Chapter 9 Summary
Tom and Sid say their prayers and get into bed at the same time. Tom tries to stay awake, but he drops off to sleep around eleven. When Huck Finn sneaks into the yard and makes the boys’ secret signal—the meowing sound of a cat—Tom is so deeply asleep that he almost misses it. Luckily, however, a sleepy neighbor throws a bottle at the “cat.” The resulting shattering sound wakes Tom, who quickly pulls on his clothes and slips out to meet his friend.
The boys walk to the graveyard and find the newest grave, which belongs to a man who was called Hoss Williams. The silent, creepy place frightens them a little, so they do not start working on Huck’s cure for warts right away. They whisper back and forth about whether or not the dead people’s spirits can see them. Presently they hear voices, and they both duck out of sight among some trees.
At first the boys think the voices belong to demons, but soon they realize that the visitors are men. One voice belongs to a drunk, Muff Potter, and another belongs to a “half-breed” called Injun Joe. When the men approach, the boys also see the third man, Dr. Robinson. Potter and Joe dig up Hoss Williams’s corpse and place it in a wheelbarrow. When this is done, Joe demands five extra dollars for moving the body. The doctor refuses, saying that he has already paid a fair price upfront.
In the argument that follows, Injun Joe says that he wants revenge for an insult Dr. Robinson paid him years ago. Dr. Robinson hits him, and Potter flies to Joe’s defense. The doctor knocks Potter out, and Joe stabs the doctor in the chest. Tom and Huck, still unnoticed by the men, run away in terror.
After the boys leave, Injun Joe places the knife in the hand of the unconscious Muff Potter. When Potter awakes, he looks at the knife and the dead doctor in shock. his mind is so jumbled with alcohol and his head wound that Injun Joe has no trouble convincing him that he is the killer. Potter begs Joe not to tell anyone, and Joe says he will keep the awful secret. Overcome by fear and grief, Potter runs away.
When Potter is gone, Joe mutters to himself that Potter has left his knife behind. Joe knows that this will incriminate Potter, but that Potter will be too scared to come back for it alone. As far as Injun Joe is concerned, this is perfect. He slips away into the night, convinced that he will get away with the crime he has committed.