At the beginning of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck has come into a fortune of $6,000 and is living with the upper-class Widow Douglas. Huck's father, Pap, is an alcoholic who used to beat and neglect Huck, often disappearing or being drunk and incapable for long periods. He now returns to St. Petersburg and demands custody of his son.
Pap is well-known in town, but a new judge who does not know him has just been appointed. He is reluctant to separate father and son if he can avoid doing so. Pap, therefore, puts on an act for his benefit, pretending to be a reformed man. He washes and dresses well and goes to spend all day at the judge's house, talking enthusiastically about the virtues of temperance and saying how deeply he regrets his former folly.
The judge and his wife are deeply moved by Pap's apparent reformation. They give him a bed for the night in their house, but Pap spoils the effect of his reformation by leaving during the night and trading his coat for alcohol. He gets drunk, rolls off the porch, and is found lying on the ground in the morning. After this incident, even the credulous new judge is not inclined to believe that Pap's reformation was sincere.