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Sample Style Study: Twain


"Two or three days and nights went by; I reckon I might say they swum by, they slid along so quiet and smooth and lovely. Here is the way we put in the time. It was a monstrous big river down there--sometimes a mile and a half wide; we run nights, and laid up and hid day-times. . . Then we set out the lines. Next we slid into the river and had a swim, so as to freshen up and cool off; then we set down on the sandy bottom where the water was about knee deep, and watched the daylight come. Not a sound anywheres--perfectly still--just like the whole world was asleep, only sometimes the bull-frogs a-cluttering, maybe. The first thing to see, looking away over the water, was a kind of dull line--that was the woods on t'other side--you couldn't make nothing else out; then a pale place in the sky; then more paleness, spreading around; then the river softened up, away off, and warn't black any more, but gray; you could see little dark spots drifting along, ever so far away--trading scows, and such things; and long black streaks--rafts; sometimes you could hear a sweep screaking; or jumbled up voices, it was so still, and sounds come so far. . . . And you see the mist curl up off of the water, and the east reddens up, and the river, and you make out a log cabin in the edge of the woods, away on the bank on t'other side of the river, being a wood-yard, likely, and piled by them cheats so you can throw a dog through it anywheres; then the nice breeze springs up, and comes fanning you from over there, so cool and fresh, and sweet to smell, on account of the woods and the flowers. . . . And afterwards we would watch the lonesomeness of the river, and kind of lazy along, and by-and-by lazy off to sleep." (287-88)

"Pretty soon it darkened up and begun to thunder and lighten; so the birds was right about it. Directly it began to rain, and it rained like all fury, too, and I never see the wind blow so. It was one of these regular summer storms. It would get so dark that it looked all blue-black outside, and lovely, and the rain would thrash along by so thick that the trees off a little ways looked dim and spider-webby; and here would come a blast of wind that would bend the trees down and turn up the pale underside of the leaves; and then a perfect ripper of a gust would follow along and set the branches to tossing their arms as if they was just wild; and next, when it was just about the bluest and blackest--fsst! it was bright as glory and you'd have a little glimpse of tree-tops a plunging-about, away off yonder in the storm, hundreds of yards further than you could see before; dark as sin again in a second, and now you'd hear hear the thunder let go with an awful crash and then go rumbling, grumbling, tumbling down the sky towards the under side of the world, like rolling empty barrels down stairs, where it's long stairs and they bounce a good deal, you know." (250-51)


--Mark Twain from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as reprinted in Literature in Context: Restoration to Post-Modernism, 2nd edition (Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2003).

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