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He shoves the bag of gold in under the dead man's hands and then hides behind the door of the parlor, not the coffin while Mary Jane comes in and cries over Peter's body.

The Annotated "Throwing Stones"

Then Huck tiptoes out again, and worries for a good three paragraphs or so about what he's going to do now that the money is tucked in with the stiff. Time for the funeral. Huck spends some time telling us all about the undertaker, who "slid[es] around in his black gloves with his softy soothering ways, […] making no more noise than a cat" and adding that "he was the softest, glidingest, stealthiest man I ever see; and there warn't no more smile to him than there is to a ham" Okay, we're officially creeped out by that description.

As the Reverend begins the service, there's a big hullabaloo coming from the basement. A dog is barking its head off. The undertaker surfaces from the cellar with a rat—that's why the dog was barking.

Dead Men's Trousers

Huck wisely comments that this was a good call on the undertaker's part, and that really he's the most popular man in town. Getting rather nervous as the ceremony draws to a close, Huck sweats like a madman while the undertaker… slowly… nails the coffin closed without even looking inside.

They know they are able to deserve it. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another—their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun. Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich—will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth.

They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt—and of his life, as he deserves. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them.

But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.


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Watch money. Money is so noble a medium that is does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it.

Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded.

You are. You look upon money as the savages did before you, and you wonder why the jungle is creeping back to the edge of your cities. So long as production was ruled by force, and wealth was obtained by conquest, there was little to conquer, Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers—as industrialists.

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Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide— as, I think, he will. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men.

Blood, whips and guns—or dollars. Take your choice—there is no other—and your time is running out. The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine.

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Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information that may be of value to our readers. Please keep all comments polite, civil, and on the topic of the article. Attack the argument, but not the person. A bombardment begins, and he knows that an attack is coming.

He realizes that he must lie still and pretend to be dead, so he crawls into a shell hole to wait until the attack is over. An enemy soldier jumps into the shell hole with him, and Paul quickly stabs him. It is too light outside for Paul to make his way back, so he is forced to wait in the shell hole with the body. As he waits, he notices that the French soldier is not dead. The man takes several hours to die. It is the first time that Paul has killed someone in hand-to-hand combat, and the experience is pure agony.

by Mark Twain

Paul talks to the dead soldier, explaining that he did not want to kill him. He reads what he can of the letters tucked inside. Every word plunges Paul deeper into guilt and pain. Paul copies his address and resolves to send money to his family anonymously. He knows that he will not fulfill his promise to the French soldier. He crawls back to his trench.