some stroke their chins; some stroke their noses; some stroke up UNDER their chin with their hand; some twirl a chain, some fumble a button, then there's some that draws a figure or a letter with their finger on their cheek, or under their chin or on their under lip. That's MY way. When I'm restless, or worried, or thinking hard, I draw capital V's on my cheek or on my under lip or under my chin, and never anything BUT capital V's--and half the time I don't notice it and don't know I'm doing it."
That was odd. That is just what I do; only I make an O. And I could see people nodding to one another, same as they do when they mean "THAT's so."
"Now, then, I'll go on. That same Saturday--no, it was the night before--there was a steamboat laying at Flagler's Landing, forty miles above here, and it was raining and storming like the nation. And there was a thief aboard, and he had them two big di'monds that's advertised out here on this courthouse door; and he slipped ashore with his hand-bag and struck out into the dark and the storm, and he was a-hoping he could get to this town all right and be safe. But he had two pals aboard the boat, hiding, and he knowed they was going to kill him the first chance they got and take the di'monds; because all three stole them, and then this fellow he got hold of them and skipped.
"Well, he hadn't been gone more'n ten minutes before his pals found it out, and they jumped ashore and lit out after him. Prob'ly they burnt matches and found his tracks. Anyway, they dogged along after him all day Saturday and kept out of his sight; and towards sundown he come to the bunch of sycamores down by Uncle Silas's field, and he went in there to get a disguise out of his hand-bag and put it on before he showed himself here in the town--and mind you he done that just a little after the time that Uncle Silas was hitting Jubiter Dunlap over the head with a club--for he DID hit him.
"But the minute the pals see that thief slide into the bunch of sycamores, they jumped out of the bushes and slid in after him.
"They fell on him and clubbed him to death.
"Yes, for all he screamed and howled so, they never had no mercy on him, but clubbed him to death. And two men that was running along the road heard him yelling that way, and they made a rush into the syca- i more bunch--which was where they was bound for, anyway--and when the pals saw them they lit out and the two new men after them a-chasing them as tight as they could go. But only a minute or two--then these two new men slipped back very quiet into the sycamores.
"THEN what did they do? I will tell you what they done. They found where the thief had got his disguise out of his carpet-sack to put on; so one of them strips and puts on that disguise."
Tom waited a little here, for some more "effect"--then he says, very deliberate:
"The man that put on that dead man's disguise was-- JUBITER DUNLAP!"
"Great Scott!" everybody shouted, all over the house, and old Uncle Silas he looked perfectly astonished.
"Yes, it was Jubiter Dunlap. Not dead, you see. Then they pulled off the dead man's boots and put Jubiter Dunlap's old ragged shoes on the corpse and put the corpse's boots on Jubiter Dunlap. Then Jubiter Dunlap stayed where he was, and the other man lugged the dead body off in the twilight; and after midnight he went to Uncle Silas's house, and took his old green work-robe off of the peg where it always hangs in the passage betwixt the house and the kitchen and put it on, and stole the long-handled shovel and went off down into the tobacker field and buried the murdered man."
He stopped, and stood half a minute. Then--"And who do you reckon the murdered man WAS? It was--JAKE Dunlap, the long-lost burglar!"
"And the man that buried him was--BRACE Dunlap, his brother!"
"And who do you reckon is this mowing idiot here that's letting on all these weeks to be a deef and dumb stranger? It's--JUBITER Dunlap!"
My land, they all busted out in a howl, and you never see the like of that excitement since the day you was born. And Tom he made a jump for Jubiter and snaked off his goggles and his false whiskers, and there was the murdered man, sure enough, just as alive as anybody! And Aunt Sally and Benny they went to hugging and crying and kissing and smothering old Uncle Silas to that degree he was more muddled and confused and mushed up in his mind than he ever was before, and that is saying considerable.