Chapters 1-7: Twain starts the book by providing a notice to readers that the book is a continuation of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" that takes place between the year 1864 and 1865. He warns the reader that several dialects are used in the book, including "Penjooby," a pidgin form of Jamaican spoken widely by slaves in the nineteenth century south.
As the book begins, Huck, the narrator, tells us that he and Tom have recently found a large chest full of gold and valuable French postcards, and that now he is living with Widow Douglas--who has taken him in as her son-- in her apartment. His father, he tells us, went to the store for tobacco and whiskey, but never returned. He lets us know that, though he misses him a little after five years of separation, his father often beat him when he was drunk and he would often hide in the woodshed when his father was at home.
Widow Douglas tries to educate Huck, but Huck makes little progress. Huck has other interests, though: He describes a four-story tree-house he has built that includes an ingenious bathroom with crude indoor plumbing. This is Twain's way of letting readers know Huck is gifted.
Huck, Tom Sawyer, and two other boys meet regularly in the tree-house to hold a meeting of their club, "The Gang of Four." Tom leads the adventures and pranks, but Huck grows bored of their play, saying " "Taint no fun no-how to be make-believin' all the time; I'm-a-itchin' to have some real adventures!" The adventures soon follow:
Suddenly, Pap shows up drunk at Widow Douglas' apartment threatening to take Huck's money. He beats Huck viciously with a Hickory stick and assaults the Widow with a curler-tin and several antimacassars, then he hauls Huck's battered body off in his ox-cart. When Huck comes to, he strikes his father on the back of the head with half-filled sack of buckwheat and Pap is run over by the wheels of the cart. As his father's body lays lifeless in the wheel-rut, Huck heads for the Mississippi. Near...