[wo or three days and nights went by; I reckon I might say they [swum] by, they slid along so quiet and smooth and lovely]. [[Here] is the way we put in the [time.] It] was a monstrous big river down there—sometimes a mile and a half [wide; we] [run,] nights, and laid up and [hid,] [[daytimes];] soon as [night] was [most] gone, we [stopped] [navigating,] and [tied] up—nearly always in the dead water under a [[tow-head];] and then cut young [cottonwoods] and willows and [hid] the raft with [them.] Then we set out the lines. [Next] we slid into the river and had a swim, so as to freshen up and cool off; then we set down on the sandy bottom where the water was about [knee deep], and watched the daylight come. Not a [sound,] anywheres—perfectly still—just [[like]] the whole world was [asleep, only sometimes the bull-frogs a-cluttering, maybe]. The first thing to see, looking away [over] the water, was a kind of [dull] line—that was the [woods] on [t’other] side—you couldn’t make [nothing] else out; then a pale place in the sky; then more paleness, spreading around; then the river softened up, away off, and [warn’t] [black] any more, but gray; you could see little dark spots drifting along, ever so far away—trading scows, and such [things;] and [long,] black streaks—rafts; sometimes you could hear [a sweep screaking;] or [jumbled up] voices, it was so still, and sounds [come] so far; [and by and by] you could [see a] streak on the water [[which you know by the look of the streak that there’s a snag there in a swift current which breaks on it and makes [page 157] that streak look that way]]; [and you see the mist curl] up [off of the water, and the] east reddens up, [and the river, and] you make out [a] log cabin in the edge of the [woods], [away] on the bank on [t’other] side of the [river, being a wood-yard, likely, and piled by them cheats so you can throw a dog through it anywheres]; then the nice breeze [springs up, and comes] fanning you from over [there], so cool and fresh, and [sweet] to smell, on account of the woods and the flowers; [but sometimes not that way, because they’ve left dead fish laying around, gars, and such, and they do get pretty rank; and] next [you’ve got] the full day, and everything [smiling] in the sun, and the song-birds just [going] it!
A little smoke couldn’t be [noticed,] now, so we would take some fish off [of] the [lines,] and cook up a hot breakfast. [And afterwards] we would watch the [lonesomeness] of the river, and kind of [lazy along], [and by and by] [lazy] off to sleep. Wake [up, by and by], and look to see what done it, and [maybe] see a [steamboat], coughing along up stream, so far off [towards] the other side [[you couldn’t tell nothing about her only whether she was stern-wheel or side-wheel]]; then [for] about an hour there wouldn’t be [[nothing to hear nor nothing to]] see—just solid [lonesomeness]. Next you’d see a raft sliding by, away off yonder, and [maybe] a [galoot on it chopping, because they’re most always doing it on a raft]; you’d see the [[axe]] flash, and come down—[you don’t hear nothing; you] see that [axe] go up again, and by the time [it’s] above the man’s head, [then you] hear the [k’chunk!]—it had took all that time to [come] over the water. So we would put in the [day, lazying around,] listening to the stillness. Once there was a thick fog, and the rafts and things that went by [was] beating tin pans [so the steamboats wouldn’t] run over them. [A] scow or a raft went by so close [we could hear] them talking [and cussing] and laughing—heard them [[plain];] but we couldn’t see [no] sign of them; it made [you] feel crawly, it was [[like spirits carrying on that way in the air]]. [Jim said he believed it [was] spirits; but I [says:]
Soon as it was night, out we shoved; when we got her out to about the middle, we let her alone, and let her float wherever [the current] wanted her [to; then] we lit the [pipes] and dangled our legs in the water [and] talked [about] all kinds of [things—we was always naked, day and night, whenever the mosquitoes would let us—the new [page 158] clothes Buck’s folks made for me was too good to be comfortable, and besides I didn’t go much on clothes, nohow].
[Sometimes] we’d have that whole [river] all to [ourselves,] for [the longest time]. Yonder was the [banks] and the [islands, [across]] the water; and [maybe] a [spark—]which was a candle in [a cabin] [window—][and [sometimes] on the water you] could see a spark or [two—]on a raft or a scow, you know; and [maybe you could] hear [a fiddle] or [a song] coming [over] from one of [them] crafts. [[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. Jim said the moon could [a] laid them; well, that looked kind of [reasonable], so I didn’t say nothing against it, because I’ve seen a frog lay most as many, so of course it [could] be done. [We used to watch the [stars that fell], too, and see them streak [down. Jim] [allowed they’d] got spoiled and was [hove] out of the nest.]
[Once] or twice [of] a night we would see a steamboat slipping along in the [dark], and now and then she would belch a whole world of sparks up out of her [chimbleys,] and they would [rain] down in the river and look awful pretty; then [she] would turn a [corner] and her [lights] would wink out and her pow-wow [shut off] and leave the [river still] again; and [by and by] [her] waves would [get] to us, [a long time] after she was gone, and joggle [the] raft a bit, and after that [[you wouldn’t hear nothing for you couldn’t tell how long, except maybe frogs or something]].
After midnight the people on shore went to bed, and then for [two or] three hours the shores was black—no more sparks in [the cabin] windows. These sparks was our clock—the first one that [showed, again,] meant [morning] was coming, so we hunted a place to hide and tie [up,] right away.
One [morning] [about] [daybreak], [I [found a] canoe] and crossed over [a chute] [to] the main [shore—it was only two hundred yards—]and paddled about a mile up a crick amongst the [cypress] [woods,] to see if I couldn’t get some berries. Just as I [was] passing a place where a kind of a cow-path crossed the crick, here comes a couple of men tearing up the path as tight as they could foot it. I thought I was [a] goner, for whenever anybody was after [anybody,] I judged it was me—or [page 159] [maybe] Jim. I was about to dig out from there in a hurry, but they was pretty close to [me,] then, and sung out and begged me to save their [lives—said they hadn’t been doing nothing, and was being chased for it—]said there was men and dogs a-coming. [They] wanted to jump right in, but I [says—]
“Don’t you do it. I don’t hear the dogs and [horses,] [yet; you’ve] got time to crowd through the brush and get up the crick a little ways; then you take to the water and wade down to me and get in—that’ll throw the dogs [off] the scent.”
They done it, and soon as they was aboard I lit out for our [towhead], and in about five or ten [minutes] we heard the dogs [and the men] away [off], shouting. We heard them come along [towards the crick,] but couldn’t see them; they seemed to stop and fool around [a while; then], as we got further and further away all the time, we couldn’t hardly hear them at [all; by] the time we had left a mile of [page 160] [woods] behind us and struck the river, everything was quiet, and we paddled over to the [towhead] and hid in the [cottonwoods] and was safe.
[One of these fellows was about [seventy,] or [upwards], and had a bald head and [very] [gray] whiskers. He had an old battered-up slouch hat on, and a greasy blue woolen shirt, and ragged old blue jeans britches stuffed into his [boot tops], and home-knit galluses—[no] he only had one. He had an old long-tailed blue jeans coat with slick brass [buttons],] flung over his arm, [and] both of them had big fat ratty-looking [carpet-bags].
“Well, [[I’d] been] selling an article to [take the tartar [off the] teeth—and it [does] take it off, too, and [[generly]] the [enamel] along with [it]—]but I staid [[about]] one night [longer than] I ought to, and was [just] in the act of sliding out when I ran [across] you on the trail this side of town, and you told me they [were] coming, and begged me to help you [to] get off. So I told you I was expecting trouble myself and would scatter out with you. That’s the whole yarn—what’s yourn?”
“Well, I’d ben [a-runnin’] a little temperance revival thar, ’bout a week, and was the pet of the women-folks, big and little, for I was makin’ it mighty warm for the rummies, I tell you, and [takin’] as much as five [or] six dollars a [night,—]ten cents a head, children and niggers free—and business [a growin’,] all the time; when somehow or another a little report got around, last night, that I had a way of [puttin’] in my time with a private jug, on the sly. A nigger rousted me [out,] this [mornin’], and told me the people was [getherin’] on the quiet, with their dogs and horses, and they’d be along pretty soon and give me ’bout [half an] hour’s start, and then run me [down,] if they could; and if they got me [they’d tar and feather me and ride me on a rail], sure. I didn’t wait for [no] breakfast—I warn’t hungry.”
“I ain’t undisposed. What’s your line—mainly?”
“[Jour [printer,] by trade]; [do a little in [patent] medicines]; [theatre-actor]—tragedy, you know; take a turn at [mesmerism and [phrenology]] when there’s a chance; teach [singing-geography school] for a [page 161] change; sling a [lecture,] [sometimes—O], I do lots of things—most anything that comes handy, so it ain’t work. What’s your lay?”
“[[I’ve]] [done] [considerble] in the doctoring [way,] in my time. [Layin’ on o’] [hands] is my best holt—for cancer, and paralysis, and [sich] things; and I [k’n] tell a fortune pretty good, when I’ve got somebody along to find out the facts for [me. Preachin’s my line, too; and workin’ camp-meetin’s; and missionaryin’ around.]”
“Yes, it is good enough for me; it’s as good as I deserve; for who fetched me so low, when I was so high? I [[did]] myself. I don’t blame you, gentlemen—far from it; I don’t blame [anybody]. I deserve it all. Let the cold world do its worst; [one thing] I know—there’s a grave [somewhere] for me. The world may go on just as [it’s] always done, and take everything from me—loved ones, property, everything—but it can’t take [that]. Some day I’ll [lie] down in it and forget it all, and my [poor] broken heart will be at rest.” [He went on [a wiping].]
[page 162] “Yes. My [[great-grandfather]], [eldest son of the [duke] of Bridgewater, fled to this country about the end of the last century, to breathe the pure air of freedom; married here, and died, leaving a son, his own father dying about the same time. The second son of the late duke seized the title and estates—the infant [real] duke was ignored. I am the lineal descendant of that infant—I am the rightful [duke] of] Bridgewater; and here am I, [[forlorn]], torn from my high estate, hunted of men, [despised] by the cold world, ragged, worn, heart-broken, and degraded to the [companionship] of felons on a raft!”
Jim pitied him ever so much, and so did I. We tried to comfort him, but he [said] it warn’t much use, he [couldn’t] be much comforted; said if we was a mind to [acknowledge] him, [that] would do him more good than most anything else; so we said we would, if he would tell us how. He said we ought to [bow,] when we spoke to him, and [say] “Your [Grace]” or “My Lord,” or “Your [Lordship]”—and he wouldn’t mind it if we called him [plain] “Bridgewater,” which he said was a title, anyway, and not a name; and one of us ought to wait on him at dinner, and do any little thing for him [he] wanted done.
[page 163] Well, that was all easy, so we done it. All through dinner Jim stood around and waited on him, and [says] “Will [yo’] [grace] have some o’ dis, or some o’ dat?” and so on, and [a] body could see it was mighty pleasing to him.
[But] the old man got pretty [silent,] [by and by]—didn’t have much to say, and didn’t look pretty comfortable over all that petting that was going on around that duke. He seemed to have something on his mind. So, along in the [afternoon], he [says—]
“Hold! What do you mean?”
“Bilgewater, I am the late Dauphin!”
“Trouble has done it, Bilgewater, trouble has done it; trouble has brung these gray hairs and this [[premature]] balditude. Yes, gentlemen, you see before you, in [blue] jeans and misery, the [wanderin’], exiled, [trampled-on] and sufferin’ rightful King of France.”
Well, he cried and took on [so,] that me and Jim didn’t [know hardly] what to do, we was so [sorry—and so glad and proud we’d got him with us, too]. So we set in, like we done before [[with the duke],] and tried to comfort him. But he said it warn’t no use, nothing but to be dead and done with it all could do him any good; though he said it often made him feel easier and better for a while if people treated [page 164] him according to his rights, and got down on one knee to speak to him, and always called him “Your Majesty,” [and waited] on him [[first],] at meals, and didn’t set down in his [presence] till he asked them. So Jim and me set to majestying him, and doing this and that and [t’other] for him, and standing up till he told us we might set down. This done him heaps of good, and so he got cheerful and [comfortable.] [But the] duke kind of soured on him, and didn’t look a bit satisfied with the way things was going; [still,] the king acted real friendly [towards] him, and said the duke’s great-grandfather [and all] the other [dukes] of Bilgewater was a good deal thought of by [his] [father] and was allowed to come to the palace considerable; but the duke staid huffy a good while, till [by and by] the king [says—]
“Like as not we got to be together a blamed long time, on [thish-yer] raft, Bilgewater, and so what’s the use [o’ your bein’] sour? [it’ll] only make things [oncomfortable]. It ain’t [my] fault I warn’t born a duke, it ain’t [your] fault you warn’t born a king—so what’s the use to [worry?] Make the best [o’] things the way you find ’em, says I— [page 165] that’s my motto. This ain’t no bad thing that we’ve struck here—plenty grub and an easy [life—come], give us your hand, [duke], and less all be friends.”
The duke done it, and Jim and [me] was pretty glad to see it. [[It] took away all the uncomfortableness, and we felt mighty good over it, [because] it would [a] been a miserable business to have any unfriendliness on the [raft;] for what you want, above all things, on a raft, is for everybody to [be] satisfied, and feel right and kind towards the others.]
[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.]