This instalment of the Dalek Game is (by repeated request of a friend at work) for Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.
I spent this last weekend at Runaway Bay, where the MS Society owns a house with a jetty right on the broadwater, in sight of Crab Island and South Stradbroke Island. Pelicans sail in to land on the jetty, seagulls hover ominously in mid-air, sand crabs bead the beach with balls of sand, sailing schools flock by – capsizing each other and the jet-skiers – and on Sunday a dozen or more dolphins went by. I spent a great deal of the weekend (when not on airport runs!) talking with my father, reciting Banjo Patterson poems (with an emphasis on the Saltbush Bill poems) and reading Tom Sawyer out loud. This, of course, is where the enviably outcast Huck Finn puts in his first appearances, with his corncob pipe, dead cat and infallible cure for warts. We reached the part where the three boys (including Finn the Red-Handed) have stolen a raft and taken off to the island for a life of piracy, and probably would have read further, except that of course the piracy comes after the chapter in which Tom gives in to Peter the cat’s pleas to try Aunt Polly’s patent Pain-killer, and proceeds to prance around the room ‘proclaiming his unappeasable happiness’. We read that twice.
I know I have read Huckleberry Finn at some point, or more probably Mommy read it out loud to us. The only parts I remember are the warning at the beginning and the first line (which are famous) and the scene where Huck is dressed as a girl and is found out because of the way he either threads a needle or catches a dropped one – possibly both (that I remember for the detail). I remember the raft crossing the stage in Big River when my father took me to see the musical. But the younger Huck and the gloriously overwrought (but so finely observed) adventures of Tom Sawyer we read many times. The chapter about the Pain-killer (“I done it out of pity for him – because he hadn’t any aunt”) and the pinch-bug in church (“By this time the whole church was red-faced and suffocating with suppressed laughter”) were particular favourites, and along with Henry Lawson’s “The Loaded Dog” and the joust between King Pellinore and Sir Grummore in T. H. White’s The Sword in the Stone were stand-by chapters for when we had visitors.
In other news: Mostly I am working on a pile of illustrations, which are very exciting but also very due and frequently require awkward reference photography. And my comic “Finishing School” in Steampunk! has been nominated for an Aurealis Award!!