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|The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson||Mark Twain|
|Page 5 of 8||
A flash of lightning exposed Tom's pallid face, drawn and rigid with these worrying thoughts. Roxana spoke up sharply now, and there was apprehension in her voice.
"Turn up dat light! I want to see yo' face better. Dah now --lemme look at you. Chambers, you's as white as yo' shirt! Has you see dat man? Has he be'n to see you?"
"Monday noon! Was he on my track?"
"He--well, he thought he was. That is, he hoped he was. This is the bill you saw." He took it out of his pocket.
"Read it to me!"
She was panting with excitement, and there was a dusky glow in her eyes that Tom could not translate with certainty, but there seemed to be something threatening about it. The handbill had the usual rude woodcut of a turbaned Negro woman running, with the customary bundle on a stick over her shoulder, and the heading in bold type, "$100 REWARD." Tom read the bill aloud-- at least the part that described Roxana and named the master and his St. Louis address and the address of the Fourth street agency; but he left out the item that applicants for the reward might also apply to Mr. Thomas Driscoll.
"Gimme de bill!"
Tom had folded it and was putting it in his pocket. He felt a chilly streak creeping down his back, but said as carelessly as he could:
"The bill? Why, it isn't any use to you, you can't read it. What do you want with it?"
"Gimme de bill!" Tom gave it to her, but with a reluctance which he could not entirely disguise. "Did you read it ALL to me?"
"Certainly I did."
"Hole up yo' han' en swah to it."
Tom did it. Roxana put the bill carefully away in her pocket, with her eyes fixed upon Tom's face all the while; then she said:
"What would I want to lie about it for?"
"I don't know--but you is. Dat's my opinion, anyways. But nemmine 'bout dat. When I seed dat man I 'uz dat sk'yerd dat I could sca'cely wobble home. Den I give a nigger man a dollar for dese clo'es, en I ain't be'in in a house sence, night ner day, till now. I blacked my face en laid hid in de cellar of a ole house dat's burnt down, daytimes, en robbed de sugar hogsheads en grain sacks on de wharf, nights, to git somethin' to eat, en never dast to try to buy noth'n', en I's 'mos' starved. En I never dast to come near dis place till dis rainy night, when dey ain't no people roun' sca'cely. But tonight I be'n a-stanin' in de dark alley ever sence night come, waitin' for you to go by. En here I is."
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|The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson
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