© Edward Windsor Kemble
© Edward Windsor Kemble

I knowed I was in for a heap of sivilizing soon as I got back to St. Petersburg. But this time around it warn’t like no sivilizing I’d ever heard tell of before. First off, they had me go back and stay with the Widow Douglas, as she was all so lonesome ever since her sister, Miss Watson, passed away. Soon as I set foot in the house, though, I knowed something was up. She had that look in her eye that meant one of two things: either she was trying to pass a gallstone something fierce, or she had got religion of a sudden. Knowing her, I figured it was religion, so I laid low and minded my table manners good, so she wouldn’t take her religion out on me. But one day I said something mean about one of the neighbors, and so she heaved a big sigh and said, “You know, Huckleberry, the Good Book tells us that you should love thy neighbor as thy self, and my gooroo told me that that’s because thy neighbor is thyself, so every time you say something hurtful about your neighbor, you’re hurting yourself, too.”

This was the first time I had heard any such stuff, so I asked her what her gooroo was.

Well, I shouldn’t a opened my mouth, ’cause she set full steam to a bodacious sermon about what a fine Christian man her gooroo was, and how he brung the true religion back from Asia, and how we was all inner connected like, so that if we was to feed someone else, we’d get full, too, and if we was to steal our neighbor’s money, we’d be stealing from ourself. I let her go on, ’cause like I said, sudden religion is like a gallstone, and you just gotta letit pass.

Still, it began to weigh on me when she commenced in on me everyday, saying that—since we was all inner connected—I had to be responsible for the whole human race. I have hard enough a time trying to be responsible for what I do! But she kept after me like this till I couldn’t take no more, so finally I up and said, “If I gotta be responsible for them, who’s they gonna be responsible for? And if we’s all inner connected, how come when I put food in my stomach it doesn’t all spread out and connect to theirs? How come it has to go into their stomachs first ’fore it comes back to mine? It don’t seem fair. And if we’s all the same self, how come you let your slaves wait on you all the time? Why don’t you wait on them some, too?”

The minute I said that, I knowed I’d gone too far. The old widow she just busted out sobbing about what a mean boy I was, and how could I say anything so ungrateful to her after all she had done for me? I knew she was right, it was an awful low-down mean thing to say, so I tried to make up. “I’m sorry, ma’am. Sometimes I don’t know what gets into me. I’ll do anything to make it up to you.” But still it was kind a heavy in the house for a couple a days.

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