The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 25 Summary

Instructor: Erica Schimmel

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

In chapter 25 of Mark Twain's ''The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,'' the duke and the dauphin pretend to be the long-lost brothers of the recently deceased Peter Wilks.

Background Information

In the previous chapter, the dauphin learned of a rather rich man who had recently died while waiting to see his long-lost brothers again. After finding out as much as he could about the man, his family, and the town he lived in, the duke and the dauphin decide to devise a scheme: They will pretend to be the brothers whom the late Peter Wilks longed to see. The dauphin, as the older of the two, takes on the role of Harvey Wilks, adopting a British accent. The duke pretends to be the younger William Wilks, a man who could neither hear nor speak. The dauphin pretends to translate all conversations into sign language.

Is It Them?

The duke, the dauphin, and Huck have arrived in the town of the recently deceased Peter Wilks in chapter 25 of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Much to Huck's chagrin, the duke and the dauphin are pretending to be the long-awaited brothers of Mr. Wilks. The news of their arrival has spread quickly through the town, and people are curious to see them. By the time they reach the Wilks's home, quite a crowd has gathered.

The men arrive at the home of the late Mr. Wilks to be greeted by his daughters, Mary Jane, Susan, and Joanna. Huck is quite taken by the eldest, Mary Jane, whom he thinks is 'most awful beautiful.' He notes that 'her face and her eyes was all lit up like glory, she was so glad her uncles was come.' The girls run to the two con men to hug them.

Once inside, the duke and the dauphin make their way over to the coffin in the corner of the room. As they get closer, the crowd falls silent. The imposters take one look inside the coffin and make such a show of crying that Huck says he has 'never see two men leak the way they done.' After carrying on for several minutes, the two men kneel next to the coffin and pretend to pray. Pretty soon, everybody is crying. Huck says he has 'never see anything so disgusting.'

Falsely posing as Harvey Wilks, the king sheds crocodile tears over the death of Peter Wilks.
EW Kembles Leaking

The king pries himself away from the coffin in order to make a speech about how difficult the journey has been for him and his brother, and how sorry they are to have arrived too late. He uses this opportunity to name many of the townspeople. His ability to name nearly everyone convinces them all that he and his 'brother' must truly be the Wilks brothers. Huck angrily listens as the king tells the townspeople how Peter had written of them, when the truth was 'he got every blessed one of them out of the young flat-head that we canoed up to the steamboat.'

Peter Wilks's Will

Mary Jane brings her father's will to the two con men. Peter's will leaves the house and three thousand dollars to his daughters, but leaves a business, some houses, land, and another three thousand dollars to his brothers. The money is hidden in the basement, and the duke and the dauphin offer to go down and retrieve the gold.

Huck goes into the basement with the two men, who are very excited by the 'yaller-boys,' or coins, they find. Huck notes, 'most everybody would a been satisfied with the pile, and took it on trust; but no, they must count it.' When they do, however, it turns out four hundred and fifteen dollars are missing. They plan to bring the money upstairs and count it in front of everyone, in an attempt to prove there was nothing suspicious going on. In order for their con to work, however, they need everything to be exactly as the dead man stated in his letter. So, they make up the difference with their earnings from their previous scheme, the Nonesuch.

While they count the money upstairs, Huck notices the townspeople 'looked hungry at it, and licked their chops.' After they finish, the king makes a grand speech in which he declares the money should go to Mary Jane, Susan, and Joanna. On hearing this, the three girls run to them and Huck declares 'such another hugging and kissing I never see yet.'

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