Then Tom was disturbed. He says:
"You know what that means, easy enough. It means that somebody has got to stay on watch and steer this thing the same as he would a ship, or she'll wander around and go wherever the wind wants her to."
"Well," I says, "what's she been doing since -- er -- since we had the accident?"
"Wandering," he says, kinder troubled --" wander- ing, without any doubt. She's in a wind now that's blowing her south of east. We don't know how long that's been going on, either."
So then he p'inted her east, and said he would hold her there till we rousted out the breakfast. The pro- fessor had laid in everything a body could want; he couldn't 'a' been better fixed. There wasn't no milk for the coffee, but there was water, and everything else you could want, and a charcoal stove and the fixings for it, and pipes and cigars and matches; and wine and liquor, which warn't in our line; and books, and maps, and charts, and an accordion; and furs, and blankets, and no end of rubbish, like brass beads and brass jewelry, which Tom said was a sure sign that he had an idea of visiting among savages. There was money, too. Yes, the professor was well enough fixed.
After breakfast Tom learned me and Jim how to steer, and divided us all up into four-hour watches, turn and turn about; and when his watch was out I took his place, and he got out the professor's papers and pens and wrote a letter home to his aunt Polly, tell- ing her everything that had happened to us, and dated it "IN THE WELKIN, APPROACHING ENGLAND," and folded it together and stuck it fast with a red wafer, and directed it, and wrote above the direction, in big writing, "FROM TOM SAWYER, THE ERRONORT," and said it would stump old Nat Parsons, the postmaster, when it come along in the mail. I says:
"Tom Sawyer, this ain't no welkin, it's a balloon."
"Well, now, who SAID it was a welkin, smarty?"
"You've wrote it on the letter, anyway."
"What of it? That don't mean that the balloon's the welkin."
"Oh, I thought it did. Well, then, what is a welkin?"
I see in a minute he was stuck. He raked and scraped around in his mind, but he couldn't find noth- ing, so he had to say:
"I don't know, and nobody don't know. It's just a word, and it's a mighty good word, too. There ain't many that lays over it. I don't believe there's ANY that does."
"Shucks!" I says. "But what does it MEAN? -- that's the p'int. "
"I don't know what it means, I tell you. It's a word that people uses for -- for -- well, it's orna- mental. They don't put ruffles on a shirt to keep a person warm, do they?"
"Course they don't."
"But they put them ON, don't they?"
"All right, then; that letter I wrote is a shirt, and the welkin's the ruffle on it."
I judged that that would gravel Jim, and it did.
"Now, Mars Tom, it ain't no use to talk like dat; en, moreover, it's sinful. You knows a letter ain't no shirt, en dey ain't no ruffles on it, nuther. Dey ain't no place to put 'em on; you can't put em on, and dey wouldn't stay ef you did."
"Oh DO shut up, and wait till something's started that you know something about."
"Why, Mars Tom, sholy you can't mean to say I don't know about shirts, when, goodness knows, I's toted home de washin' ever sence --"
"I tell you, this hasn't got anything to do with shirts. I only --"
"Why, Mars Tom, you said yo'self dat a letter --"
"Do you want to drive me crazy? Keep still. I only used it as a metaphor."
That word kinder bricked us up for a minute. Then Jim says -- rather timid, because he see Tom was get- ting pretty tetchy:
"Mars Tom, what is a metaphor?"
"A metaphor's a -- well, it's a -- a -- a metaphor's an illustration." He see THAT didn't git home, so he tried again. "When I say birds of a feather flocks together, it's a metaphorical way of saying --"
"But dey DON'T, Mars Tom. No, sir, 'deed dey don't. Dey ain't no feathers dat's more alike den a bluebird en a jaybird, but ef you waits till you catches dem birds together, you'll --"
"Oh, give us a rest! You can't get the simplest little thing through your thick skull.