Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Injun Joe's Cave

Written off and on from 1872-75 by Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published in 1876, by the American Publishing Co. In it, Twain introduces us to a character named, “Injun Joe”.

Injun Joe was horsewhipped by Judge Douglas for vagrancy, and this led to a lifelong burning for revenge against the Judge, and later on, his widow. Injun Joe also uncovered loot in a haunted house and buried it in a cave; however, around the same time, Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher were trapped in the cave and soon rescued, leading to the entrance to the cave being sealed and Injun Joe being trapped inside, leading to his demise.

The story is memorialized by a tamer version of Injun Joe's Cave on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland. A man-made cavern, which Disney renamed Injun Joe's Cave to fit the island's theme, runs from one side of Tom Sawyer Island to the other. It is a dark, spooky passage, filled with fossils, low rocks for adults to bang their heads against, and a bottomless pit half filled with drink cups and fallen Mickey Mouse hats.

From Mark Twain's Autobiography the cave is described:

Injun Joe, the half-breed, got lost in there once, and would have starved to death if the bats had run short. But there was no chance of that; there were myriads of them. He told me all his story. In the book called Tom Sawyer I starved him entirely to death in the cave, but that was in the interest of art; it never happened.

The cave was an uncanny place, for it contained a corpse - the corpse of a young girl of fourteen. It was in a glass cylinder inclosed in a copper one which was suspended from a rail which bridged a narrow passage. The body was preserved in alcohol, and it was said that loafers and rowdies used to drag it up by the hair and look at the dead face. The girl was the daughter of a St. Louis surgeon of extraordinary ability and wide celebrity. He was an eccentric man and did many strange things. He put the poor thing in that forlorn place himself.

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