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Laurel
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Given the number of times that "awhile" occurs in the book (here is a search for it an the 1884 edition), I don't think it was misprint. However, it certainly seems like using "awhile" instead of the article + noun "a while" has always been considered nonstandard.


Here's what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say about this sense of awhile:

Improperly written together, when there is no unification of sense, and while is purely a noun.

It gives one example from 1489, another from 1872, and a third from [1882](https://books.google.com/books?id=XgErAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA44&lpg=PA44&dq=%22After+awhile+they+seemed+to+pacify+each+other.%22"'After awhile they seemed to pacify each other.'").


I was also able to find a grammar book from 1889 which "improves" the following "bad construction":

[T]here was also a beach where we went bathing every once and awhile.

to the "improved":

[B]esides, there was a fine beach from which we went in bathing every once in a while.

Laurel
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