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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Huck Finn’s Quicksilver Messenger Service

Sending bread to find drowned bodies occurs in Tom Sawyer and in Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. When Huck, escaped from his father after the latter has kidnapped him from Widow Douglas, runs away to Jackson's Island leaving signs of a foul murder, the townsfolk first fire cannon over the Mississippi River to try to raise his supposed corpse by detonation; then, hiding on the island, Huck sees them throw loaves of bread into the current. As the loaves float down to him, Huck fishes them in, takes out the plugs, shakes dabs of quicksilver out of the insides and eats them. "It was 'baker's bread'—what the quality eat; none of your low-down corn-pone." Tom and Joe join Huck and together they speculate on how Bill Turner, drowned the summer before, was found by loaded loaves. Tom says it’s not so much the bread that found the body, or the quicksilver either, but some incantations that were said over them.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,722557,00.html

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