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|Tom Sawyer, Detective||Mark Twain|
|Page 1 of 3||
WE had powerful good luck; because we got a chance in a stern-wheeler from away North which was bound for one of them bayous or one-horse rivers away down Louisiana way, and so we could go all the way down the Upper Mississippi and all the way down the Lower Mississippi to that farm in Arkansaw without having to change steamboats at St. Louis; not so very much short of a thousand miles at one pull.
A pretty lonesome boat; there warn't but few passengers, and all old folks, that set around, wide apart, dozing, and was very quiet. We was four days getting out of the "upper river," because we got aground so much. But it warn't dull--couldn't be for boys that was traveling, of course.
From the very start me and Tom allowed that there was somebody sick in the stateroom next to ourn, because the meals was always toted in there by the waiters. By and by we asked about it--Tom did and the waiter said it was a man, but he didn't look sick.
"Well, but AIN'T he sick?"
"I don't know; maybe he is, but 'pears to me he's just letting on."
"What makes you think that?"
"Because if he was sick he would pull his clothes off SOME time or other--don't you reckon he would? Well, this one don't. At least he don't ever pull off his boots, anyway."
"The mischief he don't! Not even when he goes to bed?"
It was always nuts for Tom Sawyer--a mystery was. If you'd lay out a mystery and a pie before me and him, you wouldn't have to say take your choice; it was a thing that would regulate itself. Because in my nature I have always run to pie, whilst in his nature he has always run to mystery. People are made different. And it is the best way. Tom says to the waiter:
"What's the man's name?"
"Where'd he come aboard?"
"I think he got aboard at Elexandria, up on the Iowa line."
"What do you reckon he's a-playing?"
"I hain't any notion--I never thought of it."
I says to myself, here's another one that runs to pie.
"Anything peculiar about him?--the way he acts or talks?"
"No--nothing, except he seems so scary, and keeps his doors locked night and day both, and when you knock he won't let you in till he opens the door a crack and sees who it is."
"By jimminy, it's int'resting! I'd like to get a look at him. Say--the next time you're going in there, don't you reckon you could spread the door and--"
"No, indeedy! He's always behind it. He would block that game."
Tom studied over it, and then he says:
"Looky here. You lend me your apern and let me take him his breakfast in the morning. I'll give you a quarter."
The boy was plenty willing enough, if the head steward wouldn't mind. Tom says that's all right, he reckoned he could fix it with the head steward; and he done it. He fixed it so as we could both go in with aperns on and toting vittles.
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