Well, if I ever struck anything like it, I’m a nigger. It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race. Chapter 24, pg. 178
‘Yes-en I’s rich now, come to look at it. I owns mysef, en I’s wuth eight hund’d dollars. I wisht I had de money, I wouldn’ want no’.’ Chapter 8, pg. 52
I knowed he was white inside, and I reckoned he’d say what he did say – so it was all right, now, and I told Tom I was agoing for a doctor. Chapter 40, pg. 301
Your newspapers call you a brave people so much that you think you are braver than any other people – whereas you’re just as brave, and no braver. Chapter 22, pg. 161
‘I know what you’ll say. You’ll say it’s dirty Low-down business; but what if it is? – I’m low down; and I’m agoing to steal him, and I want you to keep mum and not let on. Will you?’ Chapter 33, pg. 248, Chapter 33
It made me so sick I most fell out of the tree. I ain’t agoing to tell all that happened – it would make me sick again if I was to do that. I wished I hadn’t ever come ashore that night, to see such things . . . Chapter 18, pg. 127
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Jim said that bees won’t sting idiots, but I didn’t believe that, because I tried them lots of times myself and they wouldn’t sting me.
Well, it made me sick to see it; and I was sorry for them poor pitiful rascals, it seemed like I couldn’t ever feel any hardness against them any more in the world. It was a dreadful thing to see. Human beings can be awful cruel to one another. Chapter 33, pg. 253-4
Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain’t that a big enough majority in any town?
Conscience says to me ‘What had poor Miss Watson done to you, that you could see her nigger go off right under your eyes and never say one single word? What did that poor old woman do to you, that you could treat her so mean?…’ I got to feeling so mean and so miserable I most wished I was dead. Chapter 16, pg. 97
I do not wish any reward but to know I have done the right thing.
Mornings, before daylight, I slipped into corn fields and borrowed a watermelon, or a mushmelon, or a punkin, or some new corn, or things of that kind. Pap always said it warn’t no harm to borrow things, if you was meaning to pay them back, sometime; but the widow said it warn’t anything but a soft name for stealing, and no decent body would do it. Chapter 12, pg. 72
‘Ransomed? What’s that?’ ‘I don’t know. But that’s what they do. I’ve seen it in books; and so of course that’s what we’ve got to do.’ ‘But how can we do it if we don’t know what it is?’ ‘Why blame it all, we’ve got to do it. Don’t I tell you it’s in the books? Do you want to go to doing different from what’s in the books, and get things all muddled up?’ Chapter 2, pg. 9
If you tell the truth you do not need a good memory!
‘Quick, Jim, it ain’t no time for fooling around and moaning; there’s a gang of murderers in yonder, and if we don’t hunt up their boat and set her drifting down the river so these fellows can’t get away from the wreck, there’s one of ’em going to be in a bad fix. But if we find their boat we can put all of ’em in a bad fix – for the Sheriff ‘ll get ’em.’ Chapter 12, pg. 77
It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened. Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many.
What’s the use you learning to do right when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?
It didn’t take me long to make up my mind that these liars warn’t no kings nor dukes at all, but just low-down humbugs and frauds. But I never said nothing, never let on; kept it to myself; it’s the best way; then you don’t have no quarrels, and don’t get into no trouble. If they wanted us to call them kings and dukes, I hadn’t no objections, ‘long as it would keep peace in the family; and it warn’t no use to tell Jim, so I didn’t tell him. If I never learnt nothing else out of pap, I learnt that the best way to get along with his kind of people is to let them have their own way.
It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn’t try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn’t come. Why wouldn’t they? It warn’t no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from ME, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn’t come. It was because my heart warn’t right; it was because I warn’t square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting ON to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth SAY I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to that nigger’s owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can’t pray a lie–I found that out.
So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn’t know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I’ll go and write the letter–and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote:
Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send.
I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn’t do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking–thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I’d see him standing my watch on top of his’n, ‘stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he’s got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.
It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:
“All right, then, I’ll GO to hell”–and tore it up."
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