Chapter 14 Summary
In the morning, Tom awakes and peacefully watches the natural world for a while. He enjoys inchworms, ladybugs, ants, squirrels, birds, and so on, until he gets bored and wakes Huck and Joe. The boys run happily down to the river for a swim, and they discover that their raft has drifted away in the night. None of them minds this because it makes them feel farther from home. After the swim, the boys return to their camp feeling hungry. Joe cuts up bacon, and Tom and Huck catch a few fish. These are their breakfast, and they are all astounded at how good it tastes.
After breakfast, the boys set out to investigate their new home, which is three miles long and a quarter of a mile wide. They stop for a swim every hour, so it is past midday by the time they return. They eat a dinner of cold ham and then sit drowsily in the shade. Each of them begins to feel homesick, even Huck, who misses the doorsteps and hogsheads where he normally sleeps. However, nobody is brave enough to admit that he might like to go home.
Presently the boys hear a strange booming sound and wonder what it is. Stealing to the edge of the water to look toward town, they see a ferryboat shooting a cannon over the water. As they all know, this is the procedure for making a drowned body float to the river’s surface. The boys speculate about who has “drownded” and tell each other that they would love to be in that ferry helping with the search.
The boys fall silent for a while, until suddenly Tom cries, “Boys, I know who’s drownded; it’s us!” Their mothers and siblings must have noticed them missing and decided that they have drowned. Now they all feel like heroes. They imagine that everyone in town is talking about them and missing them. As they catch fish for dinner, they reflect that it is wonderful to be pirates.
After dinner, however, the excitement wears off. Tom and Joe have begun to realize that their families are suffering while they enjoy their adventure. Joe hesitantly suggests striking out for home, but Tom refuses to consider it. Huck takes Tom’s side, and Joe gives up his suggestion before anyone can accuse him of “chickenhearted homesickness.”
Night falls, and Huck and Joe go to sleep. Tom remains awake, however. He creeps away from the campsite and finds two scraps of sycamore bark. He writes messages on each of them. One he slips one into his jacket pocket, the other into Joe’s hat. He adds “certain schoolboy treasures of almost inestimable value,” into the hat as well. Then he runs down to the sandbar and jumps into the water.