The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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Chapters 28 and 29 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Harvey Wilks: Peter Wilks’ true brother

William Wilks: deaf brother of Peter Wilks

Levi Bell: Peter Wilks’ lawyer friend

Hines: a husky man who believes the king is an imposter

In the morning, Huck passes Mary Jane’s room and sees her crying through the open door. Heartbroken about the separation of the slaves’ families, she tells Huck that her beautiful trip to England is spoiled. Uneasy about her crying, Huck quickly replies that the slaves will be back in less than two weeks. He has spoken too soon, but since he is in a “tight place,” he decides to tell the truth even though it is risky. He asks Mary Jane to promise to leave town for four days if he tells her why the slaves will soon be back. If she leaves she will not be tempted to reveal to the king and the duke that she knows the truth. She gives her word, and Huck blurts out the whole story about the two rogues who have posed as her uncles and duped her out of her inheritance. Shocked, she immediately wants to tar and feather them and throw them in the river, but Huck gently reminds her of her promise. She calms down, telling him she will do whatever he asks.

After some deliberation he thinks he can get the two frauds jailed in town so he and Jim can be rid of them. He shortens Mary Jane’s stay to one day, asking her to place a candle in the window by eleven as a signal to Huck that she is at home. If he does not respond, she will know he is gone, and she can have the king and duke arrested and jailed. Huck advises her to check with the Bricksville townspeople where The Royal Nonesuch was played if she needs evidence of their fraudulent activities. She agrees to stand by Huck and attest to the fact that he is not involved with them in case he gets caught. Since he will not be seeing her again, he writes her a note telling her where the bag of money is hidden and asks her not to read it until he is gone. After she leaves, Huck explains to her sisters that Mary Jane has gone to see a sick friend. He asks them to tell their uncles it is a rich friend, however, who is interested in buying the house. The sick friend has a communicable disease, and it will delay their trip to England. Neither story is true, of course, but Huck wants to allay the suspicions the king and the duke might have about Mary Jane’s absence by telling them that she is working for the auction. Since the girls are eager to start on their trip, Huck knows they will cover for Mary Jane. During the auction two more men arrive on the steamboat claiming to be Wilks’ brothers, Harvey and William.

Surprised by their rude reception, Harvey Wilks is not prepared for the other claimants of Peter Wilks’ inheritance. William and Harvey have been down on their luck lately. William has broken his arm, and their baggage has been misplaced in another town. William speaks only sign language, and the arm he normally uses for signing is broken. Besides, he usually writes for both brothers, but now he cannot sign his name for proof of identification. All other identification is with their lost luggage. Huck is convinced of Harvey Wilks’ identity from the beginning because of his true English accent. “I see straight off he pronounced like an Englishman—not the king’s way.”

The majority of the townspeople still rally around the king and the duke, but a few people begin to question the king. Hines, a man in the crowd, claims to have seen him in a canoe the day before the funeral. After a long debate about identities, the new Harvey Wilks suggests that the true brother would know what was tattooed on Peter Wilks’ chest. To settle the argument they must exhume the body. When they open the coffin, they are shocked to find the bag of gold. In the excitement Huck escapes in the dark and runs until he finds a boat to take to the raft. He...

(The entire section is 1,090 words.)