The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 19 Summary

Instructor: Erica Schimmel

Erica has taught college English writing and literature courses and has a master's degree in children's literature.

Huck and Jim are happily back on their raft. Their peace does not last long, however, as two strangers find their way on board. In this summary, we will cover chapter 19 of Mark Twain's ''The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.''

Peaceful Travels

After experiencing the deadly feud between the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons, Huck is safely back on the raft with Jim in chapter 19 of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Several days quickly and easily pass, with Huck professing, 'I reckon I might say they swum by, they slid along so quiet and smooth and lovely.' Huck lays out their routines for the reader, explaining how he and Jim usually 'run nights, and laid up and hid day-times.'

Although Huck tells us they occasionally saw steamboats, or smaller rafts and other watercraft, his descriptions of the river convey a sense of silence. He acknowledges they would 'watch the lonesomeness of the river,' and often they would go long periods of time with 'nothing to hear nor nothing to see - just solid lonesomeness.' Rather than being lonely, however, Huck's descriptions seem to indicate that he feels more comfortable and peaceful on the river than living in a town with people.

'Here Comes a Couple of Men'

One morning, as Huck searches for berries by himself in a canoe, he is taken by surprise when he sees two men 'tearing up the path as tight as they could foot it.' Afraid they might be after him or Jim, Huck prepares to row away as fast as he can. Before he can leave, though, the men call out and ask him for help. They claim they are unfairly being chased. Huck instructs them on how to 'throw the dogs off the scent,' and allows them on board after they have followed his directions.

The two men are fairly far apart in age. One is 'about seventy, or upwards,' while the other appears to be around thirty. Both men are dressed in ragged, dirty clothing. Huck notices that both have 'big, fat, ratty-looking carpet-bags.' After they eat breakfast, they begin talking with each other, and Huck learns that the two men do not know each other.

'What Got You Into Trouble?'

Huck listens as the two strangers get acquainted with each other. The younger of the two reveals he had been selling a tooth-cleaning paste that also happened to remove the tooth's enamel. He admits, 'I staid about one night longer than I ought to.' He was in the process of sneaking away when he met the older gentleman.

The older of the two men explains how he had been 'a-runnin' a little temperance revival' meeting. He claims he was a favorite of the townspeople, and his business had been growing rapidly. However, word got out that he was a drunk. In reference to the townspeople, he states, 'they'd tar and feather me and ride me on a rail' if they were to catch him. After sharing their stories, the two con artists decide to work together as a team.

Identities Revealed

The men fall silent for a short time. Soon, the younger of the two men sighs loudly, begins to wipe at his eyes, and moans about how far he has fallen. Though he insists it's his own fault, and he deserves his misery, he continues to make a fuss while the older gentleman questions his crying. The younger man insists they will not believe him, but finally decides he can trust them with the 'secret of his birth.' He proudly claims to be the Duke of Bridgewater.

Huck and Jim are shocked, and they feel sympathy for the distressed Duke. He insists he cannot be consoled, but admits it would feel good if they were to wait on him and do anything he asks. He would not mind if they bowed to him, nor if they called him 'Your Grace' or 'My Lord.' Or, they could call him 'Bridgewater,' he suggests, which is his formal title.

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