They sprang to their feet and hurried to the shore toward the town. They
parted the bushes on the bank and peered out over the water. The little
steam ferry-boat was about a mile below the village, drifting with the
current. Her broad deck seemed crowded with people. There were a great
many skiffs rowing about or floating with the stream in the neighborhood
of the ferryboat, but the boys could not determine what the men in
them were doing. Presently a great jet of white smoke burst from the
ferryboat's side, and as it expanded and rose in a lazy cloud, that same
dull throb of sound was borne to the listeners again.
"I know now!" exclaimed Tom; "somebody's drownded!"
"That's it!" said Huck; "they done that last summer, when Bill Turner
got drownded; they shoot a cannon over the water, and that makes
him come up to the top. Yes, and they take loaves of bread and put
quicksilver in 'em and set 'em afloat, and wherever there's anybody
that's drownded, they'll float right there and stop."
"Yes, I've heard about that," said Joe. "I wonder what makes the bread
"Oh, it ain't the bread, so much," said Tom; "I reckon it's mostly what
they say over it before they start it out."