So then we come out and got some little donkeys and rode a piece, and then went in a boat another piece, and then more donkeys, and got to Cairo; and all the way the road was as smooth and beautiful a road as ever I see, and had tall date-pa’ms on both sides, and naked children everywhere, and the men was as red as copper, and fine and strong and handsome. And the city was a curiosity. Such narrow streets—why, they were just lanes, and crowded with people with turbans, and women with veils, and everybody rigged out in blazing bright clothes and all sorts of colors, and you wondered how the camels and the people got by each other in such narrow little cracks, but they done it—a perfect jam, you see, 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 his counter, smoking his snaky long pipe, and had his things where he could reach them to sell, and he was just as good as in the street, for the camel-loads brushed him as they went by.
Now and then a grand person flew by in a carriage with fancy dressed men running and yelling in front of it and whacking anybody with a long rod that didn’t get out of the way. And by and by along comes the Sultan riding horseback at the head of a procession, and fairly took your breath away his clothes was so splendid; and everybody fell flat and laid on his stomach 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 keep Friday and break the Sabbath. You have to take off your shoes when you go in. There was crowds of men and boys in the church, setting in groups on the stone floor and making no end of noise—getting their lessons by heart, Tom said, out of the Koran, which they think is a Bible, and people that knows better knows enough to not let on. I never see such a big church in my life before, and most awful high, it was; it made you dizzy 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 dervishes on accounts of the one that played the trick on the camel-driver. So we found a lot in a kind of a church, and they called themselves Whirling Dervishes; and they did whirl, too. I never see anything like it. They had tall sugar-loaf hats on, and linen petticoats; and they spun and spun and spun, round and round like tops, and the petticoats stood out on a slant, and it was the prettiest thing I ever see, and made me drunk to look at it. They was all Moslems, Tom said, and when I asked him what a Moslem was, he said it was a person that wasn’t a Presbyterian. So there is 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 a sweat to hunt out places that was celebrated in history. We had a most tiresome time to find the granary where Joseph stored up the grain before the famine, and when we found it it warn’t worth much to look at, being such an old tumble-down wreck; but Tom was satisfied, and made more fuss over it than I would make if I stuck a nail in my foot. How he ever found that place was too many for me. We passed as much as forty just like it before we come to it, and any of them would ’a’ done for me, but none but just the right one would suit him; I never see anybody so particular as Tom Sawyer. The minute he struck the right one he reconnized it as easy as I would reconnize my other shirt if I had one, but how he done it he couldn’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 learned the cadi how to try the case of the old olives and the new ones, and said it was out of the Arabian Nights, and he would tell me and Jim about it when 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 that knowed the town and could talk Missourian and could go straight to the place; but no, he wanted to find it himself, and nothing else would answer. So on we went. Then at last the remarkablest thing happened I ever see. The house was gone—gone hundreds of years ago—every last rag of it gone but just one mud brick. Now a person wouldn’t ever believe that a backwoods Missouri boy that hadn’t ever been in that town before could go and hunt that place over and find that brick, but Tom Sawyer done it. I know he done it, because I see him do it. I was right by his very side at the time, and see him see the brick and see him reconnize it. Well, I says to myself, how does he do it? Is it knowledge, or is it instink?
Now there’s the facts, just as they happened: let everybody explain it their own way. I’ve ciphered over it a good deal, and it’s my opinion that some of it is knowledge but the main bulk of it is instink. The reason is this: Tom put the brick in his pocket to give to a museum with his name on it and the facts when he went home, and I slipped it out and put another brick considerable like it in its place, and he didn’t know the difference—but there was a difference, you see. I think that settles it—it’s mostly instink, not knowledge. Instink tells him where the exact place is for the brick to be in, and so he reconnizes it by the place it’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 seen it—which he didn’t. So it shows that for all the brag you hear about knowledge being such a wonderful thing, instink is worth forty of it for real unerringness. Jim says the same.
When we got back Jim dropped down and took us in, and there was a young man there with a red skullcap and tassel on and a beautiful silk jacket and baggy trousers with a shawl around his waist and pistols in it that could talk English and wanted to hire to us as guide and take us to Mecca and Medina and Central Africa and everywheres for a half a dollar a day and his keep, and we hired him and left, and piled on the power, and by the time we was through dinner we was over the place where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea when Pharaoh tried to overtake them and was caught by the waters. We stopped, then, and had a good look at the place, and it done Jim good to see it. He said he could see it all, now, just the way it happened; he could see the Israelites walking along between the walls of water, and the Egyptians coming, from away off yonder, hurrying all they could, and see them start in as the Israelites went out, and then when they was all in, see the walls tumble together and drown the last man of them. Then we piled on the power again and rushed away and huvvered over Mount Sinai, and saw the place where Moses broke the tables of stone, and where the children of Israel camped in the plain and worshiped the golden calf, and it was all just as interesting as could be, and the guide knowed every place as well as I knowed the village at home.
But we had an accident, now, and it fetched all the plans to a standstill. Tom’s old ornery corn-cob pipe had got so old and swelled and warped that she couldn’t hold together any longer, notwithstanding the strings and bandages, but caved in and went to pieces. Tom he didn’t know what to do. The professor’s pipe wouldn’t answer; it warn’t anything but a mershum, and a person that’s got used to a cob pipe knows it lays a long ways over all the other pipes in this world, and you can’t git him to smoke any other. He wouldn’t take mine, I couldn’t persuade him. So there he was.
He thought it over, and said we must scour around and see if we could roust 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 Tom was pretty glum for a little while, then he chirked up and said he’d got the idea and knowed what to do. He says:
“I’ve got another corn-cob pipe, and it’s a prime one, too, and nearly new. It’s laying on the rafter that’s right over the kitchen stove at home in the village. Jim, you and the guide will go and get it, and me and 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, nur Sent 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 your compass and sail west as straight as a dart, till you find the United States. It ain’t any trouble, because it’s the first land you’ll strike the other side of the Atlantic. If it’s daytime when you strike it, bulge right on, straight west from the upper part of the Florida coast, and in an hour and three quarters you’ll hit the mouth of the Mississippi—at the speed that I’m going to send you. You’ll be so high up in the air that the earth will be curved considerable—sorter like a washbowl turned upside down—and you’ll see a raft of rivers crawling around every which way, long before you get there, and you can pick out the Mississippi without any trouble. Then you can follow the river north nearly, an hour and three quarters, till you see the Ohio come in; then you want to look sharp, because you’re getting near. Away up to your left you’ll see another 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 as you spin along. You’ll pass about twenty-five in the next fifteen minutes, and you’ll recognize ours when you see it—and if you don’t, you can yell down and ask.”
“Ef it’s dat easy, Mars Tom, I reckon we kin do it—yassir, I knows we kin.”
The guide was sure of it, too, and thought that he could learn to stand his watch in a little while.
“Jim can learn you the whole thing in a half an hour,” Tom said. “This balloon’s as easy to manage as a canoe.”
Tom got out the chart and marked out the course and measured it, and says:
“To go back west is the shortest way, you see. It’s only about seven thousand miles. If you went east, and so on around, it’s over twice as far.” Then he says to the guide, “I want you both to watch the tell-tale all through the watches, and whenever it don’t mark three hundred miles an hour, you go higher or drop lower till you find a storm-current that’s going your way. There’s a hundred miles an hour in this old thing without any wind to help. There’s two-hundred-mile gales to be found, any time you 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, and it’ll be p’ison cold, but most of the time you’ll find your storm a good deal 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 these latitudes; 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 trip in a day—twenty-four hours. This is Thursday; you’ll be back here Saturday afternoon. Come, now, hustle out some blankets and food and books and things for me and Huck, and you can start right along. There ain’t no occasion to fool around—I want a smoke, and the quicker you fetch that pipe the better.”
All hands jumped for the things, and in eight minutes our things was out and the balloon was ready for America. So we shook hands good-bye, and Tom gave his last orders:
“It’s 10 minutes to 2 P.M. now, Mount Sinai time. In 24 hours you’ll be home, and it’ll be 6 to-morrow morning, village time. When you strike the village, land a little back of the top of the hill, in the woods, out of sight; then you rush down, Jim, and shove these letters in the post-office, and if you see anybody stirring, pull your slouch down over your face so they won’t know you. Then you go and slip in the back way to the kitchen and git the pipe, and lay this piece of paper on the kitchen table, and put something on it to hold it, and then slide out and git away, 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 hundred miles an hour. You won’t have lost more than an hour. You’ll start back at 7 or 8 A.M., village time, and be here in 24 hours, arriving at 2 or 3 P.M., Mount Sinai time.”
Tom he read the piece of paper to us. He had wrote on it:
|“THURSDAY AFTERNOON. Tom Sawyer the Erronort 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.”1|
“That’ll make her eyes bulge out and the tears come,” he says. Then he says:
“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 big plain, and there we camped to wait for the pipe.
The balloon come hack all right, and brung the pipe; but Aunt Polly had catched 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’ for you, en she say she ain’t gwyne to budge from dah tell she gits hold of you. Dey’s gwyne to be trouble, Mars Tom, ’deed dey is.”
So then we shoved for home, and not feeling very gay, neither.
|1. This misplacing of the Ark is probably Huck’s error, not Tom’s.—M.T. [back]|