In chapter 2 Huck sneaks out of the Widow’s home to attend Tom’s first official gang meeting. There are some questions about what business the gang is in. They quickly decide that they are not burglars. They are highwaymen who “stop stages and carriages on the road, with masks on, and kill the people and take their watches and money.” Not everyone in the gang seems thrilled with the idea of murder. Tom is firm.
…Some authorities think different, but mostly it’s considered best to kill them–except some that you bring to the cave here, and keep them till they’re ransomed.”
It seems that the gang has some deficiencies in their knowledge of vocabulary and that they could have benefited from Christina’s “Classic Word of the Day” posts.
“Ransomed? What’s that?”
“I don’t know. But that’s what they do. I’ve seen it in books; and so of course that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Tom finally decides that “Ransomed” means keeping hostages until they are dead. The other gang members see this as a lot of work.
“Now, that’s something like. That’ll answer. Why couldn’t you said that before? We’ll keep them till they’re ransomed to death; and a bothersome lot they’ll be too–eating up everything, and always trying to get loose.”
“Why can’t a body take a club and ransom them as soon as they get here?”
Can you imagine if Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn or Jim took over “Classic Word of the Day”?