Chapter 36 Summary
The story of Tom’s and Huck’s adventure causes a huge stir among the townspeople. Grown men go around ripping up every haunted house for miles, looking for more treasure—but nobody finds any. Tom’s and Huck’s guardians invest the money, and soon each boy has an income of a dollar every day. This is more money than even the minister earns. Moreover, people treat the boys with respect; they repeat everything the boys say as if it is important. Neither Tom nor Huck can remember being able to say anything of worth before, but now they have “evidently lost the power of doing and saying commonplace things.”
Tom gets along quite well with his new high status. Judge Thatcher takes an interest in him, especially after Becky tells the story about how Tom told a noble lie to protect her from being whipped at school. The Judge privately decides to send Tom to a military school someday so he can grow up to be a soldier or a lawyer, whichever he chooses.
Huck, however, is not so happy. He is forced to wash, eat with a knife and fork, go to church, and refrain from smoking and swearing. At night he has to sleep between crisp, clean sheets that lack even one “little spot or stain which he [can] press to his heart and know for a friend.” He is utterly miserable, and after three weeks he decides he cannot take the pressure anymore. He disappears. The frightened widow tells her neighbors that Huck is missing, and the whole town joins in the search.
Only Tom Sawyer knows where to look for Huck. He finds his friend behind the abandoned slaughterhouse, dressed in his old rags and having slept in straw and eaten stolen food for breakfast. Tom tells Huck to go home, but Huck will not hear of it. He says the widow and her servants “comb me all to thunder...and won’t let me sleep in the woodshed” and make him wear fine clothes that “don’t seem to any air get through ‘em,...
(The entire section is 536 words.)