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THE STORY - CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Twain continues to intertwine the courtship story with Injun Joe's. He moves both stories forward with twists designed to keep St. Petersburg-and you-on edge.
Huck slinks up to the Welshman's door at dawn, hoping to find out what happened at the Widow Douglas's. The Welshman tells him he is "welcome"- the first time Huck can remember anyone saying that to him. Inside, Huck learns that the Welshman's sneeze alerted Injun Joe and the stranger, who escaped despite a chase. A sheriff's posse has waited until daylight to search the woods for the villains.
The Welshman pumps Huck for information about the men. Huck tries hard
to oblige without revealing any secrets about the treasure. But his tale
has holes in it that make the Welshman suspect that Huck is holding back.
Huck startles the Welshman by reporting words spoken by the supposedly
mute Spaniard. Caught, Huck admits: "'Tain't a Spaniard-it's Injun
NOTE: "WHITE MEN DON'T"
The Welshman accepts Huck's revelation immediately because it fits his stereotypical view of Indians as savages. "White men don't take that sort of revenge," he says. Though Twain doesn't tell you how to interpret that remark, some readers think this is being ironic. They argue that his own experience, living during a period of lynchings and civil war, taught him that whites are as capable of mutilating tortures as members of any other race. Why might Twain want to show that a generally decent man like the Welshman harbored warped views of Indians? On the other hand, might Twain, as a member of his society, be capable of sharing the Welshman's views?
Twain shifts the scene to church, where Aunt Polly and Mrs. Thatcher are horrified to learn that their children might be lost in the cave. Might they have learned this earlier if Twain hadn't made Sid and Mary stay home, and if he hadn't had Becky's mother ask Becky to stay with the Harpers?
Within five minutes, alarm bells are ringing, and the men of the village are swarming toward the cave. The Cardiff Hill episode is suddenly forgotten. The villagers search the cave for three days and nights and discover only two traces of Becky and Tom: their names written on a wall with candle smoke, and one of Becky's ribbons. Meanwhile, Huck takes sick and is nursed by the Widow Douglas.
NOTE: HUCK'S ILLNESS
Does Huck's illness come on too suddenly for you? It does for many readers, who are reminded that Twain used this device once before, in Chapter 22, when he kept Tom ill for five weeks before the trial began. This time, Twain seems to have a similar problem. He has to keep Huck occupied while you turn your attention to the hunts for Becky and Tom and Injun Joe. What might Twain have had Huck do instead of falling sick?