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A Day with Tom and Huck
I leaned my back against the trunk of an old oak, chewing on the core of an apple
from Missus Whitefield’s orchard. I watched some younger children run toward the
schoolhouse with their friends. The school bell rang as I flung the remaining stem of the
apple into the nearby bushes. I turned from the schoolhouse and ran through the woods
with a grin spreading across my face.
This month of May had been one of the warmest we’ve had in many years here in
Missouri. I ran across the wood in the direction of the creek. Johnny’s Creek, we kids
called it. My older brother’s pants slid off my waist and I had to stop every so often to
pull the rope tighter around my waist. Danny went off to Illinois to be a teacher at some
school. He knew how much I like to hang out with the boys so let me have some of his
things. His work shirt, which used to be white at one time, nearly reached down to my
knees and billowed as I skipped over logs and stones. I could hear the rippling of the
creek in the distance. Not far now.
At last, I came to the all-too familiar creek. I looked around and saw some
movement beneath the little bridge. Hearing the arguing of boys who couldn’t decide
on who would be captain of the ship this time, I trotted across the pleasantly cool water in
their direction, being careful not to be seen. When I reached the other side, everything
from my chest down was soaked. I could care less. I crept up to the bridge and climbed
up the uneven planks. Once reaching the top, I moved carefully to avoid the bridges’
groaning of old age and peeked over the top.
“I’m telling you, Tom, you were captain last time! It’s my turn!” Little Willy
cried. Tom was untying the wooden raft they had built some weeks ago from the tree. I
reached into my pocket and felt for the river stone I had found the day before. Once my
fingers ran over it’s smoothness, I reached my hand over the bridge and dropped it.
“Ouch!” Tom cried rubbing his head. He looked up and before I could hide, he
“Becky!” I heard him grumble, and saw him climbing up the bridge planks. I
sprawled up from my knees and before I could run a few steps, he caught my hand.
“Boys, I’ve got me a prisoner! What do you reckon we do with her?”
“Throw her over! Throw her over!” Willy and Tom’s other friend, Seth, cried excitedly. I
struggled in his grasp and he smiled at me.
“We thought all the proper young ladies should be at school right now.”
“I thought all the proper gentleman would be too,” I said, finally escaping his grasp and
turned to face him.
“They are. We aint no proper gentlemen. We’re pirates! We have to escape from
this land before we get caught!”
“Take me with you!” I exclaimed. “Are you goin’ to Illinois?”
“Nah, I can’t take you. You’re a girl!”
“So what if I’m a girl?”
“Heck, girls aint no fun. Always gigglin' or weepin’.”
“Whata you know about girls?”
“I was engaged to Amy Lawrence... always gigglin' or weepin'.”
“Well I ain’t Amy Lawrence! And I never cry!”
We suddenly heard approaching footsteps through the wood and turned to look
down the bridge. A very tall and lanky boy came shuffling towards us. His dark brown
hair shown dully in the sun light and flapped a little in the wind as he walked.. His white
shirt and brown overalls were stained with dirt everywhere.
“Hullo, Huck!” Tom exclaimed gleefully as he bent down and jumped off the
bridge. I stared at the boy in wonder. If this was the boy the whole town talked about and
wouldn’t let their children go near, well, he didn’t look so dangerous. Huck looked up
and saw me standing there.
“What she doin’ here?” he asked in a bored tone. I bent down and jumped off the
bridge just like Tom had done.
“My name’s Becky Thatcher and I want to run away with you and them boys,” I
said, spitting on my hand and extending it to him. I had often seen boys do it when they
greet each other. He looked at my hand and then back at me. He walked right passed me
and started moving the wooden raft toward the water. I turned to him, a little angry, and
said, “You didn’t answer my question.”
“You didn’t ask it.” He said with a half laugh.
“I said can I come with you?”
“This aint no trip for little girls like you.”
“I’m not little! And ‘sides, if I go with ya’ll I will be the best shipmate you’ve ever had!”
“Where ya headed?” Huck said.
He turned around and walked toward me. He spit on his hand and extended it to me.
“Huckleberry,” he said and I shook it. Tom looked horrified.
“But…Huck! We can’t let a girl on our ship! She’ll ruin everything!”
“Git your ropes and load your boxes on,” Huck said and Willy and Seth began loading the
raft with their boxes of food.
I grinned at Tom who stood open-mouthed.
“Aw, Huck!” He said, almost pleadingly.
“If she starts actin’ like a girl, we’ll throw her overboard,” Huck said. That seemed to
somewhat satisfy Tom.
When Willy and Seth had done the packing, Tom and Huck pushed the raft into
the creek. I stood by, looking intently. Once the boys got on, Huck turned to me.
“S’you comin’ or not?” I walked up to the raft and placed my foot on the unsteady
surface. As I tried to put my entire weight on the raft, the bobbing of the water beneath
the wood nearly threw me off, but someone caught my hand just in time. I looked up and
saw Huck smiling down at me.
“All aboard!” Tom called as the boys pushed off the shallow end with their sticks.
I took up a stick and felt the currant pulling the it beneath the raft. Huck opened up the
sails and allowed the wind to take control of their ship. The summer breeze felt good to
the skin through my wet cloths.
“Not long ’till Illinois,” Huck said and stretched out on the raft. We sat back
against the boxes and floated in silence, enjoying every moment of this adventure before
we got caught.