On a dark night, Huck stands guard while Tom tries the Temperance Tavern door. Suddenly, Tom comes running down the alley, calling to Huck to follow him. They take refuge in a slaughterhouse just as a tremendous rainstorm begins. Tom explains his fear: The keys wouldn’t work, but the door opened when he tried the doorknob. Stepping inside, Tom almost stepped on Injun Joe’s outstretched hand: The half-breed was passed out on the floor with an empty bottle of whiskey beside him. Tom suggests that they go back and look for the cache of gold coins, but Huck is more practical: If there were three empty bottles of whiskey instead of only one, maybe he would go back, but now Injun Joe might wake up after only one bottle of whiskey.
The boys decide not to try the room again until Injun Joe is gone. They make arrangements for Huck to watch at night; during the day, he can sleep in Ben Roger’s hayloft. Tom and Huck also decide not to disturb each other unless something important happens.
The plot of the buried treasure continues to occupy Huck and Tom. Again, Tom’s character stands in contrast to Huck’s: Tom treats the whole adventure as a fanciful dream such as he often has. Huck however does not dream of the treasure but more realistically, he thinks of Injun Joe’s killing them.
For the third time in the novel, Twain uses a thunderstorm to express the boy’s fears: In the first instance, he used a storm at Jackson’s Island to express the dangers and fears of the boys out camping. In the second, a rainstorm follows Tom’s measles to reflect the anxieties that Tom has undergone. Here, the storm in the slaughterhouse reflects the possibility of the boys’ own murders.
Twain enjoys using any occasion to make fun of hypocrites and hypocritical behavior. The Temperance Tavern, by its name, is not supposed to have any alcoholic beverages; but instead it has a large storage room filled with various types of alcoholic beverages. As Twain has often suggested, there are many people who swear temperance in church on Sunday only to follow it with a drunken spree on Monday.
Tom adheres to social mores. For example, in this chapter, while Tom enjoys Huck’s company, he does not want to be seen with him in public places. Huck, outcast that he is, also exhibits this same propensity to adhere to certain mores of his time. For example, even the lowly Huck does not want it to be known around town that he has actually “set right down and eat with him [Uncle Jake, a black servant]. But you needn’t tell that. A body’s got to do things when he’s awfully hungry he wouldn’t want to do as a steady thing.” (Interestingly, in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck travels down the river on a raft with the escaped slave, Jim, and risks his life–and his soul–for Jim’s sake.) Readers should remember that Twain wrote in the nineteenth century when slavery still existed. Consequently, his characters conform to the prejudices of the time.
hogshead a large barrel or cask holding from 63 to 140 gallons (238 to 530 liters).