Huck Finn Chapters 7-12
Summary: Chapter 7
Unaware of his earlier drunken rage, Pap wakes up and sends Huck out to check to see if any fish have been caught on the lines out in the river. Huck finds a canoe drifting in the river and hides it in the woods. When Pap leaves for the day, Huck finishes sawing his way out of the cabin. He puts food, cookware, and everything else of value from the cabin into the canoe. He then covers up the hole he cut in the wall and shoots a wild pig outside. Huck smashes the cabin door with an ax, cuts the pig’s throat so it bleeds onto the cabin’s dirt floor, and makes other preparations to make it seem as if robbers have broken into the cabin and killed him. Huck goes to the canoe and waits for the moon to rise, planning to paddle to Jackson’s Island out in the river. Huck falls asleep and wakes to see Pap rowing by. Once Pap has passed, Huck quietly sets out downriver. He pulls into Jackson’s Island, careful not to be seen.
Summary: Chapter 8
The next morning, a ferryboat passes Jackson Island, carrying Pap, Judge Thatcher and his daughter Bessie (known as Becky Thatcher in Tom Sawyer), Tom Sawyer, Tom’s aunt Polly, some of Huck’s young friends, and “plenty more” on board, all discussing Huck’s apparent murder. They shoot cannonballs over the water and float loaves of bread with mercury inside, in hopes of finding Huck’s corpse. Huck, still hiding carefully, catches one of the loaves and eats it. He is pleased that they are using such high-quality bread to search for him, but he feels guilty that his disappearance has upset the Widow Douglas and the others who care about him.
Huck spends three peaceful, lonely days on the island, living on plentiful berries and fish and able to smoke whenever he wishes. He spends his nights counting ferryboats and stars on the tranquil river. On the fourth day, while exploring the island, Huck is delighted to find Jim, who at first thinks Huck is a ghost. Huck is pleased that he will not be alone on the island but shocked when Jim explains that he has run away. Jim says that he overheard Miss Watson discussing selling him for $800 to a slave trader who would take him to New Orleans, separating him from his family. Jim left before Miss Watson had a chance to decide whether or not to sell him. Jim and Huck discuss superstitions—in which Jim is well-versed—and Jim’s failed investments, most of which have been scams. Jim is not too disappointed by his failures, since he still has his hairy arms and chest, which, according to his superstitions, are a sign of future wealth.
Summary: Chapter 9
In order to make a hiding place should visitors arrive on the island, Jim and Huck take the canoe and provisions into a large cave in the middle of the island. Jim predicts that it will rain, and soon a storm blows in. The two safely wait it out inside the cave. The river floods, and a washed-out house floats down the river past the island. Inside, Jim and Huck find the body of a man who has been shot in the back. Jim prevents Huck from looking at the “ghastly” face. Jim and Huck make off with some odds and ends from the houseboat. Huck has Jim hide in the bottom of the canoe so that he won’t be seen, and they make it back to the island safely.
Summary: Chapter 10
Huck wonders about the dead man, but Jim warns that it’s bad luck to think about such things. Huck has already incurred bad luck, according to Jim, by finding and handling a snake’s shed skin. Sure enough, bad luck comes: as a joke, Huck puts a dead rattlesnake near Jim’s sleeping place, and its mate comes and bites Jim. Jim’s leg swells but gets better after several days. A while later, Huck decides to go ashore to get information. Jim agrees, but has Huck disguise himself as a girl, using one of the dresses they took from the houseboat. Huck practices his girl impersonation and then sets out for the Illinois shore. In a formerly abandoned shack, he finds a woman who looks about forty years old and appears to be a newcomer to the town. Huck is relieved because, as a newcomer, the woman will not be able to recognize him. Still, he resolves to remember that he is pretending to be a girl.
Summary: Chapter 11
The woman lets Huck into the shack but eyes him suspiciously. Huck introduces himself as “Sarah Williams” from Hookerville. The woman chatters about a variety of subjects and eventually gets to the topic of Huck’s murder. She reveals that Pap was a suspect and that some townspeople nearly lynched him. Then, people began to suspect Jim because he ran away the same day Huck was killed. Soon, however, suspicions again turned against Pap, after he squandered on alcohol the money that the judge gave him to find Jim. Pap left town before he could be lynched, and now there is a $200 reward being offered for him. Meanwhile, there is a $300 bounty out for Jim. The woman has noticed smoke over Jackson’s Island and has told her husband to look for Jim there. He plans to go there tonight with another man and a gun.
The woman looks at Huck suspiciously and asks his name. He replies, “Mary Williams.” When the woman asks about the change, he tries to cover himself by saying his full name is “Sarah Mary Williams.” She has him try to kill a rat by throwing a lump of lead at it, and he nearly hits the rat, increasing her suspicions. Finally, she asks him to reveal his real male identity, saying she understands that he is a runaway apprentice and claiming she will not turn him in to the authorities. Huck says his name is George Peters and describes himself as an apprentice to a mean farmer. She lets him go after quizzing him on several farm subjects to make sure he is telling the truth. She tells Huck to send for her, Mrs. Judith Loftus, if he has trouble.
Back at the island, Huck builds a decoy campfire far from the cave and then returns to the cave to tell Jim they must leave. They hurriedly pack their things and slowly ride out on a raft they found when the river flooded.
Summary: Chapter 12
Huck and Jim build a wigwam on the raft and spend a number of days drifting downriver, traveling by night and hiding by day to avoid being seen. On their fifth night out, they pass the great lights of St. Louis. The two of them “live pretty high,” buying, stealing, or hunting food as they need it. They feel somewhat remorseful about the stealing, however, so they decide to give up a few items as a sort of moral sacrifice.
One stormy night, they come upon a wrecked steamboat. Against Jim’s objections, Huck goes onto the wreck to loot it and have an “adventure,” the way Tom Sawyer would. On the wreck, Huck overhears two robbers threatening to kill a third so that he won’t “tell.” One of the two robbers manages to convince the other to let their victim be drowned with the wreck. The robbers leave. Huck finds Jim and says they have to cut the robbers’ boat loose to prevent them from escaping. Jim responds by telling Huck that their own raft has broken loose and floated away.