindstone from the mill part of the way to the cabin. But it was so heavy that Huck & Tom couldn’t do it alone. They had to get Jim out of the hut to help push it into the hole. However, the hole wasn’t big enough & Jim had to dig it bigger. Once he was able to get the stone into the cabin, he worked on the pens. Afterwards, he put the stone under his mattress.
      • Tom said he needed to put spiders in the cabin. Jim would have just as soon had rattlesnakes. In that case, Tom would get him on to tame. Jim didn’t want anything like that, & he certainly didn’t want any glory either. He’d run away if they brought one into the cabin.
      • Tom offered to get him rats instead. Jim preferred garter snakes. But Tom told him he could teach the rats to be musical with his Jew’s harp. Later, he could plant a flower & water it with his tears – he might even need an onion for that.

Ch. 39 – Rats — Lively Bed-fellows — The Straw Dummy

  • The next morning, they dug out the rat holes & put traps in them. They caught 15 & put them under Sally’s bed for safe keeping. While they went out collecting spiders, the Phelps boy released them. They were all over the place, scaring the hell out of Sally. Once she claimed down, she “dusted them with the hickory”.
    • They spent another 2 hours looking for replacements for the rats. While the next bunch weren’t great, they got spiders, frogs, bugs & caterpillars. They got a couple dozen snakes & put them in a bag under their bed while they were at dinner.
    • After dinner, it was clear they’d gotten loose, drooping from the rafters & falling on the dinner table while they ate. Sally hated snakes & screamed every time she saw one. After a week, they’d cleared the house of snakes but Sally was still jumpy.
      • Whenever she say a snake, Huck & Tom would get a licking. But they were really just annoyed their hard work was for nothing.
    • In Jim’s hut, the animals were making him uncomfortable. Whenever he saw a rat, he wrote about it. Tom & Huck were getting stomach aches from the saw dust from their work in the hut.
  • Silas had written a couple of times to the farm down in New Orleans to come & get their run away but he never got an answer – because the plantation didn’t exist. He figured he’d advertise in the St. Louis & New Orleans newspapers.
    • The mention of St. Louis made Huck think they had to act & stop fooling around. But Tom said they had to send out anonymous letters because that’s what Louis XVI did. They wrote one & slid it under the door. The letter told them trouble was brewing. Tom added a blood-covered skill & crossbones. The family was frightened out of its mind & always on edge. They were going to have the slaves guard the house. Tom & Huck wrote another letter explaining how a bunch of thieves were going to steal Jim that night.

Ch. 40 – Fishing — The Vigilance Committee — A Lively Run — Jim Advises a Doctor

  • The next day, Tom & Huck went out fishing & checked up on the raft. While the family was afraid because the letter, they never said anything about it. Tom put on Sally’s dress to pretend to be Jim’s mother. Then Tom & Huck got into a fight over the food they would need for when they ran away. Huck went into the cellar & came back up with butter under his hat. Sally found him & sat him down in the parlor, where there were several farmers – each one with a gun.
    • Sally started asking him questions that he couldn’t answer straight. Then the farmers started getting agitated as it was getting closer to midnight – when the thieves were supposed to come. One of the farmers wanted to go in the cabin & wait for the thieves.
    • Huck fell over & when Sally bent down, there was melted butter on his forehead. She thought it was brain ooze & made sure he went to bed. When he got upstairs, he told Tom there was a band of men in the house with guns.
    • Tom got excited. The men went out to the cabin. Some went inside & some waited outside. But Huck & Tom slipped out of their bedroom window & into the cabin. They got Jim & sneaked out through the hole in the wall. Once they were out of the cabin, Huck & Jim climbed over the nearby fence, but Tom’s pants got caught on a splinter in the fence.
    • That caught someone’s attention & there was a commotion & shooting. The men ran towards them, releasing the dogs. But the dogs didn’t bark at them because they knew all 3 of them well.
    • Once the dogs had passed, they got in the canoe & then made way for the raft. They were free. Tom was particularly glad because he’d been shot in the whole escape. Huck & Jim made him a bandage.
      • Jim told Huck that he needed to go get a doctor, & that he wasn’t going anywhere until he did. He’d wait in the woods so as not to be seen when the doctor came.

Author: knowit68

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