The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Summary and Analysis of Chapter 26 to Chapter 30


Chapter 26

The night of the doctor's warning, Joanna and Huck eat together, since they are the youngest two people present. She asks him all about England, and Huck lies to her in order to sound knowledgeable. She catches him in several of the lies, and Huck keeps pretending to choke on a chicken bone in order to think of a way out. Mary Jane overhears Joanna telling Huck that she does not believe him and makes Joanna apologize to Huck for being so rude. Huck decides he cannot let the King and Duke steal the money from these extremely kind girls.

Huck goes to the King's room and hides when he hears the Duke and King approaching. The conmen debate whether they should leave now that suspicion has been raised or wait until the rest of the property is sold off. They choose to stay and hide their money in the straw tick mattress. Huck steals the money immediately and waits until it is safe to slip downstairs to hide it.

Chapter 27

Huck is afraid he will be caught with the stolen money, so he hides it inside Peter Wilks's coffin. That day, the funeral service is held, and is interrupted by loud barking from a dog locked in the cellar. The undertaker goes to silence the dog, returns, and tells the audience the dog caught a rat. Huck remarks that the service was long and tiresome, but is relieved when Peter Wilks and the money are finally buried.

The King and Duke immediately begin selling everything they can, including the slave family owned by the household. To sell the slaves faster, they break up the family. The girls are extremely upset by this insensitivity. Many of the townspeople also expressed disapproval, but the men are not swayed.

On the day of the auction, the King realizes the money is gone. He questions Huck, who cleverly blames the slaves who were sold. Both the Duke and King feel extremely foolish for selling the slaves at such low prices considering all their money is now lost.

Chapter 28

Later that morning, Huck sees Mary Jane sitting on her floor, crying while packing to go to England with her uncles. Mary Jane explains that she is upset about the slaves being so mistreated, and Huck blurts out that they will be together again in two weeks at the most, knowing the Duke and King will abandon the town. When he realizes he has slipped, he decides to tell her everything. She becomes furious as he relates the story, and when Huck finishes, she calls the King a "brute."

Huck makes Mary Jane leave the house and stay with a friend across the river. Before she leaves, he writes down where the money is located so she will be able to find it later on. Huck is afraid that if Mary Jane stays at the house, her face will give away Huck's indiscretion. Huck tells her sisters that she is across the river trying to stir up interest in buying the house. After telling this part of the story to the reader, Huck remarks that he has never forgotten Mary Jane and still thinks she is one of the most beautiful girls he has ever met.

The auction occurs that afternoon and the King works hard to sell every last thing. In the middle of the auction, a steamboat lands, and two men claiming to be the real heirs to the Wilks's fortune disembark. As they approach the crowd, Huck notices that the elder man is speaking, and that the younger man's right arm is in a sling.

Chapter 29

The new heirs claim to have lost their baggage and are therefore unable to prove their identity. The King and Duke continue pretending to be the real heirs. Both groups are taken to the tavern where Levi Bell and Dr. Robinson grill them for information.

The first information revealed is that the Wilks money has been stolen, which looks bad for the King and Duke. However, they blame it on the slaves and continue pretending. The lawyer, Levi Bell, manages to get all three men to write a line for him. He pulls out some old letters and examines the handwriting, only to discover that none of three men had written the letters to Peter Wilks. The real Harvey Wilks explains that his brother had transcribed all his letters because his handwriting is so poor. Unfortunately, since his brother has a broken arm, he cannot write and therefore they cannot prove their case.

Harvey Wilks then remembers that his deceased brother had his initials tattooed on his chest and challenges the King to tell him what was on Peter's chest, assuming that the men who had laid his brother out would have seen the mark and will be able to determine who is lying. Refusing to give up, the King continues pretending and tells them Peter had a blue arrow tattooed on his chest. The men who laid out Peter Wilks cannot remember seeing anything, and thus they are forced to exhume the body.

The entire town travels to the gravesite. When they finally unearth and open the casket, they discover the gold Huck has hidden there. Immediately, the men holding the King and Duke let go to get a look at the money. At this opportunity, Huck, the King, and the Duke run to the river as fast as they can. Huck gets to the raft and takes off down the river, hoping to escape the two men. When the Duke and King catch up to him in a little skiff, he almost starts to cry.

Chapter 30

After the King boards the raft, he grabs Huck, shakes him, and yells at him for trying to get away and for escaping without waiting. The Duke finally intervenes and calls the King an "old idiot," asking, "Did you enquire for him when you got loose?"

Next, the King and Duke get into an argument about the money and start accusing each other of stealing the cash and hiding it, especially since they had added the proceeds of the Royal Nonesuch to the pot. The Duke finally physically attacks the King and forces him say that he took the money. Next, both men get drunk, but Huck notices the King never again admits to taking the money and rather denies it at every opportunity.


These chapters mark Huck's first moments of maturity. Up until this point, he followed the authority of those around him, such as Pap, the Widow, Miss Watson, Judge Thatcher, and the King and Duke. The moment Huck decides to steal the money, he breaks free of this authority. For the first time, Huck acts on his convictions and morals to help other people, rather than simply acting on his personal desires.

Huck's interaction with Mary Jane also highlights an emerging aspect of his growth, namely an interest in women. In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huck viewed girls as nothing more than an annoyance and did not believe they were to be taken seriously. Here, in contrast, Huck calls Mary Jane beautiful, and comments that when he saw her light a candle in the window, his "heart swelled up sudden, like to burst."

In addition, it is notable that Huck is desperate to escape the King and the Duke by the end of the Wilks ordeal. Huck is not simply scared of them (when he first meets them he compares them to his Pap), but is truly attempting to break free from the authority and control that they hold over him.

Interestingly, Jim is not a part of these scenes. However, we do meet a slave family torn apart by the King and Duke. Twain places this scene directly after Jim's emotionally charged story of his daughter's hearing loss and their subsequent separation, a very purposeful choice. Twain was vehemently opposed to slavery, and abhorred this aspect of the institution. Thus, Twain is trying to subconsciously influence his reader every step of the way by directing their emotions towards sympathy for the slaves. In observing the fate of this slave family, the reader begins to more powerfully grasp Jim's reasons for running away.