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In the summer of 1851, young Huckleberry Finn watches excitedly as a huge steamboat docks in his town of Hannibal, Missouri. Huck's daydream of continuing down the Mississippi to New Orleans, and from there to South America, is interrupted by Jim, a slave whose master, the kindly Widow Douglas, has looked after Huck since the disappearance of his widowed, alcoholic father. Jim worriedly reports that Huck's father, a brutal man whom Huck calls "Pap," has come looking for his son, and sure enough, Pap appears in Huck's room that night and drags the child to his shack near the river. Pap declares that if the widow gives him $5,000, he will return Huck to her care, and when she considers selling Jim in order to secure the money, the slave runs away. After Pap nearly kills Huck in a drunken rage, the boy makes it appear that he has been murdered and then paddles away in a stolen canoe. The townspeople assume that it is Jim, the runaway slave, who has killed Huck, and this prompts the boy to join forces with Jim in an attempt to reach the free state of Illinois. The two use Jim's raft to put some distance between them and Hannibal, but eventually, they go ashore in search of food. There they meet with two grifters, who introduce themselves as the King of France and the Duke of Bilgewater. The swindlers want Huck to join them in a scheme to impersonate the long-lost English relatives of the recently deceased Peter Wilkes, a wealthy businessman whose daughters live in nearby Packsville. Jim is against the plan, but Huck is intrigued, and soon the King, impersonating "Uncle Harvey" Wilkes, is introducing his little nephew "Percy" to the grieving Wilkes daughters, Mary Jane and Joanna. The younger girl immediately suspects that her visitors are impostors, but the gullible Mary Jane offers the King $3,000 as his part of the Wilkes inheritance. Huck finally tells the Wilkes sisters the truth, or something close to the truth, and the sheriff arrests the two con men. Huck then returns to the river with Jim, whose dreams of life as a free man include finding a job, saving his money, and someday buying the freedom of his wife and children. After seeing Pap's drowned corpse in a wrecked houseboat, a fact Jim hides from Huck, Jim is nearly caught by slave hunters. He and Huck are taken aboard a steamboat, but because the King and the Duke are also on board, they are forced to escape into the river as the boat approaches Cairo. Once on shore, Huck and Jim try to masquerade as performers in the Carmody circus, but the King appears and has Jim arrested. As he awaits the $200 reward for Jim's capture, however, Huck, impersonating a young girl, manages to obtain the keys and free Jim, even though Jim has revealed that Pap is dead. Jim swims to freedom, and after the two friends bid each other a heartfelt goodbye, the now former slave heads north while Huck paddles toward a New Orleans-bound steamboat.