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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 23: The Salvation Of Injun Joe
There is sudden activity in the village with the opening of Muff Potterís trial, which makes Tomís suppressed guilt surface. He meets Huck to talk about the murder, and both are lightened by their discussion. Both boys swear that they have not spoken to anybody about the murder. To make themselves doubly sure they will not break the previous promise, Tom and Huck swear by the oath again.
To ease their troubled conscience, the two boys go to the jail around twilight, give Potter some tobacco, and talk to him. Since he knows that the whole town is against him, Potter is very grateful to the boys for their sympathy. Muff is sad about the whole incident and warns the boys never to get drunk and to always be good. The conversation makes Tom even more miserable. He cannot sleep, and when he does, his dreams are full of horror. Huck also has the same problem.
On the next day, Tom and Huck avoid each other and resist going anywhere near the courthouse. By the second day of the trial, they cannot stay away from the courthouse, but do not enter. From the talk they hear, it is evident that Muff Potter will be declared guilty. Potterís lawyer does not even have any questions for cross-examination. On the second night of the trial, Tom stays out late and is very excited when he comes home.
The next morning the courthouse is packed. When the prosecution finally rests its case, Potterís lawyer rises and withdraws his earlier statement in which he had accepted that Potter had acted under the influence of alcohol. He states that he now has a witness to the murder. He calls Tom to the witness stand.
When Tom is questioned, he hesitatingly admits that he was in the graveyard on the night of the murder. He tells an astonished audience that Injun Joe has murdered Dr. Robinson. The minute Tom announces his name, Injun Joe jumps through a window and escapes from the courthouse.
Tom and Huck are guilt ridden for keeping the identity of the actual murderer a secret. To ease their guilt, they take small gifts to Muff Potter, who is very grateful. To add to their guilt, Muff has nothing but good words and praises for them. But the two boys still swear to remain silent out of fear of Injun Joe.
The trial opens, and all evidence points to Muff. Tomís conscience troubles him so much that he goes and confesses to Potterís lawyer. The lawyer calls Tom to the witness stand, and he tells the story of what he has seen in the graveyard on the night of the murder. Injun Joe escapes through the window as soon as his name is mentioned, an escape that greatly complicates life for Tom and Huck.
Tomís testimony on the witness stand is a very noble act that indicates that the mischievous boy is indeed maturing. He is afraid of both Injun Joe and breaking the blood oath made with Huck, but his conscience will not allow him to let an innocent man die. He does the brave and courageous thing in spite of any consequences he may suffer.