Huck arrives at the Phelps’ and feels lonesome, because the droning of bugs and quivering of leaves make it feel “like everybody’s dead and gone.” He says that, generally, such a feeling makes a person wish he were dead too. As he approaches the Phelps’ kitchen, he hears the wailing of a spinning wheel and wishes that he himself were dead, thinking it the “lonesomest sound” in the world.
Huck is finally free, but has no one like Jim to enjoy his freedom with. Alone, then, he experiences freedom as a meaningless blank populated only with the empty sounds of nature, and he would rather be dead than exist in that blank.
Dogs swarm around Huck, but soon a slave comes out and yells at the dogs to scram. The slave is followed by two black children, a white woman (Aunt Sally), and two white children, who, Huck notes, respond to him in the same way the black children do. The white woman welcomes Huck, thinking that he is none other than her expected guest and nephew…a boy named Tom. Huck plays along.
Just as Huck despairs of loneliness, he is greeted by a microcosm of society. He notices the fact that there is no difference between how white children greet him and how black children greet him, reflecting his maturation into a knowledge of racial equality.
The woman who welcomes Huck is called Aunt Sally. She takes Huck inside where she questions him about his trip, such that Huck is forced to lie to keep his cover from being blown. Huck gets especially nervous when Aunt Sally asks him about his family, but is saved when a man, Uncle Silas, enters the room. Aunt Sally hides Huck behind a bed and pretends as though “Tom” hasn’t arrived yet. But Aunt Sally is playing a trick on Uncle Silas: while he’s not looking, she pulls Huck out from behind the bed and introduces him to Uncle Silas as Tom Sawyer.
Unlike with the Wilks girls and Doctor Robinson, Huck is again able to lie fluently to Aunt Sally, maybe because he thinks his lies to be in the service of a greater good. In this scene, we also see where Tom Sawyer inherited his boyish love for pranks: family members like Aunt Sally, who here pranks her husband. Aunt Sally’s prank is harmless, but, as we will see in later chapters, Tom himself hasn’t learned how to balance fun with other peoples’ well being.
Aunt Sally and Uncle Silas question Huck, thinking him Tom, about their relatives, and Huck answers their questions with ease. As they’re talking, Huck hears a steamboat coughing down the river. The real Tom could be aboard, Huck thinks, and he could accidentally blow Huck’s cover, so Huck decides to meet him. He tells the Phelpses that he’s going to fetch his baggage from where he hid it, and heads out.
Note that Huck’s impersonation of Tom is similar to the duke and king’s impersonation of the Wilks brothers. Huck, however, is not exploitative as the con men were. He even feels comfortable impersonating Tom, suggesting that, in his deep, empathetic knowledge of Tom, Huck is most easy and free.