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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
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CHAPTER 27

Huck sneaks downstairs in the middle of the night, intent on finding a safe hiding place for the money. When he hears someone coming, he hurriedly stashes the gold in the coffin, which is only half-open, exposing the upper half of the dead man's body. He has to leave it there, even though he's afraid it will be discovered the next day by the undertaker.

The undertaker and his style of caring for the bereaved are the subject of one of the novel's funnier passages. Huck describes in some detail how the "softest, glidingest, stealthiest man I ever see" manages to conduct the funeral services while "making no more sound than a cat."

Although the coffin lid is put on without incident, Huck isn't completely sure the money is safe. He wonders if someone, maybe even the king, might have found it during the night. His plan was to write to Mary Jane after he was safely away from town, to tell her where to find the money. Now he's afraid he might be telling her to dig up nothing but the remains of her uncle.


The day after the funeral, Huck tells us, "the girls' joy got the first jolt." Their "uncles" sold the household slaves to two traders-the sons going to one and the mother to the other. The girls never imagined that the slave family would be sold to out- of-towners, much less broken up, and Huck says "they cried and took on so it most made me down sick to see it." The only thing that keeps him from breaking down is that he knows the sale is illegal and will be nullified in a few days.

Huck takes advantage of the sale to get out of his next tight spot, when the king questions him about the missing money. Since the king was inclined to distrust the slaves anyway, Huck leads him to believe that they stole his gold. Because he's sold the slaves, the king has to write the loss off as unrecoverable.

The chapter ends with Huck expressing his pleasure that "I'd worked it all off onto the niggers, and yet hadn't done the niggers no harm by it." His practical approach to morality is still much in evidence, but he's also unwilling to hurt other people when it can be avoided.

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