Well, I let go all holts then, like I was shot. It was the most astonishing speech I ever heard – and I’m bound to say Tom Sawyer fell considerable in my estimation. Only I couldn’t believe it. Tom Sawyer a n*****-stealer!
– Mark Twain
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Chapter 33. When Tom enthusiastically agrees to help in the freeing of Jim, Huck is completely confused. Tom is not the sort to sacrifice his reputation by helping a slave escape. But unknownst to Huck, Tom is aware that Jim has already been legally freed by Miss Watson so “stealing” Jim is just another boyhood game to Tom.