Mark Twain – Tom Sawyer Abroad, 1894

Chapter 3

But Tom he was huffy, and said me and Jim was a couple of ignorant 
blatherskites, and then he says:

“Suppose there’s a brown calf and a big brown dog, and an artist is
 making a picture of them. What is the MAIN thing that that artist has got
to do? He has got to paint them so you can tell them apart the minute you
 look at them, hain’t he? Of course. Well, then, do you want him to go and 
paint BOTH of them brown? Certainly you don’t. He paints one of them
 blue, and then you can’t make no mistake. It’s just the same with the
 maps. That’s why they make every State a different color; it ain’t to
 deceive you, it’s to keep you from deceiving yourself.”

But I couldn’t see no argument about that, and neither could Jim. Jim
 shook his head, and says:

“Why, Mars Tom, if you knowed what chuckle-heads dem painters is, you’d
 wait a long time before you’d fetch one er DEM in to back up a fac’. I’s
 gwine to tell you, den you kin see for you’self. I see one of ’em
a-paintin’ away, one day, down in ole Hank Wilson’s back lot, en I went
 down to see, en he was paintin’ dat old brindle cow wid de near horn 
gone– you knows de one I means. En I ast him what he’s paintin’ her for,
 en he say when he git her painted, de picture’s wuth a hundred dollars.
 Mars Tom, he could a got de cow fer fifteen, en I tole him so. Well, sah,
if you’ll b’lieve me, he jes’ shuck his head, dat painter did, en went on
a-dobbin’. Bless you, Mars Tom, DEY don’t know nothin’.

Mark Twain, 1835-1910.  Tom Sawyer Abroad, 1894

Following The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer Abroad  follows the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and the black slave they have freed, Jim, in a parody of Jules Verne style stories. They travel across the Atlantic to Africa in a futuristic hot-air balloon, where they see the Pyramids, the Sahara desert and wild animals – lions and giraffes – then back to the Mississippi to help solve a mysterious crime. Jim expresses an innocently satirical opinion on the merits of painters in a vocabulary that is difficult for the ear of the modern reader.

Author: jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space

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