Tom Sawyer Abroad

by Mark Twain

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Chapter 13


BY AND BY we left Jim to float around up there in the neighborhood of thepyramids, and we clumb down to the hole where you go into the tunnel, andwent in with some Arabs and candles, and away in there in the middle ofthe pyramid we found a room and a big stone box in it where they used tokeep that king, just as the man in the Sunday-school said; but he wasgone, now; somebody had got him. But I didn't take no interest in theplace, because there could be ghosts there, of course; not fresh ones,but I don't like no kind.

So then we come out and got some little donkeys and rode a piece, andthen went in a boat another piece, and then more donkeys, and got toCairo; and all the way the road was as smooth and beautiful a road asever I see, and had tall date-pa'ms on both sides, and naked childreneverywhere, and the men was as red as copper, and fine and strong andhandsome. And the city was a curiosity. Such narrow streets--why, theywere just lanes, and crowded with people with turbans, and women withveils, and everybody rigged out in blazing bright clothes and all sortsof colors, and you wondered how the camels and the people got by eachother in such narrow little cracks, but they done it--a perfect jam, yousee, and everybody noisy. The stores warn't big enough to turn around in,but you didn't have to go in; the storekeeper sat tailor fashion on hiscounter, smoking his snaky long pipe, and had his things where he couldreach them to sell, and he was just as good as in the street, for thecamel-loads brushed him as they went by.

Now and then a grand person flew by in a carriage with fancy dressed menrunning and yelling in front of it and whacking anybody with a long rodthat didn't get out of the way. And by and by along comes the Sultanriding horseback at the head of a procession, and fairly took your breathaway his clothes was so splendid; and everybody fell flat and laid on hisstomach while he went by. I forgot, but a feller helped me to remember.He was one that had a rod and run in front.

There was churches, but they don't know enough to keep Sunday; they keepFriday and break the Sabbath. You have to take off your shoes when you goin. There was crowds of men and boys in the church, setting in groups onthe stone floor and making no end of noise--getting their lessons byheart, Tom said, out of the Koran, which they think is a Bible, andpeople that knows better knows enough to not let on. I never see such abig church in my life before, and most awful high, it was; it made youdizzy to look up; our village church at home ain't a circumstance to it;if you was to put it in there, people would think it was a drygoods box.

What I wanted to see was a dervish, because I was interested in dervisheson accounts of the one that played the trick on the camel-driver. So wefound a lot in a kind of a church, and they called themselves WhirlingDervishes; and they did whirl, too. I never see anything like it. Theyhad tall sugar-loaf hats on, and linen petticoats; and they spun and spunand spun, round and round like tops, and the petticoats stood out on aslant, and it was the prettiest thing I ever see, and made me drunk tolook at it. They was all Moslems, Tom said, and when I asked him what aMoslem was, he said it was a person that wasn't a Presbyterian. So thereis plenty of them in Missouri, though I didn't know it before.

We didn't see half there was to see in Cairo, because Tom was in such asweat to hunt out places that was celebrated in history. We had a mosttiresome time to find the granary where Joseph stored up the grain beforethe famine, and when we found it it warn't worth much to look at, beingsuch an old tumble-down wreck; but Tom was satisfied, and made more fussover it than I would make if I stuck a nail in my foot. How he ever foundthat place was too many for me. We passed as much as forty just like itbefore we come to it, and any of them would 'a' done for me, but none butjust the right one would suit him; I never see anybody so particular asTom Sawyer. The minute he struck the right one he reconnized it as easyas I would reconnize my other shirt if I had one, but how he done it hecouldn't any more tell than he could fly; he said so himself.

Then we hunted a long time for the house where the boy lived that learnedthe cadi how to try the case of the old olives and the new ones, and saidit was out of the Arabian Nights, and he would tell me and Jim about itwhen he got time. Well, we hunted and hunted till I was ready to drop,and I wanted Tom to give it up and come next day and git somebody thatknowed the town and could talk Missourian and could go straight to theplace; but no, he wanted to find it himself, and nothing else wouldanswer. So on we went. Then at last the remarkablest thing happened Iever see. The house was gone--gone hundreds of years ago--every last ragof it gone but just one mud brick. Now a person wouldn't ever believethat a backwoods Missouri boy that hadn't ever been in that town beforecould go and hunt that place over and find that brick, but Tom Sawyerdone it. I know he done it, because I see him do it. I was right by hisvery side at the time, and see him see the brick and see him reconnizeit. Well, I says to myself, how DOES he do it? Is it knowledge, or is itinstink?

Now there's the facts, just as they happened: let everybody explain ittheir own way. I've ciphered over it a good deal, and it's my opinionthat some of it is knowledge but the main bulk of it is instink. Thereason is this: Tom put the brick in his pocket to give to a museum withhis name on it and the facts when he went home, and I slipped it out andput another brick considerable like it in its place, and he didn't knowthe difference--but there was a difference, you see. I think that settlesit--it's mostly instink, not knowledge. Instink tells him where the exactPLACE is for the brick to be in, and so he reconnizes it by the placeit's in, not by the look of the brick. If it was knowledge, not instink,he would know the brick again by the look of it the next time he seenit--which he didn't. So it shows that for all the brag you hear aboutknowledge being such a wonderful thing, instink is worth forty of it forreal unerringness. Jim says the same.

When we got back Jim dropped down and took us in, and there was a youngman there with a red skullcap and tassel on and a beautiful silk jacketand baggy trousers with a shawl around his waist and pistols in it thatcould talk English and wanted to hire to us as guide and take us to Meccaand Medina and Central Africa and everywheres for a half a dollar a dayand his keep, and we hired him and left, and piled on the power, and bythe time we was through dinner we was over the place where the Israelitescrossed the Red Sea when Pharaoh tried to overtake them and was caught bythe waters. We stopped, then, and had a good look at the place, and itdone Jim good to see it. He said he could see it all, now, just the wayit happened; he could see the Israelites walking along between the wallsof water, and the Egyptians coming, from away off yonder, hurrying allthey could, and see them start in as the Israelites went out, and thenwhen they was all in, see the walls tumble together and drown the lastman of them. Then we piled on the power again and rushed away andhuvvered over Mount Sinai, and saw the place where Moses broke the tablesof stone, and where the children of Israel camped in the plain andworshiped the golden calf, and it was all just as interesting as couldbe, and the guide knowed every place as well as I knowed the village athome.

But we had an accident, now, and it fetched all the plans to astandstill. Tom's old ornery corn-cob pipe had got so old and swelled andwarped that she couldn't hold together any longer, notwithstanding thestrings and bandages, but caved in and went to pieces. Tom he didn't knowWHAT to do. The professor's pipe wouldn't answer; it warn't anything buta mershum, and a person that's got used to a cob pipe knows it lays along ways over all the other pipes in this world, and you can't git himto smoke any other. He wouldn't take mine, I couldn't persuade him. Sothere he was.

He thought it over, and said we must scour around and see if we couldroust out one in Egypt or Arabia or around in some of these countries,but the guide said no, it warn't no use, they didn't have them. So Tomwas pretty glum for a little while, then he chirked up and said he'd gotthe idea and knowed what to do. He says:

"I've got another corn-cob pipe, and it's a prime one, too, and nearlynew. It's laying on the rafter that's right over the kitchen stove athome in the village. Jim, you and the guide will go and get it, and meand Huck will camp here on Mount Sinai till you come back."

"But, Mars Tom, we couldn't ever find de village. I could find de pipe,'case I knows de kitchen, but my lan', we can't ever find de village, nurSent Louis, nur none o' dem places. We don't know de way, Mars Tom."

That was a fact, and it stumped Tom for a minute. Then he said:

"Looky here, it can be done, sure; and I'll tell you how. You set yourcompass and sail west as straight as a dart, till you find the UnitedStates. It ain't any trouble, because it's the first land you'll strikethe other side of the Atlantic. If it's daytime when you strike it, bulgeright on, straight west from the upper part of the Florida coast, and inan hour and three quarters you'll hit the mouth of the Mississippi--atthe speed that I'm going to send you. You'll be so high up in the airthat the earth will be curved considerable--sorter like a washbowl turnedupside down--and you'll see a raft of rivers crawling around every whichway, long before you get there, and you can pick out the Mississippiwithout any trouble. Then you can follow the river north nearly, an hourand three quarters, till you see the Ohio come in; then you want to looksharp, because you're getting near. Away up to your left you'll seeanother thread coming in--that's the Missouri and is a little above St.Louis. You'll come down low then, so as you can examine the villages asyou spin along. You'll pass about twenty-five in the next fifteenminutes, and you'll recognize ours when you see it--and if you don't, youcan yell down and ask."

"Ef it's dat easy, Mars Tom, I reckon we kin do it--yassir, I knows wekin."

The guide was sure of it, too, and thought that he could learn to standhis watch in a little while.

"Jim can learn you the whole thing in a half an hour," Tom said. "Thisballoon's as easy to manage as a canoe."

Tom got out the chart and marked out the course and measured it, andsays:

"To go back west is the shortest way, you see. It's only about seventhousand miles. If you went east, and so on around, it's over twice asfar." Then he says to the guide, "I want you both to watch the tell-taleall through the watches, and whenever it don't mark three hundred milesan hour, you go higher or drop lower till you find a storm-current that'sgoing your way. There's a hundred miles an hour in this old thing withoutany wind to help. There's two-hundred-mile gales to be found, any timeyou want to hunt for them."

"We'll hunt for them, sir."

"See that you do. Sometimes you may have to go up a couple of miles, andit'll be p'ison cold, but most of the time you'll find your storm a gooddeal lower. If you can only strike a cyclone--that's the ticket for you!You'll see by the professor's books that they travel west in theselatitudes; and they travel low, too."

Then he ciphered on the time, and says--

"Seven thousand miles, three hundred miles an hour--you can make the tripin a day--twenty-four hours. This is Thursday; you'll be back hereSaturday afternoon. Come, now, hustle out some blankets and food andbooks and things for me and Huck, and you can start right along. Thereain't no occasion to fool around--I want a smoke, and the quicker youfetch that pipe the better."

All hands jumped for the things, and in eight minutes our things was outand the balloon was ready for America. So we shook hands good-bye, andTom gave his last orders:

"It's 10 minutes to 2 P.M. now, Mount Sinai time. In 24 hours you'll behome, and it'll be 6 to-morrow morning, village time. When you strike thevillage, land a little back of the top of the hill, in the woods, out ofsight; then you rush down, Jim, and shove these letters in thepost-office, and if you see anybody stirring, pull your slouch down overyour face so they won't know you. Then you go and slip in the back way tothe kitchen and git the pipe, and lay this piece of paper on the kitchentable, and put something on it to hold it, and then slide out and gitaway, and don't let Aunt Polly catch a sight of you, nor nobody else.Then you jump for the balloon and shove for Mount Sinai three hundredmiles an hour. You won't have lost more than an hour. You'll start backat 7 or 8 A.M., village time, and be here in 24 hours, arriving at 2 or 3P.M., Mount Sinai time."

Tom he read the piece of paper to us. He had wrote on it:

"THURSDAY AFTERNOON. Tom Sawyer the Erro-nort sends his love to Aunt Polly from Mount Sinai where the Ark was, and so does Huck Finn, and she will get it to-morrow morning half-past six." *

[* This misplacing of the Ark is probably Huck's error, notTom's.--M.T.]

"That'll make her eyes bulge out and the tears come," he says. Then hesays:

"Stand by! One--two--three--away you go!"

And away she DID go! Why, she seemed to whiz out of sight in a second.

Then we found a most comfortable cave that looked out over the whole bigplain, and there we camped to wait for the pipe.

The balloon come hack all right, and brung the pipe; but Aunt Polly hadcatched Jim when he was getting it, and anybody can guess what happened:she sent for Tom. So Jim he says:

"Mars Tom, she's out on de porch wid her eye sot on de sky a-layin' foryou, en she say she ain't gwyne to budge from dah tell she gits hold ofyou. Dey's gwyne to be trouble, Mars Tom, 'deed dey is."

So then we shoved for home, and not feeling very gay, neither.


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It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.