Tom Sawyer Abroad

by Mark Twain

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Chapter 10


TOM said it happened like this.

A dervish was stumping it along through the Desert, on foot, one blazinghot day, and he had come a thousand miles and was pretty poor, andhungry, and ornery and tired, and along about where we are now he runacross a camel-driver with a hundred camels, and asked him for some a'ms.But the cameldriver he asked to be excused. The dervish said:

"Don't you own these camels?"

"Yes, they're mine."

"Are you in debt?"

"Who--me? No."

"Well, a man that owns a hundred camels and ain't in debt is rich--andnot only rich, but very rich. Ain't it so?"

The camel-driver owned up that it was so. Then the dervish says:

"God has made you rich, and He has made me poor. He has His reasons, andthey are wise, blessed be His name. But He has willed that His rich shallhelp His poor, and you have turned away from me, your brother, in myneed, and He will remember this, and you will lose by it."

That made the camel-driver feel shaky, but all the same he was bornhoggish after money and didn't like to let go a cent; so he begun towhine and explain, and said times was hard, and although he had took afull freight down to Balsora and got a fat rate for it, he couldn't gitno return freight, and so he warn't making no great things out of histrip. So the dervish starts along again, and says:

"All right, if you want to take the risk; but I reckon you've made amistake this time, and missed a chance."

Of course the camel-driver wanted to know what kind of a chance he hadmissed, because maybe there was money in it; so he run after the dervish,and begged him so hard and earnest to take pity on him that at last thedervish gave in, and says:

"Do you see that hill yonder? Well, in that hill is all the treasures ofthe earth, and I was looking around for a man with a particular good kindheart and a noble, generous disposition, because if I could find justthat man, I've got a kind of a salve I could put on his eyes and he couldsee the treasures and get them out."

So then the camel-driver was in a sweat; and he cried, and begged, andtook on, and went down on his knees, and said he was just that kind of aman, and said he could fetch a thousand people that would say he wasn'tever described so exact before.

"Well, then," says the dervish, "all right. If we load the hundredcamels, can I have half of them?"

The driver was so glad he couldn't hardly hold in, and says:

"Now you're shouting."

So they shook hands on the bargain, and the dervish got out his box andrubbed the salve on the driver's right eye, and the hill opened and hewent in, and there, sure enough, was piles and piles of gold and jewelssparkling like all the stars in heaven had fell down.

So him and the dervish laid into it, and they loaded every camel till hecouldn't carry no more; then they said good-bye, and each of them startedoff with his fifty. But pretty soon the camel-driver come a-running andovertook the dervish and says:

"You ain't in society, you know, and you don't really need all you'vegot. Won't you be good, and let me have ten of your camels?"

"Well," the dervish says, "I don't know but what you say is reasonableenough."

So he done it, and they separated and the dervish started off again withhis forty. But pretty soon here comes the camel-driver bawling after himagain, and whines and slobbers around and begs another ten off of him,saying thirty camel loads of treasures was enough to see a dervishthrough, because they live very simple, you know, and don't keep house,but board around and give their note.

But that warn't the end yet. That ornery hound kept coming and comingtill he had begged back all the camels and had the whole hundred. Then hewas satisfied, and ever so grateful, and said he wouldn't ever forgit thedervish as long as he lived, and nobody hadn't been so good to himbefore, and liberal. So they shook hands good-bye, and separated andstarted off again.

But do you know, it warn't ten minutes till the camel-driver wasunsatisfied again--he was the lowdownest reptyle in seven counties--andhe come a-running again. And this time the thing he wanted was to get thedervish to rub some of the salve on his other eye.

"Why?" said the dervish.

"Oh, you know," says the driver.

"Know what?"

"Well, you can't fool me," says the driver. "You're trying to keep backsomething from me, you know it mighty well. You know, I reckon, that if Ihad the salve on the other eye I could see a lot more things that'svaluable. Come--please put it on."

The dervish says:

"I wasn't keeping anything back from you. I don't mind telling you whatwould happen if I put it on. You'd never see again. You'd be stone-blindthe rest of your days."

But do you know that beat wouldn't believe him. No, he begged and begged,and whined and cried, till at last the dervish opened his box and toldhim to put it on, if he wanted to. So the man done it, and sure enough hewas as blind as a bat in a minute.

Then the dervish laughed at him and mocked at him and made fun of him;and says:

"Good-bye--a man that's blind hain't got no use for jewelry."

And he cleared out with the hundred camels, and left that man to wanderaround poor and miserable and friendless the rest of his days in theDesert.

Jim said he'd bet it was a lesson to him.

"Yes," Tom says, "and like a considerable many lessons a body gets. Theyain't no account, because the thing don't ever happen the same wayagain--and can't. The time Hen Scovil fell down the chimbly and crippledhis back for life, everybody said it would be a lesson to him. What kindof a lesson? How was he going to use it? He couldn't climb chimblies nomore, and he hadn't no more backs to break."

"All de same, Mars Tom, dey IS sich a thing as learnin' by expe'ence. DeGood Book say de burnt chile shun de fire."

"Well, I ain't denying that a thing's a lesson if it's a thing that canhappen twice just the same way. There's lots of such things, and THEYeducate a person, that's what Uncle Abner always said; but there's fortyMILLION lots of the other kind--the kind that don't happen the same waytwice--and they ain't no real use, they ain't no more instructive thanthe small-pox. When you've got it, it ain't no good to find out you oughtto been vaccinated, and it ain't no good to git vaccinated afterward,because the small-pox don't come but once. But, on the other hand, UncleAbner said that the person that had took a bull by the tail once hadlearnt sixty or seventy times as much as a person that hadn't, and said aperson that started in to carry a cat home by the tail was gittingknowledge that was always going to be useful to him, and warn't evergoing to grow dim or doubtful. But I can tell you, Jim, Uncle Abner wasdown on them people that's all the time trying to dig a lesson out ofeverything that happens, no matter whether--"

But Jim was asleep. Tom looked kind of ashamed, because you know a personalways feels bad when he is talking uncommon fine and thinks the otherperson is admiring, and that other person goes to sleep that way. Ofcourse he oughtn't to go to sleep, because it's shabby; but the finer aperson talks the certainer it is to make you sleep, and so when you cometo look at it it ain't nobody's fault in particular; both of them's toblame.

Jim begun to snore--soft and blubbery at first, then a long rasp, then astronger one, then a half a dozen horrible ones like the last watersucking down the plug-hole of a bath-tub, then the same with more powerto it, and some big coughs and snorts flung in, the way a cow does thatis choking to death; and when the person has got to that point he is athis level best, and can wake up a man that is in the next block with adipperful of loddanum in him, but can't wake himself up although all thatawful noise of his'n ain't but three inches from his own ears. And thatis the curiosest thing in the world, seems to me. But you rake a match tolight the candle, and that little bit of a noise will fetch him. I wish Iknowed what was the reason of that, but there don't seem to be no way tofind out. Now there was Jim alarming the whole Desert, and yanking theanimals out, for miles and miles around, to see what in the nation wasgoing on up there; there warn't nobody nor nothing that was as close tothe noise as HE was, and yet he was the only cretur that wasn't disturbedby it. We yelled at him and whooped at him, it never done no good; butthe first time there come a little wee noise that wasn't of a usual kindit woke him up. No, sir, I've thought it all over, and so has Tom, andthere ain't no way to find out why a snorer can't hear himself snore.

Jim said he hadn't been asleep; he just shut his eyes so he could listenbetter.

Tom said nobody warn't accusing him.

That made him look like he wished he hadn't said anything. And he wantedto git away from the subject, I reckon, because he begun to abuse thecamel-driver, just the way a person does when he has got catched insomething and wants to take it out of somebody else. He let into thecamel-driver the hardest he knowed how, and I had to agree with him; andhe praised up the dervish the highest he could, and I had to agree withhim there, too. But Tom says:

"I ain't so sure. You call that dervish so dreadful liberal and good andunselfish, but I don't quite see it. He didn't hunt up another poordervish, did he? No, he didn't. If he was so unselfish, why didn't he goin there himself and take a pocketful of jewels and go along and besatisfied? No, sir, the person he was hunting for was a man with ahundred camels. He wanted to get away with all the treasure he could."

"Why, Mars Tom, he was willin' to divide, fair and square; he only struckfor fifty camels."

"Because he knowed how he was going to get all of them by and by."

"Mars Tom, he TOLE de man de truck would make him bline."

"Yes, because he knowed the man's character. It was just the kind of aman he was hunting for--a man that never believes in anybody's word oranybody's honorableness, because he ain't got none of his own. I reckonthere's lots of people like that dervish. They swindle, right and left,but they always make the other person SEEM to swindle himself. They keepinside of the letter of the law all the time, and there ain't no way togit hold of them. THEY don't put the salve on--oh, no, that would besin; but they know how to fool YOU into putting it on, then it's you thatblinds yourself. I reckon the dervish and the camel-driver was just apair--a fine, smart, brainy rascal, and a dull, coarse, ignorant one, butboth of them rascals, just the same."

"Mars Tom, does you reckon dey's any o' dat kind o' salve in de worl'now?"

"Yes, Uncle Abner says there is. He says they've got it in New York, andthey put it on country people's eyes and show them all the railroads inthe world, and they go in and git them, and then when they rub the salveon the other eye the other man bids them goodbye and goes off with theirrailroads. Here's the treasure-hill now. Lower away!"

We landed, but it warn't as interesting as I thought it was going to be,because we couldn't find the place where they went in to git thetreasure. Still, it was plenty interesting enough, just to see the merehill itself where such a wonderful thing happened. Jim said he wou'dn't'a' missed it for three dollars, and I felt the same way.

And to me and Jim, as wonderful a thing as any was the way Tom could comeinto a strange big country like this and go straight and find a littlehump like that and tell it in a minute from a million other humps thatwas almost just like it, and nothing to help him but only his ownlearning and his own natural smartness. We talked and talked it overtogether, but couldn't make out how he done it. He had the best head onhim I ever see; and all he lacked was age, to make a name for himselfequal to Captain Kidd or George Washington. I bet you it would 'a'crowded either of THEM to find that hill, with all their gifts, but itwarn't nothing to Tom Sawyer; he went across Sahara and put his finger onit as easy as you could pick a nigger out of a bunch of angels.

We found a pond of salt water close by and scraped up a raft of saltaround the edges, and loaded up the lion's skin and the tiger's so asthey would keep till Jim could tan them.

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