Mark Twain – Huckleberry Finn, Chapters 17-20

Chapter 17 – An Evening Call — The Farm in Arkansaw — Interior Decorations — Stephen Dowling Bots — Poetical Effusions

  • A voice called out to Huck, wanting to know his name. He answered “George Jackson” & that he was only prowling around at night because he’d fallen off a steamboat. The people of the house arrived with guns. They asked if he knew of the Shepherdsons (the answer, of course, was “no”). They allowed him to come inside. There were 3 men with guns & 3 women behind them. The older man frisked Huck/George & once they realized he was unarmed, they invited him to stay.
    • He was brought into the parlor where they inspected him further. He was wet & seemed hungry. The slave woman was sent to get him food & one of the girls woke up Buck, a boy about Huck’s age, to come down & see the visitor & get him clothes.
    • Buck came in bleary-eyed from being asleep – he would’ve been useless if it actually had something to do with the Shepherdsons. He took Huck up to his room & gave him a shirt, pants & a belt. Buck asked him his name but before he could answer, Buck started trying to impress with the animals he’d caught in the forest. Huck couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
    • They fed him a cold meal – the best he’d ever had in his life. They asked him about his story. He said that he’d been living on a farm in Arkansas until his family died & now he was going up the river. They invited him to stay as long as he wanted. Then they all went to bed.
    • When he woke up, he’d forgotten his “name” & asked Buck to spell it (wrongly but well enough to remind Huck).
  • The family’s house was nice than anything he’d ever seen – real doorknobs, a parlor without a bed in it, a well-maintained brick fireplace, a fancy pendulum clock, decorations & a well-stocked bookshelf (with a Bible, a Hymnal, Pilgrim’s Progress, Speeches by Henry Clay, etc.). The furniture was nicer than anything he’d ever sat on before.
    • There was a lot of art & poetry by one of the family’s girls, Emmaline, who’d died a few years before at the age of 14. The pictures were dark & depressing, & made him think of death so much he felt that she was probably happier off dead. She died before completing her “masterpiece” but it was a rough draft & the woman in it had her arms drawn & re-drawn until she kind of looked like a spider.
    • She wrote a poem to a boy who’d died  as a tribute but no one ever wrote one for her. Huck tried his hand at it but it wasn’t very good.
    • He loved the house. The walls were all plastered & the floors mostly had carpet on them.

Chapter 18 – Col. Grangerford — Aristocracy — Feuds — The Testament — Recovering the Raft — The Wood-pile — Pork and Cabbage

  • Colonel Grangerford was tall & slim, always clean-shaven with dark eyes & straight black hair. He was very well-dressed, calm & kind, & commanded respect without asking for it or demanding it.
    • The old lady & he were awfully genteel, as were their children Tom, Bob, Charlotte, Sophia & Buck. There were 3 sons who’d been killed, as well as Emmaline who’d died. Each person had his own personal slave servant to attend him. The one assigned to Huck, Jack, didn’t really have to do much because Huck was not used to having others work for him. Buck’s servant was constantly looking after him.
    • The old man owned a few farms & over 100 slaves. Sometimes people would come in (kin & friends) to have dances & picnics on the river or in the forest. The men always had a gun at their sides.
    • There was another aristocratic clan in the area – the Shepherdsons. They were every bit as well-heeled & grand as the Grangerfords. The 2 clans used the same steamboat landing – 2 miles from the house.
      • One day, as Buck & Huck were walking in the woods, Buck told Huck to get into a bush. They saw a man on horseback with a gun, Harney Sheperdson. He rose to where they were hidden. Buck fired at him, & he fired back. They ran all the way back to the house.
      • The old man heard of this but didn’t like the part about Buck firing from a bush. But other than that, he was mostly pleased with what the boy did. Charlotte was proud but Sophia was horrified until she heard the man wasn’t hurt.
    • When Buck & Huck were alone, Huck asked why he wanted to kill the guy. Buck explained they had a feud with his family. Then he had to explain what a feud was. Buck said it’d started 30 years before & wasn’t who started it or what it was over. 1 member of each family had died that year & many more were injured.
      • But Buck didn’t like Huck calling the Shepherdsons cowards. One of them fought alone against 3 Grangerfords from behind a wood pile before getting shot.
  • On Sunday, they all went to church on horseback. The men were armed, as were the Shepherdsons. The preacher spoke of brotherly love. Everyone enjoyed it & spoke about it on the way back home, but obviously didn’t take the sermon to heart.
    • After lunch, the family were taking a nap. Sophia came to Huck & asked him for a favor & to be quiet about it. She said she’d forgotten her Bible on her seat in the church & wanted him to go get it. So, he went up to the church.
    • Huck suspected something. He found the Bible & in it was a note that read “Half Past 2”. He brought it & the Bible back to Sophia. When she read it, she looked happy. Huck lied & said he couldn’t read cursive writing.
    • Huck left to go by the river & saw Jack running after him, telling him to follow him to see where the water mocassins lived. Huck found the offer strange but followed him to see them anyway. He crawled through the bushes to find Jim sleeping. When he woke up, they had a tearful reunion. Jim explained that he’d heard Huck call out for him after the crash but didn’t dare to respond for fear of being found out & returned to slavery. He’d followed Huck to the house in the dark but was scared off by the barking dogs. The house slaves had been feeding him out the back of the house. Meanwhile, Jim had been buying supplies & repairing the raft. It had been badly damaged but it was as good as new now.
  • The next day, he woke up at dawn & noticed how quiet it was. Buck had gone, as had everyone else in the house. Outside, there was no one either. He spoke to Jack to find out what was going on.
    • Sophia had run off with Harney Shepherdson to get married. All of them grabbed their guns & went to stop them. They didn’t want Huck involved.
    • Huck went up the road & saw a few men on horseback shooting at 2 men hiding behind a wood pile near the ferry landing. One of them shot a ride, causing the other riders to dismount to tend to him.
    • Huck climbed a tree to see better. The 2 men behind the wood pile were Buck & his 19 year old cousin. He called out to Buck & acted as a lookout. Buck told him his father & 2 brothers had been ambushed & were killed. Harney & Sophia got away safely. Then suddenly, the 2 boys retreated into the water & were shot.
    • Huck stayed in the tree until dark, covered up Buck & took off. He walked through the woods looking for Jim who was relieved to see Huck survived the shootout. They packed the raft, shoved off, ate & Huck told him of his time with the Grangerfords.

Chapter 19 – Tying Up Day-times — An Astronomical Theory — Running a Temperance Revival — The Duke of Bridgewater — The Troubles of Royalty

  • They spent the next 2 days on the raft at night & sleeping on the shore during the day. They swam & fished a lot. They seemed to be having loads of fun. They watched the boats go by & spent a lot of time without clothes on.
    • One morning, Huck found a canoe & paddled along the main shore to find berries. Soon he saw 2 men running towards him begging him to save their lives from the men & dogs on their tails. Huck didn’t want them in his canoe as they were. He had them run through some brush to lose their scent. They did that & hopped in the canoe, & Huck took off. 10 minutes later, they could see men & dogs on the shore looking like fools. Huck rowed upstream.
    • One of the men looked about 70+, bald with gray whiskers. He looked very ragged. Both of them were carrying carpetbags. The other man was about 30 & was dressed much the same. All during breakfast, they spoke to each other. Huck learned that the 2 didn’t know each other.
    • The younger man was selling toothpaste that removed tartar but also took off the enamel. He was just about to take off when he ran into the old man.
    • The old man had been running a temperance revival, making $5-6 a night. But the people found out that he spent his nights drinking whiskey. The chased him out of town.
      • The 2 talked about teaming up. The younger was a journeyman printer by trade but dabbled in medicine patents, acting, hypnotism, phrenology & teaching school.
      • The older man did some doctoring but mostly did preaching & missionary work.
    • The young man bemoaned the fact he’s fallen so low to be hanging out with criminals. He tells them that he is the rightful “Duke Bridgewater” His great grandfather came to America briefly & had his title illegally taken from him. Now he’s stuck in a raft with losers.
      • Jim felt sorry for him. They tried to comfort him, calling him “Your Grace” & “Your Lordship”, even just “Bridgewater”. Jim was excited to wait on him.
    • This made the old man feel uncomfortable, calling the Duke “Bilgewater” & saying he was sorry to hear of the Duke’s troubles but he wasn’t the only one with problems. He was the Dauphin, son of Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette, & the rightful King of France.
      • Both of them started crying & feeling sorry for themselves. Jim kept fawning over both of them. But it didn’t take long for Huck to realize that the King & Duke were liars & frauds. He kept it to himself to keep the peace with them.

Chapter 20 – Huck Explains — Laying Out a Campaign — Working the Camp-meeting — A Pirate at the Camp-meeting — The Duke as a Printer

  • The king & duke asked them questions: Why did they have a cover for the raft? Was Jim a runaway? Huck asked why would a runaway head south? Huck said his father, brother & he were living in Missouri but decided to go to New Orleans to Uncle Ben’s place. When Pa said his place, all he had was $16 & Jim. On their way down the river, a steamboat killed Pa & his brother. They had traveled in the day so people wouldn’t think Jim was a runaway. The duke said he’d come up with a plan to be able to travel without worrying about Jim.
    • The duke & king were trying to fix up the wigwam nicer. The duke took Huck’s bed but the pulled rank on him. They flowed down the river, with Huck & Jim outside watching the storm. The waves were so strong they knocked Huck off the raft.
    • In the morning, after breakfast, the duke & king got bored & decided to “lay out a campaign”. The duke went into carpetbag of tricks & pulled out posters of a professor of Phrenology (with admission 10¢ & character charts 25¢). Another one was a poster of a world-renowned Shakespearean act. Other bills had other aliases he’d had & miracles he’d done, like divining for gold, dissipating witch spells, etc.
      • His favorite was acting. The king didn’t know much about it. The duke wanted to put on famous scenes like a sword fight from Richard III & the balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet.
      • The king just wanted something that paid well but didn’t think he could pull off Juliet with whiskers & bald head. The duke assures him he’ll be in costume. He brought out the costumes for the scenes & gave the script to the king to memorize.
    • They got to a small town. The duke said this acting thing was a way to travel in the day without worrying about Jim. They went into town. When they arrived, the town was practically empty. A sick slave told them everyone not too sick or old was out in the woods at a camp meeting. The king thought it’d be good opportunity to pitch the idea. The duke wanted to go to a print shop. Since the printers were at the meeting & there were posters of runaway slaves. He set out to work while Huck & the king went to the meeting.
  • There were about 1000 people there. There was preaching out of the barns with animals & wagons around. One preacher led his crown with an energetic sermon & passages from the Bible. He invited people to come to the mourners’ bench to repent their sins.
    • The king got up to speak to everyone. He told them all he’d been a pirate for 30 years in the Indian Ocean. He was glad he lost it all because he was trying charge his ways & reform the pirates he knew on the seas.
    • People were so charged by his testimony that they took up a collection for him to go back & convert his pirate. By the time they got to the raft, he’d raised $87.75 & a jug of whiskey.
  • The duke printed off advertisements & poems, & got $9.50. Then he printed out a bill advertising a $200 reward for finding Jim, a “runaway slave” as proof that he was captured & they were bringing him to Louisiana.
    • Huck & Jim hope they don’t run into any more kings & dukes. They got very drunk & talked crazy. Jim tried to get the king to say something in French but he said he’d forgotten how.

Author: knowit68

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