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Then I jumped in the canoe and dug out for our place, a mile and half below, as hard as I could go. I landed,
and slopped through the timber and up the ridge and into the cavern. There Jim laid, sound asleep on the
ground. I roused him out and says:
“Git up and hump yourself, Jim! There ain’t a minute to lose. They’re after us!”
After returning to shore disguised as a woman, Huck learns that slave hunters will be searching Jackson’s Island for Jim (chapter 11). Leaving the home of Mrs. Judith Loftus, Huck returns hastily to his camp and awakens Jim. Huck’s choice of words in this quotation is especially significant: the slave hunters are after Jim, not Huck. At this critical turning point early in the novel, Huck decides to cast his fate along with a runaway slave instead of turning him in. Although Huck would struggle with his conscience repeatedly at key moments in the novel, here
at the outset he makes the key decision that sets the plot in motion.
People think Jim killed Huck, and some think Pap killed Huck. Either way there's a $300 reward.......... and the woman has seen life on the island. "They're After Us," means everyone........... like she says, that kind of money isn't just laying around.
"Well, you're innocent, ain't you! Does three hundred dollars lay around every day for people to pick up? Some folks think the nigger ain't far from here. I'm one of them--but I hain't talked it around. A few days ago I was talking with an old couple that lives next door in the log shanty, and they happened to say hardly anybody ever goes to that island over yonder that they call Jackson's Island. Don't anybody live there? says I. No, nobody, says they. I didn't say any more, but I done some thinking. I was pretty near certain I'd seen smoke over there, about the head of the island, a day or two before that, so I says to myself, like as not that nigger's hiding over there; anyway, says I, it's worth the trouble to give the place a hunt. I hain't seen any smoke sence, so I reckon maybe he's gone, if it was him; but husband's going over to see --him and another man. He was gone up the river; but he got back to-day, and I told him as soon as he got here two hours ago."