São Paulo, domingo, 17 de setembro de 1995
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I been in a storm here once before, with Tom Sawyer and Jo Harper, Jim. It was a storm like this, too -last summer. We didn't know about this place, and so we got soaked. The lightning tore a big tree all to flinders. Why don't lightning cast a shadow, Jim?
"Well, I reckon it do, but I don't know.
"Well, it don't. I know. The sun does, and a candle does, but the lightning don't. Tom Sawyer says it don't, and it's so.
"Sho, child, I reckon you's mistaken 'bout dat. Gimme de gun -I's gwyne to see.
So he stood up the gun in the door, and held it, and when it lightened the gun didn't cast any shadow. Jim says:
"Well, dat's mighty cur'us -dat's oncommon cur'us. Now dey say a ghos' don't cas' no shadder. Why is dat, you reckon? Of course de reason is dat ghosts is made out'n lightnin', or else de lightnin' is made out'n ghosts -but I don't know which it is. I wisht knowed which it is, Huck.
"Well I do, too; but I reckon there ain't no way to find out. Did you ever see a ghost, Jim?
"Has I ever seed a ghos'? Well I reckon I has.
"O, tell me about it, Jim -tell me about it.
"De storm's a rippin' en a tearin', en a carryin' on so, a body can't hardly talk, but I reckon I'll try. Long time ago, when I was 'bout sixteen year old, my young Mars. William, dat's dead, now, was a stugent in a doctor college in de village whah we lived den. Dat college was a powerful big brick building, three stories high, en stood all by hersef in a big open place out to de edge er de village. Well, one night in de middle of winter young Mars. William he tole me to go to de college, en go up stairs to de dissectin'room on de second flo', en warm up a dead man dat was dah on de table, en git him soft so he can cut him up-
"What for, Jim?
"I don't know -see if can find sumfin in him, maybe. Anyways, dat's what he tole me. En he tole me to wait dah tell he come. So I takes a lantern en starts out acrost de town. My, but it was a-blowin' en a-sleetin' en cold! Dey wan't nobody stirrin in de streets en I could scasely shove along agin de wind. It was mos' midnight, en dreadful dark.
"I was mighty glad to git to de place, child. I onlocked de do'en went up stairs to de dissectin' room. Dat room was sixty foot long en twenty-five foot wide; en all along de wall, on bofe sides, was de long black gowns a-hangin', dat de stugents wears when dey's a-choppin'up de dead people. Well, I goes a swingin' de lantern along, en de shadders er dem gowns went to spreadin' out en drawin'in, along de wall, en is scairt me. It looked like dey was swingin'dey han's to git'em warm. Well, I never looked at'em no mo'; but it seemed like dey was a-doin'it behind my back jis' de same.
"Dey was a table 'bout forty foot long, down de middle er de room, wid fo' dead people on it, layin'on dey backs wid dey knees up en sheets over'em. You could see de shapes under de sheets. Well, Mars. William he tole me to warm up de big man wid de black whiskers. So I unkivered one, en he didn't have no whiskers. But he had his eyes wide open, en I kivered him up quick, I bet you. De next one was sich a gashly sight dat I mos' let de lantern drap. Well, I skipped one carcass, en went for de las'one. I raise' up de sheet en I says, all right, boss, you's de chap I's arter. He had de black whiskers en was a rattlin' big man, en looked wicked like a pirate. He was naked -dey all was. He was a layin' on round sticks -rollers. I took de sheet off'n him en rolled him along feet fust, to de en'er de table befo' de fire place. His laigs was apart en his knees was cocked up some; so when I up-ended him on de en'er de table, he sot up dah lookin pretty natural, wid his feet out en his big toes stickin'up like he was warmin' hissef. I propped him up wid de rollers, en den I spread de sheet over his back en over his head to help warm him, en den when I was a tyin' de corners under his chin, by jings he opened his eyes! I let go en stood off en looked at him, feelin' mighty shaky. Well, he didn't look at nuthin particular, en didn't do nuffin', so I knowed he was good en dead, yit.
"But I couldn't stan' dem eyes, you know. It made me feel all-overish, jis' to look at'em. So I pulled de sheet cler down over his face en under his chin, en tied it hard -en den dah he sot, all naked in front, wid his head like a big snow-ball, en de sheet a-kiverin' his back en fallin down on de table behind. So dah he sot, wid his laigs spread out, but blame it he didn't look no better'n what he did befo', his head was so awful, somehow.
"But dem eyes was kivered up, so I reckoned I'd let him stan' at dat, en not try to improve him up no mo'. Well, I stoop' down between his laigs on de hath-stone, en took de candle out'n de lantern en hilt it in my han'so as to make mo'light. Dey was some embers in de fire place, but de wood was all to de yuther en'er de room. Whils'I was a stoopin' dah, gittin' ready to go arter de wood, de candle flickered, en I thought de ole man moved his laigs. It kinder made me shiver. I put out my han' en felt o'his laig dat was poked along pas' my lef' jaw, en it was cold as ice. So I reckoned he didn't move. Den I felt o' de laig dat was poked pas' my right jaw, en it was powerful cold, too. You see I was a stoopin' down right betwix' 'em.
"Well, pretty soon I thought I see his toes move; dey was jis' in front er me, on bofe sides. I tell you, honey, I was gittin' oneasy. You see dat was a great big old ramblin' bildin', en nobody but me in it, en dat man over me wid dat sheet roun' his head, en de wind a wailin' roun' de place like sperits dat was in trouble, en de sleet a-drivin' agin' de glass; en den de clock struck twelve in de village, en it was so fur away, en de wind choke up de soun' so dat it only soun' like a moan -dat's all. Well, thinks I, I wisht I was out'n dis; what is gwyne to become er me? -en dis feller's a-movin' his toes, I knows it -I kin see' em move -en I kin jis' feel dem eyes er his'n en see dat ole dumplin' head done up in de sheet, en-
"Well, sir, jis' at dat minute, down he comes, right a-straddle er my neck wid his cold laigs, en kicked de candle out!
"My! What did you do, Jim?
"Do? Well I never done nuffin'; only I jis' got up en heeled it in de dark. I warn't gwyne to wait to fine out what he wanted. No sir; I jis' split down stairs en linked it home a-yelpin' every jump.
"What did your Mars. William say?
"He said I was a fool. He went dah en found de dead man on de flo' all comfortable, en took en chopped him up. Dod rot him, I wisht I'd a had a hack at him.
"What made him hop on to your neck, Jim?
"Well, Mars. William said I didn't prop him good wid de rollers. But I don't know. It warn't no way for a dead man to act, nohow; it might a scairt some people to death.
"But Jim, he warn't rightly a ghost -he was only a dead man. Didn't you ever see a real sure-'nough ghost?
"You bet I has - lots of'em.
"Well, tell me about them, Jim.
"All right, I will, some time; but de storm's a-slackin' up, now, so we better go en tend to de lines en bait'em agin.

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