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|Tom Sawyer Abroad||Mark Twain|
The Disappearing Lake
|Page 4 of 6||
"Well, you'll have to wait; and it won't do you no good, either, because there ain't no lake there, I tell you."
"Jim, don't you take your eye off of it, and I won't, either."
"'Deed I won't; en bless you, honey, I couldn't ef I wanted to."
We went a-tearing along toward it, piling the miles behind us like nothing, but never gaining an inch on it -- and all of a sudden it was gone again! Jim staggered, and 'most fell down. When he got his breath he says, gasping like a fish:
"Mars Tom, hit's a GHOS', dat's what it is, en I hopes to goodness we ain't gwine to see it no mo'. Dey's BEEN a lake, en suthin's happened, en de lake's dead, en we's seen its ghos'; we's seen it twiste, en dat's proof. De desert's ha'nted, it's ha'nted, sho; oh, Mars Tom, le''s git outen it; I'd ruther die den have de night ketch us in it ag'in en de ghos' er dat lake come a-mournin' aroun' us en we asleep en doan' know de danger we's in."
"Ghost, you gander! It ain't anything but air and heat and thirstiness pasted together by a person's imagination. If I -- gimme the glass!"
He grabbed it and begun to gaze off to the right.
"It's a flock of birds," he says. "It's getting toward sundown, and they're making a bee-line across our track for somewheres. They mean business -- maybe they're going for food or water, or both. Let her go to starboard! -- Port your hellum! Hard down! There -- ease up -- steady, as you go."
We shut down some of the power, so as not to out-speed them, and took out after them. We went skimming along a quarter of a mile behind them, and when we had followed them an hour and a half and was getting pretty discouraged, and was thirsty clean to unendurableness, Tom says:
"Take the glass, one of you, and see what that is, away ahead of the birds."
Jim got the first glimpse, and slumped down on the locker sick. He was most crying, and says:
"She's dah ag'in, Mars Tom, she's dah ag'in, en I knows I's gwine to die, 'case when a body sees a ghos' de third time, dat's what it means. I wisht I'd never come in dis balloon, dat I does."
He wouldn't look no more, and what he said made me afraid, too, because I knowed it was true, for that has always been the way with ghosts; so then I wouldn't look any more, either. Both of us begged Tom to turn off and go some other way, but he wouldn't, and said we was ignorant superstitious blatherskites. Yes, and he'll git come up with, one of these days, I says to myself, insulting ghosts that way. They'll stand it for a while, maybe, but they won't stand it always, for anybody that knows about ghosts knows how easy they are hurt, and how revengeful they are.
So we was all quiet and still, Jim and me being scared, and Tom busy. By and by Tom fetched the balloon to a standstill, and says:
"NOW get up and look, you sapheads."
We done it, and there was the sure-enough water right under us! -- clear, and blue, and cool, and deep, and wavy with the breeze, the loveliest sight that ever was. And all about it was grassy banks, and flowers, and shady groves of big trees, looped together with vines, and all looking so peaceful and comfortable -- enough to make a body cry, it was so beautiful.
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