The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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Chapters 24 and 25 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Mary Jane Wilks: nineteen-year-old daughter of Peter Wilks

Susan Wilks: her sister, age 15

Joanna Wilks: the youngest sister, age 14

Dr. Robinson: Peter Wilks’ friend before Wilks died

The king and the duke waste no time making plans to “work the towns” again for more money as soon as an opportunity arises. Their escapades into town have been difficult for Jim, however. He has been posing as a runaway slave who needs to be tied up while they are gone. To avoid any further discomfort for Jim, the duke devises an ingenious disguise so that people will think he is a sick Arab instead of a runaway slave. He dresses Jim in a King Lear outfit with a white wig and whiskers and paints his face, hands, neck, and ears a dull blue to make him look sick. The idea is to scare people away with his sickly, offensive appearance, but if that doesn’t help, the duke advises him to step out of the wigwam and howl “like a wild beast.”

They had all bought new clothes in the last town, and the king and Huck dress up and head for the steamboat in the canoe. The duke wants to try his luck in a village on the other side of the river, however. On their way to the steamboat, Huck and the king pick up a local young man who is taking a trip to South America. He leads the king into a conversation about Mr. Peter Wilks who has just died and left a small fortune. They are expecting his two brothers, Harvey and William, from England any day now. The king subtly prods him for more information until he not only knows the details surrounding Peter Wilks’ death, but also the names of most of his family and close friends.

When they drop the young man at the steamboat dock, the king decides to stay in the canoe. As soon as they are alone, he instructs Huck to drop him off in a town a mile upstream and bring the duke back promptly. When he arrives, the king tells the duke the whole story and asks him to pose as the deaf and dumb brother of Peter Wilks while he acts as the other brother.

They flag a steamboat to the next town, and when they arrive people flock to the shore to meet them. The king asks directions to the place where Mr. Peter Wilks lives. One of the townspeople gently breaks the news that Mr. Wilks has died, and the king begins to moan and cry, making signs to the duke, his supposed deaf brother. The behavior of the two frauds convinces the townspeople that they are, indeed, the true brothers of Peter Wilks.

The news of their arrival spreads like wildfire and people come on the run to join them on their way to the Peter Wilks’ house. When they arrive at the house, Mary Jane, Susan, and Joanna, Wilks’ daughters, hug them and cry for joy. When the king and duke spot the coffin in the house, they see further opportunity to put on a convincing act with their sobbing, causing everyone in the room to break down and cry.

Calling them by name, the king invites Peter Wilks’ closest friends to have supper with the family that evening. Remembering the names given to him earlier by the young informant, he calls out an impressively accurate list of names.

Mary Jane, the oldest daughter, produces her father’s letter that specifies the terms of the inheritance. His daughters would receive the house and three thousand dollars in gold. Six thousand dollars in property and gold, along with the tanyard, was designated to go to Harvey and William, his brothers. The letter also reveals the hiding place of the six thousand dollars, which provides the king and duke an opportunity to get their hands on the cash. There is four hundred and fifteen dollars missing, however. To avoid suspicion they add their own money to make up the difference. They hand all the money to the girls, planning to steal it back later.

They manage to deceive all the townspeople until Dr. Robinson, one of the late Peter Wilks’ closest friends, speaks up calling the king a fraud. He criticizes his fake English accent and accuses him of being an imposter. Mary Jane...

(The entire section is 1,131 words.)