At some point in life, every “rightly constructed” boy feels a deep longing to dig for buried treasure. One day this desire strikes Tom, and he goes out to look for a partner in his new plan. He cannot find Joe Harper, and Ben Rogers is busy. Tom searches out Huck Finn, who immediately agrees to join him. Huck always agrees to every plan, as long as it sounds fun and does not require money, because he has “a troublesome superabundance of that sort of time which is not money.”
Probably because of his lack of schooling, Huck is woefully uneducated about hidden treasure. He demands to know who buries treasure and what prevents them from coming back for it. Tom says that robbers bury treasure. He cannot explain why they do not spend it instead, but he knows that they usually die or end up forgetting where they buried it, thus leaving it for some lucky boy to find. To find these lost treasures, a boy ought to have an old map made by a robber. Tom does not have one of these, so he and Huck will just have to look at random until they find the proper spot.
The boys carry a pick and shovel to a dead tree three miles from town. When they arrive, they are tired and sweaty, and they throw themselves down in the shade to smoke. Huck says that when they find the treasure, he is going to eat pie every day, and go to every circus. Tom suggests saving some of the money, but Huck thinks this is a bad idea. He well knows that his pa will take any money he tries to keep.
The conversation turns to Tom’s plans, and Tom lists off everything he will buy as soon as he is rich—a drum, a puppy, and so on. Also, he plans to get married. Huck thinks this is crazy. He claims that getting married simply leads a man to fight and be sad all the time, but Tom insists that he girl he wants to marry will never fight.
The boys begin to dig. After half an hour, Tom declares that they must have the wrong spot. They try a new spot on the other side of the dead tree, but the work soon grows harder and less fun. Tom thinks witches might be casting spells to thwart their labor, but Huck reminds him that witches have no power during the day. Tom suggests digging in the haunted house instead. Huck hates haunted houses, but he agrees—as long as they do the digging during the day.
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