Chapter 16 Summary
After dinner the boys dig up turtle eggs, which they eat for both supper and breakfast. In the morning they go for a swim and play a few games, and then everyone goes quiet, homesick again. Tom finds himself writing “Becky” in the sand with his toe—but he scratches it out and curses himself for being so weak. Joe, meanwhile, gets so homesick that he cannot be cheered up. Even Huck is rather lonely and sad. Tom tries to distract them with plans for digging up treasure, but neither shows any interest.
Suddenly Joe says he is going to go home. He gets up and begins to gather his things. Tom tries teasing him and arguing with him, but nothing he says changes Joe’s mind. He turns on Huck, begging him at least to stay. Huck remains by Tom’s side until Joe enters the water and prepares to swim for shore. Then Huck gathers his things too and says he is leaving too. He asks Tom to join them, but Tom refuses.
When it is absolutely clear that his friends are not going to return on their own, Tom calls out and asks them to listen to something important. They stop, and he tells them about a secret plan. When Huck and Joe hear what Tom wants to do, they “war-whoop” and tell him that they never would have threatened to leave if they had known.
Now the three boys return happily to their pirate life. After a dinner of fish and eggs, Tom and Joe say they want to learn how to smoke like Huck. Huck whittles them some corn-cob pipes, and Tom and Joe try it out. As they puff the smoke and try not to gag, they both brag that they do not feel a bit sick. They discuss how wonderful it will be when, sometime in the future, they casually take out pipes and smoke in front of the other boys at school.
Eventually the conversation falls silent, and Tom and Joe both sit spitting into the weeds. They set down their pipes, looking green, and Joe says he wants to go look for a knife he has lost. Tom offers to help, and the two of them go off in separate directions. A while later, Huck finds them in separate spots among the trees, fast asleep. He suspects they have been sick, but he does not make them admit it. Later that night, after supper, Huck fills his pipe to smoke as usual. Tom and Joe claim that their stomachs are upset from something they have eaten, so they do not join him.