Huck begins his narration, explaining that this story takes up where the previous one, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, left off: he owns six thousand dollars from the money he found in the cave, and this money he has given to Judge Thatcher, who is keeping the money and paying him interest. He lives with the Widow Douglas (who is trying to civilize him) because Tom won't let him join his "gang" otherwise.
Restlessly lying in bed one night, he hears Tom Sawyer calling to him through the window, and the two escape together into the woods.
After playing a trick on Jim, Miss Watson's slave, Tom and Huck meet the rest of the boys in the woods. Tom tells everyone that to be in the gang, they must take an oath and sign their names in blood. If any one of them breaks the secrecy of the gang, however, his family will be killed. Since Huck doesn't really have a family, he tells the others that they may kill Miss Watson if he spills any secrets. As daylight approaches, the gang agrees to meet at a later date to go about the business of "[robbing] somebody and [killing] some people."
Huck briefly explains how he gave up the religion Miss Watson was trying to force on him and how his father was said to be drowned but that he didn't believe it. Next, he says that the gang has broken up, because they weren't doing any real violence, but just pretending. The comical scene of the Sunday School picnic, where Tom tells Huck that actually the schoolchildren are a procession of rich Arabs and their elephants, uncovers the differences between the two boys. Like Don Quixote, Tom is the idealist, while Huck is the realist who doesn't believe his friend's "lies."
Huck explains that he has been going to school fairly regularly now, and that he doesn't mind it too badly. He also says that he's getting used to living with the Widow Douglas and her sister. In this chapter Twain continues to show Jim's belief in superstition and magic, as Huck says that the slave taught him quite a bit about the subject. He even tells Huck's fortune for him, telling him that his life will be filled with both joy and grief. Later, the reader will notice that Jim's magic signs often serve as foreshadowing for the future.
Huck's pap surprises him when he climbs into his bedroom window to confront him. The fifty-year-old man yells at his boy for getting an education, demanding that he quit school and give up "religion" immediately. It seems the old man is afraid that his son will know more than he does. What his father mainly wants, however, is to get his hands on Huck's six thousand dollars. Later, going before the judge, Huck's pap promises to change his ways, saying that he will become civilized and live decently. This cons the judge for awhile, but when the old man gets drunk the very same night, everyone realizes that there's no chance he will ever change.
In this chapter, Huck's pap kidnaps the boy, and the two live a few miles away in a shack deep in the woods. For two months the father and son live together there, and Huck admits that he didn't really want to return to the Widow Douglas' house anyway. Huck enjoys the freedom life in the wilderness affords him, noting that he took up cussing again since his father didn't mind. One night, however, Huck's pap gets drunk and starts chasing him around the cabin with a knife, calling him the Angel of Death. Luckily he falls asleep on the floor, sparing his son's life for the time being at least.