Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 617
Tom wanders into the woods weeping and feeling that the world has finally pushed him to the brink. This time he is going to run away, once and for all. He soon meets Joe Harper, who is similarly downcast. His mother has just whipped him for drinking some cream he never knew existed, and he is as convinced as Tom is that the world is out to get him.
Joe is planning to run away and be a hermit, but Tom soon convinces him to be a pirate instead. They find Huck Finn and invite him to join them, which he quickly does. They all agree to meet at midnight on the river, at a spot where they know of a raft they can take. Tom, who now calls himself the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main, brings a ham. Joe, the Terror of the Seas, brings some bacon. Huck, the Red-Handed, brings a stolen skillet and some tobacco and corn cobs for pipes. He is the only one of the boys who smokes, but this bothers no one.
Before the boys leave on their journey to a nearby island, Tom suggests stealing a chunk of fire from a large raft that is parked nearby. As they sneak onboard, they mutter plans to murder the watchman because “dead men tell no tales.” They all know that there is no watchman, and that the men from the raft are drinking in the village. Still, they do not feel that is any excuse to act “unpiratical.”
The boys steal a small raft and set out on their journey. Tom, who is captain, calls out orders such as, “Lay out aloft there, half a dozen of ye…Lively, now!” The other boys respond agreeably but merely steer the craft straight. They all understand that the orders are just for fun and do not really mean anything.
When the boys arrive on their island, they unload their provisions and shelter them under a piece of old sail. Then they build a fire and cook bacon and corn pone. When they are full, they all say how wonderful it is to be pirates. Tom teases Joe, saying that this is much better than being a hermit. Hermits, he says, have to cover themselves with ash and sack-cloth. Huck says that he would do no such thing if he were a hermit, and Tom counters that Huck would be a bad one. Huck does not seem to mind this insult. He carves himself a corn-cob pipe and sits back to smoke it. Tom and Joe watch jealously and resolve to take up smoking as soon as possible.
Huck, who knows little about stories, asks Tom what pirates do. Tom explains that they take over ships, kill the captains, and hide treasures in interesting places. When he adds that pirates wear wonderful clothes, Huck looks mournfully at his rags and says that he has nothing better. Tom assures him that this is all right, and that they will all soon have jewels and whatnot to wear.
Reassured, Huck lies down in the grass to sleep. He falls asleep easily, being unusually comfortable with a full stomach and no fear of being kicked awake by passersby. Tom and Joe have a bit more trouble. Now that their excitement has faded, they begin to suspect that running away is wrong. Besides, they are both bothered by the fact that they have stolen meat—which seems much more like a crime than snatching sweets. Both eventually comfort themselves with the thought that they will never steal anymore when they are in business kidnapping people and burying treasures. Consciences calmed, “these curiously inconsistent pirates” finally manage to sleep.
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